“Brief Lives” & two perfect paragraphs

I’m not sure if you’re supposed to do this really. Include whole paragraphs as quotations on a blog post about a particular book. But they’re such a perfect bookends to everything in between them that I’m going to go ahead and do just that anyway.

Since Kate Rodenhurst and I wrote our joint piece, about a different Anita Brookner novel in this ‘books’ corner of the blog I’ve been having trouble settling into novels by anyone else. Hence picking up her ‘Brief Lives’ before setting out on my Sunday walk this week. Yet another book having been abandoned in disinterest the day before.

I don’t entirely blame the authors of this failed sequence. In recent weeks I’ve been doing a lot of reading, but of academic books, so perhaps that’s put me off my fictional stride? Maybe so but either way I was happy and confident to set off early in the afternoon with an Anita Brookner in my bag, on a grey and quiet Sunday that  would have suited so many of her characters and their situations.

I walked in the opposite direction to my more usual city routes. Knowing there would be giant puppets and their attendant crowds towards the city centre and a Liverpool FC and Manchester City game further north I walked up Mossley Hill and down the other side, along mostly empty streets.

Reaching Sefton Park at the Aigburth end I bought some coffee from the café by the lake, sat down to read and by page 16 I’d found this perfect paragraph about a Sunday afternoon in the main character’s childhood. Continue reading ““Brief Lives” & two perfect paragraphs”

In a Quiet Corner: Getting Going

No apologies for not having written anything on this blog for nearly two weeks now, I’ve been busy. After months of looking forward I’ve started university . And it’s making me so happy I thought I’d write a bit about it, in a quiet way.

Much of my life is fairly quiet at the moment in fact. In quiet corners of this great big library in between Myrtle Street and Abercromby Square. In Abercromby Square itself, having a peaceful lunch from the very good (non-corporate) lunch shop on Oxford Street near the Sports Centre. And in lectures listening carefully to, well, more about them in a bit.

I’ve been thinking mostly. Continue reading “In a Quiet Corner: Getting Going”

The Mystery Literary Festival 2018: How it was

Days one and two photographs now included.

First days start quietly when you’ve not done it before
Will this work, will that work, will anybody come?
But then and if you’re lucky and you never can be sure
It just works, it just does and soon the first day’s done.

Well done all, here’s how it looked through one pair of eyes.

 

Ready for everyone to arrive… Continue reading “The Mystery Literary Festival 2018: How it was”

The Long and Winding Road

I keep singing the song quietly, I think, to myself. This week as things change for me and I set off on something new, I keep singing the song.

It’s in me like bone, like heart and soul. Like it has been since I first heard it the best part of fifty years ago, and would set off to walk the five miles to where my first girlfriend lived, singing the song. It’s on my walks, it’s when I go somewhere new and when I start something different.

More than a soundtrack, more like a guide, a compass, a longing. It’s the sound of longing and it always has been. The song of trying out new things, which always lead me back to the long and winding road. Continue reading “The Long and Winding Road”

Afternoon Tea at George Henry Lee: Ed’s Place

 A Story of a Fold in Time

Every now and then in the place where you are, if you’re paying close attention, you’ll notice there’s been a fold in time. Where the place is still as much itself as it always was, but more so. Like its colour balance has been adjusted, and in the adjusting a different time has leaked through. This happened today in Ed’s Place when, for a couple of hours, it became the department store George Henry Lee again and we all had Afternoon Tea together.

All week and for the past couple of weeks Ed’s Place has resounded to the sounds and debates of design and the future. Talk of what we the people might and could do to create talking spaces and breathing spaces, in a greener and pleasanter city centre neighbourhood for ourselves and our children’s futures as far as we can imagine them. It’s been great and will be for another week or so.

