WARNING: This post contains swearing, homosexual references, blasphemy and the thoughts of a wanderer on religion.
About bloody time, I hear you say!
After leaving Wales, I had a brief stop over in Shrewsbury, in order to keep my travel time down. My plan for this trip is to travel on average 2 hours between each destination and so if that involves a stopover to avoid fatigue, so be it. This was to be my first night not staying with friends and I arranged an AirBnB, staying with a lovely family who made me feel right at home. Throughout this trip, I have got 12 nights in AirBnB (staying with the hosts), 13 nights in YHA hostels and 18 nights staying with friends and family. The YHA hostel in Liverpool is fantastic, by the way.
I was in Shrewsbury for about 12 hours (mostly sleeping) before heading to Liverpool, which I was really looking forward to but based on my experiences, I have mixed opinions about.
Liverpool boasts to be England’s second City established after London, but it wasn’t until the Industrial Revolution in the late 1800s that the city really started to live up to this esteemed ranking in the city stakes. Being the most advantageous Port for Merchants to send their wears around the world, the City was looked upon favourably by businessmen and royalty alike and Queen Victoria saw this as the gateway to the UK for the rest of the World. In the early 1900s, Liverpool was such a wealthy city that they started to build. They knocked down the work houses and established buildings, hotels and houses of grandeur and with White Star Line ferrying the rich and affluent across ‘the Pond’ to America and beyond, the city established bars, clubs and restaurants to cater for the elite. Then the Industrial Revolution kept going and ended up leaving Liverpool behind.
Ferry ‘Cross the Mersey
What Liverpool has built, as you can see above is a cosmopolitan skyline which I agree, is steeped in culture. It couldn’t have been awarded European City of Culture in 2008 if it wasn’t and the museums and galleries, such as the Tate are testament to that but one of the things I struggled with is that it doesn’t feel steeped in history. For a city that was formed over 1000 years ago, like many I’ve visited on this trip, I could only really see one building which was a tangible attribute to this fact. This was the church of St. Nicholas, est. 1361. Every other building whilst grand, was only established – from what it seems – in Queen Victoria’s reign and as grand as the buildings were, they all seem somewhat soulless. Now this is what you may consider me when I get to my next concern about the city. Religious grounds.
Liverpool is dominated by two massive cathedrals. The Anglican Cathedral c.1904 and the Metropolitan Cathedral c. 1967 and I found them to both be really ugly.
I appreciate my artistic capability may argue my own point (loving myself sick there) but unlike the Cathedrals I’ve seen in every city I’ve visited thus far, these modern, opulent and ugly buildings just don’t compare. What they do though, is mirror the ugliness I found in some of the people in this city.
When photographing St Nicholas’ Church, I was approached by a ‘frail’ old man who asked me to escort him into the church ground to sit, as he has MS. As someone who suffered from an invisible disease myself, I took pity upon him and offered him my arm. He took my hand. As I sat him down, he asked me to wait with him to ensure he didn’t fall and as I waited, he just stared at me with an awkward grin on his face. Then, when I said it was about time I left, he lunged at me with the speed of a whippet and grabbed me where he had no right to. I walked away from that situation, following a few expletives and left him in the church. Heading away from that through the City, I became more aware of how many ‘preachers’ there were demanding that the people of Liverpool find God. It seemed at every turn there were people with microphones preaching the way of the Lord or Little old Ladies thrusting religious literature in your hands. It was getting on my nerves and as I was still a little shaken, I went and sought solace in a pub.
Sitting in the pub, minding my own business, a guy sits down at the table next to me and strikes up a conversation. He said he used to be in training for the Priesthood, before deciding that he couldn’t be a Priest and now works for the Parish council or similar. He was also steaming drunk. Whist I was answering his questions about my travels, he interrupts me to ask if I’m ‘top or bottom’. When asking why that question was at all relevant, he too lunged at me and managed to get his disgusting lips on mine, before I had a chance to move. I left that situation much the same as the first, asking myself what is wrong with these people? Making my exit, I decided to let these isolated incidents get to me and to keep walking and not stop for anyone.
Now to lighten things up a little, I’ll share a little anecdote on the same thread, which did have me smiling again. On my last day, I decided to venture to the Metropolitan Cathedral, to see if it looked any better on the inside to what it does on the outside. Which I’m happy to say, it does. However due to being circular, I entered the grounds from behind (so to speak) and tried to find the entrance. As I wandered round this huge monstrosity, I couldn’t see how to enter and said to myself “Jesus fucking Christ, how do you get into this place?” After realising I had taken the Lords name in vain in a Holy place, I felt pretty bad, until I rounded to the entrance and saw this etched on the wall
Well played Lord. Well played.
So although Liverpool kept my senses busy the entire time I was there and I managed to walk the entire length and breadth of the city with ease and general satisfaction, I left feeling confused and let down. I’d learnt so much and was wrapped in a whole lot of culture but was touched by a whole lot of something else, which I didn’t appreciate. I know my experiences (and views) are my own and other people will have had a blast on their visits and enjoyed themselves entirely. I think Liverpool and I will take a break and perhaps we can try again another time.
So Liverpool you’re pretty and you have a lot going for you but unfortunately on this occasion, you’re not for me.
For more photos of Liverpool and from all the places I’ve visited on this trip, you can follow me on Facebook and Instagram by searching Wandergrin.