Amnesia or Erasure? The denial of justice

Depending on the dictionary you go to, there are variations in the defintion of amnesia, but it is usually seen an involuntary lapse in memory, due to illness or trauma. It can also be a self defence mechanism. We sometimes consciously try to forget episodes we are not proud of, or behaviour we regret. The following is from the Mirriam Webster disctionary, interestingly, it uses the example of the Vietnam War, and raises the idea of a ‘wilful forgetfulness’.

Definition of amnesia

1: loss of memory due usually to brain injury, shock, fatigue, repression, or illness

2: a gap in one’s memory

3: the selective overlooking or ignoring of events or acts that are not favorable or useful to one’s purpose or position… Americans seemed to develop a willful forgetfulness about the nation’s longest military conflict, an amnesia that lasted for nearly a decade.— Alan Brinkley

The mistake made in the dictionary is to say ‘Americans’ developed amnesia about Vietnam. In fact the opposite is true, the Vietnam war and the opposition that developed to it were turning points in US history. 

The families of the 58,000 Americans who died; brothers, sons, and fathers, never forgot. Nor did the veterans who lived with the scars, mental and physical. Millions of students, activists and workers eventually made a vital contribution in stopping the war, through protesting, marching, and picketing. 

It would be more correct to say the American ruling class, government, and news media spent decades erasing the lessons of that war from public consciousness.  One of the problems of ‘amnesia’ is that memories can resurface later, bringing the trauma with it, if the US establishment tired to erase the war in Vietnam, US filmmakers fought back with the release of major movies from the eighties on.

Definition of erase

1a: to rub or scrape out (something, such as written, painted, or engraved letters)erase an error b: to remove written or drawn marks fromerase a blackboard

c: to remove (recorded matter) from a magnetic mediumalso to remove recorded matter fromerase a videotape. d: to delete from computer storageerase a file

2a: to remove from existence or memory as if by erasing. b: to nullify the effect or force of.

The US government was afraid of the example the anti war movement set, and it took decades of covert military actions and operations before the US was able to launch another fully fledged US war abroad in ‘Desert Storm’ 1990.

What happened after the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of 1974 in which thirty four men women and children were killed, and the many other atrocities, executions, murders and attacks carried out by people actively supported by the British Military and establishment, is an attempted ‘Erasure’. To wipe the historical slate clean of these crimes.

Margaret Urwin, Justice for The Forgotten, The Pat Finucane Centre, and the families of victims are fighting against this ‘Erasure’.

The British Government’s ‘Legacy’ proposals mean that the perpetrators of crimes such as the Dublin and Monaghan bombings can not only gain immunity from prosecution, but the information they provide can be hidden on grounds of national security. Immunity for the perpetrators, protection for the state, and denial of Justice for the victims and their families.

For more information please visit;

https://www.patfinucanecentre.org/truth-recovery-human-rights-criminal-justice/pfcjff-reject-latest-british-legacy-proposals

Listen to Margaret Urwin from Justice For the Forgotten.
https://the-plastic-podcasts.castos.com/podcasts/10219/episodes/margaret-unwin-seeking-justice-for-the-forgotten

My novel Across The Water
https://www.northodox.co.uk/product-page/across-the-water-paperback

We all have a Stake in this.

I support Everton, for good or bad as people from other clubs might say, cest la vie, or que será, será, but for Evertonians ‘it is what it is’ seems to fit better. That is the approach of many supporters who have followed the club from the faintly remembered heights of the 80s through the mediocre mid-table malaise since. With the very occasional moment of glory.

I remember sitting in a bar in Spain watching the FA CUP final on my own, when Everton beat Manchester United 1-0 in the FA cup. Of course, Man United went on to dominate football for the decade after, Everton went back to mid-table consistency and of course the knife edge of relegation with Wimbledon and again this year.

I am and always have been an armchair supporter, I’ve said before that supporting Everton became a way to interact with my dad as our lives diverged. My dad stood on the terraces in the ’50s after arriving from Ireland when Everton had a reputation as a more Irish club. In the nineties, I even took him a couple of times when I got freebie tickets from sponsor NEC. My older brother was a real fan, going every time he could before joining the army- and in pre-internet days getting the ‘pink’ echo saved and sent to him. My nephews still are committed supporters.

