FIFTY years ago today, Mr Brocklebank’s pipe-smoking, mackintosh-wearing old chum Harold Wilson became leader of the Labour Party.
Little over 12 months later the Huyton MP was Merseyside’s second prime minister after William Gladstone, and, like Gladstone, was premier during four parliaments, winning four general elections.
However, as Mr Brocklebank recalls, he gave everyone a considerable shock when, in 1976, and seemingly out of the blue, he called it a day, claiming he had always intended to retire at 60.
It is certainly a rarity for people to retire from such high office – more often it is the case that they are retired either by their own party or by the electorate.
And there is one post from which it is virtually unheard of for people to retire – that of the pope.
But this week, Pope Benedict XVI, formerly Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger decided to throw in the papal towel and call it a deity, so to speak, announcing (not via his twitter account, as it happens, even though you can probably get more Latin words into 140 characters than English ones) that he was retiring.
Cardinal Ratzinger (a name that brings to Mr B’s mind a fast food dish of dubious provenance) was not quite the moderniser of the Catholic church some would like to believe him to be (twitter accounts, aside, that is). Hence, according to Mr B’s ecclesiastical sources, a plan is afoot in the bowels of the Basilica to help the Papacy really get its modernisation programme going and reconnect with the wider world through an exciting new offer ... the Vatican City Deal.
The premise is simple, and all the world’s great cities with a loyal Catholic contingent are entitled to bid for a share. It’s certainly proving an enticing prospect in Liverpool, where the benefits of the blind loyalty of the faithful, dominion over great swathes of land and the availability of social media to get one’s unadulterated message across have considerable appeal to some.
However, at this point Mr B should state, given Pope Benedict’s retirement, and for the avoidance of interminable debates within the Liverpool town hall chamber, that the fortunes on offer via the Vatican City Deal are not, repeat NOT, dependent on a “new governance arrangement”, should anyone be getting any ideas . .
AS THE bookies begin to think about drawing up the odds on who will succeed Cardinal Joe (Ratzinger, that is) to the Papacy, the issue of gambling is a hot topic in Liverpool at the moment.
Before Christmas, Ladbrokes the bookmakers applied for planning permission to turn the now empty Starbucks coffee shop on Castle Street, opposite the town hall, into a betting shop.
The council was less than impressed with the prospect, and has denied Ladbrokes the approval on what many will think are the most staggeringly hypocritical grounds imaginable.
Readers will be well aware that in approving the monstrous Liverpool Waters project to be developed by Peel Holdings, the council has been warned by UNESCO that it is putting the waterfront and surrounding area’s World Heritage Status at risk.
Mr B’s loyal readership will, therefore, be left open-mouthed at the news that the reason for this refusal was because the building resides... surely not!.... it can’t be! . . . yep, you guessed it: in a World Heritage Site!
However, Mr B’s sources suggest the real reason was the fear of a load of shifty-looking desperados trying to succeed against all odds coming and going in the vicinity of the town hall.
There are, of course, more than enough of them hanging around the town hall as it is!