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Anna Karenina and The Lisbon Sisters Relocated to Liverpool

December 19, 2012 in A WONDROUS SPACE, LIVERPOOL, Wondrous Cities, XMAS SPECIAL

Lisbon Sisters in Liverpool

When you truly, truly love a book – when you’ve read it cover to cover and back again, and until the spine is starting to split – you begin to see the entire world through that narrative. You start to recognise crucial locations of that story in your own city.

I realised that The Lisbon Sisters from The Virgin Suicides are very much real in this city, and that people are still not taking their concerns or their troubles all that seriously, and that Russian classic Anna Karenina becomes a satire on W.A.G and tabloid culture when you relocate it to the haunts of the Scousewives.

Words and Drawings by Amy Roberts (with thanks to my girl Laura Outterside for being my books & booze buddy x)


Characters: The Lisbon Sisters

Book: The Virgin Suicides

Author: Jeffery Eugenides

Original setting: Grosse Point, Michigan

“Everyone dated the demise of our neighbourhood from the suicides of the Lisbon girls…”

Cecilia was the first to go. At 13, she first attempted death with razors across the wrists. But, unsuccessful, she later jumped from the top window of the family house where she successfully and fatally impaled herself on the front fence (exhibit #2: fence piece).

Following the suicide of their youngest sister, the remaining four sisters – who were fourteen (Lux), fifteen (Bonnie), sixteen (Mary) and seventeen (Therese) – became disconnected from their peers and their schooling, whilst their home life became a staple of consistent local gossip in the area where they were to live out their short lives (Calderstones Road, and onwards to Allerton, Toxteth and Aigburth).

The four girls began wearing a uniform of black and started hanging out outside of The Law Courts and on Chevasse Park where they swigged the vodka and cheap wine that Therese bought for all of them from the offy. Mary once dyed her hair green in the toilets of Grand Central.

They spent as many nights as possible in the notorious city centre ‘alternative’ nightclub The Krazy House where a slew of teenage boys and men old enough to know better pursued and worshiped the sisters. There are love notes from this period (exhibit #4) in which men have written their numbers on the back of Smirnoff Ice bottle labels followed by meet up points and times (exhibit #4.6: “The Swan, tomorrow, 7:30. I’ll be sat in the corner listening to Sabbath”).

This was an activity that was reciprocated and encouraged whole heartedly by Lux, who at one point didn’t return home for an entire weekend but was eventually driven back by police who found her passed out and deeply inebriated in a stair well of a nightclub on Duke Street. Rumour has it that a drag queen called Lola who used to work the door at Society found her there and had called an ambulance because she ‘thought she was dead’ (exhibit #9).

Mr and Mrs Lisbon became increasingly reclusive following this event, and in an attempt to protect their remaining daughters from the rest of the World locked the house (and the internet connection) down into maximum security isolation and pulled the girls from school.

And then it didn’t take long for it to happen. Pills. Noose. Carbon monoxide. Oven. From four they had become zero – the living to the dead.

After the free reign of the suicides, Mr and Mrs Lisbon gave away everything they owned and sold the house to a young couple from Kensington. Allegedly they moved into an undisclosed location on the Wirral where they could ‘be alone, for all time’. The school across the road from the old Lisbon home put in a memorial flower bed (exhibit #12: photograph) in respect to the tragedy. There’s a rumour going round that teenagers have started having unprotected sex on the memorial piece because ‘there’s no way of knocking a bird up there since nothing survives on Lisbon land’.


Character: Anna Karenina

Book: Anna Karenina

Author: Leo Tolstoy

Original setting: Moscow / St Petersberg

Anna Karenina in Liverpool

“If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content”.

Anna became the center of national and local scandal after leaving her husband – a well known and respected politician – for an equally wealthy, but notoriously skirt chasing younger model in the shape of (likely premiership footballer) Vronksy. She immediately moved to Liverpool to be with him, and was overheard in hair salon Herberts harping on with grandiose statements about love filling her soul and the sacrifices for happiness. Keen to cash in on what seemed to be a predictable set up for derision, the rabid tabloids pounced on Anna as the new scurrilous It Girl du jour – eager to document and also instigate her messy demise.

Despite having it all – a massive house in Woolton, a never ending disposable income, free unlimited supplies of botox and a possible new reality TV show in the works – Anna still desperately missed the stability and social contacts of her old life. Sure, she had love but what of its reality? Despite her social position, and despite her money, the world still looked on her as being trash, and of ill, despicable and questionable morals. Proper women shouldn’t act in such a way, said Daily Mail and Express editorials for many months to come.

