Monday, February 28, 2011

Read this blog: Once in a while

Marple man Howard Roberts has had an incredible life-changing experience. He's had something removed from his head. Read his amazing blog. Howard, I salute your bravery and good humour and pray for you and your family.

Breakfast with Anglo by Simon Kelly - book review in a lift

I'm fascinated by how people were thinking in the run up to the financial crisis of 2008. Everyone I interview through my work I ask the same thing: where were you and what were you thinking? 2008 in particular intrigues me. It will be seen as seismic in years to come as our parents generation viewed 1968. Who saw the signs of the looming crash? How did they react? Who had an epiphany or a moment of clarity? And has anyone truly registered the enormity of what happened? So, how could I not be drawn to this book by an Irish property developer who lived the dream and then the nightmare as it all fell apart. He spares us the melodrama, holds back on something spiritual that stirred in him and the result has a low key matter of fact melancholy about it. It's a long way of saying I enjoyed it because I'm a bit of an anorak about this period, but there is more dramatically written and explosively sensationalist stuff out there. 5.5/10

My Arts: Frank Cottrell Boyce | Culture | Liverpool Confidential

My Arts: Frank Cottrell Boyce | Culture | Liverpool Confidential

Hey, here's that Boyce fellah again. At the moment two of our boys are reading his books - Cosmic and Framed. Nana has just bought them Millions. Also really enjoyed a terrific interview he did on an American radio programme - Sirius XM with Bob Edwards. Hope he's doing Hay this year.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Grass roots football needs its heroes

Here is a humbling story. A proud and dedicated man tried his best to run a team for young boys in his area of Manchester. He's African, has no money, the parents of his players have no money, they lack kit and they can't afford to pay the pitch fees for a 3G pitch which has been paid for with local authority and sports industry funding. Some of his kids are on remand or in care and can't get to play. The parents of the visitors from a wealthy area stump up for the pitch when they are due to play, but this proves to be their last match and his team have to withdraw from the league.

Here's a shocking story. A 16 year old referee is reduced to tears as a result of the abuse he gets from parents and managers at a team in the same league. He is a keen referee, he had a marginal offiside decision to make that was disputed, but he doesn't have anyone running the line. He isn't prepared to put up with it any longer. The game is abandoned at half time.

Here's another depressing story. A 10 year old boy is struggling to tie his laces so his coach helps him. The referee swears at the coach and tells him to get a move on.

There is an appalling lack of perspective throughout kids football. The need to win at all costs, the shrill cheers of parents who think they're watching the European Cup Final, the dreadful treatment of referees, the coaching of gamesmanship (cheating), the poor quality of the pitches, the petulance of children following the example of the moaners, divers and over-celebrators by bringing their own versions of this to the game. I feel angry as a parent for bringing my sons into this environment. And I feel foolish for giving time as a volunteer to a sport where the efforts and endeavors of people like the African chap from Manchester, or the manager of our team and so many other people involved in teams and leagues seem to be doing so against a tide of lousy and loutish conduct.

But you can't let the bad guys win. It surely is worth maintaining dignity and standards. Not for our sake, but for the kids. Afterall, as Jim White asked in his book about kids football - who is it for?

POSTSCRIPT: The incident with the referee today is being investigated by the league and though I would like to say more about it, I better not.

Friday, February 25, 2011

My mate #10 - Simon Sinclair

The latest in the occasional series of random selections of various mates this time comes up with Simon Sinclair. I met Simon on the touchline as a football Dad, where our eldest sons play for Marple Athletic. 
He's brought a certain intellectual and urbane flair to our happy gaggle of Parents and Grandparents (PAGs), with his dog, his shooting stick, his Barbour coat, the Daily Telegraph and bemused observations about the progress of a game of  "Chavball". Watching a bunch of 11-year olds chase around a pitch in Hyde or Dukinfield is always brighter when interspersed with his views on Christian morality, fly fishing, Mad Men or tales from his time working for Ogilvy & Mather in Paris. We've since struck up a bit of a rapport beyond Saturday morning. He's spoken at our Business of Media event, turning up in board shorts, Dunlop Green Flash pumps and a checked shirt to present his vision for his new creative advertising agency Waggledance, where he's produced some cracking campaigns for WD40 and Pork Farms. We must have got through to him on the football, as he's also started doing match reports, some of which have even escaped the censor's red pen, like this one. But I'm privileged to spend a bit of time with Simon, he's a top bloke, and if you want to have a glimpse into his world, then check out his blog - Raving Adman.

