White cumuli hang lazily in a milky blue sky as we angle up to Merseyside. Everywhere about us there must be party campaigners canvassing surly voters on their suburban doorsteps. They say Corbyn is gaining, the gap between Labour and Tories narrowing. This is good for ratings. Do we pray for a hung parliament leading to a coalition of “progressives”? Will the exit from the EU be fudged leading to a cataclysm? The soldiers and civil servants who run the secret state must be curious about this. The game is not completely rigged and the house does not always win but it’s best to expect stalemate and disappointment. However, there is no reason why the divisiveness and hatred instilled by the reactionary British press over Europe can’t lead to civil war. I would imagine they have thought about this. How will they keep us quiet? How will they, at all costs, defend the realm?
We load in to Hangar 34, one of those industrial club venues you find all over Europe. I take my usual constitutional around the environs of the gig. We’re essentially in Williamsburg, New York. It’s an old warehouse/factory zone now studded with designers’ offices, cafés and bakeries. Fucking bakeries. There’s a ludicrously over-priced “vintage” hole run by a canny lassie selling tat. She’s asking eight quid for an old Alan Price album. She has the first two Gilbert O’Sullivan albums, obviously her idea of kitsch. Someone, now dead, has kept them in impeccable nick. Previously loved. I have a coffee on the main drag. In the four glass-fronted former industrial units over the road, hip types are gathered around boardroom tables having brainstorming sessions or staring into desktop screens with arms stretched out over keyboards like zombie pianists. They work on public display like Amsterdam whores. They used to make things here now they make ideas that become a “thing”. There are plenty of derelict workshops among the new-builds and re-fits to keep it scuzzy. It’s pretty cool. But one day it’ll be overrun by the buggy-pushing bourgeoisie who come down from their condos to gambol amongst the grime. I nip into an outdoor pop-up style cocktail bar on the way back to the venue and order a Virgin Mary. As I sip, an eviscerating thirst for a cigarette speeds through me like a moment of derangement which I tamp with loathing and fury. After soundcheck I stroll to the Mersey, rust-brown under folds of cloud. At Albert Dock I sit at a bench and stare across the river. The guard chain in front of me is clotted with the weight of rusting padlocks representing that ghastly side of couples who wish to declaim their love like it’s something important and special. It’s what we do, people. A seagull lands with a thump on the plastic cover of a street lamp above me. I admire its pristine plumage and yellow beak. I bet he doesn’t go proclaiming his romantic commitment to the universe. He just feeds, fucks and shits and that’s about all there is.
16 Responses to “To Liverpool ”
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A few years ago I wrote something about padlocks and bridges, too:
I cross the wooden bridge, its planks all soaked and slippery from sleet. The river’s a thick, brown soup beneath my feet, carrying faded plastic bags and torn-up love letters to their uncertain grave.
Fastened to the railing, numerous padlocks hold on to the painted iron structure in a desperate embrace. ‘P+D’, ‘E♡K’, and ‘G+J 4EVR’ – scribbled in shaky, clumsy letters on their brassy surface. A naive token of eternal love, fastened to what must seem to be forever to a teenagers’ heart.
In the unforgiving daylight their love and their tokens are as flimsy as the bridge itself, ready to be washed away by the first flood of spring. In other news, Easter’s a dud.
Liverpool/Glasgow – same fucking place.
Heard you say that once. Probably make a decent song.
Well played sir, you’re a fucking genius and Rangari are boss.
We tell stories to escape our most painful truths.
Indeed. Like a locked-rate amour gauge.
Scotland’s Charles Bukowski..loved your gig at hangar 34 last night..no surrender was the best I’ve ever heard you do..come back soon YNWA
We were bemoanibg the padlock craze today as we wsljed along the waterfront. Idiots. Loved the show ladt night.