The Old Shell Game



When I record an interview for broadcast, the first thing I do is set the levels. I usually ask the guest what they had for breakfast. This week, I got an answer I wasn’t expecting.

I was at BBC Radio Merseyside, my guest was John Gorman. You may remember him from The Scaffold (‘Lily The Pink’, ‘Thank U Very Much’, Liverpool Lou) and Tiswas.

When I asked him what he had for breakfast he said, “Tortoise”. I decided to play along so I asked, “Shell on or shell off?” He said, “Don’t tell ME to shell off!”

I have a theory about people from Merseyside. I believe that we’re extremely sensitive. It might have something to do with us being descended from a mix of Irish and Welsh. The thing is, if you’re highly sensitive you can easily get hurt. I think that’s why we often come across as comedians or hard-knocks. We build a protective barrier around ourselves of humour or aggression.

John was in the radio station to talk about two new plays he’s written about Anne Frank and her step-sister Eva that are being premiered at St George’s Hall in Liverpool. It’s to mark Holocaust Memorial Day. The plays are part of his campaign to raise awareness of people who are suffering around the world because of intolerance and wars.  

He talked to me in quite moving terms about the injustice he saw in the world and his inability to understand how human beings could cause so much misery. He mentioned 911, the wars that followed it in Afghanistan and Iraq, the situation in Syria and the refugee crisis. At one point I thought he was going to cry and then he told me the name of his campaign, “No More Tears”.

I’ve always admired John Gorman’s work and it was an honour to meet him, shell on and shell off.

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