The Cathedral bell, tolled, could never tell;
nor the Liver Birds, mute in their stone spell;
nor the Mersey, though seagulls wailed, cursed, overhead,
in no language for the slandered dead…
not the raw, red throat of the Kop, keening,
or the cops’ words, censored of meaning;
not the clock, slow handclapping the coroner’s deadline,
or the memo to Thatcher, or the tabloid headline…
but fathers told of their daughters; the names of sons
on the lips of their mothers like prayers; lost ones
honoured for bitter years by orphan, cousin, wife –
not a matter of football, but of life.
Over this great city, light after long dark;
Truth, the sweet silver song of the lark.

Liverpool – Carol Ann Duffy

life, literature

i met a gin-soaked bar-room queen in memphis…

If there was a list of people who’ve cried at the Saatchi Gallery’s Rolling Stones: Exhibitionism, I’d be on it. The reason it moved me to tears is because, I think, it’s literally impossible to tell the story of The Rolling Stones without a massive injection of poignancy. The exhibition ends by bundling you into a dark room for a 3D airing of (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, taken from the Stones’ 2013 Hyde Park gig. For me, the euphoria of this footage can’t help but go hand-in-hand with a sad, sad sense of time passed and passing.

My favourite part of the exhibition (pictured below) was the quaint revelation that Ronnie Wood artistically records rehearsal song-lists – so we can remember what we’ve played – and in what key! Chronological histories of the band’s tours and albums were displayed in impressive digital loops; homage was paid to the reverent Billy Preston and the many, many other collaborators to have worked with the band; there were guitars, costumes, photographs, never-before-seen footage, intricate tales of stage/logo design, album artwork and documentary-making, plus a replica recording studio and even the chance to mix your own Stones tracks. There was no ‘stone’ left unturned, if you will. We visited on the exhibition’s second day, so it has to be said there were some teething (read: crowd control) problems, but I can only assume these will have been smoothed out.

If you love the Stones, there’s only one thing for it: you’ve gotta go. Just make sure you set aside a couple of hours and, if you’re anything like me, take a tissue.

life, travel

this love of life makes me weak at the knees.

We stayed at the Town Hall Hotel last week – partly for a birthday and partly just because. It’s an original Edwardian town hall turned hotel in Bethnal Green, so it was, of course, non-stop swooning. Ours was the Feature Suite, which turned out to be code for a very fancy bedroom door and oodles of character within. I even went for an uncharacteristic dip in the hotel pool. Our stay also meant a drink at the Peg & Patriot and dinner in The Corner Room, where my food was off-the-scale tasty – though I must admit the absence of side options left me hankering for a potato in any of its guises. Sadly we gave the incredible-looking Typing Room a miss – because they only offer a tasting menu [and have you met me and risk]. We also went for a couple in the very nearby Mother Kelly’s Tap Room [before dinner] [and after dinner]. I loved it all. Bethnal Green, you don’t half scrub up well.

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