On 8th March I did raise a glass for Mr. William R, Liverpool’s Renaissance man. A model citizen, a man of integrity, an authentic role model. Someone I wholeheartedly admire.
Traditionally, on someone’s birthday, a gift is purchased to celebrate the occasion, to herald another year gone by. This year, I would like to do the reverse. To highlight the gifts that William Roscoe gave to his homestead, the City of Liverpool, during the course of his lifetime.
Long before Roald Dahl wrote The BFG for his granddaughter Sophie, in 1802 Roscoe wrote The Butterfly’s Ball and The Grasshopper’s Feast for his son, Robert. King George III liked it so much, he had the poem set to music.
He was behind the creation of The Botanic Gardens. In 1797, he and a group of friends created a scholars’ library, the Liverpool Athenaeum. The club still houses a collection of Roscoe’s books.
Roscoe founded an Institute for Mechanics and Apprentices, which has today evolved into the thriving Liverpool John Moores University. Roscoe had the courage to denounce the African slave trade in his native town where, at that time, a significant amount of the wealth came from slavery.
What was in the local press on 8th March? Absolutely nothing! I affectionately call the local rag ‘The Misery Gazette’, as if it is not warning about imminent drug crimes or other news of negativity, then it’s reporting news stories about restaurants that were closed down for health reasons three years ago. It is something when the only interesting or even joyous part of a newspaper is its obituary section!
What do I do to pay homage to the man’s day of birth? I take a simple bunch of flowers, this year white roses, and I leave it at his modest memorial sandwiched next to a Tesco Express. As there are a minimum of 800 Tesco’s in the city centre, I will have to be a little bit more specific.
It is on Mount Pleasant and I say modest, because this is exactly what Roscoe would have wanted. Amongst the sprawling masses of Liverpool. In the very hub. Besides, he doesn’t really need an ostentatious memorial. The essence of his greatness lies in the achievements that are all around in the Pool of Life.