As a result of such pressures and public ruination, her partying spiraled out of control and further isolated her from the life she once knew and the life she craved to sustain with Vronsky. She lived it up with cocktails at Mosquito, champagne by the bucket in Circo, and a private booth in the Newz Bar. She attended Ladies Day at Chester races – spending the morning prior enjoying a champagne breakfast at the London Carriage Works with women of similarly wealthy but ill repute – before watching her partner’s horse fall at the first hurdle and eventually get put down.

Anna was caught between light and shade – a position where she could have everything, but also nothing. Her ex husband played his position – and that of Anna -  up in the tabloids. She can always come back he kept saying but only if she stops the lies and deceit. Anything is better than lies and deceit! These were posted amongst shots of Anna – wild eyed and alone, platform heels in hand – wandering listlessly along the docks.

She even appeared as herself in several episodes of the soap Hollyoaks, leaving with the immortal line – once famously uttered by her once husband - Love those who hate you. She was not critically celebrated for her performance.

And then rumours began to circulate of Vronsky’s various infidelities. He was hardly ever home, and Anna began suspecting him of failing in love or lust with every younger version of herself that she came across. I feel a fool – as though I’ve given up everything for nothing! she glumly told her brother between mouthfuls of Key Lime Pie and a Cafe Cubano in Alma De Cuba one wretched lunchtime.

It was during this time that she began having recurring dreams about falling beneath the wheels of a locomotive. She would throw herself down onto the tracks into crimson and darkness. In her bag she always kept a small stash of cocaine neatly wrapped up inside a small vintage tobacco tin with a steam train on the lid and when she held the tin up to her ear like a shell she could hear the steam rising from the engine.


Avatar of Amy Roberts

Amy Roberts

Starting out life writing overly emotional vignettes of teenage turmoil in countless shame inducing diaries, I now write vignettes of grown up turmoil mostly inspired by the horrors (and splendours) of everyday life. You can often find me around Liverpool playing guitar (badly) or dancing (stupendously).This is my blog: - 'I Never Knew You Were Such A Monster':

Holden Caulfield Relocated to Liverpool

December 18, 2012 in A WONDROUS SPACE, LIVERPOOL, Wondrous Cities, XMAS SPECIAL

Holden in Liverpool

Much in the same way that there’s die hard Christian believers who take a moment in everyday life to think ‘What would Jesus do?’ (WWJD), I in turn occasionally find myself wandering around Liverpool thinking to myself ‘What the hell would Holden Caulfield make of all this?’, because I don’t believe in God, but I do believe in J D Salinger.

When you truly, truly love a book – when you’ve read it cover to cover and back again, and until the spine is starting to split – you begin to see the entire world through that narrative. You start to recognise crucial locations of that story in your own city. A dive bar in New York is suddenly right there on the corner of Duke Street, or you suddenly drive down a bland and orderly suburban street in Allerton where you decide that the ghost of a 13 year old girl in a wedding dress surely roams.

I began to think about this more and more and before long Liverpool was beset with tragedies, rebellions, murder and glamour. It became a stage, as well as an audience – stories and characters that I’ve loved for years were suddenly right there in front of me, off the page and onto the streets. Today I relocate Holden Caulfield to Liverpool to imagine the city through his eyes. Tomorrow I relocate the Lisbon Sisters from ‘The Virgin Suicides’ and Anna Karenina to Liverpool.

I discovered that barely anything changes for Holden Caulfield – he is ever present in many pubs and bars every day of the week muttering ‘phonies’ under his breath at hipsters and show offs.

Words and Drawings by Amy Roberts (with thanks to my girl Laura Outterside for being my books & booze buddy x)


Character: Holden Caulfield
Book: The Catcher In The Rye
Author: J D Salinger
Original Setting: New York City

The truth was that everywhere I went in this goddamn city, I could see those same escort agency posters dotted about the place. They were everywhere. Some woman in a Santa hat and little else holding a gift between her open legs. I felt like a fool. And then I felt real sleazy. And then I just felt depressed. But at least I didn’t actually do anything with the girl and you know, I don’t have a black eye or anything today, so that’s something.

Anyway, I headed to this greasy spoon called Kimos for a late breakfast. It’s a good place to go for when you just want to be alone. I swear, I could pour a bowl of beans over myself in this place and nobody would bat a goddamn eyelid. In fact they’d probably bring me a new plate of beans and a towel to clean myself up with. I ordered the Foule Mudammas – because I was thinking myself a little more cultured and exciting than I actually am – but when it turned up I probably only ate a fifth of the thing. If you really wanna know I spent the whole time watching a guy opposite me eat a full English. I regretted that all day.

