When I first visited Liverpool as a prospective student, back in the early 1980s, I was struck immediately by what self-respecting hippies would call “good vibes”. This was summed up by the name of the street which I lived near for three years: Hope Street.
As I walked up the hill from Lime Street Station, I became aware of an atmosphere which I hadn’t felt anywhere else, and I haven’t forgotten that feeling over thirty years later.
I have never had this confirmed, but I always assumed that Hope Street is so-called because it connects the two distinctive cathedrals, inland and uphill from the city centre. Having said that, the cathedrals are both relatively recent features in Liverpool, so I may be completely wrong in my assumption. I guess that Christians don’t have a monopoly on Hope either.
So, on one of my regular pilgrimages to the old haunts, I took my family up to the top of the Anglican Cathedral. Unfortunately, it was a pretty windy day, and the family snaps didn’t come out very flattering—not that you could tell in my case, as my hair always looks like it’s windy.
The last time I’d been up the monstrous cathedral’s bell tower was in the eighties, and my faltering memory was confirmed by the equally unnerving experience of the interior stairway, high above the bells, which were also high above the ground floor.
Naturally, a visit to Hope Street requires a trip to both cathedrals, and Paddy’s Wigwam (as it’s sometimes known), at the other end, always impresses with its futuristic architecture and seemingly fluorescent windows. I always half-expect Buck Rogers to step out of a side room, dressed in white Lycra.