On Holiday: From Everything

I like my life, having put a good deal of thought into how I live it and what I do with it. But we all need a holiday from time to time and I’m taking one now.

I’ve been building up to it for a week or so, cancelling everything I reasonably could once I realised that summer is on the wane and I’ve worked, in my ways, for all of it.

So I’ve got my books and my train tickets and I’m off to somewhere I’ve never been to stay with a friend I haven’t seen for years. Continue reading “On Holiday: From Everything”

Nine Thousand Evenings

In the evening of the day, all work done, we sit down and we talk.

Maybe it’s because we’re in the dark time of the year, when the evening seems to last for half the day, that’s made me so conscious of evenings? Or maybe it’s because I’ve been reading a book? A bit of both probably.

Anyway, have you ever thought about how many evenings you’ve spent talking with the significant person or people in your life? Or about how much all the conversations you’ve had over all of those evenings with these people have contributed to who you are and the life you’re living? Well I have, and ‘a lot’ is the answer to both of these questions.

Evenings are the focus of my thinking and the title of what I’m writing here because they’re the time my significant person and I mostly spend together, our different jobs of work done for the day. We’ve been together, Sarah and I, for 25 years or so now and, minus time spent away working and on a few separate holidays, sea kayaking for example, that all multiplies up to about nine thousand evenings we’ve spent together.

Nine thousand evening of conversation. Continue reading “Nine Thousand Evenings”

Like you would do for one you love: For Liverpool and Leeds

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 “Like you would do for one you love: For Liverpool and Leeds”

The Clearing 2: People and true friendship

Previously on “The Clearing” as they say…

“Possessions, jobs, activities and, whisper it, even friendships don’t necessarily need to stay with you forever. And when I have the ‘year to live’ talk with people, it happens, I always view going through the clearing of redundant things as the relatively easy conversation before we arrive at the trickier “Having cleared some space then, how will you spend your time? Because with only 365 days to go you might want to think carefully about the activities and people you spend each one of them on?”

So let’s talk about people.

Continuing from last time in this light of us all having a limited number of days left in our lives.

As I said then the ‘people and activities’ element of clearing is much trickier than the relatively easier getting rid of things. You might have emotions over things but things don’t feel emotional about you, whereas people do, or might. Which makes clearing some of them tricky.

Best then to start with a fairly easy piece of people clearing, unfriending.

It’s an obvious cliché to say that all of our social media friends aren’t really our friends, but they’re not. Continue reading “The Clearing 2: People and true friendship”

‘Community Led’ – Moving beyond victims and heroes

If you walk where you’ve always walked you might think what you’ve always thought. So today I’ve been walking along streets where I don’t often go. And not to take photographs of them like I usually do on here, but because I needed to think. Because we all need time to go off and think sometimes and because I seem to do my best thinking by walking around. Then, after a while of  this walking, to sit down with a pen and a notebook and see what’s turned up. Here goes then.

Thoughts from a park bench.
Thoughts from a park bench.


A Sunday morning conversation

Already this morning there’s been a very rich conversation on Twitter. It starts with people, and thank you all, reflecting on our good fortune in Granby this week. Some wishing they could ‘have’ whatever it is we might have. Our architects, our supporters, even named members of our community! This gradually moves into a Leeds, Liverpool, Hull, Manchester and architects and mostly northern and Homebaked and Welsh Streets and Four Streets conversation about ‘community led’ and the stories that get told. Eventually and mostly circling around these two ‘big’ questions on this particular Sunday morning:

  • How does ‘community led’ change actually happen?
  • And how can we move our stories of place and change on from old archetypes about victims and heroes?

Which is what I ended up thinking about as I walked round Liverpool this afternoon. Continue reading “‘Community Led’ – Moving beyond victims and heroes”

A sense of place? Thinking about home

It was an instinctive reaction to a post on Twitter. A photograph of somewhere else that made me think about Liverpool.

Napoli in 1953.
Napoli in 1953.

A sequence of posts in Italian had finally arrived in Liverpool translated as:

“Naples is magical – a capital city without a country.”

“I know how that feels’ was my immediate and instinctive response. ‘I like England and Britain’ I went on to explain. ‘But I am from and of Liverpool.”

Waking up early this morning still thinking of what I might be on about I remembered something I’d written a few weeks ago in my final post in the ‘Year to live’ sequence:

“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.”

Finally returning me to the central question of these last twenty and more years of my life. A sense of place, what’s that all about? Continue reading “A sense of place? Thinking about home”

Eldon Grove: Good news

Eldon Grove, Liverpool 3
Eldon Grove, Liverpool 3

June 2015 update: Eldon Grove restoration now at Cabinet after full Council discussions in April. Liverpool Mutual Homes ‘may start work during the summer’ according to the Liverpool Echo.

“Documents prepared for the cabinet say Eldon Grove, which is currently classed as a “Building at Risk”, will be able to be brought back into use with developers confident refurbishment could start during the summer.

A report which went before the council in April said the development costs are estimated to be in the region of £6.6 million, of which the council is being asked to contribute £1.25 million which in turn would “would unlock other streams of funding, thereby securing delivery of the project and remove Eldon Grove from the Buildings at Risk Register”.

Eldon Grove is to be saved. The lease on it is in the process of being transferred to Liverpool Mutual Homes, who will restore it.

The news came to me through the unlikely avenue of a picture of Bill Shankly:

Bill Shankly at Eldon Grove, 1960s.
Bill Shankly at Eldon Grove, 1960s.

I’d seen the picture before but always enjoy seeing the great man in one of my favourite places.

Anyway, it’s a rainy Saturday ‘wet play’ sort of morning and I’m idly checking through Twitter, when the Bill photo almost distracts me from what else is being said. Here’s the full exchange once I get involved: Continue reading “Eldon Grove: Good news”