Liverpool A-Z Book - 2006
Published by FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology)
Distributed through Liverpool University Press
ISBN 1-84631-062-8
Commissioned by Liverpool Biennial International 06
Publication supported by FACT & Arena Housing

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Adam
Born in Melbourne, Australia. Artist and curator of MuseumMan in Liverpool.

"Liverpool has got a bad rep. And its amazing the people I’ve spoken to in England find it a no go area. But interestingly enough, to me, it’s the most unabashedly English city in the whole of England. Its not the rural pastoral England, this is unabashedly English, and I love it for it. It’s totally honest and that’s really seductive. Liverpool had to grasp at the economy that was kind of offered to them and I think that during the 70’s and 80’s it kind of made Liverpool withdrawal and become very tribal with a fear or anger towards the outsider. They’d been raped so essentially over a great period of time… 50 years. The outsider only gets accepted if they find you sincere, and the sincerity to them is very important.”

 

Ben
Born in Liverpool, 27 years old. Works in a jewellery shop.

“Its isolation has sort of preserved it to a degree. It did sort of mothball Liverpool so it hasn’t become generic. There are fears that it’s going to go that way because of Capitol of Culture but I don’t think so. Capital of Culture will come and go, and Liverpool will still be Liverpool. I think what’s pissing me off about Liverpool at the moment…actually frustrating is the word I’d use…its like living in a work in progress. There is a lot of good things happening with the ‘Capital of Culture’ thing, and you can debate that until the cows come home whether its good or bad, but it seems that at the moment everything is up in the air. I don’t like things up in the air, I like to know where things are. It’s a case of having to sort of cope with all the messing about and the digging up of all the roads and what not. This is rather bland and dull to talk about but when you live here all the time it really pisses you off. Especially when you rely on the bus, you know I cant be chauffeur driven everywhere, even people like me have to get the bus to some place (laughter).”

 

Catharine
Born in Hull, has lived in Liverpool for 12 years and worked for the Liverpool Housing Action Trust before spending the past nine months travelling around the world.

"Wherever we went most people we met, even in the middle of nowhere, knew about Liverpool. And usually the reaction was like…oh the Beatles, or oh football. That’s a really strong impression that the rest of the world has of Liverpool and it was nice because it meant that you got a positive reaction from people all the time. But what they don’t know about is, for instance all the beautiful buildings, and its heritage…and that’s a real shame. It would be great if that got tagged onto the two things that Liverpool is really known for. I really missed Liverpool when I was away. I think it’s about the people, I think everything is about people really. And that sounds incredibly corny but essentially you can make anywhere your home and it can be your home for two weeks or a lifetime but what makes a place worth living in…is the people.”

 

Dolly
Born in Liverpool, 84 years old.

“I was born in the dockland area and those days were very poor days. We all lived under one roof and you never had your own individual room or your own bed, it was 6 or 7 to a bed with your mum and dad and that’s the way it was. But there was a spirit that I’ll always remember with everyone living around you… your neighbors. We had that wonderful spirit no matter how poor you were, everyone was looked after and every ones friend was your friend. I am one for life and people and especially my community… to retain a good community you must have all of it and leave no one out.”

 

Eileen
Born in Liverpool.

“Mostly the women in Liverpool are really strong women, and I’ve watched them work so hard over the years, and yet they never were appreciated. The women in my family and the women in every family that I took notice of around me always seemed to be the ones that were the driving force. The men relied on them totally and let them get on with it. The thing I’m most proud of Liverpool for is the get up and go…and now it’s really moving along. And when I see all the building going on in town, I think it’s marvelous, and everyone seems fully employed. It really does rest on employment. I mean idle hands and bored to death and no money is the worst possible thing…but fully employed means busy, and give a busy man a job and it’ll get done.”

 

Fenfen
Born in China, has been in Liverpool for five years studying town planning & marketing. Also a traditional Chinese dancer.

"Generally it’s all quite good and people have been very friendly and helpful. I cant really say any bad things. Maybe when I first came here little problems because of the language barrier, but gradually you make friends. There are many people from different backgrounds here, which is very exciting. I think maybe a negative side would be that some people have a negative perception towards Chinese ethnic groups in general but hopefully it will be proved wrong in the future… I think we will prove them wrong.”

 

Gill
Born in North East and has lived in Liverpool for about a year. Gill is the director of FACT.

“In a way people forgot about Liverpool which is dreadful but in a way it allowed Liverpool to carrying on being itself and I think that’s why its held on to so many aspects of life that a lot of other places have lost. When people come here for the first time your not sure if should give them the party line…you know…this is Liverpool its an up and coming and vibrant regenerating place or whether you want to show them some of the little dark places that haven’t quite gotten around to be regenerated yet. I tend to give people a bit of a mix and match. Because I think its really important to have a balanced picture of the place…And what I really don’t want to happen is for Liverpool to get too airbrushed, I think there’s too much life and feistiness here and I think it would be a real shame if that kind of thing gets lost.”

