Lister Steps Up!

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Last weekend for Heritage open day the former library, Lister Steps throw open the doors for the public to see how the £3.9 million restoration project was progressing.

Lister Steps, the Andrew Carnegie library, based on the corner of Lister Drive and Green Lane in Tuebrook, Liverpool, was opened in 1905. The building was funded by the wealthy philanthropist: Andrew Carnegie, it became Grade II listed in the mid-eighties due to being of architectural and historical interest.

After serving as a functioning library for over a hundred years it was forced to close in 2006 due to health and safety concerns. Under the period of closure, the library suffered from theft and vandalism in addition to general neglect. The major damage was as a result of the lead flashing being stolen from the roof, resulting in rain waters flooding the interior. Severe damage to the timber structure was to follow.

After a small grant in 2014 to run a feasibility study for restoration a large scale funding bid was progressed. In 2016 a £3.9 million grant was awarded from Heritage lottery funding, Liverpool City Council, Hemby Trust, Eleanor Rathbone Foundation and Power to Change.

The final development is intended as a community Hub offering; childcare, café, meeting space, hot desking, events and services for the community including volunteering opportunities. The exterior ground looks to offer a variety of landscaping. The customary formal garden and traditional lawn, but also wild woods, the green credentials of allotment planters and a faraway land designated for use with the youngsters of the nursery.

H.H Smith Construction was offered the renovation contract, utilising many trades including those with traditional craft skills. Currently, a large pod has been set up inside the building to allow for work to continue. The foliage of the grounds has been cleared fully to allow for new planting from next spring. Flood damage and dry root are being repaired, internal structures and staircase put into place. The original high windows which were ideal for the bookcases of the library are being lowered in the nursery area to bring light in at child height.

A great start, we will look forward to developments!

More about Lister Steps

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Remember your Thong Collection

thong

Who was in their late teens, earlier twenties at the turn of the Millennium?

Remember your thong collection!

The underwear which stamped our generation of alpha females. We lead the way for third wave feminism with our underwear which really did show off our bums.

The first wave of feminism lead by Emmeline Pankhurst got us the vote, The sixties offered us effective contraception through the much love ‘Pill’. Abortion rights were introduced and free love became the spirit of the decade.

The seventies were characterised by second-wave feminism, with this came divorce and couples which no longer wanted to be together separated. Women were now able to gain their freedom back from unhappy marriages and able to move on and find new partners.

HIV and Aids topped the headlines throughout the eighties, we became more aware and safe sex was the name of the game.

What came next: the nighties and the turn of the Millennium which brought in third wave feminism and the rise of raunch culture. We were the ladettes, the females which knew how to make decisions about what they wanted. We didn’t want marriage, we didn’t want engagement, we didn’t want serious relationships. We were the generation of young women who turned around and said:

‘We want casual Sex!’

We were the girls how wanted to go on top in the bedroom and we lead with our thongs.

It was a consumer trend gone mad. They were all that were on sale in the younger fashion shops: Top shop, Miss Selfridge and River Island. The supermarkets got in on the act and George at Asda were doing 3 for a £5. Even the Great traditional British institution: Marks and Spenser had them on sale. Share houses, rented flats and clothes dryers across the country paraded collections of triangular, string combination thongs.

But do you remember how uncomfortable they were?

When they used to rise up and function like a cheese wire trying to cut through the central valley or your bottom. Rising up higher than the waistband of your low slung jeans and make an appearance to those all around you. The tin string marks you used to get from the lack of support offered by the flimsy creations.

So we lead with our bum checks on display, but now we’ve all settled down we get to wear much more comfortable underwear, briefs and little shorts now adorning our lower regions.

We are comfortable!

Eyes Glazed Over

Eyes Glazed Over copy

Eyes Glazed Over is a fictional works, the events and characters are not based on real life.

