I love Liverpool and go back as often as I can. Local pride translates itself into the art, the music and the humour. As a teenager I’d read The Mersey Poets, listened to The Beatles and Echo and the Bunnymen, so it was an easy choice to study there.
Liverpool was so different to home. It was close enough to return, far enough to be away. I had three very happy years as a useless Chemistry student who preferred drinking and exploring the city to titration and test tubes. I didn’t just drink, though, I learnt to box and left with my Honours, just about, and went in search of jobs in ‘That London.’ I was sad to go but took some great memories with me. Last Sunday we had a few hours to explore so we walked out of Liverpool One towards Chinatown.
Liverpool One has changed the area between Church Street/Bold Street and the docks beyond recognition. But walking out along Seel Street you can see not a lot has changed closeby. It’s an area close to the nightlife and shops, but a little quiet and contemplative as if it’s coming to terms with the excesses nearby. Or maybe it’s the silence and space of former churches and warehouses. There are plenty of charities and missions here and Liverpool has a renowned school of tropical medicine across town. You’re never far from that maritime history. The photo (left) is of a doorway about halfway along. The porcelain figure of Mary stands out perfectly, surrounded by the whitewashed brick. Church bells tolled and a drunk woman was doubled up, rubbing her temples. A city council truck gathered empties with a rattle and clink, trailing a thousand unfinished nightcaps in dribbles along the cobbles. I asked if she was well and she smiled. ‘I’ll do,’ she said.
A little further along were peeling posters packed with DJs names in Back Colquitt Street. They reminded me of queuing for Nation on a Monday night. At the top of Seel Street Berry Street becomes Chinatown. A few years back I tried my hand at stand-up at the Dragon Bar. I did enough to survive, just, but stuck with the writing. I hope Sam Avery who ran the night is doing well – he was very encouraging and clearly had talent.
There are empty units here, but opposite was a striking image. When you see something you don’t expect it stops you.
Do You Feel Lonely? – 6.8 million people live alone in England
It’s painted on a derelict shopfront. It has far more effect than an advert you wouldn’t even notice. If I showed you this photo and asked you what was on it you’d remember the lonely bit, but I doubt you’d even see Snoop Dogg, or David Guetta or All American Wrestling.
Liverpool is full of surprises like this. It’s an arresting message and all the more powerful on a battered shopfront. There are two football clubs with shops in Liverpool One. The Blue One is called Everton Two. It’s a clever move that. Try reading the address: Everton Two, Liverpool One. Playing with words….back to the Mersey Poets again.