How have The Beatles coined a whole city? Made a whole city identify with them both individually and as a group? It’s amazing really. Seriously nice. I mean it could be a lot worse, no?
After all, they were just a band. And we’ve seen a lot of bands in our time. But this seems to set Liverpool apart as a city. For example, Bristol doesn’t have buildings named after Massive Attack. Ok, it has a neighbourhood called Portishead but the neighbourhood came before the band so it doesn’t count. Let’s think of another city.. Cardiff? Hold on, let me Google. Super Furry Animals! Ha! I’m sure there are a lot of these animals running around Cardiff but I don’t see any Japanese tourists heading for the Super Furry Animals’ museum in the city centre. I’m sorry to say.. since that would be an awesome sight.
It’s like Liverpool is the original, obsessive stalker city. In a good way. Of course it helps that the Beatles composed many catchy, lovely songs. And it helps too that John, Paul, Ringo and George went on to do interesting things (well, kinda). We all know that John Lennon’s brutal death gives his words about peace a deserved, extra poignancy. He was still human with all his human-ness wrapped up under his Beatles’ skin, but his murder is part of his legacy.
It was interesting to see how the Beatles’ story (not the place The Beatles’ Story, which exists and we didn’t have time to visit) frames the history of Liverpool. The Beatles came at that turning point fifty years ago where the docks and adjoining city centre was run-down and shady. I’ve listened to Paul McCartney say that they had to get to and from the Cavern Club carefully at night time in case they were spotted and beaten up. Sorry, but is that an awesome image or what? Since then, the city has been and is still being rejuvenated.
On our little mini-trip, we found Liverpool’s centre compact and navigable. The Royal Albert Docks, full of museums, shops and mooching-around moments. All the while, the Beatles’ narrative fits into this place like a musical map with four funny, mop-haired ghosts. Turns out that Liverpool is made for fan-stalking.
Liverpool felt more outward-looking than other cities too. Food-wise, we had an amazing Lebanese experience on our night out. The hotel staff had strong Middle-Eastern accents exuding their culturally-strong sense of hospitality. Along with its New York City-grid streets and architecture, we felt a palpable New World-style openness. With bonus- free Liverpudlian accents.
A century ago and beyond, this was a shipping mega-monster. Home of the passenger services White Star Line and before Southampton took over, Cunard. Go to the museums and it’s immediately clear. Liverpool shipped everything from the UK and most famously it shipped people. Indeed, the make-up lady in Harvey Nicks who introduced Lulu to moisturising foundation (while I melted into the corner, you are 13 and beautiful already Lucia!) had a Dublin accent. It was nice to hear and see. Irish connections as strong as when Jack’s great-grandmother Nanny Carter stepped off her boat thank you very much. It doesn’t feel like Liverpool is a stopping-off point anymore though. It feels like a destination.
Love Is The Best. With reasonable property prices, Jack would add.