Oh it’s hitting me, I’m about to leave the Motherland.
When I moved down to London seven years ago to follow my dream, working as a Buyer for L’Oréal, I never thought I’d return to Liverpool.
As I sat there in my first of two gruelling interviews, dressed in a brown tweed pinafore and matching blazer with a pale blue pussy-bow blouse, hands shaking so violently I had to hide them under the desk, I told my future Director and Hero, Rachel, that I wanted to work for L’Oreal in London, then Paris and New York.
I meant every word. That was my plan.
all the lonely people, where do they all belong?
But my plan fell apart when I fell in what I thought was Love with a dark-skinned human with big malteser eyes, long eyelashes, chubby pink lips, thick glossy hair and a sick sense of humour to match my own. He was a carer and a protector, he made me laugh until my belly hurt and he’d openly adored me for over a decade, telling anybody who would listen.
I was back home from the capital for the weekend, I’d just had dinner with my parents and was lying on the sofa with my legs over the backrest, tapping out on Whatsapp. He was about to go on a first date with somebody, but when he found out I was home, he cancelled at the very last minute and a few moments later he was outside my front door.
I didn’t bother with hair and makeup, and I kept on what I was wearing for lounging around the house – a white and navy striped top, jeans and flip flops, after all this was only Lewie, somebody I’d been friends with for a long, long time. We drove into Woolton Village, laughing all the way and sat outside in the beer garden surrounded by men suffocating in their own cologne and women with far too much face-freezing botox.
So there we were, both of us single for the first time in forever, with years and years worth of friendship about to crumble into something that was destined for destruction.
in the town where I was born, lived a man who sailed to sea
Totally against my character, totally against what I believed in and totally not what I wanted – I sacrificed my L’Oréal dream for what I thought was Love and returned to native soil.
I didn’t look back at London for three whole years. I totally cut contact with everybody I knew down there, which made me feel like a horrible person and even more upset about the move, but I just couldn’t watch the life I should be living, while living out the one I had.
It took a while, but I started to find pieces of joy in living back home. My family and friends were at arm’s reach and I’ve had a big two bedroom apartment, overlooking my favourite park, all to myself, for less than a thousand pound a month. My commute to work was less than twenty minutes by bicycle with no elbow battles on a claustrophobic tube. Taxis into town were less than a tenner. I could do everything I wanted to do in a day with time for at least three costume changes.
Up here, there work-life balance is real.
there are places I’ll remember, all my life, though some have changed
Whenever you live somewhere for a while you can easily become complacent and let life tick along without any appreciation for the things around you.
I never want to let that happen. Maybe that’s part of the reason I want to live in different places around the world. It doesn’t mean I’m restless or never satisfied, it doesn’t mean I don’t like some elements of a conventional settled down life, it just means that every day can be an adventure if you want it to be.
So I became a tourist in my own city.
I attended events at my favourite places; Bluecoat Chambers, The Unity Theatre, Small Cinema, The Brink, the Philharmonic Hall, The Everyman, FACT and The Bombed Out Church. I attended talks about the city, a soliloquy about Margaret Thatcher, watched local theatre shows and stood on the cobbled streets watching parades, listening to bands play and pottering around our museums and galleries.
I fell in Love with Liverpool again.
all the people that come and go, stop and say Hello
We’re famed for The Beatles and Steven Gerrard’s lovely, yet deeply wrinkled forehead, but we’ve got so much more to be proud of. And I have to say without a shadow of a doubt, the very, very best thing about Liverpool is its people.
Growing up as a port city, we’ve always welcomed visitors from all corners of the world with open arms. Our involvement in international trade, although most of which is not something to be proud of, has opened our eyes to other cultures, other traditions and other cuisines. We’re home to the oldest Black community in Britain dating back to the 1730s, we welcomed in the Irish and the Welsh in huge numbers, we have the largest Chinese community in Europe and we’re home to the country’s first mosque.
No wonder our accent is such a magically confused melange of harsh sounds and melodic intonation. We’re a little bit of everyone from everywhere.
Our poverty and hard times have given us a satirical, self-deprecating sense of humour and a respect for community. This city comes together like no other and I genuinely believe our concoction of character and charisma en masse cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
But no matter how boss this place is, my feet have kissed these pavements a million times and I want to ramble over ground my soles have never touched before. And with a city full of Love behind me, I know I’ll Never Walk Alone.