Yesterday I was speaking to my 83 year old Uncle who is passionate about his home city of Liverpool. He told me he had been over to town to the new museum and to the recently refurbished William Brown Street Library. He said the Library was the most beautiful place he had ever been in. Now my uncle has been to lots and lots of places in his life. He was a Merchant Seaman for years as a young man and traveled to the Baltic to Russia and beyond. He now lives close to the banks of the Mersey and goes down to the river at least three times a week. He knows ships, he understands tides and he is connected to both the city and the river in the same way I feel connected to them.
He said simply, that Liverpool is the best place in the world. It made me happy that he has managed to spend his life living in his perfect place, and it also made me wonder if that is what brings peace and contentment to everyone. Maybe everyone could benefit from spending time in their perfect place. When my Uncle goes down to the prom and looks and the ships, he is without doubt reconnecting with his world. He has had a full life and has 83 years worth of remembering to do. He also looks forward, only last year he went on a cruise to the Baltic States to relive the first voyage he did as a junior seaman.
Now I am not daft and I know there are other great cities in the world, I have even been to some of them. I will argue though that there is a certain magic about Liverpool, and the spirit of the people and the attitude of the city. Much maligned in popular culture, this is still a city that likes to solve problems and to help itself. The City of Culture in 2008 saw an amazing change in the city, not only in investment but in the attitude of the world. Yes we have had the Beatles, the worlds first library, and other great social innovations, but it was in 2008 Liverpool started to look forward.
I don’t believe it is possible to move forward until the past has been dealt with. One of my favourite places in Liverpool is the Maritime Museum and within it you can find the Museum of Slavery. Now many cities may chose to hide this terrible time in history, and it is true that Liverpool was built on the profits from this evil trade, but in Liverpool they have chosen to commemorate this. The exhibition is shocking, heartbreaking and inspiring, I urge you to make time to visit. A city that is able to face up to mistakes and to say sorry is a city of strength.
So, next time you hear a joke about robbing Scousers, and yes those jokes are still about, remember my Uncle. Remember all the families who lost their loved ones in a football fiasco and never gave up fighting for justice. Remember the City that the Iron Lady was too scared to visit, not because she would be hurt, but because the people were unafraid of her. Remember that Liverpool has more people who will help you that hurt you.
I told my Uncle I was starting a Blog. He said, ‘no you’re not, I won’t let you’. I asked him if he knew what a blog was, and explained it was an online diary, he said, ‘you’re not Brenda Jones, I will write to the Daily Mail about you’ I laughed, ‘Bridget Jones???’ he said yes, and then he said ‘the Mail is a hateful newspaper, should be banned’ I do love my Uncle, I love his spirit and his humour, he is the best bit of the best city in the world.