Author Topic: What is a Scouser? The place I grew up in, the team that chose me.  (Read 38624 times)

Offline Tony Hateley

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Re: What is a Scouser? The place I grew up in, the team that chose me.
« Reply #80 on: August 7, 2007, 12:19:02 AM »
Alright, my sister was born in the Royal, she's lived in skem, anfield, spain and the majority of her life in rock ferry so what's she?
Scouse,I take it you mean the Royal on Prescot Road btw
Mackenzie is SCUM

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Offline The Bill Hicks Appreciation Society

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Re: What is a Scouser? The place I grew up in, the team that chose me.
« Reply #81 on: August 7, 2007, 12:34:32 AM »
Scouse,I take it you mean the Royal on Prescot Road btw

Is there another?
Please take a look at my latest blog for theredmentv "Dispelling the Rodgers/Martinez myth" http://www.theredmentv.com/blog/p/263 All other blogs can be read at www.theredmentv.com/blog Let me know your thoughts

Offline the invisible man

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Re: What is a Scouser? The place I grew up in, the team that chose me.
« Reply #82 on: August 7, 2007, 01:17:34 AM »
awwwwwwwwwww...

that's a bit extreme Tony...! :o

Lemmo...
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Offline lazzcav

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Re: What is a Scouser? The place I grew up in, the team that chose me.
« Reply #83 on: August 9, 2007, 09:00:05 PM »
A really brilliant read.
I was born in Dingle and grew up in Sparrow Hall (Lower Lane) I think i was about 8 years old when my Dad first took me to see Liverpool and i became a regular Supporter. I would go in the Anny Rd when i was with my Dad and the Kop when i was with my mates.
Quite often when we played away i would hitch lifts, usually from Arthurs Cafe on the East Lancs Road and quite often without a ticket or enough money to get in the ground, but this never detered me and we would always manage to get in to watch the game and find a lift home after the match.
 For a young lad to attemp this nowadays would have Social Services finding me a new Mum and Dad.
They say there is a book inside everyone and i for one certainly could (Pending).
I now live in Norfolk after serving 15 years in the RAF. My accent only reappears after i have spent a week or more back in Liverpool. I have often wondered if i would be accepted as a Scouser if i ever moved back. Some of the posts on here and on other forums would suggest that i would not.  Someone once told me, you can take the scouser out of Liverpool but you can't take Liverpool out of the Scouser. Thanks again.

Offline the invisible man

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Re: What is a Scouser? The place I grew up in, the team that chose me.
« Reply #84 on: August 10, 2007, 01:10:48 AM »
ahhh lazzcav... hello fellow scouser... :wave

the memories flood back, the old cafe on the East Lancs Road on a cold Friday night, hitching a lift to Southampton... :lickin ... Ipswich...  :o

many a time we had no money, tickets were'nt needed unless it was an FA Cup semi or a final, there was always a  way to bunk in to some of these grounds, usually by climbing a simple fence... and there was always a lift back with some kind scouser or the unwilling British Rail...!

even fortress anfield was a good place to bunk in with the Kop toilets on Walton Brekky Road and the corner where the boys pen was, only needed a lookout (or two hundred...)        and a few lads to give the cup-handed bunky-up and as long as we could avoid the few bits of glass on the top of the wall we were in...

and so it was in the days when we did it cos we could...

these days the poor darlings wouldn't even think of scratching or soiling their designer jeans by climbing up a fence...!!! YUK!!!!

"ooh I've dropped my mobile phone and MP3, can some kind chap pass it back up to me and I'll text you during the game and take your photograph...!!!"

what a load of old bollox...!!!

some of the more "mature" boys in the BoysPen would steal the sandwiches out of your pocket and woe betide the newcomer to the Pen if they managed to sneak in a Mars Bar or Kit-Kat...

sadly the reality days of football are gone after the tragedies of the Bradford fire and Hillsborough and the new corporate dollar...$$$$$$

lets keep our warm (and freezing cold) memories of the days when Friday nights were both a welcome and a nightmare when the cold wind would bite at the side of the road for poor scouser Tommy...!

Lemmo... ;D
t.i.m...

Offline ScouserTommy37

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Re: What is a Scouser? The place I grew up in, the team that chose me.
« Reply #85 on: August 10, 2007, 02:17:27 AM »
You'll Never Walk Alone is not a song. It is the essence of a True Scouser (No matter where He's/she's born bred or billeted

No it is the essence of a Liverpool fan, the two should not be confused.

That would be like me claiming to be Catalan because I can sing the words to Barca's Anthem.

Utter Bollocks.
Come on RAWK lets ave it and you can bring your fuckin dinner as well.

http://www.contrast.org/hillsborough/ <-- Read this JFT96

MICHAEL SHIELDS YOU'LL NEVER WALK ALONE!

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Offline the invisible man

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Re: What is a Scouser? The place I grew up in, the team that chose me.
« Reply #86 on: August 10, 2007, 02:39:25 AM »
awww... a bit harsh there scouser Tommy lad...

give the gerl a break... ;D
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Offline The Bill Hicks Appreciation Society

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Re: What is a Scouser? The place I grew up in, the team that chose me.
« Reply #87 on: August 10, 2007, 09:27:17 AM »
No it is the essence of a Liverpool fan, the two should not be confused.

That would be like me claiming to be Catalan because I can sing the words to Barca's Anthem.

Utter Bollocks.

Tell that to Ray Quim
Please take a look at my latest blog for theredmentv "Dispelling the Rodgers/Martinez myth" http://www.theredmentv.com/blog/p/263 All other blogs can be read at www.theredmentv.com/blog Let me know your thoughts

Offline Rozzer

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Re: What is a Scouser? The place I grew up in, the team that chose me.
« Reply #88 on: August 19, 2007, 11:54:10 AM »
He'll have to sort the accent out though, give him lessons with these two



He, The funny thing is when big Jan is commentating on danish televesion, where he`s is covering the national team..He has a scouse accent in his native danish tongue :)

And speaking of Molby he were the reason i started following the mighty reds..back in 1986 when my uncle came home from a business trip to Liverpool with a scarf with Big Jan`s autograph on it....Still got the scarf!
My dad was a Liverpool supporter back in denmark, when TV started covering the 1 div on a Saturdays..He was and still are fond of Rush and Hansen....
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Online voodoo ray

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Re: What is a Scouser? The place I grew up in, the team that chose me.
« Reply #89 on: August 30, 2007, 11:04:11 AM »
Let's get this right. You either choose to support the club or it's chosen for you by members of your family. I can't stand people who say "I believe Liverpool chose me" because it's a complete load of bollocks.

Offline The Bill Hicks Appreciation Society

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Re: What is a Scouser? The place I grew up in, the team that chose me.
« Reply #90 on: September 1, 2007, 09:37:06 PM »
it's chosen for you by members of your family.

That's what people mean though when they say the club chose me, basically I never made a conscious decision to support Liverpool so 'the club chose me' I don't literally mean Bob Paisley came to my house and said "Hiya Dave, just to let you know we've decided that we want you to support us" although I would have liked that to have been the way.
Please take a look at my latest blog for theredmentv "Dispelling the Rodgers/Martinez myth" http://www.theredmentv.com/blog/p/263 All other blogs can be read at www.theredmentv.com/blog Let me know your thoughts

Online voodoo ray

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Re: What is a Scouser? The place I grew up in, the team that chose me.
« Reply #91 on: September 2, 2007, 12:00:03 AM »
That's what people mean though when they say the club chose me, basically I never made a conscious decision to support Liverpool so 'the club chose me' I don't literally mean Bob Paisley came to my house and said "Hiya Dave, just to let you know we've decided that we want you to support us" although I would have liked that to have been the way.

I don't mean that kind of thing. I mean the people who have fuck all connection (geographically/family) to the club but seem to think that because the Redmen were on telly one day when they were doing something random or whatever other bollocks they come out with they believe they were 'chosen ' by the club.

