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Liverpool has the title Birmingham wanted – Capital of Culture 2008.  With celebrations now underway, Pete Millington says it’s time to forget the bitterness of defeat and take delight in the success of a great British city.
Liverpool City of CultureI watched a culture magazine programme on TV last night which showed highlights of the opening ceremony to launch Liverpool as European Capital of Culture 2008. It looked very exciting and there is much going on in Liverpool this year across all sorts of fields of culture from art to literature, dance to poetry and music to... tall ship sailing!

Following the disappointment for Birmingham five years ago when the announcement was made that Liverpool had beaten Brum and other cities to get the Capital of Culture title for this year, it's easy to slip into old resentments but at the end of the day Liverpool is a great British city with a very distinctive culture which is different from our own for many reasons, not least because it has been a major port for centuries. The people of Liverpool deserve to celebrate their culture and we should get right behind them and view this as an entirely positive year for the whole country with possible spin-offs for our own region if we are astute enough to promote our own culture.

I have only ever been to Liverpool once in my life but I remember as a child in the 1960s the huge influence of Liverpool and the Merseybeat culture on everyday working class life. Even today I only have to come to a zebra crossing or see a barber showing photographs to suddenly hear a Scouse accent running through my head and I wasn't even old enough for it to have been caused by the drugs back then either! If it wasn't The Beatles and Gerry and The Pacemakers on the radio, then it was Cilla, The Scaffold and Ken Dodd on TV. I am also a big fan personally of the Mersey poets whose influence is still both under-stated and under-rated. What was interesting on last night's coverage was a young Scouse rapper claiming that Liverpool invented Chav culture, "we were wearing trackie bottoms years before anyone else"...and I don't think he was being ironic either. I think that's something that Scousers have in common with Brummies - we don't take ourselves too seriously.

So in the West Midlands, let's avoid the detracting attitude commonly expressed by media pundits from a certain other major northern city who shall remain nameless. Culture and heritage are not a competition, nobody has to beat anyone else 6-0 when it comes to celebrating arts, heritage and culture.

So come on West Midlands.... let's get behind the Scousers and enjoy 2008 with them!

The Liver Building

Reprinted from Pete Millington's excellent blog

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