This week I’m away from Liverpool, at Laugharne in South Wales. A week on my own, away from my work and my laptop. To walk, read, maybe write and on the whole do not much of anything. A retreat. I’ve brought some music, some poetry, some t-shirts and not much else.
As the week goes by I’ll add some words and photos to this blog of my week.
Before I leave some time with my family at Africa Oyé in Sefton Park. Then I finish packing, and leave home early Monday morning.
A selection from the several thousand photographs I’ve taken this year for this blog. Taken all together they tell one story of the year. Not a definitive one, more of a meander as you might expect.
In a year that’s been turbulent in so many ways it’s been good to have this blog to come home to. A quiet place to reflect and to tell some stories. Stories of ordinary days and determined people, trying to make our part of the world a better and fairer place.
“Just a perfect day
Drink Sangria in the park
And then later
When it gets dark, we go home”
Day One of this year’s 24th Africa Oyé is truly one of those. Joyous music, good friends and Liverpool at our very best. So thank you all the musicians, sound engineers and organisers of Africa Oyé, Liverpool’s greatest gift to itself. And thank you Jennifer, Jayne, Jim, Clare, Simon, Ellie, Theo, Finn and everyone who stops to say hello.
On this day every year I walk through Sefton Park to see it being made ready for our greatest cultural festival, Africa Oyé. Where we celebrate each other, our place, where we came from and where we’re going next.
And ultimately on my way to a meet up of the Coming Home board.
This year’s Liverpool International Music Festival, we’re up to Year 3 of these already, happened in Sefton Park, and I was there keeping an eye on things. The Park itself as much as the music. Three perfect Liverpool days. Here’s what they looked like to me. Three days in fields full of friends. Good to meet you all.
The whole thing was to end with Bunnymen, the Liverpool Philharmonic and fireworks. But I arrived mid-afternoon in the rain.
As you can see, our irrepressible Tommy Calderbank did eventually bring the sun out with the sheer force of his optimistic personality, but for the first couple of hours of today’s Africa Oye in Sefton Park it was a different and wetter story.
I needed Africa Oyé today. For various reasons to do with this being a blog and not a diary I needed the healing joy that this free festival has been bringing to my life for well over 20 years now. These have been tough weeks and it was time for some time for me.
In which our writer, who can barely hear at the moment, goes to a Record Fair and a Music Festival.
Confession time, I haven’t been feeling very well for well over two months now. Meaning that some of the larger events from this summer in Liverpool have gone entirely unobserved by this blog. I just about made Africa Oyé, though I didn’t really see all that much of it. And I missed the Giants altogether, though I might have missed them anyway as some things are always likely to fall into the category of ‘Couldn’t be arsed’.
Looking forward to Africa Oyé in 2015? Of course you are, it’s better than Christmas. This year it’s on Saturday and Sunday 20th and 21st June. Meanwhile, a few memories of Oyés gone by.
Today is Midsummer, the midpoint of the year, the solstice. And from all its possible significances the greatest for me is that this, as ever, is the weekend when we have Africa Oyé here in Liverpool. Our great festival of African Music and Culture.As you may know if you’ve been around this blog a while, I don’t do Christmas. In fact I mostly walk the empty streets and avoid the thing altogether. But I do Africa Oyé and I always have done. It’s sort of my own personal Christmas. Two days of making merry in the Park, meeting up with people who matter to me, listening to the music and simply being there. Like it’s a place, a great big village that comes to life just on the two days of midsummer. To celebrate Africa, to celebrate Liverpool. To celebrate all of us.This week in the park they’ve been building the village. Continue reading “Midsummer Oyé”