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.
“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.
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.
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.
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).
And into Williamson Square.
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.
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.
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.
Me, a mixture of hopeless dreamer tilting at windmills Don Quixote, plus a dash of Victorian urchin Her Benny?
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?
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?
Agonising to see the Hillsborough inquests still dragging on over in Warrington, the far too slow arrival of truth and justice.
They seem to be all over the place now, even close to our house, calling out to me?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.