For reasons far too dull to go into here, I was in Liverpool city centre in the early evening with time to kill. Can we talk about this hospitality gap we have in the UK, where there’s nowhere to go between the shops closing at five thirty and your dinner reservation at seven thirty? The default used to be to go to a pub, but I was in the University district, and students these days don’t drink because they’re all healthy and care about their bodies so there are hardly any pubs. It’s disgusting really. We have an entire generation of nineteen and twenty year olds who’ve never woken up in a stranger’s bed, their head pounding because of too much cheap lager, and had to sneak out before the other person wakes up. (Not that that ever happened to me of course).
Anyway. I found myself wandering the University precinct, an area of the city centre that’s unfamiliar to me. If you’re not a student there’s no real reason to come up here, and so the various alleyways and pedestrianised walkways are a mystery. I’d been to the Student Union before, of course; I came here with the Edge Hill LGB Society (no T back in those days, though we added it the following year because we were not awful people). It was very early in my first year and was intended as a welcome to the area for new gay students, to let them mingle with other homos from the area, so I piled into a minibus with a load of people I didn’t know and we all headed into Liverpool pretending we were after comradely conversation and discussions of queer politics when we were actually all after a snog. None of us got one; the Edge Hill people stayed in one corner and the Liverpool people stayed in another and I ended up giggling with a gay guy and a lesbian.
Where was I? Oh yes, on the nostalgia train. I wandered into Blackwells, a once great bookshop that’s now a shadow of its former self. They had a 3 for 2 that looked interesting but it was close to closing time and the staff had an air of “I sincerely hope you’re not thinking of browsing because I need to get home” about them. I walked away from there, down a path full of revoltingly young and happy well educated people, and I ended up on the bit of land behind the Union. It’s been landscaped beyond all recognition but there are some things you can’t hide. Like this.