The Extreme City

Liverpool is a city of extremes. That is its genius and that is its folly.

Liverpool is the second city of the greatest empire the world has ever known. Liverpool is a decaying backwater, the laughing stock of a twisted country.

Liverpool is St George’s Hall, the greatest Neo-Classical edifice in the UK. Liverpool is row upon row upon row of crumbling, boarded-up terraces.

Liverpool had more millionaires than anywhere outside London. Liverpool has the worst poverty, deprivation, disease and alcoholism rates in Britain.

Liverpool attracts people from all corners of the globe to come and live in its vitality. Liverpool repels its own children from the darkness, desperation and cruelty it inflicts upon them.

Liverpool has a world-renowned friendliness and openness, unknown elsewhere in the UK. Liverpool hates outsiders, and not to have the accent is not to belong.

Liverpool has a legendary dry wit that stands for no bullshit. Liverpool is arrogant, philistine and bloody-minded.

Liverpool always puts a brave face on, walking tall even when faced with despair. Liverpool wallows in its own self-pity and does nothing to cure its own situation.

Liverpool is united in a crisis. It never walks alone. Liverpool cries as its children are slaughtered, but no one will ever dare to GRASS on DE FAMLEE.

Liverpool is Saturday night – the lights, sounds and magic of one hundred thousand people determined to have a good time. Liverpool is Sunday morning – vomit, dirt and black blood swilling through the deserted pavements.

Liverpool is North Liverpool: decay, despair and pain etched into the very fabric of the buildings. Liverpool is South Liverpool: fucking poets drinking fucking plonk in fucking wine bars.

Liverpool is Catholic: drunken, fatalistic, dramatic and burdened with guilt. Liverpool is Protestant: pious, arrogant, brutal and judgmental.

Liverpool is the dreamer gazing at the sunset and the Liver Birds from the shadow of the Anglican Cathedral. Liverpool is the vicious, dead-eyed fucker coming up behind them, looking for a fix that the rich architecture won’t provide.

Liverpool is an extreme city. That is its brilliance. And it’s folly. The city is a thousand broken, beautiful dreams shattered on the rocks of reality. Always willing to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, gun always pointed firmly at its own feet. People love Liverpool passionately, people hate Liverpool passionately, and it is these polar extremes that create the culture. It can be tough, but always remember, that famous line from Harry Lime in Orson Welles’ The Third Man:

“Don’t be so gloomy. After all it’s not that awful. Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love – they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.”