Friday, June 29, 2012

An unusual burial at Deane Road Jewish Cemetery

Saul Marks, our resident genealogist and chair of our committee, was going through the children's burial records for the cemetery the other day in an attempt to pin down some grave references, when he came across a very unusual entry:

9 Jul 1865: Abraham Glassman's leg from Workhouse hospital

All I can think is that the poor man was injured or the leg was infected and amputated. At any rate, somewhere buried in our cemetery is a severed leg!

Ping comes to Kensington!

 Ping! is an innovative three year street ping pong project which provides people with opportunities to play social and competitive table tennis, free of charge.

The aim is to get as many people as possible across the whole of the UK playing – to bring about a sense of community spirit and get more people playing sport in the run up to the Olympics.

Ping! sees a month of activity and tables popping up in unusual and remarkable places.  Marked ‘Stop and Play’, the tables are up  for all to enjoy. Bats and balls are supplied: to join in the fun just borrow a bat from the side of the table!  As well as free-play, each ping-pong table features a varied programme of master-classes, competitions and free to join activities.

During the next month, you may see the tables, and people playing out and about in Liverpool including in Queen’s Square, on Bold Street and inside shopping centres! –there will also be one outside the Jubilee Sports Bank, in Kensington!

The project is being launched in town today and the table will be at our sports centre from early next week.

Pop over and have a go!

(Thanks to Lisa Shearwood-Vingoe from Riverside HA for letting me know about this)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Reputational Management, Vanity Searches and Ego surfing

I thought I would do an article about the art of searching for your own name on search engines. (And if it gets a good response here, on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn where my blogs are all reposted to, thanks to TwitterFeed, I will adapt it for more general use in my business and other professional work perhaps.)

I recommend it to everyone in the public eye as an important tool in reputational management, although I know that it has been fashionable to belittle the practice, calling it "vanity searching" and "ego surfing".

What do I mean by reputational management? I am talking about being aware of what is being said about you on the world wide web so that you can challenge, affirm or explain the detail.

Imagine for instance someone on an online forum has written a post about you, or commented on a post mentioning you, which claims that you have behaved in a certain way or taken a particular action. And that this post has attracted the attention of lots of other people who have gone on to comment, share the link etc. And imagine that you have been misrepresented in that post - for instance it accuses you of not turning up to something that in point of fact you were never invited to and knew nothing about, you would want to know about that post and submit your own comments to the forum, setting the record straight.

Or imagine that you have been quoted as believing in a certain policy (this library should close) when in fact you have been leading the campaign to keep it open. You would want to be able to put your own argument across.

And of course sometimes the basis of the article or post might be correct, but there may be more to it than meets the eye, and you need the opportunity to expand on why you made the decision that you did.

Occasionally someone has libelled you, or at the very least said something very rude about you, and it is important that you see this and take whatever action you feel is appropriate. A politician of another party once wrote something about me on their blog that was inaccurate and unfair and misrepresented my position, and when he refused to change it following a polite request, I instructed a solicitor to ask him to withdraw it - and he did. Thankfully, I have only felt it necessary to take this action once. A lot of stuff you simply have to take on the chin.

And of course, occasionally (but don't hold your breath), someone may have said something really positive and welcoming about you, and wouldn't it be lovely if you could read that, along with all the less positive things?

So, searching for your own name is a must if you care about your online reputation.

I suggest that you search for it in a variety of ways, to ensure that you capture all the variables. So for instance, in my case, I might search for "Louise Baldock", "Councillor Baldock", "Cllr Baldock", "Councillor L Baldock" "Cllr L Baldock" or Baldock, Liverpool.

And for those of you who are not so familiar with searches, please note the quotation marks, or speech marks as we often call them, in the examples above, they are key to a search of this nature.

If you search for Louise Baldock without speech marks then the search engine will return a list made up of every page that contains the word Louise and the word Baldock, irrespective of whether they are together on the page. So if Louise Rednapp visited Baldock Town FC and there was a story about it on the internet, that entry would be included. So in order to limit your search to those pages where the words are next to each other, you need to use the speech marks which then limit your search to precisely this term.

