Cath Taylor shares her thoughts and experiences as an adopted Scouser, enjoy……….
1991 was the year that saw me qualify as a nurse and start work in the intensive care unit at what was then the Cardiothoracic Centre (now Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital) which was always known to patients, families and public alike as ‘the chest unit at Broadgreen’… much to their chagrin as they have always strived for independence since they split from the RLBUHT in 1991.
I did my training in my local hospital and school of nursing at Warrington. Warrington was a small (ish) town in those days and consequently, it was a relatively small hospital with no real specialities or major treatment depts. When I qualified, I had set my sights on doing different things and maybe travelling the world and finding my way through different experiences within nursing, on my way to education.
Until that is, I went to work on intensive care in Liverpool. There I was in 1991 and indeed, there I stayed in Liverpool until 2013 when my wanderlust finally caught up and I moved to Lancashire (a million miles away!). Throughout the period 1991 to 2013 I did different things at the hospital but was hooked on Liverpool right up until I left in 2013 (and looking to come back!).
July 1991 when I moved to Liverpool, was also the post first Gulf War and a plethora of other major stories that broke that year. Not unlike it is now… sad to see so many things have not changed in our world… but one thing which has changed significantly, is Liverpool. In those days Liverpool (to me) was a scary and wild… but friendly place. There were places you were advised not to go after dark and places you could walk down the street at 3am naked and no one would bat an eyelid! All that has changed now. Today it’s a joy to behold and a hotbed of cultural happenings, restaurants, bars and unlike any other city in the UK is truly embracing of a multicultural, cosmopolitan ethos.
When I moved to Liverpool I was what the patients and their families used to refer to as a ‘woolyback’. Of course, I had no idea what this meant and where it came from. It always seemed to be said with an edge of banter and humour so I didn’t take too much offense and if honest, it’s only recently that I discovered the real meaning behind it… it actually refers not only to those residents from towns around Liverpool (like Warrington) but also those who worked on the docks in Liverpool unloading wool from the ships.
Which kinda brings me to the gem of a man who sealed my love of the city. Lets call him John (not his actual name). It was 1993 and John had been a patient on my dept and was due to go home. In the evening before he was a little anxious and so whilst waiting for the handover to complete for the nightshift, I sat talking to him. He explained a lot about his life – how he’d worked on the docks and lived for his wife, kids and the rest of the family… alongside going to see his beloved Liverpool as he was a season ticket holder. John these days was a taxi-driver and a fairly young man but getting towards that of a certain age. He knew he couldn’t continue with ‘hard physical graft’ any longer and needed to rethink things. So we sat talking about what was important in life… and he told me, people… people are important. Learning about who they are, why they want to do the things they do, why they’re sad, kind, not so kind, happy etc. What makes people tick… John reckoned finding the key to what makes people tick is the answer to knowing what makes Liverpool tick.
On the way home that evening, it hit me that I’d been having a hard time settling down in Liverpool
and some of it was because I was lonely. I’d settled into the nurse’s home without a thought and then I wanted to move on and make new friends, acquaintances and build a life… I didn’t want to just always be ‘a woolyback’ and an outsider. Liverpool can be very protective of their own and very welcoming, to the right people. After a while, I settled outside the nurse’s home with a partner, we made friends and I often thought back to John and the things he said. In the end I made it my business to find out about my adopted home, the city, the people, the great things it stands for, the famous faces and places, all of those things and more. I would read up about football and decided I had to be red or blue (red) … it really didn’t matter which colour … what mattered was that I took the time to find out about an important aspect of the city and its people and culture. You don’t fit into a place like Liverpool without embracing it… but when you do, they welcome you with open arms… and often they don’t let you go.
I remember the day when I knew I was adopted. It was 1993 and I was working on a surgical ward, it was a sunny day and the ward was bright and cheery – almost everyone in my bay was recovering well and ready in the next few days to go home. So of course, there were high levels of banter amongst the men. I’d been talking about the match at the weekend between Liverpool and some unfortunate team that ended up getting pasted! When… a man asked me ‘where are you from…? Your accent isn’t scouse, but it’s not wooly either…?’ So I said I was originally from Warrington but lived now in Aigburth. One of the other chaps chimed in ‘she’s no wooly, she’s an adoptive scouser’. That day I went home for the first time in ages, feeling like I not only fitted in but it was clear, I had made a difference to these people’s lives… more to the point, they had adopted me and let me… and now were treating me as one of their own.
Since that day to this, I’ve always found it easy to work in Liverpool. I’ve always found it easy to fit in… because people from Liverpool know when you take the time to commit to somewhere, you’re not just passing them off and over like most, you’re not just seeing the surface… but you’re taking them seriously and hearing and seeing them for what they’re about. You’ve taken the time to see what makes them tick. Goes a long way with scousers does that
15 Jan 2014