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Comedian Mark Watson comes to Southport

THE events of the past 12 and a bit months, to give them a politely evasive name, have made us all think more regularly about the fragility of life than we probably would have liked to. Nothing focuses the mind than having a:- 'daily death toll' with your late afternoon glass of wine, or a tired looking Government scientist showing graphs and using phrases like:- 'we anticipate many, many more fatalities' in what used to be the:- 'Escape To The Country' slot. 
But luckily, neurotic Taskmaster survivor and Author, Mark Watson, has been stressing about the frightening prospect of death since before it became fashionable. His intended 2020 show; on the cusp of going to Melbourne and Edinburgh festivals, before a typically extensive nationwide tour; was inspired by taking a life expectancy test (there's an app you can get, if you're having an existential crisis at 3am) and discovering he could expect to reach 78: in other words, he's just over halfway to, as it were, the finish line. 
What should we be doing with our time on earth, and how can we do it better? Watson has made a lot of strides towards happiness and fulfilment over the past few years. But there's 1 problem left: and it really is a big 1. The popular, but all too mortal, Radio 4 figure, star of:- 'Live At The Apollo' and 'House Of Games' (which he won, but it's not all about that) wrestles with some of the fundamental questions of life, with unusually high levels of benign audience involvement and the gag rate of an already fast talking comedian who's been imprisoned his house for more than a year.
This show has been some time in the making, thanks to all that unpleasantness with the virus. He's rarely looked forward to anything in his life. All those 41 years of it to date.
Mark Watson had a pretty lively lockdown, as they go. With Tim Key and Alex Horne, he created the game:- 'No More Jockeys' which has now had more than 2 million YouTube views and found a rabid cult audience. He published his most critically acclaimed book to date:- 'Contacts,' and wrote another, non-fiction, title for release this year. He pioneered the Drive And Dine series of outdoor comedy gigs at the depth of the Pandemic, and his company, Impatient, were 1 of the only ones to offer:- 'tour shows' run through Zoom calls, entertaining thousands of ticket buyers deprived of other live comedy. He also completed a trilogy of 24-hour online shows, raising around £70,000 for charities. In March he curated the only overseas shows to be part of Melbourne International Comedy Festival, as part of their digital programme. For all this, he was one of the winners of Chortle's Legends Of Lockdown awards, recognising comics who had gone above and beyond to entertain in these extreme times.
Before that, in the old days, the future national treasure had been a multi-award winner here and in Australia (a country we were once allowed to visit); a very familiar voice on Radio 4, where his series:- 'Mark Watson Talks About A Bit Of Life' has been one of the station's most popular fixtures since 2007; and has most recently been working on a film project with Toni Collette and Studio Canal (while the rights to his graphic novel:- 'Dan And Sam' remain in the hands of Universal). The live arena, though, is where he's in his element the most, and this will be an emotional return to the rooms where he has, for almost two decades, established himself as one of the UK's favourite stand-ups. Emotional, but also funny. See you there.

Plans in place for potential LFC Victory Parade

THE Mayor of Liverpool has invited Liverpool Football Club to take part in a victory parade in preparation of the potential outcome of the season. As Jurgen Klopp's team triumphed this week against Villarreal in the European Champions League Semi Final, the City Council has started to look at putting complex plans into action. The major logistical challenges needed to arrange a parade of this scale means the announcement is being made in advance so residents and businesses in the City can prepare. The only date available to hold a Victory Parade within the City and to have all the players available is:- Sunday, 29 May 2022, from 4pm. Immediately after the parade, the majority of the players will be travelling on international duty to represent their respective countries. As the date of the proposed Victory Parade falls on the Anniversary of the Heysel Stadium Disaster, throughout the morning of the Anniversary Liverpool City Council and Liverpool Football Club will pay tribute to the 39 supporters who lost their lives on that day.

Mayor of Liverpool, Joanne Anderson, said:- "We all remember those iconic images from 2019 as hundreds of thousands of people lined the parade route to celebrate this incredible footballing achievement. Staging an event of this scale does not happen overnight; our events team is among the best in the world at what they do, and they have done all they can behind the scenes and are now at the point where they need to start communicating with residents and businesses about the plans in place. The team working on it will have less than 24 hours' notice once that final whistle blows so we need as much time as possible to prepare in advance to ensure the safety of everyone involved.  We are working in partnership with LFC, Merseyside Police and travel partners to ensure any parade runs smoothly and safely, and if the Reds do bring home the silverware, we can make sure we give them the heroes' homecoming they deserve."

The Council and the Club are working together on those plans. The Victory Parade route will start at Allerton Maze and will travel North bound on Queens Drive towards the Fiveways roundabout and Rocket flyover. From there it will journey along:-

  Queens Drive.

  Mill Bank/

  West Derby Road,


  Leeds Street.

  The Strand.

  Route finishes at Blundell Street.

As in 2019, if the parade does go ahead, there will be key advice to supporters to line the entire route, plan travel in advance and expect the City to be extremely busy on the Sunday. More information and advice will be issued by the City Council and partner agencies (LFC, Merseyside Police and Merseytravel) in the run up to the date.

The full costs of the parade will be met by Liverpool Football Club, who have already won the Carabao Cup, are in the FA Cup Final on:- Sunday, 15 May 2022, and currently lie second in the Premier League. The Parade will be organised by the award winning Culture Liverpool team, which also organised the parades in 2005 and 2019 and has brought many major events to the City such as:- 'The Giants.'

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