I’m back in Liverpool this week revisiting old friends and haunts.
On the second day here I had to find the office of a publisher. It was cold and wet. I was walking the streets of the ‘Baltic Triangle’. This is a part of Liverpool between the town centre and The Dingle. Old warehouses and workshops, narrow streets in a compact area. As I criss crossed the roads the view of the grey sky and river merged between the buildings. This whole area served the ships and docks, and now I had an address a smartphone and google maps, what could go wrong?
After an hour and half of wind filled rain slapping my face and soaking through my shoes I found the place. The road doesn’t exist anymore in real life, one example of Google being behind the times. It was in the centre of a complex of buildings called the Baltic Market. The whole area is like the ‘ruined bars’, that I think started in Berlin and are now done so well in Budapest. An old shed converted into a cafe bar and offices on the first floor. You can probably guess by now that the office was closed, but I found it, left a letter, so we will see. As luck would have it on the same day I received an email from an agent in Belfast saying he liked the idea of the first book ‘Under The Bridge’ he would be reading the first few chapters I had sent- so fingers crossed. I am hopeful but also aware that JK Rowling received seventeen rejections before Harry Potter was taken up, I am on four, so still a long way to go.
Part the reason for coming was to remind myself of settings, hear the accents, see the faces. I lived in Liverpool eight for a couple of years around 1988. In the second book ‘The Morning After’ I describe the movement of the population in the city.
Vinny drove through Allerton road, busy as ever, always bustling with shoppers and students. This was how society should be, lively and vibrant. The population of Liverpool like the tide in the Mersey Estuary, swept in and out, but instead of a timescale of hours like the ebb and flow of the river, the population changes were over a century. In Liverpool everything started in seven streets around the docks and castle. When the workshops, warehouses and chandlers opened, the wealthy began to move out. This process sped up with the arrival of the Irish during the famine. The wealthy built houses in Toxteth Park and Aigburth, when the unwashed masses spilled out from the centre, the merchants deserted these areas too. After world war two, slum clearances swept tens of thousands to new estates, ringing the city. The centre was cleared of slums and workers, and rebuilt, it then became habitable by the wealthy again. Vinny’s family like so many others had been swept out to Speke, a good salary and job meant he moved back on the ebb tide into Allerton.
Tomorrow I am going to Lodge Lane. As Liverpool eight is resold as the Georgian quarter there is less and less space for the working class, so new arrivals and old residents are being pushed into Lodge Lane, and so the process continues, the ebb and flow.
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