Six months ago, I had the pleasure of awarding first prize in the Liverpool, Capital of Culture Year, short story competition to Cathy Roberts. We had entries from a wide range of countries, but as luck would have it, the winner lived on the doorstep – actually, in a tugboat, MV France-Hayhurst, currently moored in the Albert Dock.
Circumstances have conspired to prevent Cathy and me from meeting again until now, when I had the chance to visit the boat for coffee and an all too brief chat. Cathy continues to write (her brilliant winning story is being adapted into a play) and is engaged on a wide variety of activities, and she has a marvellous fund of stories about life in the dock world.
Quite apart from the fascination of maritime history and travel around the world under sail, there’s obviously something special about the camaraderie between people who live and sail on boats. Their lifestyles are intriguing. For instance, Cathy introduced me to one neighbour who divides his time between Liverpool in the summer and Egypt in the winter.
The society centred around the boats moored at Albert Dock is a classic ‘closed community’, and even on a sunny day when Liverpool and Albert Dock looked terrific, with many interesting contrasts between the old buildings and the brand new (the still unfinished new museum is in the next-to-bottom photo) I couldn’t help thinking that it would be a fantastic setting for murder, mystery and a classic form detective story…