Wednesday, 29 November 2017

A dis appointment

Everton are apparently about to appoint Sam Allardyce as manager. If Sam's the answer I don't know what the question was.

Allardyce has never trusted young players. Everton have fielded more players aged under 21 in their team this season than any other premier league team. In tonight's win over West Ham there were 5 players aged 23 or under in the starting line up as were 8 of the 14 who appeared during the match. Allardyce is hardly likely to be positive for the careers of these players.

Am I dissing Allardyce unfairly? I don't think so. Martin Samuel made exactly this point in his column several weeks ago, urging Everton to keep looking for a manager until they identified a better option.

Allardyce will no doubt want to bring in some experience (i.e. various dodgy old lags) in January. The youngsters have a month to make Everton's league position secure enough to limit the number of players Allardyce will be allowed to bring in during the transfer window. Preferably to just the desperately needed striker and cover for Baines at left back, both of which were glaring omissions in August. After all by then Coleman, Bolassie and maybe Barkley should be available again after injury.

Of course, Everton were desperate, especially after the weekend's disastrous performance at Southampton. The board clearly decided an appointment had to be made immediately given the alarming drift since Ronald Koeman's sacking. And the presence of a manager elect in the stand made the team work harder in tonight's much needed 4-0 win though Everton also had some luck: Rooney scored despite his penalty being saved to open the scoring, Everton's keeper saved a penalty and West Ham hit the crossbar with the score at 2-0 in a period when Everton couldn't keep the ball before Rooney scored a remarkable, one might say freak, goal from his own half. At the time it was the only way Everton were likely to score as they were camped in their own half. It punctured West Ham's comeback and made the game comfortable as the Hammers reverted to looking as hopeless as they had in the first half.

While Rooney's first ever hat trick for Everton automatically made him man of the match, other than him I thought the best performances came from Jonjoe Kenny, Tom Davies and Dominic Calvert-Lewin, none of whom are yet 21 years of age and have about 70 Premier League appearances between them. And the shakiest from Ashley Williams (over 350 Premier League and Championship appearances) and 28 year old Cuco Martina.

The Goodison crowd was very subdued at the start of the game. Thinking en masse, I'm sure, how on earth has it come to this? Allardyce, for heaven's sake. Well, despite last season's satisfactory final league position, the team had looked alarmingly clueless for quite some time last autumn before going on a run which included beating Manchester City 4-0 on 15 January this year  (yes, that recently!), Lukaku's goals pushing the team to the position they reached.  So I wasn't convinced by Koeman. Then, sell that outstanding striker, don't replace him or even reinvest all the money, buy 3 players who all play the same position, fail to organise or motivate them, watch them lose confidence, sack the manager without a succession plan and Bob's your uncle. Awfully mishandled by the club.

After the success of the England age group teams in the summer many commentators were lamenting the lack of a pathway for the players involved to get to the senior international team and were asking whether many - or any - of them (including Calvert-Lewin and Kenny) would get games in the Premier League any time soon. A penny for Gareth Southgate's thoughts about Everton going for Allardyce. I guess you've already figured out mine.

P.S. I will see for myself the crowd's reaction for what will presumably be Allardyce's official unveiling at the game against Huddersfield on Saturday. If it's true that he intends to bring in Liverpudlian (I nearly said something stronger there) Sammy Lee as his assistant, I will be joining in heartily if the crowd reprise the old ditty from the 1980s: "he's fat, he's round, his arse is on the ground, Sammy Lee, Sammy Lee....."

PPS you can tell I'm REALLY not happy about these developments. But you have to cheer your team, don't you?

Thursday, 23 November 2017

The stupidest newspaper column I've read this year

As all regular readers will have realised, my Sunday morning read (and much of the rest of the week) is the Sunday Times. I glance at the Sport section, especially David Walsh's column and try to help Mrs H with the crosswords (my contribution is usually very limited) before turning to the politics and economics. Notwithstanding my interest in the latter two topics, I think the world feels a better place when the talk is of Lennon rather than Lenin.

Jeremy Clarkson normally has a column on the inside back page of the main paper. It's usually irreverently funny. But last week (12 November) I saw the name Jeremy at the top of one of the main comment pages, where Adam Boulton (the Sky dude) normally has a column. Crikey, they've given Clarkson a political platform, I thought, this should be interesting! But, d'oh!! The byline was Jeremy CORBYN, not Clarkson. I resolved to read it later, as it would probably make me laugh, but not in the same way as Clarkson.