Offline the invisible man

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Re: What is a Scouser? The place I grew up in, the team that chose me.
« Reply #92 on: September 2, 2007, 02:04:48 PM »
bit harsh voodoo old chap... :o

I mean anyone that see's the mighty reds on tv thrashing manure or the Chelsea and thinks"hm this is a bit of alright " is one up for us surely... ;D

I mean you don't get one free membership to the support Liverpool football club with a packet of cornflakes do you... ::) :butt

Lemmo... 8)
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Online voodoo ray

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Re: What is a Scouser? The place I grew up in, the team that chose me.
« Reply #93 on: September 2, 2007, 03:59:15 PM »
As long as they're honest about it and admit they started supporting the club because they saw us winning on telly then fine. But they still chose the club, it didn't choose them.

I mean I don't say the club chose me because i started playing football when i was a kid with some slightly older lads who supported the club and i pretty much followed them.  ;)

Offline the invisible man

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Re: What is a Scouser? The place I grew up in, the team that chose me.
« Reply #94 on: September 2, 2007, 11:40:53 PM »
 :wave

come on voodoo.. admit it...

watching Liverpool FC is magic & magnetic, of course they choose you, they grab you by the short and curlies and say "HERE, have a look at this...!"

If you're not hooked by then, then there is the East Lancs Road...!, and the void of the Old Trafford... ;D

Lemmo... ;D :lickin :wave
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Offline Andy-j-07

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Re: What is a Scouser? The place I grew up in, the team that chose me.
« Reply #95 on: September 7, 2007, 12:52:29 AM »
My usual opinion of what a scouser is , is tha u hav to have been born and bred in the city.
But there are certain exceptions e.g. Bill Shankly who devoted his life to Liverpool FC and the city. even after resigning from the managers post at anfield he still lived in the city till his dieing day. Now i can say Bill Shankly is an exception and we can call him an adopted - scouser  :) SHANKLY LIVES FOREVER

YNWA
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Offline animal

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Re: What is a Scouser? The place I grew up in, the team that chose me.
« Reply #96 on: October 10, 2007, 09:46:55 PM »
This thread has been one hell of a read,thanks to all you scousers and non scousers for making my day,,Cheers guys /gals

Offline edinburghred

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Re: What is a Scouser? The place I grew up in, the team that chose me.
« Reply #97 on: October 11, 2007, 05:51:51 PM »
Never really known where I stood on this one and have never posted on the subject until now.
I was born in the City (Old swan). My Dad was brought up on West Derby Road and all my family from his side still live there. I left Liverpool just as I was starting School as my Mum (from Edinburgh) couldn`t settle. So she got her wish and moved back up north taking us with her. My Dad still took me to the matches just about every week, and I now have a season ticket, and still travel down to every home game taking the opportunity to visit relatives whenever I can.

Growing up in Edinburgh, I was always very proud of my Scouse roots and I still am. My Dad passed way in 2004. When he was alive he would always a laugh and say "Your a scouser and thats that, Don`t listen to your mam". 

I`m now 38, and to be honest I can now understand some of the previous posts saying that you have to be born and bred to be a Scouse. I think Ive lived away too long even though some people up here call me a scouse.   
« Last Edit: October 11, 2007, 05:53:53 PM by edinburghred »

Offline Forest Hills

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Re: What is a Scouser? The place I grew up in, the team that chose me.
« Reply #98 on: October 11, 2007, 11:53:16 PM »
Let's get this right. You either choose to support the club or it's chosen for you by members of your family. I can't stand people who say "I believe Liverpool chose me" because it's a complete load of bollocks.

couldnt agree more mate!
After 23 years The Truth is finally out. Now it's time for justice.

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Offline Suffolk Scouser

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Re: What is a Scouser? The place I grew up in, the team that chose me.
« Reply #99 on: October 12, 2007, 05:38:52 PM »
What a superb read. As an exiled Scouser, now in Suffolk, I don't get to as many games as I did, but the Scousee never leaves you. It always amazes me that deep in the countryside of Suffolk I have found Red pubs all over the place with matches shown to an avid following of local yokels who are learning the way to support your team through all that happens... walk on!

Offline ealsc15

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Re: What is a Scouser? The place I grew up in, the team that chose me.
« Reply #100 on: October 12, 2007, 05:47:31 PM »
Hey Suffolk Red dont forget there is a supporters club in Suffolk  ;) which helps people like you get to the games


Offline hunty

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Re: What is a Scouser? The place I grew up in, the team that chose me.
« Reply #101 on: October 12, 2007, 10:00:54 PM »
i think that if you were born in Liverpool, you are a scouser. Maybe the same goes to huyton

Offline Rafa's Red's

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Re: What is a Scouser? The place I grew up in, the team that chose me.
« Reply #102 on: October 13, 2007, 01:34:48 AM »
A scouser is instantly recognisable. How their recognisable is the accent. If you cant tell if the accent is scouse or non scouse you are most likely to be a wool or from another city, therefore end of debate. Also if they say the word 'bloke' they are not. No proper scouser should say 'bloke' ever!

Offline the invisible man

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Re: What is a Scouser? The place I grew up in, the team that chose me.
« Reply #103 on: October 13, 2007, 01:29:23 PM »
good bloke rafa's reds... ;D
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Offline the invisible man

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Re: What is a Scouser? The place I grew up in, the team that chose me.
« Reply #104 on: October 26, 2007, 02:22:38 AM »
what do you think defines a real scouser...?

birthplace...?

accent...?

living there now but born elsewhere...?

other...?

Lemmo... 8)
t.i.m...

Offline nifty

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Re: What is a Scouser? The place I grew up in, the team that chose me.
« Reply #105 on: November 30, 2007, 12:45:14 PM »
Anyone who needs to ask what a scouser is clearly isn't one.

Brilliantly written though.  Should have it published as an academic research paper.

Offline wickolfc

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Re: What is a Scouser? The place I grew up in, the team that chose me.
« Reply #106 on: November 30, 2007, 12:51:43 PM »
i think that if you were born in Liverpool, you are a scouser. Maybe the same goes to huyton
Yay.

Offline jambutty

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Re: What is a Scouser? The place I grew up in, the team that chose me.
« Reply #107 on: December 28, 2012, 11:18:12 AM »
Just a 'snippet' of a mate's exhaustive and scholarly work on us.



As a “Scouser” I am biased. In all likelihood so are you one way or another. I have no intention of being “objective.” I do not believe there is any such condition. Take it or leave it on that basis. Doubtless I have missed some nuances and other important points. But I have yet to read anything anywhere that didn’t.

Those who wish to take a more academic line can start at this website:

http://www.liv.ac.uk

So there is good news and bad news.

The good news is that the so-called external offensive “adverse image” of us “Scousers” is de facto deliberately manufactured balderdash. The bad news is that the internal view, frequently made as defence, can too often be as misleading. All sensible people everywhere know this. Time to strike a sensible balance.

I came to this subject after years of working and travelling abroad when I finally came to settle in the city I love and in which I was born. No big deal, and a route followed by many others before and since. During preceding years I watched with some dismay as most of my worst cultural suspicions were realised one by one. But until I returned permanently I did not understand the full depth of the local or national condition. I still find it scarcely credible even though the worst anti- and pro- elements seem to be fading, perhaps through straightforward boredom or cultural weariness of the status quo. Plainly, returning every two or three months on business or pleasure did not provide the fullest understanding. It has been a sort of culture shock in reverse. Moreover the further I loosely researched the subject the more intriguing it became.

As always, facts and reality have proved infinitely more interesting than myths.

2. Relevant Quotations.

 “……… Greek myth survived intact, in a better state than almost any other ancient world-system. The reasons for this are neither religious nor political, but cultural………The characters and incidents of myth were so multifarious that they were not so much lateral to life as the continuum of life itself………This richness affected not only popular culture, spawning a crop of old wives’ tales and customs to rival those of anywhere in the world; it dominated ‘high’ artistic endeavour of every kind………By the time Aeschylus, Exekias, Homer, Phidias, Plato, Praxiteles, Sappho, Theocritus and a hundred others had had their various ways with Greek myth, its survival needed no further reliance on belief in the Olympian gods or on civic ceremonial – and it was also invasion-proof………”
KENNETH McLEISH – Editor’s Introduction, “The Greek Myths,” (Penguin Books) 1955.


