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.
Having walked a fair bit of North Liverpool then South Liverpool in the last two days it didn’t take a genius or even me to work out today’s ‘Walking About’ route, the middle. Roughly from here in Wavertree, through L7 and L1 to the River. Let’s go.
Reflecting as I start out on a third walk in three days that there are some times when I need a lot of time on my own. Not in a melancholy way, but I don’t want to be inside and I have an elemental need to walk, alone.
Leaving the house today with my walking boots on I don’t, as so often, know where I’m going. But walking down the road I decide I’ll get on the first bus that comes, get off it as soon as I see something interesting, and start meandering round from there.
I’m in luck, the bus is the 76. A curious beast that meanders almost all the way around the circumference of the city centre before finally giving in and turning down London Road. I’m not on it until then though because I see this.
I get off at the next stop for a closer look. Turns out it’s to be ‘Liverpool’s Bio Tech Hub.’ So there, another hub. I must say I’m getting very tired of the word, already turning old as an early century affectation for where we’d have merely called something a ‘centre’ or even plain old ‘building.’ Oh well, no doubt some mover-shaker go-getter with very long pointed shoes got paid a packet to come up with the term.
Now that 2014 is over, here’s an attempt to sum up my own past year in 12 photographs.
Over the year there were 160 new blog posts and most of them contained new photographs as I wandered around, mostly, Liverpool with my camera clutched permanently in my right hand. Here’s what I saw.
This was the year of ‘Great Bus Journeys of the World’ all made possible, or at least cheaper, by me being awarded the freedom of my City and beyond, by way of a bus pass. So as soon as I got it, late in January, I began a new kind of exploring. Here I’ve made my first ever trip through the Mersey Tunnel on a bus. Getting on at Cook Street, where the 472 starts, to make sure I can get the front seat upstairs and get the best views through the tunnel and across the Wirral. As thrilled as any child.
I spent the early part of the year being tested and diagnosed with a relatively rare blood disorder, polycythaemia, most likely caused by a genetic defect. This included regular visits to the Royal Hospital where dedicated staff perform their daily miracles in an architectural monstrosity – with great views. Continue reading “A Year in 12 Photographs”
A blog post from a little over three years ago here, where I looked at how our major hospitals are woven into the life and death fabric of our lives. And wondered whether Carillion would be up to the job.
My opinion now is that the people and companies of Liverpool should be finishing the building of our own hospital ourselves. It’s life and death and jobs and it matters.
Anyway, back to my walk down to the Royal Infirmary in October 2014.
Yes I know the Royal in Liverpool isn’t called that any more. But I’m calling it that because it sounds more like a song. You know, ‘St James Infirmary’ and all that classic jazz and blues and country stuff. And, Sunday though it is, I’m shortly off to walk to Liverpool’s biggest and ugliest hospital.
But I wanted to start all this with music. Because I’m delighted to report that my life is currently full of it. After several months of semi-deafness I’m suddenly hearing out of both sides of my head. And my joy is unconfined.
Last night, for example, I played my new-to-me 1950s Hank Williams LP three times on the run for the sheer joy of being able to hear it. This was made easier by Sarah being away at the moment. Obviously, with human company, playing anything three times on the run would be hard to get away with. But on your own? It’s my life, my LP and besides – in the months of hardness of hearing it’s one of a good few LPs I’ve barely heard at all. Until now.
Then this morning, that weird once a year long Sunday morning when the clocks have gone back and you feel all luxurious about time, I’m partly reading. But mostly putting the book down so it won’t interrupt the music. Because Cerys is on and, again, it feels like months since I’ve heard her properly. Cerys Matthews that is. And we’ve even had a short exchange, very, about how delighted I am to hear her and her Zouk and Turkish and Bowie and Dust Bowl Sunday Roast selection.
So what’s the word? Happiness, yes that’s it. About music and about feeling well after several months of sensory deprivation. Even as I write Cerys is playing Richard Burton reading ‘Under Milkwood’ to an instrumental ‘Under Dubwood’ reggae backing. Deep joy.
I had no intention, when I started this ‘What would you do if you had a year to live?’ exercise, of being diagnosed with anything more serious than a cold. That’s how we are. Bad things may be lurking somewhere down the road, but they’re never going to happen this year.
Well, as I wrote in the previous one of this series of posts, I have now been diagnosed with something. Something called ‘Polycythaemia’. Not life threatening, so long as it’s treated. But also not curable, so something that now partly defines me. And is certainly adding an edge to what I’d thought would be a series of largely philosophical posts.
“My bone marrow is producing too many red blood cells. This is a relatively rare condition called Polycythaemia, most often caused by a genetic defect and leading the blood to become thick and sluggish through the over production of red blood cells. Therefore increasing the risk of strokes or heart attack. I’m still having various tests, but in the meantime my red blood cells are being kept at safe levels by regularly having pints of blood taken from me.”
One of the comforts of living in Liverpool to the age I am is that during my lifetime I’ve seen many of the city’s ugliest buildings get both built and demolished. The past few years have witnessed the destructions of Foster House, Steers House, Paradise Street Bus Station and multi-storey car park and the Holiday Inn next door to them. All gone, none missed.
So I know no building, however permanent it might look, will necessarily be there for very long. Therefore, and because it’s New Year and thoughts of clearing out and renewal are around, I decided I’d raise the prospect of clearing a few more. Show you a few places that, in my opinion, needn’t get too comfortable about coming to the future with us.
For my first recommendation I’m going to have to show you some more things that have already gone.
Thus revealing, as intended, the full beauty of the Station Facade?
A Friday Walk through the various places where people live. Eventually getting to town to see some friends and their new venture ‘Home’ in School Lane, Liverpool One.
It’s been called Prince Arthur’s Road for the last century or more, since the visit of some royal. But as a keen fan of evidence of urban farming I always use its original name. Continue reading “The Road Home”