The Corbyn column was, of course, worthy, unrealistic and dull. It called on Theresa May to sort out the Brexit shambles or move over for someone who would. Eh? Labour hasn't said what it wants to see beyond a transition period of, effectively, no change. Because the party is at least as deeply split as the Tories on that point. So dull and hypocritical. A Clarkson column on Brexit (he was a strong Remain supporter incidentally) would at least have been entertaining.

However, the Corbyn column wasn't the stupidest thing in the newspaper that day, not by a long way. Under the heading "Suicide clinics a preserve of the middle class" Sarah-Kate Templeton picked up on a report by Dignity in Dying, a group campaigning for the law to be changed to allow assisted dying in Britain. She wrote:

"The report, How the UK Outsources Death to Dignitas, finds that an assisted death at Lifecircle or Dignitas, the best known Swiss assisted dying clinic, is not available to all British people who want it. The average cost of an assisted death is is £10,000 and most people cannot afford it. The report finds a lottery in the co-operation on offer from doctors, with some refusing to talk about an assisted death while others discreetly help to plan it.

Dignity in Dying says the administrative process of arranging an assisted suicide overseas can be difficult. Obtaining the necessary paperwork by navigating the bureaucratic systems 'requires knowledge and skills that favour the sharp-elbowed middle class'."

Good grief. I could have believed seeing tosh like this in, say, the hand-wringing, anti-aspirational, prizes for everyone Guardian. But in a Times group paper? One doesn't really know where to start with such incoherent, class warrior tripe.

Setting aside that, at £10k, the cost is only around three times that of an everyday funeral, does the reporter agree with the implication in the report that applying for assisted suicide, something that is currently illegal in this country, should be eligible for means-tested benefits? Does she think that relatives from social classes D and E should have the euthanasia equivalent of free parenting classes? Pressure groups like Dignity in Dying clearly do believe that but a reporter worth her salt would "call out" (to use the current phrase) those putting forward such nonsense.

For the record, I could be convinced to support a law change on assisted dying, though I think it will prove too difficult for the politicians to navigate the moral mazes involved, so I don't expect it to happen anytime soon. But, class warrior Sarah-Kate. I can't resist an entirely inappropriate dig at the hyphenated forename, though it makes a change, I suppose. Just don't expect to get a gig writing for the business pages any time soon. And if you ever get to write the leader column I'm cancelling my subscription.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

The German crisis gets worse and what it means for Brexit

Isn't it fascinating how governments can lose authority seemingly overnight and then stumble from crisis to crisis? So it's been here and so it now is in Germany.

Yesterday's news was that Merkel's most important foreign policy adviser, Christopher Heusgen, who only recently became Germany's ambassador to the UN, used his influence to get his wife a job there. Commentators are wondering whether Merkel personally intervened to assist.

Interesting enough but in a further topical twist this news came from a leak by Fancy Bears, the Russian hackers who gave us the low down on Bradley Wiggins's therapeutic use exemptions. So the Russians continue to destabilise western governments. How unsurprising. And the Western governments don't actually seem to need much help on that score anyway.

Heusgen sent an amazing email to the UN Secretary General, even specifying the appropriate pay grade:
"If you consider which contribution Germany renders to the UN, it could be attractive for you to have someone in your staff (at the salary level P5, which as I understand is appropriate for Ina [Heusgen's wife]), which has both: a direct connection to the chancellor's office and to the office of the foreign minister (and to Germany's future UN ambassador [referring to himself], who has the ambition to sit in the security council in 2019/2020."

Frau Heusgen didn't get that post, but she did bag another at the UN, albeit funded by the German taxpayer. I learned this from the Eurointelligence blog - it doesn't seem to be on our mainstream news media yet.

And what does Mutti Merkel's difficulty in forming a government mean for Brexit? Jacob Rees-Mogg and other Tory Brexiteers have got all wound up, thinking it changes whether we should reduce rather than up the ante on our EU divorce settlement. Setting aside the obvious fact that we shouldn't give in to blackmail and agree to pay money up front without any commitment on the future relationship, I can't see why the German situation makes much difference myself. Eurointelligence agrees, saying it would only come into play if the German crisis goes on into the spring, in particular if new elections lead to another impasse. At that point the EU might decide it can only handle one politicial crisis at a time. Though they do say that "A hard Brexit shock, while worse for the UK than for the EU, will end the economic recovery in the eurozone, which is so important for its stability."

