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.
Haven’t been here for a while, to Liverpool Central Library.But two special reasons to come today. First to see a new exhibition of photographs by someone that I ‘know’ in a Twitter sort of way. And second, to stock up with some holiday reading as I’m taking some time off work.
Photos first then. The exhibition’s by my Twitter friend @UrbanGoals, and is in fact called “Urban Goals.” Turns out that’s not my friend’s actual name though.
Who looks, from his photo, to be a boxing referee. This exhibition though is about football. Not the glossy corporate world of Premier League football, but real football in the real places where we live.
“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.
This has now evolved into a tradition for me. Not every year, because that would be annoying, but every now and then I like to walk round the centre of Liverpool on the one day in the year when all the shops are shut and there are hardly any people around.
As you’ll know if you read this blog sometimes I feel a considerable amount of responsibility for Liverpool. So looking around it on its quietest day is like me being the curator of an empty gallery or a minister in a great cathedral before the congregation arrive, checking everything’s all right while I have the place more or less to myself. Let’s have a look round then.
In town today I picked up my copy of a new magazine I’d been looking forward to seeing and decided to find somewhere quiet to go and look through it. Thinking of ‘quiet’ reminded me that the Liverpool Quakers have just opened a café in Liverpool One, near to The Bluecoat. So that’s where I went.