Liverpool. Gateway to the world. The “Pool of Life”, according to the Analytical Psychologist Carl Jung. It is a city that needs little introduction and still less encouragement to self-aggrandise.
There are many famous quotes about this lively port in the North West of England, but I’ll spare you their tedious repetition here.
It’s a city that, at it’s shipping peak in the early 19th Century, saw 40% of the world’s trade pass through its docks. That’s crazy to imagine now. In addition to commerce (and its shameful profiteering from the slave trade), 9 million migrants set sail from its shores to a new life in the Americas.
But you didn’t come here for a history lesson. Unless you are mad. Or lost.
Liverpool is a place with which Old Rope now has a curious relationship. It is where I am from and where I lived for most of my life. When I left town and crossed the Pennines, I came to be defined, as one so often is in a different city, by my birthplace. “He’s from Liverpool”, “He’s the Scouser”, or “he’s got a funny accent”, never mind a myriad of stereotypes, bad jokes and all the rest of it. This continued, minus the negative clichés, when I moved to Buenos Aires.
Whenever I returned to Merseyside, ironically, I was defined by the fact I had left. “He doesn’t live here any more”, “When did you leave?”, “You mean you don’t know this bar?!?” and so on. No big deal, but it felt weird. It made me feel alienated from the city. Defined by it when I was not there and reminded that I no longer lived in Liverpool when I was there. Heavy, man. Confused? I know I am.
I lived away from the city for years and it has changed a lot in that time, for better and worse. Having spent 2010 living in Argentina I returned to Liverpool to live for the first time in donkey’s years, with no discernible plan. In some ways the city was the same as ever, in others it seemed very different.
In a fit of pompous pretension I decided to rediscover the place, to revisit areas I’d not been to since childhood and to finally get round to seeing the many things I shoulda but never. I mean, I hadn’t been up the tower in the Anglican Cathedral ferchrissakes!
I’m reluctant to bang on about how fabulous and unique and special Liverpool is, everyone is sick of hearing that tune. But I confess that, when I put my mind to it, I was excited by how many different places there are to go and things that one can do. There are obvious gems and hidden treasures, from museums and galleries to underground Victorian tunnels and mad buildings; from festivals and pubs to the city’s endless, industrious music scene (I missed the way that, here, everyone is in a band).
I hope to see as many of these delights as I can before I once again decide to follow the true Liverpool Dream: to fuck off and bang on about how great the city is from as far away as possible.
As I undergo my Liverpool adventure, all posts will be imaginatively tagged “Liverpool“. If you have any suggestions of places to go, things to do and people to see, post them below in the comments.
I’ll leave the last word to one of the city’s most famous sons and a man who inadvertently gave the title to this blog,
A good place to wash your hair, Liverpool – good, soft water.
George Harrison, 1977
Posts filed under Liverpool