And here I’ll stay

My post the other day on ’10 things I’ve learned from ‘A year to live’ carried the unsurprising news, to anyone who knows me and/or reads this blog, that I’ll be living in Liverpool for the rest of my life.And here I'll stay01

“I am happy where I am. I know I will never go to Machu Picchu, or climb Kilimanjaro or go snorkelling (with dolphins or not) off the coast of the Great Barrier Reef. Because I’m happy where I am and I don’t want to miss a day of it. This has not been a travelling life. Earlier yearnings and travels have gradually centred me in the Northern and Western British Islands. And now the furthest from home I want to travel is still home really. To Anglesey or to Mull or across the water to Ireland maybe. But never too far from this Liverpool. Where my heart beats.

During this year a couple of possible travels have been considered and not so much rejected as evaporated, from my lack of energy and interest. Given a year to live I am enjoying my time exploring and photographing and treasuring the land on both sides of the river I was born by. It’s enough, and it’s here I’ll stay. The streets, the people, the public libraries, the parks, the cafés, the quiet corners, the marmalade sky sunsets, and Granby 4 Streets, and Homebaked in Anfield, and Eldon Grove and, oh well, all the precious things I go on about. This is my place. I am from and of Liverpool and am of an age and experience where I am happy to carry some measure of responsibility for it and regularly convey my thoughts and suggestions to those elected to carry actual responsibility.

Years ago I would say that if you cut me open it would say ‘Liverpool’ in my bones. Now there’s no need to cut me open, any reasonable geologist could identify me as Liverpool on sight.”

Elsewhere in the article I mentioned seizing moments and no sunshine being wasted. So this morning when a work meeting was unexpectedly called off I did what is now my habit and retaliated by taking the rest of the day off. As I write the sun is gently setting, but this has been a gloriously blue autumn day. A day when no camera should go unused.

So I spent the day meandering around Liverpool, with regular sits to read in the sunshine. As ever I had no firm plans other than to take a few books back to the Library. Which was my first mistake. Arriving at Allerton Road Library and finding it is, of course, now closed on Thursdays. So I crossed the road and got the bus into town.

To the garden at the back of the Bluecoat.

To the garden in the courtyard at the back of the Bluecoat.

This is a beautiful place on a day such as this, to sit with a cup of tea and watch the world go by. There’s a violin repair shop on one side of the courtyard and they were playing gentle, classical courtyard music all the time I was there. Spoiled only once when some caterwauling opera singer managed to sneak into the mix and briefly spoil things.

But I stayed a while longer before moving on.

But I stayed a while longer before moving on.

Out through the front gates.

Out through the front gates.

Onto Church Street.

Onto Church Street.

Where it was an ordinary day, the best kind. The blind guitarist was playing, doing his best Hank Marvin and Mark Knopfler mellifluous riffs. And from the determined looks on some faces I suspect Christmas shopping has once again begun. Bewilders me that people can bear to go through it every year. I cross into Tarleton Street.

This lovely art deco building has been empty for years now.

This lovely art deco building has been empty for years now.

I only remember ever going in there when, as a Yates’s wine lodge it had surprised us by starting to sell Boddington’s Bitter, Manchester’s finest. Me and my late lamented friend Phil Macaulay became briefly frequent visitors.

The carving of Conwy Castle up there makes me think that maybe Tarleton Street was once a street of Welsh-named pubs, as further back along the road still stand the ‘Carnarvon Castle’ (yes I know that’s the anglicised spelling but it’s what the pub’s called).

Crossing Richmond Street.

Crossing Richmond Street.

And into Williamson Square.

Where for some reason there were no little children getting soaked in the fountain.

Where for some reason there were no little children getting soaked in the fountain.

The Playhouse has just started a new production.

The Playhouse has just started a new production.

Once again reminding me how long it must be since I’ve been to any of Liverpool’s theatres to actually see a play. I could express the earnest intention that I will, but given this ‘Year to live’ attitude I know that won’t happen.

In case anyone unfamiliar with Liverpool is wondering what that big stick behind the Playhouse is?

In case anyone unfamiliar with Liverpool is wondering what that big stick behind the Playhouse is?

It’s actually a ventilation tower for the 1970s shopping centre underneath. but these days it also has a local radio station clinging to the top of it, where there was originally a revolving restaurant.

Looking up past the Royal Court to St George's Hall.

Looking up past the Royal Court to St George’s Hall.

Along past the North Liverpool bus stops.

Along past the North Liverpool bus stops.

And into St John's Gardens.

And into St John’s Gardens.

A peaceful and warm place for someone homeless to sleep.

A peaceful and warm place for someone homeless to sleep over there.

I’m reading a book at the moment, about which more later, where the author regrets the outbreaking of homelessness in the 1980s, brought on by Margaret Thatcher’s brutal monetarist economic policies. Well 30 years later it’s still happening, to the shame of every government since.

Out to the museums.

Out to the museums.

Finally arriving at an open library to take my books back.

Finally arriving at an open library to take my books back.

And take a self-defining shadow photo?

And take a self-defining shadow photo?

Me, a mixture of hopeless dreamer tilting at windmills Don Quixote, plus a dash of Victorian urchin Her Benny?

The Picton Reading Room.

The Picton Reading Room.

I’m not staying long in the library, I’m just on my way up to the roof to take some photos – but you can’t just walk past that, can you?

Busy in here though, like always.

Busy in here though, like always.

And here we are, at the top of all the stairs.

And here we are, at the top of all the stairs.

Out on the roof, that's the dome of the Picton Reading Room there.

Out on the roof, that’s the dome of the Picton Reading Room there.