So we are not without cards in the negotiation, we just don't seem to have the gumption to play them properly. Though it may be that David Davies is actually playing a game of "chicken" - brinkmanship in the run up to the next big round of Eurotrash (sorry I mean the European Council meeting on 14 -15 December) as we are indicating we will pay more, but won't make a formal offer until the EU agree to talk about trade. So the EU will have to decide whether to stick to its guns on resolving the three priority issues before the negotiations broaden.

Of the other two issues, citizens rights always seemed the easiest to solve, though the EU insistence on continuing involvement of the ECJ is a problem for me as well as many others.

The third issue has also been in the news, with the DUP's Arlene Foster joining me in telling the Irish  republic to button it* over the border issue (see Don't Walk Away Renee, 17 September). I've been struggling from the outset to see how the soft Irish border issue can be resolved without a hard border within the UK or between Ireland and the EU, but can conceive that the UK's suggestion of an electronic system is workable, given that is how customs declarations are apparently made now. While I won't accept the Ireland tail wagging this dog of a negotiation, the real problem is that the EU has set the negotiation up to fail by insisting that the Irish border issue is resolved before the trade and customs arrangements are even discussed, a ridiculous catch 22.

I guess we'll see in December if the EU actually want the negotiation to fail, as posited by Yanis Varoufakis (also in post of 17 September), or whether they blink. We mustn't, if only because our political crisis - I couldn't see May surviving Tory backbench outrage at a large unconditional financial settlement - would then trump Germany's.

In the meantime we can at least indulge in schadenfreude about Merkel and the Germans. How appropriate that wonderful German word has "eu" in the middle.

For both news items on Germany, see the Eurointelligence blog for 21 November at

*Irish PM should know better over Brexit, says Arlene Foster:

Monday, 20 November 2017

Should I have bet on May v Merkel?

Is the end nigh for the weakest politician in Europe?  I mean Angela Merkel, see my post of 17 November, who might be up for an early bath, to use a footballing analogy. Her party's coalition negotiations have broken down. The FDP, free market liberals who, with their 80 seats, are necessary partners for  Merkel's CDU to govern effectively, have pulled out of talks, saying there is "no basis of trust" and "no shared vision". The disagreements are thought to have concerned tax, asylum and environmental policies (remember that Germany is a climate change denier by action, rather than words).

The CDU may try to operate with the support of the Greens as a minority government. But if there is an impasse the German President (no, I didn't know they had one either but I suppose I would have guessed) has the power to call new elections. But only after a process I don't understand but which could take months. In that case, Merkel's party aren't sure about her fighting on and might ask her to stand aside.

This all may not come to pass. But it holds out the remarkable prospect that Theresa May could outlive Angela Merkel, in political terms. I must admit I wouldn't have bet a bean on that even last week, but I am regretting not placing a bet on it as I would have thought you could have got long odds on that before the German elections!

The UK is not the only EU member state living with uncertainty and trying to work with the hand their electorate dealt them in a general election. "Crisis" is a word now being used in Germany. The main beneficiaries of any new election there are likely to be the far-right AFD....

Germany's Merkel suffers blow as FDP pulls out of coalition talks, BBC website today,

Friday, 17 November 2017

The weakest politician in Europe?

No, I'm not talking about Mrs May. Weak though she is, there's a lot of competition for this title at the moment. I offer you my candidate: Mrs Merkel, or Mutti ("Mummy") as the Germans call her.

Nearly a month after the German federal election, Merkel has not put together a government yet. The Social Democrats have ruled out another grand coalition (the equivalent here would be Lab-Tory) and Merkel's Christian Democrats won't want to do business with the ulta-right AFD, so she is left trying to do the deal with the liberal Free Democrats and Greens. Talks so far have stalled over issues including immigration, climate change and EU defence plans.

I'm not surprised Merkel is coming under pressure from the greens on climate change as Merkel's government is the true climate change denier, in terms of actions, compared with Trump. Of course they are fully signed up to the Paris accord, but they say one thing and do another, burning ever greater quantities of coal, while the USA does the opposite, saying it will pull out of the international agreements but making progress in reducing emissions. Merkel is in a bind on this as a big reason for the Germans increasing coal burn is their commitment to phasing out nuclear and the Greens won't agree to her backing out of that.

