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JOHN DARWELL

JOHN DARWELL
Jimmy Jock, Albert and The Six-Sided Clock
The Port of Liverpool for centuries has been synonymous with seafa-ring. Much of the city bears witness to this proud ( and not so proud!) past in its buildings, monuments and street ñames. Today the port is undergoing great changes; the vast legions of doc-kers are now all but gone, taking with them the pubs and cafes along the dock road, the process of visible decline obscuring the fact that the turnover of the port is now at record levéis. Mechanisation has left many áreas of dockland as empty reminders of what once
was, the giant cranes stand disu-sed or in the throes of dismantling -an adventure playground par exce-llence for the local kids. On exploring the docks you still come under the scrutiny of the port pólice - often the only people to be found in the more out the way áreas. 1 watched one policeman spend an afternoon guarding the gates whilst lovingly washing his car, such was the activity taking place that day.
The men who remaín working the port are proud of their tradition, their caustic wit still flying around the graving docks, but the men are getting older and the Jobs fewer -what apprentices there are have to look for work elsewhere once out of their time. They still get sent for a long weigth (wait) or an air hook, but things move on and the age of the push bullón is replacing the camaraderie and skills of yester-day. "It's nol Jimmy it's Jimmy Jock" resounding through the ship -but for how much longer? On the more run down dock sites, grass and brambles grow on áreas of former activity, preparing the way for the bull dozers that will ine-vitably alter the face of the área forever in the move towards leisure and tourism.
Marinas and shopping centres sland poised on drawing boards awaiting an 'upturn in the economy' - that lavourite phrase of govern-ment politicians. The corridors of Albert resound to the tramp of browsing tourisl, "nol buying, just looking", peering into (he Granada Studios- "is Ihat Richard and Judy? - I can't see very well -wave, we might be on lellyl " or munching through overpriced exo-tic snacks, awailing ihe arrival of Fred (a TV weatherman) - known even lo Kings and Queens - the power of celebrityl Back on the dock front one ritual that never changes. Every evening the prostitutes sneak into the port, the word's out a ship's in and it's only the engines that need servi-cing. Though the crews are mainly form the third world and speak no English the universal language pre-vails!
What will happen lo Ihe port and its remainig workers in years lo come? Will we see dockers trooping down lo the ships once again? Moving cargo, not for real but for us the onlookers, whilst the ' real' work goes on two miles down the road in the world of 'high tech' conlainers moved by robots. Will Ihe oíd docks follow the collón industry and mines ¡nto Ihe glorified never never land of the herilage industry? Only time will tell.

 

III Bienal

1995 SELECCIÓN