My travels: L for Liverpool

March 2, 2017

I think I fell in love with Liverpool as soon as I arrived on my first visit, for a university interview: there was cheerful music playing over the loudspeaker system at Lime Street Station, and I never looked back. The interview was a breeze and the offer a doddle and so that’s where I ended up, doing my first degree and also my PGCE, before moving away.

I lived in various different parts of the city: halls of residence (now demolished, I recently learned) on the Greenbank site, then a house about a mile away from which we did a midnight flit after the immersion heater had exploded in the sitting room; just off Edge Lane, and then a couple of years above a florist’s in Anfield, which I loved.

Things about the city: all the Beatles associations – Penny Lane opposite the halls of residence, the glass onion in Sefton Park; the parks themselves, the amazing eateries in various different places, the pubs… the gents’ in the Philharmonic, and Ye Cracke on Rice Street, where we used to hang out in the War Office… the pub-crawl we did on results day. The ferry over the Mersey and forays into darkest Birkenhead where a friend and I would each buy bin-bags full of cheap science fiction to read.

Culturally Liverpool was wonderful: there was the Everyman Theatre, in its old guise and then done up, where I saw so many amazing plays, and ate so many wonderful lunches, and the Bluecoat Gallery where there was a cinema club in which I spent many happy hours getting to know the films of many countries and directors, and eventually there was the marvellous, the surreal Liverpool School of Music Dream and Pun (or something like that!) set up by Ken Campbell, where I enjoyed many bizarre theatrical experiences, including the world premiere of the Illuminatus Trilogy (I still have my handwritten ticket issued by Ken himself). And lots of great concerts in the Mountford Hall at the university.

I’m sure my memories are largely happy ones because my time there coincided with those years of freedom when I was a student, without many cares in the world and in receipt of a grant which paid me to lie on my bed and read books and think about them. And Liverpool did have its grim sides: being burgled, the acquaintance who woke up one morning to find a corpse on the doorstep, the awful poverty in some areas of the city… But I remember the city and its cheerful inhabitants with affection; it will be time to go back soon: there’s an Otto Dix exhibition in the autumn…

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