Sunday, 1 August 2010


Liverpool, sweet much mythology so little time. How could four cheeky moptops (pull me finger Paul!) mean so much to so many? And how many of those people leave this fair city disappointed that 'Ferry Cross the Mersey' will never sound so charmingly whimsical again?

The first thing I noticed about Liverpool was how underwhelming the Mathew Street Beatles area was (the original Cavern Club no longer exists), the second being the alarming number of strip clubs. There seemed to be fifteen or more in the space of a few streets, one piss-filled alley literally wall to wall with salubrious establishments. The wittily monikered Moll Teazers (left) was particularly enterprising, managing to combine the cheap sleaziness of the sex industry with a nostalgic Beatles tip at the Eleanor Rigby hotel. I wondered what the Wives And Girlfriends did as their pissed up menfolk shoved sweaty, coke-rimmed fivers down the tooth-floss of their high school classmates (or are they Romanian sex-slaves)?  Then I noticed 'free bubbly for the ladies' at the Thursday Ladies Night (below) at tacky antipodean venue Walkabout. Mystery solved! Not too sure if it was a great victory for feminism or merely the lowest common denominator form of Liverpudlian entertainment - not only 'normal' but presumably 'fun' and 'harmless' as well.

Liverpool's city walls were dotted with gigantic, bewildering messages of doom painted sky high on the sides of decrepit buildings. Asking dystopian, cryptic questions like Do You Care? or the brilliant Do You Want To Die Old And Slow Or Young And Tragic? (right), this public probing was giving rise to a creeping sense of existential unease until I turned a corner to be confronted by a massive Do You Believe In God??? Phew, I thought, just the crazy musings of a bunch of northern religious zealots then...I thought the religion here was shopping? 

After sampling the delights of the seagull shat-upon city centre I decided to cut my losses and head straight for the fabulous Albert Dock area (above), centre of Liverpool's important trading, storage and migration history. This part of town (its touristy redevelopment obvious) very pleasantly contrasted the depressed centre - featuring all the chattering class' favourites including waterfront pubs, organic cafes and of course the Liverpool branch of the Tate Gallery (below). I visited the excellent Museum of Slavery instead however, wanting my museum experience to be more intrinsic to the Liverpool area and its history than what Picasso could offer. The museum charted the history of the international slave trade from the African and Atlantic coasts, outlining the enormous  socio-economic effects the industry had and its shaping of modern world. Certainly an illuminating and educational experience. 

Unfortunately, the famous Mersey ferry didn't quite measure up to the swinging 60s anglophile imaginings I conjured up whenever I heard Gerry and the Pacemaker's evocative tune. The Mersey itself was a muddy light brown, made even less appealing by the huge waterfront exhaust building crudely pumping out Liverpool's grime up the chattering class' and tourists noses alike (not to mention the local commuters' twice daily dose). The ferry seemed to be full of local oldies, chavtastic families and a smattering of young hipsters (below - where did they come from?)...all enjoying the afternoon sun whilst holding their noses. A great day for a day trip Liverpool...but I'd save the ferry ride for Manly or Staten Island.


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