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

    Friday, May 27, 2005
    I'm so proud
    Send a chain letter to anyone in this buzzing city today, asking them to complete the phrase: I'm so proud..., and, Blue or Red, many are likely to respond "... of my team ..." However, deeper reflection might provoke all sorts of other, fascinating things.

    The folks at Plastic Rhino continue in their innovative approach to magazine content in their latest, chain letter, issue. Where they did just that: they sent out a chain letter, asking random recipients to complete the phrase: I'm so proud...

    The responses vary as much as human beings vary: someone is proud of their new shoes; another is proud of their self-inflicted misfortunes - because of the joy they have brought to others; someone else is proud of starting up the UK's leading hemp clothing company; and another declares, "I'm so proud of Norfolk." Wonderful idea, great responses.

    How would I respond? I've thought about it. Could have been all sorts of things expressing pride in other people around me who've achieved so much in their lives and influenced me; but today I've been reading Chris Couch's academic survey, City of Change and Challenge: Urban Planning and Regeneration in Liverpool (thanks Pete) so I think this is my contribution:

    I'm so proud of having come back to Liverpool to stay. I was born at the start of a period of massive change here. As Chris Couch says, 'Over the last 40 years Liverpool has undergone more economic restructuring and urban change than virtually any other city in Britain or Europe. It has lost 40 per cent of its population and more than half its manufacturing employment.' A lot of that happened in the 1980s, perhaps my most decisive decade, when my nascent career in manufacturing went to the wall (thanks, Thatcher) and I went off to university to try to rebuild. I'm sure I could then have carved out a south-England media career, would have enjoyed it I'm sure, could by now be editor of Third Way or something, but what good would that have done anyone? During this period I was struck by the words of Liverpool's then RC Archbishop Derek Warlock, who watched the most promising people drain down the M6 in removal vans, and said it was "like a haemorrhage from the very centre of our community." I may not have always enjoyed deciding to travel against that tide, but I'm proud that I did.