The first time I came to Liverpool, I was 9. We were on the way home to the Isle of Man and stayed over in The Adelphi hotel. Back then it was crumbling, faded, a memory of majesty. Max and I shared a room, and I remember us standing in the huge double window, pale in our pyjamas staring down with innocent lust and wonder at this ancient living city. “I want to go out there,” I thought, looking at the lights on the corner. “People look like they’re having so much fun.”
Well, I just walked half an hour in the rain to get to the hotel. It’s come down with Britannia cancer now, so the hotel crumble has been stopped by homogeneity, bingo and indifference. “Britannia hotels: Reliably bland despite having once been interesting.” I should be in marketing.
Now I’m sitting on my own having a miserable pint of Blue Moon in “The Celtic Corner.” – these are the lights I’d been drawn to from my hotel room aged 9. It’s the worst place in the world, 9 year old Al. You’re a dick.
I swear I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that the music is so loud I felt physically sick and now I actually have the corners of my scarf pushed into my ears but it still feels like there are dinosaurs. I think I might be jolting into a different universe with each thump. And it’s Robin Thicke playing. (If that means nothing to you, do no research and go to your grave happier). It has to be this volume though, the crap they’re playing, because the few people who can stand it in here are pensioners. Why they want to dance to this crap at their age is beyond me but they’re deaf so it’s not hurting them, and they’re definitely doing something something with their bodies. Maybe they’ve been colonised by insects who are trying to puppet them, or maybe it’s dancing. I’m terrified they might suddenly shatter into millions of bees on a heavy bass beat and attack me. It’s hell in here. And I’m allergic to bees. Oh God help me no no no there’s a live act starting up. It’s a silver haired crooner in a waistcoat. The disco lights are spinning. The bass is now intolerable. “How long has this been going on?” he starts singing with his electric band. Too long. About ten minutes. But 10 seconds was enough. This place is like an even worse version of Yates’s Wine Lodge. I will never take your advice about places to go for a drink in Liverpool again nine year old Al. You’re worse than teenage Al! I’m getting out of here before it kills me. “The Sensations.”? I have no sensation left but abject horror.
I was hoping for a journey of the soul there. I thought maybe I’d commune with my 9 year old self and reach an understanding. I ended up deafened and unwell. That place – I’m not being precious. I’m pretty deaf myself and I’m no stranger to loud music. I still sometimes dance in front of the soundstage at festivals. That place was actively trying to kill me.
Nine year old Al was an idiot. But his tyranny is still working on me. When we are kids and we know nothing we make all these badly thought through plans for future versions of us. Somewhere there’s a scrawled picture of me in the year 2000. Nine year old Al drew me with a hovercar parked in the garden of my big house holding hands with my smiling wife, two happy kids and a dog.
We are all being held accountable by our childhood plans. But the version of you that made them was an actual child. We are making ourselves answerable to a bunch of children. We’re older now. And hopefully we have a better handle on what makes us happy…?
I am going to let myself off the hook. 9 year old Al would’ve been equally fascinated and terrified by the strange man. While my parents pulled me away from him he would’ve been looking backwards. Good on you little Al. Pat on the head. You’ll learn, you lucky little idealistic sheltered shitbag.
Meantime stand there in your pyjamas and dream. Some of them will serve you. And some will turn out to be visions of hell. Good luck deciphering. Oh and get some shares in Microsoft…