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”

Thinking About Granby & the Welsh Streets

I’ve been thinking about Granby this week. Talking about it too, along with several of us there who were involved in setting up the Community Land Trust a few years back. We’ve been talking to a journalist is all I’ll say and you’ll be able to read what we said within the next couple of weeks.

For today my thinking took me to the first Granby Street Market of the year. The first ever, in fact, to be run in February. And what a February day it was. ‘Dreich’ I’d be saying if I were Scottish. Dreich anyway. Off the 86 bus on Upper Parliament and through to Granby Street. Past the side street names that still remember all the gone now original streets of the area. Mostly cleared from the 1970s on and replaced with various kinds of newness over the years since.

Continue reading “Thinking About Granby & the Welsh Streets”

The Mystery Literary Festival: Soon

There is magic all around us. Stories waiting to be told. In every park & street the future is waiting. Listen, while I tell you a story called “The Mystery Literary Festival.”

In Liverpool there is a park called The Mystery. No map will tell you where it is but everyone knows it’s called The Mystery. And in 2018 they know it’s where the first Mystery Literary Festival happened.

Listen, I’m telling you a story, a mystery story.

The idea came from The Beautiful Parks Project in the autumn of 2017 when a woman with the grown up daughter said ‘Why is there no Mystery Literary Festival?’ And so there was. Once two passing strangers, one of whom was also me, stuck up their hands and said ‘If no one else wants to run it then we’ll do our best, having never done such a thing before. It will be a laugh and a story in itself.’ 

Listen, I’m telling you a story, a mystery story.

So it was announced, and here I am announcing it, that The Mystery Literary Festival would be for everyone who likes a story. And that would be more or less everyone, right? Continue reading “The Mystery Literary Festival: Soon”

On Huskisson Street in the Morning

Who wouldn’t want to walk along Huskisson Street in the morning?

There’s always somewhere to get to isn’t there? Always something filling up your mind with the things to do when you arrive at wherever? What hardly ever happens in the middle of all this getting on is the quiet voice. You may know it? The wise and caring voice inside your head that says:

‘You know that ‘present moment’ consciousness thing where life happens? Well you might want to take a look at this one, right here and right now?’

Well this morning I heard the voice. While I was sitting on the 86 bus going into town. What it said was this:

‘It’s not raining and you’ve got time.’

Continue reading “On Huskisson Street in the Morning”

Growing up in North Liverpool

In the early days of this blog we had a look round Liverpool in 1953, the place I was about to get born into. In this follow up to that one we’re going to come in a bit closer. Having spent much of my life with no early photographs of my early days, I’ve recently gathered up a few, courtesy of my Dad. And they’ve got a story to tell.

But before I arrive, of course, my parents have to meet.

My Dad, Joe Hughes, with his sister Terry.
My Dad, Joe Hughes, with his sister Terry.

In this lovely picture Joe is eight and Terry four. Meaning it’s 1936. They are living in North Liverpool down by the Dock Road.

“Even at that age, in those days, we were allowed to roam wherever we liked and I was trusted to look after Terry’ Joe says now. ‘We’d go to church on our own and then go off wandering around the docks and streets and even into town. I remember me and Terry being in town together even after it had gone dark. We had a much bigger Liverpool to play in than children seem to be allowed now. It was great.”

When the war comes three years later Joe is still too young to join the forces. Continue reading “Growing up in North Liverpool”

Votes for Women? Liverpool 2017

Not a long ago tale of suffragette struggle but a dystopian story from the Liverpool City Region today, expressed as a heart warming seasonal song, via The Handmaid’s Tale.

WomensLGroup Image credit

Much more of the song later, first let’s talk.

Now I’ve got no particular problem with men. I’ve been one, at first a boy version of one, all my life. Furthermore I’m perfectly happy being who I am. Having said that, I’d never try to run anything or take any important decisions in my life without asking the women that I know. This would feel not merely wrong but also deeply unwise and self-defeating. Ignore half the people I know with all their knowledge, opinions and feelings? As if.

@WomensLGroup Image credit

Which brings me to the problem I want to write about. Devolution to regional city authorities and the exclusion of women from nearly all of their leadership groups. There’s a good article here at the New Statesman you might want to read for the full national picture on this. In summary, all of the head elected jobs as ‘Mayors’ in the devolved authorities are held by men. Then the article shows figures of 94% men having a vote in their running, with just 6% women.

In the Liverpool City Region, yes I’m mainly writing about Liverpool as ever, the percentage figure for men has been rounded up to an easy to comprehend 100%. Yes, no women. A City Region of around 1.5 million people, and therefore around 750,000 women, being run by a small group of men. Continue reading “Votes for Women? Liverpool 2017”

The Old Map: Birkenhead and Wallasey

On Saturday mornings, when I’m content with the week’s work done, I like to walk around the neighbourhood more or less pointlessly. Sometimes the walk involves a sit and a read in a café then some food shopping, sometimes LPs. Today it was books. Restocking my shelf of coming soon novels from both the local library and the local Oxfam. While I was in Oxfam I also found this old map of Birkenhead and sat down for a good look at it and the stories it contains.

Like the story of the major line railway station which was running six trains a day from Birkenhead to London until the late 1960s? Read on.

Continue reading “The Old Map: Birkenhead and Wallasey”

Love and Happiness: A moment

It’s late on a Saturday afternoon, it’s yesterday, already dark and already shading into evening, now we are in late November, when I witness this moment of the purest love and happiness.

I am walking along Smithdown Road in Liverpool, not long before I’ll be turning left up my own street, when I see them all. Five figures in an undulating line across the pavement, walking towards me. Apart from the Mum figure nearest the road they look like they’re walking in age formation, the youngest holding her hand, then in steadily increasing ages towards the eldest, no more than ten years old I’d say, walking next to the wall, nearest to the shops.

From a distance they all seem to be talking at once. But as we pass, the Mum contracting the line of them slightly to let me through on the outside, the notes of their conversation separate into this moment of the purest love and happiness: Continue reading “Love and Happiness: A moment”

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” Continue reading “Like you would do for one you love: For Liverpool and Leeds”