The last year was a real roller coaster, without many highs but lots of lows, until just staying level seemed like an enormous rush and the biggest ride ever.

I shared a tweet a few weeks ago from the family of an NHS worker who ran up debts of 12,500 and walked out in front of a train leaving a wife and young daughter. I retweeted it because it has sickened me to see very wealthy footballers and ex-footballers promoting these betting sites. Lots of things can be harmful and addictive including alcohol and tobacco. Society has recognised this and limited the timing, location and targetting of these ads. 

Football is the number one passion among young men and increasingly women, boys and girls. To see their idols bearing the brand, and promoting these vulture companies is disgusting. Sports washing is not just for authoritarian regimes, it’s also for people who profit off the pain and addiction of many struggling families. 

Many supporters fall into the trap of defending their club or team, whatever happens, this is silly. Chelsea fans with Abramovitch, Newcastle with the Saudi owners, and now Evertonians with their new kit sponsor, betting company Stake. We correct, and chastise our loved ones when we feel it necessary. Surely we can do the same with our clubs. I have seen at least two Everton supporter channels say well ‘it is what it is’. 

Yes, it ‘is what it is.’ – Wrong, and we shouldn’t be afraid to say so.

Everything and Nothing

One of a series of 10 bronze sculptures called “Les Voyageurs (The Voyagers”) put on display in Marseilles, France in 2013. 


I took part in a Liverpool Literary Festival, Writing on the Wall event recently, its title was ‘Writing Across Borders’. The title was mine, I had the idea of inviting Paddy Osborne who wrote Baxter’s Boys set in Dublin with a leading Scouse character. So ‘Writing Across Borders’ was to explore my Liverpool Irish characters and background and Paddy’s Irish Liverpool football manager. Paddy then suggested we invite Jane Buckley a writer originally from Derry, who after a long time abroad was now back in her home region.

All good, except that what started as a cultural exchange, between Liverpool and Dublin, now had to deal with the immediate and historic political situation. The day we were having the online panel event Boris Johnson was in Belfast trying to stitch together his coalition of reactionaries. He had marchjed the D and T UPs to the top of the protocol hill and marched them back down again, ‘over my dead body’ he announced about checks in the Irish sea, the checks were not over his dead body and the ‘oven-ready Brexit deal’, turned out to be dangerously undercooked.

So how do we talk about writing and borders in this situation? In preparation for the event, ideas were spinning around in my head, borders can be legal, geographic, cultural, or political, they can be imposed by the straight line of imperialism as in Africa or The Middle East, or they can be demanded by national struggles for self-determination.

The phrase that allowed me to gain some kind of perspective was Everything or Nothing, in British Irish relations, the borders meant everything or nothing.

Nothing for my parents and the tens of thousands of migrants who came from Ireland over the decades and hundreds of thousands over the centuries, no immigration process, no passports, my grandfather came in through Garston Dock and went out to his death in the channel in the final days of WW2. The ebb and flow in the Irish sea were of people to and fro, unencumbered by borders.

Everything if you were nationalist in The North where your life and many deaths were defined by opposition to the border. A border imposed as a denial of the self-determination of the Irish people, as expressed in the 1918 general election where Sinn Fein won an overwhelming majority. As a loyalist, the border was the backbone of your identity without which the state and your world would collapse.

Since the Good Friday Agreement under which you could have an Irish or British passport, culture, and identity without question, the border has receded in relevance, except to those whose position of power and privilege relied on it, and the divisions it created in society. Without the division between Orange and Green, without the question of borders. How do we pay the electricity bill? What’s happening to the health service? How you answer these questions becomes more important.

When you can choose your identity freely, then many will decide identifying with Boris and the group who caused this crisis, is like relying on an arsonist to put out the fire, even if this bonfire does have a union jack on top.

Within the EU borders have been or are being lowered, it is within the UK that borders are rising as more and more people find that rallying to the Monarchy and the flag doesn’t pay the bills, feed the kids, or provide security.

