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

    Sunday, January 19, 2003
    Helpful city
    When I get travel expenses for a funeral I like to spend the small amount on something useful / memorable. So, remembering Albert Montague, today I popped into the Walker Art Gallery and picked up Liverpool - The First 1,000 Years, the city's fastest-selling book ever, a great 'popular' history and photographic odyssey through this city's life and people.

    Also trying to get my head around one of next week's assemblies, on the theme of 'Helping Others', this afternoon the two things came together. Reading the book and thinking of those who've gone before, and are still around, helping me to enjoy life in this place ...
      Those old Viking settlers who established Crosby (Old Norse: Village of the Cross) where I lived out most of my first 30-odd years;

      King John, whose desire for hunting created Toxteth Park, a deer forest which, though the deer have gone, remains one of the most beautiful parts of a scenic city;

      The nineteenth-century families whose names survive in our public places - the Holts, Bibbys, Rathbones, Billingtons and others who, ever public-spirited, invested so much in the placeÕs social and cultural infrastructure;

      Good old Kitty Wilkinson, one of the city's 'noble women' in the stained glass window of the Anglican Cathedral's Lady Chapel, who responded to the 1832 cholera epidemic by setting up public wash houses and the first public infants' school;

      Revd B.S. Chambers, who established the football team that would become Everton (first) then lfc (more about that in blog of Jan 1st);

      Those Architects, Giles Gilbert Scott and Frederick Gibberd, whose extraordinary twentieth century vision gave us two of the worldÕs greatest cathedrals;

      Roger McGough who, among many others, made Sixties Liverpool a place of vibrant poetry and creativity, suggesting to me in my nascent years the joy and wonder of word play;

      Margaret Simey, Granby's champion during the 1981 riots and for a long time afterwards, advocate of the people in the face of government meddling and Police Authority wrangling. She's 96 years old now and still going strong;

      Various publicans of The Grapes, Mathew Street, who not only gave Lennon and cronies a place to create in the sixties, and McCullough, Cope and co in the Eighties, but also provided friends and me with many enriching real ale, pie-and-chip afternoons down the years.
    These and many others have given of themselves to make the city of Liverpool the amazing place it is; offered what they had to help others like me 'live a lot' in this place. Ah - nice way to plan an assembly.