Mersey News Live 1:6 November 17 2021

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MNL Powered by LJMU journalists








> Christian Owens at the National Diversity Awards: pp 10-11




4 Region’s tragic legacy 5 How safe are city’s taxi drivers? 6 Why I back plans for L1 karting track 7 City landmarks given gold award 8&9 Raising money the Movember way 6

Lifestyle & Arts


10&11 Celebrating trans awareness week 12&13 Easy to cook meals 14&15 Personalised gift ideas 16&17 40th anniversary of Wigan casino 18 Book swap in a phone box 19 National Novel Writing day


elcome to this week’s edition of MNL, bursting with in-depth and interesting stories. To kick off this week, our reporter Luke Pollitt went out and spoke to taxi drivers to get their thoughts on the terrorist attack that occurred outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital. As this month focuses attention on men’s mental health and the different ways we can support them, Sophie Moore reports on Uni of Liverpool’s rugby team

10 & 11 19

Raise money for Movember! raising money for Movember. To commemorate Trans Awareness week Amna Akram has an exclusive interview with the founder of GenderSpace, Chrisitan Owens, about his lived personal experiences and his journey as a trans man. Sophia Smith reports on the 40th anniversary of the much-missed Wigan Casino by speaking to a photographer who has published a book illustrating its history. Meanwhile, Catrin Jones shares


tips on easy-to-cook meals for people who may have a tight schedule. Two iconic Liverpool landmarks are getting a gold award by visit England - Ailis Finn-Looby reveals further details. Following up on National Novel Writing day, Harry Hughes gives us an insight into people’s experiences of taking part in the virtual writeins. We hope you enjoy reading it. Amna Akram, Lifestyle Reporter




REGION’S UNHAPPY LEGACY OF TERROR After the bomb explosion outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital, GABBY BERGONZI reviews the most tragic terror incidents the North West has ever seen


his year marked the 28th anniversary of the IRA bombing in Warrington, where the Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded two bombs without warning in a shopping street in the town of Warrington. Two bombs planted in litter bins on a busy shopping street detonated within minutes of each other the Saturday before Mothering Sunday. Johnathan Ball, who was only three at the time, died instantly. Tim Parry, 12, died five days later in hospital. After the bombing Colin and Wendy, the Parents of Tim Parry, set up the ‘Tim Parry Jonathan Ball Peace Foundation’. The foundation provides support and assistance to the victims of GB based victims of the Northern Ireland conflict. After the terrorist attack on Sunday in Liverpool, the foundation has spoken out and told people to get in touch if they feel they need support: “If you feel that you, or someone you know, needs support following a terrorist at-

tack, emotional and practical support is available for you. Speak to Victim Support first by phoning free on 0808 168 9111 (24/7)”. The North West has sadly seen another tragic terror related attack in the past five years. In 2017, Salman Abedi killed 22 men, women and children when he detonated a shrapnel-laden explosive at an Ariana Grande concert in 2017 at Manchester Arena. The blast, between the main arena and neighbouring Victoria station, blew people off their feet and caused widespread panic. Witnesses described hearing an explosion and seeing a flash of fire. ISIS claimed responsibility for what was the deadliest act of terrorism in Britain since the 2005 London metro bombings. Since 22nd May 2017, the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Peace Foundation has provided assistance to more than 800 people affected by the Manchester Arena attack.

We love you Manchester sign in city centre


Police line - do not cross

Manchester City Centre


The UK terror threat level has been raised to ‘severe’ after the explosion outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital on Sunday. Bomber Emad Al-Swealmeen called a taxi from his home and had asked to be taken to the Remembrance Day parade at Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral just a mile away. Sources believe that he had asked the driver to pull over outside the hospital after he discovered that he was unable to get to the Remembrance Day parade as the streets were

blocked off. Taxi Driver David Perry managed to escape the car as it went up in flames. One of his friends said: “David noticed that the man had some kind of light attached to his clothing and he was messing around with it, it didn’t look right at all”. Perry’s wife said that his survival was an ‘utter miracle’. She said: “The explosion happened whilst he was in the car. He certainly had some guardian angels looking over him.”


Swealmeen lived at Sutcliffe Street in the Kensington area of Liverpool where counter-terror police have arrested four men in their 20s in connection with the hospital blast. He also recently rented a property in Rutland Avenue, which has become the focal point of the terror probe after officers found “significant items” at the address. He is not believed to have been known to MI5, according to BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera.




How safe are our cabbies? Local taxi drivers respond to city hospital attack

Following the events at the Women’s Hospital over the weekend, LUKE POLLITT caught up with local cab drivers to see how safe they feel in their cars


his weekend has seen huge media attention turn on to our city after the horrific terrorist attack outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital. For the first time in its history, Liverpool has been targeted by terrorists. And with it not being even five weeks since the attack and murder of Southend MP, Sir David Amess, the public are being implored to remain vigilant. Amid all the speculation and news pouring from the city, we have seen a display of extreme courage from local taxi driver David Perry. The driver of the private hire cab managed to walk away from the horrifying blast. Liverpool Mayor Joanne Anderson told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: “The taxi driver, in his heroic efforts, has managed to divert what could have been an absolutely awful disaster at the hospital.” But what sort of impact might this have on our local taxi drivers? We have nearly 4,000 taxis in Liverpool

