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You could almost have sworn by our success.

ASLiverpool's triumph in the race to be European Capitalof Culture almost wrecked by a foulmouthed Toxteth comedian calledNigel? This astonishing question arose when city council leader Mike Storey revealed how a trip to theRaw Hide Comedy Club went badly wrong amidafour-letter tirade.

Speaking to afring e meeting at the LiberalDemocrat conference , Mr Storey explained how the illustrious panel of Capitalof Culture judges had been taken on a Hops and Humour tour of Liverpool.

It all started smoothly, with poets and playwrights entertaining the panel -led by fo rmer Royal Opera House chief Sir Jeremy Isaacs -at some of the city's most attractive pubs.

But the tour also included a trip to the comedy club where, to the horror of the city council hosts, the panel ran into Nigel and his special brand of ``culture''.

Mr Storey takes up the tale. ``Nigel was dressed in a shell suit and started saying `Ibelie ve we have got the effing Capital of Culture judges in Liverpool today'.

``I could feel the sweat trickling down the bac

of my neck,and I thought `Ohmy God, this is going badly wrong'.

``Then he said `We've got more effing culture in this place than anywhere else. More effing galleries and museums than any place outside London and more eff-ing listed buildings'.He carried on `Culture's coming out of our effing bac ksides,but it's only for the effing tourists'.

``I thought, that's it,it's gone.'' Mr Storey explained how, gripped by de pression,he went next morning to meet Sir Jeremy and the other VIPs at their hotel, bef ore they left Liverpool to visit another rival city.

Was the promise of 14,000 jobs, pounds 2bn worth of investment and 1.7m tourists - the prize for winning the contest -ab out to go up in smoke?

Mr Storey said: ``Sir Jeremy was holding a letter,an apology from the people of Liverpool, which said whoever took them to the comedy club ought to be taken out and shot.

``Then he turned to me and said `As it happens,I effing well enjoyed it!'''
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Title Annotation:Comment
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Sep 25, 2003
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