 

Hillary
Has lived in Liverpool for about 10 years. Artist & freelance project manager.

“I absolutely love it. It feels more like my home than my home has ever been, I feel like I totally belong here. There’s no rubbish in Liverpool…its straight down the line…its quite earthy and grounded. I’m most proud of Liverpool for just being Liverpool. You know… were Liverpool, this is the way we are, this is our accent, this is our football, this is our city and its like you either like it or you don’t , and if you don’t your mad but its your loss. The sense of humour here is so sarcastic and its so like take the piss, a kind of cheeky sense of humour and I love it. It’s really amicable its just like having banter with people all the time and its kind of like who can make you laugh and who can spin the biggest tale. You know your never quite sure how tall the tales have got that your being told… but there told so well that it just doesn’t matter.”

 

Iain
Born in Liverpool, 28 years old. Marketing Manager for Rawhide Comedy Club.

"People from Liverpool have a reputation for being sharp and witty…I think a lot about the Liverpool sense of humor has become a bit of a cliché, but the very best comedy comes out of the worst situations. One of the comics says “tragedy plus time equals comedy”, and you know I don’t know one comic who does loads of funny gags about being in a stable relationship, with beautiful kids and a lovely house, making loads of money, its always disaster and rotten and it goes right back to slapstick. You know there is nothing funnier, I defy anyone to argue with me, there is nothing funnier than seeing one of your mates fall off a wall (laughter) …its great. Seeing one of your friends get hurt or say something stupid to a girl or humiliated in some way. Another Liverpool thing is banter…the back and forth between friends or even strangers. Something as simple as putting on a loud shirt and walking through town, you watch, it wont just be your friends or your colleagues who have a little nibble it will be anyone you walk past who fancies saying something funny about it…its brilliant. And this banter translates into friendship, it’s not meant to be mean spirited, it’s meant to raise a smile.”

 

John
Born in Bootle Liverpool, 75 years old. Worked in construction & was in the Merchant Navy.

"At that time, although work was plentiful, there was sort of a dull outlook. There was only certain jobs you could have and I looked around and what appealed to me was a career that was very popular at the time in Liverpool. If you were born in Wales you went down the mines, if you were born in Liverpool you stood a good chance…a seventy percent chance… of working on the docks or joining the merchant navy). The merchant navy had become a very glamorous occupation…anyone who came home from sea became a personality on their street like a film star…so I opted for the navy (smiles).”

 

Karl
Born in Liverpool. Police officer in Liverpool city centre.

“I don’t know why people have downers on young people. Skateboarders…we need to do something for them in the city center. They love all the urban stuff and I keep getting complaints from people saying they’re wrecking all the benches and whatever but I don’t really perceive it as a problem. And again I think its intolerance. Is it them or is it the person who’s ringing me that’s perhaps being intolerant and maybe cant think that well I was young once and yeah I didn’t have a skateboard but maybe if I was 16, 17 now I’d like to have a go on one…I think I would.”

 

Laura
Born in Liverpool, 26 years old. Information & public relations co-ordinator.

“I quite like going to old me's pubs just because you can really have a proper Liverpool experience I think, and lots of my friends like going there as well so it's like loads of old people and loads of young people. We went out and did a 'Leo Sayer' the other week, which is, you know, an all-dayer, and we went to Rigby's and then to the Hole in the Wall and they were all having a massive sing-song in there. And obviously as we had more beers we were all singing, all the young people, all the old people, all the middle-aged people. We were all singing at the same time and when we came out of there my friend said to me, 'my God, that was a proper Liverpool experience.”

 

Margo
Born in Liverpool, 56 years old. Retired professional singer.

"Where ever you go there is good and bad and I think that’s the case the world over but the warm hearted people of Liverpool… I guess you could say that they are on a par with the Irish people. There’s warmth and there’s a belief in people that for all the bad things in the world there is so much more good. People who have never been to Liverpool have a kind of jaundiced view of it. I think people believe that Liverpool has this reputation for violence but if you come to Liverpool you would have the warmest welcome ever and also you would meet people that would actually give their right arm if they thought they could help you. Everybody’s different obviously but the one thing I can say about Scousers is that if your in trouble and you need someone double quick…you can always rely on a Scouser.”

 

Neil
Born in Liverpool, 43 years old. Owner of Team Extreme and former European skateboard champion.

