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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Tuesday, November 11, 2003
    Two short walks in the city centre yesterday, inspired by the excellent Exeter mis-GUIDE. Both using the same strict pattern: first right, second left, first left, and repeat......

    WALK A: From Central Library, William Brown Street - this took me into familiar territory, beginning with a short snake around the new Queens Square hotel / restaurant development (fake cobbles, stainless steel artworks celebrating Liverpool life), meandering up through the business end of town back down via the Mathew Street / Button Street warren and the concrete wash behind M&S and George Henry Lees, to the busy bus lanes of Queen Square. On the way I decided to observe women carrying cigarettes. There were five:
      Crosshall Street - a harassed-looking businesswoman (or perhaps a solicitor from the magistrates courts);
      Mathew Street - an Italianesque tourist in her twenties, at the door of the Cavern Shop with two friends;
      Tarleton Street - a middle-aged shopper struggling with M&S carrier bags;
      Queen Square - sunbed-bronze fortysomething shopper, long black coat, with her matching friend;
      Crossing Byrom Street by the tunnel entrance - student with a Meg White kinda look.
    I also made two detours in Queen Square:
      Music Zone - to get Pink Floyd's first two albums on cd at knockdown prices;
      The Tourist Information Shop - to price up the scale model SuperLambBananas (cheaper than the Tate) and cast a critical eye over their new ceramic Liver Birds (tacky)
    WALK B: From the car park behind William Brown Street (under Byrom Street flyover) - this was unfamiliar territory so more interesting to me, circling me around the housing estate on the site of the celebrated, late lamented Gerrard Gardens. The highlight was discovering, on Christian Street, this monument to building workers killed at work.

    Unveiled by UCATT's General Secretary George Brumwell on International Workers Memorial Day, 28th April 2002, it's Britain's first permanent national memorial of its kind. Looking up at it against a blue, EasyJet-scarred sky, it's impressive. Other observations included:

    Cars - noise and fumes as nowhere else in the city centre, experienced when walking beneath the flyover wall down Hunter Street (which no one ever usually does), the sheer impossibility of crossing Byron Street without faith or fear;

    Contrast - the Gerrard Gardens site, like so many other inner-city estates, quiet through impoverishment, people chatting in car-less closes while the city's brutal traffic thunders in the background, hundreds of vehicles per minute;

    Views - this is where land begins to rise towards the heights of Everton: here just higher than the city centre's tallest buildings, the perspective makes them seem to tumble together towards the river;

    Old buildings made new - a school now set aside for adult education / job training, a pub and a chapel now bases for unmarked businesses.