Trip to Liverpool

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Well, I spent Wednesday to Friday last week in Liverpool staying with my old school friend Nev, and what a fascinating place it is. Apart from visiting the International Slavery Museum for a short time several years back it is the first time I’ve been in the city. I don’t know why really. What with the Beatles and the sea and the docks and the culture I should have been there lots of times, but I haven’t. Time to make up for it now!

First impressions were good. Nev picked me up from the station and took me back to his house where I settled in pretty quickly. We then went to the Casbah Coffee Club which according to Trip Adviser is the number one attraction in Liverpool. This may come as a surprise to many Liverpudlians who have never heard of it!

Casbah Coffee Club
Casbah Coffee Club

It was not that easy to find and it looked like it was closed but we finally managed to attract someone’s attention! Roag Best, the brother of Pete who was the original drummer of the Beatles, gave us a highly entertaining tour of the club which closed in 1962 but is remarkably well-preserved. It is where the Beatles first played and many of the paintings and decorations were done by them. A truly remarkable place.

An early picture of the Beatles at the Casbah Club. Not enough room to swing a cat!
An early picture of the Beatles at the Casbah Club. Not enough room to swing a cat!
As the Beatles got more popular a bigger stage was built with security rails!
As the Beatles got more popular a bigger stage was built with security rails!
Ceiling decorated by John Lennon. Fake Egyptian style!
Ceiling decorated by John Lennon. Fake Egyptian style!

It is amazing the amount of interest the Beatles attract worldwide. They truly were a phenomenon and fifty years later they are even more popular than they were then! It’s almost unbelievable.

Anyway, I bought a tee-shirt from the Casbah and went back to Nev’s where Francine cooked a fantastic pasta dish. Mmm, delicious. The rhubarb crumble was also pretty fantastic! Here’s a picture of the table with fruit.

Table with fruit. Very colourful!
Table with fruit. Very colourful!

That night we all went out to discover the live music scene. First stop was the open mic at Bier bar. It was busy with a mainly young crowd. Nice atmosphere and I did three songs early on that went down pretty well AND I got a free beer. Jolly good!

View out the window of Bier bar.
View out the window of Bier bar.

We then went to another bar Osqa’s Arena Bar where the Everyman Folk Club meets. This is a club that has been running for years with a mainly older crowd. The music and singing were really good and I did two songs there. Very enjoyable.

Next day we went to town on the bus and had a look round town and saw an interesting exhibition of Beatles photographs (you can’t get away from them!) and had a fantastic trip on the Mersey ferry. There are some amazing views of Liverpool from the ferry reminiscent in some ways of the New York skyline.

Liverpool from the ferry
Liverpool from the ferry
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A bit like New York from the Hudson!

That night I hit town on my own and went first to the open mic at the Lomax. I walked past Mathew Street on the way and had a look outside the Cavern but I didn’t go in. Seemed a bit commercial and by now I was suffering from Beatles overkill! The Lomax is a live music club that reminds me of the Shed in Leicester. The open mic was in a basement with live groups upstairs. There weren’t many in but I had a good time and got a free drink. The life of a star!! I then crossed town and went to Pogue Mahone. This was pretty good until it got invaded by a student pub crawl. Ended up doing loads of Irish singalongs which was fun but not what I was really looking for!

Pogue Mahone pub.
Pogue Mahone pub.
Pogue Mahone open mic
Pogue Mahone open mic

Next day I booked a guided tour with Eric Lynch of the Liverpool Slavery Trail. This was both fascinating and disturbing. He made it quite clear about the importance of the slave trade to Liverpool and how many of the landmarks referred to it. Slavery is a very emotive subject. It’s hard to be objective about something that is so abhorrent and inhumane. Eric Lynch often used the phrase “arrogance of power” in his talk. I know what he means but what came to mind with me was the phrase “banality of evil”.The merchants who were involved in the slave trade just saw things on a business level. All they were bothered about was making a profit. They approached slavery in a similar way to the Nazis exterminating Jews; in an efficient and business- like way. This is what is so terrifying about it!  It was a very good tour that I would recommend.

African children holding bags of gold representing the wealth of Africa on a bank building!
African children holding bags of gold representing the wealth of Africa on a bank building!
Streets named after slave traders
Streets named after slave traders. There are many more than this including the famous Bold Street!
Monument at the Exchange showing French prisoners of war. They built Albert Docks.
Monument at the Exchange showing French prisoners of war. They built Albert Docks one of the main slaving ports. An inscription on it says “England expects that every man will do his duty” a quote from Nelson at the battle of Trafalgar.

4 thoughts on “Trip to Liverpool

  1. Nev Bann April 27, 2013 / 2:21 pm

    Delighted that you visited us in scouse land. Thought I knew a lot about the Beatles, but the posh house in West Derby shows another side to the Beatles. Am glad you liked the crumble!

    • Gina April 27, 2013 / 9:51 pm

      it was good that you discovered the Casbah,its an evocative venue

      • Kenny Wilson April 27, 2013 / 11:02 pm

        Certainly is. You really get a feel for what was happening at the time. The house, and Pete Best, may have been posh but there was also a fantastic eccentricity there!

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