Walking Free: Liverpool

Walking free
In the centre of my city
On such a sunny day
In such an awful week
Is not to be taken lightly or for granted.

The freedom to get the bus to town
To buy my lunch
And find a quiet place to eat it
Getting lost in a wonderful book while I do
Not to be taken lightly or for granted at all.

Buying a long awaited new record
The day it comes out
Then riding home upstairs on the bus
Free to be full of opinions about all I then see
On such a sunny day
In such an awful week
Is not to be taken lightly or for granted
Not to be taken lightly or for granted at all.

Continue reading “Walking Free: Liverpool”

No photos?

Are our public places being made private by stealth? One of them is acting like it has.

Down the Brow past where John F Kennedy Heights used to be.
Down the Brow past where John F Kennedy Heights used to be.
To the new Greatie.
To the new Greatie.

It’s been the ‘new’ Greatie since it was moved into its compund a year ago. I came to visit on its opening day. Today will turn out to be my final visit here. You’ll find out why soon. Continue reading “No photos?”

Quiet Days in West Cork

Quiet Days - 1Writing this on the Ianrød Eirann train from Kent Station, Cork to Heuston Station in Dublin, after a week of quiet days in West Cork. Well mostly quiet and mostly West Cork, though we began and ended with nights in a hostel in Cork City. Bunk beds and excitable young voices in there, us taking refuge those evenings in the city’s pubs. The Sin É for the music, the history and the new out last year Rising Sons beer, brewed all of 800 meteres away. And the Shelbourne Bar for rare whiskeys we’d never afford and food you could send out for from the local cafés, such a civilised idea.Quiet Days - 2 Quiet Days - 3

Mostly though quieter days of quieter thoughts far along the Beara Peninsula in furthest West Cork, hanging right out into the Atlantic Ocean.Quiet Days - 4

The train here full of Cork voices. Continue reading “Quiet Days in West Cork”

Being Yourself

Central Library - 1I’ve had a bit of a treat this week. If you know me at all you’ll know that two of the things I tend to go on about are doing the work you love and only the work you love – and the wonderfulness of public libraries.

Well this week I’ve planned an event all about this called ‘Being Yourself.’ And I ran it on Tuesday in Liverpool Central Library. And I’m in here now, the day after. Sending out notes for everyone and writing this. Perfect.

Broadcasting directly to you from the Picton Reading Room!
Broadcasting directly to you from the Picton Reading Room!

The whole event was based on a theory I’ve been testing out for the last 20 years or so: Continue reading “Being Yourself”

In Defense of Free Speech?

Today I was in town keeping an eye on the place. Nothing unusual in that you might think. For some self-appointed reason that’s the kind of thing I do. But today I was there looking for fascists and making sure, in so far as I could, that they did no harm.

Which as you'll see, they didn't.
Which as you’ll see, they didn’t.

All week a particualrly nasty bunch of the species, who I won’t dignify by naming, had been threatening all sorts if they weren’t allowed to do their march. Their ‘right’ they’d been calling it. ‘Free speech’ they’d been calling it. This bunch of racist, Islamophobic, holocaust denying, white supremacist totalitarians who’d apparently written to the City Council threatening “an action-packed weekend of ethnically-enriched chaos and mayhem” if they were denied their rights.

Naturally I was curious to see how it all went. Continue reading “In Defense of Free Speech?”

Listening to Africa: Africa Oyé 2015

Africa Oye - 1As 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.

To celebrate Liverpool in the best way I know.
To celebrate Liverpool in the best way I know.
Enthusiastically welcomed as ever.
Enthusiastically welcomed as ever.
A team of signers helping out this year too.
A team of signers helping out this year too.
But I arrived for lunch in heavy rain.
But I arrived for lunch in heavy rain.

Continue reading “Listening to Africa: Africa Oyé 2015”

And now let us vote in peace

Now, in the springtime of the year, when everything is fresh and possible, we all have a decision to makeVoting 2 - 1Today is the day we all vote for our future.
Voting - 1So, after all the threats, lies, cajoling, wailing, shreiking and fear-mongering, and that was just from the last couple of day’s papers, we now approach the moment of perfect peace. The moment whole generations before us fought for, were imprisoned for and even died for.7d9df76f4677a819c8bb1c56b772fc03.jpg

The moment each of us stands with a pencil and a form in a litttle polling booth and decides who we’ll vote for. A moment of perfect dignity where no one is allowed in to shout, lie, wail or shriek at us. A moment of sacred privacy but immense power. The democratic moment that is our right and also our responsibility. Continue reading “And now let us vote in peace”

Taking Tea with the Lord Mayor

Three proud citizens of Liverpool. Sarah Horton, Erica Kemp, Lord Mayor and Ronnie Hughes.
Three proud citizens of Liverpool. Sarah Horton, Erica Kemp, Lord Mayor and Ronnie Hughes.

It’s not every year that your allotment neighbour is the Lord Mayor of Liverpool. But this past year that has been so. And Sarah and I were delighted to get an invitation to come into our Town Hall and visit our friend Erica as she nears the end of her term of office.

Along Castle Street we walk.
Along Castle Street we walk.
Ready to go in.
Ready to go in.

Sarah’s never been in here before, and me not for a long time. Continue reading “Taking Tea with the Lord Mayor”

On knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing

 

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Who knows where these sayings come from? Anyway, Sarah and I are getting on with our now twenty years long and rising conversation about life and the living of it, when I come out with more or less the title of this piece.

“The trouble is, they seem to know the price of everything and the value of nothing.”

‘Did you just make that up?’ asks Sarah, momentarily impressed. Fortunately my reply is that it’s just an old saying that I’ve remembered from somewhere in my childhood. Fortunate indeed, am I, in not taking the credit because without knowing it I’m quoting from Oscar Wilde. Continue reading “On knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing”

Radicalised? Me too.

Some thoughts on why ‘being radicalised’ is not necessarily a bad thing. Though what happens before or afterwards may very well be.

I had a very conservative religious upbringing and attended single faith primary and secondary schools. In my secondary school I was given special instructions, along with a small group of other boys, in how to help the holy teachers who ran the school in the ceremonies they would run for the faithful on holy days and, as it happens, every Friday.

On Sundays I would attend the same spiritual ceremony with the rest of my family and would also regularly take part in another where I would ask one of the holy men to forgive me for my youthful sins, such as they were.

Over time this small group of boys would be taken to visit other schools of the same faith to see if we too wanted to become particular kinds of holy men as we grew up. Two of us, me and my friend Paul, were also selected to represent our school as altar servers during the opening ceremonies for Liverpool’s new Cathedral in 1967.

May 1967. I have no photographs of the event.
May 1967. I have no photographs of the event.

Yes, I was brought up as a Catholic, like at least half the other people in Liverpool when I was growing up.

And as I became an adolescent I was also radicalised. Continue reading “Radicalised? Me too.”