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 →
“The myth of the individual Has left us disconnectedlost and pitiful”
I had no idea when I wrote this post a few days ago that Kate Tempest was up for the Mercury Prize this week, but she was and I’m glad to see it bringing her so much more renown, followers and, I hope, sales.
If you’re listening much to the radio at the moment, well ok if you’re listening much to BBC Radio 6 Music, you might be hearing Kate Tempest’s current single ‘Tunnel Vision’ fairly regularly. It’s the one that starts:
The winter of our discontent’s upon us”
And continues to take the likes of me, the older generation, to task for a catalogue of ills because:
“This is the future you left us”
At which point you might well think “Give us a break” and turn your ears away until something more positive comes on. Well I’m writing this to suggest that you don’t turn away. To suggest that you listen carefully and perhaps appreciatively to this thoughtful and opinionated woman who might well surprise you. Like she surprised me. Let’s step back a year or two. Continue reading →
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.
My daughter Clare Melhuish with 2 of her children, Finn and Ellie.
In Herefordshire earlier this week it is still late wintertime as we set out walking on a mostly sunny day.We are staying near the village of Shobdon, halfway between Kington and Leominster, and set off on a circular walk Sarah has downloaded from the local village shop.
The snowdrops which are finishing back home are still in full flower here.
The otherwise bare winter oak trees are heavy with parasite mistletoe.
During my walking around Liverpool as the year has turned I’ve been thinking a bit about what and how I write on here – and about the coming up GeneralElection. Here are a few of my thoughts.
First, about shouting and being opinionated.
This instant publishing on social media can easily lead to positions of self professed importance for us bloggers and tweeters, it seems to me. Unedited by others and not necessarily taking much time to reflect on what we’re saying, we find anyway that the stronger the views we express the more reaction we provoke. So we can get into the habit of never expressing a view mildly and certainly never appearing to have any doubts. Because doubts don’t get ‘likes’ do they? And mild opinions don’t provoke comments. So being strongly opinionated and shouting louder and louder about our opinions is the nature of the game around here, isn’t it?
Well actually, as I get older and having been doing this writing in public for a good while now, I’m not sure. Continue reading →
“I am happy where I am. I know I will never go to Machu Picchu, or climb Kilimanjaro or go snorkelling (with dolphins or not) off the coast of the Great Barrier Reef. Because I’m happy where I am and I don’t want to miss a day of it. This has not been a travelling life. Earlier yearnings and travels have gradually centred me in the Northern and Western British Islands. And now the furthest from home I want to travel is still home really. To Anglesey or to Mull or across the water to Ireland maybe. But never too far from this Liverpool. Where my heart beats.
During this year a couple of possible travels have been considered and not so much rejected as evaporated, from my lack of energy and interest. Given a year to live I am enjoying my time exploring and photographing and treasuring the land on both sides of the river I was born by. It’s enough, and it’s here I’ll stay. The streets, the people, the public libraries, the parks, the cafés, the quiet corners, the marmalade sky sunsets, and Granby 4 Streets, and Homebaked in Anfield, and Eldon Grove and, oh well, all the precious things I go on about. This is my place. I am from and of Liverpool and am of an age and experience where I am happy to carry some measure of responsibility for it and regularly convey my thoughts and suggestions to those elected to carry actual responsibility.
Years ago I would say that if you cut me open it would say ‘Liverpool’ in my bones. Now there’s no need to cut me open, any reasonable geologist could identify me as Liverpool on sight.”
Elsewhere in the article I mentioned seizing moments and no sunshine being wasted. So this morning when a work meeting was unexpectedly called off I did what is now my habit and retaliated by taking the rest of the day off. As I write the sun is gently setting, but this has been a gloriously blue autumn day. A day when no camera should go unused. Continue reading →
A year already since my return to the joy of flicking through racks of LPs in record shops and charity shops to find the gems. From a standing start of no LPs at all last August I’ve now progressed to something like 200 of them. LPs I wanted to get again by the likes of Joni Mitchell, Stevie Wonder, David Bowie and Kate Bush are arriving steadily. And a good number of brilliant new LPs – Bird, Ben Watt, The Pearlfishers and Elbow are here too.
But one of the great joys of this adventure has been the accidental finding of things I didn’t know I was looking for at all. Mostly in charity shops and many for very little money at all. Not all these charity shop finds work out and many are back where I found them within the week. But here I want to feature a ‘Top Ten’ of these fortuitous finds.
1. ‘Free’ by FreeThis was their second LP, a classic pink-label Island album from 1969. After a slightly frantic start with their first ‘Tons of Sobs’ they hit their stride with this one by slowing things down. Continue reading →