Three more days have passed and you must think I drank some bad tonic to enlist such an inappropriate subtitle! But please be patient.
Liverpool, Glasgow and Dublin have now been visited. I’m happy to say that I have finally set foot on Scottish and Irish soil and it was truly a wonderful experience. But I expected as much after so much chatter from friends about how beautiful Scotland and Ireland are - both in the cities and in the countryside, its kind and proud people, and its key role in local and world history. Nevertheless, for now, I’ll leave these memories locked up inside, and dedicate the rest of this blog Chapter 2 to Liverpool. (I have one more day in Dublin and maybe I will be inspired to write something later).
Liverpool: I was prepared for Liverpool as an industrial wasteland, dirty, dreary and depressing! It was the home of the Beatles, and that’s the only reason worth going there.
Nothing was further from the truth…really! As for some examples, a few pictures, when posted, will showcase the beauty and majesty of the two cathedrals, one representing the Church of England and the other one Catholic. But more broadly, the city was filled with old and well preserved buildings centuries old, but it also had its share of those in some disrepair. Town squares, statutes of famous dignitaries, the hustle and bustle of a vibrant city and a very well done harbor area prepared perfectly to accommodate a growing number of visitors making Liverpool an easy and enjoyable city to visit and navigate. Some lovely historical residential areas were in the process of revival and repair, not unlike other cities in England or elsewhere on the globe. Liverpool was quite a nice city overall, nothing to be embarrassed about, as for example one truly in disrepair - Blackpool, which I have disparagingly written about previously.
Of course, memorabilia and historical landmarks about the Beatles dominate the city with places to go and things to see. Nearly every street is dotted with reminders of the places and events that were crucial in the evolution of the Beatles. The Beatles Museum was quite wonderful and entertaining…and brought back memories of when I first heard the Beatles play on the Ed Sullivan Show as a senior in High School, three months before graduating and going off to college. And of course, everyone needs to go the Cavern, the underground venue that the Beatles became famous playing in.
Having squandered the better part of the morning at the Beatles Museum, in anticipation of our scheduled afternoon half-day city tour, we drifted back to the ship for lunch. On the way, we visited several other museums without the time to fully invest in them, which was truly a shame. They included the maritime museum that included displays and historical relics from the Lusitania as well as the Titanic. The other museum that was located on the top floor of the complex was the Slavery Museum!!!! What was that all about??????
It turns out that Liverpool was extremely engaged in slave trading of the 18th Century. In fact, it was the European slave trading capital, responsible for over half of the three million slaves transported from Africa and then sold, including those sent to North America. In its busiest period in the late 1700’s, hundreds of ships were working simultaneously to transport Africans around the globe. Of course, without the time to fully invest into the museum, I have very little insight into how this plays into the history of the city or its moral recompense. I do know that slave trading made many folks very rich and bolstered the English economy until slavery was finally abolished in 1807. To be honest, it makes me extremely uncomfortable to write about this without further explanation or context. It becomes even more painful to admit that anything so offensive as slave trading had any positive impact on the health and wellbeing of a major British city; indeed, this is beyond repugnant!
Am I the only human on earth that didn’t know about Liverpool’s role in slave trading???? And so I am now completely embarrassed that my knowledge of Liverpool was heretofore limited to its portrayal as a boring industrial town, whose most important claim to fame was that it was the home of the Beatles.
Maybe I should not be so hard on myself. Certainly, Liverpool does not want to dwell on its roll as a slave trading capital for the same reason it was a slave trading capital – because it created economic prosperity. Obviously, dwelling on this theme in the present would have the opposite effect. The Beatles venues now sit as the major attractions for tourists and other visitors to spend their money on. They will remain forever a major attraction and cash cow. The city would like nothing more than to bury its dark history of the past and concentrate on the story of the most celebrated musical group in the history of the world!