On a short city break, staying in the Adelphi, a grand old lady of palatial decor, we find the white buildings of Liverpool shine in the sun like the sugar its wealth was spun from. The city does not hide from its past, as the museums attest.
We know about slavery but a surprising piece of hidden history was to learn of the repatriation of Chinese men post World War Two. Their long settled presence was found superfluous by the powers that be and they were simply whisked off, picked
up by enforcers acting secretly like pressgangs, leaving wives and children to wonder after their loss. We go to the Alphonse Mucha exhibition and learn how ephemeral these art nouveau images, (so familiar to the Athena poster shopper's era), really
are, printed as they were on cheap paper for everyone to enjoy. They were not conceived of as being art to last by the artist himself, but done as innovative advertisements incorporating nationalist symbols in the icon like figures. They are
faded in colour now and have to be seen in a dim light to preserve them.
The city today has broad busy roads, with a friendly kind of buzz about it, full of tourists, and there are defined quarters to visit, Cultural, Cavern, Albert docks, for
example. We see a wildly musical one man band performing energetically and find ourselves walking up the hilly streets to discover beautiful Georgian houses, then a little bohemian stretch of independent shops down another and sit with icecreams on the
sunny boulevard of the docks, where a huge cruise ship has moored and there's a funfair. Our hotel is full of very elderly coach trippers, gamely determined.
"We're going to Southport next" a couple tell us at breakfast.
"Don't take your
shoes off for a paddle though," warns another. "It's a long way to the sea."
"I can't take them off ," the husband replies, laughing. "Once they're on, that's it for the day!"