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Tony Schumacher: Lullaby of Lime Street

Like a beloved old car, some things are different. And different is worth going the extra mile for

Published on January 8th 2015.



I'VE got an old car. It’s a bit noisy, not particularly attractive to look at or, for that matter, comfortable to be in.

 I know my neighbours don’t like it, mostly because it doesn’t fit in with the BMWs and Mondeos that  hang around in suburbia. It can be temperamental and occasionally needs slightly more of my time than it deserves, but I love it, and I think it is worth it, so I do it.

A few months ago I was lying under my old car when Adrian, one of my neighbours, wandered across from washing his Lexus and said: “Now you’re a big time author I expect you’ll be getting rid of this old thing?”

I pushed myself out from under, squinted up at him and replied: “Expect? Or Hope?”

If I’m being honest, I’ve a sneaking suspicion Adrian would prefer it if I lived somewhere else.

It’s not that I have a problem with new cars. I’ve owned them in the past when I’ve needed to, and they do a job, they get you where you want to be in a lot better fashion than my old thing.

It’s just that I don’t want a new car, I want something that is interesting, has a bit of soul, needs a bit of  work, and elicits a reaction of sorts and occasionally makes people stop and stare.

I want to stand out from the crowd a little, be a bit different, and if that means making a bit of effort and getting my hands dirty, so be it.

Lime Street is my old car.

Liverpool One is Adrian and his Lexus.

 Occasionally I wander over to Liverpool One and enjoy its electric windows and air conditioning, and very nice they are too. I don’t have a problem with the artificial buskers playing pianos or, for that matter, the plastic trees and prefabricated park built on polystyrene blocks with its outside sound stage and its musicians singing along to tapes.

It serves a purpose and does its job more than capably.

Liverpool One is a Lexus. Lime Street, however, is my old car, the only difference is they’ve let its MOT expire, stood it on bricks, and are now trying to flog it off for scrap.

The Adrians of successive councils haven’t liked Lime Street living locally for years. I’ve a feeling they’ve tutted through net curtains whenever they’ve heard people shouting “Goodnight God bless!” outside the Yankee Bar. I’m guessing they’ve tutted whenever they’ve seen the old blokes in the suits and gold chains smoking outside X In The City, and I’ll wager the loudest of tuts has been reserved for Sweet Karaoke Caroline rattling the windows of the Big House.

Lime Street doesn’t fit with the neighbourhood and they’d sooner it went.

The Futurist is dear to me for reasons I’ve gone into before and, like The Futurist, I’ll not go into it again because it’s too late. Just another crime against posterity, another crime against character, another crime gone unpunished, but never mind, Adrian will be happy he doesn’t have to look at it any more. 

When Liverpool Council is looking for a picture for its latest shiny brochure it doesn’t want a picture of my old car driving down Lime Street, it wants a picture of Adrian and his perfect teeth and his lovely family clutching shopping bags just before they go to Sally’s graduation.

And that is fine, that’s the image it wants to project.

It wants to project students, learning, bright and shiny shopping streets with waif like wags and handbags that cost thousands.

It wants the world to see a new Liverpool with a perfect smile beaming at the world.

I get it, it’s advertising, who wants to see the Yankee Bar? Who wants to hear karaoke when you can hear Ray Quinn or Rebecca Ferguson? Who wants crumbling facades when you can have the latest glass and wood trends and Tesco Metro? Who wants to worry about the long term when you can have a quick fix of student accommodation? 

Who wants to think differently?


Because I think every city should look after its Lime Streets, I think the Adrians at Liverpool City Council should say: “Maybe we should at least try to be different once in a while?

"Maybe we should steer clear of glass and wood and Tesco Metro and save one of our old streets?

"Maybe sometimes spending a bit of time, making an effort, getting your hands dirty to keep something alive is worth it?”

Because when it is gone, there ain’t no getting it back.

And besides, who wants to live in a world full of Adrians?

We should remember that the odd crooked tooth looks better than a Hollywood smile.

Tony Schumacher's debut novel, The Darkest Hour, is published by Harper Collins and is out now.

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Ken TestiJanuary 8th 2015.

www.change.org/…/save-the-facade-of-the-former-futurist-cinema-building-lime-street-liverpool… Nicely put Tony. Raise the profile of this appalling scheme by signing this petition.

Paul WardJanuary 11th 2015.

Putting aside the folly of buying a house near someone named Adrian, well said.

AnonymousFebruary 2nd 2015.

I live in a neglected part of East London. The proper East End, not the one passing for it on BBC1. Near the 2012 Olympic site, it's already being sized up by 'developers' in anticipation of Crossrail. The area is full of history, diversity, culture, (Jimi Hendrix wrote Purple Haze round the corner from my house!!) gangs, independent trade, architecture, families, even nature. It's developed enough, just been allowed to get tatty, that's all. I love it! It should be possible to upgrade a place to show the residents they are cared about. Why not spend money to make sure the folk who have lived in, propped up, and kept alive an area, that they deserve a clean/tidy/safe community? They are the ones shoved out to make way for the transient residents who pay rent to the overseas investor getting rich quick from these ghastly projects.

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