Walking Down to George Henry Lee: Independents Biennial 2018

I’m sat here on the big curving staircase in George Henry Lee writing this. On the second floor, near Glassware and looking down towards Cards and Wrapping Paper on the ground floor.

Well those last bits are only in my mind, but I’m really sat on the staircase in George Henry Lee writing. One of the seventy venues that are home to the Independents Biennial 2018 from now until the end of October. I’m very happy to be here.

I walked down here earlier via Squash on Windsor Street. Continue reading “Walking Down to George Henry Lee: Independents Biennial 2018”

Walking Through Time

I’m thinking a lot about time at the moment. How we made it up, how it works, how we see it in what people once did and in what we’re doing next.

Much more talk of time and places coming as my university work, reading and thinking at Sociology Liverpool gets going from now on.

Meanwhile I think of time as I’m walking around. The joy and the beauty of here and now. My feet on the ground of Liverpool as I walk. Like the early morning, earlier this week, as I walked from town to the North Docks, recognising the beauty of the place – hardly for the first time – and how happy I am to be here. In my time and in my place. Here in these few photographs of a sunny July morning, walking from the Town Hall and out through the business district to the Dock Road.

Continue reading “Walking Through Time”

Gardens in the City

A meditation on hospitals, allotments and the National Health Service.

While I’m writing this I’m listening to the ‘NHS Symphony’. A new choral work commissioned by BBC Radio 3 to celebrate the 70th anniversary of our health service. It contains a collage of sounds from two Birmingham NHS hospitals, routine sounds and major life event sounds. From the cradle to the grave. From birth to death with the NHS. Humanity’s greatest creation.

All day until coming home and listening to this I’ve been at Sarah’s allotment. Together with Sarah this time though so often on my own these past weeks of her sea kayaking journeys to the Western Isles and Anglesey.

Quiet evenings walking over to Sarah’s garden in the city. To water it, weed it, care for it, notice what is happening there. Continue reading “Gardens in the City”

Happiness

It’s the greatest thing that we possess, you know? But what does it look like and feel like? Well here goes.

For my screen saver at the moment I’m using all the photographs of Granby that Nick Hedges took for Shelter around 1969. Because they’re some of the best photographs I’ve ever seen and because day in day out, at quiet moments, they remind me of how bad life can get and also how good. Like the day the people of Jermyn Street got Ken Dodd to come and visit.

A perfect picture of happiness from a long ago Granby to get us going then.

Now if you’ve been around this blog for a while you’ll know that I have a tendency to be depressed from time to time. Continue reading “Happiness”

Down by the North Docks: Liverpool

Some will call them Ten Streets but with me that hasn’t taken
That’s marketing talk from another place by people who can’t count
To me this is the North Docks, the gates where we came in
The generations before me who lived and dreamed round here.

Who worked the warehouses, queued at the gates and thought TB was normal
Would speak of lives in better days off out in Norris Green
And still and all I come and take these pictures on my phone
A hundred years later, like it’s mine and this is home.

Continue reading “Down by the North Docks: Liverpool”

Home as a Human Right: Ten Thoughts

On believing in everyone having a secure home as a human right. 

This is roughly the text of my talk to the Liverpool Walton Constituency Labour Party on the evening of 22nd May 2018.

From a lifetime working in and around housing and communities and at the request of the Walton Constituency Labour Party here in Liverpool, these are my ‘Top 10’ thoughts, a mixture of policies and practicalities, on how we might go about fixing the wide ranging housing crisis we are now in.

1 Establish having a secure home as a basic human right
2 Reinvent Council Housing
3 Be secure and safe from the cradle to the grave Continue reading “Home as a Human Right: Ten Thoughts”

In Liverpool: Those Three Sunny Days in April

If these were the only three sunny days we get they were great weren’t they? So I thought I’d write them down so I can remember them, later on. When the weather goes back to seeming like it’s colder than it used to be and it rains most days.

It’s Saturday evening as I’m writing, going dark now but the daytimes here in Liverpool have been sunny since Thursday. Warm days of less clothes and crowds in the parks. Though not yet in The Mystery as I set out for the day. Continue reading “In Liverpool: Those Three Sunny Days in April”

The Writer’s House

After I wrote about my friend the artist Emma Rushton’s house a couple of weeks ago, some other friends suggested I might like to do a series where I look around some other people’s houses. They thought this could be an interesting development from other writings and work I’ve done on, oh, the meaning of life and home as a human right. They also thought it would be a good nose.

Thanks ‘some other friends!’

So to try out the idea, and because it’s only fair, I’ve decided to follow up the post on Emma’s house with one about where I live. And since I’m writing this and it’s what I do a lot of, here’s ‘The Writer’s House’.

I moved in here with my daughter Clare in September 1991. A three bed terraced house in Wavertree, much like thousands of others in Liverpool. Continue reading “The Writer’s House”

The High Street: How’s it doing, really?

A closely observed walk along a local hight street here in Liverpool, with statistics, to see and feel how it’s doing.

Our high streets are in trouble. Some blame austerity politics, others supermarkets and more still the passage of time, saying we shop differently now. What’s in less doubt than these various causes is the importance of a good high street to how happy we are with the places where we live.

Elsewhere on this blog I’m starting to look at the insides of people’s houses, looking at how we live and the necessity, a human right I call it, of us all having a secure and properly affordable place we can call home.

But we don’t only live inside of our homes do we? The quality of our lives has a lot to do with what else is around us, including the high streets of shops that run through and bind our neighbourhoods and, often as not, give them their names. So in Liverpool we have areas of Walton generally called County Road and Walton Vale, for example. In Anfield a place called ’round Priory Road’ and in Aigburth one called, well, ‘Aigburth Road’. High streets whose general health is an important part of how their neighbourhoods are doing. Continue reading “The High Street: How’s it doing, really?”

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?”