I’m a Scouser – with the often misplaced sense of pride that comes with it because, for all I have spent most of my adult life in Blackpool, I still feel like an exile here.
We’re a mawkish lot, by and large, with an overblown sentimental attachment to the city because it is a grand city, no mistake, and my heart always beats faster once I get there.
It’s my birthplace. But it’s not home. I wouldn’t want to live there again. I returned to work there, and opted to live on the Wirral and commute to the heart of the city daily – thus alienating those of my relatives who lived in the city proper or the outskirts.
I had crossed The River, a bit like crossing the Styx, minus the pennies on my eyes, but blind to the charms of city living proper. I travelled in by train, or my old motorbike via the Tunnel or the ferry, which left me with claustrophobia whenever I enter a tunnel, because of the number of times my bike broke down and left me choking in the fumes there, and a lasting antipathy to Gerry and the Pacemakes and Ferry Cross the Mersey.
The last time I went, earlier this year, on one of those el cheapo £19 breaks, to an hotel on Albert Dock, I did the works... the Red Hot buffet at Liverpool One, the museums, the Tate, Paddy’s Wigwam, the Philharmonic, and, before leaving, braved the Yellow Duckmarine, one of my all time favourite fun tourist experiences. It’s a Second World War landing vehicle ... I’ve been on one previously in the Falklands ... which not only tours the city but splashes down in the Salthouse Dock, before making its way back to Albert Dock. It’s a laugh a minute. Correction, several laughs a minute.
But it’s made me a tourist in my own city, for all the local taxi drivers told me “you can leave the city, but it never leaves you” and they’re right.
And that’s why, finally getting to the point of this preamble and ramble, I don’t really share the Liverpool community’s collective outrage at Ringo Starr for saying he didn’t miss anything about Liverpool, the city of his birth, which led to the beheading of a topiary figure purporting to depict him ... and his latest apology now he’ s back on tour in the UK.
The garden of John Lennon’s childhood home is being restored to how it was under a university research project, backed by Yoko Ono. No topiary there, I reckon.
Ringo Starr’s old house at Madryn Street is now boarded up. Mine’s been demolished in Everton Valley. If someone restored the garden there to how it was, it would be full of debris from the Second World War.
The 100-year-old gates to the old children’s home of Strawberry Fields – forever? – have been replaced with a replica.
Nothing lasts forever. Like the song goes. nothing is real and nothing to get hung about. Living is easy with eyes closed. Time to open them and see where home really is...