06 March, 2006

Dictionary corner IV



Q is for...

It takes a lot of guts to live in Liverpool and not like The Beatles - which is obviously why I have and always will be a big fan of the best group in the world, and why it's churlish to deny they didn't play some factor in persuading me to put Liverpool University down as my first choice on my UCAS form all those years ago. I soon discovered that contrary to what the various tourist authorities and council bodies and museum initiatives implore, it is possible to conduct your own relationship with The Beatles and live in their hometown at the same time. It's all a matter of choosing where and where not to go (The Beatles Museum at the Albert Dock - I don't want to see Yoko's white piano!), what and what not to read (The Liverpool Echo, always up in arms about Ringo's house being turned over to the National Trust) and when to do it. Which is any time nobody else is doing it, of course.

R is for...

"Capital of culture?" I once heard an old woman mutter as she walked past me down the street. "Capital of fucking litter, more like." It's better than it was, but Liverpool is still graced with more than an excusable amount of refuse blowing about its streets, chiefly in and around LIME STREET STATION (QV) but also anywhere there's a grass verge which rubbish collectors can't easily get to. And it's not small pieces of waste either. A full-size armchair was once dumped outside my front window and sat there for a week before anybody bothered to move it. The fact that the body in question was me, and the fact that I merely moved to somewhere further down the street where I couldn't see it, are both not important.

S is for...

Liverpool doesn't get much snow, which I've always rued and regretted given how beautiful the city does look on those rare occasions it is caked in white and all its harsh angles and grimy vistas are softened and diluted. From memory it's only snowed properly (i.e. settled on the ground) four times in the last ten years. I think it's something to do with being so close to the sea and the city being too low down or facing the wrong way to not get the kind of West coast blizzards regularly visited upon the likes of Glasgow, Carlisle and Manchester. A pity. When it does snow it never sticks around for long either. I remember last Christmas going to bed with snow tumbling down in sheets only to wake up and - the horror - find it all changed to rain and the ground covered in puddles of slush. Euucch. And now I've gone and moved to a place where statistically there's one of the lowest chances of snowfall in the country. Bollocks.

T is for...

The city was responsible for the lowest ever poll in the history of British General Elections, when in 2001 the constituency of Liverpool Riverside delivered a turnout of a pathetic 34%. I was living in the constituency at the time, and despite having voted and made sure (as far as I could) that everyone I knew did the same, I still felt shame at this appalling statistic. It rose to 41% in 2005, but by then I was living in the Liverpool Garston constituency, which scored 50% in 2001 and hit 55% in 2005. None of the other constituencies that make up the city of Liverpool made it above 50% last year or 2001. There are as many causes for this slump in voting as there are consequences. At least turnout is now on an upward trend. Reflective of the declining population of the city is the way the number of constituencies (themselves calculated on the number of residents) has halved in the last 50 years. Meanwhile Everton, once a constituency in its own right, used to be known as "the staunchest Conservative seat in Merseyside". In the council elections of 2003, the number of people who voted Tory in the Everton ward was just fourteen out of 6,840.


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