The Preston Model and other questions?

Preston, here in North West England, is having a bit of a moment. A moment about doing things for itself. Obvious things, in some ways, but a combination of obvious things that no one else is doing in quite the same ways. Economic things, social things, using your own resources and imagination kinds of things that are getting it a good deal of curious attention. So I’ve decided to come and have a look, and a listen.

Though Preston is fairly close to Liverpool it’s a London journalist, Aditya Chackrabortty, who’s brought what’s happening here to my attention in his new series about alternative approaches to the economics of running our places. And it’s Aditya who’ll be leading this night’s ‘Guardian Live’ discussion. First though, a look round. Continue reading “The Preston Model and other questions?”

In Liverpool: One Sunday Morning

Sunday morning always seems like such a special time to me. An in-between sort of time with nothing in particular to do, so you can do anything. No one’s likely to ring or email and there’s definitely nothing in my diary, so I begin the day by enthusiastically doing nothing at all. I’m good at that.

Before long ‘nothing at all’ turns into turning on the radio, which delights me by playing a couple of 13th century favourites, both of them about warmer days to come. Making me realise I’ve once again not turned the central heating on, for the severalth day running. Summer’s not yet ‘icumen in’ as the second of the songs claims, but spring is.

Book packed and camera charged up I go out.

Into Greenbank Park and along Greenbank Lane spring is poking its many coloured heads towards the sun. Though its obvious from the soil on their stems and leaves and more than a few battered petals that our new visitors have had a harsh time with the unexpected snowfalls this past week. Anyway, you are all welcome here. It always makes my heart glad to see you bringing in another spring. Continue reading “In Liverpool: One Sunday Morning”

In Liverpool: One Saturday

This day didn’t turn out the way I’d roughly intended it to. Though it was clearly going to be grey and at least partially rainy I felt like having one of my walking round Liverpool with a camera days. The sort that sometimes turn into blog posts. Well in the event I didn’t do much walking but here’s the blog post.

I’d always intended to start the day’s walking at the Tate, where I’d been told someone I knew was involved in, well you’ll see what, and then I’d walk on. As it turned out I walked into the gallery shortly after twelve, got involved, and carried on my walking three hours later. Here’s the story.

Those big names from the photos above, together with several more you will probably have heard of are somewhere around the Tate today, but I’m not here for them. I’m here to see some new work and also art being made up in the same gallery. Let’s go. Continue reading “In Liverpool: One Saturday”

Announcing: The Mystery Literary Festival

We’re piecing it together now, The Mystery Literary Festival I wrote about on here a few weeks ago. A group of us have met and a couple of us in the group have then gone about talking to people. So we know when it will be now and soon we’ll be able to tell you other things, like where it will take place, what it might be about and how you can join in.

In the meantime we’re sorting out the sort of details you need when setting up something like this, its own presence if you like.

So soon The Mystery Literary Festival will have its own website. But in the meantime I’ll be adding information to this page, now and soon. Continue reading “Announcing: The Mystery Literary Festival”

In Praise of Patience

I’ve never been a particularly patient person, quite the opposite in fact. Often acting as if there is a virtue in getting things finished over and done with as soon as possible, if not sooner. Other people will often irritate me with such half hearted promises that they’ll try and do such and such a thing by some time soon that I’ll be driven into doing whatever it might be, in a storm of impatience, before they’ve even had the chance to start. Driven, that’s been me for a lot of my life.

Recently though I’ve been learning some patience in a place that simply refuses to be driven, on Sarah’s allotment.

I’ve been helping her to restructure her place for a few months now. Clearing, demolishing, burning, building and, particularly, digging up long overgrown grasses she’d decided to be rid of. I’ve written about some of this on here before and most of them are gone now. Except for the cordyline. Continue reading “In Praise of Patience”

Walking Into the Light

Since resuming my interrupted practice of walking around Liverpool last weekend, published on here as two linked posts called ‘Emerging from Winter’ I’ve continued to walk. Back into Winter as it’s turned out, but into the gathering light of what feels like brighter days to come. The brighter days of soon coming spring time of course and, well, brighter days.

Like the days of good light these have been this week. Good, sharp, clear days to look up into and walk around in thinking about what’s next? What new things will get made up soon, what ideas are yet to be thought of, yet to be walked into being? Continue reading “Walking Into the Light”

Emerging from Winter/Part Two

The second of two linked posts, walking round the neighbourhoods where I live. Part One here.

This Sunday in late February arrives just as blue and just as cold as yesterday. Perfect then for another day of trying to walk my cold off around the streets of the neighbourhood. Starting by walking across to The Mystery, like yesterday, but after that who knows?

Under the London-line railway bridges and along to the Ullet Road/Smithdown crossroads. Past social venues old and new including a personal favourite, Naked Lunch. A co-op café and if there’s a friendlier place in Liverpool I don’t know it yet. Continue reading “Emerging from Winter/Part Two”

Emerging from Winter/Part One

The first of two linked posts, walking round the neighbourhoods where I live. Part Two here.

I haven’t done this for ages. Come out from the house on a bright blue day and let my camera take me for a walk. Making no plans about where I’ll go, I’ll see where my feet and my camera take me.

Across Grant Avenue and into The Mystery first. The great big sloping field close to our house. Emerging from the terraced streets into the open blue sky on a cold late winter’s day. Continue reading “Emerging from Winter/Part One”

Granby 4 Streets: Talking with Aditya

‘Bearing in mind we’re ordinary people, what we’ve done is magnificent.’
Hazel Tilley

This morning in The Guardian Aditya Chakrabortty has published an article he’s been working on with a group of us over the past couple of weeks. I’ve decided to link to the article from this blog so it can be included on here in the story of what’s been done in Granby over these last few years. Also because I think the interview process itself, the chance to reflect with such a skilled and interested visitor, has helped me, for one, to be able to see the story so far with an objectivity that wouldn’t otherwise have been possible. Continue reading “Granby 4 Streets: Talking with Aditya”

For The Fun Of It?

I’ve always had an uneasy relationship with the word ‘fun.’ Although my general aim in life has always been to make the world a better, fairer and kinder place if I could, the talking up of ‘fun’ that often goes on amongst people with apparently similar aims has often looked like no fun at all.

The forced joining in at social events, for example, has always mildly terrified me and sent me looking for the nearest place to hide. Start up fancy dressing, the conga or that game where lines of adults pass balloons along between them without them touching the floor and I’m gone. Hiding in the kitchen or out the door and on my way home. “It’s just a bit of fun” I get told by people who are obviously a different sort of human from me.

I’m not and never have been one of life’s joiners in.

Then related to the party games fun is its dread corporate relation ‘the away day.’ Continue reading “For The Fun Of It?”