Views of Liverpool
The biggest change in recent years is the Tate, which is fantastic. The Albert Docks are fantastic, as well. Liverpool has three universities now, which contribute to the cultural health of the city. We also have the Fame school, which Paul McCartney has generously funded.
It doesn't surprise me that the population of Liverpool is falling - it has been since I lived there years ago. I would move back, but my husband used to be a Birkenhead police officer and he arrested too many people for us to be safe up there!
I've always adored Liverpool, even in its darkest days. It's always had a vibrant cultural life - when I was a boy my mother and her bourgeois friends would go to art galleries, amateur dramatics. What's happening now seems to be happening everywhere - art is the new rock'n'roll. It is very encouraging to see young people going to art galleries in the way they used to go to rock concerts.
I hate words like cultural reinvention. Liverpool has always been a centre of culture - look at the Beatles or the Liverpool poets: Adrian Henry, Roger McGough and Brian Patten.
I have watched my home city change for more than half a century. I saw the austerity of the war give birth to the wave of youthful creativity of the Fifties and Sixties. I saw Liverpool emerge from its chrysalis of commercial and industrial toil, and transform itself into a vibrant modern city. And amid the changes, its glorious civic, cultural and maritime heritage has been showcased and renewed as never before. It will be a worthy European City of Culture, of which every Liverpudlian can be proud.
From St George's Hall past the Walker Art Gallery, the William Brown Street Library and two spectacular cathedrals all the way to the Three Graces on its magnificent waterfront, Liverpool has always been spectacular. But what disfigured the city for so long was that its people only walked upright because they had equally big chips on both shoulders. New Liverpool has lost that resentful aggression and rediscovered its old sense of style and fun. As a child of the Sixties - Beatles and all - I have missed that for the past 40 years. It is wonderful to see it flourish again.
I grew up in Liverpool during its Sixties heyday. As a 16-year-old, I was a regular at the Cavern Club. It was almost like being in Barcelona today. The Beatles and the Liverpool poets endowed the city with such a buzz and sense of optimism that even Londoners began to view it as the place to be. I left to attend York University and by the mid-Seventies, when I had finished my degree, the whole country was in decline and Liverpool's stardom was ebbing. In recent years, the city council has done a very good job of reinventing the image of my home town. By focusing on American tourism, they have completely regenerated the city centre. A testament to the city's new-found success as a landmark for tourists is the string of new hotels that have opened up in the past five years and which are constantly at full capacity. I've thought a good deal about buying a second home in Liverpool, but the city has lost half its population since I was a teenager and almost everybody I once knew has joined in this exodus.