I tried phoning Sally again, but I guess she’s busy or just doesn’t feel like talking. Technology really gives me the blues. It doesn’t connect anyone with anybody. It just makes me feel more alone than if I didn’t have it, truth be known. I was at a loss as to what to do with myself then. I was kinda planning on taking Sally out for a meal in Leaf or to catch a film in FACT or something, but I ended up going the Pilgrim and drinking a few double rum and cokes on my own in one of those booths they have in there.

I sat picking the mosaics off the table top (the one I was at spelled out the name LIPA) whilst a group of student types in rugby shirts talked about girls they’d screwed recently. I swear, I recognised half the girls they were talking about and know for a fact they wouldn’t be caught dead taking their knickers off to a bunch of bozos like that.

I was kinda drunk by that point and making a sorta scene, I guess –  the way people do when they drink on their own. It just makes everyone uncomfortable. The barmaid started ID’ing me which I took as my cue to leave. I wandered just round the corner into a club called Bumper and they didn’t give me no grief about getting in or anything, which I took to meaning that they aren’t too picky about the sort of cliental they let in.

My god, you should have seen the mess everyone was in. I got myself a drink which cost me about three times the price of the ones in The Pilgrim and made me feel only about half as good, and went and stood downstairs away from the humping dancers on the dance floor. There was a girl crying in the corner. She had some vomit on the front of her dress and I felt real bad for her. A boy who looked younger than I did and was wearing some kind of an 80’s shell suit jacket with a t-shirt that had the logo of some obscure metal band on it or something went over to her and tried his luck. Man, I can’t stand phonies like that.

I started talking to my brother Allie whilst I was stood there. The music got louder, so loud that I could feel the bass in my stomach, and I started worrying about whether the ducks in the local park by mine were alright. I finished my drink and decided to head back to Crosby to check. Hang out with my sister, Phoebe. Maybe everything would be fine.


Tomorrow: The Lisbon Sisters from ‘The Virgin Suicides’ and Anna Karenina relocated to Liverpool.

Avatar of Amy Roberts

Amy Roberts

Starting out life writing overly emotional vignettes of teenage turmoil in countless shame inducing diaries, I now write vignettes of grown up turmoil mostly inspired by the horrors (and splendours) of everyday life. You can often find me around Liverpool playing guitar (badly) or dancing (stupendously).This is my blog: - 'I Never Knew You Were Such A Monster':

Tales from Coopers Townhouse Part 5: Time.

September 14, 2012 in A WONDROUS SPACE, LIVERPOOL, Wondrous Cities

Resize Busstop

“Time is the longest distance between two places”  Tennessee Williams.

Separated by miles and a timescale that rendered them each a stranger to the other, they had responded aggressively and as though connected by an unseen force, in a manner that sought to lose time altogether.

Marina, waking up Thursday morning to the realisation that she may never rid her life and her home of the man she had wasted so many years trying to love, had escaped to a lost weekend of booze and forgetfulness – something she never did. Kenny, merely drifting through the monotony of the job he’d held for twenty odd years, had also decided from Thursday morning to escape into a shifting new reality. One that was drunk and continually absent from memory.

In this manner their lives were dreamlike and questionable, they barely existed, conversations and scenarios remembered doubtfully as though they may have been sleeping the whole time. And when they did sleep, it was only to awake once more and to continue merging the territory of sleep into their waking lives.

On Saturday at 2:45 pm, both Kenny and Marina found themselves stood across the bar from each other in Coopers, a pub that neither had ever visited, but upon hearing a majestically addled rendition of ‘Love Really Hurts Without You’ coming out the place, both were reminded of their youth and of a love that had escaped them, and were immediately drawn in.

At once, they were frozen – their eyes locked as though the retinas were waltzing with those of the person before them. For an instant Kenny actually believed that time had stopped, and grabbing the barmaid by the arm (who may or may not have been totally frozen), uttered, nervously, Mate, that woman there – she was my sweetheart when I was a lad. Look at her! Look at her face. Marina.

The barmaid wriggled her arm free from Kenny’s grasp and looked down the bar at Marina, who was squinting in their direction, and, smiling, whispered Why don’t you go talk to her then? ‘Stead of chatting on to me about her, like.

Narr, I can’t – I mean, it’s been years. What if it’s not her? Maybe she’s changed? Married? I can’t – look at the state of me, love. I’ve been on it since Thursday. Even me socks probably hum of ale…

The barmaid took another look at Marina, and sensing that she would also not approach Kenny, suggested Listen, did you two have a song when you were courtin’? Something you’d always listen to together?

Aye. We had a few, like.

Well, get up and sing it to her. Nothing good ever came out of just staring at someone from across a bar. Imagine what kind of a film ‘Casablanca’ would have been if Bogart and Bergman spent the whole time just bloody gawping at each other.