To explain the difference, if I search for Louise Baldock without speech marks, Google currently returns 292000 entries. But if I put the speech marks around my name then that drops to 25400. That is a much more manageable number to check out. Are they all about me? No, there are some in the first few pages which relate to Different Forename/ Middle Name Louise/Baldock for instance. And there are some pages which relate to genealogy - which is a huge generator of webpages about ancestors with the same name. And of course I am not the only Louise Baldock in the world, believe it or not. So there are some relating to a lady in Canada who raises dogs for instance, good luck to her!

Searching for yourself online is definitely not for the faint-hearted. You will quite possibly see all sorts of things that you were not aware of and which make you feel uncomfortable, but if reputational management is important to you, then you have to learn to bite the bullet. And sometimes, no matter what you find and read, you can do nothing about it, and there are no changes you can make, but at least you know it is out there.

It wont surprise you that I am notorious on certain Far Right websites as a stated enemy, in entries which contain my name, address, photograph (both official and taken illicitly), telephone numbers, facebook profile and a whole lot besides. They of course will take no notice of any request I might ever make to remove those entries, and indeed I wouldn't bother to ask them to, but it is useful for me to be aware of them in case they ever advocate any particular action against me, and where I might need to contact the police for instance.

You should not just search the "web" for your own name, you should also search "images" (which is a different tab on the Google Search, have a look on the tool bar now, it will revolutionise your world if you didn't know it was there. You can now find images of anything you like, your favourite singer or a flower in bud or a shop logo...) It may be the case that someone has identified you in a photograph, or used a photograph to illustrate an article about you, which you might have concerns about. Imagine if your mate took a photo of you on their hen/stag night looking the worse for wear and put it on their blog, or on a Facebook account that is not protected,  using your name. You would want to become quickly aware of this and ask them to remove the mention of you, or to take the photo down, perhaps.

Personally I use Google for all my searches, given that it is the biggest search engine in the world by a very wide margin, but if you are absolutely serious about keeping up to date about what is being said about you online, you should probably bookmark a whole host of search sites, like Bing, Yahoo, AOL, etc.

Just a word about reputational management on Twitter. I also have an account with MentionNotifier that emails me whenever my Twitter Name is mentioned in a tweet - I also get an email from Twitter, which gives me two emails every time, so perhaps I could cancel my free subscription to the former, although MN is a bit quicker than Twitter's own, which is vital in reputational management. But whichever you use, it is again really important to know when someone has tweeted you, or tweeted about you, you need to be very fast on the rebuttal, or to acknowledge the praise, or to take up the issue, whichever it may be. If you have a Twitter account then the expectation is that you are actively monitoring it, not leaving it for weeks on end.

And finally, to ensure that you are doing your best to capture everything that is being posted about you online, it is well worth setting up a Google Alert. This will generate an email to you, every day (or less often depending upon how you set it up) for any entry anywhere on the internet that is spidered by Google where your name occurs. I have dozens of Google Alerts set up. Not just for my own name, but for some of my councillor colleagues, our MP, my marketing clients, my own business, my ward name... even if you don't take anything else from this blog, I hope you will at least find this useful. Maybe you are mad keen on steam engines, Tranmere Rovers or Newsham Park, if so you should set up an alert and stay on top of all the news about that.

Good luck with your search, try not to get too upset when people say unkind things about you. It is a natural consequence of being in the public eye. And I will leave you with this thought....

There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about. Oscar Wilde

Illustrative photo drawn from

Monday, June 25, 2012

Can you tell what it is yet?

A few weeks ago Colin took me to the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool to see a new temporary exhibition.

Rolf Harris: Can you tell what it is yet?

I have been to many special temporary exhibitions in the Walker, great artists (in all senses of the word) like Doves and Dreams, the art of Frances MacDonald and J Herbert McNair, or the work of  Lucian Freud, Titian, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Matisse....

But I have never seen such huge crowds for any exhibition  before, it was absolutely heaving. There were people on their own, in couples and with families, children sitting on the floor making sketches, people crowded around video screens watching Rolf in conversation with Her Majesty The Queen as he painted her, listening to his music on handsets....

When I looked at the comments that people had left, about the exhibition, on a notice board, I was amazed for instance to see so many Aussies who were holidaying in the UK and came all the way to Liverpool to share in this special event with us.

There is an inordinate amount of snobbery in the art world, you only have to think about Brian Sewell and his ill-judged comments about the unsophistication of the people of the north, he was incensed when certain exhibitions were taken to the Baltic in Gateshead and who disparaged the very idea of Liverpool as a cultural capital.

