“City Walks” by Andrew Taylor
Vernon Street stands large in memory.
Hidden behind screens, until the
move upstairs, where light poured in
framed by blind-less windows. Tom’s
studio, city model floored with Dave
working delicately. Faces familiar by
daily routine and shortcuts to
Tithebarn Street, somehow becoming
a part of it all. Captured in journal entries
and stored on the camera’s disks.
Town Hall on the lip of the hill. Sensing
the river at the foot of Water Street. While
Castle Street’s windows stand decorated
for Christmas, we gather at the entrance,
security check Billy’s, Stu’s and my
credentials. Nicki walks straight through!
Wonder at the chandeliers as the Mayor’s
chains rattle through wine soaked laughter.
Balcony waving, think of the Beatles standing
here 100,000 crowded below.
Lime Street Station, gateway to the world, end of the
line. The Head of Steam exhibition space filled by poetry
and posters crafted on the A1 printer on quality paper off
Simon Fay’s Dad. Microphone picks up the wind, sitting
in Winter’s shadows by SuperLamb. Sat in the pea coat
bought in San Francisco with Jonny, reciting to camera, twice.
Elements to the fore, Christmas Day alone at the Pier Head,
snow catching in the lapels of Japanese tourists. Lines flying,
river quiet. Driving past the Cathedral before being photographed
there, days of candle lighting and being resident there.
Wall of Fame in Spring sunshine. Mathew Street
clogged with cameras and people who were there
in the Sixties. Karl fighting through to photograph
eyeing security suspiciously. A few minutes walk
from Vernon Street, declining the invitation to The
Living Room and the reception after. Visiting Tait’s
for lunch. Soup, sandwich and Seabrooks at one of
the ground floor desks. Office quiet, time to catch up
with photocopying and typing up notes. Maybe wander
through to St John’s Gardens, catch some sun.
Butterflies find the breeze on Hope Street. Carry down
Huskisson Street, shortcut to an open window where
lunch time music is played and poetry is typed. Conversations
encircle as the One O’clock News arrives. Plans for curry
before an exhibition opening, maybe a drink in The Grapes.
Laura ringing and not understanding the laughter from the
front room. Using that room to finish the ‘Cathedral’ poems,
Billy cooking at the other end of the flat. Unkle company, with
Richard Ashcroft and buses at the lights. Passengers
staring in through angled blinds.
It’s like Paris with the fairy lights and the tunnel.
Hours earlier visiting McCartney at The Walker,
Si battling with Pay & Display. Telling an old
woman ‘it’s free after 4 O’clock’, watching her
talking to strangers about art. The new Travelodge
looms over Manchester Street, sign not yet illuminated:
a signifier of a city on the mend? Crowds stream from
The Empire and Sunset Boulevard. The passage under
St George’s Hall resonates with the souls of those
City to City. Travelling away, somewhere where sun
shines without question. Or Chester in the rain, shelter under eaves,
sensing the city out there leaden with reminiscence. Autumnal
Cocteau Twins sounds replicated with rain on the river. View across
clouded with mist Cathedral rising. Angles highlighted like a Guy
Woodland photograph. Months later, ferry riding fuelled with
scalding coffee. Birkenhead caught just right, light reflecting off
tower blocks. Billy armed as ever with the camera, fills disks. All
quiet on deck save for whispered talk of pensioners. Cains captured,
its redness matching that of its famous neighbour.
Fine Art Degree Show, Myrtle Street. Sky clears over the city, as a fire
alarm evacuates the building. Car Park, full of names of the future? Owen
Powell’s city photograph High District Brightness (2002) with artificial
light rising as natural light levels fall, captures my mood. Katherine Blain’s
Untitled Drawing Installation (2002) with its recognisable landmarks gives
a sense of being in a city within a city. Rodney Street lit like for use in a TV
show, Tabac brims with evening trade. Bold Street has the demolition
team in creating a walkthrough to the FACT Centre and Manolis Yard. While
the Sisters of Mercy are losing their garden to create a public square in front of
The Tea Factory, the homeless crowd on their step.
Chinese Arch in morning low cloud. All quiet on the walk to
Jordan Street, these Streets I never tire of. Tigger uses construction
wood to scratch, a glimpse of recognition in her eyes. Rollercoaster
emotion causes water to rise and clear before crossing Great George
Square. Office quiet, no place to call my own. Judy Boyt’s model
stands in reception, I imagine it life size and the thrill that the Carter’s
would have to see their dream realised. Chinese Arch in warm summer
sun. Tigger rolls around on warm flags. Rob McDonald, notebook in
hand, comes to say hello. We talk of Manchester’s architecture.
In Rome the feral cats live amongst the ruins.
Calmness of dawn before the chorus, amplified through
sleep lightened, as a blackbird alarm rings out from
the gutter above. Countless miles pedometer clocked,
blisters proof. Eager to rise and follow the path, my route
out to the City, where I could walk blindfolded and still
know the way. Ageing in tandem, as the ravens appear
back at the Cathedral, the rabbits play below in the cemetery
and I am transfixed once again. Shudder to think of the
‘Cathedral’ poems housed safely, gathering dust.
I could lose myself in American art and Liverpool girls.