Sunday, January 14, 2007
My friend, Stephen Bayley, writes an excellent article on the subject of Liverpool, European Capital of Culture 2008. Stephen, having been brought up there, likes the place; I, having been raised near Manchester, don't. The last time I was there I was continually accosted by drunks in the city centre in the course of an early evening walk and, in a dark alley, I was convinced I was about to be mugged by a figure crouched in the shadows. It turned out to be a bronze statue of John Lennon. The great architecture of the city is all but buried by the ineptitude of successive ideologically-crazed councils. Furthermore, Liverpool inspires glutinous sentimentality, not least from Liverpudlians. I once wrote - my tone was light - that Liverpudlians weren't actually very funny. I received tear-stained letters demanding I apologise. In fact, as Boris Johnson knows to his cost, this is probably the only city in the world that specialises in wringing apologies out of people. I am convinced every stranger arriving in the city feels a special little shiver of anomie. Even Stephen remarks that it was the alienation peculiar to Merseyside that inspired Paul Simon to write Homeward Bound. But I'm sure he's right when he says Liverpool is getting better. As John Lennon himself interpolated in the Beatles song of that title, 'it can't get much worse.'
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 7:55 am