Indeed The Independent reported that

"Art critic Brian Sewell told the newspaper that Rolf Harris prints had no variation and that the television personality's portrait of the Queen Elizabeth II was dreadful and the wrong shape.

He said: "He paints the same picture all the time or paints the pictures in the same way... It's fine to be a Sunday painter. That is essentially what he is."

But how wrong can an art critic be? We read in today's Liverpool Echo that this has been the most visited exhibition the Walker Art Gallery has ever shown in its history.

And that comes as no surprise to me, in fact I said to Colin as we walked around that I had never seen so many people in an exhibition before.

There are so many wonderful paintings, Rolf is probably one of the best painters of the 20th and 21st century. There are some huge paintings that he created in an hour for TV shows, there are paintings, like the one of the steps to the Walker Gallery itself in fact where he agonised over every detail and shows the visitor each step of his journey through a series of photographs charting its progress, with notes.

There are some old favourites where Rolf showed us how to create paintings in the style of the masters, picking out details from Monet, Van Gogh,  Degas and others. The ones I really admire are probably those from London and Liverpool and other cities, painted in the last few years, where he has so beautifully captured elements of our lives today - including a group of men on Mathew Street, having a beer and a chat and tipping their cans to Rolf as he took their photograph to help him create his art work, or the one shown pictured above of women outside the Cavern.

Take my advice and ignore the Brian Sewell's of this world. If you like art - and especially if you are an art lover who "knows what they like" - get yourself along to the Walker, the exhibition runs until mid August.
You will not be disappointed I promise. You will come away humming "Two little boys" to yourself, with a happy grin of reminiscence whilst certain in the knowledge that you have seen some truly magnificent art work - and all for free.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Update: Newsham Park Festival - Show will go on!

Message from Lisa Heron, festival organiser

The event is now 11-4pm in the Academy of St Francis of Assisi on Gardners Drive due to poor weather. Stages will be in the main hall and Sports Hall.  Stalls will be in the school corridor. Fairground will be in our car park. Dog show will be in the caged area outside. The show will go on and we will be dry.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Volunteer training in Kensington

Kensington Community Learning Centre is opposite McDonalds on Kensington

Newsham Park Festival June 23rd 2012

This looks really good, hope to see you there!

Kensington All Saints Brownies meet the Royal Family

Just a little update following up on my story about  the Kensington Brownies hoping to meet the Queen, as they share their 60th anniversary with her this year.

As I hoped and suspected, Wendy and the team at Liverpool City Council's culture department were able to talk to Dame Lorna Muirhead and her team about making sure that when the Royal family visited Liverpool last month, they did indeed meet our brownies.

And here are the photos to prove it.

And here is the note from Brown Owl, Jan Hughes, that accompanied the photographs. 

Well, what can I say - we had an amazing day last Thursday, I just wanted to say thank you again for making it happen! I don't know who else you forwarded our original e-mail to as it made its way to the Lord Lieutenant, so I can't get in touch and thank them personally, but I'm so glad you did!! Please pass on our thanks to anyone who helped to give us such a day to remember.

I've attached a few photos of the big moment when the Queen and Prince Philip came and spoke to us, as well as the girls being interviewed by Radio Merseyside and the BBC! We certainly achieved celebrity status that day! (and I was live on Radio Merseyside's Daybreak programme on Sunday too! ) We have had an unforgettable once-in-a-lifetime experience, and that was all down to you, so a massive THANK YOU from all the Guiders and Brownies of 372nd Liverpool Pack!!

Congratulations to all the Brownies and their leaders!

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Tribute for Mum

Gone From My Sight
Henry Van Dyke

I am standing upon the seashore.
A ship at my side spreads her white
sails to the morning breeze and starts
for the blue ocean.
She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until at length
she hangs like a speck of white cloud
just where the sea and sky come
to mingle with each other.
Then, someone at my side says;
"There, she is gone!"
"Gone where?"
Gone from my sight. That is all.

She is just as large in mast and hull
and spar as she was when she left my side
and she is just as able to bear her
load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her.
And just at the moment when someone
at my side says, "There, she is gone!"
There are other eyes watching her coming,
and other voices ready to take up the glad shout;
"Here she comes!"
And that is dying