Saturday 23 July 2016

Crabs, flowers and music;

The other day my son, Tim, arrived home sunburnt and happy, having spend hours on New Brighton beach which was something he had never done before, unlike myself for whom that destination was a regular place to go as a child with my parents and siblings but it is a place that my husband and I did not take our boys as children. Most likely that is due to them growing up here in Litherland on the northern skirts of Liverpool which meant visiting Crosby beach or Formby generally. Whereas I grew up in the city itself so like thousands of other Scousers it was a trip on the ferry across the Mersey to New Brighton where not only did I paddle in the sea and dug in the sand, I also went crabbing because there were plenty of rocks and rock pools to explore, something which Formby lacks and there's not many worth mentioning in Crosby. When I said to Tim that I was sorry he'd missed out on crabbing. Immediately he waxed lyrically about caravan holidays in Anglesey where there were lots of rock pools with eels, sea anemones and kewins.

It was Tim who again reminded me of the old days when he mentioned the orange flowers that had just appeared in our back garden. We had planted nasturtiums seeds, something we hadn't done for years but having seen some seed packets in Lidl I was reminded of my mum planting them in the window boxes in the back yard of our terraced house in Liverpool and how colourful they had been. She used to plant Virginia stock and night scented stock in our very small front garden and I remember her having a single peony in the centre of that garden and when at the beginning of the Seventies when the corporation in its foolishness decided to demolish more of Liverpool than was sensible and erect flats which have since in their turn been demolished, she dug up the peony and transplanted it to my garden.

Today Tim is going with a friend to a music festival in Sefton Park. When I was courting, my future husband and I used to visit Newsham Park and listen to a band play there some weekends or even the odd evening in summer. A love of music is international. Liverpool has gained world fame as a city of music and not only because of the Beetles.
     Yesterday evening I was in the small ballroom of the Liverpool town hall with my husband and no 1 son, Iain, listening to a concert given by the Ten Strings Duo, Davide Sciacca on guitar and Marianatella Ruscica on violin. Sicillian, they played Italian classical musical as well as a touch of French and Brazilian before paying homage to the Beatles with their rendering of Yesterday and Let it Be. It was a magical evening and I almost had to pinch myself to see if it was real as I gazed up at one of the fabulous chandelier as I let the music wash over me. The light danced on the crystal droplets so that different colours twinkled from them. Thanks go to Tony Higginson, erstwhile proprietor of Formby Books and who afterwards was party to the move to the WriteBlend Bookshop and Coffee shop on South Road, Crosby for arranging the event.
     We were all invited to have a drink with the deputy Lord  Mayor, Malcolm  Kennedy, and one of the staff offered to run off a brief history of the town hall when I mentioned being a writer and how at Crosby Writers Club, one of our members mentioned his Irish grandfather had been a Fenian. I had remembered a Fenian plot to destroy the town hall but could not remember the date. Hence her kind gesture and I can give you the date now. It was 1881 and the attempt failed. The first town hall was build in 1515 and presented by the Rev John Crosse but by 1673 it was decided it needed replacing but that building did not last long due to inadequate foundations  and so in 1748 John Wood, a famous architect from Bath, designed a new Town Hall which was opened I'm 1754.
     In 1795 fire broke out and destroyed much of the building but almost immediately plans were set in motion for restoration and a London architect, James Wyatt supervised the rebuilding and expansion on Wood's design. The result is basically the town hall as it is today.
   Edward V11 compared the Town Hall's magnificent suite of rooms with the Czar's Winter Palace in St Petersburg as  being 'the best proportioned in all Europe'.