Penny Lane

Cover of Planet of the and dog....

Last summer I rode up and down Penny Lane in Liverpool with a cab driver who sounded remarkably like Ringo. I got him laughing when I said the seagulls Merseyside were like hoodlums—tough and enormous. There’s a laughter in Liverpool, the kind I like, it emanates from the scoured provincial streets.


I exited the cab and was nearly hit by a cheese truck. A cheese lorrie. Blessed are the Cheese Makers.


My dear friend Bill Peace had just died. He was a scholar, a disability rights activist, a wheel chair user, a sportsman, a lover of life. I was in Liverpool walking by myself probing with a white cane, traveling without my guide dog—all that British paperwork who needs it, and I wept in the shadow of a maritime building beside the river.


Crossing streets is a Hemingway affair for the blind. One thinks of “death in the afternoon” for each engagement with traffic is dangerous, straightening, and to use a fancy term “architectonic”—there are multiple simultaneous narratives and aspirations in blind life at every street corner.


Walking old Liverpool, thinking of Bill, poking with my cane, stepping into unfamiliar roads, thinking of how precious and unpredictable every step is. Even thuggish seagulls had advantages over me. And walking past the John Lennon art museum with its hypertrophic twenty foot letters spelling “Imagine” I pointed my stick in the air and said, loudly enough to be heard, “imagine what, John? That there’s no heaven? Imagine that it’s easy? Try walking Penny Lane when you can’t see, you prat!’

As I said, I wept in the shadow of a maritime building beside the river. I thought about Auden who joked about the British idea of heaven which would look like a well ordered London but cleaner….

I wept and laughed alternately.

Thought: no one’s an atheist in a foxhole. Gave myself permission to think of heaven when crossing streets.


Penny Lane

Author: skuusisto

Poet, Essayist, Blogger, Journalist, Memoirist, Disability Rights Advocate, Public Speaker, Professor, Syracuse University

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