Yo-yo weather is what we’ve had over the last few days: sunshine one day and back to rain and wind the next.
Saturday was one of the sunny days, which was good as I had arranged to take the teenager, our oldest granddaughter, to Liverpool. We had to take along her (he’s not my boy)friend as this was the only time they would be able to see each other for a week. For a couple who both declare they are not dating, they see an awful lot of each other but that’s their business I suppose. They spend a good deal of time playing electronic games together and have cryptic conversations about Pokemon that I fail totally to understand, largely because I have never played and have no intention of ever playing Pokemon.
Anyway, he went along too on Saturday, which was fine by me as long as he accepted that he would have to walk around parts of the city and do cultural stuff with us. All of this went well and he paid his way, joined in the conversation and was generally good company. Well, as good as you can expect from a teenage boy!
The main purpose of our visit was to go to the Open Eye Gallery, a gallery which promotes photography as an art form. Apparently it’s been around since 1977 but moved into its new premises down by the Liverpool waterfront only in 2011. Very easy to find, bright and airy, it’s worth supporting. Beautifully placed for interesting photos of the waterfront and nearby buildings.
We were there because I had been reading in my Italian conversation class about an Italian photographer called Letizia Battaglia, who fell into photography more or less by accident and then made a name for herself taking pictures of the “anni di piombo”, the “years of (flying) lead” in 1980s Sicily when the struggle against the mafia was taking place. It’s hard to imagine that all this was going on only around thirty years ago.
Here’s a link to a Guardian article about Letizia Battaglia.And here’s a link to a website with some of the photos.
We were impressed by the stark black and white images. Here is an example: this is the widow of one of the bodyguards of Judge Falcone, investigating and prosecuting mafia bosses, whose car was blown up in May 1992.
By way of a contrast to this serious stuff, we saw a crowd of people queuing to get into a building just across the way from the Open Eye Gallery: a rather dilapidated-looking building. I asked a gentleman who was taking pictures of the building if he knew what was going on. Now, he could have been just like me, taking pictures of an interesting-looking building and not knowing much about it. It turned out, however, that he was better informed.
This building, he told me, had been the headquarters of the White Star Line a shipping company perhaps most famous for having the ill-fated Titanic as one of its ships. The White Star Line merged with the Cunard shipping company in 1934 but apparently modern Cunard ships still use the term White Star Service to describe the level of customer care expected of the company.
The building had stood empty for many years but now at least part of it was being converted into a luxury Titanic-themed hotel. On Saturday, for a few brief hours the public could go in and take a look around. It’s rather a shame that the rest of the building did not look so luxurious. Maybe there are plans to extend upwards; who knows? The well-informed gentleman I spoke to said that he had been inside and was not impressed.
After our cultural and information-seeking visits, the teenagers and I had some lunch and strolled around the Albert Docks complex, admiring boats – in the case of the teenagers, proposing stealing boats and becoming pirates – and watching ladies in posh hats disembark from boats. And then we caught the train back to Manchester.
All in all it was a splendid day for seeing the Liverpool waterfront buildings.
On Sunday it rained. Yesterday the sun shone again. Today began with rain and finished with sunshine.
As I said, yo-yo weather!