Alright, Kenny replied, adjusting his pants and brushing his t-shirt down, I’ll do it.

He walked up to the front of the room and put in his song request – David Bowie’s rendition of ‘Wild Is The Wind’, a song that Marina used to love, and that he tolerated for her sake. Personally, he always thought that Bowie was a bit too weird for his tastes. The things you do for love, he thought nervously, and downed his drink.

The song began and he mumbled his way through the first verse, but upon noticing Marina’s face light up, he picked up courage and started belting it out, Like the leaf clings to the tree, oh my darling cling to me! For we’re like creatures of the wind, and wild is the wind…wild is the wind.  The rest of the drinkers in the pub became animated at his conviction, and began cheering him on – through his voice breaking at the high notes and through his inability to time the line where the music drops out and leaves the vocals open and vulnerable.

Marina approached the front of the pub before Kenny had even finished the song, and flipping through the songbook found her choice, and put in her request. She wasn’t ready to speak to him, yet. There was too much to say. There was nowhere to start.

Without even looking at him, she took the mic, and waited for the song to begin. Kenny went back to the bar and ordered another glass of Aussie White, perplexed as to the situation he found himself in.

The song started, piano dancing down into Marina’s vocal entry Nobody does it better, makes me feel sad for the rest, nobody does it half as good as you! Baby you’re the best… She felt embarrassed at the song choice. It was too earnest, too open, the lyrics took on new meaning appropriated to the way her life was right now and she felt as though everyone in the place could see straight into her like an x-ray. This was never a good song, she thought to herself, damningly. Sentimental crap, probably scared the poor bastard off for life now.

But it didn’t. They continued in this way, back and forth, communicating only through song. When Kenny sang ‘Yesterday’ to her, she sang ‘Jolene’ to him, when he responded with ‘If You Leave Me Now’ by Chicago (the crowd howling encouragingly as he proudly failed every high note he attempted), she replied with ‘Rhiannon’ by Fleetwood Mac, looking lost as to how they could continue from here as the song faded out into silence.

A thunderstorm had erupted outside, somewhere around the time that Marina was pleading I’m begging of you, please don’t take my man in the midst of ‘Jolene’. She stood now at the bar cradling her drink. Kenny – in complete silence – came up beside her, and took hold of her hand. They looked at the novelty clock in front of them, with the numbers printed in reverse and Marina prayed that something would change. That she could start over. Kenny tightened his grip around her hand and gestured his head towards the door.

They walked through the pub together, Kenny noticing once more that it was as though time had actually paused again, as though somebody was holding open an unseen curtain for them with which they could leave the stage totally unseen.

They came out into the street, noticing the rain and the dark clouds still spilling out across the city, but that the buildings were different. They had reformed into the Liverpool of the 70’s – of the old haunts and the old skyline. Kenny and Marina didn’t dare to question any of it. Of the rewinding and the erasure and of the lost weekend losing them both now, to each other.


Photography by Pete McConnell.


Well, folks, it’s been swell, but this is the end of my week here. To wrap things up, last week’s guest curator (the amazing Missy Tassles – seriously go check out her week in the archives, and have a look at her website too. It’s all kinds of wonderful!) asked me:

Where’s the best place in Liverpool to mooch about for secondhand and vintage tat with friends then and get a great big (veggie) fry up breakfast and mug of tea?



If you’re around Liverpool city center then I’d seriously recommend Curious Orange in Grand Central on Renshaw Street. It’s a fabulous and eclectic little store that sells a terrific mix of affordable second hand gear, amazing costume wear, and beautiful vintage pieces – it also always has some great music in there to try clothes on / get silly to. Following this I’d recommend going to Mello Mello on Slater Street – they do the best veggie and vegan food in the city (and a helluva fry up), as well as a fine selection of teas (and real strong coffee)!

Outside of the city center I’m a massive fan of Aigburth Road charity stores – in particular the Animal Rescue store, which is always ace for a good mooch and full of hidden treasures and absolute bargains, followed by a nice veggie fry up just down the road at the Green Days Cafe on Lark Lane.


Next week’s guest curator is Natalie Bradbury from Manchester, creator of the brilliant blog and fanzine The Shrieking Violet.

My question for Natalie is:

As an absolute book and zine nerd, I was wondering if you had any cool recommendations of zine / book stores in Manchester, and also which local zines I should be keeping my eyes peeled for?

Cheers in advance, Natalie!



