XVII: Scouseland

Malta is now just a memory & the continent a mere image on the BBC weather maps. We set off homewards on a cheap Ryanair flight to Pisa for the night. Nine years ago I had just set off on my poetical career in the city, & had spent two months busking in the streets. As I had a guitar with me, I thought it would be nostalgic to return to my old busking spot for a few numbers (10 euros worth). It was beautiful really, & I felt like I had come full circle since those heady days back in ‘98.  Using our profits we settled down with a couple of bottles of wine, silently chilling by the Arno. It was then that I realised, however miniscule, a part of my grandmother was passing me at that moment. It was a moving moment, taking me back to that morning when I scattered her ashes near the Capo D’Arno six or so months ago.

Hand in hand, me & Glenda walked back to the airport to await our final continental dawn. This came on a golden morning as we flew out of Tuscany, following the coast up the Cinque Terra, bringing back memories of our days with Andy & Analeen a year or so ago, the Appenines dark & light on either sides of the arrow straight snow-line. Then Europe was swept in a white cloud until they finally broke over the green fields of England. We landed, virtually penniless, the bright spring sunshine giving the eight-hundred-year-old second city of the empire a pleasant glow. The airport itself was very busy as apparently it was coming out of a four-hour terror alert. The police had found a suspicious vehicle in the car park: it was fully taxed, insured & still possessed both wheel-rims & radio!

We were met by one of my friends, a lad who I set up with one of Glenda’s mates, who drove us to their pad in the idyllic Sefton Park district of Scouseland. I was now surrounded by familiar Britishness, which I enjoyed but was also glad to have fully missed Britannia’s wintry ravages. Liverpool was named after seaweed, & the place does stink  bit, but after a wee tour of the cosmopolitan city centre & I was surprised to find it quite a funky wee place – not at all like its perm & ‘tash portrayal. The two skyline dominating cathedrals were excellent, both Anglican & Catholic, reflecting the city’s position as the port between Catholic Ireland & protestant England. Like sectarian Glasgow, both sets of rival ‘fans’ hoped to outdo the other, & vast sums of money were poured into them. This duality has also penetrated into the famous accent – which does rather sound like an Irishman having his balls squeezed tightly by an Englishman (or vice versa). There’s also Beatles world – with the old Cavern club that can still set the feet tapping – it’s like the Beatles never left. It was in a nearby pub that I heard the obligatory Scouse football joke, ‘There’s two teams in Liverpool, you know, Everton & Everton reserves!’ It felt weird touring Liverpool – I mean, I am English & everything, but six months back on the road had turn’d me ‘foreign’ once more. There was only one thing for it, we had to have a rave.

We went on a mad night out that night, fuell’d by a little MDMA we had brought from Malta, & ended up at New Brighton – a coastal resort across the Mersey – for coke-fuell’d adventure-recollection. It was great fun regaling our friends with tales of Sicily, especially the one about Glenda falling off her chair. Then morning came & we took a walk along the local beach – quite sandy as opposed to the old Brighton. Our hosts then gave us a story of their own – about her giving him a blow job on the beach & the tide coming in & they were literally caught with their pants down, before arriving back home in a very soggy state indeed (Scouse foreplay). Later on, we took the ferry cross the Mersey, whistling a Beatles hit or two as we sail’d across her waters. This felt a more appropriate re-arrival in my homelands. I’ve always preferred sailing to flying & was determined upon a return to Burnley to see the folks.

We caught a bus to Manchester & another one over the moors to Burnley. There is a moment, on a rise of the Rawtenstall-Burnley road, when the whole of East Lancashire spreads before you, Pendle Hill rising solemnly at its heart. It is my favourite view of the area & never ceases to fill me with a sense of homecoming. This sensation was swiftly & officially consummated by a visit to Yips Chips! It was then, with the taste of paradise in our mouths that we called upon my friends & family, catching up with all the gossip. It seems people have been busy, for in the not too distant future I am to be a best man & then a godfather thrice over!

March 24th


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