The Husband is in a museum. Well, we’re all in a museum, strictly speaking, but when the rest of us walk out into the unseasonable sunshine in an hour or so, The Husband will remain in the museum. He is, in many respects, the bog body of the Museum of Liverpool.
I make this remark, back out in sunny Albert Dock, but it doesn’t get a laugh. To be honest, I may as well not be here at all, because right now, the kids are all about their father. ‘You are by far the more impressive parent,’ volunteers The Boy, and his sisters rush to concur. ‘ I used to think Mom was quite interesting,’ expands The Youngest, ‘ but you’re way, way more interesting.’
We didn’t know he was going to be in the museum. Even he was surprised. We only came here because Mike McCartney recommended it to us ( I am vaguely interested in seeing how many famous Liverpudlians I can name- check in this column. Consider that a first ding. Or a second, if you’re counting The Husband — which I most definitely am not).
Anyway, Mike is all over the Museum of Liverpool, as is — as you would expect — his marginally more famous older brother. But the whole top floor of this new museum is given over to the arts and culture of the city — now, there’s an idea, Gathering people — and it makes for a fascinating and nostalgic wander through a wealth of familiar touchstones, from Billy Furey through The Liver Birds and Shirley Valentine to Yosser Hughes. Honestly, until you’re confronted with them all on the top floor of a shiny new building, you don’t realise quite how many impressive people this vibrant city has gifted the world. And then there is The Husband. He’s actually there twice — as the children keep pointing out. First, in an exhibit about Eric’s, which was a music venue in Mathew Street, just across from the original Cavern Club, and again in a similar tribute to another venue, The Picket. He is there with his band, of course, who you have never heard of because you are not from Liverpool.
But it never ceases to amaze me just how famous Deaf School were — and, I suppose, still are — in this city. It is not uncommon for The Husband to be approached in the street, or,
‘You are by far the more impressive parent,’ The Boy tells The Husband, and his sisters rush to concur with him
as on this trip, in Pizza Express, by perfect strangers who want to shake his hand and reflect on what I can only conclude was their wasted youth. Plus, in the picture of the band that makes up part of the Eric’s exhibit, The Husband looks a bit gay. Actually, they all do — but then, when you think about it, there are very few bands of the early 1980s who don’t look a bit gay — and since The Husband’s band share their museum space with Frankie Goes To Hollywood, it is probably fair to say that there are gayer fish to fry in this particular exhibit. Still, the kids stare at it for ages and ages — even The Husband has moved on to the Willy Russell wall — with The Teenager in particular, who these days is largely of the opinion that her father is something of a waste of space, absolutely captivated by this sudden evidence to the contrary.
For my part, I wander over to a brilliant exhibition of doors with poems on them, put together by Roger McGough, and contemplate this unexpected shift in parental impressiveness. It was bad enough last month, when The Husband’s biographer — I mean, seriously? — came to Dublin to rummage through his memories and extensive collection of memorabilia. Or crap, as I prefer to call it. This resulted in the floor of our office room being covered, for a week or so, in magazines with The Husband’s face on the front of them. In fairness, he did look a little bit hot on the cover of Sounds. I pointed this out to The Teenager, busy writing yet another song on the keyboard in the middle of all the mayhem. ‘Actually, he looks a bit gay,’ she corrected me.
I try to remind her of that in the museum, but it is clear she is having none of me. So I head into the karaoke booth with The Youngest, who leaves it again before the door even closes because she can hear one of The Husband’s songs playing in another part of the museum. I choose Yesterday from the song selection. Even if I say so myself, I give a particularly fine — and highly emotional — performance.
Don’t miss Fiona Looney’s brilliant column, with her unique take on modern Ireland, only in the Irish Daily Mail every Wednesday.