For some time now I’ve been thinking of writing something on here about Coming Home. For many reasons, some of which I’ll explain, the time’s never seemed quite right. But stories need telling, otherwise how do they become stories? So here goes, the Story of Coming Home:
Whatever kind of maker you are, a maker of things, tools, songs, stories, poems or paintings, the most difficult thing to do is to get going. So many of us are full of the big even beautiful ideas, aren’t we? But how many of them ever amount to something you can show or use or put in a story, let alone live in?
I’ve been thinking about this, this getting going, as some friends and I from The Beautiful Ideas Co have been talking about what Coming Home does next. And as I’ve also been reading a novel by Colm Toíbín called ‘The South.’ I love Colm Toíbín’s writing. He’s a near contemporary and I often find valuable thoughts about life and the living of it from reading his books.
In ‘The South’ I’ve found a particularly relevant gem. It’s in his afterword, where he writes about how hard he’d had to search for the answer to how to get this, his first novel, going.
Being a story he’d wanted to move around Ireland and Catalonia, abstractedly painting their emotional and historical landscapes he talked to an Irish artist, Barrie Cooke, about how he did beginnings:
“You make a mark” he said, as he gestured the making of an almost random mark with an imaginary paint-brush.
For a long time I’ve thought and no doubt even said that if you really know your stuff, whatever that ‘stuff’ might be, you should be able to explain it clearly to anyone. Just this year, for example, I’ve been driven to so much distraction by some verbose inhabitants of the ‘social investment sector’ (their description of themselves) that I’ve had to publicly berate them for telling a room of people who actually do things that we need to ‘learn their language’ if we want them to consider investing in us.
I’m saying this because this very week some of my own ‘stuff’ has been put to the test when The Economist asked me if I’d have a go at answering some questions. They run something called The Burnet News Club that’s specifically about involving both primary and secondary school children in discussions about the economy.
American Talk Show host Jimmy Dore talks up the Labour Party Manifesto.
So here’s the thing. Jayne Lawless and I are talking politics during a brief gap in talking about Coming Home Liverpool, which we run together. And Jayne is enthusing about something by someone called Jimmy Dore that’s been doing the rounds on Facebook. But which she can’t send to me because of my outright refusal to have anything to do with Facebook.
“You’ve got to see it Ronnie, you’ve absolutely got to see it. Go home, find it on your computer, find it anywhere and watch it!”
So I do and it’s brilliant. A point by point discussion on the brilliance and straightforwardness of the UK Labour Party’s Manifesto. An unexpected delight, coming as it does from the United States, but a delight nonetheless.
Except its 21 minutes long.
“It would make a great Labour Party political broadcast if it could be edited down to much, much shorter” I tell Jayne.
“So ask him. Ask Jimmy if he minds you doing an edit?”
Listen to this blog post on BBC Radio Merseyside here.
Home, the place where you can grow up happily, knowing it’s always going to be your home. Welcome home this little one from us at Coming Home Liverpool.No apologies at all for not having written much on here lately, Jayne Lawless and I have been busy. As the two partners in Coming Home Liverpool we’ve been busy creating our first home for a family in North Liverpool. And now it’s done and they’re all moved in. On a fair rent and a permanent tenancy.Yesterday there was a celebration at the house. A celebration you can listen to from the links at the top and the foot of this post. Continue reading “Home”
“Jayne Lawless and Coming Home Liverpool co-founder Ronnie Hughes are in a jovial mood, surrounded by the green and grey walls of their adopted property – the first, they hope, of many empty houses they are going to convert into affordable homes.
There are around 600,000 empty properties in the country, and 9,000 in Liverpool. Often the owners cannot afford to bring them back into use. Yet Liverpool, like the rest of the country, faces an acute shortage of homes.
This house, on City Road in Walton, is owned by Clare Kinsella, who had inherited it from her late father. She could not afford to do it up, especially because she had been ripped off for £20,000 by previous builders. So she faced either going into further debt to refurbish it or selling it for less than market value.
But when she met Hughes at a social housing conference – he first worked in housing 40 years ago and was recently involved in the Granby 4 Streets redevelopment for which the architects won the Turner Prize – Coming Home Liverpool had found its first homeowner.”
This has been a really good week for us at Coming Home Liverpool. We’ve met a lot of interesting people in our search for empty homes to work on, work is going well at the home in City Road Walton where we’re on site and, well, we’re enjoying ourselves getting our new idea going.
And a particular thing we’re both enjoying is working with our friend, Liverpool street photographer Jane MacNeil. We’ve commissioned Jane to spend some days with us and see what she gets. None of us know precisely what we’ll do with Jane’s photographs, but we will do something creative over time, so I don’t want to use up too many of them on here.
There’s something about being in an actual printed newspaper that confirms an ideas existence more than anything digital can. And this week Coming Home’s existence has been confirmed by the Liverpool Echo.
Knowing though that many of this blog’s readers don’t live around Liverpool or even in England I thought I’d reproduce Echo journalist Josh Parry’s article about us on here. So here it is.
How one affordable housing scheme is transforming Liverpool’s empty properties.
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: Continue reading “Walking Home: A meditation”