Nice Day For A Scouse Wedding
Last night I watched coverage of Ringo Starr in his hometown, bashing out ‘A Little Help From My Friends’. Most of the Brookside cast joined in on the chorus, the famous Ringo voice was mostly in tune and Liverpool was officially the European Capital of Culture.
The run-up to the launch may have been tense and the image of the “Scouse wedding” gave some idea of the politics involved. But for one night at least, the city looked like a unified, positive location, even if the pay-off was letting Dave Stewart on stage.
I’m also rather found of Ringo’s new single, ‘Liverpool 8’, which traces the Starr history, from maritime adventures to Rory Storm And The Hurricanes, Butlins and the The Beatles. The narrative spins off to Hamburg and Shea Stadium and leaves us with a lusty chorus and much sentimentality.
So how would things have evolved if Belfast had won the culture bid? With the greatest of respect, I don’t think it would have been adequate. The city is definitely on its uppers and the horizon looks increasingly cool. But the pressures of putting on a massive display may have caused actual harm to our prospects.
Remember, Belfast didn’t even make the shortlist. That was the moment when the cute consensus was trashed. True, there had been a kind of peace, and a sliver of political agreement. But the city’s amenities were basic, the arts infrastructure was strained and there was little investment in culture. Being rejected so flatly was an important moment, and from that time on, the rebuild has been modest but sincere. Some day, we may have our recognition before all of Europe, but the real pay-off is more culture for our citizens, better art on show and the occasional sight of a tourist, miles away from a bad mural.
So while Liverpool currently has its moment, Belfast is getting better, all the time.
Stu Bailie presents The Late show on Radio Ulster, every Friday from 10pm until midnight. See his playlist here.