“In short, our minds seem to be measured by countries when we are men, as they are by places, when we are children, and until something happens to disentangle us from prejudice, we serve under it without perceiving it.”
TOM PAINE – “The Crisis, Number VIII” February 26, 1780.


 “Liverpool is the pool of life.”
CARL GUSTAV JUNG.


 “I have always loved the great city of Liverpool.”
JOHN MASEFIELD, Poet Laureate.


“In the evening, especially when the sailors are gathered in great numbers, these streets present a most singular spectacle, the entire population of the vicinity being seemingly turned into them. Hand-organs, fiddles and cymbals, plied by strolling musicians, mix with the songs of seamen, the babble of women and children and the whining of beggars. From the various boarding houses………..proceeds the noise of revelry and dancing.”
HERMAN MELVILLE (visiting Liverpool, 1839).


“And this is England?……….But where are the old Abbeys, and the York Minsters, and the Lord Mayors, and coronations, and the may-poles, and fox hunters, and Derby races, and the dukes and duchesses, and the Count d’Orsays, which, from all of my reading, I had been in the habit of associating with England. Not the most distant glimpse of them was to be seen………….”
HERMAN MELVILLE, “Redburn” (Richard Bentley, 1849).


“My own view of religion is that of Lucretius. I regard it as a disease born of fear and as a source of untold misery to the human race.”
BERTRAND RUSSELL, “Why I Am Not a Christian,” Chapter 2. (Unwin Books, 1957).


“The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and heartstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”
ABRAHAM LINCOLN, First inaugural address, 4th March 1861.

3. Genesis.

Myths can have a powerful cultural rôle and affect. No culture is immune.  The central question is what and whom you choose to believe.

It also depends how seriously you take all this English regional nonsense. Which is not the same thing as different national cultures, languages, and therefore clearer self-identity, of the Scotch, Welsh and Irish. Most European countries still have a strong outline of former city-states but few of them except the worst of Italy and Catalonia endure the kind of chauvinist regional civic claptrap and metropolis centred lunacy that puffs up contemporary English culture.

If you are one of those self-deceptive loons let’s get this straight: I’m here to set YOU straight. Which requires a short history account to get things in perspective, otherwise you will end up in one of two camps of the absurd. In the first camp you become a sickly-sweet self-deluded sentimentalist about all things “Scouse.” In the other you end up hating anything to do with the city while hurling all the asinine generalities you can lay your tongue to, courtesy of propaganda sheets like the Daily Telegraph or the Sun or the equal tabloid horrors of Sky TV, or the kind of paranoia you find prevalent in lower middle class mortgaged-to-the-hilt suburbia, or expatriates who miscalculate self-improvement as denigration of ones own roots.

I will avoid too the kind of gushing narcissistic nonsense you get from assorted Tykes, Cockneys, “Home” Counties deadbeats, Geordies, Brummies, Mancs, East Anglians, various Yokels and Wools, Manxmen, Lancastrians and who-knows-who-all-else intent on letting you know that where they live is better than anywhere else, but especially where YOU live.  For instance who can forget the mortifyingly comic behaviour of supposedly adult Yorkshiremen of yore who made serious efforts to drag heavily pregnant wives across the county border to ensure their new-born qualified to play cricket for Yorkshire? Fortunately such prescriptive and essentially racist actions are now illegal, but only comparatively recently.

England is part of a small island off the coast of Europe, and up to its overpopulated neck in national, metropolitan and regional absurdity. Enough is enough.

To illustrate: Some years ago at Manchester Airport I waited to deplane from a New World exploit. At the head of the queue were two blowhard Mancunians making their origins obvious. Both smelled woefully of alcohol even at a distance. Disgusting double chins wobbled as horribly as unsteady legs. They wore disgusting baggy floral shirts. Disgusting obese stomachs rolled in layers over the top of disgusting baggy Bermuda shorts. Disgusting black socks and scuffed white training “shoes” completed the kind of now-standard Brit Slob ensemble stolen from the worst of Americana. They were sunburned to hell and back, wizened prunes with all the signs of future skin cancer, and referred to this as their “tan.” They looked and sounded as though somehow they got back to England from Benidorm via North America.

While we awaited the opening of the airplane door one of them said loudly with humourless vehemence, “Ahv always sed Manchistir is an independernt sovrin stirt an shud be reckugnahzed as such.” Immediately, an unidentified public school type voice said, “And you, I suppose,” – there was a clear pause as presumably the proclaimer was looked slowly up and down – ”are the minister for finance?”

Tired transatlantic passengers debarked with broad, satisfied smiles as they ducked quickly through the obscene reek of alcohol and body odour left hanging in the air by the two drunks. Yahoo chauvinism was temporarily vanquished by its most deadly enemy – satire. Would that we had more of it.

You probably have a similar story of your own but in a different setting and with a different accent. ‘Twas ever thus.


4. What To Avoid.

And so we try to define a “Scouser.” As if.

No, not all that tedious aren’t-we-all-lovable-naturally-warm-comedians-with-family-values, and its opposite, hostile hubcaps-and-shoplifting-malarkey, the sort tiresomely parodied by the likes of Harry Enfield. Both tiresome because repetition is intrinsically boring. We want the REAL thing, the so-called authentic character.

Which as usual has little to do with stereotypes such as the hard Scouser who died and had “Who’re YEW lookin’ at?” carved on his headstone. Or the Norris Green catholic who went into a confessional beneath the instructive sign “Eight items or less.” We’ve heard all that mundane stuff before. Hell, we even started it because we needed something to do while the so-called recession wore off. Wools and other strangers just took it seriously while we were laughing at adversity. So let’s give that pantomime a rest for a while. After all we have been appointed European Capital of Culture for 2008. You don’t win that kind of thing merely because the prime minister’s wife comes from the tepid boredom of a bank-owned Barratt semi-detached house in suburban Crosby or Wirral, or Debtors’ Retreat as they are both known locally. If you want character and real culture, antiseptic suburbs are absolutely the last place to look.

I mean, for instance, what did the dead hand of suburban Wirral (the WIRRAL!) ever produce apart from second-rate IT salesmen, self-righteous tight-arsed Suits, shipping clerks, spivs, bookkeepers and some Mersey Tunnel revenue? No wonder the Vikings landed there, got to Bromborough and said, “Screw this. Let’s just massacre a few locals and get off sharpish.” Which they did, leaving it, according to local records, to horse thieves and gypsies. It hasn’t changed much, except now the horse thieves and gypsies wear suits, shell and otherwise. Prior to that the Romans waited for the Dee to silt up and then did one as soon as their sandals could get on the roads they had made to help conquer the thirty Celtic kingdoms they found throughout England. No, there’s no point to the Wirral, none at all. Quite rightly we don’t want them and neither does Cheshire. It should be cut off south of Runcorn, towed out to sea and sunk by a salvo of missiles.

Natives of Wirral will only be allowed membership if they have documentary proof they were never a part of that comic reactionary lower middle-class twin-set-and-pearls 80s psychosis known as Wirral Out Of Merseyside. Do not think I exaggerate their behaviour. At one point there was even – I kid you not – a Hoylake Out Of Wirral move. The further West you go on that odd peninsula the more suburban weird they get.

No, what we need is old “Scotty” Road firing on all cylinders, a pub on every corner and a yarn, a comedian, a song and a banjo in every bar. It really was like that many years ago. Scotty Road has long since disappeared. So has Wavertree Road. So has………well, insert your own nomination. Now you’re lucky to keep your eardrums intact against a level of decibels blasting from a CD of the biblical assault on Jericho – all of it as background to some goddamn kitsch city centre theme bar peopled by greasy, spike-haired zombies on haha sherbet, or practising the faintly disgusting lower middle class habit of drinking straight from a bottle. A city pub crowd these days looks like a herd of hedgehogs on heat.
« Last Edit: December 28, 2012, 11:53:00 AM by jambutty »
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Re: What is a Scouser? The place I grew up in, the team that chose me.
« Reply #108 on: December 28, 2012, 11:41:38 AM »
Liverpool tradition tells us real Scousers are born within a mile of Mann Island at the Pierhead. The validity thereof surely must have expired some time in the mid-nineteenth century. For the present purpose I have therefore decided unilaterally a modern real Scouser is born within an arc bounded by the Mersey on one side and Formby, Kirkby, Huyton, Halewood and Speke on the other.  I have excluded Wirral for the same reason Cheshire and Wales have rejected it – far too many poujadists and no loyalty to anything except the mortgage or finance company.

