There are many many pretty girls here, is what I thought peering over the pier at what’s now a disused dockyard. The boys aren’t bad either, I see mullets. Over there filling up the whole middle-distance is that brick. If I was a trader of all things human and I got Liverpool as my port of export, then my top three exports would be: The Beatles, The Brick, The Accent. Can’t have enough of that alluring accent, though it doesn’t like me much and it sure doesn’t hide it, I like it very much. Liverpudlian. Feels like sticky toffee pudding when you try to mimic it. Leaves a tang at the back of your throat like those sour red sugarcoated laces did, the kind I used to buy from the tuck shop when I was little, those that once made my tongue bleed when I ate a hundred of the laces in one go, to prove a point to myself.
The taxi driver who sat silent and staring whilst we gave off affected chatter in disaffected tones in the back perked up: ‘The laa-jest br’ick building in the whol’er Yeur-up that.’ Our three little heads swivel round to see the enormity of this brick building, there’s a lake that could house the Loch Ness monster in between the two halves of this vast brick structure, stretching back more than double it is wide, and it is very very wide. I ask, ‘What was it for?’ and the taxi man replies, ‘Tobacco’. The old and abandoned tobacco factory, the largest brick building in Europe, I’ve never seen it before but it’s already iconic. It demands significance.
There are more hairdressing schools in the city than there are supermarkets. It’s an important facet: hair (and obviously it is, why not). There are also two cathedrals, and the Anglican one is the largest of its kind in the entire world. I feel like in my tiny London-shaped-mashed-brain I’d overlooked some of the grander things this England had to hold, like this place. The sun glared at us from high above as bands played to a backdrop of sea and gulls. A cruise liner the size of a council estate appeared one sunny afternoon on the horizon, and I ate the best hot dog of my life, mainly because it was soaked in sauerkraut and I in ale.
The one time I had to order a cab over the phone I remembered the words of the little brother. ‘You ask for a taxi in your accent and you won’t get one. “Fully booked, sorry love.” Is what they’ll say.’ And the one time I ordered a cab over the phone I got the not uncommon and plain knee-jerk reply, ‘Sorry love, fully booked for the day.’ And my! a taxi firm booked up a for a whole day. Must be a busy port still, Liverpool.