This was the most sociable part of the journey so far. Professor Rhiannon Evans accompanied me on the long trek around the Wirral coast, and we met up with Jennie at the end. A great day of walking, through some once-thriving resorts. Occasional steel frames sketching out the spaces of new buildings – I can never take buildings seriously these days, knowing that they’re just cladding on a metal skeleton – they just seem like provisional spaces, needing strong brands and service-level pacts to hold them in place.
New Brighton may not strike fear into the hearts of the Brighton, Sussex tourism industry, but it has a charm of its own and I envied the cooked breakfasts in the cafe where we had frothy coffee. We skirted round miles of coast; promenades, country parks, golf courses. Watched a fox cross a railway track; saw a bandstand with composers’ names around its rim: ‘Wagner | Sullivan’ made a nice juxtaposition. Our eventual destination, Parkgate, was (according to Rhiannon) a significant port and a bathing resort frequented by Lady Hamilton and Handel, amongst others – silt put an end to that, though there is a surreal appeal to seeing a grass-filled harbour, like the aftermath of a quiet apocalypse.
On the way, I added another souvenir to my small collection (alongside a piece of melted wheelie bin): a playing card that was lying somewhere on the miles of promenade: a Three of Hearts. Translated into the archetypal mnemonics of the Tarot this would be the Three of Cups – according to the Golden Dawn (the Ordnance Survey of the occult world) this signifies ‘Correct judgement; full measure of all good things upon proper understanding of the situation at hand; a verdict of law that offers benefit, pleasure and prosperity; the understanding of death gives one access to the pleasures of life.’ I expect the Council leave them lying around to convey this message.
Finished in the Red Lion, had a pint of Brains, perhaps the most suitable beverage to drink with Welsh hills in sight as the sun went down over the saltmarsh.
Driving back, past refineries and warehousing, noticed that the Seacombe ferry terminal is signed as a spaceport – maybe next time the itinerary will include a side-trip to Andromeda…