You will of course have your own ideas. Which is just as it should be. You wouldn’t be a real Scouser without them.


5. Lingua Scouser.

The first recorded use of the term “Scouse” in a local context was in 1837.

The word “scouse” is deemed to evolve from the Norwegian “lobscouse” and the German “labskaus.” There are two schools of thought concerning local language patterns. One claims it is dialect, the other claims it is merely accent incorporating slang words. Liverpool University is currently engaged in detailed research in the matter and will doubtless deliver the verdict of academe in due course. It is a safe bet some other academics will deliver a disputation as soon as they can entrap a sponsor mug enough to pay for a calculation which shows how many phonetics can be delivered through the eye of a microphone. But this is what we employ our intellectuals for. They have to be kept away from serious issues or they end up as madly fascist as local economics professor Patrick Minford. I on the other hand have not the slightest intention to engage a discussion of fricatives, glottal stops and tmeses. I’ll leave such technicalities to our hired technicians. As someone once said in Great Homer Street Market, “Life’s too fuckn short, like, la.”

So let’s deal with this accent business. Best give it some priority because the English are the only nation on earth completely obsessed with inflections in somebody else’s speech. This applies to all social classes. What the English have never understood, and probably never will, is what really matters is not how somebody says something, but what they say and what they mean. No surprise, then, to note current English oral lunacy is an intrinsic part of the old class system and survives as a vague, sulky  relative thereof. Elsewhere in the western world it scarcely matters in the way it does in England. Even the treacly static language academies of France and Italy concentrate more on “correct” grammar than phonetics. Some countries are actively proud of their provinces and promote them at every available opportunity. Not so in England.

It was Oscar Wilde who noted, “One Englishman has only to open his mouth to have another hating him.” George Bernard Shaw followed that with “Pygmalion,” possibly the finest artistic observation ever written on English class obsession with accents. Actually, this extends to all tribes of Britain, not just England. The English are merely the absolute worst, the pettiest, Brit ground zero, and the metropolitan Establishment the worst of the lot, though there’s substantial opinion in Scotland that something really ought to be done about Edinburgh’s fey snobbery. But since this essay concerns our beloved city I won’t be looking at Gaelic regional attitudes in any detail. In that respect I will limit myself to this: if you want to see Gaelic regional chauvinism in full flow all you have to do is witness the vehemence of south Wales versus north Wales. Don’t think Ireland and Scotland are any different.

It is well too to remember Oscar and GBS were Irish, articulate, gifted artists and mischievous to boot. It is a wicked and delicious combination. We can forgive Oscar anything even allowing for his nod toward Locke’s over-introspective language dissertations and the pedantic propaganda of his countryman, Thomas Sheridan. After all, we gave the world Doctor Samuel Johnson and his mad dictionary and Thomas Macaulay’s foam-flecked “Histories.” Wilde’s and Shaw’s plays are some of the sharpest observations of English society at the height of the Victorian/Edwardian eras and rightly valued because of it.

This is appropriate because there is a general and erroneous perception the biggest influence on our city is Irish. Which is nonsense, except for some cadentic inflections in speech patterns and generous acts of philanthropy by rich Irish-made-good. All it demonstrates is the worst of the Irish have bigger mouths than the worst of anyone else in Britain, bigger even than Glaswegians. Also, mere mention of the word “Irish” is enough to send the English Establishment on a hate-filled circuit of the ceiling. Of course the Irish connection kicks in with some slang words or occasional Gaelic, “der” and “dat,” that sort of thing, the sort you will also find in other dialects much further inland and even in Europe and the United States, and certainly the Irish influence made for the accent difference. But the two most basic and longest lasting phonetic influences are Lancashire and Wales, neither of which have ever been lost. Ask a real Scouser to say “back” and you’ll see instantly what I mean about the Welsh connection. (Oh alright………just this once………phoneticists call this an alveolar scrape or fricative). Our local speech patterns owe an enormous debt to a fusion of Welsh Gaelic ascetic consonants and much softer Lancashire vowels. Many Scousers used to refer to their grandmothers as “ninny” or “nan”, both of which are a straight pinch from Welsh Gaelic “nain.” There are many other examples. There are even differences between areas in the city.

During our city’s explosive physical development in the nineteenth century a huge proportion of building materials and labour initially came from Wales. Some of the early ENGLISH maps even gave it the Welsh name Llyfrpwll. Almost all of our Victorian and Edwardian terraces are built with Welsh commons, red or yellow pressed bricks or roof slates. Two of the city’s earliest slave traders (I’ll return to slavery later) were a Welshman who made his first fortune in North Wales slate quarries, and a Lancastrian merchant engaged in the cotton industry. Prior to that we were a small Lancashire seaport. The population was only later supplemented by Irish migrants.

But cultural propagandists never let facts get in the way of a myth, as McLeish points out above. And there’s not much to be done with someone who is just plain stupid, a petty snob, a chauvinist or a downright liar. Fortunately our local and national archives are full of reasonably accurate records for those who wish to see them flat on, as opposed to what propagandists would like everyone to believe. Go read them yourself at the Liverpool Record Office. Do not on any account listen to alcohol-diffused siren voices from Hibernia or the London counties.

In fact provincial accents only came to the fore after the Second World War and quickly gained ground through, amongst other developments, of all places, BBC Radio. Lord Reith its founder would have had a heart attack at the mere prospect. Nevertheless, the most successful radio production of the era was “ITMA” starring Tommy Handley, a Liverpool comic. Others followed. Up to that point mainstream English Establishment culture had mostly portrayed working-class people with lovable Cockney accents and extreme, “Gawd bless ‘er majesty and the prince of wiles” forehead-knuckling deference. If the provinces were represented at all it was usually in a gormless George Formby, “’Eee bah goom” or West Country yokel sort of way. Handley’s comic style was quite different, quick and sharp and no respecter of social rank, an attitude reinforced by the shared experience of total war. From that point through the 50s other provincial comics and writers gradually made their mark until the apex of radio comedy was reached with the surrealism of “The Goons.” The later advent of regional commercial TV and radio helped expand the cultural revolution and release more regional talent. Sadly, even now the talent still migrates to London through a combination of necessity and cultural habit. Metro-centrism is alive.

The Liverpool accent finally came front and centre during the 60s and naturally travelled along on the backs of the Mersey Sound shenanigans. For a short time, maybe five years, it was even the preferred accent. In press conferences the Beatles and others took the mickey out of the situation, the Establishment and themselves with supreme self-confidence. Traditionally, this wasn’t supposed to happen. Other provincial regions rightly took heart and soon our myopic London-centred culture was under siege. Subsequently, English provincial accents were everywhere in the capital, even in the BBC. The revolution threatened to be a complete take over, at least in the eyes of the Establishment. In the provinces, most thought it was merely a long overdue balancing of the national account. We still do.

Down there in our unloved cold capital the Establishment had isolated themselves from reality and duly paid the price. They were caught with their trousers firmly down, facing Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies, Oxbridge and the public school system. By then the Boulting Brothers had also produced some wonderfully funny social satire films that mercilessly parodied all social classes and their prejudices.

At times the dialectic change-around was mortifyingly funny and one-sided. For instance genuine heroics in the Battle of Britain were previously considered off-limits for humour until Jonathan Miller, Peter Cook and Co. – ex public schoolboys all – produced “Beyond The Fringe” and came up with the immortal and then-outrageous lines,

“Please, sir, I want to be one of The Few”

“Well, you can’t. There’s too many already………we don’t want any more futile gestures.”

