The Nerve Centre: A Personal Thanks...by Kai Andersen.

I've heard much about this piece of writing, and here it for all to read:

Nerve Centre...

Throughout much of August, beginning on -unlucky for some- Friday the 13th

and finishing on Saturday 11th of September, Nerve magazine, here in
Liverpool, brought artists, musicians, poets, political activists, community
activists, philosophers, socialists, writers, illustrators, anti-demolition
protestors, techies, old people, young people, tall and short people
together, even the occasional dog sat in on discussions and at least one
gave his opinion right in the middle and stopped us all in our tracks for
five minutes with a puddle. I think I must have been there when the place
was at its fullest, I was also there for a brief moment when I think it was
completely empty too. I touched the basement and the top of the roof, I
looked upwards and outwards right across Liverpool I looked down at shoppers
from the roof, workers coming and going, I saw and heard the hussle and
bustle of people enjoying a night out.

This was a very powerful, beautiful, inspiring, emotionally uplifting
experience for me and got everymore intense, I increasingly felt drawn in
and made some new friends and reaquainted myself with some old ones too, we
chatted with passersby who'd been drawn in. The venue was an empty shop
right in the middle of Liverpool city centre, where buses screeched to a
halt, where police car sirens were heard constantly, where shoppers and
workers passed by, in, out and through the former Rapid Hardware paintshop.
The building is free standing with four floors and a basement which was
filled with the sounds of people again, everything you could have wanted was
in there except for the exchange of money, a free cup of tea or coffee was
easily available, a nice comfy chair to sit and catch your breath. An art
gallery with a difference, art was spoken about, some of the artists
regularly paid visits, Carl Fletcher was the artist in residence -so to
speak- other artists also visited regularly to chat to people -like myself-
unused to visiting the sterile and silent spaces of most art galleries.

"Do you see yourself in the picture" says a voice behind me on my first
visit, I reply "No, I'm still looking at it..." that was a first contact I
made with Carl. Many people were taking photographs, one guy started moving
my umbrella around, I was a little peeved, then he started to take photos on
a compact camera and I got it, later on we chatted, he continued to take
photos quite regularly and set up an online web-log (BLOG) about what was
going on in the centre, I took plenty of photographs myself. Another person
I recall meeting spoke with an Australian accent, I was trying to show him
where somewhere was and he got a little peeved with me at first, however
he'd been living in a tent for a few weeks, while researching his family's
history, he later on brought us some free food he'd obtained from Tesco,
"freegan" style, I later on did so myself, narrowly avoided being stopped by
the police with who knows what consequences. This Australian guy told me how
his ancestors had been transported for stealing a sheep, which ironically
wasn't much different from taking food -perfectly good food- sealed in
plastic bads from bins, morally it is no crime at all!

I went along quite regularly to engage in discussions, organised by the
Philosophers In Pubs (PIPs) group, there we were able to talk freely and
openly, without being shouted down, without being made to feel big or small,
everyone who wanted to was able to talk and be heard, no one was TALKED AT,
or spoken down to. We discussed "What is Love?" and "Which is the bigger
impact on life chances gender or class", this small discussion which had a
majority of women speakers at it, we decided mostly that class was the major
discrimination. We discussed "Nature or Nurture", whether who we are is all
decided in our DNA and genes or whether we're influenced more by the
environment, we had a lively discussion, exchanged ideas and thoughts on the
subject. We discussed "Humour in relation to the Scouser" and again the
discussion flowed freely, openly and in the spirit of wanting to listen and
learn from one another, other discussions included "The legacy of 2008,
consumerism or community?" this was focussed on capital of culture and
discussed our afterthoughts on everything most of us had felt excluded from.
Mashemon played a few sessions in the shop window, I missed that as my
routine life obviously intruded every so often to take me back to my
reality, however I caught them in the evening doing a live session inside
and was well impressed, I took some photographs and got a CD in exchange for
the promise to do something nice and help someone out.

There were films aplenty, these included one I took in on the media
propaganda created by ITN news in the late 1990s on the alledged Serbian
Death camps, for thirty minutes a full explaination of how the world was
fooled had a small audience thinking how the media lies and misleads us and
sets up the public to accept a war or military attack. Unfortunately a DVD I
had intended to show refused to work -it went on strike- which was
appropriate as it was a film about the 1984/85 miners strike made by a
Canadian company and broadcast only in Canada in 2005, which I'd supplied
three sections of video for. There were plenty of poets reading inspiring
material, also these poets were given the time and space so they could
discuss their poems, which is as equally as important.

