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Train up to Mersey

By Phantom On March 7th, 2019

I was in London last week, for the normal champagne and caviar trip of 16 hour workdays while jet lagged. Still, a pleasure to be in the great world city.

Instead of going back to JFK on Thursday, I organized a side pleasure trip to Liverpool.

Liverpool, you say? I’d recently met a woman who was a Manchester native. She’d never been to Liverpool, despite the fact that she lived right next to it most of her life. None of my many London or other cronies had been to Liverpool either. No one goes there. So I had to go.

Liverpool has produced an unfairly large share of Britain’s musicians. The main attraction was the legacy of you-know-who.

The trip up there was an easy two hours plus on a Virgin train out of the sterile Euston station. I met up with a pal who flew in from Geneva on an Easyjet nonstop.

I really liked Liverpool. There were plenty of good bars, and a bunch of good restaurants. The locals could not have been friendlier.

I took this coach tour that took us past the Beatles’ childhood homes, and their old haunts. Guess which of them grew up in the nicest house?

The tour ended close to the rebuilt Cavern Club, where the Beatles played at 292 times back in the day . We went in, at around 12 noon, meaning to just tick the box at the famous place. But we really liked it, and wound up staying for six pints each. There were two stages with live music. One of the artists was a really good singer-songwriter named Richard Batty who you can follow right now on Spotify.

The Beatles legacy is everywhere there. They are a huge tourist draw. A zillion businesses are named after them or their songs.

I learned that Paul McCartney was very interested in forming Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts. He doesn’t just give money. He gives time to it. The graduates receive their degrees from McCartney personally.

I flew back nonstop out of nearby Manchester International Airport, an awful mess of a thing that is under construction. It was handy to get to by National Express bus.

Liverpool is in my memory book now, in my collection of places deserving of a return trip. And maybe a beer summit, Dave!

43 Responses to “Train up to Mersey”

  1. //None of my many London or other cronies had been to Liverpool either. No one goes there.//

    No one goes to Liverpool? I’d say for its size Liverpool attracts a very large number of visitors. If you want to avoid tourists, try Bradford or Leeds or Sheffield – all larger than Liverpool, and nobody goes to any of them.

    Liverpool, like Dublin and Edinburgh and Amsterdam etc, has in fact always been punching above its weight for a smallish city. It has an interesting history and cultural life (and a great football team, see them in action next Wednesday) and the Scousers are rightly famous (or, within England, infamous).

    Once, as a teenager, I was heading back to Ireland with just a ticket for the ferry and otherwise penniless. I missed the boat and had to stay in the city till the next sailing the following day. I fell in with some homeless men around the train station. A great crowd, real scousers, and later they took me with them to a centre behind the Catholic Cathedral where everyone was to be served a meal and, for some reason, given a fresh shirt to wear, as well as a bed for the night. I remember their friendly voices: “Ah go on, you’ll need a fresh shirt for the boat tomorrow”.
    We were all waiting outside until, sure enough, this strapping Irish nun appeared carrying a big box of shirts for the men. She was shy but they all loved her like a mother.
    I didn’t take advantage of the free shirt or free bed, but walked the streets that night before making my way to the port the next morning, confident of the basic goodness of human nature.

  2. Sounds like a memorable trip. No doubt the Beatles iconography contributes to the tourist flow. The Scousers I’ve met tend to be funny and appreciate humor.

  3. This is one of my favourite English folk songs, I Wish I was Back in Liverpool. It’s a fantastic song and vastly underplayed.

    Liverpool and Dublin are in many ways very similar (although Liverpool was always more prosperous), like twin cities positioned opposite each other on the Irish Sea. So what better way to celebrate this great Liverpool song than have it sung by Luke Kelly

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNp4zHNstEA

  4. I never knew the lyrics to this song, before this trip

    One of the singers played it at the Cavern Club

    It’s a love song by Gerry Marsden to his hometown, a Kind of anthem there

    A fine fine song

  5. Another tourist post

    but definitely a good song

  6. Once, as a teenager, I was heading back to Ireland with just a ticket for the ferry and otherwise penniless. I missed the boat and had to stay in the city till the next sailing the following day. I fell in with some homeless men around the train station. A great crowd, real scousers, and later they took me with them to a centre behind the Catholic Cathedral where everyone was to be served a meal and, for some reason, given a fresh shirt to wear, as well as a bed for the night. I remember their friendly voices: “Ah go on, you’ll need a fresh shirt for the boat tomorrow”[…]

    But walked the streets that night before making my way to the port the next morning, confident of the basic goodness of human nature.

    Great story Noel. I’ve been in similar situations in non familiar places a few times and have without exception been left with the same feeling after experiencing the kindness of strangers.

