Scousers are a strange breed.
We have a chip on our shoulders. Sure, it’s a chip that has been shaped and cooked by a variety of wonderful and harrowing events over the years, but it’s there nonetheless. There’s a picture of Liverpool that haunts my imagination… you’ll have seen it: Albert Dock, the colour of chocolate. The river is brown, the buildings are empty and it scares me to death. It was taken in the 1980s, when I was a child.
I think about it every day, as I walk through Liverpool One to catch the 86 bus home. I think about how people can afford to shop on a Tuesday night in February. I think about what would happen if they couldn’t afford to shop on a Tuesday night in February. I think about the homeless lad I pass every day, in the doorway of a North John Street building. I think about statistics that connect homelessness to job loss, more than anything else these days. And I think about our big, bad, bold and beautiful city being left behind once again and Liverpool One turning the colour of chocolate and history repeating itself along the Dock Road.
That chip… it will never go away. We’re scarred, you see. Scarred by history, scarred by neglect, scarred by indignation and scarred by the baggage we insist on carrying with us into every new frontier. Scars can be enticing, though. They hint at character and a life less ordinary, a life lived the way it is supposed to be lived: on the very edge of reason. And they’re attractive, too… especially to the likes of us. Think about any great night out you’ve had in Liverpool: there’s always a hint of danger, a gasp of excitement and the intoxication of the unknown. It can only be likened to that feeling you have before you sit a driving test… it’s there, threatening to smash through your stomach walls.
Liverpool makes us feel like that every day – especially now, in the age of the Internet and with the rise of social media. Liverpool reacts to it all: football, music, etc. – it’s who we are. It’s exhausting, though. This town never has a day off and there’s always controversy to react to: a local celebrity doing something stupid with The Sun, a rumour about the footballer on the ale, that new band who are about to break (that you know the bass player of)… and on it goes.
It’s harmful, damaging and often a waste of time… but great to get drunk on. That’s why we’re high on life in Liverpool – life in 2016 is about reacting to news and the genie is out of the bottle. If you’ve got a blacklist, we want to be on it – the city is a contradictory whirlpool of digital natives and old men and women in pubs.
The truth of this place exists in an ethereal nether world where ley lines run from an iPhone 6s to the karaoke machine in The Blob Shop. It’s where smokers outside pubs on Brownlow Hill meet coffee drinkers on Bold Street. It’s where immigrants avoid eyes after dark and are welcomed into employment and enjoyment on the same street. It’s in the area that plays host to the cars of teenage millionaires and the wraps of even younger heroin addicts.
The truth of Liverpool remains in the inherent contradictions that come with our chips.
– Pic by John Johnson