“It’s a very talented city…that’s what sticks out for me about Liverpool. From all walks of life there is so much talent in this city. We know how great it is for football and everything else but other things as well, skateboarding, quite a lot of great skateboarders have come out of this city who have been the best in the world, and also musicians, comedians, actors…its just amazing the amount of talent that springs from the city. I don’t know where this comes from. I suppose people older than me could probably put a finger on it, people who have been around the docks and saw the strikes that went on and some of the things the city has fought for over the years. Like I said, I don’t know where it comes from but there’s a hell of a lot of talent which is quite weird for a small city compared to some others in this country.”

 

Olivier
Born in North Wales, has been in Liverpool for 10 years. Universty Lecturer in Town Planning.

"One of things I found interesting that came out of the Capital of Culture bid was that they were recognizing that actually the international image of the city in some ways is probably better than its domestic image. In Liverpool people volunteer a lot of information which isn’t necessarily relevant to anything (laughter) but they just volunteer it to just talk and I think that’s quite nice but it makes it quite hard to survive anywhere else I think sometimes. A lot of people in Liverpool like to see if you can talk…that’s the way people kind of confront each other or test each other out.”

 

Paul
Born in Ireland, 41 years old. Has lived in Liverpool for 23 years and was community development manager with the the Liverpool Housing Action Trust.

"How Liverpool needs to change and regenerated itself into the future needs to build on what exists in the city now. It shouldn’t be building a vision for a future for new people coming in it should actually be looking at the housing needs and the support needs and the services people need who are living here now. Part of the problem in my view is that the focus is very much on economic regeneration, it’s on high value properties and that’s my concern. I think they need to look at more affordable housing and mixed communities in the city center. I think right now there’s a lot of short term lets, business lets. They’re not going to create viable new neighborhoods this way.”

 

Queenie
Born in Nigeria, 45 years old. Has lived in Liverpool for 23 years and owns an African restaurant on Bold Street.

"I have lived in Liverpool for 20 odd years…so I consider myself a Liverpudlian although I don’t have the accent… which is good! (laughter) I’m not saying that the accent is not good, my children all have the accent, but I just have my own accent and I just get on with it. The best thing about Liverpool for me is the two football teams. For me, I cannot support either one of them (laughter) cause for me they’re both fantastic. When I am with the Everton’s I just have to say “I love Everton” and when I’m with the Liverpool people I just say “I love Liverpool”. But at the end of the day you just have these two great teams… and there has to be love between them, there doesn’t have to be animosity because its all a game and its all the same people of Liverpool… and you have to take everybody as they are.”

 

Roger
Born in Manchester, 58 years old. Has lived in Liverpool for over 30 years and is a presenter on BBC Radio Merseyside.

"I turned up in Liverpool in the early 70’s and just fell in love with it. First its just the most beautiful city I know, the variety of architecture is just extraordinary. Secondly, it has amazing people. The wit thing that people go on about isn’t really it, it’s a strength and a kind of don’t take what anyone says without a pinch of salt, working against the grain rather than with the grain, it’s a tough city and it’s a brotherly city. People cling together, they are very much together as a city and they fight for what they believe to be right… and I loved all that strength and decided, not by default but by decision, to stay in this city. I’d never call myself a Scouser, but I am certainly someone who loves this city and wouldn’t dream of living anywhere else.”

 

Steven
Born in Wirral, 30 years old. Skateboard photographer & co-founder of Document Skateboard Magazine.

"When I was a kid coming to Liverpool to skate it was just a free reign. We never used to get in trouble or hassled by anyone cause nobody cared or understood what we were doing. I guess as its gotten bigger and more people have got into it…and especially since this Capital of Culture thing has come up… they’ve started putting up skate stoppers on all the blocks and rumble strips in front of the steps and arresting kids and taking their skateboards. It’s a shame really, we spent our childhoods growing up in these areas, places where people would just walk past and not even blink at. It’s just a piece of concrete to them, it’s not got any worth or meaning. But to us it’s a perfect piece of concrete where we’ve skated for 15 years and are completely sentimental about like someone else would be about Anfield or Goodison… you know the football grounds. I mean that’s the worst thing about what their doing to all those spaces in the city, it’s all for the Capital of Culture but anything that’s cultural is being shifted out… the buskers, the skateboarders…you know they put a nice piece of marble down and a few shrubs and that’s supposed to be cultural? I just don’t get it.

 

Tony
Born in Liverpool. Urbanist.

