Culture transmitting from every orifice


After a hearty breakfast of Bran Flakes, orange juice, a boiled egg and a cup of coffee, I ventured forth. Back to the Albert Dock. I was planning a day of culture. The Tate Museum has a space here, and being a person of deep notions, I decided that art would be edifying.
I enjoyed it – particularly the filmed performance, photography and poetry exhibition by American artists Mary Reid Kelley and Patrick Kelley. It comprised of two filmed pieces – called ‘I am offal’ and ‘The body of the sturgeon’, which were narrated with poetry, and accompanied by photographs. ‘I am offal’ is about a woman who has committed suicide and her ghost is in conversation with her bodily organs – including the arrogant heart who sneers at the brain and the feet,  as she is going to be used in a transplant. I have absolutely no idea about what any of it actually meant – I never do. The very fact that I was there means I am intelligent though. To drive home this salient fact, I stroked my chin and murmured ‘Hmmm, interesting’ throughout. Just to quell any doubt.

After the Tate, around the corner I strutted to the Maritime Museum – a fascinating place which explores what its name describes. The ‘Black Salt’ exhibition about black people’s involvement with the British navy since Tudor times was excellent. The Lusitania display was educational. The Titanic section was underwhelming – Liverpool is sort of clutching at straws by pretending that this ship is a Liverpool ship. It ain’t. It’s from Belfast. Perhaps I am suffering from Titanic fatigue though – this story is so widely known that it didn’t really impress me.

The Merchant Navy section was riveting. My Dad was in the British Merchant Navy for several years. He never really spoke about his time there, so it was great to see what his life would have been like on the ships.  The ‘Hello Sailor’ segment of the museum – detailing life for gay sailors was entertaining. Although whoever approved the inclusion of the misspelled name of Liza Minnelli needs a stern talking to. She’s actually performed a song about the fact that her name is not Lisa. I was horrified.

All told however, it was a splendid museum.

Afterwards I paid a visit to Liverpool’s oldest building – the Bluecoat. Built in 1717 it was originally an orphanage, and was turned into an arts centre in 1927 – the oldest arts’ centre in the country. Interesting place. Although its surroundings are utterly horrific. It lies slap bang in the middle of Liverpool ONE – a modern outdoor, pedestrianised, shopping complex which takes up vast swathes of central Liverpool. I feel threatened, and slightly nauseated by such monuments to consumerism. This place is the stuff of my nightmares. It screams ‘Buy, buy, buy!!!’ at you from every corner. After the peace of the Bluecoat, I hurriedly left the neighbourhood.

As it was Sunday, I decided to go to church. Protestant Church in fact. I walked towards the Liverpool Cathedral – the anglican cathedral of the city. It is vast, tacky, flamboyant and gaudy. Utterly thrilling, with its massive arched rooves and stained glass windows. I was surprised to learn that it is barely more than a century old. It feels ancient. A beautiful building.

Despite my hardcore atheism, I was feeling slightly blasphemous at having been to the protestant cathedral, without also paying a trip to the catholic cathedral – The Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King. This is a modern building, having been completed in 1967. Its local nickname is Paddy’s Wigwam, because of the fact that Liverpool’s catholic population is predominantly of Irish extraction and because the design of the building resembles a monstrously huge replica of a Native American dwelling place. Unfortunately I reached it too late to enter. Its exterior is very impressive however.

After the exertions of the day I decided that I deserved an alcoholic beverage in a homosexual establishment. I trotted back to the Cavern Quarter where all the gay bars are located. In the Masquerade Bar, a drag queen was on the decks – playing the international soundtrack of gay life – ‘Super Trouper’ by ABBA. I strongly approved, and purchased a pint of dark berry cider.

On my way home, I stopped at a takeaway for a sit down meal of fish, chips, mushy peas and litres of vinegar.

Tomorrow is my last day. As my flight is not until 7pm, I need to do some research for places to visit. I feel like I have only scratched the surface of this town.

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