who despite the weekend’s events will still be picking up fares and keeping everyone moving. Mersey News Live spoke to a few of these drivers to find out how safe they feel in their cab. Jeremy Nevitt is a 67-year-old black cab driver from Garston. Outside Liverpool Lime Street he told MNL: “I still feel safe doing driving in the cabs, I’ve been doing it for 30 years, nothing like this will scare me away.” Jeremy said he’s outside the station every day and even after 30 years, loves every second. “For me there’s nothing else like it, it’s not just driving around you speak to people constantly. I’ve learnt so much from so many different people.” When asked about the bravery of David Perry he said: “It shows how everyday people are willing to put their lives on the line for other people. I think It’s even more on show this time because the victims could have been children, makes you sick to the stomach.”

Liverpool taxi drivers in shock following the weekend’s attack


t’s not the first time a cabbie has come to the rescue in situations like these. In 2007 terrorists drove a jeep, filled with propane, into the side of the Glasgow Airport. When one of the attackers, Kafeel Ahmed, jumped from the burning car only to be tackled by cab driver Alex McIlveen. Colin Matthews, 54, is a private hire driver from Wirral. He said: “We’ve seen it before haven’t we. The attack in Scotland a couple of years back now, there was a fella on the cabs would helped bring him down. I think it has morphed into a dangerous job. Something has to change around the safety of cabbies, it’ll be too late otherwise, something will happen again.” The Department for Transport has guidance for taxi drivers for staying safe, but how much does this help? Peter Grey, 60, is a black cab driver from Old Swan told MNL: “It’s not good enough and I truly think we are overlooked when it comes to people most at risk, this job is no longer just about driving.” He added: “I’m not sure how safe I feel anymore, but I could never let something like this force me to stop, that’s just what they want isn’t it. But I really hope some more support can be offered to us drivers” David Perry has now been discharged from hospital and is back

Liverpool Women’s Hospital was the target of a terrorist attack

It has morphed into a dangerous job. Something has to change


home with his family. His wife, Rachel Perry released a statement saying: “He is doing OK but is extremely sore and just trying to process what’s happened. He certainly had some guardian angels looking over him.” Conservative Party Chairman Oliver Dowden praised David’s actions, telling Sky News: “it is another example of true bravery and courage.” As a result, the country’s terror threat level has been raised to severe. Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “It is important that the public remains alert to the threat from terrorism but not alarmed. I urge anyone with information or who suspects any suspicious activity to report it to the police.”

Mayor Joanne Anderson expressed her gratitude to Perry




Racing cert that face-lift will boost city centre landmark MNL OPINION The empty Debenhams building may be partially converted into a space for leisure facilities, including a go-kart track. Here’s why this is great for the city, argues OLI JOHNSON


n iconic Liverpool shop could be converted into a go-kart track – and I, for one, am delighted. The landlord of Liverpool one has begun the process of transforming the building that was formerly a Debenhams store. Debenhams was by far one of the most popular stores in the shopping centre since it opened in 2008, but it closed last year when the company was bought by Boohoo after its liquidation. Part of the vacant 185,000 sq ft lot is potentially going to be converted into a leisure space, which could even include a go kart track, as referenced by the planning consultant Avison Young. Just under half of the area will be allocated to the leisure facilities. The closest go karting track is in Dingle, which if you don’t have a car is an hour walk away from the centre.

An attraction like this in the heart of the city, in one of the most appealing buildings in L1, would be perfect. It would receive much more visitors than the one outside the city, as countless people would see it and walk past it every single day, rather than just getting a glimpse of one as they are driving away. As someone who works at a shop in Liverpool One, I am massively in favour of this. In certain months of the year, particularly the first few months after Christmas, L1 isn’t very busy, and for casual staff, the hours are very low. A big attraction like this whichwould have people coming to L1 all year round, not just from the city but from elsewhere, would not only be great for the retail premises in the shopping centre and the local businesses in the surrounding area, but would provide more hours to the store workers with the increased footfall. Besides the multiple benefits it will

The currently vacant Debenhams building in Liverpool One © Oli Johnson bring to the local economy, it will be a great day out. It will provide something different for the city centre. There are a few cinemas, tons of restaurants and plenty of museums, but a go-karting track would be something unique. Manchester has a go karting track in the city centre and one just out of town near Old Trafford, both of which are run by TeamSport and are very popular. Although TeamSport own the go-karting track in Dingle, not many people who visit the city centre get out that way, and a lot of people who live in the city don’t even know it’s there. The rest of the vacant Debenhams lot is likely to stay as a department store, but it is unclear yet as to who exactly will be taking that part over. It is yet to be confirmed who is in talks to open the leisure space in the building.