This here Resign London campaign

A few years ago I heard Mark Radcliffe talk about the "journey through London" that many Northerners had to make to further a career in television and radio. I did it in my sector of the media too. I don't feel bitter about it, and it's not defensive to acknowledge that the capital city of the country and the most important cultural city in the Western world might just have some attraction.

OK. Are we clear? I also am a chippy Northerner. I want my children to have rich and prosperous lives without having to move away. I believe in the North. I support the move of large parts of the BBC to Salford. I wish there were more people working for national newspapers here. I wish advertising and design agencies here were given more chances to do their best work on great brands. I support those who do.

When I first saw the Resign London campaign on Twitter I thought "this sounds like a bit of a laugh" and posted something to that effect. It would be good if more creative Northerners could ply their trade back home, especially if it was part of a viable ecosystem of creative businesses. I remember an NWDA campaign called "It's Grim Down South" which tried to promote the North West at the expense of a crowded and grimy London. It didn't work did it?

But having seen the spoof press conference clip based on a child abduction plea, and the adverts for houses in Standish, the silly resignation letter and the rest of the news feeds on the website, I think it's all a bit embarrassing. Just as I don't want Manchester or Liverpool to pretend to be a bit like cool London, equally I don't want the reinforcing of dreadful old Northern stereotypes, like the parents in the clip.

This misguided though well intentioned campaign has, I feel, missed the mark. I can't pretend to know how a better one would look, which proves what a difficult concept it is to get right.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Go and see Inside Job

Go and see Inside Job if you get the chance. I've done a review on the work blog here. It's on at the wonderful Cornerhouse cinema in Manchester. Book here.

Mad Dog

I caught a little of Colonel Gaddafi barking at his people today. My thought wasn't that this is a mad man on his way out, but this was a mad man who has been in power for 40 years. The empires are indeed crumbling. Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain. Iran next. Here's praying for peace and justice.

What Philip Blond misses out

A while back I reviewed Philip Blond's book Red Tory (here) and concluded the missing link was a lack of appreciation of the contribution of enterprise and innovation. I've met a kindred spirit in the last few days - Malcolm Evans - a sociologist AND a Lancastrian to boot.

A flavour of his erudite analysis is here:

And, this, to my mind, points to the crux of the matter. Our political leaders (and future leaders), by and large, just don’t get the notion of production. Production for the Left has never recovered at all from Engel’s Salford-based research of Victorian mill conditions.
Production for the Right has never really been fully acceptable in certain circles under the very long snob shadow of land-based and multi-generational wealth. There’s still a suggestion, even today, amongst the professional and the professional political classes, of a sleight in the air to the self-made businessman who buys his own furniture, however expensive.

A link to the full monty is here.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Behind the scenes at the Rovers

When any organisation is in a period of change, everyone involved and everyone close to it craves a "return to normality". In the case of Blackburn Rovers, I don't think we are anywhere near that new stability.

The new owners set up a special purpose vehicle to buy the club's shares. This week I found that Venky's London have a mortgage registered against them, secured against property assets of the business. In December Barclays Bank agreed a funding line with Rovers, but this was secured against all income from Sky TV and Premier League commercial revenues. You have to make assumptions here, which tend to vary depending on whether your prejudices are for or against the Rao family.

I'm somewhere in the middle. Any business needs a bank. Cash flow is lumpy in football. The wages have to be paid every month, but the income isn't as stable, quarterly TV money and annual season ticket revenue. A bank would need a certain amount of security if they were to grant an overdraft. There have also been relatively short term demands such as payoffs for Sam Allardyce and Alan McDonald. A payoff too, I imagine, for John Williams. The new signings will all have cost money in signing on fees and there is no doubt the wage bill is now much higher, even if Jones and Santa Cruz are loans.

Talk of a marquee signing (and I really cringe at that dreadful phrase) seems to suggest there is more to come. But is there? And where does this money come from?

