As Liverpool suffers the Blitz, an architectural historian discovers his city amounts to much more than beautiful buildings. Atmospheric and moving, this is as much a pean to a vanishing world as the story of a late coming-of-age.
He was grateful to reach Sefton Park, a refuge from the chaotic damage on the streets. The barrage balloons still swayed around the perimeter, and the lake had been drained by the Fire Service for auxiliary water supplies during the last raids. But these reminders of war were set against the tranquillity of matitudinal birdsong, of wide green spaces, and of couples strolling by without apparent regard for the desolate atmosphere beyond. He had recently come across the phrase 'London can take it', a tribute to the capital's resilience in the face of the Blitz. If that were so, then Liverpool could take it too. The Luftwaffe might knock them about all they wanted, but in the end the streets and houses and pubs and churches would be rebuilt in new and better ways. It would be changed, but it would be the same. What would survive any amount of bombing was the spirit of the place, the unshakeable honour in belonging to this ancient, altered town.