"Liverpool has been trying to go down that road of getting that big factory to give everyone a job, which might be fine for five years but then their off again. Cities that have fallen for that corporate message are the ones that have suffered the most. When markets, circumstances, technologies change…their stuck with these dying decaying massive economies. And that’s a very similar story to Liverpool. A lot of Liverpool’s fundamental infrastructure… the brokerage of insurance and of banking grew to international significance along with the shipping and trading companies and then they didn’t need Liverpool anymore so they moved off and moved on. And when the international crashes came in the 70’s and all the branch plants left, Liverpool finally realized that they had nothing left to build anything with. The main reason for Liverpool’s current resurgence is that basically the city couldn’t go any further down. People, no matter how poor they are, have to provide a market and that market is finally being tapped after thirty years of utter dereliction. The original kick-start was by local people taking up the entrepreneurial opportunities that were available. It’s really important to realize that the Scousers did it for themselves first… that kicked off the whole process were seeing now.”

 

Uka
Born in Nigeria, 56 years old. Has lived in Liverpool for 30 years.

“What I would define as culture is the totality of life of everybody. And everybody has the right to practice their own culture, their way of living, their food, their dress, and their nomenclature, which is their naming system. Liverpool is a city that is very renowned in its number of cultures, but the notion we have of about refugees recently in Liverpool, the bad publicity that is given to them is not true. Most of them are skilled and they are not coming here to take our jobs but rather they are doing the jobs that people would feel are meager or menial. If you have suffered from trauma, and then you are here, there is no need to exacerbate this. It is better that we accommodate them as our own people. We have only one blood running in our veins.”

 

Vinny
Born in Liverpool and raised in Skelmersdale, 35 years old. Has lived in Liverpool for 4 years and is a computer programmer and member of Philosophy in Pubs.

“From the dual point of view of the city…the two points of view… the Liverpool/Everton, the Catholic/Protestant… even though that’s there and it’s within it’s history it is not on the same level as say the Celtic and Rangers in Glasgow where there’s a real hate between the groups or like other rivalries around the country. My experience of going to watch Liverpool, especially on Darby day… I mean I used to go with Everton’s, and yeah we’d have a bit of banter beforehand and afterwards but it was like people lived on the same street… you wouldn’t find Celtic and Ranger fans living on the same street. And maybe Liverpool was like that at one time but not ever in my experience. So I like to think that people here tend to be able to see things from the other persons view. Liverpool is a very friendly place and very open and we don’t tend to look at life in such a black and white way.”

 

Wibke
Born in Germany, 33 years old. Has lived in Liverpool for 8 years. Wibke is an artist and works at FACT.

“When I think of Liverpool there are a lot of really beautiful images around the city that just touch me. The Princess Park gate in autumn has the most amazing view because you have all the fog and the steam rising just from behind the gate and it’s all white, then you have this beautiful ornate gate and the grey trees just shine though. But there are a lot of things I find peculiar and one thing is the separate water taps. What is it with hot and cold water taps? And what is it with the installation of them so that their effectively lodged against to the back wall and you have to kind of press your hands against the back wall… the sinks are large but they stay dry cause the water runs down about a centimeter from the back wall and then its either scolding hot or its freezing cold. What is with that?”

 

Xavier
Born in Barcelona, 33 years old. Has lived in Liverpool for 5 years and is a language assistant at the University of Liverpool.

"I’m so happy I’ve come actually, I really like the city. Its completely different from what I was expecting. It is one of the most welcoming cities in the UK I think. The north completely breaks the stereotype that you’ve got of the UK and the people being kind of stiff and not communicative at all, but the people in the north are not like that at all. They like to talk to you and they like to share their experiences with you even though they might even not know you so well.”

 

Yorkie
Born in Liverpool, 44 years old. Musician & Producer.

"I think the thing with the punk generation was we had something specific to rail against and it was never an overtly violent thing. I mean I know that the look of punk looked quite violent but it was never like the Mods or the Rockers…there were never any real clashes. Unfortunately now I think the problems we have with youth is just boredom. But it’s a different kind of boredom when we were punks. Now its like boredom akin to apathy and the mindless violence that’s almost nihilistic is what we have to worry about. Instead of creating something out of your frustration you just want to destroy. I know the punks & Rotten’s rallying cry was ‘get pissed…destroy’ but he didn’t mean destroy each other he just meant destroy the establishment as it is."

 

Zena
Born in Liverpool, 84 years old. A retired postal worker who loves the theatre and folk music.

“I love how green Liverpool has become, especially in the last decade and I love the river as well. Our river has always been a great consolation to me in times of trouble. When I was bothered about anything I used to go down to the pier head, get on the ferry and just cross the river back and forth, back and forth… it’s always been the love of my life and I love it dearly to this day. I love it in all its moods. I’m very sorry we don’t have the shipping that we used to because it was absolutely wonderful to see the ships come in from all over the world… I miss that very much. But I’m just glad that they can take the trade away… but they can’t take the river away.”