Dr Condoleezza Rice today is visiting Merseyside and Lancashire, as a guest of Blackburn MP and home secretary Jack Straw. Understandably there is some disquiet about this visit and many people in the area are going to be protesting about recent Anglo-American activities.
“Ahh, Ah Ah Ahh, Ah Ah Ahh, Ah Ahh. Ahh, Ah Ah Ahh, Ah Ah Ahh, Ah Ahh.”
John Lennon, A Day in The Life
I’ve just woke to a quite surreal exchange on the Today programme. Following an explanation of the “4000 Holes in Blackburn Lancashire” from Beatles expert Hunter Davis (who coped quite well with being asked a question that is surely general knowledge), Wayne Hemingway waxed lyrical about Blackburn.
Wayne suggested, among other things, that Jack should take Condoleezza down the market to buy broken biscuits and drink sasperella or Dandelion and Burdock. Hmm, thought I, visiting Lancashire, or 1979? Coming from a place that was once, but is no longer Lancashire, I have heard many people reminisce about Sasperella, even though it is still reasonably easy to obtain. I bought it once because we liked Vimto in our house and it came in the same shaped bottle, so expected it to be a slightly different formula to Vimto.
The Today programme presenters seemed bemused by the insistence that this was not a tour of the North West, just a visit to two places. The weather presenter, an ex Chorley less who appears now to have gone native, thought people got territorial up here. No, it’s just that the North is just as diverse a place as the south and not two or three homogeneous regions. Londoners may be under the impression that there is a huge cultural difference between Highgate and Hampstead, but point out Leeds and Manchester are not the same place separate cities that are miles distant, you’re being weird and northern.
It was interesting to note how another piece of general knowledge looks in the light of modern times. The Beatles expert stated that the BBC had banned “A Day in the life”. I immediately thought of the Paul McCartney line “I went upstairs and had a smoke“, with a strange emphasis on smoke. But no, I was reminded it was because John Lennon says “I’d love to turn… you… on…”
And cue the orchestra.