Thursday, 19 November 2009

LIVERPOOL It all came Tumbling Down

I still recall the first time I read Freddie O’Connor’s, It all came Tumbling Down. And 25 years later it still gets to me just what we have lost. Post 2008 it continues and won’t stop. I am not sure how or when it happens or how you feel a sense of loss watching old times that were tough and hard change and we roll into a plastacine characterless paradise lost that we are all suppose to be eternally grateful for.

It was about 20 years ago that I wandered into a derelict forlorn church ‘Our Lady’s’ on St Domingo Road and saw part of the rude screen on the floor the place was a wreck, pieces strewn all over the place. I had been born two streets away in poverty in a damp ridden rabbit hutch. A two up, two down. All around were bomb craters we called the debris. I played war in streets abandoned by owners because they were worthless. The industry was leaving and there was no work. No we don’t want to go back to that but it is something to say that there was character in the poverty, people were different, skills were abound. I remember the beautiful stain glass windows of that Church smashed to smithereens and I decided to rescue the wooden carved structure. I went to ask the priest who quickly said to me as I pleaded to take a childhood memory before it goes. “Do what you want mate, I am the Vicar and that’s a catholic church”. Well the old Irish rivalry still seemed to be there all those years later. We used to team out the football game Protestants against Catholics. I read in Freddie’s book 15 years later that it was a Pugin Church that was to the original Chancel Chapel to what was to be the biggest Cathedral in Christendom as it was on the peak of St Georges plateau and could be seen for miles. The site was abandoned for the current place and Lutyens was brought in and in turn he only got as far as the crypt and decades after the war we ended up with the Oscar Neimeyer copy by Gibbard instead. I really felt that I had saved something a little piece of history. I later found out there were three other Pugin Buildings in the same short space in between the Grade I listed St Georges to which was attached to our school with its old fashioned headmaster with his old fashioned values. They are all gone now and the poverty is still there only it is flimsy and character-less. Our Street is in Freddie O’Connor’s book a picture of the house I grew up in. It reminds me of how I lament the passing of a spirit, a link to the past. Because if you build on your past you keep the simple senses happy, those of security and pride and belonging… that’s what came tumbling down, and its still happening, when will it stop.

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