Eyes Glazed Over

Beginning with an argument, just a brother, sister teenage disagreement. My brother Callum wanted to know where I had written down a phone number for a new customer for his window cleaning round, I told him I had put a square around it in the notepad. I not being able to find the phone number he became enraged, I shouted back as it wasn’t my fault, I had written down the details. The next thing I knew I was behind the kitchen door, with him on the other side. He slammed the door towards me and my hands went through the glass, as if suspended in time I looked at them on the other side of the window. The glass shattered into a thousand pieces, splintering across the kitchen and into the garden. More than an accident but it hadn’t been intentional either, but it was what was to happen next which was the most concerning. As I lye on the ground, I look towards my hands and wrists, lacerations torn across lower my arms, molecules of blood appearing like droplets dispensed from a pipette, multiplying a thousand times to fill the troths of the tears then pouring out over my arms and onto the glass fragments that covered the floor. I looked towards Callum and he towards me, picked up his ladder and his bucket and went on his way. A glazed of stare of nothingness, no emotion, no feeling, no reaction. That was the day I first knew Callum was really sick.

So what had Callum been like as a teenager? Switch back in time to one year earlier. He was the kind of big brother it was fun to have, someone to admire, friends we could share, bands we both liked, clubs we went to together and TV programs were we laughed simultaneously. He was one of the boys off the estate getting into the occasional fight, usually well deserved. A line of lovely girlfriends, Adela then Jenny, gorgeous girls and a pleasure to be around, delightful in more ways than I could name.

The best memory I have was when we had all gone to the fair at Wooburn Green, myself, Callum, Jenny, her sister Karen and quite a few others. There hadn’t been a fair on the Green for several years, in the late eighties it had been the scene of the fatal accident where a carriage on the Egg ride had become loose and broke away killing the occupants. At the fair, we asked the Egg Ride Operator what had happened? If he had left a gate open or not checked the mechanics before the ride was started. He explained that he had taken over the ride after the accident and that the man who had the ride originally had gone into hiding. The chain on the carriage had been shut, but even if it hadn’t been it wouldn’t have made much difference, the motion pressure of the ride would have kept the passengers in place. He showed us the mechanisms and he the only thing to check was if a coat or bag or perhaps a shoe had fallen into cogs and none had done. The fault had been put down to the fabrication and the Police were not prosecuting them for the fatalities they were actually looking to bring Man Slaughter charges against the Manufacturers.

His problem was that he couldn’t get anyone to go on the ride today, the Egg carriages just kept going round and round, the crowds from the Village Green Beer Gardens watching the empty motion with morbid fascination. In recognising that he was telling the truth we all went away to talk about what to do next. Callum then tried to rally all the lads around him saying they should all go on the ride and that nothing would happen. Some of them were in two minds, Chalky, one of his closest mates, his once joker friend was the most reluctant saying that they would be ‘Crazy’ to go on the ride. I went to Craig and I told him to leave it and I would sort things out. From there I went over to Karen, Jenny’ older sister to see if she would go on it with myself, but could she not spin the carriage upside down.

Karen came on the ride with myself and I enjoyed the experience without spinning upside down, rather a nice view of the Green, the Village and across onto the fields. After that Callum had no bother getting the others to come on with him, every single one of them going without question. Heads held slightly down, but with determination, even Chalky had lost his reluctance. Then all the adults that were drinking in the nearby beer gardens started to come over and asking questions about what had happened. He covered what had happened with the carriage and the Fair Ground Owners were, in fact, taking the manufactures to court themselves to try and reclaim the cost of the ride but it was likely to take years. They hadn’t wanted to because of the casualties but the ride had cost in excess of ten grand so it was too much money simply to write off. So the curse of the Egg ride was broken and much fun was had at the fair again.

So what had happened to Callum one year on, where had the fun-loving courageous, but fundamentally good brother gone? Jenny, his girlfriend had gone although she still cared about what happened to him she couldn’t be with him any longer. There had been narcotics usage but nothing too serious, just a few party drugs: weed and amphetamines. But Craig had changed mentally, on that day as I lye on the floor, the droplets of blood multiplying watching him walk away eyes glazed over, there was something severely wrong.

From the kitchen floor, I managed to get up and staggered through the house and out of the front door. From here one of my neighbours found me and got me in his car to take me to the hospital. I was sent through to see another nurse not so involved in the caring side of her profession. As she bandaged my hands she began to ask questions about why I had not gone to the nearer Accident and Emergency department at another hospital. She then began a long lecture on how it wasn’t fair for the staff and resources at Wycombe General Hospital to be stretched to the degree they were being.