My new novel ‘Across The Water’ set in Liverpool and Ireland is out now.

Boooo!

Peter Dwyer explains why he and other Liverpool FC fans booed the monarchy at the FA Cup final in Wembley

This article was reprinted from Counterfire follow the link at the bottom to read more and support.

When I returned home from Wembley on Saturday night the Daily Mail was running headlines about MPs condemning the ‘shameful abuse’ of Prince William and social media was buzzing with discussions about the rights and wrongs of the tens of thousands of Liverpool fans booing the national anthem prior to the start of FA Cup final between Liverpool and Chelsea.

By Monday, ITV’s Good Morning Britain had former royal correspondent Michael Cole arguing it was ‘disrespectful’ and ‘appalling’, with Tory MPs also wading in. Conveniently, few, if any, in the mainstream media or parliament asked why the fans booed. When asked for his thoughts on the issue by the media, in his press conference on Monday, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp stood by the fans saying, ‘I know our people wouldn’t do it unless there’s a reason for it’. Klopp was spot on. There are plenty of reasons why the boos represented two fingers to the ruling class, of which the monarchy is a key ideological part and who the national anthem glorifies.

Irish republicanism

For some in Liverpool, the anger at the British ruling class is steeped in the tradition of Irish republicanism and opposition to British rule in Ireland that emerged in the eighteenth century. This was amplified by the racism towards the hundreds of thousands of Irish migrants who fled to England from the Great Famine of 1845-49, many of whom made Liverpool their home. Such was the size of the Irish diaspora that a poor area close to the docks elected an Irish Nationalist MP until 1929. Irish people continued to move to the city until just after the Second World War in 1948, and so today many still have relatives in Ireland and both of the city’s football teams attract a large Irish following.

But for many (old and young), I think the boos are also linked to a hatred of Margaret Thatcher, elected as Tory Prime Minister in 1979, and the establishment power and privilege that the Tory Party represent. This is particularly for how they treated the city region in the 1980s, and how they were part of an establishment cover up of the death of 97 fans at the Hillsborough football-stadium disaster on 15 April 1989.

Managed decline

To revive British capitalism, which at the time was referred to as ‘the sick man of Europe’, Thatcher’s government drew on advisors, some based at the University of Liverpool like Patrick Minford, others linked to the Chilean dictator Colonel Augusto Pinochet, and set about implementing radical economic and social policies (what we now call neoliberalism). To control inflation, running at 20%, the Tories raised taxes and cut public spending, with the equivalent of today’s Universal Credit slashed.

All of this would rock British society, and the impact still reverberates today, as, per head of population, the UK is still the poorest country in north-west Europe. The result was that between 1979 and 1986 unemployment in the UK rose to a record high of over three million, and in parts of Liverpool unemployment reached over 40% by 1981. Rapid economic change combined with deep-seated institutional police and state racism, resulted in a wave of multi-racial riots in 1981. These were the worst in the twentieth century, sweeping key parts of England, including London and Liverpool. After which, as confidential government papers revealed in 2011, the government implemented a notorious policy of ‘managed decline’ of Liverpool and the Merseyside region. For the Tories, the area was simply not worth wasting government money on.

Hillsborough Disaster

On 15 April 1989, at the FA cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough stadium in Sheffield, 96 people died and hundreds of others were injured, as the result of a crush. This remains the biggest tragedy in British sporting history. The original inquest into the deaths controversially decided that they were an accident and that no one was to blame. So began a campaign to seek the truth.

In the days after the disaster, The Sun newspaper ran a notorious and scandalous headline. The paper lied by claiming that Liverpool fans were to blame. They were accused of rushing the gates, stealing from the dying, and beating up and urinating on a police officer, who was trying to save other fans. Other accusations included fans verbally and sexually abusing a dying woman. Given the treatment of Liverpool by the Tories and the establishment, families, friends and others knew these lies were no accident but were part of a cover up that began the night of the disaster to deflect the blame from those responsible for the death of 97 men, women and children. That the lies were promoted by senior police officers and the Sheffield Tory MP Irving Patrick did not surprise some. Much of this is captured well in the 2016 documentary Hillsborough and the recent moving drama Anne, about the mother of one of the victims, who together with others doggedly campaigned for over 25 years for justice.

