The Legend of Akinwale Arobieke

One of Liverpool’s most enduring urban legends concerns Purple Aki, a man whose skin is so black that he apparently appears to be purple.

Purple Aki – aka Akinwale Arobieke – was convicted for the manslaughter of a boy 20 years ago but the conviction was quashed by the court of appeal. 

He has also received a Sexual Offences Prevention Order that prevents him from touching the biceps of boys, a bizarre predilection of his that has become famous throughout the North West.

As such, Purple Aki has attracted an almost mythical notoriety and has become a kind of Merseyside bogeyman, like the Candyman but less violent.

Jack Jones death and Liverpool’s latest political squabble

Two stories from Dale Street Blue caught my eye recently, the death of union legend Jack Jones at the grand old age of 96 and the resignation of Liverpool Labour’s ethics spokesperson Louise Baldock.

Jones was a giant of trade unionism and born in Liverpool long ago enough to be a walking talking record of most of the historic movement in the UK. Originally a docker, he rose through the ranks of the Transport and General Workers Union and became a spokesman for the TUC.

He fought in the Spanish Civil War – which is an experience so far from the vast majority of most people’s experience and imagination these days it almost sounds absurd.

He was principled and undoubtedly tough, giving both Labour and Conservative governments a hard time in the 70s. Agree with him or not, he represented an old-fashioned style of politics that doesn’t really exist any more.

It would be easy to draw parallels between the likes of Jones and Liverpool’s current politicians, seemingly locked in an endless bout of tit-for-tat power struggles and point-scoring, but I think that would miss the point.

I decry the behaviour of Liverpool’s politicians and wish they’d sort themselves out – the empire-building, personality cults and ego trips are all too obvious to everyone – but politics should always have an element of the knockabout and the passionate.

If every name called in the Jack Jones era of politics had resulted in a resignation, there wouldn’t be anyone left to run the tiniest and most obscure worker council, student body or pressure group, nevermind city, region or country.

Liverpool People’s Poet awards

Liverpool has been running a competition to find the best poems celebrating the city’s Capital of Culture year in 2008, with the winner set to be announced this week

Funded by DaDa Disability and Deaf Arts and supported by the Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Cllr Steve Rotheram, there are two categories: under- and over-18s.

I’ve been reading through the entreis and thought I’d flag them up, as they’re a good mix of the reverential, celebratory and amusing.

How to jazz up Liverpool Science Park’s boring branding

Liverpool – or rather the organisations responsible for branding the city – is/are getting it in the neck again, this time from the business community.

Liverpool is “‘not credible as a place to locate knowledge economy businesses”, according to LDP Business, paraphrasing a report by the outgoing chief executive of Liverpool Science Park, Dr Sarah Tasker.

Dr Tasker – who is apparently like a ‘dyed-in-the-wool native’, albeit one who lives in Cambridge – says that Liverpool is known primarily for culture, football and The Beatles.

Tasker makes the point that while Liverpool’s cultural branding successfully conveys all the fun stuff, it’s not attracting any wider interest. This is due to its failure to brand itself as a knowledge economy destination.

However, the Mersey Partnership says that Liverpool is doing better than the national average for employing those in the knowledge economy.

So, this is a problem of branding, again, if you listen to Dr Tasker. Following Liverpool’s various branding disaster of its logo and slogan, the people responsible for marketing the city must be close to jacking it in.