Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Waking Up To Reality

A hazy state of semi-consciousness gives way to the sobering light of day. Half-remembered recollections of intoxicated excess & its attendant claims induce an initial cringe. Then comes the shudder, the mortifying realisation that things were said which owed more to conceitedness than careful consideration. The empty bottles tell their own story. Reality dawns. Too late.
One presumes that a collective shake of the head was in order at Oldham Hall Street today as Alastair Machray, et al, finally understood the ramifications of Peel's Liverpool Waters on the city's World Heritage Site status (http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-news/local-news/2012/06/19/unesco-prepare-to-start-process-of-stripping-liverpool-s-world-heritage-site-status-100252-31212104/ ).
Over at the city council, meanwhile, Joe "Tea & Sympathy" Anderson looks in the mirror, a smile on his face as he ponders his attire for that big day at the Palace (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-merseyside-18460258 ). A minion timorously knocks on the door. Irritated to have his royal reverie abruptly curtailed, Joe brusquely snatches the copy of the Oldham Echo that is proffered by the hapless assistant & reads the comments he's OKed for publication:
"The main concerns raised about heritage issues on Liverpool Waters will not become an issue for several years as they focus on later stages of the project -- they will not be built for at least 10 years -- and detailed plans my be subject to change before then.
"We believe firmly that is is possible to have a world-class development while still retaining our world heritage status."
Joe knows it's hogwash, but he'd rather get back to his day at Buck House (what to say, how to act, perfecting that all-important bow). Never mind the fact that WHS status is now up for review by UNESCO in St Petersburg this weekend (http://liverpoolpreservationtrust.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/liverpool-to-be-placed-on-unesco-world.html ).
Rewind a few hours & back on Oldham Hall Street the struggle to clear minds isn't easy. Someone helpfully recalls an editorial from last February & its dismissive one-liner about Liverpool's WHS (http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/views/our-view/2012/02/29/liverpool-waters-plans-must-proceed-100252-30427746/ ):
"It's a great accolade to have, but some things are more important."
There's a tumbleweed moment in the office. Silence is followed by an embarrassed clearing of the throat & a muffled aside about getting on with some work.
Big Al Machray looks bewildered. Then irritated. Then purposeful. He calls together the finest minds at his disposal, an Echo Brains Trust, if you will. Drafting an editorial, they know it has to reflect Oldham Hall Street's new-found sobriety in discussing UNESCO's impending decision (http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/views/our-view/2012/06/19/don-t-punish-the-city-of-liverpool-unesco-100252-31211961/ ):
"But as [UNESCO] prepare for their discussions, we would ask the committee members to be mindful that this is a city which is constantly evolving and improving -- and the waterfront must be a part of this positive development.
"The last thing this city wants to do is destroy its heritage, and we have no intention of allowing that to happen. We also have no intention of missing out on an exciting and ambitious scheme which aims to revive and regenerate the depressed northern docklands -- providing new hope, new opportunities and new jobs."
Heads are nodded in agreement that the latter point is sufficiently vague & poorly-researched for inclusion in an Echo editorial.
So far, so good. However, a concluding sentence is needed, one that combines a tacit acknowledgement that Liverpool Waters has terminal implications for the city's WHS with a reminder that the Echo is chronically addicted to the press releases issued by the Peel behemoth:
"Trust us to carry on combining the new and the old -- and allow us to retain the status you gave us, while continuing to look to the future."
Will that do, someone asks. There's a furrowing of brows, sotto voce reservations emanate from one or two & Big Al's most loyal lieutenants gaze at their efforts admiringly. Judgment is arrived at. That'll do, is the verdict.
Joe, meanwhile, resumes his thoughts about that day at the Palace. Across the city of which he is Mayor the cuts continue & Peel Holdings wait expectantly for UNESCO to do their worst.

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