On the last day, it started for me with a discussion about "Where do we go
from here?" everyone who had been involved or spent extended time in there
expressed their feelings on the Nerve Centre event, we discussed about
obtaining a building permanently, some of us even talked of 'occupation' of
the very building we were in briefly but perhaps that was a still a step too
far for most people. However the thought that the building could be
demolished angered and fired me up, I said I'd stepped into too many
buildings, including my own family home a boot house in Norris Green, my old
college, schools I went to, the swimming pool in Broadway that had been
demolished, to me it just provoked extreme emotions, reminders of betrayal
and loss. I felt we needed such a place as one person said "It has disabled
access, it's light, open and in the centre of town!" yes any person in a
wheel chair could have got in, as there were no steps into the front of the
building, there was even a lift shaft which might have been able to be put
back into operation, we even considered a large marquee at one moment,
discussion was lively - passionate and healthy, nobody fell out with anyone
even though we all seemed at one moment to want different things. The
discussion was followed by music and poetry.

The afternoon seemlessly merged into early event and blended into the
darkness of the night, Tayo Aluko filled an entire hour with poetry, singing
and his thoughts of many and various things, it didn't seem like an hour
because it was so full of thoughts, ideas, songs, words and inspiration. We
couldn't get the CD player to work so after a couple of musician's played
the space was naturally filled by poets, speakers and other musicians, for
some reason I found enough motivation and inspiration to read one of my
poems written in 1995 and called "Pulling Down Liverpool" about demolition
and media assault upon our city and people, it was heard inside the room and
outside by passing people, people standing at bus stops, in cars and buses.
It's the first time in over five years that I've felt inspired enough to
read one of my poems and it just felt ever so right. The day ended with a
party atmosphere, we improvised the CD player by pointing the microphone at
the speakers to amplify it and created a nice cosy vibe in the room lit just
by ambient light, a few of us visited the roof, as this would be for most of
us our last day in the building, we peaked over the edge and saw people
going to pubs and clubs, we could see the Anglican cathedral, St.Lukes
church, the "O Five One", Adelphi Hotel and even the Liver buildings.

The Nerve Centre, building and event itself took on its own life, it became
in the ownership of all the people who stepped into it, it was a revolution
in thought, word, action and deed, I was certainly choked, a little tearful
at times on the Saturday, maybe a fired up with anger because Nerve had got
a small slice but had to feed the 5,000. We'd helped one another, touched one
another's real humanity.

Saturday night merged into Sunday morning for me because my heart and soul
had never left the place, Sunday morning I was at peace with myself. I
entered the main space early and offered to help out, I gently helped to
take down some of the artwork which I thoroughly enjoyed, this was just an
continuation of the event for me, it was funny at times, I found a pair of
long forgotten shoes in a hidden location, they even fitted, I forgot to
take them off. I helped drive some of artist Carl's work home to his
home/studio we'd exchanged an item of signed artwork earlier before we'd
left Nerve Centre, I didn't know who I was going to give it to, I'd already
given out about 20 red cards with an artist/political statement from Arthur
from 1982 (still shown outside the Nerve Centre building if you
look) on one side and some of my words on the other, I also produced a piece
of installation art on the third floor "Reflections in a mirror". I dropped
Carl back at the centre, drove off and then realised I'd still got those
tight fitting 'hush puppies' on my feet, I checked my car to see if I'd put
my comfy shoes in the boot, they weren't there so I drove back towards town
again, traffic had been stopped by an Orange Lodge march down London Road, I
parked my car in one of my 'free' locations and walked back to Renshaw
Street, in I walked and there was the bag, a Farmfoods bag with my comfy
shoes in, I saw Darren pushing Penny up the street on a large trolley,
though it looked like a big skate board.

So there's my thoughts... There were lots of things that happened in
between, hundreds of other people's stories, things I've forgotten about or
chose not to write here.

To Richie, Darren, Amy, Carl, Tracy, Penny who helped organise the event and
numerous others who have names, but whose faces I won't forget, a personal
thanks from me for this happening - this event - this revolution - the cups
of tea and coffee and for reigniting my artistic, poetic, creative and
political spirits.

I'll be touching Glasgow later today, Liverpool's twin city in Scotland,
which has also suffered the slings and arrows of adversity and 'cultures of
vultures' AKA Capital of Culture" -smiles better- before we did.

ta ra. . . . . .

(C) 2010 Kai Andersen - Yes even our words get stolen and appropriated by
capitalist culture vultures! 

Say no more Kai, say no more.

The Nerve Centre. 

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