I’d like to thank all the staff and customers of Coopers Townhouse – particularly to it’s owner, Maria – for being so welcoming, helpful and warm. As well as to Pete McConnell who joined me on several trips to the pub (and bought me one or two pints – thanks pal!) and was a total superstar photographer. I couldn’t have done this project without any of them. Also a big thanks to Chris Meads for inviting me to get involved in the first place and being super lovely, and also to Matt for being a total cheerleader / buying me sweets/ being generally boss. A final massive thank you goes out to everyone who’s been reading this weeks content – it’s a pleasure to have an audience, and much appreciated.

Cheers x


Avatar of Amy Roberts

Amy Roberts

Starting out life writing overly emotional vignettes of teenage turmoil in countless shame inducing diaries, I now write vignettes of grown up turmoil mostly inspired by the horrors (and splendours) of everyday life. You can often find me around Liverpool playing guitar (badly) or dancing (stupendously).This is my blog: - 'I Never Knew You Were Such A Monster':

Tales from Coopers Townhouse Part 4: John

September 13, 2012 in A WONDROUS SPACE, LIVERPOOL, Wondrous Cities

Resize Jon Amy

To be perfectly honest, I was a little scared of coming in here the first time, I ashamedly tell John, – a seasoned regular of Coopers, who casually sauntered his way over to our table for a bit of a brief, curious chat.

He scrunches his face up in disbelief and shakes his head at the idea, before taking a sip of his pint and exclaiming, proudly, Nah, it’s not like that here. Anyone’s welcome – you can come in and there’s no judgement. No-one cares how you’re dressed, or anythin’ like that.

There’s a brief quizzical look in his eyes as he stares at me following this statement that seems to quietly suggest that he’s assessing my appearance – the all black ensemble, the threadbare oversized band t-shirt, the tattoos, the bandana – with pride at the truth of his own words. That, no – I mightn’t look like the stereotypical punter for this kind of place, but little does it matter, girl. You’re welcome, whenever.

Which is lovely, considering that I once got laughed out of the toilets of a bar on Lark Lane for not wearing a frock, high heels and more layers of make up than Liz Taylor had husbands.

He continues, You know, like, you got all those trendy bars in this city don’t yer? And you walk in an’people look you up and down and make a judgement on yer. You always get those women – I like to say about them that if they were a cake they’d eat themselves, which is true, innit – those women who’ve spent most their wages on a dress and have spent an entire day getting ready, and they expect everyone else to live up to their standards. They look down their noses at yer. I hate that. There’s no need. See, like, the women in ‘ere? Dead easy to talk to. Proper sound.

As he says this, the owner of the pub Maria, cranes her head out from behind the bar and yells, Eh you! I’ve told you before, you’re bloody barred! at John, who remains calm as if he’s heard it all before, and gives her a polite gesture to piss off.

I mean it! She continues, completely deadpan so I start to sweat a little, Get out!

She retains a straight face for a while before completely crumbling into a cacophony of giggles, and disappearing back behind the bar.

See what I mean, girl? John grins, taking another swig of his drink before we start talking about the city centre and it’s surrounding areas – of the gentrification that has been going on for a while, and the impact this has had on small businesses, and the character of Liverpool as a whole.

That’s the problem now, he sighs, Places popping up that aren’t authentic. Those trendy bars, like – there’s nothing to them. No atmosphere, no character. But people don’t care about places like that the way that people do with places like this – everyone looks after everyone else in here. It’s a proper family, like.

He sighs, sadly, and finishes his drink before stating These sorts of pubs are dying, love, and it’s a real shame cos you won’t find many places like this in the city centre.

He has a quick stretch before standing up, Well, that’s me done for me now, love. Pleasure talking to yer! Might see yer around.

And off he pops. As he’s leaving a man has taken over singing duties at the front of the pub, and is finishing the first verse of the Irish singalong favourite ‘The Wild Rover’ whilst a small attentive and gleeful crowd cheers him on – not a judgement in sight.

…and I’ve spent all my money on whiskey and beer, and now I’m returning with gold in great store…










Photography by Pete McConnell.

Avatar of Amy Roberts

Amy Roberts

Starting out life writing overly emotional vignettes of teenage turmoil in countless shame inducing diaries, I now write vignettes of grown up turmoil mostly inspired by the horrors (and splendours) of everyday life. You can often find me around Liverpool playing guitar (badly) or dancing (stupendously).This is my blog: - 'I Never Knew You Were Such A Monster':

Tales from Coopers Townhouse Part 3: I Want To Believe

September 12, 2012 in A WONDROUS SPACE, LIVERPOOL, Wondrous Cities

Reduced Barfly

The whole place stopped for a moment when she walked in, which is strange for this place – usually nobody takes too much notice or gives much of a damn of how anyone looks or anything like that.

