Last year, this year, every year

We are here again and I hate it.  I hate coming here and I hate having to bring my children.  Maybe it’s because I’m looking at it through visiting-the-in-laws-tinted glasses, but it is a dump.  It wasn’t always this way.  The grand, many-roomed houses along the river front, facing Liverpool’s World Heritage skyline would once have been desirable places to live.  Now they are either split into numerous poky flats or derelict; stucco peeling, gardens unloved, windows bare and broken, fences uprooted and replaced with chicken wire.  The ferry no longer runs and the once bustling shoreline is deserted, save for piles of dangerous jetsam and a boat, slowly sinking into the mud. 

The pub is abandoned, surrounded by piles of rubble and tangled wire, windows shuttered with metal sheeting.  The monumental iron-red sandstone wall is crumbling and has been patched with cheap orange brick, like an ugly rash.  And litter, everywhere you look, piles of litter, dirty plastic bags blowing like tumbleweed in the cold, February wind. 

There are green spaces, gaps between the houses, open areas devoid of people but liberally strewn with dog shit.  Patches of bare tarmac amongst the grass are scars of places where children used to play.  The swings and slides have been removed, people are scared of teenagers congregating, but do they have anywhere else to go?  

The stained glass window in the Church says ‘God is Love’.  It is partially obscured by wire mesh, as if people can’t be trusted to respect a place of worship.  It is a sight that never fails to depress me.

Some houses are neat and tidy, cared for, but the overwhelming impression is of a town that’s given up.  Without the ferry, they have no purpose and cut off by the dual carriage way they’ve been forgotten.  Shipping magnates no longer stroll along the waterfront, the prosperous and wealthy have moved elsewhere.  There is no reason to go here, except to visit my children’s grandparents.  I wish we didn’t have to come, but we do.  This week, for the first time, the seven year old said “Why is it so dirty, Mummy?”  I didn’t have an answer.

This post was written for the Sleep is for the Weak writing workshop which asked, what were you doing this time last year?

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4 Responses to “Last year, this year, every year”


  1. 1 Paula February 19, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    What strikes me most about this is the transformational effect that your words have on this ugly place. It’s almost poetic.

    I read it and in my mind I see what it once was, before the ferry stopped and the chicken wire went up. I’m sorry that it depresses you, but the way you write about it belies a kind of reverence- something locked deep inside perhaps?!

    A beautiful post.

    Px

  2. 2 itsasmallworldafterallfamily February 19, 2010 at 8:03 pm

    What a lovely comment. Thank you. And yes, part of me wishes I could have visited in the days when it was beautiful. But mostly I am very sad that nothing is ever done to improve the place.

  3. 3 Josie @Sleep is for the Weak February 21, 2010 at 7:40 pm

    I am so late with my post reading! (I have a good excuse though, mind)

    And yes! Although you talk about ugliness it is strangely beautiful. I guess, just as you have blogged about before, sometimes the history of a place infuses it with beauty from times past. But how sad too! To be surrounded by so much decay. It’s not surprising you don’t like going there…

  4. 4 anonymous February 22, 2010 at 2:30 am

    Maybe it can change, though I don;t know exactly how. We used to visit my grandparents in hartlepool back in the 1970’s when the shipyard declines left the place a horrible miserable mess. It has since had quite a rennaissance. Hoping things change for the better.
    Lovely post.


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