Saturday, 22 February 2020

The Man Who Would be King / Liverpool / Treasure Hunt

Driving back from a trip to Liverpool* I switched on the radio for the last hour of the journey. After a minute of channel hopping I found this on BBC Radio 4 just after it started:

The Man Who Would be King

57 minutes well spent. Worth this week's contribution to the licence fee on its own (about £3 a week). The programme ended just as I parked up at home. Nice timing.

* This was the first time I'd spent some proper time in the city. I've been up a number of times - a work trip (ie. stuck in a meeting for hours); a university open day and dropping off/collecting my son there. But it's always been in and out. I've heard several times what a great place it is** and my son loves it (more than the university) and he's been on at me to visit properly. He's coming into his final few months at uni, so as it was the girls' half term I booked a couple of nights through AirBnB and we headed up Thursday.

** Well they didn't lie. It's a fabulous place. Lots to see and do as a tourist. Some great architecture and fascinating history. I only got a chance to scratch the surface. Highlight for me was the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King a.k.a. Paddy's Wigwam. I found it an inspiring and moving ediface. Actually I lied above. I had spent a bit of time in Liverpool on 'non-mission centred' activity and experience. On the university open day in 2015**, son and I had a wander around Paddy's Wigwam. What I hadn't noticed before was that all the chapels around the perimeter are a different shape. Obvious once its pointed out. There are still vast areas of the city that don't look like they've seen the benefits yet of the rebirth of the city. Hopefully it won't be too long.

*** Which reminds me of an incident later that day. Son, who I had infected with the virus that is Grimsby Town, had clocked that Town were playing at Southport the same day as the uni open-day. So as we were up there anyway we drove up to Merseyside's premier resort (via the Anthony Gormley statues at Crosby). At half-time there was a commotion amongst a bunch of lads at the other end of the terrace. A couple of days later I came across this. Dangerous and daft. But the sheer innocent joy of it! Sadly the boy in the bin died a couple of years later (from something completely unrelated).

Ah yes, the treasure hunt. The check in details for the flat we rented the first night ran to several pages. First we had to go to a 'nearby' hotel where the owner had rented car parking space (with some cloak and dagger instructions too). Nearby = 3/4 mile. Then go to postcode L1 XXX, identify a bike padlocked to a stand outside a branch of a pub/eatery chain, open the bag on the bike, use code nnnn to open locker S2 to retrieve key to appartment. Then proceed to appartment at L1 YYY (again with more cloak and dagger instructions - not at all suspicious, honest guv). Not once did the host see fit to give the actual street address for the appartment. And despite requests to do so (I'm a little old fashioned, not trusting entirely to tech. Or strangers), the host did not see fit to provide them, merely to re-iterate the instructions. Don't think they'll be getting a five star review.

The view from the flat was worth it though. Apologies for the glare - this was just as the sun was going down. I give you the Three Graces:
Liverpool Pier Head

The Cunard Building (left) and the Royal Liver Building.

Here's a professional shot of the same view:


  1. Interesting travelogue. So, your treasure hunt was actually a bunch hoops needing to be navigated before you could get into your AirBnB rental? Seems like a lot of work but view is nice, for sure.

  2. Despite living on the south coast my youngest is a huge Beatles fan and will up sticks and bugger off to Liverpool for brief trips any chance she can get... she's been trying to persuade her mum and I to go and based on your post I am getting more interested..

    1. I would recommend it Steve, especially as you're a maritime sort. Stacks of history as you can imagine. I would go to the maritime museum and the Liverpool museum next time I go. If you like modern art there's the Tate and Crosby beach is worth a trip (not just for the Gormley sculptures - views can be great on a clear day).

  3. Worth a trip, I did some work there in 2003, it was a lot nicer than when I did my student placement there in the mid 1980s, I had a suite at the Adelphi because nobody wanted to go there then and I remember doing an all nighter and hearing the drone of the DC3 isle of Mann mail plane, different times!
    Best Iain

    1. I bet it’d changed a lot. Back in the early 80s there’s no way you’d have predicted what a tourist destination it would become (judging purely by the meeja portrayal).

  4. I hope the young man in the dustbin wasn't just accidentally recycled? People in Liverpool spend a lot of time in bins, as London football fans like to remind us.

    One of my favourite Liverpool buildings is the old red-and-white striped White Star shipping offices in James Street. You must have been very near that. As a tourist, I hope you went on the ferry boat? - it's a bit of a cliché, but one of the world's finest. Last time I was in Liverpool, I admitted to our guide at the Anglican Cathedral that I was in the choir there in 1959 - you know those moments when you wish you'd just kept quiet?

    1. Ha yes. Maybe he was looking for one the famous dead rats for a treat.

      The ferry wasn’t appealing in that weather. If Tranmere go down maybe next season I’ll take the ferry.

      So did you have to perform before the assembled throng?