A much needed day off, walking round Liverpool remembering a different November.
A day to myself, opening up and slowing down, is a rare and precious thing. It always was but feels particularly so in these time-crowded days of university early mornings and things to do nearly all the time.
There are things I could be doing now but I’m not. Being as how it’s not simply a good idea to have some time off from all the doing, it’s essential. Because I got suddenly tired this week. Not ordinarily tired but drained beyond continuing tired. Having to stop right now tired.
It was in the middle of what’s now a normal Wednesday.
9 ’till 11 lecture done I went to a quiet reading and writing place I’ve got. Sat down, got ready to work and found I was empty. No words in me. So I did what I do. Had some food, walked round for a while and tried again. Still empty.
So I went home, feeling like I might be sickening for something.
But I wasn’t, I was just tired. From the change in my life and concentration; the steady, rhythmic work since mid-September; and from being mostly at work in the library since early this Sunday morning. All that.
Anyway, it took me three good sleeps in the rest of the week and the reading began to return. The writing too. And good work, I think, got done. Still though, come this brown and blue autumnal Saturday I seriously needed the time off. This day to myself, slowing down and opening up.
So I’m in one of my places. Walked along Princes, turned onto Upper Warwick and arrived at Squash in Windsor Street for some lunch. In the kind of place where there are always people to say hello to but it’s also OK not to talk to them. Quiet kinds of friendly people, who’ll leave you alone if it looks like that’s what you want.
Naturally I tried to work when I came in here, thinking I’d brought some reading with me. Finding I hadn’t downloaded it reminded me I’m supposed to be having some time off. A day to myself, remember.
So I started writing instead, writing this.
When my lunch arrives, for a while anyway, I stop.
Afterwards I walk through the Dingle and go for a nose at the onsite Welsh Streets. Many lived in now, some waiting to be, as the day begins to fade and darken.
Walking along I get thinking about other Saturday afternoons in another November. The time of the year, the light, the smell and feel of today reminding me of November 1969. Remembering then as a time of awakening, of opening up particularly to new music.
Sat in my friend Paul’s house, we’re both fifteen years old. Listening to John Peel on the radio with Paul’s reel-to-reel all ready to record the live session coming later from Tyrannosaurus Rex. Broadcasting from Radio Merseyside on this day because later tonight them and John Peel are on at the Philharmonic. And so are we, kind of.
Sat up on the stage, like you could in those days, round the back of the band in the orchestra’s seats. As close as this memory to Marc Bolan when he picks up the electric guitar, starts ‘Elemental Child’ and begins turning them into T.Rex.
Walking on and nearer home, I remember another Saturday afternoon that same November. Stood in Boots in Church Street, they sold records then, dithering between buying a Donovan LP and one with loads of people I’ve never heard of, but like the look of on the cover. Long-haired ‘underground’ types that I think I might be turning into.
Opening up to new music as I am then, I pick the sampler full of these people. Then catch the Ribble bus home from Skelhorne Street and later on hear them all – Sandy Denny, Fairport Convention, Spooky Tooth, Nirvana (not that one), Free, Tramline, Art, Jethro Tull, Wynder K. Frog and several more, for the first time. Opening up
Back home today, I’m listening to them all again on that long ago LP. ‘You Can All Join In.’ I got a lot of memories for my 13s/11d. Opened up, slowed down, on a day to myself.
So that was good. Time off, pacing myself, time in my thoughts and memories, listening to me. And feeling all right again now, thanks.
And loving all this still. Knowing these dips in energy will happen, but knowing that with some time to myself and some serious Liverpool, everything will be all right again.