We were sat opposite the bar, and I swear Jerry nearly dropped his drink – we were practically scooping his jaw off the floor the entire time.

She was this immense, statuesque, never-ending woman with legs that looked the same height as most people. Just skin and bone, she was wearing some kind of a vintage prom dress that hung off her frame, practically baring her tiny breasts. Her head, I should add, was completely bald. That’s what threw most people – you don’t often see that on a woman, like. Her skin was as pale and white as a seashell, so that it was practically translucent.

She stayed by the door for a while with this fussy but vacant expression, like a computer with a glitch, her bare legs locked into a pair of complex, strappy heels that resembled little black straight jackets for her feet.

No-one spoke. A man walked out of the toilet and re-entered the room, pausing with mild panic as to the whys of the atmosphere, yelling, What the flamin’ hell’s up with everybody? before getting shushed by Auld Roger in the corner who pointed him towards the woman at the door. He uttered in a small voice, Oh, right, before sitting back down.

The room began to come alive again as she started to move – an action that looked like somebody walking an animal that was far larger than they were, as though her limbs were totally separate from her body and they were taking her out for a walk. She took stumbling, shaky strides looking for all the world as though she’d just woken up in this body and this outfit, and had how no idea how it worked yet. Like she’d just popped into a body shop and said I’ll try that one please! and was now taking it out for a test drive.

She walked past everyone and the bar as if upon a wet catwalk, dragging herself along completely oblivious to us all gawping at her, but at the same time examining us in some way that couldn’t exactly be read by her expression.

She stopped when she reached the end of the room and turned back around, swinging her leg out like Basil Fawlty insulting Ze Germans, and walked back the way she came.

The barmaid, a little sick of the spectacle and suspicious as hell, called out You having a drink, love? to which the woman stopped at the bar and nodded, pulling a handful of change out of an unseen pocket (I still dread to think where she was stashing that) and getting a pint.

And then – swear to God – she picked up that pint, and in one quick gulp downed the entire thing, wiped her mouth and then started dragging herself back out of the pub again. The door banged behind her and we saw her enormous silhouette slope past the window outside.

The barmaid stared into the empty pint glass, and looked around at us all. Jerry shrugged his shoulders at her and got up to go the toilet.

Everyone got on with their conversations and as the music resumed you could hear people speculating about the woman. A lot of She looks like she’s been on it since last night, probably not even been home yet!  and God love her, that girl looked like she needed a pan of scouse down her.

When Jerry got back he offered his own opinion of the situation – An alien, he told us with absolute certainty, before taking a swig of his pint and rolling himself a ciggie.

Seriously, he continued, I’ve done a lot of reading on this and seen a lot of documentaries and shows about it as well and that woman most definitely was an alien. Did you ever watch that Battlestar Gallactica? Wouldn’t surprise me if space aliens were making themselves look like humans now – you know, to infiltrate us.

The barmaid, overhearing the conversation, offered this pearl of wisdom which only seemed to encourage Jerry even more, You know what, love, it could have well been an alien, but she could have also just been rotten drunk. The fact that it’s hard to tell speaks volumes, doesn’t it?

I was sat there again today with Jerry. He was wearing an ‘I Want To Believe’ t-shirt which probably fit him fine back in the ‘90s but was looking a little tight on him now, and he had with him a small video camera with which he hoped to ‘Procure substaintial evidence as to the existence of extra terrestrial life’.

The barmaid told him that he’d stand a better chance of capturing that round Concert Square, before pouring us another round.


Photography by Pete McConnell

Avatar of Amy Roberts

Amy Roberts

Starting out life writing overly emotional vignettes of teenage turmoil in countless shame inducing diaries, I now write vignettes of grown up turmoil mostly inspired by the horrors (and splendours) of everyday life. You can often find me around Liverpool playing guitar (badly) or dancing (stupendously).This is my blog: - 'I Never Knew You Were Such A Monster':

Tales from Coopers Townhouse Part 2: Hail To The King.

September 11, 2012 in A WONDROUS SPACE, LIVERPOOL, Wondrous Cities

Resized Scouse Elvis

She shaved it all off, Baz – every single strand of hair.

Adam pulled his baseball cap up off his head and angled his scalp at Barry, who was nursing a pint and straining to keep a smirk off his face.

Ah, lad. That’s a shame, that. Real shame. How did she manage to get the whole head?

Dropped a sleeping pill in me drink, didn’t she? Crafty sod. Just woke up this mornin’ and -

Adam paused and quickly wiped what felt like a sudden rush of tears from out of the corner of his eyes, and in a flimsy voice, that broke at key emotional words, continued,

– Sorry, lad – allergies– and yeah, just woke up and there was her lady bic razors next to me face, and shaving foam everywhere, and me hair Barry, lad! Just everywhere under me head – she’d taken me quiff and pinned it up on the wall like a bloody trophy!