An indoor go-karting circuit in the UK. Photo: Wikimedia Commons


MNL asked people who live and work in the city what they would like to take the place of Debenhams, and here are the answers • Nike store • Another Department store e.g Selfridges • Multiple smaller stores • Paintball • Museum

The ground floor entrance to Debenhams © Oli Johnson




Good as Gold: City strikes twin success in tourism awards Shiverpool, the award-winning theatrical-led ghost and history tour experience, has been named the country’s top guided tour for 2021. By AILIS FINN-LOOBY


hiverpool explores Liverpool’s most famous locations and the hidden history behind them. Offering street theatre shows to both small and large audiences, schools and colleges, universities and corporate audiences. Shiverpool transports people from everyday life to different worlds of Liverpool’s Haunted Heritage. The award, from Visit England, comes at a perfect time for Shiverpool as they celebrate their 16th Birthday, along with the new launch of the ‘All New Secret Garden Cemetery Shivers tour’ which rather fittingly takes place beneath the Anglican Cathedral, Shiverpool’s fellow Gold award winner. Shiverpool said they were thrilled to receive this award ‘after what has been a very difficult year for the tourism sector in Liverpool, it’s a real delight to be celebrating the success of our City region’s cultural offer!” Visit England Director Andrew Stokes said how pleased he was to see visitor attractions back in the spotlight and being recognised for their incredible experiences across the country. Lucy Carew, the artictic director

at Shiverpool, spoke to BBC Sounds about the award and how the team felt about the news. Shiverpool was founded by a brother and a sister who had previously visited Edinburgh and had seem how street theatre was celebrated their and thought that Liverpool had so many cultural assets to do something similar. The premise behind Shiverpool is for people to know about Liverpool’s history, including folk tales and ghost stories, which is delivered in a 90-minute experience. Visit England assess attractions across England on their delivery of the experience, marketing and how the experience is communicated online. Shiverpool had their assessment back in July and were pretty nervous due the country only recently coming out of lockdown and were experienceing some challenges Their aim was to just get a decent assessment and get their badge refreshed to then continue building the company back up again. After being given a report and talking to the assessor they found out they had received 93%, and were ‘absolutely gobsmacked’.

Photo by Shiverpool After they were recommended for a variety of other accolades and subsequently were then given the Gold award. The whole interview can be found on BBC Sounds.


peaking to Lucy, who has been working at Shiverpool for 10 years now she said ‘the love of history, street theatre, storytelling and the unique Shiverpool brand captured my imagination from the beginning and with that and the love I have for the city, I’ve been hypnotised ever since.” Liverpool’s Angelican Cathedral were also awarded a VisitEngland gold award. The Dean of Liverpool, the very Revd Dr Sue Jones said:

It’s a real delight to be celebrating the success of our City region’s cultural offer!

Photo by Shiverpool

Photo by Shiverpool

hard work we do to help visitors encounter a special welcome when they come to Liverpool Cathedral. There are so many reasons why people want to come to Liverpool cathedral, and this award will spur us on ensuring we remain a place of great encounters for many years to come.” Having being completed in 1978, Liverpool Cathedral suffered numerous interruptions due to two world wars. Taking the best part of over 70 years to be built and many designs, it has been named by poet Sir John Betjeman as ‘one of the great buildings of the world’, and Britain’s largest cathedral that towers over the city of Liverpool.

Liverpool Anglican Cathedral



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Rugby boys are fan-tash-tic

University of Liverpool Rugby Union players nosed cancer in young men. Nick Street, from Liverpool Men’s rugby Union talked about the importance of mental health awareness and said: “I think most people know someone who has struggled with mental health so by playing our part and raising money and awareness by taking part in Movember, this month is the least we could do. “We want the conversation around mental health to continue after the month is over, so we all need to check in with friends and family regularly.” He added: “Every moustache that is grown will be for all the dads, brothers, sons and mates in our lives. For all those who have been affected themselves, for those who know people who have and for those who will be affected in the future.”

A Liverpool rugby union team is aiming to raise over £15,000 throughout ‘Movember’ by each member growing out a moustache or completing 60km this month. By SOPHIE MOORE


ovember is an annual event involving either the growing of moustaches, running or walking 60km (Move for Movember) or choosing your own adventure challenge (Mo Your Own Way), throughout November to raise awareness of men’s health issues, such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and men’s suicide and mental health.

Last year the University of Liverpool rugby team managed to raise just over £17,000, one of the largest amounts raised from a single club in the UK. Paddy Mclarnon, charity secretary of Liverpool Men’s rugby union, told Mersey News Live: “Raising awareness and money for Movember is the main thing we care about, and we really are doing a great job at it so far this month.

Every moustache that is grown will be for all the dads, brothers, sons and mates in our lives


ince 2004, over six million participants have grown moustaches and been involved in Movember globally. Men die on average 5 years earlier than women, and for reasons that are largely preventable. Men’s physical and mental health continues to be in crisis. Through funds raised, Movember has invested in more than 1,250 critical projects that aim to stop men from dying too young. The Executive director of Movember, Mark Hedstrom, said the pandemic has impacted men’s mental health. “While we have had a tough year and a half, the Movember community has rallied to come together and make sure we’re doing our part to take care of one another. These last eighteen months have challenged us but demonstrated the importance of social connection and checking in on our family, friends and colleagues.

