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

    Wednesday, December 19, 2007
    Revolting Liverpudlians

    What a good idea. They've drilled a hole in the latest issue of Nerve and devoted most of its pages to what they're calling the Merseyside Resistance Calendar. It's a magazine which will last all year on my wall, because its theme is a celebration of the 'People's Culture':
    While the official art world has been gearing up for the [Capital of Culture] celebrations, at Nerve we have been burning the midnight oil, collecting stories of activism, resistance and rebellion. We think that a celebration of the 'People's Culture' is in order: the culture that has shaped the city over many years, and won't end with the dawn of 2009.
    January's picture is a photo taken of Mike Jones' mural in the dome of the former People's Centre, Hardman Street. It's an artwork I've strained my neck muscles many times to admire on visits there. A tribute to Liverpool campaigners of many types and eras: 1990s dockers, Peoples Marchers for Jobs, construction workers, womens rights activists, and at their head the undersung slave trade opponent, Edward Rushton. At 19 the ships mate Rushton was blinded by opthalmia which he caught from slaves who he insisted on serving with food and drink, after the rest of the American ship's crew had battened down the hatches on them. He turned his career - and his poet's pen - to fighting slavery, failing to endear himself to Washington by sending them verses like these:
    How can you, who have felt the oppressor's hard hand,
    Who for freedom all perils would brave,
    How can you enjoy peace, while one foot of your land
    Is disgraced by the toil of a slave!
    The Nerve researchers have done us all a service in compiling a calendar which details many moments in our city's history which are vulnerable to being sidelined by the mainstream. It's heartening to report that the people of Liverpool have been revolting for a long time. Usually for very good reasons.

    Photo: Bob Iddon