On coming out of the cubical my Mum was there, on seeing the blood both my parents had rushed to the Hospital, on recognising that I was basically okay my Dad had gone straight to the Police Station. Mum then waited with me as I had to be X Rayed for glass and my cuts glued and stitched back together. When we were ready to leave she went to book a Taxi, a Police Officer came to interview me about what had happened. I started to explain what had happened where he had pushed to the door and the glass had smashed through my hands. The Officer then started to scream at me telling me I had said that he had pushed me through the window and I was now saying he pushed the door against me. Trying to clarify what had been said was no good, I then tried to cover what had happened with Callum when he had walked off with his eyes glazed over. He wouldn’t listen to a word then explained that he wasn’t ‘Nicking’ him for anything. In response to that, I informed him that I didn’t want him to ‘Nick’ him as he was ‘My brother’.

So what became of Callum? Well, everything had to get worse before it was to get better. He had developed an illness we commonly know as schizophrenia. This involved visions of things which were not real, disillusionment and paranoia. A short spell in a young offenders institution turns of rough sleeping this was eventually followed by a period in a mental health unit when he was able to start recovery and the correct medication. The nightmare of earlier years was over and the life of adapting to living with a mental illness was to begin. Callum has a nice life now, never married but he has a home and he works hard, visiting Art Galleries and shopping in Sainsbury’s on his weekends off work. Truth be told though, although he is a nice man with many good attributes, he is not the same man he would have grown into as a boy. Something in him was lost to Schizophrenia, a part of his mind was destroyed by the illness, a part which can never return.

Alison Little

A Way Through Everton Brow

Skull Everton Brow colour

A way through Everton Brow is a fictional works from Alison Little, none of the events of characters are based on real life.

Approaching the entrance to Everton Park I encounter a group congregated around the steps area. In having walked up from the town, then I decided to take a short cut through Everton Park, a pleasant walk through the eighties formed geometric botanical scape of the former slum-like dwellings. The steps ahead of me, encased by artificially positioned rock structures arching in my vision. Topped with beacons of the decade, semi-sphere finished, imitation Victorian meeting eighties manufacturing of plastic vacuum forming, lolly pop lighting. Many of the semi-spheres have been broken, the closest having fallen down from the teenage revelry of what looked like the previous evening. Up the hill to the left, there is the famed Everton tower, the moss lined former sweet shop which became an iconic symbol of the multi-million pound turnover of today’s Premier League. Towards the top of the hill, the soil of the parkland has been churned up, its annual transformation into a wild flower meadow taking place. A touch of England’s green and pleasant land of the rural communities bought into the inner city green space of North Liverpool. The distant tree’s masks the vision of the back-to-back housing which crowds the brow.

Coming up from the Netherton Road, a well-known prostitution zone, to my rear is one of the cities hostels for the homeless. The group look to be from this establishment, they are slouching on the steps and one of them is swagging cider from a toxically coloured bright blue plastic bottle, spilling much of it onto the white encrusted black T Shirt he has crawled into earlier in the day.

A motley, tooth lacking, hair overgrown crew, assembled in layers of clothing which looked to pad out their malnourished forms. As my eyes twitch slightly, the late afternoon sun distorts my vision. Two globes of the street lighting become eye sockets and the encircling steps become reflected into a mouth-like arch, smiling as the brick become teeth. I see the vision of a human skull, decaying, but deliriously enthused by its demise.

I consider walking around the long way, but on my approach one of the men slides to one side to allow my passageway through the group. There is a smell of fried chips from earlier in the day, proceeds of an afternoon spent begging.

As I walk closer I notice one girl amongst the group. An army like jacket combined with sprawling matt-like lengthy black hair trailing onto the ground, sweeping the debris from a day of spoils. A bag to her side looks to be her worldly possessions, easily lost and often replaced. A year, possibly two of grown out dark, dirty-blond ended hair from a cheap home dye treatment. She sits with her hood drowning over her face, the oversized jacket ruffled into her body stretching down over the well-frayed denim of the jeans. Legs entangled awkwardly, the knee joints almost too large for her frame, her upper limbs animated motion as she speaks. I look towards her face, the skin is pale, translucent and muddy in texture, common in the appearance of a heroin addict. As I pass through the group, her arms in moving, I hear her say:

‘If you could just lend us twenty quid’

She pleads, then in begging tones, she repeats her request again. As I walk forward and up towards the top of the brow I ponder over what her life must be like, reduced to the bleak state presented to myself.

