I've returned from another visit to my beloved city. I first set foot in Liverpool on Friday 22nd February 1985 (ironically the day on which Dana had been born but fourteen years previously...and Tali wasn't even a twinklet).
I don't remember much of the trip, except for the visit to the Beatle City exhibition (on Sunday the 24th), which is long gone. I have a vague memory of walking around Seel Street and seeing the docks....and that's about it.
When I bought my first Beatles' tape at Oliver Crombie, a music shop in Golders Green the next day, I really didn't realise that I was on the cusp on developing one of my life's great passions.
The tape, by the way, was Please Please Me.
Fast forward 23 years and then some... and I've come back from my fourth visit to the city - my third annual trip.
To be fair, this wasn't exactly a Beatles event. As you know, I was here on business, although the lads were never far away from either my mind, or the itinerary.
There were three teachers - M, L and myself and M. did all the driving in the very reliable minivan. We took 10 kids along with us and their behaviour throughout the trip was nothing but exemplary.
"Roll up for the mystery tour....the magical mystery tour is coming to take you away, coming to take you away...."
We didn't leave school yesterday afternoon until after 12.00 and the trip up the motorways of England was pretty uneventful. The weather however, wasn't. It was dreadful. Our entry into Liverpool was accompanied by heavy rain and a sky whose monochrome tones weren't exactly the way in which I'd envisaged I'd re-visit the city.
The rain was pelting down.
Fortunately, we had L's Satellite Navigation device with us (a Tom Tom) replete with the rather confused directions emanating from "Tim", our electronic voice.
We made our way to the halls of residence, based at the Liverpool Hope University. We saw our first Lambanana. Nuff said.
L. and I walked out into the gushing rain and made our way into the bowels of the main building. It was virtually impossible to get any semblance of instruction as to where we were meant to drop our bags off for the night. We were told to go and get the students and bring them into the cavernous canteen. We walked the poor students through the rain into the said area, only to be told that our dorms had been flooded and we therefore needed to make our way to other halls, yet another three miles down the road.
The rain was not forgiving as we all made our way back to the minivan. Complication after complication hit us until we finally managed to get our rooms sorted out and make our way back to the original location for "supper".
I'll skip the details regarding "supper" because there wasn't much food. We were however shepherded into a Double Decker bus to take our tour of Liverpool.
Ah Liverpool! Wonderful, wonderful Liverpool. Well, it wasn't too great last night at 8.15 - in fact it was downright miserable. Our driver/guide did the best he could to show us the sights, but nary was to be seen through misted windows, caked in pelted rain. I added some narration of my own, but this wasn't the way I had hoped I would be able to share my love of the city with the other teachers! It was a miserable bus ride through the town and along by the docks.
No matter. We made sure that the kids were in their rooms and after chatting in the hallway, settled down in L's room for a good old chinwag - three teachers chatting, schmoozing and basically having a good laugh.
By the time I looked at my watch, it was 3.00 am and definitely the time to get to bed, so I bid my farewells and crashed into the rather comfortable bed (granted that we were staying in student dorms) in Dorm 10, Room I.
Less than three hours later, Reveille came along and it was time to get the kids up and ready for the day. The irony had been that the kids enjoyed a restful night, whilst we, the adults did the "staying up and chatting" routine. Talk about role reversal.
We had a light breakfast (note the emphasis on "light) and made our way to the hotel/pub in Edge Hill, the location at which the competition was to take place.
There were more than two dozen schools competing against one another and to keep it fair, teachers were separated from the kids and left to heir own devices (aside from the chance of listening to some pretty boring speakers). The kids were given their task and got on with it. We were superfluous.
M. found a rather cosy settee in one of the sitting rooms of the hotel and made himself comfortable. L. and I managed to escape the second speaker (management accounting is really not my thing, thank you very much) and locate him there.
After our sleep-deprived night, there wasn't much chance that we'd manage to stay awake - granted that we each had our own criminally comfortable settee to park our bodies into. Poor L. didn't quite know what to do when both of us fell asleep, sprawled across our respective sofas/beds - this being in a public room.
Apparently, people who came in, waiting to have their lunch were less than impressed with our antics and poor L. had to shake us (literally) out of our slumber. I don't think either of us are going to be living that episode down.
We went back to the room we'd escaped to hear the presentations and cheer our kids on. Our students were really great and did the best they could in coping with a pretty challenging task.
Unfortunately, they didn't win, but did it matter? They'd probably learned more in these few hours, than they might have done in a month of business studies lessons.
It was time to go and we made our way home - wearily. The good news was that the sun shone all day and at least I could prove to the others that Liverpool wasn't the rainy city they all expected it to be.
The final irony? Today was the first Liverpool Beatles Day and I was but three miles from concerts, outdoor performances and the like. I didn't see anything in Edge Hill. However, the icing on the cake was that I bought a genuine Beatles wig.
I left Liverpool with a heavy heart, yet lightened somewhat in the knowledge that I'll be back there in about five weeks - determined to restore the Beatles' element to my experience of the city. It was fab to be back in the city, if only for less than 24 hours.
It is still waiting for me, but 200 miles away.