August 6, 2013 by Sian Rowland
I’m a London girl and I love my city but I recently had a weekend affair with Liverpool. I’ve never been before- I have family in Yorkshire and Manchester and was in Manchester just the weekend before but have never had an excuse to visit Liverpool and I loved it. I sing with Rock Choir and we’ve sung all over London (Wembley stadium and arena, Tower of London, Horseguard’s Parade, Hammersmith Apollo, the 02 arena) and when we were invited to join the Northern Rock Choirs to sing at the Echo Arena I jumped at the chance.
I booked to go up on a Friday morning and return on the Sunday so I’d have plenty of time to explore. I researched the places I wanted to go online and asked Twitter friends what they recommended. They came back with some brilliant recommendations and I put together an itinerary with timings (the only way I was going to be able to fit everything in).
My first sight of Liverpool was through sheets of rain and a screaming wind that drove the rain horizontally into my eyes. It made short work of my nine quid Primark Parka-in-a-packet and filled my flimsy southern pumps but it was love at first sight. I did everything that a good tourist should do starting with a Magical Mystery Tour that took us through the suburbs and the Beatles’ formative years as I sat quietly shivering in my soaking shoes, damp t-shirt sticking to my back. I went to every museum and gallery at the docks, drank and danced and even sang on stage at the Cavern, trekked up to both cathedrals and had a drink at the stunning Philharmonic pub. I squeezed in a bit of singing at the arena and plenty of food and drink with friends who had come up for the weekend too.
I loved the way the city is compact and walkable with smartly designed shopping areas but you only have to walk a few minutes out of the town centre to see the handsome Victorian architecture and pedestrianized walkways give way to the poverty of derelict buildings and metal shutters. I like that in a city- the juxtaposition between old and new, wealthy and ordinary, touristy and workaday ordinary. Even the fact that I had inadvertently booked into a hotel so bad it made Fawlty Towers look like The Dorchester didn’t put me off.
It felt like a fling, a weekend of fun and lack of responsibility and I didn’t think of London once: Liverpool playing the part of the charming, mysterious stranger to the capital’s dependable husband. I don’t feel like that about Manchester or Paris or the countryside and can’t quite put my finger on what Liverpool did differently. Perhaps it’s just a feeling.
A few days later I had an interview with Creative Education, a training and consultancy agency who employ freelancers like me to run courses all over the country. I was delighted to hear that they had accepted me and sent me my first assignment. In Liverpool. The universe moves in mysterious ways.