What’s the most incredible thing you’ve seen happen in the city centre on a night out? Some people I know recently saw a man hanging, upside down and paralytic, from the railings around St Luke’s Church – aka The Bombed-Out Church – by his snagged trousers.
I can also think of the two people I saw casually shagging in the Ropewalks; the girl squatting down in the middle of Slater Street to have a piss; the bloke taking a slash in the middle of the dancefloor in the Raz (I like to think it was his own pithy, or pissy, comment on the rotten place).
I can think of innumerable fights and immeasurable numbers of people so drunk they can’t stand, talk or understand what’s happening. Great fun.
Ok, let’s get things in perspective. ‘Twas always thus, and Liverpool’s appetite for a big night out is legendary, going back centuries. Further, is Liverpool any worse than any other UK city? Probably not.
But I have seen a huge increase in the number of drunken people and incidents over the years in the city. When I first came here, back in 1997, I frequently went to Modo and Heebiejeebies. The former was an achingly cool bar that was quiet, chic and relatively undiscovered. It served cocktails named after Tony Benn. The latter an underground jazz bar that also hosted some top nights in the form of Soundbombing and Chrome.
I think it’s fair to say that both have changed beyond any recognition. Whereas the Ropewalks used to be a network of cool hideaways – a haven from the horrors of Mathew Street or the overly-studenty Hope Street area – it’s now a stinking, filthy rat-run of shit bars promising cheap inebriation, barring a few exceptions.
Why such an intense concentration of drinking pits has been allowed to develop, I can’t say. But the results are plain for everyone to see. Merseyside Police are currently trying to close one of the bars on Concert Square, a place called The Office they say is ‘rotten to the core’, which has seen an entertaining mix of fighting, underage drinking and violence from bouncers.
Why is anyone surprised? How could it possibly be any other way? Are we seriously supposed to believe that the people responsible for licensing bars in Liverpool are currently scratching their heads and wondering why people are getting drunk and fighting in one of the most heavily-concentrated drinking areas in the country?
An article in the Echo also highlights another issue among Liverpool’s nightlife hotspots, namely ‘roided-up bouncers intent on smashing some hapless students in the face.
I can probably count a dozen incidents where my friends have had incidents with bouncers in Liverpool, most of which end with me placating a raging doorman like you would a particularly angry fighting dog – palms raised, backing away, crooning a lullaby. Well, you get the picture.
In one incident, a bouncer ran about 100 yards down the road after a friend of mine before punching him in the face and running back to the door of the bar where he worked.
Again, this seems to be growing issue in the city centre. Merseyside Police certainly see to think so, as a solicitor representing the police force suggests.
“These are the clear actions of doormen inflaming the situation,” says Martin Forshaw.
“There is no attempt to constrain. Instead there are kicks and punches being flung.”
Not so, says the brief representing The Office, who claims that ‘almost half of the incidents were dealt with correctly by the doorstaff of Combined Security Services’. Almost half eh? So less than 50 per cent. What manner of incidents can be described as being dealt with ‘incorrectly’, I wonder?
It’s easy to write this little rant of mine off as one disaffected punter, one blog against a sea of satisfied customers, but if you don’t believe me take a look at the comments on the Echo’s article.
The bars, the clubs, the violence and the whole sickening spectacle of it all are symptoms, but Liverpool’s city centre – and, increasingly, its outlying areas – should never have been allowed to get in this state in the first place.