A post on FACT’s blog reminded me of some graffiti I’ve been walking past around Jamaica Street, in what is euphemistically known as the waterfront business area: DELTA FUCK OFF.
I’ve noticed the graffiti a few times over the years and often wondered what it means. Was it aimed at the taxi firm? Did it indicate a taxi war? Was it part of some other sectarian stuff scrawled on other walls in the same area? Was it a Bad Wolf-style meme? Or was it just some baffling gibberish designed to be ambiguous?
A little detective work indicates that indeed it is aimed at Delta Taxis, and was a reference to Delta allegedly undercutting other firms. DELTA SCAB CABS seems to confirm this.
So, like all things the reality is rather more mundane than my imagination may have suggested. Although I’d be pleased if there was a follow-up spray job to indicate how the story transpired. Nothing major, maybe 500 or so words.
Still, the sight of it reminded me of other famous Liverpool graffiti I’ve noticed over the years.
NO POPE HERE was the first one I noticed as I pulled into Lime Street for the first time. I seem to remember it being near Edge Lane, and presumably stems from the Pope’s visit to the city in 1982. Welcome to Liverpool.
More cryptic was THE PIES THE PIES, in the same area, and also seen in dozens of other places around the city. I liked the utter Dadaism of PIES in that it simply seemed mindlessly crude – designed to be a wilfully daft affront to civil society.
Sadly, it turned out to be for some band, but not before it became a macguffin in an Alexei Sayle novel called Overtaken.
The only other one I regularly remember seeing around the city was the legend: email@example.com. Again, its deliberate obscurantism intrigued me so I emailed the address. I got back some left-of-centre stuff about capitalism.
I suppose in a way it was a forerunner of the internet for distributing information in a time when only about eight people knew how to use the internet.
Another area where I’m often be seen looking bemused is Ropewalks, which is currently covered in graffiti asking me if I feel happy, and inviting me to guess how many people commit suicide.
The first time I saw these I assumed I was experiencing some sort of devastating psychological crisis, though luckily I soon realised they were part of an exhibition as part of the Biennial. I like them.
There’s also lots of great Banksy stuff, generally around Ropewalks again. After initially trying to idiotically cover it up, the council wised up and much of it is still to be seen, most obviously the rat on Berry Street.
I suppose there’s some sort of conclusion to be drawn about the fine line between art and vandalism here, but I’m damned if I can think one up. Instead, I’ll simply ask readers to comment on any other intriguing graffiti around the city I may have missed.
THE PIES, THE PIES…
• For more Liverpool graffiti, try this Flickr search. And don’t nick any.