It reached its apex in an early 70s “Monty Python” TV sketch titled “The Upper Class Twit Of The Year Show” which showed a mob of moneyed public school horse-lovers acting like hooray henries of the worst type. The humiliation of it all was never forgotten or forgiven.  Out there in Whitehall, Westminster and Surrey the targets were spitting feathers.

(I suppose I better explain what I mean by “the Establishment” since it will apply throughout. There are still some benighted souls – almost all of the right-wing persuasion – out there who deny the existence of such, even in the face of evidence provided by, amongst many others, Anthony Sampson’s successive editions of “The Anatomy of Britain” or Dominic Hobson’s “The National Wealth” or some other reputable work of research. So here’s what I mean, courtesy of the Concise Oxford Dictionary:

6 the Establishment  a the group in society exercising authority or influence, and seen as resisting change.  b any influential or controlling group (the literary establishment).

Might as well get that settled before we go any further.)

Meantime, Austrian expatriate musician and kunstmeister Fritz Spiegel settled locally and was one of those who claimed our local argot is dialect, not mere accent. He likened it to the lazy linguistics of Viennese “schlamperei,” an inclination to fuse meaning into as few words as possible, preferably with a richly comic and often vehement mix of opposites. A prime example of this came during our home win last season over Wolves when The Rad once again missed a one-on-one with the ‘keeper and neighbour Stevie H groaned, “He’s always the same sometimes.” The groan was accompanied by a broad grin. The deliberate “sometimes” was a vital element in the grammar because the same player had scored a purler just a few minutes before. And of course we are all aware of the dazzling and challenging structure of our other famous double negatives, such as, “I never did nottin’!” or the ale house tautological tour de force “Ey la, are you readin’ that paper yer sittin’ on?” Such deliberately comic emphases and oppositions are absolutely vital to us.

Outsiders of course miss the quick common sense and instinctive intelligence of this. The most antagonistic are usually those stuck in the melancholic treadmill and petty snobbery of cultural dead-end Standard English, that bloodless concoction of Oxbridge, metro-based broadsheets and Lord Reith’s BBC, the sort of thing perpetrated by our increasingly redundant suburban middle-class and the more comically pretentious of our working-class. Local prejudice dictates you NEVER trust anybody who says “farst”, “larst” or “glarss,” but you CAN trust someone who says “firrerr” for “fair hair.” Standards are necessary only so you can decide sensibly what to do next. The only other use they have is retrospective. Like all living things our language couldn’t flourish if it came with wobbly shallow roots in a Standard Rut. Language is about the only area suited to anarchy. As Melvyn Bragg’s recent TV series showed so gloriously, English has grown because of it. Friends, you may immediately mistrust anybody who tries to tell you how to talk proper, like. I invite you to tell them to fuckoffangerralife. Pomposity is not limited by social class. Give it a good verbal kicking at every opportunity.
 
Our local argot has also changed with recent times. The Scouse accent of the 60s was noticeably different from the accent of the late 80s. By the later date most of the sound of cocky self-confidence had faltered after sustained media propaganda assaults on the city. Spontaneously it had hardened into a form of defensive/offensive phonetics. But of course it was impossible for the Establishment to defeat it once and for all. One of the worst developments was an inclination to hide true meaning behind a sly, rascally-sounding word. It is for this reason I came to despise use of the word “scally.” Somehow it hints at a lovable rogue, someone like the Artful Dodger, whereas in fact the kind of hapless individual it describes is usually a racist or criminal who would steal your family’s last loaf of bread or wreck a stolen car for the sake of it. Nation-wide, a part of Generation X has come to accept sheer rottenness as a major part of comedy culture, and therefore make it acceptable or entertaining. Nor has this stopped at national boundaries. Witness the soap opera status of “The Godfather” and “The Sopranos,” both of which – no matter how brilliantly made – have made organized crime almost acceptable as, to use their standard expression, “business.” Thus, a demonstration of the power of words and language as taught by Noam Chomsky.

Currently in Liverpool hard Welsh consonants prevail more than ever amongst the young because they sound more impregnable. As the city’s demography changed so did the language pattern. It was a trend repeated throughout the country as inner city areas and left-behind social classes became increasingly alienated from the suburbs. It will change once again with the city centre infusion of new inhabitants from around the country. If this trend continues my guess is the local accent will again soften to something nearer the 60s version and then perhaps retreat nearer to a Lancashire sound. The consonants may begin to melt again as the city centre population grows, economic matters notwithstanding. English owes proportionately to Latin and the various forms of Gaelic so former phonetics will probably prevail.

Over the years, one of our city’s most rabid haters was the journalist Ian Jack, a self-admitted Scottish Calvinist prig now ensconced at the periodical Granta. In a typical 80s right-wing Sunday Times diatribe he once described the local accent as “peculiarly isolated in a ten miles area,” thus demonstrating how little he knew of the development and spread of local accents and dialects throughout England. I have no idea if his knowledge has improved since but it gives you the gist of his intentions. The key there of course is the words “peculiarly isolated,” an obvious attempt to make the local accent look odd and alone. Apply that nasty template across England and you will find almost every regional accent “peculiarly isolated,” and largely because of the efforts of desiccated curmudgeons like Jack. But that wouldn’t suit his purpose. Culturally, it was divide et impera in action, conscious or otherwise. It puts people like Jack nominally on the side of a mythic majority.

The fact is our local accent varies slightly from area to area within Merseyside, as it does in all other urban conurbations. Example, you will usually find someone raised in the north part of the city says “arl” for “old,” while someone from the south half will say “owl.” Both have their roots in Gaelic. The sound can fluctuate wildly between treacle catarrhal and laconic or slyly amused nasal. In business it isn’t at all unusual to find meetings dominated by intrinsically boring so-called Standard English – and then find the same people outside the formalities relaxed into their own argot of whatever source. Those with real cultural courage ignore the Standard Version and make themselves clear anyway. But such courage is still rare even though relatively more of it is a matter of relaxed choice. Generally, many older working-class people try to speak with less of an accent so they can be more readily understood. Those who gravitate toward the suburban middle-class usually try to lose it altogether and equally usually end up sounding like an antiseptic combination of Barbara Cartland and John Major, or, worse, Margaret Thatcher and Edward Heath.

It applies too to long term expatriate workers of all kinds. The need to speak in another language almost always leads to a partial loss of accent, even complete loss. Unfortunately in too many cases it also leads to an equal loss of reality as contact with home fades and new illusions replace old. Like many expatriate children my multilingual youngest daughter was born abroad and lived most of her early years in foreign countries and speaks English without a trace of any accent at all. That kind of experience naturally enabled her to settle easily into Bologna University, something she shares with a whole new generation of young Europeans intent on replacing past nationalist aberrations. But she can be as Scouse as anyone if she wants to. So can I. So what? As we both say at suitable conversational moments, we can provide electrocution lessons in Scouse to anyone who wants them.

The very best of local humour is actually softly self-deprecatory. And it is this that outsiders pick up and use. I still laugh out loud at a wonderful example I once heard on local radio just after my return. It was a phone-in quiz and the poser was, “What was ‘Itler’s first name?” and before you could draw breath the answer came back, “Heil!” Since the contestant sounded well into her pension you can reasonably assume it was said tongue in cheek. It is a safe bet ill-willed outsiders wouldn’t pick up on the irony or, if they did, use it in the retelling. I adore the human race but have few illusions of its defects.

At our self-indulgent worst we claim the way to tell a real Scouser is by noting his or her response to a social query. A real Scouser will always hold a mirror to your face by immediately asking in return something you can’t possibly answer. If said Scouser is of obvious working-class origins and belligerent with it nothing is more guaranteed to drive the middle-classes round the bend, particularly if the victim is from the south-east. Defeated provincials simply aren’t supposed to have that much self-confidence, especially Scousers.

