It’s weird, being back in Liverpool after so long. I got into Lime Street, walked down past Clayton Square to Central Station and the memories rushed back up like a dodgy kebab.
I grew up in Edinburgh, only moving away when I was in my mid-forties. Now, when I visit the place, I start to drown in memories. Show me a pub and there’s a fifty-fifty chance I remember an event that took place there. So many streets have embedded memories; someone who lived there, an event that took place there, something someone once told me about the place.
Liverpool’s like that for me now. Walking past pubs, remembering specific nights, bus-stops where particular conversations happened. And the platform on Central Station, waiting on the Kirkby train to get to Kirkdale. The night of the John Foxx and Louis Gordon gig, July 2006. We were bunnied on really good acid when the horde of wee girls got into an altercation with the station staff. As the train pulled away, one of them swung a WHEELCHAIR at the window of our carriage. It was over so fast (in a slow-motion kind of way) pulled off behind us and the massive CLUUNKHH! as it crashed (presumably harmlessly against the doors. We looked at each other. The air around us was filled with tiny sparkles and I could taste them each time I breathed in.
“That never happened, right?” I said to c, my voice slow and thick and heavy as a planet.
c looked at C. C looked back at her.
“What didn’t?” They chorused in their wee scouse accents, wee innocent faces now fixed on me.
Wandering around the city centre, I’m amazed at how much of it I’ve forgotten. I walked into Bootle – no problems, it all looks the same. But the city centre? A few landmarks, that’s it.
And, with me living away from cities for the last three years, it all seems so crowded and frenetic – people shoving everywhere, shops spewing distorted musics into the huge pedestrian-jam I’m thrown around in. It’s like being in the matmos. Less than twenty-four hours back here and I’m already thinking – at least part of the time – in a scouse accent. Actually, it’s more of a Kirkdale accent, which is how I learned to speak scouse when I was in my mid-forties.
Why not read the novel that started it all? 1919 (inside)
A love story – on home-made acid – narrated by someone first used romatically, then set on fire, by the blue peter team, capering around the pyre like wrinkled vikings.