This morning I heard a newly recorded version of ‘Downtown’ on the radio. Still by Petula Clark, but stately and melancholy, like she’s been listening to the Blue Nile, to ‘Downtown Lights’ in fact, itself, in its turn, influenced by her. The new version won’t be out ’til later this month, but when it is I hope you’ll go and listen to it. It’s very beautiful and it set me up for the day. One day in Liverpool.
I go downtown.
Round in Chinatown it’s New Year’s Eve, the Year of the Snake.
Virtually all of the left hand side of Renshaw Street, here, used to be Rapid Hardware. Until 2009, when they moved out of their many tiny shops into one big one in the City Centre. We’ll be getting to that, but meanwhile half of the ‘Rapid’ shops remain empty, some being used as adverts for visitor attractions nearby.
Ahead of us is Lewis’s. Formerly one of Liverpool’s biggest department stores, but closed down in 2010. The building is being turned into the inevitable ‘new concept’ in retail, managed workspaces and apartments…
Suddenly, there is a fold in time.
This is the George Henry Lee building, and John Lewis are about to move out to their shiny new premises in Liverpool One. Soon after, Rapid Hardware move into here. But all does not go well. And this week one of Liverpool’s most cranky and beloved independents has gone into receivership. The staff turned up at work yesterday to find themselves locked out of their own place.
Once again time folds.
Back outside it’s 2013 again.
And Bold Street is home to some of Liverpool’s most celebrated independents.
Calling itself an ‘arts café’ – 81 Renshaw is where I have my lunch. Lovely it is too, a simple ciabatta and a cup of tea. And any place that plays Laura Nyro while I’m in there will get me to go back again. Recommended.
I walk home, meeting a friend on the way. She gets off her bike for a half hour conversation. Then rides downtown to pick up a book News From Nowhere have for her.
A damp but lovely day in downtown Liverpool. I worry about the empty spaces and the increasing presence of the ‘anytown’ corporates. But I rejoice in the independents. They are my Liverpool, the reason I go downtown.
See also Sarah’s companion piece to this ‘Remembering George Henry Lee.’