A classic example of this is the Scouse question, “Where’eryerfrom?” And if the sad answer is something like, “Guildford,” the respondent better get ready for a lightning follow-up such as, “What the fuck FOR?” Over the years I have seen this kind of thing delivered with such perfect timing the victim has almost reeled from the scene with life-long scars. Though the intention is usually harmless and accompanied by a sly grin – often an unlikely sounding invitation to further chat – it can backfire rather badly if the recipient is slow on the uptake or has a resentful temperament. And understandably it is often taken as mere bad manners. It is also one of the reasons why some people launch an immediate verbal attack when you tell them you are from our beloved city. Of course a real Scouser is ready for this, smiles broadly, maddeningly even, and brings up his first conversational reserves to destroy the perpetrator. At least that’s the myth. But in my experience you dismiss it at your peril.

Even outside the city some people are ready to believe the last observation as much as locals. Take the Yorkshire writer, Alan Bennett. He said this:

“………and so it is with Liverpudlians. They have figured in too many plays and have a cockiness that comes from being told too often that they and their city are special.”

You can’t miss provincial resentment in that, any more than you can avoid wondering just which tracts Bennett was reading at the time. Equally, you can’t help wondering if Bennett came to believe another stereotype myth, that of the dour, taciturn Yorkshireman who Only Tells It Like It Is And Be Damned, Tha’ Knows. Some of us might think it a bit rich coming from a Yorkshireman of all people. On the other hand he could be talking the absolute nonsense of mere provincial envy bypassed by the 60s.

The fact is of course much of that written above could be written about any accent or dialect from any other part of the country. Only the influences and nuances change from area to area, though you can bet you would have a hard time explaining that to the chauvinists. It would be nice if the national cultural breakthrough achieved in the 60s could be finally consummated by a sensible and wide-ranging consensus. But this is England, saddled like every other country with its own history, defects and strengths. I wouldn’t make book on it if I were you.

Yernowarrameenlike?
“Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.”

― Ronald Wright, A Short History of Progress

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Re: What is a Scouser? The place I grew up in, the team that chose me.
« Reply #109 on: December 28, 2012, 12:00:53 PM »
6. Necessary Short History.

Let’s take a brief look at the history of our city and how it relates nationally and internationally. Without it you cannot hope to make even a reasonable assessment. As Santayana said, those who do not remember the past are condemned to relive it. You cannot separate cause and affect. If you do, all you are left with is the sort of propaganda and nonsense all sane humans seek to avoid. And you delight only the Establishment and its helpmates.

Of course it depends how far back in time you want to go. There are thirteen geological periods dating back from the Quaternary to the Precambrian eras. Since that covers a period of over 545 million years we can for present purposes safely limit ourselves to more recent events. Suffice it to say the present outline of the Mersey Basin – possible once a Mersey Valley – was ground out by retreating glaciers at the end of the last ice age some 15,000 years ago, a process which left the majority of the area mantled by substantial layers of till and pockets of sand and gravel. Solid geology of the area is dominated by sandstones and mudstones of the Triassic age, with sandstones forming the higher ground at the northern end of the Wirral and Liverpool.

The overall aspect of the city is absolutely stunning and in a more civilised less chauvinist culture would be regarded as a national treasure. This is especially true on a clear and sunny day when viewed from the “new” Everton Park across the bay and out toward Snowdonia and the Irish Sea. The visually dominant landward geographic feature of our city is formed by sandstone cliffs that dominate the Everton area on a line roughly drawn by Netherfield Road. But most of Merseyside and the coastal plain around it is no more than average twenty metres above sea level. At Formby Point, coastal erosion of the foreshore has revealed preserved ancient footprints of humans, animals and birds in laminated silts. 184 human footprint trails have been recorded dated to a period some 9,000-7,000 years ago. Formby-dwelling friends of mine swear these are not the equivalent of local crop circles since none of the prints are anywhere near a pub.

Like all human settlements the precise origin of our beloved city is lost in time. The hamlet didn’t even get a mention in the Domesday survey of 1086 though it is thought to be one of the unnamed berewick barley farms in the Manor of West Derby. At that time the latter was one of the South Lancashire “hundreds” and relatively important. The Norman conquest took five years but occupation mostly concentrated on the southern half of the country and within a decade replaced a crude Anglo-Saxon tribal democracy with organised feudalism. This was also one of the roots of metro-centrism which still bedevils English and British culture. There you go – blame the French.

Earlier, it is generally accepted the Romans gave us a miss even though some Roman coins have been discovered in a couple of excavations. The Anglo-Saxons didn’t though and we became the southern boundary of their Kingdom of Northumbria when the area was known as Deira. And you might like this bit – the “Spellow” in Spellow Lane is thought to derive from that time, means “speech hill,” and possibly indicates the site of an “administration” or aforementioned “hundred.” The Suits are always with us.

After conversion to christianity upto the seventh century – surely the biggest own goal in human history – communities were established around chapels in hamlets, villages and towns everywhere. Frequently chapels and churches were built over the sites of pagan ritual temples to demonstrate superiority. Typically, the names Kirkdale and Kirkby are derived from the Danish origin of “church.” By then the Danes were launched on their invasion and established themselves along many stretches of the north British coastline and established their maritime traditions of trade and conquest, a crucial seed for the future. The human pot began to stir. For example, Toxteth, Walton, Everton and Bootle are Anglo-Saxon. Kirkdale, West Derby, Crosby and Roby are Danish. So Jan Molby wasn’t the first. The single greatest asset of our beautiful language is its willingness to adapt and absorb other languages.

The first formal record is King John’s charter of 1207. Thereafter, references are sparse until a relative burst of commercial and trading activity in the reign of Elizabeth the First. There is evidence of cross-channel trading with Ireland, coastal commerce and even embryonic trade with Mediterranean, French, Spanish and Baltic ports. After which matters appeared to revert to agricultural bucolia until external factors triggered trade growth from the second half of the seventeenth century onwards.

I have noted elsewhere the commercial rivalry between Liverpool and Manchester. But there was also a seminal and scarcely remarked rivalry with London that took over one hundred years to resolve – virtually the entire eighteenth century – during which the city’s expansion was exponential. An early royal charter established freemen and citizens of the capital were exempt from tolls in any other part of the country. This included port charges. Naturally local civic authorities (that is, merchants) in our fair city were miffed this gave their trading competitors an unfair advantage. It triggered legal action and a series of typically devious manoeuvres by both parties before the exemption was abolished. David might not have slain Goliath but he had wounded him. Goliath never forgot.

The aforementioned charter was another of the roots of metro-centrism in England and one of the reasons rich provincial families maintained at least a second home in the capital. For to do so was to be a “legal citizen” of London and reap the commercial benefits described. Whilst that has long since gone there is a distant echo in continuing provincial emigration to the capital and the south-east. It would be nice to think the cycle will be broken when the over-development penny drops. But don’t hold your breath. Too many provincials make the trip and then forget the reason they went in the first place. Once they are relatively comfortable too many lose their cultural courage. Though understandable, it is of no help at all to our national and regional cultures.

Later came the great migrations of the Industrial Revolution, as they did elsewhere in Europe and throughout the rest of the Western world. Cities exploded their populations almost willy-nilly. For example, Vienna increased from 400,000 to 700,000 between 1846 and 1880, Berlin from 378,000 to almost 1 million in 1849-1875, Paris 1 to 1.9 million in the same years and London 2.5 to 3.9 million in 1851-1881. Even these figure pale besides Chicago and Melbourne in the same era. Liverpool was eventually designated a city in 1880.

For a time there was a small Scandinavian enclave in our city. A tiny Jewish community still exists in the Childwall and Allerton areas. For many years the district around Pitt Street held the largest Chinese community (approximately 20,000) in Europe. An African community and an even tinier Asian/West Indian group eventually settled in and around Toxteth.

The term “melting pot” was originally applied to New York but it could just as well have applied to any major port of entry anywhere………Bristol, London and Liverpool included. Later it applied with variations to inland cities too, to Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester. In short, no incoming ethnic group has ever held continuous predominance in our city. Some were emigrants en route to America who settled here instead. There is an overall estimate of 9,000,000 immigrants of all nationalities using the port as their gateway to a new life.