But this afternoon the future had a couple of hours off and through the fold in time I told you about, some special guests arrived. The staff of George Henry Lee’s. Continue reading “Afternoon Tea at George Henry Lee: Ed’s Place”

In Liverpool: Walking, Rotating, Debating

This was one of my favourite kind of days, the variety kind. A good amount of walking, sunny but not too hot, chance meetings with friends, time alone in quiet corners, Liverpool looking mostly gorgeous, some sorting stuff with other friends, before two events to top off the day.

This was my yesterday. Mostly in photos, with the occasional explanation.

Squash in Windsor Street is open again on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, so I walked to breakfast there, Continue reading “In Liverpool: Walking, Rotating, Debating”

A Global Sense of Place

September 7th, 2018

Things are getting real now with starting my MA/PhD at the University of Liverpool.

This week, having paused at least for now on much else that I’m doing, I’ve been spending more time around the university. Not that there are many other students around, I’ve just been getting myself acclimatised to the place again. Forty years after I last spent very much time here.

I’ve been reading mostly. Things my two academic supervisors in Sociology and History have recommended.  And it was while sat in this coffee shop reading ‘A Global Sense of Place’ by Doreen Massey I noticed an email float across my screen from the university. Not one of the general ‘Welcome to Liverpool’ messages I’ve been getting lately, but a very specific one from the administrator of the department I’ll be joining the week after next. Containing details and times like “1pm on Tuesday 18.” And a list of modules to pick from. This MA I’m needing to do being partly a taught thing, compared with the the PhD that will follow.

So it’s all getting real now, which is good.

Anyway, back to the reading.

Continue reading “A Global Sense of Place”

It’s nearly time: The Mystery Literary Festival

Coming up this weekend!
Much more information, including the programme for the weekend, here at The Mystery Literary Festival.

Once upon a time, when none of the things I’m about to tell you had even been dreamed of, a small boy in Liverpool swapped his treasured Beatles ‘Twist and Shout’ EP for an old book a friend at school was offering me. The book was called ‘Tales of Mystery and Imagination’ and as time was to prove, this was one of the starts of something that quite a lot of people are about to be involved in…

Tickets are free, and can be booked through the Eventbrite page.

First there are the facts

On 22 and 23 September, this weekend in fact, the first Mystery Literary Festival will take place in Wavertree’s Holy Trinity Church. The two-day event will celebrate mystery literature from across the spectrum and will bring families and the local community together in a celebration of mysterious books, film, music, performance, and more.

 

Then there is a story

It all began one day last autumn when a group of people, including my friend Lucy and I, were gathered in a church hall in Wavertree talking about ideas for things we might do in and around the local park, known to all of us as The Mystery (for reasons that are a whole other story).

“Well,” said one of the group, “The Mystery? It sounds like it could be a literary festival. One all about mystery stories, doesn’t it?” And so, an idea was born, and its story is about to come true.

Continue reading “It’s nearly time: The Mystery Literary Festival”

Breathing Spaces: Walking and Talking at Ed’s Place

Still lots of Ed’s Place things going on at the moment. General Information and bookings here.

Including another of these ‘Breathing Spaces’ walks this coming Sunday 23rd. Book here.

Looking back at the first of three ‘Breathing Spaces’ walks then, another coming up this Sunday.

I love doing this. A two hour walk around the centre of Liverpool talking about breathing spaces and how they are essential for making our city centre work for more than just shopping. Those places, sometimes public squares and sometimes just places in between others, where we can sit a while, breathe, reflect, watch people go by, check our phones, talk to friends or maybe even eat the lunch we’ve brought with us. And all for free.

The places where we can be citizens of our place, quietly, sociably and for the love of being here. They’re precious places and most of the ones we have here could be better, for all kinds of reasons.

I’m not going to write all the possible reasons down here though. Because this walk was only the first of two I’m doing, and I’ll be interested to hear what you think too, if you’d like to come on the second one? That’ll be on Thursday 13th September, also from Ed’s Place.

Anyway, during this first one on Sunday just gone fifteen of us talked… Continue reading “Breathing Spaces: Walking and Talking at Ed’s Place”