“We have already raised over £4000 and hopefully as the month goes on, we will keep raising more. Last year we managed to raise the largest amount in the uni, and hopefully we can do the same this year.” He added: “As a team we feel it is important to support these causes because year on year Movember manages to change so many lives through the numerous charities it supports.” In the UK, suicide is the single biggest killer for men under 45, 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime and testicular cancer continues to be the most diag-


We continue to be committed to our work in helping men live happier, healthier and longer lives,” With International Men’s Day coming up this week, (19th November) there is a significant importance to spread awareness on men’s physical and mental health. To donate to University of Liverpool men’s Rugby Union, Movember challenge:

Why Movember is so important


ovember is the only global charity focused solely on men’s health. The Foundation raises funds to deliver innovative, breakthrough research and support programs that enable men to live happier, healthier, and longer lives. Millions have joined the movement to disrupt the status quo, raising £911M and funding over 1,250 projects focused on prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention. Movember first started in 2004, and since then over six million participants have grown moustaches for Movember. Movember’s main motto is ‘Stop men dying too young’. In the UK, suicide is the single biggest killer for men under 45, One in eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime Testicular cancer continues to be the most diagnosed cancer in young men. Not only do these commitments raise vital funds, they also generate powerful and often life-changing conversations.




Liverpool trailblazer celebrates Amna Akram talks to the founder of GenderSpace to gain an insight on his journey and experiences as a trans man


ach year trans awareness week takes place, when people and organisations across the country take part in a series of events leading up to trans Remembrance Day on November 20. It is a time to help raise the visibility of transgender and nonbinary people, a time for celebrating and honouring the queer community, as well as shedding light on issues that gender diverse people still face to this very day. MNL spoke exclusively to the founder of GenderSpace and transgender speaker Christian Owens, who was shortlisted for the lifetime achiever at the National Diversity Awards 2020. He continues to spread his knowledge about the transgender community through his own personal lived experiences to individuals and organisations. Christian delves straight into how empowering it is to be his true authentic self: “I grew up as a young child, knowing exactly who I was and just waiting to fly and be free. Today I am a very proud trans man who is living my life to the full. “My visibility educates, empowers, inspires, and reassures others now. It’s powerful when someone can say “I understand what you’re going through because I have the same or similar experiences’.”

His inspiration to start GenderSpace started from realising that there was a gap that needed to be filled, as there was a target audience with not near enough role models to look up to. It dawned on him that he could be one of the many to give voice to the underrepresented communities. He said: “My own experiences of Transgender Day Of Remembrance inspired me to become a trans speaker and create GenderSpace, after attending the event back in 2012, before I started my legal transition. “I remember going to the event to find and seek out other people like me. I wasn’t strong or confident enough back then to have a voice, but I found others that became the voice and support for me and now that’s what I try to replicate with my work as GenderSpace.” To celebrate trans awareness week, Christian has been engaging in several events by visiting LGBTQ+ youth clubs to educate and enlighten people on what it truly means to be trans and taking part in interviews - his most recent one being with LJMU about GenderSpace. He has also delivered an awareness session to police call handlers to improve their understanding and education of gender identity and how they can positively engage with trans and nonbinary people who contact the





Trans Awareness Week

Transgender speaker Christian Owens leading a session about his work police to report crimes and incidents. According to the Stonewall LGBT Trans Report, 41% of trans people and 31% of non-binary people have experienced a hate crime or incident because of their gender identity in the last 12 months. Christian says: “It’s crucial and important that we have events of celebration, but also events of remembrance too, so that we can highlight the hatred and violence that we still face worldwide and the impact of violence and suicide, due to the struggles that we face every day.”


ver the past few years there has been a positive shift in attitudes and the way people are treated within the transgender communities has changed massively, but that does not mean there aren’t still issues to be addressed as Chris highlights how draining it can be with negative influences around. “The often negative and constant media debate about our trans and nonbinary lives, the toilets that we use, who we can date and have relationships with, our rights and the waiting times of the medical care pathway that some of us undertake, can be intrusive and destructive.” He added that the need for true allies is now greater than ever, as the journey of transitioning can be quite lonely.

“Someone once asked me what qualifies me to be a good ‘Trans Ally’ – there doesn’t have to be a training requirement or a course to attend, a good, kind person, is a good ally. “At certain times of transition, it can be a very lonely and isolating place and we do lose people along the way, so it’s important that people do check in, be our voice when we aren’t strong enough or resilient enough to have one and ask if we are ok.”

At certain times of transition, it can be a very lonely and isolating place

After 40 years of silence, ‘‘I found my voice and the courage to live my life as me and it’s the most amazing feeling ever!






Great taste of creative cooking From adding chillies to creamy carbonara, to swapping beef with aubergine, cooking your own meals is the perfect opportunity to get creative in the kitchen. By CATRIN JONES


ooking your own meals and experimenting with new dishes can seem intimidating, especially if it’s your first time cooking independently. But ready-made meals, while convenient, left a sour taste in the mouth of one young man from St Helens, who is now planning on writing his own cookbook. Sam Jones explained how he got into cooking as a young adult. “The main thing that got me into cooking was lockdown, it gave me so much free time and all the restaurants were shut. I’ve realised that you don’t need to go out and spend much on nice meals- you can do it at home if you use the right ingredients. “With YouTube nowadays, you can find some good recipes and mix and match all the stuff you’ve learnt and create your own unique recipes.” The 21-year-old’s passion for cuisine grew and he was soon able to cook a variety of homemade meals, such as his all-time favourite- a Lamb Kleftiko.

