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
What is it about train journeys through cities? Or train journeys to a city? There’s something so poignant in it. Part pride and part discovery and part choking-nostalgia. I’ve never forgotten the muddled way I felt as that S-Bahn train picked it’s grey way to Berlin. Or the familiar rise every time I saw the Hat Museum in Stockport and knew that Manchester could only be minutes away. And those sudden brick walls that enclose the train and seem to touch the sky and mean you’re in Liverpool now. Sometimes I don’t think you can be fully indebted to a city until you have looked upon it through the windows of a train.
And so, to London. The ways you can train to it and through it are so many and so varied that I could never tire of it. Here’s how I saw it (once).
Last night I could mostly be found bopping my head around the Kazimier in Liverpool, drinking Krombacher and admiring the banisters and watching Pokey Lafarge and the South City Three boss it. Obviously loved it/obviously took a million photos/obviously about to show you some. Oh and Liverpool? It didn’t take me long to realise how much I’ve missed you. Felt it as soon as I stepped off the train. I won’t leave it so long next time.