A year to live: Tuesday afternoon

As I write this early in the evening I can hear the lovely sound of children playing outside in the street. Here in Northern England the winter ended at the weekend and spring is suddenly with us. One more spring.

And today I gave myself the gift of a spring afternoon. Finding a work meeting unexpectedly postponed, did I rearrange things and do some other work? As if. Conscious of this ‘year to live’ attitude I’m walking around with at the moment, I put on my walking boots and prepare to leave the house. ‘Where are you going?’ says Sarah. ‘Wherever my feet take me’ I reply.

My Liverpool is bursting into life.

My Liverpool is bursting into life.

There are crocuses all over the place. I won't show you too many just yet.

There are crocuses all over the place. I won’t show you too many just yet.

It's like everything's got buds on.

It’s like everything’s got buds on.

Energetically unfurling.

Energetically unfurling.

A carpet of life.

A carpet of life.

Tiny but determined.

Tiny but determined Squill.

Blossoming once more.

Blossoming once more.

Even in the avenue of winter trees in Sefton Park.

Even in the avenue of winter trees in Sefton Park.

There are buds on every branch.

There are buds on every branch.

This precious spring.

This precious spring.

If it were really to be my last this would more than do.

If it were really to be my last this would more than do.

So I’m walking along, looking mostly for these tiny things I’m showing you, When I turn the corner into The Park’s long avenue. And spring takes my breath away.

For as far as you can see, crocuses.

For as far as you can see, crocuses.

From here to the distant gate. A riot of wild flowers. A party in the park.

From here to the distant gate. A riot of wild flowers. A party in the park.

One more spring.

One more spring.

All of life and all of the year is precious to me, of course it is. I spend as much of my time as I can outside, walking and running around my places. But this. Every year it surprises me. Every year I’ve half forgotten the splendour and the energy of it. And every year I’m moved, almost beyond words to see and feel and smell and touch it happening again.

Even the developer's advert on the tower block seems to be celebrating spring.

Even the developer’s advert on the tower block seems to be celebrating spring.

Though the hoardings have been up for ages without anything actually happening here at Belem Tower.

Though the hoardings have been up for ages without anything actually happening here at Belem Tower.

Walking through to Princes Park, past Windermere House where Roger McGough used to live.

Walking through to Princes Park, past Windermere House where Roger McGough used to live.

Into the park.

Into the park.

Where there are still snowdrops.

Where there are still snowdrops.

Coming towards the end of their flowering for this year.

Coming towards the end of their flowering for this year.

But still beautiful as they fade.

But still beautiful as they fade.

At Princes Park gates there are roadworks happening.

At Princes Park gates there are roadworks happening.

Changing the size of the traffic island. 'Do NOT overtake cyclists' the signs before it warn.

Changing the size of the traffic island. ‘Do NOT overtake cyclists’ the signs before it warn.

Here's how it looked here a hundred years ago. The year the Great War began.

Here’s how it looked here a hundred years ago. The year the Great War began.

The trees are all a hundred years bigger.

The trees are all a hundred years bigger now.

And I often look at this picture and wonder about these people and the sons they're about to lose in the trenches and the mud and the gore. A generation that lives through very few springs.

And I often look at this picture and wonder about these people and the sons they’re about to lose in the trenches and the mud and the gore. A generation that lives through very few springs.

Still here from then. But water long ago stopped flowing from it.

Still here from then. But water long ago stopped flowing from it.

Springtime on the Avenue.

Springtime on the Avenue.

One of the lost streets of Granby. What's left of Hatherley Street. With the new mosque at the end there.

An almost lost street of Granby. What’s left of Hatherley Street. With the new mosque at the end there.

Into Georgian Liverpool. Always looks its best on sunny days. Upper Parliament Street.

Into Georgian Liverpool. Always looks its best on sunny days. Upper Parliament Street. LHT houses, reclaimed from slums in my early days of working there.

The glory that is Huskisson Street.

The glory that is Huskisson Street.

The corner of Bedford Street South and Canning Street.

The corner of Bedford Street South and Canning Street.

From Georgian to New Brutalism, Myrtle Street Parade.

From Georgian to New Brutalism, Myrtle Street Parade.

It's called the Rendall Building now. But when I was here it was the Eleanor Rathbone Library.

It’s called the Rendall Building now. But when I was here it was the Eleanor Rathbone Library.

Chatham Street Welsh Presbyterian Chapel, within the University now.

Chatham Street Welsh Presbyterian Chapel, within the University now.

Lovely Abercromby Square, where I spent as much of my University time as possible.

Lovely Abercromby Square, where I spent as much of my University time as possible.

A complete Georgian Square?

A complete Georgian Square?

No, only on 3 sides.

No, only on 3 sides.

Lovely any day, transfixingly so today.

Lovely any day, transfixingly so today.

And just round the corner.

And just round the corner?

Oh look, we're back at The Everyman.

Oh look, we’re back at The Everyman.

On a quiet Tuesday afternoon.

On a quiet Tuesday afternoon.

During the noise and excitement of its Lighting up and Housewarming at the weekend, this was what I was most looking forward to. Coming in here on an ordinary day. Not a high day or a holy day, but a day when people would be going about their business, a day to see and feel the new building coming to life.

There are theatre conversations going on in here. People phoning friends to see if they’re nearly here. Staff working out the till systems. And me. Drinking tea and reading.

On this precious Tuesday afternoon.

On this precious Tuesday afternoon.

Peacefully watching the people come and go.

Peacefully watching the people come and go.

These are the times I treasure. Suddenly given back the time from what I was going to be doing and given a gift I would dream about giving myself if I had only a year left to live. To walk through the parks on a spring afternoon and then spend a peaceful hour reading in the new Everyman. Paradise couldn’t offer more.

After an hour in here it’s still a sunny afternoon. So I go for another sit and another read, back in Abercromby Square. Where I finish the book I’ve been reading on this special day, and for most of my life.

First published in 1922. In the shadow of the Great War.

First published in 1922. In the shadow of the Great War.

I picked up this copy in a second hand shop a couple of weeks ago. But I’ve had others. It’s the first of the many she would write about William and is of course completely out of time now. A world where there are still servants, a thoroughly white world, thoroughly ‘incorrect’ and absolutely hilarious. It’s been making me laugh for 50 years and is outstandingly well written and observed. William’s fierce Aunt has come to stay:

‘She was a stout, healthy lady, who spent all her time recovering from a slight illness she had had two years ago.’

He soon sees her off. And has no time for other family niceties either:

William Brown, my lifelong hero.

William Brown, my lifelong hero.

And so the sunny Tuesday afternoon draws to a close in Abercromby Square.

Such a perfect day.

Such a perfect day.

Find the rest of these posts by searching on ‘A year to live’ in the Search box above right.

People who picked up on my Polycythaemia diagnosis from the previous ‘Year to live’ post – and thanks for all your kindness and good wishes – might be nearly as pleased as I am to know that my bone marrow biopsy and ultrasound scan have revealed nothing of concern.

2 thoughts on “A year to live: Tuesday afternoon

  1. Des

    Sorry I’ve been missing your posts Ronnie.

    Simply lovely shots – and interesting historic views.

    Reply

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