Ah, flippin’ell, eh? Don’t you hate it when that happens?

It’s not funny, Barry. You need to take me seriously on this – this is me livelihood we’re talking about here.

I know, Adam, lad. It’s alright. I’m here listening to yer, aren’t I? Just reckon you’re more upset about losing your hair than you are about losing your wife, like, s’all.

Realising that he was right, Adam took a large swig of his drink and replied Nah, like. Don’t get me wrong, I’m gutted about me hair an’that, but I’m devastated about our Lisa. Proper messed everything up, haven’t I? I can’t lose her, Barry. I can’t—

Barry nodded, he checked the time on his phone – it was 11.45 in the morning, everyone else was due in anytime soon. He looked up at the sign that read ‘Scouse Elvis – Wednesday lunchtimes’ with sneaky glee. Today was Wednesday.

You should just consider yourself lucky that it was only your hair that she lopped off, that’s all I’m saying, Barry continued, sniggering, I mean, she’s put up with a lot off you hasn’t she? I mean, first off you’re hardly rakin’ it in as an Elvis impersonator are yer? And then there’s all that stuff with that woman you were seen with after that show – -

Nothing happened, though, I swear! She was just a fan, like.

- -Ha! A fan!? Barry lad, you’re an impersonator, not the man himself, so stop pissing around, eh? And then you spend a massive chunk of your savings – which, let’s face it, Lisa earned didn’t she? She’s the one with three bloody jobs trying to make ends meet – and you’re wasting it on a bloody shiny jumpsuit? Who are yer? Elton bloody John?

That was an investment! Come on, don’t be tight Baz – I’m a professional! I was building up a strong fan base – regular paying clients. This is me dream we’re talking about! I was going somewhere!

Adam took his hat off again, and forlornly stroked his unadorned head.  He looked up from his pint, just as four more of his mates burst into the pub unannounced.

There he is! The bloody King hast’fallen from his throne, fellas! Heheh – how’s yer scalp feelin’, mate? Chirped Danny, making a pint action with his hand at Tony ahead of him, who nodded and headed straight to the bar to get a round in.

Alright, Danny. What’re yis’all doin’ here? Adam asked, startled. He stared at Barry who was grinning knowingly from behind his near empty pint.

We’ve got a confession to make, lad, Barry chuckled, wiping tears away from his eyes, as though his laughs had built up to such an extent that they were now escaping through his eye sockets.

Yeah, sorry Adam, lad – you left us with no choice! Laughed Chris, who had just sat down next to him, and was giving his baldhead a friendly pat.

What?! What is it? Don’t tell me- -you wouldn’t! Adam stared in horror at his mates who were all vibrant with a collective humour.

We would! Danny continued, absolutely howling, We would and we bloody did! Consider this an intervention – Lisa got rid of your hair, and we’re doing the rest.

Yeah, you were turning into a right nobhead. We had to do something! Chris smirked.

We’ve got you a job, lad. Full time with Tony there, at the bar, just helping out on the site. You start on Monday, but today we drink and – -

At that moment Scouse Elvis entered from the back of the room, dressed in a navy fringed jumpsuit and winking as he went.

- -Ah, right on cue! What timing! See, this is how you do it, Adam, lad. Scouse Elvis. Watch and learn.

Tony returned with a tray full of pints and took a seat.

You can’t do this! You can’t just tell me what I can and can’t do! You rotten sods, you’ll ruin everyth- -

Eh! Listen –  you’ve got two kids at home and a very, very patient but pissed off wife. It’s time to change, lad. So shut up, and drink your drink. This is happening – end of!

And at that, Barry turned himself away from the table and to face Scouse Elvis who had just fired up the song and grabbed the mic.

This one goes out to our mate Adam in the corner over there, cheer up lad! Could be worse!

Well, since my baybeeee left me! I found a new place to dwell! It’s down at the end of a lah-onely street called heart-break ho-tel…uh-huh…yerrr make me so lonely, baybeeee…

A couple of his mates had thrown their arms around Adam and were swaying away to the music, singing loudly along with the song, whilst he grimaced despairingly and thought to himself about Elvis. Nobody ever dared to intervene against that crazy bastard. Not one person. He looked around at his mates, he touched the lack of hair on his head, he watched Scouse Elvis pulling down his jumpsuit to expose a nipple, and he realised I am not The King. The King is dead.


Photography by Pete McConnell.


