Day Off, Liverpool
Our hotel is a ’70s brown brick building refitted to resemble an art-deco ocean liner. So I went out roaming last night after the gig like a sailor on a 24 hour pass. Town was pretty dead around midnight but I followed some young folk and found the party zone where fast food was plentiful. It’s pleasant, when sober, weaving amongst the drunken as long as you don’t have to talk to them. I wouldn’t suffer myself after four drinks for a second.
In the early afternoon I begin preliminary exploration of the liner’s locale. I stop by the big 1960s Catholic cathedral which on close inspection is impressive, lovely even. A bronzed fitness fucker, tooled up with wraparound shades and a Fitbit is huffing up and down its steps, Rocky style. Inside I take one circuit, admiring its open-plan layout and enormous crown chandelier. It has a touch of Sagrada Familia about it. On leaving I notice the Anglican cathedral framed within the doorway in a sectarian face-off. I duck into a basement bar with a sunny garden and have lunch. A huddle of dressed-up, retired women come out to smoke fags and chat around me. One has a niece called Breeze, so named because she “breezed into the world”. That’s better than Breach, I assume. For the sake of something to do I head for the red sandstone cliffs of the other cathedral. I’m greeted by a clergycunt just beyond the wooden donations trough. “First time here?” he intones in the sycophantic yet smug manner of the deeply pious. I mutter the affirmative and brush past him. I don’t wish to be whispered to by a vicar. I might blurt out that I hate God and the phrase “evensong” makes me want to vomit. Somebody phones so I duck outside for a bit then return through the exit door to avoid the man in the red cassock. I buy a ticket for the tower and take two tiny lifts to the top. The Mersey flows broad and silver around, taking a distant ferry out to sea. It’s a perfect day for sightseeing, warm, slow and empty. After my descent I have a tea on a little balcony café above the obligatory gift shop. There’s no religion today, just steady trade. What would Jesus say? He’d be pissing himself laughing if he had half a brain. Look at the crazy shit they built in the name of my mountain of gobbledegook. On the way down the hill I pass three Tibetan monks making their way to the church. They have orange and maroon robes and skinheads. They’re smiling blandly. Christ, I’m glad to be godless.
The centre has been drastically rearranged and developed since I first started coming here in the mid-eighties. Like Glasgow and Manchester, Liverpool was a colossal mess. There are new structures everywhere. They’ve opened up a lot more public space but there’s a real lack of trees and parkland. The waterfront is the only place you can get any air on a warm day. It reminds me of Barcelona. It’s a proper port city, more so than Glasgow, whose town centre is quite remote from the former yards and docks. It still has huge character and a unique feel.
I return to ship in the early evening, my cabin crammed with my road gear. I stream some unsatisfactory sounds. Spotify seems to think I’m a middle-aged male who only listens to melodic alternative rock. This is a good guess on its part but I’d like a bit of reggae or metal or techno now and then. Or jazz. If fucking Father John Misty comes up one more time I’m calling the authorities. Elton John for arts graduates. I’m pining for a decent new thing. This Bedouine woman has a nice voice – Joni Mitchell meets Peggy Lee. But there’s only one song so who knows. Bad Parents? Ech, I dunno…Richard Dawson is interesting.
At dusk I go foraging for a restaurant that suits the solo traveller and find a substandard Asian chain that fits the bill. I wallop down the spiced gruel they throw at me and take an amble back to the vessel through the warm dark streets of Lady Liverpool. Round the back of the station I see two enormous rats, one splattered on the pavement, one dashing across a carpark. Let’s call them Lennon and McCartney for the sake of symmetry. This complex, heated, restless city is the fountain of all pop; they invented something here that will not stop. You might be considered as scum but you can be clever and beautiful. And you can rule the world.