Walking Home: A meditation

dsc07731

In a troubled world the freedom to walk home & know it will be there is not to be taken lightly.

It will soon be Christmas Day and many people are thinking of home. Walking home, sailing home, even flying home. Getting home come what may. So I’d already decided that for my Sunday walk this week I’d get on a random bus, get off miles away from here and then walk home. Simple and always a joy to do.

Then just as I’m about to walk round to the bus stop Cerys Matthews plays a song on her BBC6 programme that’s so beautiful it stays with me all day on my walk. It’s called ‘Bound for Lampedusa’ by The Gentle Good and is about being driven out of your home and setting off for a new one you may never find. It’s for everyone waiting to walk out of Aleppo into uncertainty, through the meltdown of human decency and kindness that is Syria this Christmas. Maybe you’d like to listen to the song as you read the rest of this walking meditation about home:

The bus I get on is the 68. At the stop by our house it was either going to be that or the 62. So not that random then.

I get off on Priory Road in Anfield.

I get off on Priory Road in Anfield.

I’ve spent a good amount of time around here recently with my Coming Home partner Jayne Lawless looking at empty places we might turn back into homes again.

In places like this, Clapham Road.

In places like this, Clapham Road.

We’ve seen a good many houses left empty so long they’re going to cost a lot more to do up decently than we’ve yet raised the investment for. We will though. We can see how much our idea and these homes are needed.

Nearly at the shortest day now, the shadows as long as they're going to get.

Nearly at the shortest day now, the shadows as long as they’re going to get.

This was the community car park where The Beautiful Ideas Co raised the money thhey've invested in us and many other North Liverpool social enterprises this year.

This was the community car park where The Beautiful Ideas Co raised the money they’ve invested in us and many other North Liverpool social enterprises this year.

And facing it, this is where the much missed Vernon Sangster Sports Centre used to be.

And facing it, this is where the much missed Vernon Sangster Sports Centre used to be.

This much missed Vernon Sangster Sports Centre.

This much missed Vernon Sangster Sports Centre.

Both of these places now the property of Liverpool Football Club (Though Beautiful Ideas now have another community car park along where Notre Dame school used to be.)

But in all of this sports based development...?

But in all of this sports based development…?

Why isn’t the Vernon Sangster being replaced? Home is more than just a house. Home is a whole place. With places to go, places to play, places for sport. So come on LFC. Sort it.

Talking of sorting it. Gardeners wanted.

Talking of sorting it. Gardeners wanted.

For

That’s 07722329707 or email anfieldneighbourhoodforum.2014@gmail.com

A community growing area within Stanley Park.

A community growing area within Stanley Park.

Just over the wall from here. Growing the future of home.

Just over the wall from here. Growing the future of home.

Such a beautiful place.

Such a beautiful place.

And feeling like I've got it all to myself.

And feeling like I’ve got it all to myself.

Stanley Park, my first park when I was little.

Stanley Park, my first park when I was little.

Home is walking around a place 60 years on and remembering tiny details seen from your pram.

Everton's ground down the hill there.

Everton’s ground down the hill there.

Not too far from the docks either.

Not too far from the docks either.

A magical place.

A magical place.

Where I almost have my lunch. But I don't.

Where I almost have my lunch. But I don’t.

Another time, just didn't feel like being inside today.

Another time, just didn’t feel like being inside today.

Not when outside is so perfect.

Not when outside is so perfect.

Through the park to Diana Street and my first homes.

Through the park to Diana Street and my first homes.

In the 1950s we lived in two shared houses along here. I can’t remember the first one though I’m told he bred dogs.

The taller one here is, I think, our second home.

The taller one here is, I think, our second home.

Though I could be wrong. It was certainly along this end, close to Goodison.

Home is standing in the front window every other Saturday afternoon watching 70,000 people pounding along the street to watch Everton.

But I was only 3 when we moved to my Nan's in Bootle. So I cert`inly didn't throw these up there.

I was only 3 when we moved from here to my Nan’s in Bootle. So I certainly didn’t throw these up there.

Bullens Road, so close to home.

Bullens Road, so close to home.

Home is the street you play in and the corner you nose around to see where the world begins.

Then just around the corner, City Road.

Then just around the corner of Goodison, City Road.

Along here we are now on site with our first Coming Home house.

