There was a little gap in the rain, rain, rain and we picked it out and went to Liverpool. Ruth came with us. I'm a Mancunian- and Manchester and Liverpool are like rival Italian Renaissance city states- so we don't go there often, but really we should. Liverpool is stunning. At least the waterfront is. We went to the Albert Dock- which in autumnal sunshine is like something out of a painting by Caneletto- and popped in and out of shops and a Tate exhibition entitled The Twentieth Century: how it looked and how it felt. Tate London has recognised Liverpool's year as European City of Culture by lending its regional branch a number of world-class works, including Degas' Little Dancer and Picasso's Weeping Woman- along with things more properly described as interesting by minor artists like Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant. The nearer we get to modern times the bleaker it gets. I love Sarah Lucas's brutal, anti-erotic assemblage of light bulbs and old tat- while Mona Hatoum's sleekly perverted everyday objects- the divan bed in steel, the wheelchair with knives for handles and the baby's cot with cheese-wire in place of a mattress- are crueler than anything the classic old-time surrealists ever came up with. Outside the weather stayed gusty and fine. We had a nice lunch at a creperie, then drove north, stopping off briefly at the dock where the QEII is berthed, and on to Crosby to have another look at Anthony Gormley's wonderful metal men.