Merkel has till Thursday, else there may have to be another election. Which she won't want in case the AFD do even better. So I expect deals will be cut.

But don't kid yourself that Germany has strong leadership. Our 'weak' PM's party got 42% of the vote, Mutti's party got 33%. They obviously succeed for other reasons.

PS It's not just me saying this. After writing this blog, I saw Wolfgang Munchau's tweet " Why Merkel's position on climate change is in reality no different from Trump's". In the eurointelligence blog his article titled "Germany's climate change hypocrisy" notes that at the Bonn climate change summit Germany was confronted by a 20 country initiative to commit to stopping burning coal. The problem for Germany is 40% of its power comes from coal.The UK is committed to phasing out coal fired power stations by 2025, while Germany is basically doing what Trump says he wants to do.

You can see the full article at

Saturday, 11 November 2017

We will remember them - but how?

This is the Weeping Window display by Paul Cummins and Tom Piper, they of the poppies at the Tower, when they took their ceramic poppies on tour for 14-18 NOW, the UK's arts programme for the first world war centenary. This display was at The Silk Mill in Derby, a building that hosted a corn mill and medical supplies business during WWI, back in June and July.

A super and thought provoking large scale work of art.

I have worn a poppy in early November since I was a child. If anything I've got a bit less keen on actually wearing one, though I always make a donation, because of the poppy police. It seems you can't appear on tv without one and I always think they start wearing them much too early on in October. Poppy wearing seems to have become competitive, which doesn't feel right to me.

And talking of competitive, Premier League footballers now have them embroidered on their shirts. If they don't all kinds of media hell breaks over their heads. It wasn't like this until just a few years ago. When I coached my son's boys football team back in the 90s at my instigation and by agreement with the coach of our opponents we held a minute's silence before the match nearest to Remembrance Sunday and the boys all thought it was great, both teams standing around the centre-circle just like their favourite clubs on Match of the Day. It was just about the only time I got them all to stay quiet! But I don't agree with footballers having poppies on their jerseys. Even more so now that the home nations have won their argument with FIFA so our international teams do it as well, including last night's England v Germany match where the players of both teams had poppies on armbands. FIFA have backtracked from their earlier view that the poppy was a "political" symbol.

I'm with Martin Samuel of the Daily Mail on this. He says that it's only "half right" to say the poppy is not political propaganda because it's impossible to separate acts of remembrance by nation or race. Iran was fined by FIFA a year ago because fans at a match with South Korea were asked to mark Tasu'a by wearing black and replacing football chants with holy songs. Tasu'a is the day before Ashura, which is one of the most significant events in the Shi'a Muslim calendar. Ashura translates as "day of remembrance". So we get our poppies but surely Iran will be able to mark Ashura and Samuel wonders whether Japan will want to acknowledge Hiroshima's A-bomb day if they play on or around the 6th of August. It seems to me only a matter of time before we find our national football team is compromised by having to join in an act of remembrance for fallen which might include people we thought of as terrorists.

To be clear, I don't think our poppies are political but others might. And we might think their equivalents are either political or inappropriate. FIFA should have insisted on keeping this box firmly closed.

One of my old bosses, who served with distinction in more recent times before his career in business, had a different take on this. He never wore a poppy and used to sniff at me wearing one. He said it discouraged the government from taking proper care of our former soldiers and their families when they needed it. I didn't agree, but I could see his point. There are different ways of remembering, but that should be the bottom line.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

A Brown Curate's Egg

Gordon Brown has re-emerged from the shadows. His memoirs are published today. No, I haven't blagged a preview copy - I've been reading the trailers in the newspapers. And, of course, I have my own views on the man who I lectured a Labour canvasser about in 2001. I guess it was the general election that Labour won handsomely: I remember because we had just moved house and I was decorating the hall. I'd got his attention by saying that, having 2 youngsters I was concerned about health and education. No sooner had he mentally noted me down as "for" when I launched into a vituperative tirade about how Brown had started well as chancellor but time would tell otherwise. Brown's £5bn a year pension tax grab featured prominently but wasn't my only stringent criticism. I was peeved about paying a huge wodge of stamp duty to buy a lower priced house than our previous one and, rather selfishly, about Brown's stealth taxes on my company car and health insurance. None of which I would have minded paying if it was spent wisely, but I felt state education and the NHS weren't performing and were unlikely to improve. "Mark my words" I remember saying "you all think he's a hero now but Brown will come to be seen as a total unmitigated disaster". (Ok, not quite right, that prediction, I'll give you). The poor chap eventually managed to get away from me and I turned to my younger son, who had been listening in and said "I don't know why I did that, look my paint brush has gone dry". "No, dad" he said "but it had to be done". (A very wise 15 year old, I thought).