Soon to be home for a family again.

Soon to be home for a family again.

We are so happy about this. For the family, for the owners, for the house itself and for our idea. Just an idea until now. But now it’s a real place, and before many more weeks people will be walking home to it.

Just around the corner from City Road is 27 Church Road here, where I lived in the 1970s.

Just around the corner from City Road is 27 Church Road here, where I lived in the 1970s.

Home is the first place you call your own. With the first person you love so much you want to live with. Gathering your furniture. Learning how to cook and get on with each other.

I also worked here in the Anfield, briefly.

I also worked here in the Anfield, briefly.

And shopped in Walton Village.

And we shopped in Walton Village.

Though I don't remember this still being a cowhouse even then.

Though I don’t remember this still being a cowhouse even then.

While I'm taking this picture 3 young girls stop and ask me what I'm doing?

While I’m taking this picture 3 young girls stop and ask me what I’m doing?

"Well you don't see a milk-shake shop every day" is my answer. They're not impressed.

“Well you don’t see a milkshake shop every day” is my answer. They’re not impressed.

Past Walton Church.

Past Walton Church.

Home is places to gather, places of freedom to worship, places for reflection and sanctuary.

Along County Road now.

Along County Road now.

Home is also the pub.

Home is also the pub.

This one, The Glebe, is being done up as a hotel by my friend Terry May, part of the Coming Home support team.

Home is local independent businesses.

Home is local independent businesses.

‘Good time collectables’ is great for second hand LPs and CDs. And ‘Off Your Cake?’ Maybe the cakes have a lot of alcohol in them?

Home is also having a local library.

Home is also having a local library.

Spellow Lane library here. So precious. So fragile.

Spellow Library here. So precious. So fragile.

What! Another milkshake shop?

What! Another milkshake shop?

Are they a Walton thing then?

Home is also pride of place, making it your own. So it rocks?

My Home Rocks!

My Home Rocks!

Still close to Everton's ground.

Still close to Everton’s ground.

And home is your own stories of what’s happened to you in a place.

Like Spellow Lane junction, where I failed my first driving test.

Like Spellow Lane junction, where I failed my first driving test.

In an argument with a bus.

'Making your house a home' in a place that was once a Woolies.

‘Making your house a home’ in a place that was once a Woolies.

A place where I was part of working on thousands of people's homes round here.

A place where I was part of working on thousands of people’s homes round here until the mid 1990s.

But now it’s time for that al-fresco lunch I’ve promised myself.

Obtained from the Aldi in Walton Road. And eaten on a wall outside the Iceland next door.

Obtained from the Aldi in Walton Road. And eaten on a wall outside the Iceland next door.

Opposite Frost's, which was a department store when I was little.

Opposite Frost’s, which was a department store when I was little.

And next to this in Christopher Street, which was Liverpool Housing Trust's first Walton office, early in the 1980s.

And next to this, in Christopher Street, which was Liverpool Housing Trust’s first Walton office, early in the 1980s.

Any excuse, here are my friends from back then.

Any excuse, here are my friends from back there then. Andy, Barbara, Maria, Carol, Joan, Lynne. Carol, Helen, Pauline, Phil, Robin and Miranda.

Several of these are my friends still. And Miranda is part of the Coming Home support team.

Home is a network of friendships and memories. Like standing outside Christopher Street today and hearing all of their voices and their laughter and their determination. This was one of the greatest teams of housing workers ever assembled.

Getting late now on this nearly shortest of days.

Getting late now on this nearly shortest of days.

Starting to think of my route home. When suddenly…

Oh hello you

“Oh hello you Direct Coatings.” (A mutual follower and frequent commenter on Twitter)

Home is being surrounded by people you know, somehow.

I don't feel like walking home through town.

I don’t feel like walking home through town.

So I wait here for the next 26 bus. Which drives me through Anfield and Kensington and drops me off at the top end of Smithdown.

Home is somewhere you know your way around.

Walking home along Smithdown.

Walking home along Smithdown.

Where the Cullen Street Community Garden seems to have stopped being a community garden. Anyone know why? It always seemed popular.

Where the Cullen Street Community Garden seems to have stopped being a community garden. Anyone know why? It always seemed popular.

We say our homes are our castles but sometimes they are stolen from us.

