It started out as a joke, slogan, a theme song of sorts for two starry-eyed youngsters starting out into the big, bad world. The choice of song was a no-brainer; The Bean Counter’s heart was stolen by Liverpool FC way back in 1974 when he got up in the middle of the night for the first FA Cup televised live in New Zealand and they thrashed his father’s beloved Newcastle United 3-0. You’ll Never Walk Alone (if you click on the link, you might just see him in that sea of red) is their song and the Milk Maid figured it was a case of if you can’t beat them, join them.
But as the Homestead has developed and grown, so our feelings towards that Gerry and The Pacemakers anthem have morphed. We’re the first to admit it sounds a bit corny, but central to what we’re doing here is the reassurance that we never walk alone; like the musketeers it’s all for one and one for all. It’s amazing what you can achieve when you know that someone’s got your back and that your strengths compliment their weaknesses.
Around the dinner table this week, for example, we’ve collectively brainstormed a doozie of a “provocation” for The Renovator’s charges. Six different ways to interpret the concept of “Your Voice”, six different life experiences, memories, ideas, and interests plus The Renovator’s degree makes for a pretty well rounded, well thrashed out end result.
Not that never-walking-alone is restricted to the confines of the Homestead. Geraldine the goat was not well this week – we’re talking: in the digestive department. This is not an uncommon occurrence for the Queen of the Paddock who gets first dibs at any morsel of food that enters the goat’s domain, but this didn’t let up. Every day she would slowly get better, then in the morning she would be a whining, miserable, goatie mess again. We scoured the paddock for hints, closely examined the feed bins for imposters, scrubbed the food bowls until they gleamed, but to no avail. In the end, a chance comment by Margaret Over-the-back-fence about goat gymnastics, overheard by Dave Back-Flat soon had us in the picture. Miss G had been utilizing the compost heap and balance worthy of a tight-rope walker to reach the overhanging walnut tree leaves. All this was happening in the early morning, long before any Homesteaders were anywhere near the paddock, but Margaret had been surprised by the sight of our head girl peering over the fence as she made an early morning cuppa and Dave, enjoying a post-nightshift cigarette on his back step, could fill in the blanks. With our powers combined the tree has been trimmed and the protesting intestines calmed.
When one of our number,who will remain nameless,rendered our belt-sander immobile by attempting to sand the Homestead cladding with the machines power cord underneath itself we were in a bit of a fix. We’re a bunch of people that view electricity with the same distrust and wonder that early man did the naked flame; it’s all a bit voodoo. Luckily for us, in among the bunch of folk we’re never walking alone with, all the way across town, is the wonderful Intersection Bunch, including the electrically educated Uncle A, who had our sander back up and running (albeit with a slightly shorter cord) before you could say “thank goodness for safety cut-out gizmos”.
Geographically, this whole theme song ethos reaches a very long way. Last night we finally watched Hillsborough, a documentary about the stadium disaster and the protracted battle for justice for the 96 Liverpool fans that died as a result. Earlier in that season, The Bean Counter and Milk Maid had sat in Anfield,the hallowed turf, watching Liverpool duke it out with Wimbledon. The Bean Counter’s name had been among those read out in the 1980’s version of a half-time “Shout Out” (thus conveying him to a state of sublime ecstasy) and The Milk Maid had sobbed throughout the pre-match rendition of “The Song”. Through The Bean Counter’s extensive wardrobe of Liverpool shirts of varying conditions (and sizes) we have met like minded folk the world over; from wandering through our own New Brighton to the airport bus at LAX to Groningen railway station in The Netherlands. A massive group of people never walking alone.
What it boils down to is good, old-fashioned community. It can be within a home, a suburb, a city, country, or even within a planet.
Here at the Homestead, we have been horrified; initially by the fact that the Hillsborough disaster happened at all and then, over the years, by the exposed institutional cover-ups. To all those affected by this horrible event, we hope this current inquest helps you find whatever it is you need when faced with this sort of protracted injustice. Peace be with you. YNWA.