Tory contempt

It is not hard to see why anger and distrust at the Tories continues today. In 2004 in an editorial in the Spectator magazine, for which Boris Johnson was then the editor, the prejudice and bigotry directed towards the city continued. The people of Liverpool were accused of having ‘an excessive predilection for welfarism’ linked to ‘a peculiar, and deeply unattractive, psyche’, and that they always ‘blame someone else’ for their problems. In a later column on the 23 October, Johnson dismissed calls for an apology. This was just fifteen years after Hillsborough. In 2016, after the longest inquest in English legal history, a jury found that the 96 (now 97) people were unlawfully killed and that Liverpool fans were not to blame for the overcrowding that led to the deaths.

Since the cover up by the state and sections of the media, there has been a heightened sense of anger and bitterness towards the Tories and the establishment. This is reflected in the regular singing by Liverpool fans of ‘Fuck the Tories’. There has also been a big increase in the number of anti-Tory banners at games. As someone who has been regularly following Liverpool since the 1970s, I think many Liverpool fans, often very young, are more political and angrier than at any time since the height of Thatcher years in the 1980s. Little wonder so many booed last Saturday.

What the polls, like the one for Good Morning Britain, should be asking is what is more disrespectful: booing the national anthem or covering up the death of 97 innocent football fans, for which nobody has been prosecuted. The political and media uproar in the last few days will only deepen the anger towards the ruling class, in particular the Tories and the monarchy, and so the booing will continue. But we need to use the anger that rang out from Wembley into the homes of millions and turn it into anger on the streets, in workplaces and colleges. That is why we must all do what we can to build the ‘We demand better’ national demonstration on the 18 June called by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) in protest at the cost-of-living crisis and the corruption and contempt of Boris Johnson’s government.

Before you go…

Counterfire is expanding fast as a website and an organisation. We are trying to organise a dynamic extra-parliamentary left in every part of the country to help build resistance to the government and their billionaire backers. If you like what you have read and you want to help, please join us or just get in touch by emailing info@counterfire.org. Now is the time!

https://www.counterfire.org/articles/opinion/23207-royalty-republicanism-and-the-ruling-class-why-we-booed-prince-william

‘Writing Across Borders’

‘Writing Across Borders’

Most countries send out oil or iron, steel or gold, or some other crop, but Ireland has had only one export and that is its people.’

John F. Kennedy on his presidential visit to Ireland, June 1963

Reading JFK’s words resonates with how Derry/Londonderry, Dublin and Liverpool have one noteworthy trait. Over the past two hundred years or so, all three have been notable emigration outlets for millions of Irish men, women, and children who left these lands for economic, religious, or political reasons to find a better life.

Liverpool, twinned with Dublin, has been described as the most Irish city in the UK based on these very emigrants. Today 75% of its citizens claim to originate from Irish ancestry.

Next Tuesday 6pm, three upcoming authors, Jack Byrne (Liverpool), Jane Buckley (Derry/Londonderry) and Patrick Osborne (Dublin), discovered they shared similar objectives when writing about their respective hometowns based on years of observing numerous social, religious and political unrest. For example, the trio realised their work encompassed common but vital social themes. Examples include poverty, politics, religion, mental health, anti-Irishness, segregation, violence and abuse. And that all-important black Irish humour!

Join us to discuss books and real lives across borders.

https://writingonthewall.org.uk/…/writing-across…/

May be an image of 1 person, map and text

2.3K post reach

Why you should listen to The Irish Stew podcast.

https://www.irishstewpodcast.com/blog/why-you-should-listen-to-jack-byrne/

On Christmas Eve 2020,  Jack Byrne reached out to see if we’d be interested in doing an episode on his upcoming book. We had only launched the podcast in October and were chuffed that anyone would actually ask to come on the Stew. Things have changed 40 episodes later, much to our delight. Authors always make for interesting interviews as their craft tends to give them a unique and fluent voice which translates very well on an audio recording.