Avatar of Amy Roberts

Amy Roberts

Starting out life writing overly emotional vignettes of teenage turmoil in countless shame inducing diaries, I now write vignettes of grown up turmoil mostly inspired by the horrors (and splendours) of everyday life. You can often find me around Liverpool playing guitar (badly) or dancing (stupendously).This is my blog: - 'I Never Knew You Were Such A Monster':

Tales from Coopers Townhouse Part 1: Maria

September 10, 2012 in A WONDROUS SPACE, LIVERPOOL, Wondrous Cities

Resize Coopers Crowd

Everyone in Liverpool knows of Coopers Townhouse. Situated just outside of one of the main doorways next to Clayton Square, and opposite the entrance to Central Station, few could miss it. By all accounts it presents itself as an all day party – a pub that apparently doesn’t do downtime, or even quiet chats – Coopers is an original Liverpool character, one that is characterised most readily by it’s perpetual homemade soundtrack of loud, uproarious karaoke.

In my mind, the place is representative of so many wonderful idiosyncrasies that are so precise to the city and in my opinion, worth celebrating.

Becoming almost regularly mythologised amongst people who in all likelihood have never been in it, I was left with an abundance of curiosity about the pub that has resulted in this project. For the rest of the week I’ll be posting short stories inspired by Coopers and interviews with staff and punters alike.

All photography for this week’s project was done by the supremely talented Pete McConnell.

Hope you enjoy it,

Amy Roberts.


Photography by Pete McConnell.


“You lookin’ for me, love?” asks Maria Hodges – the owner of Coopers Townhouse – with a massive smile on her face.

I nod and introduce myself and tell her about the project I’m working on, and for some reason I’m full on expecting a response somewhere along the lines of ‘You want to write? About this place? About us?! GET OUTTAAA MAH PUBBB,’ which is most definitely the result of growing up watching too many soaps, and being regularly scared out of my own living room by the mere onscreen presence of Peggy Mitchell.

Thankfully Maria isn’t of the Peggy Mitchell ilk, and is more than happy to oblige myself and Pete (armed and ready with his camera) with having a good old snoop around the place, getting to know some of the regulars and grabbing a quick interview.

She speaks in a singsong Scouse accent that regularly devolves into the kind of infectious dirty cackle that would likely make a sailor blush.

“I think the thing is with this place is that it’s not plastic, you know? It doesn’t pretend to be anything other than an alehouse, like”, Maria starts in explaining the mass appeal of the place, “I mean it’s a family run business – and we’ve had it for 23 years now – so we’ve got a lot of regulars. Everyone’s part of the family, like. We even put food on for the customers – no charge. We just all look out for each other”.

The place definitely has the feel of being sat in someone’s living room at a family party. There’s a great easy going, good time vibe to the place and you get the idea that nobody could ever be lonely in it.

I think back to some of the family parties I went to as a kid, and how at a particular time in the night (right around my bedtime) the booze would be flowing and everyone would be up singing. It’s a tradition that’s died out a little, or at the very least changed – becoming less of a communal everyone in the area is invited to just a select group of mates causing havoc in someone’s flat, and singing Destiny’s Child tunes at 4 in the morning until someone passes out or the police come knocking.

Coopers is very much of the old school, all inclusive singalong. If nothing else it’s probably most renowned by local shoppers for having karaoke blasting out at all hours of the day. I ask Maria about the karaoke and she replies,

“See, it’s actually not meant to be just karaoke,” she corrects me, laughing, “We have a bunch of really great singers who come in and perform for the audience, ‘cos we love to have live music on. But we also invite people up to sing, and if people do want to get up and do a song then we’re not going to stop them. That’s just the way it is. Obviously we get some awful singers, but that’s just part of the charm.”

As she says this someone starts singing ‘Dock Of The Bay’ at the front of the pub –

“See! That’s my daughter singing now! Hasn’t she got a helluva voice?”

And she does – an amazing voice, in fact – soft and evocative, she has the whole pub captivated. The crowd gets louder and more vibrant as the songs go on, cheering and clapping along to the music, totally at home.

Before I let her get back to the bar, Maria finishes by saying, simply, “Fact is, your life could be falling apart and you can come in here and you’re sure to find something that’ll make you smile.”

Which you get the feeing is no exaggeration, and a sentiment that Peggy Mitchell could’ve learnt from.

Photography by Pete McConnell.



Avatar of Amy Roberts

Amy Roberts

Starting out life writing overly emotional vignettes of teenage turmoil in countless shame inducing diaries, I now write vignettes of grown up turmoil mostly inspired by the horrors (and splendours) of everyday life. You can often find me around Liverpool playing guitar (badly) or dancing (stupendously).This is my blog: - 'I Never Knew You Were Such A Monster':