“I never used to experiment with my dishes when I’d go abroad but when I went to Greece a Lamb Kleftiko was one of the first things I bought, and I absolutely loved it. It was very authentically made, and feta cheese is one of my favourite foods. It’s also very easy to make and it just tastes delicious!” Sam, from St Helens, also told MNL of his intensions to write his own cookbook.


hroughout lockdown I had so much free time I just spent most of it experimenting with different recipes using different herbs and spices. One of the hard things about that is you forget the exact measurements. “So, my idea was to write a cookbook for myself just as reference, but my mum has said to me that she would very much like a version to read and I think creating a cookbook and publishing it would be a great idea.” “I’d love more young adults to get into cooking. If you learn to cook recipes that you enjoy, you

can put a spin on them to make them healthier; often using fresh ingredients rather than processed ingredients. So, the main message would be to save money and be healthy.” Although ready meals are convenient, they aren’t the healthiest of choices. In fact, they include so many preservatives and processed foods that a study on 100 UK supermarket ready meals found that not even one of them conformed with nutritional guidelines and were high in salt and fat. Cooking homemade meals can be daunting and time-consuming; however, the results are worth it. It is certainly a healthier and tastier choice. And as a bonus, cooking homemade meals with fresh ingredients can turn out cheaper then consistently buying ready meals and are much better for the mind, body, and soul. Whether you are a student, or a young adult hoping to enhance your culinary skills and impress your guests with high-quality dishes, there is no better time to start experimenting than the present.

If you are feeling inspired, or simply hungry, here are Sam’s top five dishes to cook that will make you look like a pro in the kitchen - each homemade, rich, and simply delicious:

1. Lamb Kleftiko Ingredients: Lamb leg steak Red onion Red bell pepper Feta cheese Basil Rosemary Baby potatoes

Red chillies Carrots Butter Salt and pepper, Chilli powder, Hot paprika, Cayenne


Chop onion, bell pepper, carrot, and mushroom then throw into oven pot with 300ml of vegetable stock. Sear lamb steaks in a frying pan before adding them into the pot with garlic, rosemary and half bottle of red wine. Leave in the oven on 100 degrees for 2 hours to tenderise meat. Boil half cut baby po-

tatoes, season and then place on baking tray to go in the oven until crispy. Once the wine and stock have reduced, dice the lamb steaks and pour the roasted potatoes into the pot to mix with lemon zest, chopped spinach, hot paprika, cayenne, salt and pepper. Once you’re happy with the seasoning, throw in diced feta and serve. 12




2. Spaghetti Bolognese Ingredients:

Lean mince beef Red onion Red d bell pepper Red chilli Tagliatelle Cherry tomatoes Tomato passata Mixed herbs Salt and pepper Chilli powder Garam Masala

3. Vegetable Lasagne Ingredients:

Aubergine Sweet potato Butternut squash tomatoes Tomato passata Butter Flour Milk Lasagne sheets Red onion Red bell pepper Red chilli Basil Mixed herbs Salt and black pepper Cumin Turmeric Cayenne

To start off, dice an aubergine and place it on foil with a grated butternut squash and sweet potato. Place the foil on a tray and in an oven preheated at 180 degrees celcius. To make the ragu (red sauce) I add diced red onion, red pepper and half a chilli to a frying pan with olive oil. Season with salt and black pepper at every stage. Add thinly cut garlic and diced tomato before pouring in the passata. Season with salt, pepper and half teaspoons of cumin, cayenne plus a dash of turmeric. Throw in some dried basil rather than fresh as it is more robust.


Start by thinly dicing a red onion, sweet pointed pepper, red chilli and fry them in olive oil on a high heat. Season at every step with salt and pepper. After the onions have sweated off, add the lean mince and fry until it all becomes thoroughly browned. Throw in chopped garlic

and cherry tomatoes a minute before adding the sauce as garlic tastes bitter when burnt. Pour in the tomato passata and season with salt, pepper, a half teaspoon of chilli powder and garam masala plus mixed herbs. If you have an extra 20 minutes, add beef stock and reduce which really brings all the ingredients together.

After 25 minutes in the oven, mix the veg in with the red sauce to resemble beef ragu. For the bechamel white sauce, melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a pot on a low heat. Add in small amounts of flour until it thickens but still remains moist. Continue stirring as you pour in around 250ml of milk. Once the sauce has become consistent add in 200g of grated mature cheddar and melt. Pour boiling water over lasagne sheets and a hand full of spinach. Layer the lasagne starting with a base of ragu, spinach, bechamel and repeat. Finish with a thick layer of the bechamel sauce and top with grated mature cheddar.


spoons of grated parmesan before adding the crème fraiche. Once the pasta is ready, lift it into the frying pan ensuring some of the pasta water goes with it. This cools the pan and also allows the sauce to stick to the tagliatelle. Finally add the sauce, mix in some parsley and black pepper. Stir for two minutes to allow the egg to cook before finishing with a topping of grated parmesan.