Then there’s the Lancashire influence, which is to say religion, trade and the Industrial Revolution. Unfortunately you can’t avoid religious references because they loom as melancholically large in our national and local history as they do elsewhere in the world. These are most of the aforementioned external factors of 1670. Geography and lack of physical development ensured the English Civil War scarcely affected Liverpool except for a short siege and a minor skirmish or two.

Long before the Irish appeared en masse in “mainland” Britain after the horrors of the potato famines in 1845-49, the north and north-west – particularly Lancashire – was proportionately loyal to catholicism and the Royalists. It still is in pockets, at least insofar as religion has any contemporary importance. In fact the main roots of the present north-south divide were religious and date mostly from Tudor times. The north was predominantly catholic and the south protestant with significant puritan strongholds.

The differences were so virulent they even got a mention in Churchill’s “History of the English Speaking Peoples.” amongst other things he said this: “In the North of England society was much more primitive than in the fertile South……………Moreover there was a deep religious division between North and South……………a stubborn and passive resistance…………” Not that the first mentioned chauvinism stopped him standing for parliament in a northern constituency. Locally, the Stanley family were amongst the main supporters of catholicism during protestant persecution in the sixteenth century. Courtesy of the National Trust you can still see priest concealment holes out at the former family home in beautiful Speke Hall, the best example of a Tudor timber framed building in the country. After Henry the Eighth, catholicism lingered longer in English regions furthest from London. In England you can’t get much further away from the capital than the north-west. It was even excluded from the earlier Danelaw region established in the east.

As time went on, a firm, fateful sea link was formed with Ireland. Trade connections have existed ever since. Initially the trade consisted of simple export of salt from Cheshire and import of soft goods. By 1841 that trade was second only to business with the United States. The link was fateful because subsequently the English Establishment held a visceral hatred of that island for over seven hundred years of often brutal occupation.  Strategically the English regarded Ireland as “a catholic back door” for invasion right up to and including the Second World War. Nor would the Irish simply lie down and act the part of people defeated by an expanding empire. It was exacerbated during the Reformation and England’s conversion to protestantism while Ireland mostly held to catholicism. In the sixteenth century the Earl of Essex wrote to Elizabeth the First, “What can you expect from a wretched country except bad news?” By “bad” he meant continuing resistance. Eventually Essex was recalled after he compromised too much. The resistance waxed and waned during the centuries of occupation but it never faded completely. Eventually it culminated in the Easter Rising of 1916 during the First World War, considered by the British Establishment an act of treachery. In Ireland, the hatred was returned in equal measure. Memories were still fresh – and still are, though there is now much academic debate over what could and should have been done to alleviate – of the terrible decimation caused by the Great Famine over a half-century previously.

Cromwell’s protestant puritan invasion completed the foundations for what eventually would be a near millennium of mutual hatred.  In protestant England the hatred was exacerbated by Irish support for the royalists during the Civil War. This series of events was to have a decisive impact on the way our city was/is perceived internally and externally. It was the distant birth of yet another of the city’s myths.
Of equal import was the aforementioned south-east Establishment perception of the north, particularly the north-west.  At the time of the English Civil War this was based on religious perspectives we now rightly consider laughable. While baptism spread in Wales and quakerism originated in Lancashire, much of puritanism bypassed our region and never took hold the way it did in the south-east during Elizabeth the First’s reign. This was another crucial development – or lack thereof – because the Civil War eventually was dominated and won by puritan merchants/landowners like Oliver Cromwell. In essence it became a bourgeois revolution. During this period the north-west was regarded by the Establishment as “…dark corners of the land…,” though funnily enough even then William Ebery claimed “…the whirlwind comes from the North.” As always, the English Establishment tried to have it both ways. So much so the Southwark MP complained bitterly, “Those that come out of the north are the greatest pests of the nation.” Which sounds pretty much like Essex’s whinge to Elizabeth about Ireland a hundred years before but with a slightly skewed compass. After the puritans failed in England they fled to North America to persecute everyone else the way they were persecuted here.

Trade and the Industrial Revolution went hand in hand. Before that Liverpool played an important role in north Atlantic and African trade and also as a corner of the ineffable transatlantic Slave Triangle. In fact of course the entire English and most European Establishments and their main ports were involved in the Slave Trade. It was an intrinsic part of their new overseas empires. Liverpool’s location – relatively unexposed to hostile European navies, facing north America (the first American commercial cargo discharged in our city in 1648) – dovetailed with the opportunism of its trading merchants and eventually pushed it to the fore of the Slave Trade in England for a generation. By 1755 there were eighty-nine licensed slave traders in the city. However the overall commercial trade pattern remained after abolition in 1808.

Long before abolition became de facto local merchants saw the writing on the wall and diversified into other activities. The result was the port grew apace and paralleled the expansion of empire. Local manufacturing trade, such as it was, only faltered as the empire gradually faded out of existence in the twentieth century, though paradoxically overall tonnage through the port has never been so high thanks to containerisation. The city has been no more immune to international trading patterns, capitalist manipulation (never mistake capitalism for trade; though it frequently hides behind those skirts it is political and economic exercise of power by a tiny minority) or new technology than any other port in the world. As an example, strategic economic importance has now shifted to Europe. Trading emphasis has moved to Rotterdam and Hamburg and other European ports. There has been talk of our port as a “railway land bridge” to save an extra day expensive sailing time to Europe but naturally nothing has come of it. This is what extreme right-wing academics like Patrick Minford and economists from the Chicago School mean when they talk of “managed decline.”

Subsequently the Industrial Revolution took advantage of captive “markets” of empire. Liverpool was most favourably placed next to the birthplace of new technology and trade. From the beginning Liverpool and Manchester were inextricable in trade. Raw cotton came into Liverpool from slave cotton plantations in America. Manchester made cotton goods and they went out to the world via Liverpool. Example, at one stage 50% of Lancashire cotton goods went to India. However, Eric Williams has placed an unresolved argument that profits from the Slave Trade also helped fund the Industrial Revolution. If research shows this has any substance it is self evident there is a double historic debt owed by those nation-states who profited from the horror.

Eventually Liverpool and Manchester became commercial rivals when the latter tried to supplement its trading links through construction of the Manchester Ship Canal, thus bypassing monopolist port costs. This commercial rivalry is the root of most of the Liverpool-Manchester nonsense.

The main affect on our city was to cause an explosion of trade, riches and population. From less than 1,000 in the late seventeenth century, the population ballooned to 78,000 by 1801, trebled again by 1850, and reached 800,000 by the 1920s. It reached 856,000 in 1931. Other provincial cities followed a similar pattern. Agricultural workers migrated to the new cities in their hundreds of thousands. Seemingly anything was preferable to the old tied feudal/aristocratic agricultural system. Sentimentalists who tell you of some Victorian rustic idyll simply don’t know what they’re talking about. Workers fled it in droves even though life expectancy was much higher in rural areas. Between 1740 and 1910 population distribution changed dramatically. In the former year country dwellers numbered 6.5 million and town dwellers 1 million. By the latter year the figures were 9 million and 32 million respectively. Before 1820, mass voluntary worker movement was unheard of anywhere in the world. Afterwards, it became almost the norm. By 1825 national mass unemployment and poverty were a recognised fact of the system, which led to a loosening of emigration laws to allow its victims to take their problems to another country, usually the United States or Australia. This led directly to an expansion of shipping lines willing to transport emigrants, the source of many famous such companies in Liverpool.

The combined affects may be projected. Over 100,000 Irish alone flooded in to settle in north-west England, Liverpool and Manchester in the 1840s. By 1851 they peaked at 22.3 percent of the local population. Another 400,000 went through the city on their way to America. This is another root of the exaggerated extent of the Irish influence myth in Liverpool’s history. Like all immigrants from any source to any country Irish newcomers ended up occupying the poorest areas of the city along the river to the north of the city centre. The pattern was repeated across the Atlantic in New York and Boston. But by then the city was firmly established as a major commercial centre and the Irish were of little consequence in local decision-making then or subsequently, except in a purely defensive way in working-class organisations and areas in a north city ghetto. Even when the Irish National Party became briefly the second strongest party on the city council it was heavily diluted by immovable conservatism in the catholic church and its corrosive affect on working-class progress. Which meant they never had enough strength or commitment to radical policies but were more concerned with long and too often fruitless attempts at improvements in living conditions. This anaemic approach remains unaltered to this day though the number of totally committed catholic MPs is small.

