Today I stayed and worked in Liverpool.
You may be wondering why this should be significant for me, especially as I live in Gloucester. Well, I haven’t always lived in the south west of the country. I used to live in Liverpool. I lived there for almost four years at the end of the 1970s and I have rarely been back since.
It is to my eternal discredit that I have not returned more often. As a lifelong supporter of the red team in the city, you would have thought I would have had numerous excuses to visit. Indeed, there have been many times when I have either wanted or, at least, thought about returning for a visit. Yet, it is shameful that I have only been back no more than three times since leaving in 1980.
My time in Liverpool was as a student, where I studied to be a teacher. As such, Liverpool became almost a second home to me. It was, after all, the first place I lived on my own; away from parents. It was, therefore, a key part of my growing up and my development. That is why the city plays an important part in my personal history.
Today, I only had the opportunity to stay one night and to lead a half day training. Which, I know, is hardly enough. What this did afford me, though, was the opportunity to drive up from Speke and across the city centre to Sandhills. Normally, I guess, the thought of driving through a city centre would fill anyone with dread, it certainly does me but, as chance would gave it, this seemed the best option available to me. Jolly pleased I am, too, that I did it because it afforded me views of the city which I probably would not have had had I taken the train. I’ll overlook the fact that most of these views were taken while stationary in traffic.
What struck me about the city as I drove through, was how much it had changed. This probably should not have surprised me, after all, most places have changed a lot since the 1970s. However, Liverpool centre has really changed and really changed for the better. With its tall, modern glass and steel structures, the city has a vibrant atmosphere of a modern dynamic city. Sure, a lot of the old buildings are still there, many of them still coated in the grime that characterised the city in the dull days of the 1970s but these stood alongside an attractive bright modern metropolis.
After the training session, I had to travel across country to Lincoln, so had no time to visit and look around the city. Nevertheless, the drive back did take me out of the city via some of the areas I knew well from my time living there. What struck me about these areas was how bright they were. Travelling through Clubmoor and down Queens Drive, it seemed evident that the views seemed more ‘open’ than I recalled from my time there. It took me a while to reason why this seemed so …
Many of the trees were missing!
Now I am certainly not usually the type of person to cheer about the loss of trees, especially in an urban environment, where nature is often rare already. Yet, the apparent removal of trees around Clubmoor seemed to make the area much more open than the dark shaded area of my younger days. How the city seemed the better for it!
In my days living in Liverpool, there was a feeling that the city was often overlooked in favour of nearby Manchester. It always seemed that any investment, public or private, seemed to go to Manchester rather than to Liverpool, to the extent that Liverpool often seemed like the poor relation of that other city. I guess that may still be the case but it is great to see Liverpool fighting back and holding its head up.
it was also great for me to listen to the scouse accent(s) and experience their humour. In this regard, this is probably something which Liverpool holds in common with other northern communities, especially Newcastle (another city I love).
On my way out, I saw a traffic sign pointing to the Football Stadia. Stadia, you’ll note, not stadiums. Kudos to the city for getting this right.