Shopping, was the perfect thing to do on a grey, cold, wet morning in Liverpool, England. The irony of this is that our first stop was the trendy Superdry menswear store in the main shopping area in Paradise Street. We had not discovered this brand before but we soon learnt that Superdry is an international brand sold in 43 countries. The store was packed with great looking designer tee shirts, jeans, jackets, bags and footwear that combines vintage Americana styling with Japanese inspired graphics.
Our young salesman enthusiastically told us that the founders of the Superdry label, Lan Hibbs and Julian Dunkerton (now both multi millionaires) on a holiday in Japan had the brilliant idea to produce designer clothing that included frequently meaningless excerpts of Japanese text. Their idea was inspired by the common Japanese practice of placing decorative English text on items to increase their fashionability and appeal, a phenomenon known as ‘Engrish’. Our guess is that the guys thought up the company’s name over a few of Japan’s most popular beer, Asahi Superdry.
Perhaps one of the reasons we may not have heard of the Superdry brand is that the company does not overtly advertise, or have store sales and does not actively pursue celebrity endorsement. However, the company was very happy when David Beckham bought one of their leather jackets, helping to sell over 70,000 of the one item. Our purchase from the store was only a pair of shoes however, when we arrive back home in Australia we will be visiting superdry.co . The site sells safely and securely to over 100 countries worldwide, operating from 21 international websites.
The April Ashley story was a discovery for us when we visited the Museum of Liverpool. The home town ‘gal’ born in 1935, a former Vogue model and actress, was one of the first in the world to undergo pioneering gender reassignment surgery. During her life time she worked tirelessly for transgender equality and she is a role model and inspiration to many. She said, “I knew from the age dot that I was a girl. My only dreams were about growing up to be a woman”. In her book, The First Lady, Ashley tells of her appalling time in the Navy, her attempted suicides and describes her shock treatment in a mental institution.
April Ashley survived all this and, after gender reassignment at the age of 25, she went on to appear in publications suchas Vogue and winning a small role in the film The Road to Hong Kong, which starred Bing Crosby and Bob Hope.
A little time later she married the Hon Arthur Corbett but the marriage was soon annulled on the grounds April Ashley was born a male. More recently in 2005, after the passage of the Gender Recognition Act 2004, Ashley was finally legally recognised as a female and issued with a new birth certificate. John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister of the UK at the time, was a driving force in seeing the legislation passed.More recently in Britain we have seen The Marriage (Same Sex Couples Act) that allows transsexual people to remain married to their spouses when obtaining legal recognition of their new gender. April Ashley lives in Fulham, West London and she was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2012 Birthday Honours, for services to transgender equality. A remarkable story about a remarkable woman. Don’t miss this fascinating story.
- The world famous ‘Ferry ‘cross the Mersey’ is one of the finest Liverpool attractions. Tours leave every hour on the hour from 10:00am to 4:00pm. Take the 50 minute tour to find out a whole range of interesting local facts and history about Liverpool.
- Pub lunch at the Pump House. Have the cod fillet, freshly hand-battered served with seasoned chips, mushy peas and tartare sauce. A traditional favourite!.
- Visit the Merseyside Maritime Museum and in the same building see the Museum of Slavery. Both exhibitions are fascinating and don’t take very long to complete and entry to both is free of charge.
- The Museum of Liverpool details the story of the rise, fall and rise again of Liverpool. As well, see the exhibitions about the Beatles and April Ashley.
- Time your visit to Liverpool around the weekend. During the week many of the gay bars are closed.
- Stanley Street Quarter is the area to find the gay bars and ‘The Lisbon’ is one of the most popular bars in this area.
- Fonseca’s is an excellent restaurant at 12 Stanley St and we can highly recommend a delicious meal there.
- See the statue of Eleanor Rigby of ‘All the Lonely People’ fame, just up from The Lisbon Bar.
- The Thistle Hotel is situated in a great location in the city and has competitive rates.
- A Taxi to John Lennon Airport from the city centre is about £7.