Venky's have never said where they got the cash to acquire Rovers. The PR version of the offer document was pretty woolly on their commitments and the undertakings given to the Walkers. They have also said the deal will give them exposure for their international business interests. Indeed, there is a Venky's advertising board at Ewood now. But for a business that turns over £100m and makes profits of £12m they are good for something, but they are not in the same financial power league as the owners of Manchester City and Chelsea. So, how much have they borrowed to do the deal?

They have also said the aim is to get an experienced chairman. I would guess they don't want anything of the sort. They probably want an experienced new chief executive, which is what John Williams originally joined Rovers as, and are in the process of a clean sweep through the senior management to accommodate one. I think in Tom Finn they have a good guy who slotted in well behind Williams, who seemed more comfortable in a front of house role. Finn is an experienced and well respected football administrator who is known well in the game. I would argue that it is vital he is retained. But equally, it was pretty clear from the business done in the transfer window that the chairman was peripheral. Business was conducted by Steve Kean, the owners and Jerome Anderson.

In these circumstances I would suggest the chairman's role is nothing more than a figurehead. Possibly even a bridge to the supporters and the local community, providing his or her business experience to ensure good corporate governance and, under normal circumstances, to bring an extra dimension to increase revenues and performance. I would also have thought it a good idea to get some more experienced Rovers fans onto the board. Here are a few: Roger Devlin, for example, the former chief executive of Ladbroke Hilton, or Ian Currie, a Rovers season ticket holder, a former director of Bolton Wanderers and a shrewd businessman. Then there's Wayne Wild of WEC Group and John Green of local accountants Pierce. I don't actually expect them to get the call. Maybe it won't matter anyway, but I still believe fervently that the leadership of Blackburn Rovers has to maintain at least a foot in the traditions of the community that surrounds it.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

In defence of the Glazers

I don't have any great fondness for the Glazer family. I think they are milking Manchester United for all they can get. Anyway, I've written a piece about it, taking the opposite stance to the usual anti-Glazer rhetoric: that actually the Green and Gold brigade may be better with the (red) devil they know.

A link is here.

A memorial for my Grandfather and other fallen comrades

Amazing as it seems, there is no permanent memorial in this country to the Canadian Airmen and Women that fought with the allies during the Second World War. Their contribution was very special and they formed some of the elite units of the war in the air. All of this is close to my heart; my Grandfather Francis Edward O'Hare, my Mum's Dad, died aged just 24, shot down near Duisberg in Germany in April 1943. He was serving as a pilot officer with the Royal Canadian Airforce and based out of Gransden Lodge in Cambridgeshire.

Now RAF Stations Leeming and Linton on Ouse, once home to most of the Canadians, have set up a fundraising project to create a lasting national memorial and a lovely, lovely man called Michael Oliver, a businessman from Knutsford, has generously agreed to personally underwrite the project.

The memorial will be a monolith with granite information panels in English and French, topped by a stone maple leaf, and will be located at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, the UK’s year-round centre of remembrance.

Flight Lieutenant Alfie Hall of RAF Leeming – a Royal Air Force station in North Yorkshire which opened during the Second World War, said: “The Royal Canadian Air Force contributed more than 130,000 aircrew to the war effort– the fourth largest allied air force and over 10,000 lost their lives.

“The Arboretum already contains memorials to the Royal Australian Air Force and the Norwegian Navy, but a monument to the Canadian airmen is conspicuous by its absence.

“Fundraising for projects like these can be a long-drawn-out process, but the generous offer we have received from Michael Oliver will allow us to quickly rectify the absence of a fitting memorial.”

Michael Oliver said: “It is very important that we remember the people who fought alongside Great Britain during the Second World War and a memorial to the Royal CanadianAir Force at the Arboretum is long overdue.”

All of this is a massive coincidence. I've met Michael Oliver a few times and always been very taken with him. He's a funny and generous man with a fantastic business. I interviewed him last year, the link to that is here.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Spotland: the sun also rises - reviewed

Rochdale Football Club won promotion last season for the first time in Mark Hodkinson's lifetime of supporting them. Quite rightly he's written a book about it, Spotland, the sun also rises. Well, sort of. The journey through last season takes up about half the book, but to be fair, though he gets across the euphoria of Dale being lauded for good football, then sees it all nearly come apart at the end, he doesn't draw out one of those tedious memoirs full of match day stories and personal anecdotes. Instead he chucks in a collection of various pieces he's written for the Times over the years. I like these pieces, they're thoughtful and warm and I feel he's a kindred spirit on matters of fatherhood and football. 8/10.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Marple's gateway

I read in the local paper that there had been a protest against trees being cut down on Dan Bank, the road into Marple that is being worked on every night for 2 months.