Credit: romaset

4. Spaghetti Carbonara Ingredients:

Egg Parmesan Garlic Smoked pancetta (and diced chicken) ½ red chilli Tagliatelle Crème fraiche Parsley pepper


Start by frying the pancetta in olive oil with the aim of rendering the fat as that’s where the flavour is. Add thinly cut garlic and half a chilli. Don’t forget to season with black pepper. Boil water for the tagliatelle (3 balls for 1 person). Do not salt the water as the parmesan and pancetta already create the salty taste. Next, whisk an egg with around two table

5. Sam’s Salmon Pie Ingredients:

Tinned boneless salmon Red onion Red bell pepper Red chilli Butter Potatoes Parmesan or feta Golden breadcrumbs Coriander Tomato puree Mixed herbs Cajun Salt and pepper Fish sauce

Thinly cut potatoes to about a centre meter each slice and place them into a frying pan with a tablespoon of butter. Season with salt, pepper and cover with a lid if possible. After 15 minutes, increase the heat and remove the lid. This will start to crisp them up so be sure to flip them after they brown. Next, dice a red onion, green bell pepper and birds eye chilli then throw them into a wok and fry until you

can see colour. Add a single garlic clove and remember to remove it at the end. Using a force, shred the tinned salmon into the wok after squeezing the brine out. Mix together with fish oil then lightly season with black pepper, cajun, hot paprika and add breadcrumbs. Press the salmon mix into the bottom of a oven dish and plate the potatoes on top with chopped coriander and grilled feta. 13




Former engineer launches business - with a tenner


former engineer has turned her lockdown project into a successful online business in Liverpool - and it all started with a tenner! Danielle Flynn, 25, is the creator of “Gift and Graze”, where she produces personalised handmade gifts and sweets from local businesses in the UK. Gift and Graze began in the height of the pandemic in 2020. During lockdown, Danielle came up with the idea, as she started to save for a flat. She could only start off her business with £10. “With the £10 I purchased the products I needed to put in my first graze style box. Then once I made my first sale, I used the profits to buy the next box and it started from there”, Danielle said. One year ago, her Instagram page was only at 2,020 followers, but today she has made it to 25,000 followers. With social media playing a big part in getting Danielle’s business out there, it left her days and weekends very busy but enjoyable.

Christmas event upcoming at Blackburne House Danielle is a lover of small businesses around the UK, and she began to promote their products on her Instagram page. “I have always loved supporting small marketplaces and businesses, but because of the delivery time, prices and delivery prices it’s sometimes hard to support them or not possible. I plan to change this.” Gift and Graze’s philosophy is that even small gifts make a big difference. Their bespoke presents are sourced from independent businesses and are suited to occasions like birthdays or weddings. On the website, there’s an option to ‘shop by location’. This means it allows locals from Liverpool to see what gifts they can purchase for collection, same day or next day delivery. There is no delivery fee for locals. Danielle’s business started from almost nothing. “Most of our customers comment on how thoughtful and unique the gifts are, with the receivers of the presents feeling so loved and cared for”, she said. “That’s what it’s all about- spread-


ing love and warmth.” Danielle said she was happy to announce that the businesses under the Gift and Graze website have tripled individuals’ salaries in a matter of months. Social media offered a larger audience to these small businesses and made them grow with original gift ideas.


nder Gift and Graze, there’s 35 or more businesses already a part of it. Danielle plans to widen this. The website doesn’t just sell gift ideas, the different small businesses are able to share, collaborate and create one big gift idea if they wanted to. The sellers can interact with each other whilst doing what they enjoy. WhatsApp and Instagram groups have also been put in place to get support from the other users on the Gift and Graze site. Now Danielle’s business has really taken off, 15 months later she told Mersey News Live that she has had the money to purchase her own flat and grew her website even more with profits of her business and is investing her wages into advertising for her company. Gift and Graze is hosting a Christmas event - run by elves - on December 4 and 5 at Blackburne House. It involves breakfast with Mrs Clause, a Christmas experience such as a treasure hunt, crafts and the grotto and a Frozen singalong cinema with Elsa and Ana.

Chocolate spoon gift

Treat box gift


Top Christmas food gifts:


1. 2. 3.

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Snowflake Slab – Pick Any Topping – Milk Chocolate

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The dancefloors of northern England began bouncing with a syncopated beat in the late 1960’s as Wigan Casino blasted out soul tracks to masses revolting against the charts. Dancers were dressed in the widest trousers possible, buttoned-down Ben Shermans, sewn on badges representing soul club memberships and brogue shoes. By SOPHIA SMITH


he phenomenon became known as Northern soul which emerged from the mod scene in Northern clubs such as the Wigan Casino, The Torch in Stoke on Trent, Manchester’s Twisted Wheel, and Blackpool Mecca. Halls hosted the underground club nights in the late 60s and 70s with DJs introducing audiences to the rarest American vinyl. Thousands of young people would be seen throwing themselves around the ballroom with kicks, spins and backdrops. On an evening in 1981, Italian born and Liverpool photographer Francesco Mellina travelled from Liverpool to Wigan to capture the final Northern Soul all-nighter. “I was working as a freelance photographer for NME and they commissioned me to go there to illustrate an article documenting the final all-night session.” He said. “It would start at midnight, and you’d finish around 8am. I decided on that night to stay the whole night and photograph the entire event. I’m so glad I did. “They are now known as the best documentation of the Wigan Casino, and it’s not me saying that either! It’s the people who started the casino who have said it like Russ Winstanely, Richard Searling, the original DJs. “It’s a huge historical importance for everyone.” Francesco was born in 1952 in a small southern town called Polestina in Italy which he called ‘the toe’ of the country. At just age nine, he began to teach himself English, but the catalyst was not English books, or a dictionary, but vinyl. “All of my records were American or English artists, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, Aretha Franklin.