Jack was on the verge of publishing his first novel, Under The Bridge, in February 2021 and wanted to get the word out. Even if you have talent, it’s difficult to carve out a space in the crowded literary marketplace where everybody is jostling for attention. The hardest thing for a new author in our attention-deprived lifestyles is to get potential readers to look at the first few pages of their book. When I read Jack’s first few pages I was hooked.

Under the Bridge, starts with the discovery of skeletal remains at a Liverpool building site, standard enough fair for a mystery novel, but intriguing nonetheless. The story centers around a group of post-war Irish immigrants on the margins of British society and how they carve out a space in their new home through, let’s say, questionable activities. As the story progresses, Jack exposes a seamy post-war Liverpool rife with economic difficulty. This isn’t some twee British mystery located in a bucolic landscape, rather it depicts a gritty city struggling and failing to escape the gravitation force of economic decline.

Liverpool is often called the most Irish of English cities and as such, we were delighted to have the opportunity to chat with Jack on the podcast about his novel and hometown. It was a great fit for our podcast and what better guide to Liverpool for Irish Stew than the son of an Irish immigrant from Wicklow town.

This year, on St Patrick’s day, Jack released the 2nd installment in his Liverpool Mysteries titled Across the Water. The action in the new novel continues the stories of the characters developed in the first book. With the new publication, I decided to make a new shorter “check-in” episode focused on the new book. You can listen to that second chat here.

Martin Nutty
Irish Stew podcast

New York

The One Road – Fiction For Fighting Back

This collection of short stories is reduced to just 99P – Buy and leave a star rating on Amazon.

TheOne Road by Jack Byrne is a gripping collection of stories, beginning with the title piece. Death, abuse, regret, identity, prejudice, and redemption, the individuals here are part of a larger story of a nation coming to grips with its past and the turbulence of modern society. Byrne creates fascinating cast of characters who struggle through and triumph, from the streets of Liverpool and Ireland.
The opening piece The One Road, weaves a powerful tale of resilience in the face of prejudice and loss. This story has everything: love, humor, racism, and a quirky cast of characters to travel with.
Ring of Fire is a short childhood memory with a poignant metaphor of youth. Did you jump?
The Taxman and Walkways in the Sky give us the most tragic, yet human characters in the collection. In The Taxman, Marie, lost until she finds the love of a gangster, believes she has found a refuge from a life of pain and helplessness. Or has she?

In Walkways in the Sky,a boy is witnesses to abuse, that he’s helpless to stop, much like a generation watching their communities battered by a society indifferent to their struggles.
The final story, Born Again, is a creative dive into the way our lives deviate from our intended paths–how our ideals can be easily forgotten and our principles quickly lost. In examining Anthony’s past and present, we too must ask ourselves: Where do our allegiances lie, and have we let complacency and comfort replace conviction and action?

FROM THE AUTHOR

This collection of short stories introduce the characters and world of the Liverpool Mystery Series. The stories show different aspects of the lives of people in a working class community with all the tragedy and comedy of daily life. They come out of a tradition of storytelling that is not afraid to challenge society as it is now, to pose questions about our past, and raise hope for the future. If you like your fiction gritty and realistic, dive in and enjoy. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08BVVP9WB

Confetti

An excerpt from Across The Water

Available for pre order now

Dublin

May 17th, 1974 – 5.30 pm

The train rattled and wobbled its way along the coast; Paddy looked at the sea. The ever-present sea, even inland, its waves were felt in the half-empty villages, in the faces of old men whose sons were off to earn a bit. It filled the songs and poetry because it had taken from every family. More potent than politics, it outlasted everything, its pull a constant, leading people to new lives, death, or exile, most never came back.

The train clattered through the villages and towns of Greystones, and Bray, eventually it sliced its way through the overcrowded city, houses, bridges, and walls built within inches of the track. They resented the space the train took and so built right up to its face. The colours were reddy browns and greys, bricks and slates.