And down there the Empire seems to have 'The Full Monty' coming up. Quality.

And down there the Empire seems to have ‘The Full Monty’ coming up. Quality.

Thanks to the bloke in the white shirt by the way. I didn’t send for him specially but he’s good for the photos in a participative sort of way isn’t he?

Time to go back down.

Time to go back down.

Pausing here last we forget the 96, which of course we never will.

Pausing here lest we forget the 96, which of course we never will.

Agonising to see the Hillsborough inquests still dragging on over in Warrington, the far too slow arrival of truth and justice.

CityBikes in Autumn.

CityBikes in Autumn.

They seem to be all over the place now, even close to our house, calling out to me?

Formerly the offices of the Labour Party.

Formerly the offices of the Labour Party at the top of Whitechapel and Victoria Street.

When I was in the Party in the late 1970s a Labour organiser called Wally seemed to more or less live in there amongst boxes of red and yellow window posters for constituencies all over the city.

At the other end of Whitechapel.

At the other end of Whitechapel.

And round into School Lane, to Probe Records.

And round into School Lane, to Probe Records.

I’m here for the new Leonard Cohen LP. But though the CD is apparently high in the charts, the vinyl has yet to be sent out. I can wait. Leonard was 80 last week and it’s such a delight to be hearing new music from him still. Me and Sarah went to see him a while back on his endless tour and it was beyond wonderful. Like a spiritual event.

Anyway, time for lunch.

So it's back into the Bluecoat courtyard.

So it’s back into the Bluecoat courtyard.

I like the ground floor café here (though the one upstairs is an entirely different load of invectives and a shameful waste of a beautiful space). And I bring my £4.50 lunch out into the garden. Chilli veg pie, roasted carrots and green salad, in case you were wondering.

More reading to more gentle music follows. No opera  this time, they’d probably had complaints.

Then round to get the bus back in the general direction of home.

Then round to get the bus back in the general direction of home.

Stopping off in Sefton Park though.

Stopping off in Sefton Park though.

Where the berries are now out in abundance.

Where the berries are now out in abundance.

And there is a stream in there somewhere, honest.

And there is a stream in there somewhere, honest.

I sit reading the book I've been enjoying all day.

I sit reading the book I’ve been enjoying all day.

The author is a brilliant writer and succinct in his summing up of the last 60 years (Clearly the most important years of British history, as they’re the ones when I’ve been alive). It’s just that I disagree with many many of his opinions. So I’m having a great time while I’m reading running full on arguments with him! And why not? It would be boring to spend my whole life reading books by people I agree with.

A very interesting and confirmed historical fact he’s just told me about, by the way, is that many of the ‘police’ during the miner’s strike in the 1980s were, in fact, soldiers in police uniforms.

Getting late now, time to go home.

Getting late now, time to go home.

Along Penny Lane.

Along Penny Lane.

Interesting new bakery that, by the way. Particularly good on pastries and the best pitta bread I’ve ever tasted. Not in fact a piece of cardboard that may or may not rise in the middle.

And that’s it for the daytime part of the day. A sunny, peaceful, ordinary autumn day. The best kind. And in Liverpool too, where I’ll stay.

13 thoughts on “And here I’ll stay

  1. studiotower

    Mitch from Indiana here…Beautiful writing again Ronnie. The philosophy I’ve given to people who are rushing about all the time is that, “It would be different if your first 85 years on earth were to prepare you for a glory run of 200 years. But it’s not. That’s all you may get.” The other is, when asked if I’ve been certain places in the world, is, “Why should I travel when I’m already here.” Although I do hope to make it to Liverpool in the spring next year.

    Reply
  2. Margaret Cooney

    These photos are amazing Ronnie. Crystal clear. You can’t beat the light on a sunny day in Liverpool but you’ve really captured its unique quality.

    Reply
    1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

      Thanks Margaret. I’m much helped on the quality of photos by the pellucid light refracted from our river just down the road, of course, and the low autumn sun. But I do love the place. As I’m glad you can tell.

      Reply
  3. robertday154

    The Williamson Square fountain reminds me of a former colleague who’d worked in the water industry, who described a similar public water feature as being like “a mains burst under a patio”…

    Reply
    1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

      Ha! And it behaves like a burst too. For long and unexplained reasons it’s often not happening.

      When it’s working though it’s dearly loved by small children, who brighten up an otherwise bleak place with their laughter.

      Reply
  4. The Accidental Amazon

    Ronnie! How are you? I was overdue for a visit here, and what a great post this is for a visit. Wonderful photos. Amazing architecture. The Playhouse in particular is glorious, as is the library! Wow. Thanks so much for the tour and the sunny day. xo, Kathi

    Reply
  5. The Accidental Amazon

    Yes, indeed. I’m glad your own health issues are more or less stable, but I know it’s not been an easy year for you. And then there’s time-related wear and tear due to our length of stay so far on this earth. My knees often hurt, but at least they still work!

    Reply
  6. Bex

    Ronnie, I heard (and I cannot remember if it was here or in an article somewhere online) that a theatre in Liverpool will be putting on the play “Twopence to Cross the Mersey” (taken from the books by Helen Forrester) soon if not already… do you know anything about that coming there? Those books of Helen’s were how I fell in love with Liverpool in the first place this past summer. Would you and Sarah be going to such a play if it were coming to a theatre near you soon?

    Reply
    1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

      No Bex, philistine though it may seem we never go to the theatre. As I said in the post, sometimes I feel as if I should but, given my ‘Year to live’ philosophy, I know I never will. I’d rather read the book.

      Reply

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