Thursday, 2 October 2008

You can't put your arms around a memory

I’ve just come back from Liverpool where I spent some of my formative years. There’s a bit of a nostalgia fest going on there at the moment and it’s left me feeling more confused than ever about the fact I’m not 20 any more and what the hell I’m going to do about it.

Emotional roller coaster? More like a bloody ghost train. Liverpool in Capital of Culture year is buzzy, user friendly, full of public art and high-profile events (and shops). It’s famous. When I went there as a student it was still full of bomb sites. And infamous. No-one wanted to know.

So why do so many people wish it was 1977 (or thereabouts) again? Because if you were in the right place at the right time, there wasn’t a better place to be. I suppose everyone feels like that about the place where they first learned to be themselves. But Eric’s club in Liverpool, which three decades later has been well and truly commodified, was something special.

That’s just a fact: I’m not going to go on about it. The fact that other people are going on about it is what is making me so uncomfortable right now. I don't want to pretend that those times didn't happen, or didn't matter. I just don't want to be one of those people who live in the past. The hard bit is working out how to be true to the person you were then, without always looking backwards. Between embracing nostalgia and rejecting the past, there must be a way that works. Liverpool’s grown up now, but beneath the corporate stuff it hasn’t lost the vein of anarchy and playfulness that was always a part of its culture. I’m grown up now but there’s got to still be a link with the self I discovered back then. I guess every mid-life crisis is the point where you realise it's time to start that search.

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