Monday, 10 December 2007

City of Hope and Dreams

In addition to the cold I've had, I now have pulled a muscle in my shoulder. The pain radiates round to just under the left breast. Nothing I've taken even touches the pain, and I feel sick to my stomach with it. I've spent 13 minutes phoning and phoning my doctor only to be told there are no appointments left. I'll have to wait till this evening to go to the out-of-hours clinic. I'm almost in tears with the pain. This just sucks!

Thank God for Cranford. I so look forward to watching it every week. For those of you in the States, look out for it on PBS. It's as good or better than the Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth.

I also watched the Royal Variety Performance Show last night, held for the first time in Liverpool. I felt so proud of this city that I've come to know since moving to the UK. The Empire Theatre never looked better. In fact, I'd say it puts many London theatres to shame. My one complaint is they had Bon Jovi singing Beatles songs. Why didn't they get the two Beatles still alive on the stage? After all, the Beatles, more than anyone or anything, put Liverpool in the international eye. Mention Liverpool to most of the world and the Beatles is the connection. Paul McCartney started LIPA (Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts). He still has family and property around Liverpool. He should have been there. And why close the show with Let It Be?

For anyone wanting to read a book rich in Liverpool history, "Sacred Hunger" by Barry Unsworth is a must. It shows the effect of the slave trade on Liverpool, which certainly profited from it. It's set in Liverpool's heyday, in the 18th century. In fact, stroll around Liverpool and you can see the remnants of its onetime wealth. It has more Georgian buildings than any city outside London. Across the water in Birkenhead, where all the wealthy ship owners used to live, you can also see its onetime glory in its buildings. Birkenhead is a shadow of its former self. People only live there now because they can't afford to move out. It's earned a place in the Top Hellholes of the UK to live in.

My husband's father's side come from Liverpool. Actually, they came from the Norfolk/Suffolk border. A housekeeper had three children by her employer. He never married her because she was already married to a man who was in a mental asylum. There were two girls and a boy. The boy inherited land and wealth from his father's brother, but lost it all by a very early age. My mother-in-law and I have speculated that perhaps he gambled it away. However, there was a mini-depression in that area among farmers at that time so perhaps that is what happened. In any event he left his wife and children with relatives and made his way to Liverpool with the intention of getting on a boat to America.

That never happened. Perhaps he lost the money for the fare. He stayed in Liverpool and got a job on the docks. He sent for his family eventually. By that time, though, his wife had died. His two daughters and son joined him. One of the daughters married a widower who lived across the street. Inexplicably, this widower lied about his age on his marriage certificate.

The son had two sons, one of whom moved to Australia, the other stayed in Liverpool and did quite well for himself. The Australian branch was lost to all until two years ago when I did a google name search for my husband. It's an unusual name because of the housekeeper merging her employer/lover's name with hers for her children. Anyway, up came a search on one of those genealogy websites from a man in Australia for any descendents of the fellow who moved to Liverpool. I passed the info onto my mother-in-law, who made contact, and the rest is family history.

She and my father-in-law went to Australia last year for a giant family reunion, where my father-in-law was feted by all. My mother-in-law was a bit unhappy because she'd done so much work to find these people and was not acknowledged at all. I was a bit unhappy because I was the one who actually found out about the Australian side first, and my mother-in-law didn't even bring me back a pine cone from her trip (she had gifts for everyone else). Ah, such is family history.

The wealth of the Liverpool son didn't get passed on to even one generation. His grand house in Liverpool has been torn down to build some really crappy public housing. His son, my husband's grandfather, ended up living on a council estate, where my father-in-law was born. My husband's grandfather was by all accounts a miserly curmudgeon. He used to go to sea, then retired to become a decorator. A fall off scaffolding crippled him for life, but he still managed to be a night watchman at a hotel. His wife was a lively woman who must have been stifled by the man she married. She would kick her heels up every night after her husband went to work. She ended up being one of those genteel alcoholics who put whiskey in their tea but forget how much so keep adding some more. She loved cats almost as much as her whiskey and cared for many a stray. She developed dementia in her later years, which was a shame. It clouded the memories of those who loved her. When she could no longer care for herself on her own, my mother-in-law put her in a rest home. She thought it was a hotel, a lovely one at that.