We say our homes are our castles but sometimes they are stolen from us.

By war, politics, intolerance and cruelty in Aleppo. And by short-sighted political and academic theories and stupidities here.

Positively my last mention of the Pathfinder Housing Market Renewal Initiative for this year.

Positively my last mention of the Pathfinder Housing Market Renewal Initiative for this year.

Home is not your housing market, not your public policy, not yours to take.

Home is having an opinion. Home is being old enough to know and say that this was just wrong.

Hone is a warm welcome from the Willow Bank on a winter's evening.

Home is also a warm welcome from the Willow Bank on a winter’s evening.

And home is of course a record shop. Nice roller shutter there Defend Vinyl.

And home is of course a record shop. Nice roller shutter there Defend Vinyl!

And home is my Liverpool. My Mystery, my Cathedral, my evening sky, my everything.

Home is my Liverpool, of course. My Mystery, my Cathedral, my evening sky, my everything.

My walking home.

My walking home.

And home is my freedom to do all of this. To choose to walk home in the place that I’m from. To lose that freedom would have seemed unimaginable to me. But my Liverpool is your Aleppo. Is your so many places where people have been driven from their homes.

Well this year I have walked home. To a place where all the work I will now do is about home. Home as a human right.

Home as a human right, the final thought of this walking home meditation. A place to be. Somewhere secure for you and your love. For your children to grow. For your life to be.

For your books, for your records, for your recipes and memories. We are all walking home.

9 thoughts on “Walking Home: A meditation

  1. Cathy Alderson

    Great stuff Ronnie (as always)
    Home is the most important thing we have. It’s our place of safety and where our most precious people are. I’m so very upset for the people of Aleppo.
    That Cullen Street garden is where I was born. The middle planter is on the spot of our living room (we called it the kitchen and what would be called a kitchen now was the back kitchen)
    We had to go into Greenleaf Street and turn right into an entry, then into our backyard. Kitchen and back kitchen were behind Sayers shop and the bedrooms upstairs. No toilet. That was in the back yard. I’ll be 63 in February and I still appreciate indoor facilities!
    Basic as it was, those displaced people in Aleppo would be delighted with it. I hope every day that they’ll find help and peace. xx

    Reply
  2. Martin Greaney

    Hi Ronnie,

    Yes, thoughts turning to home this week, though it’ll be close to New Year when I walk through those familiar front doors. I do get a little nostalgic for home comforts at this time of year.
    I heard the Gentle Good on Sunday too. I’ve got his album from a few years ago, which is just as beautiful as this track, and which also conjures up not a few bittersweet emotions.

    Keep up the good work. Great to see the photographic cross-section of the city!

    Reply
  3. Alex Burr

    Really lovely reading Ronnie, makes me miss my Liverpool home and the 9 years I spent there, looking at those familiar streets. Walking home and the concept of home, in amongst all the stories of displacement and violence, set aside our Christmas mania is a really mindful idea, thank you.
    Enjoying reading your blog as a whole, I stumbled across it somehow, but our paths did cross on the School for social entrepreneurs where you helped me write my values – I found them the other day too and they are still very current which is reassuring to know!

    Reply
    1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

      Thank you for your lovely words and glad you’re generally enjoying the blog.

      I remember you from your SSE days in Liverpool (making clothes, recycled clothes?) and I’m glad to hear your values are still the same. If we got them right, and it sounds like we did, they will never change.

      Reply
  4. hirstsj

    Such a great post Ronnie, and what a wonderful song to go with it. I’m always seeking the idea of home, as I left Wales in 1975, ostensibly for a 16 month contract teaching in Australia, and never went back to live there. It wasn’t intentional, jobs and friendships led me to where I am today. But I always struggle to define, and find, home.
    Thanks for these useful thoughts. And for sharing your life with us. I must also add that Sarah’s kayaking triumphs led me to try kayaking around the beaches at Railay in Thailand last week. It was a marvelous way to experience that spectacular coastline.

    Reply
  5. Tous Ensemble...Bougeons!

    A really beautiful and moving piece, Ronnie. Totally with you on all you describe as what is ‘home’. A very peaceful, productive, happy and laughter filled 2017 and may ‘Coming Home’ be a runaway unignorable success. It absolutely deserves to be!xxx

    Reply

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s