Liverpool, England

I was born in Liverpool, so were both my parents and most of my relatives. Now, I don’t have one relative in the city. While in the ‘pool I always lived with my parents. I left the city when I was 21 to live and work in Macclesfield but I returned two years later to work on the St. John’s Market redevelopment, a large downtown project. My mother was knocked down by a police car in 1971 and died after six months in hospital. My father died two years later.

My father’s family had left Liverpool and emigrated to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania early in the century, but they returned to Liverpool on the day the first world war broke out. I had four uncles and two aunts on my father’s side and two aunts and an uncle on my mother’s side. My mother was a twin but her sister died while she was still an infant. Her brother died during the second world war. All my uncles and aunts are dead now. I have two sisters and used to have eight cousins. Only one cousin has died so far.

Liverpool is on the North Bank of the river Mersey and has a population of about ¾ of a million. Its main reason d’être was the port, but now, like most ports, containers and bulk carriers have dramatically reduced the size of the necessary workforce. Efforts to move the car industry to the area in the 60’s failed and unemployment is high. I saw a picture of the Mersey recently. The river was empty of shipping. This depressed me for several days.

Being a port exposes the citizens to external influences and immigrants. Ships bring waves of relocating citizenry from other parts. In the past many set up home in the port. There were waves of Scottish, Welsh and lastly the Irish who added a large Catholic population to the city. This upset many of the established Protestants.

Many of the immigrants were near destitute when they arrived. The Liverpool character has a toughness and stubbornness born of the hard times. It also embodies a perverse sense of humor. Originally scouse was a meat stew, but without the meat. The term scouse has been extended to refer to both Liverpudlians and the local dialect. It is de rigueur to make a joke about everything possible. In the ‘pool a Manchester screwdriver is a hammer.

Football(soccer to the North Americans) is the third religion of the city. The city has two football teams Liverpool, and Everton. At one time would you do if God came to Liverpool’. Underneath some wag wrote ‘Move StJohn to inside right’.

The city has two of the world’s last cathedrals to be completed. (photos or links) They are dramatically different in style. Sir Giles Scott, a catholic, designed the Anglican cathedral and a Protestant (I’ll find his name one day) designed the Catholic cathedral. Sir Giles also designed the Red British telephone box, which is best exemplified by the Tardis of Dr. Who fame. Mind you, Sir Giles wanted to paint them green.

Liverpool is perhaps best known for the Liverpool sound exemplified by the Beetles. They’ve had too much attention already, so I won’t talk about them, except to say the accent they use on TV isn’t the accent they used at school.

The world’s longest motor tunnel joins Liverpool to Birkenhead, which is over the water on the South Bank of the Mersey. The nearest bridge is 20 miles up river so the other way of crossing the river is by ferry. Which sounds like a cue for a song.

I learned to swim at Cornwallis Street baths. They had separate plunges for men and women so nude bathing was permitted. Not that I did such a thing, but many did. The baths were unusually in that they were filled brine. At one time many of the lifts (elevators) in the city were powered by hydraulics. Brine was piped under the city streets to various buildings and it was still in use in 1965 when I last worked there. I know because we wanted to dig up some of these pipes but were told not to.