The vista of Liverpool has changed dramatically since I moved here 15 years ago. I used to drive down Scotland Road three times a week to visit my cats in quarantine in Aintree, which is where the Grand National horse race is held. Scotty Road was and is a hellhole. I used to try to count all the pubs along the way but always gave
up. But the Liverpool city centre now is a maze of cranes as it prepares to become the 2008 European City of Culture. I want good things for Liverpool and its residents. It has been a city in decline for so long but deserves so much better.

I'm going to have to go to the pharmacist for some pain killers now. I won't last the day otherwise.


Flowerpot said...

So sorry about the pain (and yes I'm a great Cranford fan too). Try paracetemol and codeine - you can take them together, every four hours.

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

flowerpot: Just got back from the chemist, who gave me exactly that. Thank you for the advice.

laurie said...

SO sorry about your pulled muscle! you've had a hell of a run here, honey.... things will turn back up again, i'm sure of it.

i had a pulled muscle like that in my back once. i coudln't even turn over in bed without screaming.

the doctor prescribed huge amounts of advil--like 8 at a time. it worked. (you can take big doses, but only for a short time or it wrecks your kidneys). sounds like you're on the mend...

marymaryquitecontrary said...

You cannot get an emergency appointment; go to casualty at your nearest hospital. They cannot turn you away.
I did watch the Royal Command Performance last night and really enjoyed it;it had been awful in the past few years. I will watch the repeat of Cranford next sunday at five o'clock.
Your family history is so interesting. Find out all you can from the older generation and write it down. I feel a book may yet be written.

J said...

The pulled muscle sounds agonizing. I'm glad you seem to have some relief. How about a heating pad on it, too?

And I agree that the family history is fascinating. To me, as amusing as the history itself is what bits of the history gets the various family members into a tizzy. I remember my grandmother telling me a deep, dark family secret - that her mother was not her father's first wife. My great grandmother was the family maid who caught the lady of the house in bed with the gardener and went and told the man of the house. While my grandmother was all a flutter over the multiple marriage thing, I wonder about the relationship of my greats before the first wife's fun was found out...

Pixie said...

Family history is just amazing, yours is particularly racy!

Do hope the shoulder improves soon.
I've got a repititive strain injury in mine from typing at the moment which is doing my head in!

Anonymous said...

I do hope you get better soon. I haven't been to Liverpool for a long time. I went to the docks a few times when they were made famous by Richard and Judy but my mum has been shopping there a few times this year.

Crystal xx

Kaycie said...

I've never been to Liverpool, but I'd like to go. I hope you're feeling better.

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

laurie: Usually it's my lower back that goes, but this time it's around the breastbone region, which makes breathing a bit labored. I'm taking ibuprofen and co-codamol (like co-tylenol). It's improving.

marymary: I just thought the Empire looked spectacular. My daughter has danced on that stage. So have I, come to think of it, at a sing-a-long-a-ABBA night. I bet if you dig beneath the surface of every family there's a story to tell.

j.: that is truly fascinating. Why don't you write the story of it and imagine the details you don't know? Were there any children from the first marriage?

pixie: I'd do the diamond press, as you suggested in your email, but I think that's what contributed to the problem in the first place. I used to get repetitive strain in my wrists.Be careful.

CJ: Why don't we meet up in Liverpool sometime?

kaycie: You should come to the UK sometime. And you'll have a place to stay at my house.

elizabethm said...

You poor thing about the shoulder. I had something similar last year and the pain is something else.
Loved your family history stories. We are over the border into Wales but i agree that Liverpool is a great city, almost as good as Manchester! Hope you are feeling better today.

Queeny said...

Hope that muscle pain is gone by now.

Rick said...

Wow! What a story. My great grandfather owned a piece of land in Oklahoma. He sold it later. There's an oil well on the property now. There are too many relatives for me to have ever gotten much out of it though.

Randy and Kim said...

I never got to England as I was stationed in Germany for a couple of years. I hope to visit your island someday. By the way, whiskey and honey cure about anything - and if it doesn't, you don't really care...

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

Hi elizabethm: I love Wales, and can see it most days from where I live. I don't know Manchester very well because I'm intimidated by the drive there. But I have taken the train on occasion. Anyway, thanks for visiting.

Queeny: Nothing that a few pain pills won't cure.

rick: I bet your grandfather kicked himself a few times after he sold it. Or did he know about the oil?

randy and kim: Hi and welcome. I don't much like whiskey (a hangover from long ago took care of that, never got the taste back). You should visit the UK sometime, but when the exchange rate is bit more favorable.