25 December 2011
For Thursday, I’d booked a tour: the Magical Mystery Tour. I walked over early enough that I could do something else: I decided to take a ride on the ferris wheel. It’s 60 meters high, and I do believe I could actually see to Wales.
Unlike the last few days, the sky is only mostly cloudy, and it gets clearer (and warmer) as the day progresses.
There’s something weird about me and industrial cities like Liverpool and Glasgow (and Pittsburgh): I love them. I can’t explain it. They just seem more real than some of the more glitzy places I’ve been.
The Magical Mystery Tour picked us up at the Albert Dock and took us around the various Beatles sites, including Strawberry Field and Penny Lane and all the various places where The Beatles grew up.
Sadly, the house where Ringo was born is scheduled, along with the other council houses for several blocks, to be demolished.
I should step back for a moment: three of the four Beatles grew up in public housing. Mendips, the house where John lived with his Aunt Mimi, was the exception; it’s not a huge house, but it’s 2-3 times larger than any of the others and has a significant side yard. Instead of a row house, it’s part of a duplex.
Because Mimi forbade John from playing in the house, John went over to Paul’s to write music. Thus, in 1965, the National Trust bought the McCartney home, the first 20th century building to be added, because of the history where the songs were written. When Mendips came up for sale in the 60s, the National Trust wasn’t interested because it wasn’t historic enough. Within the last decade, Yoko bought Mendips when it came on the market and donated it to the National Trust. I suppose that’s one way to accomplish it.
The other two Beatles, though, their homes were not deemed historically significant enough for the National Trust, either, so there’s no effort to preserve them even though Ringo and George were both actually born in those buildings. So Ringo’s childhood home is slated for demolition, and many fans have scrawled Ringo-love phrases all over the façade.
The house where George grew up, his family moved out when he could afford to help them do so. For the last 40 years, the same woman’s lived there, and our tour guide called her “the most patient woman in all of England.” It’s probably true.
Driving around Liverpool gave me a real sense of the place, and I loved the competing Anglican and Catholic cathedrals at either end of the appropriately-named Hope Street.
The bus tour ends near the Cavern Club somewhere, but that area’s now a part of a pedestrian center of Liverpool, so they can’t actually take us right to it. So we’re off.
Catch is, I actually have no idea where I am. I have the souvenir map from the tour. I’ve forgotten about the map in my pocket. I wander aimlessly down the streets full of people. There are wonderful-smelling food stalls with lots on offer, but the ones that seem are gluten-free aren’t quite ready yet.
For the first time, I duck into McD’s. I need a place to sit, it’s cheap, and I can use Amex. Mostly, I need something to take with my pills, so I get a coke, which makes the ibuprofen go faster.
I walk back to the house and sleep fitfully. At 5:30, I happen to wake up and look at my phone, and you know the rest: my mother-in-law passed away. I talk to Rick on the phone for a while, and don’t sleep well at all, understandably.