FIONA LOONEY

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - CONTENT -

The Hus­band is in a mu­seum. Well, we’re all in a mu­seum, strictly speak­ing, but when the rest of us walk out into the un­sea­son­able sun­shine in an hour or so, The Hus­band will re­main in the mu­seum. He is, in many re­spects, the bog body of the Mu­seum of Liver­pool.

I make this re­mark, back out in sunny Al­bert Dock, but it doesn’t get a laugh. To be hon­est, I may as well not be here at all, be­cause right now, the kids are all about their fa­ther. ‘You are by far the more im­pres­sive par­ent,’ vol­un­teers The Boy, and his sis­ters rush to con­cur. ‘ I used to think Mom was quite in­ter­est­ing,’ expands The Youngest, ‘ but you’re way, way more in­ter­est­ing.’

We didn’t know he was go­ing to be in the mu­seum. Even he was sur­prised. We only came here be­cause Mike McCart­ney rec­om­mended it to us ( I am vaguely in­ter­ested in see­ing how many fa­mous Liver­pudlians I can name- check in this col­umn. Con­sider that a first ding. Or a sec­ond, if you’re count­ing The Hus­band — which I most def­i­nitely am not).

Any­way, Mike is all over the Mu­seum of Liver­pool, as is — as you would ex­pect — his marginally more fa­mous older brother. But the whole top floor of this new mu­seum is given over to the arts and cul­ture of the city — now, there’s an idea, Gath­er­ing peo­ple — and it makes for a fas­ci­nat­ing and nos­tal­gic wan­der through a wealth of fa­mil­iar touch­stones, from Billy Furey through The Liver Birds and Shirley Valen­tine to Yosser Hughes. Hon­estly, un­til you’re con­fronted with them all on the top floor of a shiny new build­ing, you don’t re­alise quite how many im­pres­sive peo­ple this vi­brant city has gifted the world. And then there is The Hus­band. He’s ac­tu­ally there twice — as the chil­dren keep point­ing out. First, in an ex­hibit about Eric’s, which was a mu­sic venue in Mathew Street, just across from the orig­i­nal Cav­ern Club, and again in a sim­i­lar trib­ute to an­other venue, The Picket. He is there with his band, of course, who you have never heard of be­cause you are not from Liver­pool.

But it never ceases to amaze me just how fa­mous Deaf School were — and, I sup­pose, still are — in this city. It is not un­com­mon for The Hus­band to be ap­proached in the street, or,

‘You are by far the more im­pres­sive par­ent,’ The Boy tells The Hus­band, and his sis­ters rush to con­cur with him

as on this trip, in Pizza Ex­press, by per­fect strangers who want to shake his hand and re­flect on what I can only con­clude was their wasted youth. Plus, in the pic­ture of the band that makes up part of the Eric’s ex­hibit, The Hus­band looks a bit gay. Ac­tu­ally, they all do — but then, when you think about it, there are very few bands of the early 1980s who don’t look a bit gay — and since The Hus­band’s band share their mu­seum space with Frankie Goes To Hol­ly­wood, it is prob­a­bly fair to say that there are gayer fish to fry in this par­tic­u­lar ex­hibit. Still, the kids stare at it for ages and ages — even The Hus­band has moved on to the Willy Rus­sell wall — with The Teenager in par­tic­u­lar, who these days is largely of the opin­ion that her fa­ther is some­thing of a waste of space, ab­so­lutely cap­ti­vated by this sud­den ev­i­dence to the con­trary.

For my part, I wan­der over to a bril­liant ex­hi­bi­tion of doors with po­ems on them, put to­gether by Roger McGough, and con­tem­plate this un­ex­pected shift in parental im­pres­sive­ness. It was bad enough last month, when The Hus­band’s bi­og­ra­pher — I mean, se­ri­ously? — came to Dublin to rum­mage through his mem­o­ries and ex­ten­sive col­lec­tion of mem­o­ra­bilia. Or crap, as I pre­fer to call it. This re­sulted in the floor of our of­fice room be­ing cov­ered, for a week or so, in mag­a­zines with The Hus­band’s face on the front of them. In fair­ness, he did look a lit­tle bit hot on the cover of Sounds. I pointed this out to The Teenager, busy writ­ing yet an­other song on the key­board in the mid­dle of all the may­hem. ‘Ac­tu­ally, he looks a bit gay,’ she cor­rected me.

I try to re­mind her of that in the mu­seum, but it is clear she is hav­ing none of me. So I head into the karaoke booth with The Youngest, who leaves it again be­fore the door even closes be­cause she can hear one of The Hus­band’s songs play­ing in an­other part of the mu­seum. I choose Yes­ter­day from the song se­lec­tion. Even if I say so my­self, I give a par­tic­u­larly fine — and highly emo­tional — per­for­mance.

Don’t miss Fiona Looney’s bril­liant col­umn, with her unique take on mod­ern Ire­land, only in the Ir­ish Daily Mail ev­ery Wed­nes­day.

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