The passengers were the usual mix of hope and endurance. You could see the hope of youth turn line by line into faces of endurance.

The spring afternoon was as moody as Paddy felt, he walked out of Connolly station. Why do they celebrate failure? He knew the answer before he asked: because there are so few victories. Paddy looked at the name she had written down – The Shelbourne Hotel – Stephens Green. He was convinced she only invited him because she thought he would never show up to a party in Dublin.

He left through the main entrance. The station’s Italianate central tower looked out of place on Amiens Street, busy with shoppers and commuters, the hands of the station clock marked 5.28 pm.

Dublin was busy, the streets were full. Women and workers, everyone had a purpose. He looked up at the unusually blue sky.

‘Av ye got any change mister?’

Paddy looked down at the boy, around ten, his big eyes darted around ready to move on to the next mark if this one went nowhere.

‘Do ye know The Shelbourne Hotel?’

‘I do, mister, av ye got change?’

‘Here, you can have a shilling, if you get me there.’ Paddy dug around and produced the coin.

The boy snatched at it.

‘Not so quick, when we get there.’

‘Right ye are, follow me. A shilling now, you promised.’

‘I know yeah, a shilling.’ The boy’s hair was curly and uncontained. He wore jeans and a blue anorak underneath Paddy could see a thick woolly jumper.

‘Come on then, what are yeh waiting for?’

‘Alright take it easy.’

‘What are you doing out here asking for money, shouldn’t you be at home?’

‘Nothing there mister, me mam’ll be out at her mates, have you got fag?

No, I haven’t. What about ye da?’

‘He’s in the jangle.’

They walked side by side the little fella chest out arms swinging commanded his space on the street.

‘What’s the jangle then?’

‘The old jingle jangle my da calls it.’

‘What’s that when it’s at home.’

‘Mountjoy, he’s doin a year.’

‘What for?’

‘I dunno, summat or other, that he got caught for, that’s why yeh usually go.’

‘True enough.’ Paddy agreed.

‘What’re ye doing there like? It’s a posh place, so it is.’

‘Meeting a woman,’ Paddy winked at him.

‘Ahh going see ye tart are ye?’

Paddy clipped him round the head. ‘Ye little bastard, what do you know about such things.’

‘Hey hands off, I’ve had me share, don’t you be worrying about that.’

‘How far now?’

‘Couple of minutes mate, straight on across the river now.’

The boy’s presence suddenly made Dublin brighter, the troubles just something to be walked through, head up, chest out, the Dublin way.

Then the world stopped. The air shook with sound, faces gaped and grew wide with terror. Ahead the street disintegrated. In the flash, colours and shapes dissolved, cars and people and glass and bricks were flying through the air in pieces.

Paddy was on his back, for the longest time he looked up at the blue sky in silence. Slowly at first, then all at once, the sky disappeared in swirls of smoke and dust, the silence that burst his ears was now replaced with low deep moans broken with shrill cries. Someone helped him up, he didn’t know who. The boy was not beside him.

He walked through the devastation, the blood in the gutter was not his, the leg on the sidewalk was a woman’s, the headless body, a young girl. A handbag, a platform shoe. No boy. A man moaned a large piece of metal ran through him. Paddy stumbled on, the dust and smoke and glass and bricks and bodies had now settled on the ground, scattered like confetti at a wedding. He walked on passing the blackened centre, some people were standing motionless, others laid where they were blown, some blown together, some blown apart. But no boy. People rushed to help, alarms and bells began to take over from moans and cries, and then again, the air shook and sky roared and again somewhere close by the street and the people in it were confetti.

For more information on the events that inspired for this excerpt:

Justice for the Forgotten was formed in 1996 with the aim of campaigning for truth and justice for the victims of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of the 17th May 1974

http://www.dublinmonaghanbombings.org/home/

Pre Order Across The Water here
https://www.northodox.co.uk/product-page/across-the-water-paperback-pre-order-1

Celebrate St Patrick’s day with Liverpool writer Jack Byrne

Jack Byrne, born and raised in Speke of Irish parents and grandparents is charting the life and times of the city’s Irish community in his novels. His first book Under The Bridge set in Garston from the 1950’s to 2000s was called a ‘Love letter to Liverpool with a touch of Peaky Blinders’ by fellow author S E Moorhead.

