I’ve decided to post something once a week which involves something about myself or my appreciation for something I love. I’m going to draw on memories, pictures, books I’ve read, art I love, poetry etc. and create a post. I’m thinking this might be nice to look back at for me, and possibly interesting for anyone else (I hope!)
So this week’s post will be all about my hometown and what it means to me. So this is about Liverpool.
I was born and bred in Liverpool, England in the 1980’s and I had a happy childhood though I remember several things about growing up that weren’t so happy but all in all I’m incredibly proud to have grown up in Liverpool. These are the things that stand out most…
Everybody I knew had at least one parent who was out of work. This was due to high unemployment rates in the city, mainly caused by all-round witch, Maggie Thatcher. (It’s strange: I lived in Toronto for around six months and a lot of people over there seemed to have a lot of time for that woman – none of which were ex-pats I’d like to add – and I had to walk away from conversations since she is absolutely despised by the people of Liverpool!)
My Dad was one of the many unemployed men in the city and I remember him being laid off along with what seemed like everyone else’s dad. There was a great drama on TV at the time called “Boys from the Blackstuff” written by Alan Bleasdale. It’s amazingly accurate and features a character called “Yosser Hughes” whose catchphrase was “Giz a job… I can do that” and it reminds me of my dad because I can remember him doing all kinds of different cash-in-hand jobs to try and make ends meet; things from fitting windows to selling baby clothes on a market stall. It wasn’t a good time, I remember my dad being really angry all the time and now know he suffered from Depression at the time which was quite a common thing. Working-class men like him were supposed to provide for their families and when it ended up with only my Mum who was bringing any money in, it was really hard for him to take.
I also remember football in the city at the time. Liverpool and Everton football clubs, who are two of the biggest clubs in English football (if not World football) both used to win EVERYTHING in the 80’s. I lived around the corner from Everton’s ground (though I’m a Liverpool supporter!) and can remember watching people go to and from the match which was always at 3pm on a Saturday (not like today where matches are at various times over the weekend and sometimes in the week). I wasn’t allowed in the house when the match was on so had to go and play outside haha…
I remember the camaraderie between the two sets of fans and since one or both of the two teams were always in the cup finals, I remember the street parties we used to have to celebrate. My Nan always made ‘streamers’ either in Red & White (for Liverpool) or Blue & White (for Everton) and everyone would have scarves and posters up in their front windows. It was great and seemed to be the only thing that people in Liverpool could get excited about. Like I said, there was high unemployment, nobody had any money and the Tories were for want of a better phrase, screwing us over. So the fact that the local teams were good at football was something to smile about.
Then Hillsborough happened. I remember this happening even though I was only 7 at the time. I remember all the neighbours being out and everyone was really upset and my Nan was crying in front of the telly. I remember my Nan took me to Anfield (Liverpool’s ground) a couple of days after to lay flowers and I can remember the pitch now, when it was covered twice-over with flowers and scarves. Everyone in the city was just hit hard by it.
And then came the lies told about it, the S*n newspaper’s front page saying that the Liverpool fans has been stealing from the dead and it was their fighting that caused it. This was all part of a massive police cover-up – backed by MPs – which blamed the fans for the whole disaster and ruled the 96 deaths as ‘accidental’.
Thank God we don’t give up the fight in this city; it took 23 years for the families and campaigners to fight for justice and in 2012 the verdicts of ‘accidental death’ were overturned and were concluded as ‘unlawful killing’. It was found (what we already knew) that the police had conducted a massive cover-up in order to shift the blame to the supporters as they knew that the deaths were caused by the mishandling of the situation. Worst of all, the inquiry concluded that up to 41 of the 96 deaths could possibly have been avoided if the emergency services had been more efficient and better-coordinated.
Hillsborough is something I remember clearly from my childhood and it’s something that for anyone who lived in Liverpool at the time, has effected them in some way: it’s shown me that you should never give up for what you believe in, it’s made me proud and profoundly defensive about Liverpool and it’s also taught me to never trust the establishment without question; never blindly follow someone else’s cause.
