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Juli and I spent a day in Liverpool.
Why I chose to go to Liverpool I don’t remember very well. Maybe because Denis wrote to me or because Julia wanted to visit the Beatles Museum or maybe because I saw pictures of Anthony Gromly’s Another Place on Internet and wanted to visit it – certainly all of them but what motivated me the most to choose Liverpool over Birmingham or Cambridge, I don’t quite remember.
Oh wait, as I write this, I remember that it was none of the above. I chose Liverpool for it is quite up north and on the way to Carlisle – a silly reason but made sense to me then. I am glad we went to Liverpool.
After the not-so-pleasant couchsurfing experience in Oxford, Julia and I were unsure of how this host would be! But Denis always seemed nice and friendly. I never wrote to Denis. I left a message in the Liverpool community of Couchsurfing and 43 year old Denis Murphy was the only person to write to me:
hi mubin, i’ve seen your profile, you are welcome at my place in liverpool at any time between 13-24 july, however long you want to stay, there’s a room with a double bed, but if you insist you can have a couch, i’ve got 2 at the moment.
hello again, i like your breakfast photo. i notice there’s ham there, so i assume you’re not a vegetarian. my breakfasts are good, even if you are a vegetarian
I replied to his messages, thanking him for his offer. Denis then introduced me to his art which I found very fascinating and shared on this blog even before leaving for England. While I was in London and Oxford, Denis and I texted each other occasionally about the weather and my time of arrival etc.
It was hard to believe Denis’ first act of kindness, he was at the railway station to pick us up! Given that Julia and I missed one of our connecting trains and reached Liverpool over an hour late, Denis surely waited in the train station all that time!
From the train station we went to Denis’ house in the suburbs to dump my super heavy luggage – that was a 30 minute bus ride (one way). By now Julia and I already could tell who is a friendly host and Denis seemed extremely friendly and nice. He was free to show us around and we were happy to go wherever he took us but first – something to eat and drink.
Walking around Liverpool’s suburbs wasn’t the same as walking around London and Oxford, the suburbs are deserted, homes looked empty, people seemed bored, bus stops unexciting and dogs depressed. There was a whiff of sadness in the air and I couldn’t tell where it came from. Some houses were beautiful, some neglected. But none had laughter coming out of it – there was absolutely no sound. We heard nothing but the sound of wind for the 20 minutes we walked from the bus stop to Denis’ house. I wish this neighbourhood soon turns into an active, alive and breathing community.
Now, Denis shared pictures of his house on Couchsurfing but it wasn’t enough to help me imagine it as it is – every nook and corner covered in art, posters everywhere, art everywhere – on the walls, the roof, only the floor was spared. Julia and I were hungry and we were eager to see Liverpool so we left the Denis’ house tour for later.
We went to Denis’ favourite pub where he once had an exhibition of his art and one of them was stolen! I must soon write to Denis to help recall the name of the pub. It is here that I had the first strawberry beer. Going to a pub first was a great idea for Julia and I had a chance to speak with Denis – very interesting, genuinely friendly and funny, it was a pleasure to meet Denis.
Juli and I soon realized that Denis is very likeable, very kind and gentle a person – we were making a new friend and that was most exciting. It’s very interesting how we three told stories to each other of our lives while walking the streets of Liverpool – it was instant-knowing-each other, sounds so superficial but it was amazingly deep.
I could see how exceptionally talented Denis is – a Spanish language expert, an artist, also speaks other European languages, is widely read but Denis wouldn’t admit that he is in anyway awesome – ‘nah, I am not awesome’ he says 🙂 The marketer in me suddenly awoke and I told Denis of the possibilities that lay in front of him – work for technology companies – they need translators, sell your art – you will get really popular, come to India! If I were Denis, I’d ask Mubin to shut up but Denis listened and that made me happy for it means he probably likes some of my ideas.
Though Denis is not particularly fond of the Beatles, he took us to Matthew Street where the Beatles was born and Julia bought a lot of gifts for her father who’s a Beatles fan. With Denis around us, Julia and I were unafraid, careless travelers who spotted things here and there – and showed it to each other ‘look, look, Lennon statue, ‘ or ‘look, look, piano bench!’ I don’t know how boring it must have been for Denis to hang out with two over excited travelers but we were super delighted to be in a new city with a new friend where music is religion and the Beatles Gods. I am not so familiar with the Beatles, hence they are not my God but that didn’t stop me from loving Matthew Street – a small street but very interesting and true to everything Beatles!
While walking along Matthew Street, I asked Denis if there’s any super-exciting café nearby.
Me: Is there an ‘Imagine’ Café? There must be one, that’s such a popular song!
Denis: No, I think there isn’t.
Me: What?!!!! How can there not be?! It’s Liverpool and Imagine is Lennon’s! Maybe it’s not there because you should start one.
Denis only smiled.
We dragged the averse-to-Beatles Denis into The Cavern – Julia wanted to treat us to martini there. I love The Cavern more for its awesomeness than its history. It’s a true tavern, dark and dingy but the coolest one with messages written on walls and where people danced to the music of their Gods. I believe Denis amused himself by clicking pictures of Juli and me clicking pictures of each other. This is a very Denis thing – taking pictures of people taking pictures.
I asked Denis if we can go to Crosby – “quite easily,” he replied. We took a bus to Crosby and went to see the Irish Sea and the Iron Men. I know a lot controversy surrounded the installation of the 100 men statues but I as a tourist loved them. I am glad they will remain there forever. We made friends with number 87 with whom we clicked pictures.
I thought I remember Crosby mentioned in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner as the town where the mariner turned up, at a wedding. I couldn’t wait to get home to Google this information. How wonderful that would have been! But alas, I wasn’t right. There’s no mention of Crosby in the ‘Rime of the Ancient Mariner.’ I wasn’t all that unreasonable in making that guess. Crosby is a nice town but the numerous ‘Funeral Services’ shops make it gloomy.
Exhausted from the long walk to the beach, we returned to Denis’ house and things about that evening should be told in another blogpost for that’s huge too.