Brown was, of course, a son of the manse - his father was a minister in the Church of Scotland. Though I'm effectively demoting his dad in saying this, after my 2001 tirade I came to the view that Brown was a curate's egg, good in parts. And, to misquote the American poet Longfellow, when he was bad, he was horrid.

The bad included letting public spending get out totally of control and helping to create the crisis in company pension schemes with that infamous £5 billion a year tax grab (though, to be fair, a Tory chancellor had started this stupid wheeze, Brown just pumped up the volume). He was also complicit in the "education, education, education" Blair government that did so little for education, other than come up with the dumb target of 50% of young people going to university, which has left us with the overhanging issues of university funding, student "debt" and a surplus of unemployable graduates in some disciplines, using that word very loosely. And it was Brown as chancellor who gave the gambling industry free rein, leading to wall to wall betting ads on Sky Sports, gambling companies sponsoring half the Premier League teams and, according to the Gambling Commission, half a million youngsters aged 11-15 gambling regularly, as do two-thirds of students. (Two thirds!! It wouldn't have been 1 in 50 in my day).

Horrid? More like appallingly awful.

However he did, as he put it "save the world" when he unfortunately miss-spoke in a debate in the House on the financial crisis. Though to be fair to him, he did, with Alistair Darling, skilfully ensure that the worst of the chaos that could easily have resulted was avoided. Very good. The reforms he made on assuming the role of Chancellor of the Exchequer - independence for the Bank of England and taking bank regulation from the Bank and putting it with the newly formed Financial Services Authority - were also good and bad respectively, the FSA proving not up to the job of regulating the banks and so contributing to the crisis he had to deal with. But Brown, along with Ed Balls, deserves enormous credit for thwarting Blair and keeping us out of the euro, otherwise the impact of the financial crisis would gave been far more serious*. And extricating ourselves from the EU would have been even more difficult, so your view on Brown's success in bamboozling Blair with his five economic tests probably depends on whether you think we should remain or leave.

Anyway, with that background, it's worth listening to what Brown has to say on the financial crisis. And guess what? It's a curate's egg.

Brown says "If bankers who act fraudulently are not put in jail with their bonuses returned, assets confiscated and banned from future practice, we will only give a green light to similar risk laden behaviour in new forms", a statement that led to headlines like "Bankers should have been jailed". This is the Gordon Brown who'd had 10 years to get the regulatory system right before the crash and at least 2 years after the crash to start to take action.

Brown says the actions of Northern Rock's bosses in covering up their financial situation were 'but a short step from criminality'. Hmm, not criminal then, so hard to jail them surely? And the Rock's business model, borrowing money on short term markets while lending it out on long term mortgages was very well known. Absolutely a failure of risk management and regulation in my book, so that one's actually down to you, Gordon.

Brown also hits out at Barclays bank for doing an 'unconscionable' deal with the Gulf states to avoid taking the Treasury's shilling, so avoiding Treasury control. Brown blanks out the fact that Treasury officials lied to the Lloyds team, who were also wary of state control. (Lloyds asked Treasury officials whether the other major banks were being bailed out and explicitly asked about Barclays, who they hadn't seen during the negotiations. They were told the Barclays team were meeting on a different floor of the building). Barclays maintained its independence and arguably fared the best of the British banks. OK, HSBC makes more profit than Barclays (£5.49bn against £3.93bn last year), but Barclays profitability (profit as a % of turnover) is a lot higher and HSBC didn't require a bail out (just as well as it is essentially trans-national, British taxpayers bailing it out wold have been problematical I reckon).

And of course Lloyds only needed bailing out because Brown had offered them the poisoned chalice of HBOS, which they had previously coveted but hadn't been allowed to acquire on competition grounds. Under pressure to get things fixed Brown changed the rules and gullible, greedy Lloyds didn't do proper due diligence. Otherwise Lloyds wouldn't have needed a bail out at all.