My first thought was that people mustn't have read the information leaflets and were shocked, as I was, on seeing how stark Dan Bank looked following the felling. On re-reading the excellent leaflets and website, it is clear this is always what had been intended. Once new trees have been planted and the banking landscaped, the entrance to Marple will look good again. And at first I didn't share the paranoia and anger of those who have posted on the Marple website.

There's more on the Myers Tree Care site, here.

But there's a nagging doubt. The Dan Bank project has also made it clear that a large number of trees needed to be removed in order to make the uphill footpath wider and to build a new bank to the side of the new stone wall. Their detailed explanation is here. But they claim that following the meeting with residents and protesters, 65 trees and shrubs will be planted. How many were they planning on planting before this was raised? Anything else they want to mention?

Helping Uganda Schools

Here's a book that's full of love - it's a story of the 10 year journey of my great friend Peter Mount. He's set up a charity called HUGS - Helping Uganda Schools and the whole project has really made a big difference to a small part of Uganda. He's also inspired a number of benefactors, including Michael Oglesby. I would recommend this colourful and beautiful book to anyone, you can get one from Peter's website, or I can sort one out for you if you email me, it's a tenner well spent.

Liberal Democrats struggle with power

Political blogger Iain Dale lucidly summarises the problems of the Liberal Democrats here. Locally, Stockport Council is facing a steady stream of defections as elements within the ruling Lib Dem group drift away from having to impose cutbacks. I'm pleased none of the Marple councillors are defecting. But it raises the question, why commit to a political party if you aren't prepared to take power, locally or nationally?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The greatest fans in the world

Blackburn Rovers played Newcastle today, a team followed away by a band of noisy and self-consciously boisterous supporters. Every conversation I overheard as we weaved our way through their throng was about how many they were bringing, how many they took to their other games, while their taunts of the home fans were all about empty seats, we've got more fans than you etc etc.

What a boring, boorish and stupid bunch of cretins some of these fans are. I have no time for any of that rubbish. I could argue the toss about the demographics of a crowded North West, as opposed to a club with a large city region all to its self. But I can't be bothered.

The criteria of certain types of football fans - some idiot Rovers fans included - is that you only qualify as a proper football fan, a good fan, if you wear your replica shirt, have a tattoo, sing all through a game, stalk the streets loudly, drink a lot and, most importantly, to be a real fan you don't question the source of funds of your club or the morality of your players. Sing when you're winning. There's only one Joey Barton.

Slightly unrelated, but at every turn too the Premier League dominates. The players live in a different world to their supporters and yet demand more from them. More money, more encouragement, more stroking of the ego. More promises too of a "world class product" in the "best league in the world".

So, to get to the point. What of those who have a different motivation and appreciate football in a different league and with little prospect of Europe, or seeing World Cup winners? I did meet some of the greatest fans in the world today, they happened to be supporters of Southend United FC. They traveled from Essex to their game at Accrington only for it to be called off 90 minutes before kick off. They came to Ewood instead and witnessed a 0-0 draw. I have heard that Rovers only charged them £20 each. A nice touch, if true.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby - book review in a lift

After finishing Any Human Heart I was after something modern and funny. I have struggled with Nick Hornby lately, I must admit. After adoring Fever Pitch and Hi-Fidelity and his awesome column in the Independent in the 1990s, I never finished How to be Good, or Long Way Down. I will give them both another go, because in Juliet, Naked he once again proved he has absolutely nailed the over-educated disappointed Brit. It is every bit as wise and sharp about feckless, useless men as Hi-Fidelity. It's a simple enough plot centred on a couple in a northern seaside town (harshly portrayed) and HIS obsession with an American retired rock star. It was my book de jour when I saw Martin Amis and Ian McEwan last night and heard their slightly verbose and oh so clever observations on their friend Christopher Hitchens and on Vladimir Nabokov. I tell you what though, for a good ear - something Amis values as a key virtue of the modern novelist - then Hornby is a match for either.