  7. In May 1989, a charity version of “Ferry Cross the Mersey” was released in aid of those affected by the Hillsborough disaster, which claimed the lives of 95 Liverpool fans the previous month (a 96th, Tony Bland, died in 1993 as a consequence of that disaster). The song was recorded by Liverpool artists The Christians, Holly Johnson, Paul McCartney, Gerry Marsden and Stock Aitken Waterman. The single held the #1 spot in the UK chart for three weeks and the Irish chart for two weeks.

    From The Paul McCartney Encyclopedia, by Bill Harry:
    […] For the ‘Mersey Aid/Hillsborough Fund’, Gerry approached Pete Waterman of the hit production team Stock, Aitken and Waterman, who agreed on Gerry’s choice of the number ‘Ferry ‘Cross The Mersey’. Paul McCartney, Holly Johnson of Frankie Goes to Hollywood and another Liverpool band, the Christians, were approached to participate in the recording.

    Gerry recorded his part first and Paul and the Christians went in the studios together. Holly Johnson was in Germany at the time and recorded his vocals after the others had all finished. Waterman had to explain to Gerry that their recording technique was different from what he had in mind. He was to comment, ‘He (Gerry) wrote it as a pop song. When we produced it with four artists, we did it as a tribute, which changed the whole meaning of why the song was being recorded. Gerry had recorded it with George Martin as a hit; we were now recording it with Paul McCartney and everybody else to raise money for a charity. We were creating an emotional message to wrench money out of people’s pockets. Our job was to make money for an appeal and for that we had to be mercenary.’

    In the middle of the record, Paul lets out a wail. Waterman commented, ‘He goes out of tune and he wanted me to take it off and do it again and I wouldn’t let him. I said, “Why did you do it?” and he said, “Well, it’s just how I felt.” And I said, “Then it stays!” Linda McCartney called me up afterwards and said, “You know, you’re probably the only person who’s ever told Paul McCartney that he couldn’t have his own way. But all of us down here think you’re absolutely right; we think it’s marvellous to hear him showing some emotion.’”

    Waterman made some additional comments. ‘He [Paul] wanted to make it perfect which, of course, because he’s Paul McCartney, he would do. But we knew the song had got to him at that point, the emotion of the tragedy had got to him, and when you see the video it definitely gets your throat, catches you and gives you a tear in the eye. McCartney did capture the spirit of it – and that’s down to the fact that Gerry wrote a great song that does stand up to that treatment.’

    The record topped the British charts on 20 May 1989.

    Gerry Marsden was to comment, ‘It was fun to think that Paul McCartney had returned, with me, to the top of the charts with a Marsden composition.

    https://www.the-paulmccartney-project.com/song/ferry-cross-the-mersey/

  8. That was a really interesting post mate and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
    It makes a change from the ‘blame the lefties for everything’ monotonous crap that gets posted these days.

    I’m glad you enjoyed the Beatles stuff. Most Scousers actually find it a little bit tedious. For instance, the local newspaper the Liverpool echo, had a competition to decide what name should be given to Liverpool airport. Overwhelmingly and boringly, the people voted for Liverpool international airport. But Liverpool airport decided the tourist aspect was too big to pass up and called it Liverpool John Lennon. I can understand this. A lot of money comes into the city from tourism and The Beatles are a big part of that.

    I took this coach tour that took us past the Beatles’ childhood homes, and their old haunts. Guess which of them grew up in the nicest house?

    I actually don’t know the answer to this and I won’t cheat and look it up.
    if I had to guess I’d say John Lennon because, if I remember correctly, he lived with his aunty in a posh part of Liverpool called Woolton.

    I’m glad you enjoyed your visit mate. I still go into Liverpool on a fairly regular basis, and I always have a great time.

    Liverpool is in my memory book now, in my collection of places deserving of a return trip. And maybe a beer summit, Dave!

    If it had been any other reason, than my mum’s birthday and the family get together for a meal, I would have cancelled my arrangements and met up with you instead. (Actually, add lifesaving surgery to the list of reasons I couldn’t meet up.)
    I really hope we meet up in the future.

  9. Noel

    I really enjoyed your post as well mate. Thank you.

    Here’s a little story from me. When I lived down south in Berkshire with my partner, we were out walking one weekend in the countryside and we bumped into a scruffy guy, riding a bike, which was piled up with stuff. We got talking to him and it turned out he was homeless, and just went from place to place with what he could carry on his bike. My partner tried to give him some money, but he wouldn’t accept it and said buy me some lunch instead. We did, and spent the next 40 minutes listening to one of the most fascinating life stories we’d ever heard. This guy been all over the world, and had a wealth of amazing experiences. He was actually happy living the life you did. I often wonder what became of him.

  10. We will.

    Yes, the nicest house was the one that John Lennon grew up in. I think that anyone would like to live in that house, which is on a nice street.

