The first time I've been to Liverpool since Derek 'Degsy' Hatton was deputy leader of the council. The occasion - the Liberal Democrats' conference. (It was work, not party loyalty, that took me there.)
What a stunning city Liverpool is these days. The Albert Dock done up as museum and restaurants but still with that sense of the sea - more, and better, Victorian municipal architecture than any other of the great northern cities. A comfortable, lived in place.
The conference. Well, I'm not going to get in to the politics. But I found Peter Brookes's cartoon for today's 'Times' - 'with apologies' to both - the best for a very long time. Especially for those of us who can remember 'With the Beatles' when it came out almost half-a-century ago.
I tried hard at the conference, as befits any squirreler away of lapel badges, to find badges referring to the coalition. Nothing. At the Lib Dem stall, which sells just about anything you could imagine of use, or not, to a party activist or candidate, there was not a single item that gave any sense that this party was back in government for the first time since well before the Beatles.
One stall had bars of 'Clegg and Cable' chocolate for sale. No sign of the 'Clegg - Cameron' milky bar kids.
If you are curious about my modest haul of lapel badges from the Lib Dems, here they are. (A couple, as you will see, are from the British Humanist Association stall).
On to the late night Glee Club, still surely the best political sing song around. At the biggest hall in the Liverpool Hilton - what a smart venue for such radical ferment - the massed voices coalesced around opposition (or at least a semblance of unease) to the coalition.
The latest version of the Liberator Song Book has a new title: 'Twelve Days of Coalition'. Here are the words. Sung last night with huge delight. The lyrics are, I should mention, almost identical to those of the old Lib Dem Glee Club favourite, 'Twelve Days of Merger' - though in that version the soggy SDP is portrayed as the ungenerous ally.
I'm happy to report that the 500 or so present sang 'The Land Song' with the usual fervour - everyone on their feet, is if it were the Lib Dem national anthem (which, after a fashion it is), and waving song books as imaginary ballot papers. It's prompted me to get on with my attempt to chronicle the history of this curiously affecting song.
And it's nice to know that tradition has its place even in the daringly new political landscape.
Andrew Whitehead's blog
Welcome - read - comment - throw stones - pick up threads - and tell me how to do this better!