His latest novel the second in a series of three, Across The Water is set between Liverpool and Ireland from the 1970s to 2010. The book will be launched on March 17th by Northodox Press.

Ted O’Connor, editorial director of Northodox commented: “We were thrilled to take on Book Two in the Liverpool Mystery series, reconnecting with characters, Vinny and Anne as the investigation continues in Ireland. A timely and emotional search into Irish history and the effects of the diaspora. Jack is an exceptional talent and a born storyteller.”

This second in the series explores the links between Liverpool and Ireland in 1974, including the role of security services in Trade Union struggles in Halewood. History proffessor Vinny and his partner Anne visit Ireland, determined to find out the truth about how Vinny’s father died – but someone is trying to stop them. Two narratives, forty years apart, explore the relationship between the English, the Irish and the Anglo-Irish.

Under the Bridge, the first in the series, was described as “a tense thriller that unfolds beautifully” by author, journalist and former football editor for The Times, Tony Evans.

Bob Stone, Bookseller and owner of Liverpool independent book store WriteBlend said it was an “assured debut… and…an intriguing mystery, spanning decades of Liverpool’s history.”

Hope Road Publishing author, Leo Zelig, called it “powerful, radical and engaging fiction.”

Byrne commented: “I am excited that Northodox Press are continuing the Liverpool Mystery series with the second book Across the Water, a thriller set in South Liverpool.

https://www.northodox.co.uk/product-page/under-the-bridge-paperback

https://www.northodox.co.uk/product-page/across-the-water-paperback-pre-order-1

For interviews contact jack.byrne.writer@jackbyrnewriter

You kidding lad? Responding to The Responder

The Responder is a five-part BBC series set in Liverpool. The series follows Chris Carson a police officer struggling with psychological and family issues and a deteriorating work situation.

I really didn’t like the start of this series, partly because it was set in Liverpool and it showed a mix of drug dealers, users, and society’s victims, the old, the lonely, the poor and desperate being treated with contempt by a copper. Written by an ex-policeman Tony Schumacher the narrative was to be expected of a good individual in desperate circumstances. The depiction of a ‘rogue’ copper was believable precisely because it is the routine rather than the exception when the police deal with the powerless.

The more the series took the main character away from his role as a police officer, the more human he became. We can all identify with people struggling to hold things together, a marriage, a terminally ill parent, and financial problems.There were some plot holes and character issues, but overall it was a tight well-delivered drama. The fact that it was set in Liverpool became less and less important as it became more of a ‘generic’ portrayal of gangsters and users. It was here that the series suffered more in ‘keystone cop’ depiction of the dealers, chasing but never catching anyone or anything, while the cop Chris Casey ties everything up with a neat manoeuvre.

Things of note for me were a great scene with secondary character Rachel confronting her abusive boyfriend, and a good performance from Martin Freeman including a pretty fair accent. It is probably unfair to criticise the series for not dealing with things outside its remit. But we are constantly shown the effect of society’s ills, in poverty, drug abuse, and violence, but rarely does TV drama point to the causes; a corrupt, abusive government that cuts the living standards of the poor, e.g. 20 pound cut in benefits, while rewarding its mates, 37 billion on test and trace 4.3 billion in unrecovered loans.

Some people have compared it to the groundbreaking US series The Wire. The Wire was groundbreaking because it showed drug dealers as real people, good and bad who were organised, intelligent, sometimes brilliant and sometimes stupid, the opposite of lazy stereotypes. It also pointed to the corruption at the highest level of policing and local government.

The review in the picture above talks about a ‘broken’ system, and how police officers are asked to function in our decaying society, not the fact that government is broken and the main function of the police is to serve the powerful and not the powerless.
Despite the reservations above it was very watchable and well produced.

PS Never heard ‘lad’ so many times in life.

Read about my novel Under The Bridge here
https://liverpoolmystery.com/under-the-bridge/

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