And if you need reminding about how good that Indie column was, this story about Richard Harris getting chucked out of an Arsenal v Chelsea match is priceless.

PS I've done a list of my top 125 songs on an iPod playlist that meant a lot to me at various stages in my life, one track per artist. Self indulgent as this blog is, I'll keep it private, but the simple act of doing it was definitely inspired by the Great Scribe of Highbury.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

The true heir to Blair

I never did round to reviewing the Tony Blair book. It was a quite astonishing tome. Obviously a great deal has been written about his anger and betrayal by Gordon Brown and how his heir screwed up the legacy and bottled the big decisions on public sector reform. But there is someone who gets off pretty lightly and got hardly any scrutiny: David Cameron.

Interviewed by Andrew Marr he even said he didn't want to make the Prime Minister's job any harder, as he knew what it was like. I was reminded of this observation when the Spectator ran a cover story The Cult of Blair that the inner circle of Cameron acolytes see themselves as the true heirs to Blair.

Cameron's wise words on multiculturalism yesterday could well have come from Blair, such as this, here.

Personally, I think this is very sensible and brave: "In the UK , some young men find it hard to identify with the traditional Islam practiced at home by their parents, whose customs can seem staid when transplanted to modern Western countries.  But these young men also find it hard to identify with Britain too, because we have allowed the weakening of our collective identity.  Under the doctrine of state multiculturalism, we have encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and apart from the mainstream.  We’ve failed to provide a vision of society to which they feel they want to belong.  We’ve even tolerated these segregated communities behaving in ways that run completely counter to our values."

There is a view, expressed in the Observer today that says he was wrong to say that on the day the EDL were marching in Luton. Rubbish. The whole reason a shoddy street movement like the EDL has gained traction is precisely because mainstream politics has ignored an issue at the heart of modern life. This won't embolden them, it will take the issue from them. That won't happen overnight, but it's long overdue.

A bit like London...

I do look enviously at the amount of political, philosophical and literary events in London. I see it as a challenge for an aspirational and cultually ambitious Manchester to do more and to offer more.

For that reason I have to be delighted that Martin Amis will be in conversation with Ian McEwan at the University tomorrow. Delighted too because I'm going along. It means I won't and can't quite stretch to seeing Dave Haslam in conversation with Frank Cottrell Boyce at the Royal Exchange on Tuesday.

And what am I doing about raising the level of debate and discourse? Well, there's this:

Debate: Inside Job & the financial crisisMon 21 Feb, 20:00, The Annexe
Cornerhouse, in association with North West Business Insider, presents a special post-screening discussion to coincide with the release of documentary Inside Job. Join us to debate the issues raised by the film about the recent financial crisis and its ongoing consequences. Michael Taylor, editor of North West Business Insider co-chairs this debate with Sarah Perks from Cornerhouse, invited guests are Michael Luger (Director of Manchester Business School), John Ashcroft (CEO of pro.manchester) and Steve Connor (Co-founder and CEO of Creative Concern).

You can book here.

So, yes, probably not really a bit like London, but like London buses, you wait for ages, then a few come at once.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Any Human Heart - book review in a lift

Enough differences to the epic 4-part Channel 4 series to make the book worthwhile, this sprawling tale of the life of Logan Mountstuart is a terrific exposition of the 20th century. The style of the book is as  a journal of a writer. In retrospect, I think maybe I should have read it before watching the series. It is profound, powerful and incredibly moving. The passages I imagine will stay with me are on his melancholy reflections of a life of regrets and tragedies. 8/10.

There's only one John Williams

I'm going to add to the wave of eulogies to departed Blackburn Rovers chairman John Williams.

I thought something was up when he wasn't in his normal seat at the Spurs game. When I saw him at the Liverpool game I asked how he was and said: "You know?" and swivelled his hand to indicate that he wasn't happy.

I got to know him over the last ten years. He was accessible, open and very honest. And he could talk and talk and talk like no-one I'd ever met.

I got to know him after I'd written a few things about the running of the club that were less than complimentary - like 99 questions for the sleazy end of the football business - I'd also asked why the chief executive of a business turning over £35m needed to be paid the thick end of £200K. We were critical of the hospitality offering back in 2000. We also wondered why he'd employed his son in the marketing department. Unlike other bosses of businesses we'd upset he called me in and confronted me. I have to respect him for that.

