Like you would do for one you love: For Liverpool and Leeds

I’ve been thinking about Liverpool, which probably won’t surprise anyone who knows me. Also thinking of Leeds and Leonard Cohen, which might. The thinking brought on by an early morning Saturday tweet which mentioned how much a friend and I openly love our places, my friend Phil being from Leeds.

This was sent as part of a discussion several Leeds friends turned out to be having about whether and how it’s ok to be critical of where you live and are mostly working. I instinctively replied:

“I always write honestly about Liverpool & as everyone knows, I love it. So any criticism is careful & gentle, as with one you love.”

As soon as I’d sent that it reminded me of Leonard Cohen’s song “Take This Longing”

“Your beauty lost to you yourself
Just as it was lost to them
Oh, take this longing from my tongue
Whatever useless things these hands have done
Let me see your beauty broken down
Like you would do for one you love”
Like you would do for one you love.
Affectionately telling my friends I think of them as the ‘Leeds and District Practical Philosophy and Everyday Ethics Society’ I left the discussion, which continued for most of the morning, while I stayed with the song. Singing it to myself and thinking about what I’d written as I got breakfast ready, had my shower and did computer-type things best done on a day no one’s likely to ring me.
“I always write honestly about Liverpool & as everyone knows, I love it. So any criticism is careful & gentle, as with one you love.”
So during my own morning Leonard Cohen’s love song lost all the lines I couldn’t work out how to apply to Liverpool like:
“I love to see you naked over there, especially from the back”
And concentrated on the thoughts of beauty, love and gentleness that had first made me think of it.
This blog is well into its sixth year now and though it meanders around, including occasionally getting on the train to Leeds, I mainly write about Liverpool and my life here. That was always my intention, though back in 2012 I had no idea I’d have so much to say. It was also always my intention to have opinions about Liverpool. How could I write much otherwise? If all I’d ever said was “This park’s nice and that building’s gorgeous” the blog wouldn’t have kept my interest or, surely, anyone else’s?
So over the years I’ve been a mixture of loving, appreciative and only critical sometimes in a general sense. Questioning what’s concerned me, wondering about some decisions and suggesting what might work better. But never critical of an individual dong their job.
Whenever I have serious questions for a local individual, including elected ones, I’ll get in direct contact if I can and perhaps arrange to meet them. So if we do need to speak seriously and even critically to each other we’re not doing so in public. Because it’s about Liverpool. The place I presume we both love.
So what needs to be said is quietly and carefully done. Like you would do for one you love. Thinking of Leonard Cohen.
I’ll probably add more to this as I’m still thinking. But it’s Saturday evening and that’s enough for now. Time for some music.
“I’ll even wear these old laurel leaves
That he’s shaken from his head
Just take this longing from my tongue
All the useless things my hands have done
Let me see your beauty broken down
Like you would do for one you love
Like you would do for one you love”
Here’s the song: Take This Longing
Sunday morning now and not much to add. I left off yesterday evening thinking about how careful most of us would be when bringing some criticism, doubt, or even possible wrongdoing to the attention of someone we loved. Quietly, between the two of you and not to be overheard, let alone broadcast. And how sorry I always am when I do see such a discussion being held in public, in a café or on some social media. A row which brings everyone else into a place where we have no place. I always think that relationship is going to be lucky to survive.
 ✹
Which is kind of the point. Bringing me back to Liverpool and Leeds. Loving and caring for our places is a lifetime thing. And like any committed relationship this love will have its ups and downs. But loving the bones of our places, as so many of us do, no single act or occasional harsh word should be enough to shake this love, which is of course our love and respect for each other.
We can always put the kettle on, sit down and talk about it. Like you would do for one you love.
Then once I’d finished writing this on Sunday morning another Trans Pennine twitter discussion lasted most of the day. Even getting its own Leeds blog post from Phil Kirby. Big thanks to all of you, more than great to be in touch.

7 thoughts on “Like you would do for one you love: For Liverpool and Leeds

  1. ellem63

    Beautiful lyrics, Ronnie, and an intriguing way of looking at a place. Liverpool and I are still new to each other, so I’m still in the throes of a passionate love affair with it! However, I have a feeling that the excitement will never fade.

    Reply
  2. hirstsj

    Ronnie, this reflective time you are in is so interesting. My work is helping communities design and improve their cultural, educational and social spaces. The words you use are perfect. Thanks so much for the insight.
    Sally

    Reply

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