Photo Credit: Glyn Kelly

“I was always really in love with the English language even though initially I didn’t understand a word of it.” he laughed. As a child he fell in love with the iconic music of the legendary Beatles. “I first saw them in a magazine article, the title said, ‘The Phenomenon of The Beatles’, I was engaged and bought the records and started learning about Liverpool and anything to do with the city.” “I was an anglophile, at the age of 16 I left home and travelled Europe before coming to Liverpool in…oh crikey” he paused. “1974!” When Francesco first arrived in the windy city, he resided in a house near Sefton Park and began to fall in love with the culture of Liverpool. “I tried to find places, and somebody mentioned the O’Connors Tavern. The famous Mersey poets did readings there every Thursday and I was fascinated by it, my English wasn’t that good but it didn’t take me long to pick it up. I became good acquaintances with all of them especially Roger McGough.”

David Byrne Photo Credit: Francesco Mellina



Francesco enrolled in the Art College to do photography whilst the musical explosion of Liverpool was beginning. “I decided that I wasn’t a musician, I can’t play or sing. I loved cinematography and it was the best bet to get involved in the culture of the city. One of my biggest inspirations was Don McCullin, he was a photographer recognised for his war photography.” As he found places to capture, Francesco took a liking to the bar Eric’s on Mathew Street



Outside Wigan Casino, 1981. Francesco Mellina


Casino.’ The book floods back memories for thousands of people who once kicked and danced along the ballroom floor. “The reason why the book came out this year is it marks the anniversary of the Casino closing. The photos have featured on BBC and I did an event in Blackpool with some of the prints on display and people would just walk past and recognise themselves on the photos. There were people from Birmingham, London, Stoke and a guy from Scotland who pointed out and said ‘that’s me’!” Francesco laughed. “I just could not believe it! The book contains people dancing and sitting in groups, it’s brilliant for those people that were on the scene. Dozens of people have found themselves. It’s the beauty of history. And great for me, it’s a great body of work.” “I had been to Wigan Casino twice before, but I didn’t stay very long because I had to get the last train back home so it was always rush and go. I do love soul music, even as a young boy back home in Italy I was buying Wilson Pickett records. But, I would be lying if I said I could dance like they did.” he


chuckled. “The shot just comes natural to me. Each roll of film contained 36 frames, and shooting three rolls of film for someone like me or anybody was a lot. We didn’t have digital photography. You’d usually just take a few photos you thought the newspaper would need and then you were done.” Last Night at Wigan Casino is Francesco’s second book – his first, Revealed, focuses on subcultures like punk and New Romantics. Most of Francesco’s work consists of using old archive which he licenses for books, films, record sleeves and selling the prints. “I take photographs still, of musicians, commission work but I don’t go to gigs unless it’s a friend of mine or someone I can get close up to. I saw most bands I loved in the 70’s and 80’s, I don’t need to see them anymore. I just go see unknown bands, at least you’re supporting something worthwhile.” “I like Sam Fender. He’s brilliant, of all the young people he’s the one that genuinely makes such an effort. The subject he covers are very mature. It’s so refreshing to hear someone like him because he’s musically very good and lyrically excellent. He’s retained his working-class

where he saw the likes of Pete Burns, Pete Wylie and Jane Casey. “They were always there, they all seemed to live there.” said Francesco. “It was the only point of reference for likeminded people. Eric’s was the catalyst for everything they went to achieve in the long ride. For anybody that had a particular way of looking at life it was the place to be. I include myself in that.” Not long after meeting Pete Burns, Francesco became the manager of the iconic Dead or Alive. “Pete and I became friends because of my photography. He invited me to his flat to take photos of him and one day out of the blue he asked if I would manage him and of course I said no problem!” he smiled. Throughout his career, Francesco captured many iconic artists including Paul Weller, The Clash, Japan, Talking Heads, Roxy Music, Kraftwerk, U2, Ramones and The Cramps. “Even though I was photographing the band, I was enjoying the show. My favourite is the David Byrne of Talking Heads at Manchester’s Free Trade Hall in 1979. I wasn’t planning on even going to that gig, my friend was a fellow photographer and he rang me and said he had a spare ticket to see them. I think I had about 16 shots left in the camera and I’m glad I went because it’s my favourite photograph. Maybe it was just destined to be.” 40 years later, Francesco has released a book with photographs capturing the end of the era called ‘Last Night at Wigan

roots and he genuinely feels about what he talks about.” “For anyone looking to get into photography, choose the kind of photography that you want to do and go for it.


There’s no reason why people shouldn’t do it, it’s so easily available that you can do it with your phones. Cameras will always be there. “It’s just a shame at most shows now they only allow you to take photos on the first three songs and then you have to go out, and if you don’t agree to it you’re not allowed in unless you sign a disclaimer!” Last Night at Wigan Casino was published in July this year and most of the photographs in this book have not been seen by anyone since 1981. You can find Francesco’s book in Waterstones for £25.




