Our day out: Buxton

Another sunny day and no work that needs urgently doing for either of us, so we get in the car and set off to our mystery destination.

Here's a clue to where it is.

Here’s a clue to where it is.

Oh, given it away with the title of the piece already.

Yes, we've come to genteel, elegant, Georgian spa-town Buxton.

Yes, we’ve come to genteel, elegant, Georgian spa-town, Buxton.

And I for one haven't been here since 1973.

And I for one haven’t been here since 1973.

In 1972 and ’73 I’d passed through here on my way to the Buxton Pop Festival. Hitching to a farm in the hills nearby. I can’t now imagine why I came back for the second year. Continue reading

It’s Liverpool, August 1914: There are giants on the streets

Liverpool Pals, Exchange Flags, August 1914.

Liverpool Pals and their families, Exchange Flags, August 1914.

It’s Liverpool, in August 1914 and there are giants on the streets. Not giants in terms of stature because many of them are just boys really. But giant hearts, giant dreams and giant love. For and from the boys and their sweethearts and their sisters and their brothers. Most of whom are laughing and cheering like they’re setting off on some giant outing. But also for and from their mothers and fathers and the older ones. Who’ve seen wars before and have seen this one coming for a while now, and so are quieter. More thoughtful, more worried.

And it’s not just the streets of Liverpool where there are giants. There are giants on the streets of Blackburn  and Accrington, Glasgow and Bruges, Vienna and Paris and Berlin. Sons of everyone’s sons, marching to war.

Because this is how it is. If the call comes from your country you go, you don’t question it. It’s your duty. This time though, there has been just the hint of the edge of the question being raised. The question ‘Why?’ And so volunteers have been encouraged to volunteer together. Assured they will be kept together. Whatever happens they will be Pals together, in their own battalions. Continue reading

In Liverpool: Granby and Homebaked

As if the news about Eldon Grove yesterday wasn’t enough, I’m back with more bits of good news about two of my other favourite places in Liverpool. There are now, at last, builders beginning work in Granby 4 Streets. And in Anfield, Homebaked are now certain they won’t lose their bakery building to demolition.

Arriving in Granby the lavender is in full flower.

Arriving in Granby the lavender is in full flower.

And there are builder's trucks in Cairns Street.

And there are builder’s trucks in Cairns Street.

On the corner of Beaconsfield people are starting to gather.

On the corner of Beaconsfield people are starting to gather.

This is the beginning of a day which will see the launch of the National Community Land Trust Network. Previously a part of the National Housing Federation, but as of now an independent charity in its own right. And doing a national launch in Liverpool? Well, because we are the home of two of the most significant urban CLTs. Yes, Granby 4 Streets and Homebaked. Continue reading

Eldon Grove: Good news

Eldon Grove, Liverpool 3

Eldon Grove, Liverpool 3

Eldon Grove is to be saved. The lease on it is in the process of being transferred to Liverpool Mutual Homes, who will restore it.

The news came to me through the unlikely avenue of a picture of Bill Shankly:

Bill Shankly at Eldon Grove, 1960s.

Bill Shankly at Eldon Grove, 1960s.

I’d seen the picture before but always enjoy seeing the great man in one of my favourite places.

Anyway, it’s a rainy Saturday ‘wet play’ sort of morning and I’m idly checking through Twitter, when the Bill photo almost distracts me from what else is being said. Here’s the full exchange once I get involved: Continue reading

In the neighbourhood: Books and bread

Off in a different direction to a different library than my usual ones, for a book I particularly want.Neighbourhood01I’ve just finished reading ‘May we be forgiven’ by American novelist A.M. Homes. After an uncertain start where I mainly stuck with the book on the advice of Jeanette Winterson who’d said:

“This is the great American novel for our time”

I then got completely involved in the story and am subsequently looking in the back of this novel for what else she’s written. That’s where I find out about ‘The Mistress’s Daughter’.

“On the day that she was born in 1961, A.M. Homes was given up for adoption. Her birth parents were a twenty-two-year-old woman and an older, married man. Thirty-one years later, out of the blue, they tracked her down. ‘The Mistress’s Daughter’ is a riveting account of what happened next.”

Yes, this one’s not a novel, it’s a memoir. I check in the catalogue of Liverpool City Libraries and find I can pick up a copy of the book in three libraries. Continue reading

As time goes by: with Harry Nilsson on Roscommon Street

In which I walk the hills of North Liverpool, singing at the top of my voice!

It’s very nearly a year now since I started buying LPs again and it’s going very well, thanks for asking. More new stuff is being put out on vinyl now it looks like it will outlast CDs, and recently our house has been singing out loud to new LPs by local band Bird (swooning keening ethereal good), East Kilbride’s Pearlfishers, Blue Nile’s Paul Buchanan and the sublimely gorgeous ‘Hendra’ by Ben Watt.

Nearly a year in, the LPs.

Nearly a year in, the LPs.

But obviously a lot of the records that have come in over the year have been old stuff from charity shops, and it’s one of them I want to write about. £2.99 from Oxfam, as perfect an album as you could possibly get, by Harry Nilsson.

'A little touch of Schmilsson in the night'

‘A little touch of Schmilsson in the night’

Harry had first come to my attention, and everyone else’s in the late 1960s when Beatles publicist Derek Taylor arrived back from the USA with a box of Harry’s first RCA album ‘Pandemonium Shadow Show’. He loved it so much he gave a copy to all of his friends, including our beloved boys, who immediately told the rest of us about Harry. Continue reading

The Skyroad: Imagining the Flyover

An owl has arrived with a message for Kate Stewart.

Kate is surprised. Everyone's surprised at the moment their owl arrives.

Kate is surprised. Everyone’s surprised at the moment their owl arrives.

Here is the message:

All of you from Friends of the Flyover have done brilliantly well. An idea’s just an idea until you can show that it works. Well today you have. Today you have shown that if these two spurs of an unloved and unwanted flyover can be given as a gift to the people of Liverpool, instead of being demolished, then the people will cherish them and turn them into things of beauty. Today Kate your ideas have taken wing and nothing now can stop them from coming true.

I know this with the wisdom of an owl and I give you the gift of my certainty.

All my good wishes,

Lunar the Owl”

Here’s the place Lunar is talking about. Continue reading