In twitching my eyes again I am confronted with a new vision. I am in Everton Park when it first opened, the grasslands newly grown, the dusty smell from the demolition work still present. The trees are young, growing being guided, nurtured into what will become strong features of this green space. The lighting is new, the semi-sphere’ all intact and there is an air of excitement and optimism for this newly formed natural breathing space allowing an escape from the urban sprawl.

The swing park is alive with children’s games, delighted by their new found play-scape. Back and throw on the swings, mothers pushing younger children, grandmas and granddads holding coats and bags. Chase games over climbing structures, up and down, rhetoric, over and under. Spinning at full speed at the roundabout encircles while the occupants cling on as it reached optimum speeds. Concrete still fresh, neatly finished off with a waist height fence in line with the latest trends.

Outside of the fenced area, we have several dog walkers, one Staff is off its lead, squatting down. The owner blasé, no need to pick up, poop bags and scoops a thing of the future. Just left to rot as nature intended, a child standing in it simply wiping their shoe on the verge, no fuss, commonplace.

A mother is pushing a young girl in a buggy. The mother sports a purple dot dye blouse, no collar, large baggy sleeves cuffed inwards. A knee length skirt gathers volume in tiers, the purple mix of dyes finished off with a tie cord fitting. Her large curls flow in the wind as she pushes the buggy, a navy and grey MacClaren stroller, four wheels and the hood up to protect from the sun. The bottom compartment packed full of what they might need for the day, wet wipes and a well planned packed picnic lunch in addition to a few carefully selected outdoor toys.

Content in her push chair the daughter is happy for her mother to guide her, taking care not to hit any larger stones. Hair neatly combed into bunches, a glossy full fringe finished off with plastic animal clips. Her top is light green, wasted but with a short skirt built in. Micky and Mini mouse are in discussion on the front of the top. The girl pulls up her blanket, it scrunches around her and her sun hat seems to fall forward, she suddenly seems morphed by the buggy, then I hear her say:

‘Mum, can I have £2?’

I see before me the girl in the camouflage jacket thirty years ago. I see her when she was innocent and pure, unspoilt by the evils of life.

Reflecting on her upbringing, loving and good, decent and playful. I wonder again what had happened to her, where had it all gone wrong?

Walking towards the exit near the brow the strange eye twitching sensation happens again. I am now in a terraced street, the road ascending steeply ahead. To my right, the houses back onto the pavement, gated containing small yard area’s and possibly even outside toilets. To my left, there is a row of terraces front on with steps leading up the main doors. Only a few cars, one is parked up not far ahead, it is racing green in colour with a long stretched bonnet and a soft top, as it glistens in the sun I identify it as a Ford Thunderbird. I contemplate what its owner was doing parking a classic car of such high value in these dwellings and how it was in such good condition?

As I ascend further up the hill I pass two women chatting, both are wearing dark coats and head scarf’s, one has a loaf of bread under her arm, brown bagged and looking to be purchased from a traditional baker. I gaze over the new location and further up the street I see a woman sitting on her front step, she has a can of cider in one hand, to the far side of her, there is a baby in a well used Moses basket. As the baby cries out she shakes the basket and spits out ‘Shush’. Hardly more than a teenager herself she devours the can of cider. I hear a radio playing:

New release…..Sargent Pepper…….the Beetles.

Now I know where I am, it’s 1967, the Summer of Love, I am in Everton Park before all the demolition work and the housing schemes made way for the park. I look towards the baby, she was dirty from her mother’s lack of care, she tries to wipe her face clean with her hands having given up on crying due to lack of response. A purple dotted cardigan has been clambered into her, in need of a wash but still nice in appearance, it looks to have been a gift. A man staggers towards the group, leering as he sways, the Mother appeared to know him:

‘Lend me a few bob will ya?’ she slurs, ‘I need to get stuff in for the baby!’

Her honourable intentions being clearly unconvincing, her feet littered with crushed cans of cider from earlier in the day. I realise who the group are, the baby is the mother who was pushing the pram earlier and her mother would be the original girl’s grandmother.

My mind questions the trilogy, an alcoholic mother, a child who grows up to be respectable, tried to raise her own daughter well, her child growing up to be a heroin addict. A gene pool skipping a generation laid dormant waiting to strike again. Environment and upbringing cast aside, genetics have re-surfaced in the form of a truly destructive lifestyle.

A brow well travelled.