Standing on the shoulders of giants!

As someone who is fiercely proud of my Liverpudlian roots, with a terrible weakness for events which unite the city on a grand scale, it’s safe to say I’ve had a pretty good weekend. I’m still smiling now.

On the face of it, thousands of people lining the streets in the searing heat to witness three giant puppets – a nan, a little girl and a dog named Xolo – meandering along does seem a bit strange. But, just like in 2012, Royal De Luxe, the French street theatre company behind the Giant Spectacular which this time was commemorating the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, put on an incredible show.

Hi there Xolo!  Photo by Helen Crilly.

Hi there Xolo! Photo by Helen Crilly.

Giant Nan wondering what she wants from Lobster Pot on Whitechapel

Giant Nan wondering what she wants from Lobster Pot on Whitechapel

Of course, there were a small number amongst us who found something to complain about. “I don’t ‘get’ the giants.” What’s not to ‘get’ about the city smiling for a whole weekend solid, whilst basking in glorious sunshine? “I got stuck in traffic for hours.” Plan your route better – you can’t say Merseytravel (for once!) didn’t warn you. “Why are our cash-strapped council spending thousands on this event?” Because it will generate millions. Glad we cleared all of that up.

We didn’t let the naysayers bring us down though. There was a tangible air of anticipation and excitement across the city, the type that for some reason always seems to be extra special in Liverpool. I loved that people queued for hours on Wednesday and Thursday just to see the giant nan asleep in St. George’s Hall. I loved how Jean-Luc Courcoult, the founder of Royal De Luxe, basically spent three days dancing on a truck having an absolute ball. I loved it when the nan’s head nearly fell off at one point – “OH MY GOD ME ‘EAD’S FELL OFF!” I loved singing along to Imagine with thousands of others in Newsham Park on Friday evening, against the backdrop of a beautiful sunset as the giants were tucked in for the night.

Newsham Park looking spectacular

Newsham Park looking spectacular

Most of all I loved the fact that the giants’ route took them through some of the most deprived areas in the entire country and showed that, despite the poverty and depressing statistics and negative reputations, they are rich in community spirit in ways that other, more affluent places can only dream of. I love Sefton Park as much as the next staunch Scouser, but I’m glad they chose to put the giants to bed in Newsham Park instead. And I spent Saturday morning in Kensington eagerly waiting the little girl’s arrival, and it looked vibrant and alive, rather than shabby and disadvantaged, such is the magical effect of the giants. I’ve never been so proud to be from Liverpool.

Little Girl Giant having a wander through Kensington

Little Girl Giant having a wander through Kensington

I can’t imagine another city taking the giants to their hearts in quite the same way as Liverpool did. Indeed, Royal de Luxe seem to have a special affinity with us too; after all, the last time they were here was only two years ago. Let’s hope they return very soon.


Flying Ant Day 2014 – they’re back with a vengeance

I look back on 2013 very fondly. Our Maria got married. We went to Abersoch and it was glorious. I didn’t cry on my birthday for once. But, best of all, I only saw about two flying ants all summer.


I thought that we’d escaped the worst for a second year running. On Saturday, I saw two. Jenny killed them with her windscreen wiper and I believed we were safe. Oh, how naïve I am.

My first alert came courtesy of Louise, who informed me that “millions of the bastards” had hit Aintree. I whimpered at my desk, but told myself that Aintree is miles away from the dark side so I would be alright. Alas, my optimism was short-lived. Allan spoke of a “flying ant apocalypse in the L5 and surrounding area.” Lauren encountered a thousand of them on Renshaw Street and cheerily stated that she “thinks it’ll be worse tomozza.” (Thanks babe.)

At this point I was seriously considering sleeping under my desk at work to avoid the issue, but then the dread of turning into a wool if I stayed the night in Birkenshed overcame my fear of the dreaded winged beasts. I wish, with all my heart, that I had stayed put.

One hit me on the forehead on the way to the train station. Another nearly fell into my bag (I’ll have to throw said bag away.) I then had to endure standing in a swarm of them on Victoria Street while I waited for the bus, which (again naïvely) I thought would be a safe haven, but was in fact worse than being outside, as there was NO ESCAPE.

I spent the entire journey watching them crawl all over the windows, trying not to make eye contact with them in case they attacked, slapping my arms whenever one flew near, scratching my head incessantly and quietly moaning with fright. (To the credit of all my fellow passengers, no one batted an eyelid; they probably thought I was just the obligatory 15 bus crank.) We drove past beer gardens packed full of sun-seeking revellers. I was agog. Are these lunatics unaware of the plague currently upon us?

Thankfully, I’m now safely ensconced in the flying ant-free Crilly abode. Naturally all doors and windows will remain shut until I say otherwise. I am ignoring the fact that by doing this we may run the risk of slowly roasting to death due to the furnace-esque temperature in the house.

I’m off for a shower because I can still feel them crawling on me. It will have to be a sit-down shower, as I am WEAK FROM TERROR.

Let me know when it rains and they’re all dead.

Bad things and good things about summer

Bad things

The constant threat of flying ant day striking.

Trying to get to sleep when your bedroom is hotter than the sun.

Drying your hair i.e blasting your already roasting self with hot air.

Buses that still have their heating on.

Insect bites.

Fellas wandering the streets with their tops off. Mings.

Girls wandering the streets sporting those denim shorts where you can actually see their knickers. Mings.

Having a full-time job, therefore not being as tanned as people who are off work.

Opening the window in a vain attempt to get some air into aforementioned boiling hot bedroom and a full-on ecosystem of moths, flies and wasps being created within seconds.

Good things



Beer gardens.

Ok so basically eating and drinking outside at all times.

Kazimier Gardens.

A tanned foot and toenails painted in fuchsia nail varnish combination.

Paddling pools.

Excellent sandals and excellent sunglasses.

Everyone looking more attractive when sporting said excellent sunglasses.

Getting to work without being drenched on the way and therefore not having to fret about the onset of trench foot.

The fact that good weather is just generally better, and makes everyone smile, and makes life a thousand times easier.