They say you only get one chance to make a first impression – someone should tell John Lennon airport!
I’ve just come back from a short break in Mallorca with my daughter. We went from Liverpool John Lennon airport, which I always prefer to Manchester as it’s local, easy to get to and it’s a lovely little compact airport.
Going to Mallorca was no problem. We checked in, bought some duty free perfume, had a coffee and off we flew. All jolly nice and civilised.
But coming back was a different matter altogether. Now, I’ve been through the arrivals section of John Lennon airport dozens of times, but never before have I done it as a Cultural Champion. So as we made our way, bleary-eyed at 4 in the morning, through the arrivals hall, I was looking at it as someone just arriving in the city for the first time. And what a crashing disappointment it is.
We were herded through a maze of metal into the most depressing arrivals hall I can ever remember being in. The ceiling tiles were dirty and damaged, the walls looked like they hadn’t seen a lick of paint for decades and the trolleys, the only ones I’ve come across that are chained up and you have to pay for, were rusty and damaged. The ladies toilets were sad and old looking with rubbish piled high in the waste bins.
We were then subject to a miserable passport inspection by an inspector who treated us as though we were suspects. I’ve had more courteous treatment at passport control when I was turfed off a train bound for East Germany by a guard with a gun back in the 80s.
I was completely depressed at the thought that this is the welcome received by people visiting Liverpool for the first time who arrive via the airport. Last year over 5 million passengers used Liverpool John Lennon airport. How many of these people got the same dispiriting impression I got on arrival?
The airport is in rude health, financially, and has already spent over £10 million on improvements, so surely some new ceiling tiles, a lick of paint, some nice new trolleys, clean modern toilets and a warm welcome from the arrivals staff isn’t asking too much? Let’s start the experience of Liverpool for our visitors as we mean to go on. Let’s show them the warmth that we’re famous for. And maybe a nice clean place for some post-flight nose powdering.
It’s not a lot to ask.
It seems not! The famous gates have gone! They are to be sold. Yes its for charity but how many more Beatle landmarks will disapear . Visitors will stop coming to Liverpool, Beatle Fans will have nothing to see, . Liverpool IS more than the Beatles, but they are a very large part of our tourist trade. We need to keep our heritage of all kinds.
It was a good day for Liverpool, the sun shone, the VIP’S turned out in full force, the people of Liverpool came, Beatles/music fans came from all over the world .The international media representatives were there in great numbers and all came to honour JOHN LENNON . His life ,his music and his contribution to world peace. Julian and Cynthia Lennon cut the white ribbons to unveil The European Peace Monument releasing hundreds of white balloons and the crowds cheered their appreciation of the magnificent monument and I breathed a sigh of relief I loved it . Lauren Voiers a beautiful young and talented lady created a masterpiece in ‘Peace and Harmony’ which has been inspired by her own musical influences as well as those of John Lennon and the Beatles. It is wonderful and fitting that this is now in Chavasse Park ,Liverpool One, and John’s home city. The Global Peace Initiative has gifted this the second peace monument to the people of Liverpool on the occasion of what would have been John,s 70th birthday. Two months of celebration follow in the City of Liverpool, Cynthia Lennon made a plea for this to be a happy time , she thought that John would have wanted it. Julian was a reluctant speaker but made a small speech in honour of his Father also to thank the people of Liverpool for their warm welcome he felt at home and felt proud of the honour given to his Dad. There was a moment when the Liverpool Signing Choir was in the middle of their poignant performance when Julian patted his Mum’s knee to comfort her when I felt for the two of them and I know many people felt quite emotional. The whole ceremony went to plan, and was a credit to all the people involved, our own Roger Phillips from BBC Merseyside was as usual a wonderful Master of Ceremonies all the speeches were very well presented and the sentiment was delivered without being sad or morbid.Lord Mayor Hazel Williams welcomed all the visitors ,Ben Valenty and Lauren Voiers handed over the monument and talked about their work, Councillor Joe Anderson accepted on behalf of the people of Liverpool and the whole of Europe . Speeches from Jerry Goldman and Chris Bliss were very skillfully made , these are all the people who made this event happen. And I was there ! as the guest of the best dressed man in Liverpool, Thank you Gary Miller not only for a wonderful day full of great memories but for giving me such a great opportunity as Champion of Culture , for Liverpool East. Our area is very lucky to have you in our corner.