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Enjoy the ride; Pubs.

Byline: Mike Chapple at the bar...

RONGO's woe pars on the Jonathan Woss Show at the dawn of 2008may have made us question our faith in him and affection for ironic humour.

But this week the Pub Column's belief in our own home grown worthiness as the Capital of Culture received a major boost.

Most importantly they were staged in popular city centre boozers. And both, to their credit, were backed by the Culture Company which finally seems to be getting into its stride in embracing local potential.

The first was the launch of the Around the City in 80 Pubs promotion in the Lion Tavern in Tithebarn Street. A worthy scheme promoting our pubs as bastions of cultural heritage - although that's something which regular PC readers will associate with the words teaching, grannies, sucking and eggs - its actually enlisted 83 participants featured in the free brochure that comes with the whole shebang. Until the autumn these hostelries play host to events ranging from old joanna singalongs and poetry nights to pub treasure hunts and magicians.

And in the bar, as if by magic, up popped Alan Singleton. He's the co-founder of the Liverpool Magic Circle and armed with his squidgy balls (oo-er, missus) entertained the great and the good - plus hacks - with a deft display of close-up magicianship The trick of the tale, however, came with the appearance of Liverpool comedian Keith Carter as his Scouse scally alter ego Nige.

It has gone down in well established local legend that Keith's performance as the irreverent street hound swung the vote our way with Sir Jeremy Isaacs and the team of Capital of Culture judges visiting here in 2003.

Trouble was, some of the assembled current Culture wall ahs didn't seem to know who he was, the job of hiring "a comic for the afternoon" having been assigned to astute Lion landlord John O'Dowd, a huge fan of Carter's renowned skill at being able to twist stereotypes out of shape. Consequently, while John and those well familiar with his work guffawed into their pints of Black Sheep, Nige's theme song for Culture Year, Liverpool Oh Hate, was as welcome to some as a Rangers fan at the annual Manchester Police Charity Ball.

By the time Nige had delivered his Deal or No Deal culture competition suggestion, involving smackheads and a certain district of the city, as well as his tourism motto "Liverpool: It's not as s--t as you think" some had gaping mouths of shock.

For the mischievous it was a pure delight.

For the offended it later became a revelation that Nige was, er like, just an act.

This week's second cause for cultural celebration was staged in the cellar of the Slaughterhouse in Fenwick Street, one of our most haunted alehouses. Indeed, one former landlord once told Yours Truly he was so spooked by the place that he would never lock up the place at night alone.

Naturally, then, this was the perfect place for entrepreneurial Liverpudlian siblings Alex and John Stone to launch their latest Shiverpool ghost tour. Centred around "the auld city" this promises to be another chapter in their success story, an adults only affair full of zombie pirates, ghouls and cannibal butchers.

After we watched the opening performance which culminated in a Thriller style zombie stomp on the cellar stage, the Pub Column turned to Lady Penelope of Pensby and confidently declared that Summer in the City of Culture should be something special.

Enjoy the ride.


Some of the horrors to be experienced on Shiverpool's Auld City Tour
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:May 17, 2008
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