Picking up on the fact I was a Rovers fan he invited me to a game as his guest and told me lots of stories from inside the camp. Our semi-regular meet-ups, a coffee and a chat, could last three hours. So, I mention these encounters because I take as I find. I also judge his performance as chief executive and chairman from a fan's perspective. I think he is probably fond of the sound of his own voice, like a lot of people in football, but he also understands the people of Blackburn and the surrounding area. The pricing plan was his idea. He knew the importance of balancing the budget, securing Jack's legacy and the financial probity of the club.

He stepped up as chairman, taking over from Bob Coar. The circumstances of this have never been made public, but I understand it was all down to the way Tony Parkes was let go by Mark Hughes. Jack Walker's daughter Linda Matthewman was outraged at this, really angry. Shortly after Bob was demoted to director, John was made executive chairman.

Like the rest of the board, John Williams always worked the room in the suites, often popped into the shop before a game - I bet not many football executives do that. But the last few months must have been crazy times. The guys I know at Crown Paints were a bit miffed that he - anyone - didn't call to talk through the new ownership. Especially as Venky's were making noises that they'd have their names on the shirts - it would have been good form to mention this to the incumbent. Words were said and to be fair, all seemed to be back on an even keel at the Liverpool game when John had a good chat with Crown boss Brian Davidson.

Interesting timing then, that Crown should announce on the day that John Williams is stepping down that they'll be ending the sponsorship. This is what the statement said: “Sponsoring the Blackburn Rovers’ shirts over the last three years has been a partnership we have really valued and been proud of. It has therefore been a very difficult for us to decide not to renew the contract when it comes to an end in May. 

"We have really valued the excellent working relationship we have built up with Chairman, John Williams, Tom Finn and Simon Williams, and wish to thank them all for this opportunity.  We are disappointed to hear the news of John’s departure from the club.  He was an incredibly respected Chairman and admired by so many people, both on a local and national level. 

“In line with our growth strategy, we are in the process of researching other opportunities to consider in the future.”

So, amidst this period of change, more change. A people's chairman, gone. A local employer as a sponsor, gone. Compared to winning games and qualifying for Europe and making big signings this might not matter, but in the words of one of my favourite songs: "Don't it always seem to go, That you don't know what you've got, Till it's gone."

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Welcome to football, Mrs Rao

So, Mrs Rao, the owner of Venky's and Blackburn Rovers will have enjoyed her first football match tonight. Well, I say enjoyed, maybe she expected Rovers to win after spending all that money in the transfer window. But Spurs are a decent side who hold the ball well in midfield and defend very well. Their keeper was on fine form too. I'm sure Jerome Anderson and Steve Kean explained all of this to her. I was disappointed to lose, but on balance think there was enough to take from the game to feel the season is still going to be good.

But I feel embarrassed to be part of a crowd that booed Keith Andrews before a ball had even been kicked. Shameful. OK, he was signed by a discredited manager and is pretty crap, but what a nasty, negative and stupid thing it is to boo one of your own players. What must Mrs Rao be thinking.

And another thing? Where was Rovers chairman John Williams? Not in his usual seat, that's for sure.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Lists and commandments

Here are some very thoughtful lists and commandments.

First, here's former Guardian Science Editor Tim Radford on 25 commandments of journalism. This is inspiring.

Then here's Tolstoy, on 10 pointers to a happy life, here.

And all week I've been thinking about the 8 Beatitudes, here.

The Marple Lockdown

Every night from 7pm Marple is effectively closed to the outside world. The authorities have imposed a curfew on our community and have blockaded the one road in and out. There are rumours of emergency vehicles on stand-by. Flashing lights and strange signs have appeared. There are concerns that the government is engaged in an experiment in mind control, to manipulate the patience of a whole town in readiness for the imposition of a police state.

Obviously this is just me being fanciful. The only true statement in the above paragraph is that the main road, Dan Bank, is closed at night for a while. The council have set up an exceptionally good public information service and website.

There's also a terrific blog, here, about the tunnels under Marple and the existence of a bunker. Here are the tunnels on a map. Fascinating stuff.