    One thing that I had learned only a few months ago. Both Lennon and McCartney lost their mothers while teenagers. Lennon’s mom was struck by a car when running for a bus, Paul’s mother died of complications from breast cancer treatment.

    ” Julia “, was Lennon’s tribute to his mother, Julia. ” Let it Be ” is McCartney’s dream of his ” mother Mary “, still at his side.

    I appreciate their work more as time goes by.

    I don’t love that they named that airport after John Lennon. For a couple of reasons.

    One, I don’t particularly think that he’d like the honor.

    Two, as great at artist as he was, and as strong a personality as he was, the Beatles were much more than John Lennon.

    I would have called it ” Merseyside Airport ” or something like that. But they didn’t ask me!

  11. Phantom.

    Mate, you know more about The Beatles than I do. You’re giving me the enthusiasm to do some research into the history of the band and it’s members.
    I used to have a friend who lived on Menlove avenue, and I never realised if that was were John Lennon grew up.
    I’ve always been a fan of the Beatle’s music.

    I agree, I don’t think John would have liked to have in the airport named after him.
    And you’re right The Beatles were much more than John Lennon they were also the highly talented Paul McCartney and George Harrison. And that other tosser. 😁

  12. The locals could not have been friendlier.

    Are you sure you were in Liverpool?

  13. The last pint was taken at Swan Inn, where the metalhead patrons looked like they’d just been released from prison. It was the best.

  14. The Swan Inn! a proper back Street scouse pub mate. I’m impressed. Not one of the usual bars the tourists go to.

  15. Pete Moore,

    Are you sure you were in Liverpool?

    Careful Pete. Remember, you like to give insults but you can’t take them, like a little snowflake that you are.

  16. Dave.

    You use the word “mate” quite a lot?

    Are you a Northerner, or a Cockney?

    Phantom

    Did you manage to visit any ex-dockside pubs in the Wirral?

  17. Wirral

    Unfamiliar with that area, so no.

    Or ” not yet “

  18. Alright Dave, calm down calm down. Don’t get your shell suit in a twist.

  19. Lol!

    😂

  20. Phantom, on March 8th, 2019 at 7:06 PM Said:
    Wirral

    Unfamiliar with that area, so no.

    Or ” not yet “

    Oh, put your expense account to one side, and please do.

    Let us know how you get on?

    Not even the Fab four could save you.

    😁

  21. Pete Moore, on March 8th, 2019 at 7:07 PM Said:
    Alright Dave, calm down calm down. Don’t get your shell suit in a twist.

    I might as well join in..

    Er, nice one…mate

    😏

  22. Pete Moore,

    Alright Dave, calm down calm down. Don’t get your shell suit in a twist.

    I’m perfectly calm Pete. In fact, I actually laughed at your comment, I thought it was quite funny.
    I was just pointing out, that if you can’t take it, don’t give it.
    And for a man who likes insulting people, in fact, whole groups of people at the time, you really should grow a thicker skin to cope with the inevitable backlash. Rather than acting like the hypocrite snowflake that you are.

  23. Harri,

    Dave.

    You use the word “mate” quite a lot?

    Are you a Northerner, or a Cockney?

    I thought you knew I’m a scouser Harri.
    I’ve certainly mentioned it a few times on here.

  24. Dave.

    Okay, we get it, you think Pete Moore is a hypocrite.

    Oookay, we get it..like a gazillion times.

    😏

  25. Harri,

    Tell you what Harri, when Pete Moore stops being a hypocrite, I’ll stop pointing it out, how’s that?

  26. Dave.

    I know you are a scouser..

    I really get that…mate.

    https://goo.gl/images/tsgRFg

    Why didn’t you “advise” Phantom to take a tour of ex-dockside pubs in the Wirral, and ask for a beer like a cockney?

  27. Harri.

    The whole scousers have fuzzy hair, wear shall suits and say ‘calm down’ all the time is totally false.
    It was actually based on a sketch Harry Enfield did in his comedy show which is based on two brothers in a soap opera called brookside. The vast majority of scousers do not have, (and I’ve never had), fuzzy hair or wear shell suits and say ‘calm down.’

    I can’t say I’m familiar with dockside pubs in the Wirral, although I have been to a couple and not had a problem. It sounds like you might know more about this area than I do Harri.

  28. It was actually based on a sketch Harry Enfield did in his comedy show which is based on two brothers in a soap opera called brookside. The vast majority of scousers do not have, (and I’ve never had), fuzzy hair or wear shell suits and say ‘calm down.’

    I can’t say I’m familiar with dockside pubs in the Wirral, although I have been to a couple and not had a problem. It sounds like you might know more about this area than I do Harri.

    Dave.

    I know about Harry Enfield, I was taking the piss, as us Shandy drinking Southern cockney wankers tend to do..

