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

    Thursday, December 06, 2007
    "Oh Liverpool, oh life!" - oh, stop it
    "Oh Liverpool, oh life!" - oh, stop it. Read too much of the Mersey Minis book series in one go and you get sick of the incessant exaltation of a city sentimentalised by outsiders who just passed through on a good day, expatriots seeing it through the naïve lenses of childhood memories and - worst of all - people who've lived here all their lives refusing to engage with the complexities, injustices and contradictions of the place, just lauding it like it were the unblemished heavenly crystal city. (I quote:) "the voice of its streets are deeper than all roses". Whaaaat?

    I first blogged about Mersey Minis here and my overall opinion of them hasn't changed, now all five have been published (and I've had four delivered, Volume Two presumably falling victim to the postal strike). They are a beautifully produced and collectable set of books, and what I like best about their design are the linocuts by Clare Curtis. Having discovered that she's selling prints of them I'll be down to Editions tomorrow (on my annual do it all in one go Christmas shopping trip) to price them up, maybe bring one home.

    I may carry back a couple of boxed sets of these books in my shopping bag, too, because they're well worth sharing. And I'll be recommending to whoever gets them that they read them in small doses. Because inbetween the sentimentality, the over-reliance on the port metaphor and the overemphasis on the city centre and bohemian L8/L17 there are also many entries which sparkle with truthfulness, awkwardness, daft and frankly shameful stories from the streets.
    Street door bursts noisily open. Heads turn. It's the woman who sells the Echo, a bundle of papers under her arm. 'Echo! Echo! Echo!' Front page banner headline screams 'JOHN LENNON SHOT DEAD CRAZED GUNMAN CHARGED'. 'Hey doll' shouts a drinker 'gimme allofthem...be worth a lot one day.' Muted snorts of laughter. Heads shaking in disbelief. This is Liverpool. Imagine.
    - Walter Menzies, Shot Dead, in Mersey Minis Volume Three: Longing.