Saturday, 6 June 2009

Ingrid Spiegl, Publisher

’When she was eighteen, Ingrid was the hottest girl in Liverpool”. So Adrian Henri told Catherine Marcangeli, who, in turn told me. “Every male in town was after her”.

Testament to this is an album cover Ingrid appeared on for The Liverpool Scene, a crowd scene true, but a crowd of all the “it” people at that time, and there in the front, Ingrid with her Cheshire cat grin.

It could be said that she was the original “it” girl, before the Hiltons, and Taras, the Sloane Rangers, and the Preppies. Ingrid was a flower girl, a Liverpudlian born and bred belle of the sixties. Now, she approaches another kind of sixty and age does not diminish her.

A lover of the arts, culture (opera in particular) and people, she is sexy and sparkling, as effervescent as a bubbling spring. Her voice is sweet, almost childlike, but don’t let that deceive you for her brain is tack sharp.

Ingrid is particularly good with words and has a WICKED sense of humour. For 30 odd years, with her late husband Fritz, she ran Scouse Press, specializing in books of local interest, such as the Learn Yerself Scouse series, from the basement of her Victorian mansion.

When the orders came in she would emerge into its depth and work all hours on the archaic printing machines until the deed was done. One day she experienced a particularly speedy route into the nether regions of her house when the living room floor collapsed beneath her and she was beamed right down.

The floor has been repaired since and the traditional printing press sold to a collector. Now the books arrive from China and though Scouse Press is still going strong, Ingrid has more time to enjoy her life on a brighter floor of her eclectic mansion. Knock on the door and warm your hands by her Aga. “Tea or coffee” she might ask? Then she will just as likely flash her violet eyes at you and say, “Oh lets have a bottle of bubbly”! Her mouth will twitch uncontrollably as she attempts to suppress the humour of the thought. There is a large, well-stocked wine cellar to get through after all.

With any luck Ingrid will give you a tour of her home from which much about her can be gleamed. There is the sixties bathtub in her bathroom, replete with a painting by herself, her Tudor oak four poster bed, the guest room where each item tells a story, and each one seems to belong. In another bedroom a mishmash of stuff awaits other destinations, including the colour triptych she has been working on forever, and the fox sitting on a potted plant, which is not really a fox, but bloody well looks like one.

Her sense of humour is everywhere. She has two cats, Toby and Black Jack, aptly named, and they have free reign of the place, even the kitchen counters. They are strong and self-assured and mirror their owner in many ways, only Toby is rather fat and watch out that Black Bastard does not snap at you.

With her background in art, there are many things Ingrid could have put her hand to. That she owns a publishing company is one of those turns of fate. Just when you think you have “got” her, she tosses a whimsical phrase out, and you realise that tea, coffee, what the hell, champagne, is what it is all about.. Or is it?