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Bluecoat and Front Row

March 14, 2017

Gosh, how wonderful it was, last Wednesday, for Maureen and I to take an evening off from the gruelling business of moving house. We headed over to Liverpool, a favourite place of ours with its zestful vibe and friendly cosmopolitan air. Radio 4’s Front Row programme (which follows The Archers) was to be produced and broadcast live from the Bluecoat arts centre to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the publication of The Mersey Sound: Penguin Modern Poets 10 from Adrian Henri, Roger McGough and Brian Patten. We’d booked tickets for the show.

Before going in, we bought crêpes (pancakes) from a van – crêpes with sugar and lemon – and enjoyed them hugely sitting in the cobbled side-street with hopeful pigeons and gulls gathering at our feet.

The Mersey Sound ushered in a new type of poetry – punchy, provocative, socially relevant and widely accessible – bringing the trio fame as “The Liverpool Poets” during that heady period, “The Swinging Sixties”, when The Beatles sprang from the city’s Cavern Club to take the musical world by storm.

Presented by John Wilson, Front Row was simply brilliant, with Roger McGough and Brian Patten present to discuss and read poems from their ground-breaking anthology. Adrian Henri, a painter and musician as well as a poet, died in 2000 but his partner, now his literary and artistic executor, Catherine Marcangeli, spoke about his “total art” vision and introduced a series of exhibitions and events called Tonight At Noon (after a Henri poem) celebrating The Mersey Sound’s half-century.

Lizzie Nunnery, a playwright and singer-songwriter, performed with musical accompaniment, an extract from Horny Handed Tons of Soil, her new work inspired by The Mersey Sound and Adrian Henri. Andrew McMillan, the award-winning poet, premiered his new poem, written in response to The Mersey Sound.

The Bluecoat, built in 1717, is Liverpool city centre’s oldest building, a charity school for nearly 200 years before becoming the UK’s first arts centre in 1907. And Bryan Biggs, artistic director of its 300th anniversary programme, spoke very interestingly about the centre’s role in supporting contemporary artists.

It was altogether a most enjoyable evening which Maureen and I will long remember.

Paul Beech

Copyright © Paul Beech 2017


From → General, Poetry, Reviews

  1. Sounds like a delightful and enjoyable evening Paul. What a lovely way to take a break from moving, and the lemon crepes, lushous.


    • Thanks Pat – yes, a delightful evening it certainly was. Shortly before we found the crêpes van, a young chap emerged from a posh store with his purchase in a bag. He approached us where we sat, and grinning asked to borrow a pen. Maureen lent him hers and he hurriedly wrote a gift-card whilst looking around excitedly. He was obviously expecting someone to join him at any moment. Someone special. So, a happy evening for him too, I reckon!

      Fond regards,


  2. Sounds like a wonderful evening Paul – my best to you and Maureen on your move.

    • Thanks Mary – lovely to hear from you as always, and your good wishes are much appreciated. What bliss it’ll be when the upheaval is finally over, Maureen and I fully settled in our new wee home on a Welsh hill with the Dee Estuary below.

      Fond regards,


  3. My wife and I listened to that programme, Paul, and enjoyed it, but the whole experience must have been a hundred times richer for you two!
    Best wishes for your move! John

    • Thanks John, so glad you and your wife enjoyed the programme. We had seats on the second row and it really was an amazing experience – our hands were sore from clapping by the end!

      As for our move, it seems to have been dragging on for an age. Fingers crossed the last lap goes smoothly…



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