Travis Elborough

How Liverpool soon outgrew the Beatles

‘If any journalist asks you about the Beatles because you’re from Liverpool, say you hate them and you don’t listen to that old crap.’ Such was the advice that the DJ Roger Eagle, promoter and founder of the legendary (and there really is no other word for it) Merseyside punk club Eric’s, dispensed to a

The folly of garden cities

In his 1981 autobiography A Better Class of Person, the playwright John Osborne described an encounter he’d recently had with an actor who’d bought a house in Finlay Street, Fulham for £15,000. Osborne, having lived on the same street in the 1930s when properties there changed hands for £300, was astonished by the sum. Yet,

The story of Sealand – a most improbable sovereign state

In 2012, the editors of Vice ran an article aimed at would-be contributors to their self-avowedly edgy magazine headed ‘Never Pitch Any of These Things to Us Again’. Among a list of no-nos that included burlesque dancing and art made of bodily fluids was the principality of Sealand. They wrote: OK, so an independent sovereign

There be dragons

Reflecting on the genesis of Treasure Island, the adventure yarn that grew from a map of an exotic isle he had drawn to amuse a bored schoolboy on a rainy day, Robert Louis Stevenson observed: ‘I am told there are people who do not care for maps, and I find that hard to believe.’ It’s

Pirates and puritans

In The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole, Sue Townsend’s hapless teenage diarist, reeling from the news that Argentina has just occupied the Falkland Islands, fails to locate the archipelago on his world map. Eventually, his mother comes to the rescue and discovers it ‘hidden under a crumb of fruitcake’. If general awareness of the Falklands