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

    Saturday, August 14, 2004
    The right way in
    In Cardiff Central Lloyd Robson remembers falling out with a girlfriend who when travelling from Monmouth insisted on taking the north route into Cardiff, rather than Lloyd's preferred easterly Newport Road:

    furious rows in the car to the city. robbing me of my territory robbing me of that feeling of recharging refuelling once again becoming assimilated & knowing where i am, of what, of being at one with my city, robbing me blind & set me off on a bad storm cloud mood building the continuation of association between cardiff & me as a stroppy bastard. denying me a trip through my homeland. worse: her saying it didn't matter; claiming north road was a nicer route. cheeky bleedin cow. the royal oak. the turn to leo's. from then on i demanded i always do the drive to cardiff. she would fume, sensing a loss of class & control. ...

    You know what Lloyd means. There are right ways in to the city and there are wrong ways. Set me thinking about the right way in to this city.

    The road on which I live offers a direct route into the city, but it is not the right way, for me. Partly because two miles hence it collides with Anfield Road, cowers in the shadow of that famous-stadium-soon-to-be-supermarket, among clusters of redbrick terraces which demonstrate how the football club has clearly failed to share its wealth with its neighbours: rows of abandoned houses, dereliction alongside shining grandstands, high-class vehicles locked behind high-security fences away from the public.

    This route is also not the right way in because from there it passes by the Royal Liverpool Hospital with its massive twelve-storey ward block ("undeniably impressive, if intimidating" - Pevsner), a gloomy sentinel at the top of town, to be avoided if humanly possible.

    I much prefer the dock road route in - heavy industry, parallel railway, breakfast cafes, that Old Hall Street corner now dominated by the impressive Radisson hotel (see yesterday), a shallow rise, a curve, then the breathtaking Liver Building, side streets opening out to the other majestic structures of the city's business district. And the river.

    But the best way into town, I think, is from Toxteth. Any way in from Toxteth. Because any way in from Toxteth brings you to a cathedral, through gorgeous Georgian streets and to the heart of one of the city's creative quarters: Chinatown, the University, Bold Street.

    So below, the view along one of the greatest routes I know: Windsor Street, Liverpool 8. Turn the corner of Admiral Street and the road sweeps down and along to the Cathedral's vast east side. It's all about perspective, vision, direction here. Windsor Street may be home to some of the most marginalised people in Britain but it has no vanishing point. Windsor Street may be one of the poorest streets in one of the poorest cities in the Western world, but it carries wealth in this respect - it is the right way in.