Returning to Liverpool after 12 years away #ldconf

by Stephen Tall on September 18, 2010

It’s been a slightly odd ‘homecoming’, arriving back in Liverpool some 12 years after I was last here. Few people on meeting me imagine I could have grown up here. What oh-so-slight trace of accent I once had has been obliterated by exposure to Oxford’s middle-Englandness; anyway I was eight by the time we moved up here, and I’ve never been any good at personation.

I’m back here, of course, for the Lib Dem conference, and typing this in the apartment I’m occupying until next Wednesday — ironically, it’s probably closer to where I went to school (St Margaret’s, Aigburth) than it is to the conference centre.

There’s no particular reason I’ve not returned, no great falling out with Liverpool. Simply that my parents moved away on their retirement, in 1998, and so there’s been no umbilical cord to whiplash me back here. Even on one short taxi ride from Lime Street it’s clear that much has changed: new shops, new apartment blocks, new facilities. At the same time, as I was driven through Toxteth on what was once my route to school there was still a grim reminder of the poverty which streaks through the city.

Growing up here I always felt an outsider (it’s that absence of a Scouse accent again, y’see): A Southerner Abroad. Now I genuinely am an outsider, having spent the last 15 years, almost half my life, in Oxford. Oddly with no pressure to feel like I must belong here, it’s now much easier to feel like I do.