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Tag Archives Liverpool

NO SURRENDER

Before the six counties of Northern Island

had civil rights, when some subjects had two votes

and some had none, and our constitution

permitted such injustice, I was woken,

in my third floor student digs on Newsham Drive,

Liverpool, early one summer Saturday

by pipes and drums and accordions.

The city’s Orange Lodges were having

their family day out in Newsham Park –

more than ninety Lodges each with a band

of swagger and lilt: ‘The Sash My Father Wore’,

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CELEBRITY

Bought for the Coronation,  our first TV

had a nine inch screen. It stood in a corner

of the front room. My grandmother, who

had outlived two husbands, two World Wars,

and once had tea with Buffalo Bill,

thought that those appearing on ‘the box’

could see those watching, so was discerning

about whom she chose to watch, and when.

 

She particularly liked ‘What’s My Line?’, an import

from America, in which a panel

of four TV ‘personalities’

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THE GUN EMPLACEMENT

For Doreen Levin

 

He was on duty the night Liverpool burned.

They watched the orange glow over in the east.

He remembered the convoy earlier that day

strung out along the horizon, waiting

for high tide. The Lance Jack, Scouser One,

told them where it was. One of the Taffies said,

‘My brother’s there too’, leaving things unspoken.

 

In the silence Saul wondered if Tilbury

was being done as well, the bombs drifting,

as usual,

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ORGANISED CRIMES

I watched the TV parade of affluent

(and mostly public school) chancers, liars,

fantasists, hypocrites, law-breakers

vie to top each other’s warmed-up clichés

and self-serving platitudes. The social

and economic future dystopia most

seemed to desire would, they assured us,

bring out the British best in all of us,

just like the Blitz. I thought of bomb-razed

building lots in major cities still empty –

and a tale a cabby told me years ago,

taxiing me from the railway station.

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OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS

i.m. John Wareham

 

The tide of chance may bring
Its offer; but nought avails it!

THE OPPORTUNITY Thomas Hardy

 

Each week on Tuesday promptly at seven –

chicken curry and chips from Barry Wong’s

on West Derby Road at the ready –

he and I would turn on the TV

in our rented rooms to watch Hughie Greene’s

‘Opportunity Knocks’.  It was an hour –

including adverts – of metaphors

of the mid-sixties: kitsch;

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ORGANISED CRIMES

I watched the TV parade of affluent

(and mostly public school) chancers, liars,

fantasists, hypocrites, law-breakers

vie to top each other’s warmed-up clichés

and self-serving platitudes. The social

and economic future dystopia most

seemed to desire would, they assured us,

bring out the British best in all of us,

just like the Blitz. I thought of bomb-razed

building lots in major cities still empty,

and a tale a cabby told me years ago,

taxiing me from the railway station.

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CONVALESCENCE

We drove towards the River Dee – down walled lanes

with rhododendrons festooning the sandstone,

their attic blooms in imperial colours –

to visit a doughty friend convalescing,

from two knee replacements, in Seize The Day,

a recently opened upmarket care home.

 

As we turned into the drive, I realised

that this, long before rebuilding, was where

my mother had first trained to be a nurse –

sixteen, with her friend, Belle. They cared for children

with TB from the Liverpool slums.

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53 WILLIAM STREET

Our DNA is filled with wondrous

commonplaces, luminous platitudes:

refugees from pogroms in the Ukraine,

refugees from the Famine in Connaught.

*

This was the house my mother’s family moved to

from 7 Moses Street, off Sefton Park Road,

Liverpool, three years before she was born;

Ma, Da, her two small sisters, her two teenage

step brothers; a rented end of terrace –

with gas, running water, outside privy –

in a cobbled cul-de-sac, where bread

still warm was delivered in the Co-op’s

horse drawn van,

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LIVERPOOL, 3RD MAY 1941

This is one of the great public, civic

spaces of the world – the museum,

the library, the gallery, the court house,

Wellington’s column, the Steble fountain,

the Empire Theatre, Lime Street Station,

St George’s Hall,  St John’s Gardens, vistas

of the river, the Wirral, the Welsh hills…

 

During the worst raid of the Liverpool Blitz

the museum was set ablaze – a bomb,

one of so many, supposedly

for the docks, that razed history, neighbourhoods.

My grandmother,

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A SILK PURSE: THE EVERYMAN THEATRE, LIVERPOOL

Before it was the Everyman Theatre

it was Hope Hall Cinema – and bar –

frequented by Dooley, Henri, McGough,

the Liverpool Scene. I saw Jean Renoir’s

1939 black and white ‘La Règle

du Jeu’ – Chekhovian, dystopian

entre deux guerres – in what was an untouched

dissenters’ chapel four-square between

the two cathedrals on Hope Street.

 

It became a theatre known for new writing,

new music – all with a political edge

and with humour,

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