 To be fair the Gulf deal does look dodgy. But the government (i.e. you and me) didn't have to put up any of our money to bolster its balance sheet, some Arabs did. Brown argues that, because Barclays avoided government control, it carried on as before. Well actually it didn't because Barclays also reshaped its business away from what Vince Cable calls "casino banking", wilfully ignoring the fact that Northern Rock and HBOS got into trouble overstretching themselves on good old property. Barclays would probably would have done better if they had kept more of their investment banking business.

Meanwhile, RBS languishes in state control, unlikely ever to be able to repay the taxpayer bailout. Partly, I would argue, because the government made it get rid of its most profitable activities. Yes, it was to take out risk but it doesn't look with hindsight to have made any sense. So the bank most under the control of the state has done the worst - quelle surprise!

Brown takes aim at the egregious Fred the Shred - Fred Goodwin - and the ridiculous corporate excesses of RBS under his control. It was well known that RBS was a byword for hubristic levels of corporate extravagance don't I remember Brown saying anything about the overblown HQ in Scotland when it was opened. I wouldn't be surprised if he had applauded the job creation in his homeland.

Meanwhile the only bank executives charged with fraud are 4 former senior executives at Barclays. Ooh, it doesn't do to upset people like GB and the Treasury, does it?

So, as I say, curate's egg. I guess I should read Brown's autobiography in full to see whether it's as self-serving as the previews make it sound. But I'm not the only one - the Spectator said "Gordon Brown's memoirs show he is good at blowing his own trumpet - but nothing else"**.

Brown's memoirs is called My Life, Our Times and is published by The Bodley Head.
*For example, see Five tests that saved Britain from the fate of economic oblivion, Telegraph 27 Feb 2012
** The Spectator, 4 November 2017

Saturday, 4 November 2017

By St George - a world first I wasn't aware of

Liverpool is a great and notable city for many reasons (give over, I'm talking culture and heritage here, cut out the hubcap jokes please!) There is so much history that I don't know and I learned one more snippet earlier in the year.

I was at St George's Hall in Liverpool a few months ago for a sad purpose - the registrar of hatches, matches and despatches for the Liverpool area is there. My only previous visit was for an Emerson, Lake and Palmer gig in about 1971. (See Best Musicians I've Seen - 2, 16 October).  I already knew that St George's Hall is regarded as one of Europe's most notable neo-classical buildings.  There are many great public buildings in Liverpool: it is a UNESCO world heritage site which doesn't just cover the waterfront, with the famous three graces, but "a great number of significant commercial, civic and public buildings, including St George’s Plateau"*.

When I saw ELP, thinking "this is a bit of an odd place for a gig", I didn't know that St George's Hall was originally intended as a concert venue, funded by public subscription.

But I also didn't know that St George's Hall was the world's first air conditioned building. There were earlier systems intended for air conditioning dating back to ancient times. And invention of the world's first modern air conditioning system is claimed by Willis Haviland Carrier, who designed a system for a printing works in 1902, but then the Americans try to claim lots of things the Brits invented first. Equally it wouldn't be the only time we invented something only for others to work out how to exploit it commercially.

Anyway, here is the system, designed by David Boswell Reid and commissioned in 1851:

There is much more detail in the second reference below on the aircon system and the background to 25 year old Harvey Lonsdale Elmes winning the prize for the best design of the hall in 1839 as well as the inspirations behind the superb design. There was a subsequent competition for design of law courts to be built alongside St George's Hall. Elmes won that competition as well. Both competitions were judged "blind" and it is thought that Elmes's knowledge of the Hall design allowed him to make the designs complementary. He was appointed architect and asked to design a third building to house magistrates courts and a bridewell. Subsequently, Elmes's suggestion that two of the buildings be combined was accepted. Elmes had in mind that this would create "a public edifice that was larger than in any other borough in the land" - remarkable given that this was his first commission. The Law Courts Committee then took over the whole project in order to get it implemented and the money the public had subscribed for the concert hall was refunded. Elmes was asked to include a "concert room" to "contain 1200 persons" and it was presumably in that room that I saw ELP.

Despite the claims of Carrier, there is a blue plaque presented by the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers in St George's Hall celebrating it as the world's first air conditioned building. A royal charter is good enough for me: another first for Liverpool and England.

**Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers reference: