Sunday, July 09, 2006


After a year in which Ringo Star's birthplace was first condemned, then dismissed as being of no interest, and then saved in some sort of strange brick museum, and Strawberry Fields ceased its operations, Liverpool almost managed to wipe another Beatles tourist attraction from its maps.

A well-meaning but hideously misplaced attempt to try and atone for the whole "being built on slave money" basis of the city had led to the idea of renaming all streets that had been originally named in honour of slave traders.

The someone remembered James Penny.

As in Penny Lane.

"I don't think anyone would seriously consider renaming Penny Lane," said city council member Barbara Mace, who has been pressing to get rid of names linked to slavery. "My proposal is to rename several of the streets and to replace them with the names of people who have done something positive."

So, then, it's a serious attempt to remove the names of streets associated with the slave trade, unless it would be awkward or embarrassing to do so. In other words, Mace is proposing to only change the obscure streets named after slave traders - which is such an empty gesture you could cram a fleet of daleks in there and still have room for some cybermen.

Added to which, it's more than a little dishonest, representing almost a desire to wipe out the uncomfortable truths of the city's former prosperity:

Eric Lynch, 74, who gives tours focused on the history of Liverpool's involvement in the slave trade, said renaming any streets or squares would be a "disgraceful attempt to change history."

"It's like somebody in Germany deciding to bulldoze Auschwitz," Lynch said. "Like somebody deciding not to celebrate D-Day. If we don't know the past, how can we make sure we don't make the same mistakes? Are the monuments to the Irish famines going to go next?"

Well, up to a point, Eric - although if the Germans did decide to bulldoze Auschwitz, that would be slightly different what with it being in Poland.

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