Then down Princes Avenue at night; rainy swish of time-passing cars. Soggy allée lined axon, fortified by myelin sheath-like Victorian terraced houses; relinquished buds of merchant profiteering. Their antics were the very creations of this direct (and contradictory) flow; from colonised sea to city centre (extracted labour) to its domesticated park (bestowed morals). Scarred pavements jump up and trip.
Now only weed-like communities inevitably emerge among relics of capital.
A universally sight; such severed genealogical memories surely offer borrowed stages for adaptive reuse and un-self conscious constructions.
But rather than attempting, or being allowed to produce newer semi-independent forms of dendrites many houses get gutted out, boarded up, split down and merely re-placed by orderly dwellings of humdrum ambitions. All in the currently impossible hope of regenerating this old hierarchical flow of creative destructive dependence, ironically through the cultural tourism trade.
‘If the slave trade had gone, there’s an end to our lives,
Beggars all we must be, children and wives,
No ships from our ports, their proud sails e’er would spread,
And our streets grown with grass, where the cows might be fed’
Ok, maybe that’s a bit too harsh an observation, and an altogether common one for a common reality, it’s definitely trying too hard to sound lyrical.... It’s been two years and this is a reason why I’m back-not to see friends, I had none-but the Biennial, as planned in my previous journal, a self fulfilling future now present and ready for re-scripting in an unchanged stage.
Instead I imagine giving a speech about the city, in a recorded interview about my past. I've won an art prize of sorts. I don’t know what for (this is something I’m allowed to overlook) but it takes place in this city, which explains why I’m giving the speech.
It goes; “I wasn't born here but I know of fewer places in the world more welcoming. Even for a soft southerner like myself (this is met with laughter followed by applause)
“... And although I couldn't possibly speak for all of Liverpool it seems to be a city that has always been proud of itself, not through ignorance but through...human necessity. Perhaps this is why I relate to it and why it is eternally a second home to me.”
One time a child asked me if I liked surprises, before his friend jumped out from behind this abandoned fence. Shock and surprise may be what punctuates memory but the laughter which followed is more possibly re-experienced in the present, even if its power lessens over revisits. I think of that huge puppet which walked through the city, dragging carnivalesque masses with it. Of unearthing an amateur playground constructed from tarpaulin and swelled bricks. Of past public art works greeted with polite indifference and the unveiling of the new city museum on the docks, which initially seemed like a bite-sized collection of the surrounding museums for lazy tourists. Now it tells local stories too. Of coming back this way from Kavanagh's drizzly drunk.
A pack of young laas (lads) linger between flickering ambers at the junction I must cross. I feel a waft of danger whizz past my head.
“Ear, come’n-en swaggah”
They are hurling mud rocks at me.
In Cairns street I witnessed spouts of outdoor plant pots guarding self-satisfied residents, which years later I discover was not quite 'weed-like' but part of Assemble's community prize-winning project.
And whilst this similarly occupied my own interests then (I dreamt of a night fest/street disco. With glow-in-the-dark paint on boarded windows and drug/candy stalls in each front garden, highlighting passers-by and put-out police). I still preferred those alien walks. Tumbleweed clearing the mind, under rubble forlorn and a twitching curtain.