Those Irish lucky enough to break from the north city ghetto distanced themselves toward the Establishment as quickly as they could, encouraged by political teachings of the catholic church. But they were never truly accepted and they never had much radical affect on the real power structure of the city except where they complied with the Establishment or made philanthropic gifts. Irish nationalists succeeded in getting a few council seats and one parliamentary seat and made a lot of noise but succeeded only in increasing Establishment paranoia of the Irish in England. Nor did it help much when allegedly the largest single contingent of Irish Volunteers outside the mother country came from Liverpool. Most successful commercial/academic Irish such as Michael Whitty (founder of the Daily Post, Chief Constable, founder of the Fire Brigade), Doctor John Bligh (physician, artist and humanist), Agnes Jones (nurse, contemporary of Florence Nightingale), May Whitty (actress and feminist), Richard Sheil (merchant trader), James Muspratt (chemical industrialist), George Lyster (engineer, docks and overhead railway), John Byrne (JP, educationist, soldier) remained staunchly proud of Irish culture and nationhood but hardly ever indulged in useless nationalist rhetoric or promotion of rebellion. They were far too busy getting on with their lives. England was after all nominally a protestant country and wasn’t about to allow its main provincial port to fall into the hands of its perceived enemies, especially since an historical power switch had unseated the aristocracy in favour of the New Rich burgeoning merchant/trading class, of which Liverpool had a large share.

In fact Liverpool was a node for the terrible Irish Diaspora of the mid-nineteenth century, and all the contradictions that necessarily entailed. Though the city was notoriously Whig and Tory and strongly resistant to Chartism it still occupied the largest single file in the Home Office Disturbance Papers for 1848. This was perhaps inevitable because Irish nationalism of the day was riddled with informers, organised crime, protectionism and self-proclaimed secrecy as opposed to remarkably successful organised mutual benefit societies and a majority of individuals who merely wanted to make a better life. At that time there were palpable Establishment fears of widespread violent revolution led by imported American-Irish military veterans, all of it fuelled by intelligence reports from New York. The result was an addition of 12,000 special constables, a large tented military camp in Everton, and armed marines in a government tender boat on the Mersey. Thus was the city’s so-called “image” finally burned into the memory of the English Establishment. It has hardly budged even after one hundred and fifty years of social evolution even though most Irish nationalism in the city repudiated violence and promptly moved to maintenance of so-called ethnic culture. Locally, there was far too much to lose even for desperately poor immigrants.
« Last Edit: December 28, 2012, 12:03:08 PM by jambutty »
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Offline Zappa

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Re: What is a Scouser? The place I grew up in, the team that chose me.
« Reply #110 on: December 30, 2012, 11:21:48 AM »
 Superb posts JB.
Although  the one-liner merchants won’t have the stamina to read them.  :)
When I get time, I’ll print them off and comment more fully.
I’d make a few points about #5 ;  Although you are generally correct about the English obsession with dialects and accents, it is a problem in other countries (for instance France & Spain) but it mainly seems to revolve around the polished educated people and the uneducated country folk.

We’ve traveled a long way from the days when if your accent didn’t  fit in you didn’t stand a chance in certain jobs and professions. The most obvious one was  the likes of Arthur Askey  and other Scouse comedians who lost their accents in order to get radio work;  My own mother tried to get all her children to speak properly. All she managed was to iron out the more guttural pronunciations,

However there are still too many people who pre-judge the bearer of a scouse accent. I’ve had to educate quite a few in my time. I even told on Finance Director never to confuse accent and intelligence, and then proceeded to demolish  his poorly thought out response to a report I’d written.
Finally – people have forgotten just how much scouse has entered mainstream English; and I hear people regularly lying through their teeth about their neck of the woods always using terms that in my youth would have drawn a blank expression from most of the outsiders I came across.
It’s hilarious to me to hear politicians being “gobsmacked” and feeling “grotty”; possibly because of the “Butty” they had for dinner.
The best one is to hear Manchester folk talking  about something being Manky  - which started out as “Manchester made” i.e. crap.
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Re: What is a Scouser? The place I grew up in, the team that chose me.
« Reply #111 on: January 1, 2013, 04:41:10 PM »

 Lingua Scouser.

Yernowarrameenlike?

I must say I was enjoying your post....until I came across the bit about the Welsh and Welsh Gaelic?

'Gaelic' refers to the Gaels...ie..the Irish?  (manx and Scots gaelic are of Irish origin)

The Welsh do not speak Gaelic. They have a Brittonic (Brythonic) celtic language. Brittonic and Gaelic are two different surviving branches of the celtic language family tree, the continental branches of which have become extinct.

 Your post makes scientific-sounding linguistic references yet you seem wholly unaware of this most basic linguistic fact. A bit like someone purporting to be a mathematician, but cannot add two numbers....it really is that basic a flaw.

Also, your assertion.....

"Ask a real Scouser to say “back” and you’ll see instantly what I mean about the Welsh connection. (Oh alright………just this once………phoneticists call this an alveolar scrape or fricative). Our local speech patterns owe an enormous debt to a fusion of Welsh Gaelic ascetic consonants and much softer Lancashire vowels."

......cannot be upheld.

The same sound is heard if you listen to the Irish (real Gaelic, this time) words "lough" or "ach". The sound is a generic celtic sound which probably existed before the celtic language split into p-celtic (like Welsh) and q-celtic (like Irish). It is not possible to say which of these sources supplied the modification to the original Liverpudlian english. This presupposes, of course, that this sound was not already present before the large Welsh and Irish poulation inputs to the city. The population of Bitain all spoke Welsh-like celtic languages before the spread of the anglo-saxon language, so it is possible, with Liverpool being far removed from the anglo-saxon heartland of the south-east, that out accent carried over some earlier celtic influence in the form of such sounds. There is a school of thought today that the original celtic language of the britons has influenced modern english far more than was previously thought...especially in terms of grammar.

With these basic errors known, your essay reads like an attempt to write Irish influence out of Liverpool.  You throw a large Welsh pebble and a large Irish pebble into a Liverpool lake and you argue that all of the resultant ripples are only the result of the Welsh pebble. It doesn't seem to be a good qualitative argument.

Liverpool has large Welsh, Irish, African and Chinese communities. All of these communities have contributed toward making the society of Liverpool what it is today. We should celebrate all of our our cultural identity, not try to deny parts of it.
« Last Edit: February 21, 2013, 05:07:11 PM by Wirral1 »

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Re: What is a Scouser? The place I grew up in, the team that chose me.
« Reply #112 on: January 4, 2013, 07:12:42 AM »
I must say I was enjoying your post....until I came across the bit about the Welsh and Welsh Gaelic?

Isn't Gaelic referring to the Gaels...ie..the Irish?  (manx and Scots gaelic are of Irish origin)

The Welsh do not speak Gaelic. They have a Brittonic (Brythonic) celtic language. Brittonic and Gaelic are two different surviving branches of the celtic family tree, the continental branches of which have become extinct.

Oh for fucks sake, are you telling me now that I've got to take me half and half bobble hat back and swap it for a one third LFC, one third Gaelic and one third Brittonic? It's gonna look shit.
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Offline Wirral1

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Re: What is a Scouser? The place I grew up in, the team that chose me.
« Reply #113 on: January 7, 2013, 08:23:26 PM »
Oh for fucks sake, are you telling me now that I've got to take me half and half bobble hat back and swap it for a one third LFC, one third Gaelic and one third Brittonic? It's gonna look shit.

As long as there are no blue bits, it will look fine to me..


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Re: What is a Scouser? The place I grew up in, the team that chose me.
« Reply #114 on: January 7, 2013, 09:26:35 PM »
So basically scousers are copying the welsh accent :P;D
Very interesting read all that JB ,cheers