As thousands lined the streets of Liverpool’s city centre, hundreds of strangers lined the streets behind the Liver building. Under the watchful eyes of the liver birds, we waited. We waited to see these giants and to discover together what story they would tell.
As we waited, we shared stories of the last time they were in Liverpool. Some had seen the giants the day before and showed pictures they had taken on their mobile phones. As memories were shared, we waited.
The roads were closed to traffic, so the children enjoyed the opportunity to play in the streets. If only for that, they would not soon forget this day.
Something was different about this day. Something exciting.
“What is the story this year?” I heard more than one person ask. “I don’t know” was always the reply.
Then excitement as the taller ones in the crowd spotted the Little Girl in the distance coming down the hill. Rumours of Xolo spottings rippled through the crowd like a Mexican wave! Then panic as Xolo ran off towards Grandmother who was still on The Strand. Would the giants pass us by? Change their course? I just laughed. He was a dog! What dog wouldn’t rush to greet one of his loved ones?
As we waited for Grandmother to come to the corner of Mann Island and the Strand, someone exclaimed, “Grandma might be telling another story.”
It was then the irony struck me. We had come to hear the giants’ story, but turns out that their story was ours.
As they traveled across Liverpool, sometimes together and sometimes not, they told stories of Liverpool during August 1914, as the War started. They showed us how stories are passed down from one generation to the next. Through the wisdom and kindness of a grandmother to the innocent and sweetness of a child.
When our waiting was over, Xolo ran past us towards the corner. We thought he was leaving us again, but then he surprised us again. The crowds cheered as he ran around the roundabout three times. He was a happy little giant dog! Followed by the Little Girl who waved at the crowds as she walked. A lorry carrying the band Les Balayeurs du Désert followed with the director of Royal de Luxe Jean-Luc Courcoult dancing and waving at the crowds. The Grandmother, now in her wheel chair, rolled along behind them, gazing lovingly up at the people watching from the balconies of the Liver building.
The giants didn’t shoot lasers or dazzle with high tech special effects.
They were gentle giants, playful giants, who interacted with us as they told our story. We felt these wooden creations loved each other and actually loved us. We admired the craftsmanship that went into creating each puppet. We adored the unique qualities each puppet possessed – the playfulness of Xolo the dog, the inquisitive innocence of the Little Girl, and the sweet honesty and wisdom of the Grandmother.
They touched our hearts because they reminded us of us – our families and friends. These giants danced, rode buses, played fetch, snored, smoked, even urinated in the streets – and we loved every minute of it.
In their humanness, the giants encouraged us to dream beyond ours. They brought us together and reminded us to remember. They gave us a moment in time that was special, not like every other day.
Not unlike a Seder meal or Communion. When generations are encouraged to pass on the story, and where God invites us to become a part of His story, making His story also about us.
Thank you, Liverpool, for inviting these gentle giants to wander your streets, telling your story.