    The Wirral, you are absolutely correct, I spend far too much time there.

    I know what pubs, and areas I can wander into, and where I can’t.

    As I said, Phantom needs to put away his corporate credit card, and have a taste of real life outside his corporate bubble.

  29. Spookily, the wife & girls are just starting to watch the new Mary Poppins movie.

    Which starts unfortunately with some geezer singing a song in a really bad cockney accent, they are all looking at me if somehow, I actually sound like him..

    That’s it, I’m off to another room.

    You can chose your friends, but you can’t choose your family.

  30. I’ve been in Liverpool city a few times and found it to be grand. There’s many things about it remind me of Belfast, a port city, solidly working class, big emphasis on humor, (the darker the better), a deep, deep Irishness an can also be a bit of a rough house at times.

    I’ve never been to the Wirral though. Sounds pretty great.

  31. Paul.

    I agree mate. I grew up in Liverpool and worked in Liverpool, and it has a huge Irish population. My mum’s parents and her side of the family are all Irish. (Not my mum and her siblings though, they were all born in the UK.) Sadly, I’ve never been to Ireland but people I know have, and they also know Liverpool and have said the two very similar.

  32. Harri.

    As I said, Phantom needs to put away his corporate credit card, and have a taste of real life outside his corporate bubble

    I can’t really comment on the accuracy of statement, because I don’t know phantom that well. But in so much as I do know him, he’s always seem like a pretty down-to-earth guy to me.
    He’s certainly a very well travelled man, and doesn’t seem like someone who lives in a bubble.

  33. I only take grog in corporate places like the Swan Inn.

  34. Oh come on Phantom. Last time I was glassed in the swan it was with a champagne flute. 😁
    Joking aside, fair play to you mate. I thought you’d have just stuck to the touristy pubs like the Pump House on the Albert Dock, off Flanagan’s Apple on Mathew Street. (bill Drummond KLF fame, has an interesting story about when he worked in the basement of this building.)

  35. I like all kinds of pubs.

    And BTW that Albert Dock is a nice area. A historic port redone with hotels, museums, restaurants, an arena.

    Even in what was still winter, that was active. I imagine that its hopping in the warm months.

  36. Sadly, I’ve never been to Ireland

    Hopefully that can be rectified in August. Myself, Seimi and Peter have committed to the summit. I’m sure that Seamus and our gracious host could be cajoled into it too.

    Albert Dock is sound.

  37. Phantom,

    And BTW that Albert Dock is a nice area. A historic port redone with hotels, museums, restaurants, an arena.

    I love the Albert Dock area mate. I remember playing there as a kid in the early 80s, when it was completely derelict. The transformation is amazing.

    Paul.
    Count me in mate.

  38. There seems to have been enormous redevelopment in the center city

    It seemed like I was going through a shopping mall when I walked from the Lime Street train station to Albert Dock

    Everything was new or at least re-done for block after block

  39. Liverpool has gone through some incredible redevelopment in the last 20 years.
    I hardly recognise some parts of the city now. But considering the way it looked before that’s mostly a good thing. Liverpool city council, were a little bit overzealous with demolishing some of the older buildings though.

  40. Dave

    Ellesmere Port is my main haunt, and you are correct, I have been travelling up there for years, everyone I have ever met has been nothing but friendly.

    There are a few places in and around the Wirral where we are advised not to spend too long in, but that goes for just about anywhere.

    My only problem when working in Liverpool is, everyman and his dog wants to talk about football, to which I have absolutely no interest.

    😏

  41. Liverpool city council, were a little bit overzealous with demolishing some of the older buildings though.

    Couldn’t agree more, down by the Manchester ship canal, there are some beautiful buildings being demolished to make way for modern day carbuncles.

  42. There are a few places in and around the Wirral where we are advised not to spend too long in, but that goes for just about anywhere

    As I’ve said, I’ve never been to the Wirral. Is it a rough area? Is it’s reputation deserved?

  43. As I’ve said, I’ve never been to the Wirral. Is it a rough area? Is it’s reputation deserved?

    You might be alright, if you have any Irish accent left.

    But, I went for a curry night with a group of colleagues from E/P and I was informed, don’t go to the bar talking like a cockney, you will be asking for trouble.

    On another note, that night was twofold, its the only place I have ever been where the curry house had bouncers on the door, and I stopped at a local shop to buy cigarette’s, its the only shop I have ever been in, where once you walk through the door, you are funneled into a perspex lined tunnel, everything is protected by a wall of thick perspex, at the end of the tunnel is a large screen with ho!es (like you get at an old communist train station) you bend down, tell them what you want, a screen moves up an inch or two, you tell them what you want, you hand over the cash, another screen moves up,you get what you paid for.

    Welcome to the Wirral.