Musically, I remember knowing who The Beatles were from an early age. My dad had some vinyl left – he had the original copy of The White Album (which to my dismay, my brother now owns) and a few 45’s. He also had some John Lennon albums (again, my brother has commandeered these) and I remember we used to listen to them on this massive old record player unit that looked similar to this:-
It wasn’t all dead cool though – I also remember getting quite emotional over Paul McCartney’s Frog Chorus…
There are a lot of churches in Liverpool. Although we weren’t very religious (my Dad is a non-practising Catholic, and my Mum is a non-practising Protestant) my Nan (on my Dad’s side) was extremely Catholic and used to occasionally take me to mass. She would take me to St. Francis de Sales church which was in the next road to where I grew up; I didn’t know the words to anything and I’d have to sit there like a lemon when everyone took communion! She’d also take me to The Shrine (Blessed Sacrament RC Church) in town where we’d always light a candle for Hillsborough.
Liverpool has two Cathedrals and both are architecturally amazing. Strangely, I’d never been to either of the Cathedrals until I was in my late teens.
The Liverpool Anglican Cathedral is the largest Anglican cathedral in the world. I had my university graduation in there and I used to go there quite often just to look around (still do) as it’s incredible inside.
The Catholic Cathedral or Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King (to give it its full title) is a more modern and unique design. It’s nicknamed ‘Paddy’s Wigwam’ for obvious reasons! It’s smaller than the Protestant one but the inside of it is just as gorgeous. The stained glass window is the largest in the world.
Anyway, I love both of these buildings. They’re two of many amazing buildings around the city.
Another place I remember always going as a kid was the Museum. I was always fascinated by the ‘Space’ floor (although I never went the Planetarium inside the museum until I was 20!) and the ‘Egyptian’ floor. I still love going to the Museum now. I always appreciate that it’s free to get in! It’s been refurbished and looks amazing nowadays.
It stands on a street with Liverpool Central Library (again, a stunning building) and the Walker Art Gallery. Just over the road is St. George’s Hall. I used to read my books for university in the gardens at the back. This now gets used for exhibitions, weddings and fayres amongst other things (I went to a beer festival in here a couple of years ago…)
The city is next to the River Mersey. The Albert Dock and the Pier Head are next to here. When I was a kid it was always a treat to go on the Ferry. Nowadays I get seasick looking at a boat so would rather not but when I was a kid it was like a proper day out! We’d go ‘over the water’ as we call it (and where I now live!) and go to either New Brighton for a day out (chips, fairground, bowling) or we’d visit my Godparents in Wallasey.
There are also a few museums by the river; the Maritime Museum, Museum of Liverpool Life and the International Slavery Museum. Liverpool made a lot of its fortune in the 18th century onward from the Atlantic Slave Trade (not a proud moment) and it was a major port importing goods from all over the world.
As such, we are a city built on immigrants which we’re proud of. We have the oldest Chinese community in Europe and have an amazing Chinese Arch which was gifted to us by Shanghai.
We also had a lot of Scandinavians come over here because of the port. Mostly though, Liverpool was made up of Welsh and Irish immigrants. Most people in Liverpool have Welsh, Irish or Scottish ancestry. We also got our nickname ‘Scousers’ from this. There was a Scandinavian stew (kind of like Irish Stew) which they brought over here called Lobscouse which sailors would eat; it’s pretty much made up of a cheap cut of meat, some potatoes and carrots. It became popular in Liverpool and eventually got shortened to ‘Scouse’ and this is why we’re called Scousers. Seriously, it’s the best food to eat when it’s freezing outside and is dead easy to make (although everyone reckons that their Mum makes the best Scouse!) It varies in consistency, meat and what you eat it with. Personally, I think it should be like a thick stew and I have it with pickled red cabbage, pickled beetroot and crusty bread. My Boyf eats his with pickled onions which makes him an absolute heathen.
The docks were a major reason we were the second most bombed city during WWII when the Blitz affected us massively. I see old photos and read stories of the War and it looks and sounds horrific but I remember asking my Nan about it when she was alive and her eyes would light up telling me stories! I think, although people her age didn’t miss the war (obviously), they did miss the way things were around that time.
So anyway, the River Mersey basically gave Liverpool it’s life. We have a great skyline and the buildings at the Pier Head are locally named “The Three Graces”. They are the Royal Liver Building, The Cunard Building and The Port of Liverpool Building.
The bird on top of the Liver Building is the ‘Liver Bird’ (not Liver as in shiver, Liver as in diver!)
I wish I still lived in Liverpool; even though I’m only 20 mins away and I do actually still work there I really miss it. One day we’ll move back there (my Boyf begs to differ but it’s tough because it’s gonna happen once his kids are 18!)
So this will probably be the longest post I’ll ever write. Mainly because I could talk about my hometown for hours.
I hope nobody fell asleep! If you just looked at the pictures then I’m happy enough!