Posts Tagged ‘time’

We were talking last week about how complicated our individual lives can be. In particular, we were sharing stories about work, unions and family. Each of us had a different story, but equally complicated. Yet when we think of history, ‘the past’ involving cities, countries, millions of people it is often presented as if everything is very simple in life. We talk about “Liverpool in the 30s”, for instance, as if it’s just a question of gathering a series of facts and documents, but as soon as we go a bit deeper it all soon becomes very complicated. In a way, it may be said that history for each individual was different at the time they lived, as the present is different for each of us.

To confuse matters more, it’s not easy, maybe it’s not possible, to draw neat lines between the future, the present and the past. The image above was made using Photoshop which employs ‘layers’. Maybe time is layered too. Archaeologists dig and find old cities beneath the ground. Yesterday, Duncan was talking about how complete buildings are buried in redevelopments. He also said that underneath Waverley Station in Edinburgh is a warren of tunnels, almost a city underground. Somebody else spoke of a public display in Edinburgh where you go down quite deep into a town more than five hundred years old. . Of course, in Liverpool there are the Williamson Tunnels.

But it’s not just physical digging that’s involved.We dig into memory too. Maybe even in the present there are many different ‘layers’ all existing at the same time. Maybe there is not one Liverpool but many Liverpools (or any city). We are going to explore this idea in coming weeks with a look at just one street, Hope Street.

Meanwhile, as a reminder that the past lives all around us, here are a few images of the sorts of sight we pass hundreds of times each day.

The picture of the ruined hut on Liverpool’s waterfont is fascinating. Next to it is the Liner Super Terminal, and behind it the new developments of apartments, hotels and gleaming skyscrapers. Maybe any image like this with its green and cream colours that were used on the old landing stages and terminals is a trace of the maritime past about to disappear but still just about holding its own.


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A stroll for five minutes, a few photographs, and then a little tweaking on the computer. The past and the present are intertwined. Images produced today evoke the same scenes from a hundred years ago. Ste L, Ste O, Peter, Duncan caught Liverpool in the snow.

Falkner Square

St James Cemetry

Falkner Terraces

Georgian Facade

St James Cemetry

Saint Brides

Georgian terrace

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Pavements, there beneath our feet. Just pavements. But nothing’s ever simple!

The pavements show the effects of time, some of them cracking up under the strain; others  coming apart. What was once neat and all fitted together starts to come apart. Maybe pavements have a story to tell, a sort of parable about how time is always working against our attempts to impose order. Incidentally, the word ‘pavement’ comes from the Latin pavere which means to ‘pound down’. We try to pound down the earth to fit our own design, but nature and time have a way of reclaiming things.

Pavements carry the ghosts of feet, of people long dead, the fleeting touch of shadows or rain that reflects the world above. Footprints caught in the cement of pavements: maybe in a thousand years an excited archaeologist from Mars will find one like we found footsteps on the beach up at Formby from thousands of years ago…

Leaves, apples, litter, all there and gone in an instant. A paving flag is like a picture frame of time.

And then there are the pavements people draw or write upon. Kids chalk drawings,, ‘arty’ stencil stuff, or the  drawings etched into the pavements on the new frontage of Lime Street Station done by artist Simon Faithfull to record a trip to Liverpoool in Nova Scotia, three thousand miles away.

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Modern Times

We looked at the video in the previous post and discussed time pressures, how hard it is to simply relax. Those who went to relaxation classes say how good they are in helping to slow down and how good you feel after. We talked about whether the pressures on us our new or something that people from the past experienced too. Someone mentioned Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times so here it is!

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We often look back on a time when things were more peaceful and quiet, less frantic. In the ‘old days’ was life slower? Is time ‘speeding up’?  The problem is that we all feel time differently. Sometimes it seems to drag, other times to fly by.

This short film shows two different ways of experiencing time. Is it hard to sit doing nothing or very little these days, just thinking or reflecting? Is the time of the sun and the moon, or nature, different from human time? History’s about the past, we say, but is the past near or far? Where is the present? Hasn’t it gone as soon as you think about it? A bit of an interlude to making history! And a chance to do more with putting together sounds and images. Of course, all those shop signs will be history one day too! But the moon and sun go on….

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Of Time and the City

Terence Davies’ award winning film looks at Liverpool very much through a personal prism. Davies has not set out to make a documentary ‘about’ his city, although it does contain some wonderful archive material. Nor does he want to spend time eulogising football or the Beatles (in fact he has no interest in any pop music).

Instead, he weaves together his own narrative, poetry, music and a wonderful range of film footage to reflect more upon the nature of memory itself.

There are very many celebrations of Liverpool around, historical documentaries, ‘issue-based’ dramas and reportage, many of them excellent in their own terms, and a lot of them representing the dynamic field of production not considered mainstream. But Davies’ film, while inevitably evoking some of the many layers of time’s passing in this city, is more ‘about’ an individual’s very deep and unique response to the passage of time.

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