"Would you like to be a hugger?", an ernest-looking chap with an accent which owed more to Surrey than Sandhills asked me.
Barely five minutes earlier I'd been accosted by a smartly-dressed woman whose accent suggested she'd stumbled into the city by accident after coming off the M62. She posed the same question.
I smiled at both people & commented that I didn't live in One Park West.
"Oh, that doesn't matter," the woman replied as I inched away.
With less than ten minutes to go before the "group hug", the area outside the One Parked Without Our Say-So was deserted, save for a forlorn-looking soul brandishing a placard which bore the slogan, Hugs Not Hate. Yes, I'm sure the anti-racism campaign Hope Not Hate won't mind their slogan being adapted by wealthy business interests in the city.
As 12.30 arrived, however, enough faces to make the stunt just about work, with the assistance of Photoshop, had shown up, including an entire party of school-children & a few tourists fresh from the Albert Dock, one of whom later claimed to have received a mug for her participation.
Says it all really.
As the TV cameras caught the moment & the cameras clicked away, the suits hovering on the margins muttered furiously into their mobiles while remembering to smile at the kids.
Stunt duly captured for the media, the motley knot of participants dispersed while representatives from Grosvenor congratulated themselves on a brazen act pulled off without any mishaps.
I bumped into Wayne as the moment of distinctly self-conscious hand-holding approached (http://liverpoolpreservationtrust.blogspot.com/2009/08/one-park-west-balloons-arrive-for-group.html ).
We looked on, appalled & amused in equal measure.