Normally on Fridays, the day we walk rather than work, we set off for coastal places. But this week, being a momentous week in the history of Liverpool, we decided to walk closer to home. In the hills of Everton, and down the valley to Anfield.
I used to work up here as part of my first housing job, in the early to mid 1970s. Then the area was full of tower blocks, mostly now demolished.
It wasn’t a prosperous area. But there were thousands of people around. So it was always lively, and the corner shops and pubs busy. But now much of the place has been grassed over. And it’s empty and quiet. A great place to come running, but for me it always feels like running through a differently shaped past.
St George’s Heights. Used to be the highest place in Liverpool., until it was demolished in 1999.
From here we walked across the hill to an older part of Everton.
Next, walking down Everton Valley we enter Anfield. (And no, in case you’re wondering, we haven’t deliberately not shown you Everton’s football ground. Confusingly that’s not in Everton, but a mile or two away in Walton.
And these have been tough years recently in Anfield. Grand plans for the football club to move to a new ground in nearby Stanley Park were frustrated by the financial manoeuvrings of the club’s previous American owners.
But arguing with my beloved Liverpool FC about this will have to wait for another day. Because what we’re here to witness matters much more than this. We are around the corner from a sacred place. And this is the week the Hillsborough Independent Panel released the report that has begun the process of finally delivering justice for the 96 Liverpool supporters who were cruelly killed at a match in Hillsborough, Sheffield, 23 years ago.
We move on.
In April 2005 we did some work with the people of Anfield. A film of how the place was then, and some workshops with our friends Urbed, helping them to imagine and design how they’d really like the place to be.
We didn’t then expect that seven years later the place would look like it does today.
We move on.
To lunch at our favourite café, Greendays. After a walk of mixed but many emotions.
And back home, while I’m writing this, British Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy publishes this beautiful poem, about this week, in the local paper, the Liverpool Echo:
“THE Cathedral bell, tolled, could never tell;
nor the Liver Birds, mute in their stone spell;
or the Mersey, though seagulls wailed, cursed, overhead,
in no language for the slandered dead…
not the raw, red throat of the Kop, keening,
or the cops’ words, censored of meaning;
not the clock, slow handclapping the coroner’s deadline,
or the memo to Thatcher, or the tabloid headline…
but fathers told of their daughters; the names of sons
on the lips of their mothers like prayers; lost ones
honoured for bitter years by orphan, cousin, wife –
not a matter of football, but of life.
Over this great city, light after long dark;
truth, the sweet silver song of the lark.”