Dial L for Library: how book-lovers box clever By ELLIE ROCHELL

one of the busiest times of year for the Barton library. The time of year for giving, the locals show their generosity by donating even more books and DVDs during the month of December.

Quite often when walking down te lane you’ll find someone having a look at the selection of books available. George said: “As people have more spare time and there’s only so much drinking that can be done in the village’s only other attraction the pub.” As the village is only small, the pub ‘The Cock O’Barton’ is where most residents spend their time over Christmas. But the library is definitely not forgotten at this time of year. George added: “Quite often when walking down the lane you’ll find someone having a look at the selection of books available.” So, this festive season, why not stop by in Barton and swap a book?


arton is a village which nestles in the country lanes of West Cheshire, not far from the Welsh border. The village is known for being small and quaint, home to beautiful houses and exquisite country views. Barton Road, the main street which runs through the village, is home to the iconic library although it may not be what you’re expecting. The library is within a telephone box which sits on the pavement, filled with books ready to be swapped and read. George Ratcliffe, 21, who has lived in Barton for a decade, told MNL: “The Barton library has been going since 2017, when one of the local residents purchased the old phone box for £1 and decided to put a bookshelf inside it.” Since then, the library has been home to countless books, all being swapped amongst the locals. The book collection became an even more vital part of the village during the Covid-19 pandemic. George said: “During lockdown it was a great way to pass the time because there was a constant influx of new books from other people in the area.” Although the library is not just limited to books, George told MNL:“Often you will find a collection of DVDs and blu-rays in there that the locals don’t mind giving away.” And, as we all know, the festive period is almost upon us - arguably

(Above left) The exterior of the Barton library, seen on Barton Road. (Above right) The book I swapped for when visiting the Barton library. (Left) Look how packed the library is! It’s filled with books of all genres, both fcition and non-fiction. Photos by Ellie Rochell






Novel approach to creative writing is a social success

National Novel Writing Month participants at a get-together in 2015


Credit: NaNoWriMo Liverpool


hile everyone prepares to stay indoors during this time of year’s cold weather, some are using this new-found time creatively. Over 1700 Liverpudlians have decided to spark their imaginations and take part in National Novel Writing Month this November. The challenge, for those who choose to accept it, is to write 50,000 words of a brand new novel within 30 days. The event began in San Francisco in 1999 with only 21 participants, but in the years since, it has grown to see over 450,000 writers across the globe each year. The non-profit organisation behind National Novel Writing Month (also known as NaNoWriMo) provides aspiring writers with a means to hone their skills as an author, meet like-minded people, and even gives advice on how to go about publishing your work once it’s finished. In Liverpool, each NaNoWriMo sees a community of everyday people getting together and helping each other reach the 50,000-word finish line. However, since the pandemic, NaNoWriMo has had to move online and host ‘virtual write-ins’. Megan L. Finney, who organises these local events, said: “In the time before COVID, we’d meet up at a local coffee shop for write-ins and monthly

Guard’, which is a fantasy novel that tells coming-of-age story of several LGBTQ characters. The plan is for it to be the first instalment of a trilogy. Although it’s over halfway through November, Lorcan is making a lot of progress on the sequel to ‘The Child Guard’. “I’m doing really well, not to sound smug or anything. I tend to go quite hard in the first few weeks of NaNo, so I build up quite a bit of steam.” On top of hosting the annual event, NaNoWriMo provides year-round literary activities across the globe. This includes the “Now What?” months in January and February, which aim to help wrimos edit and

meet-ups, but these days we’re limited to Each Wednesday and Saturday of November, the participants, or ‘wrimos’, host a voice and/or text chat online and attempt to write as much as they can within 15 minute intervals. “These word sprints run throughout the session and let people focus and be productive. Wrimos can chat and decompress in-between the sprints to encourage each other and offer advice.” Hundreds of books have been published as a result of NaNoWriMo over the years. Some wrimos lucky enough to have their work published have gone on to great success. Canadian author Sara Gruen wrote her novel ‘Water for Elephants’ during NaNoWriMo, which has since been adapted into a film starring Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson. NaNoWriMo member Lorcan E. Montgomery wrote the young adult novel ‘The Child Guard’, which was published in August 2020. Over this month’s event, she’ll be writing the book’s sequel. They said: “My first year doing NaNo was 2017, which I completed on my own. I knew about it from friends who did creative writing at Uni, but I only found the community in 2018. That made it a lot easier. The community is what makes it fun.” Lorcan self-published ‘The Child

publish their completed drafts, as well as Camp Nano every April and July. Camp Nano allows participants to set their own writing goals and join a group of between three to twenty other writers in order to share each other’s progress, encouragement and resources. A Young Writer’s Program was also set up in 2004 to inspire those under 18 to get involved with NaNoWriMo. Nearly 100,000 students and educators from all around the world have utilised the program to help young people find their creative voice. Whether you figure yourself an author or not, it isn’t too late to sign up with National Novel Writing Month.

Some of the NaNoWriMo Liverpool community in 2018 Credit: NaNoWriMo Liverpool


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