This is heaven to me.

Liverpool Life I spent today in history. I don't mean that I suddenly turned up in King Arthur's court or prehistoric Britain, I mean that almost everything that happened to today had something to do with history, my own, others or my cities. It's been a bit of whirlwind and if there is something I've ultimately learnt is that what's past has passed and whilst there's nothing you can do to experience it again directly, there are always ways and means to look at it from a different point of view.

Over breakfast I caught up on last night's episode of BBC Two's Horizon which investigated the building of the Hadron Collider in Geneva, a particle accelerator with added extras that come November, after twenty-years of build up, will attempt to recreate the conditions in the universe just after the big bang. Or create a massive black hole that will suck in the Earth and cause destruction across half the galaxy. They're not entire sure.

All of that was fascinating - particularly the slight look of horror on one scientist's face when it became apparent that the black hole thing can't entirely be ruled out - but what particularly interested me was the description of the night sky and the stars and galaxies that we can see at night, assuming the city's light pollution hasn't swamped everything.

It reminded me that because of the distance that light travels to reach Earth, when you look into the sky you're actually looking back in time, and the fainter the stars, the further they are away and so the further you're looking backwards into history. One star was mentioned whose light began to travel a hundred and fifty years ago, or as the scientist noted, during the civil war.

Even though you're look at a pinprick, your seeing what that pinprick looked like a hundred and fifty years ago. It went on -- the orbital telescope Hubble had taken a picture of an area of sky and the galaxies highlighted were still in the process of forming - these were 'just' 700 million years after the big bang and as it stands, until November, the closest we can come to seeing those conditions right now. These is watching magic happening from a time before humanity even evolved.

As it's Wednesday I visited Liverpool Cathedral for another of the talks celebrating Liverpool's Eight Hundredth Birthday. Today's lecture considered the health of the city, the growth of hygiene and the slum clearances, noting with some irony that the last of the back to back properties in the city have now been refurbished into luxury apartment.

The statistics were stalk - in the mid- 1800s the average mortality rate amongst the working class and unemployed was just fifteen years old, thirty-five amongst professionals. Obviously there has been some improvement of late, but Liverpool is still at least three years below the national average.

In and around the lecture I decided try the cathedral's new interactive tour, The Great Space. As I must have mentioned before, I've been visiting the Cathedral for over twenty years, all through my life, particularly during my secondary school years as a member of the school choir singing in everything from the Founders Day (some have a hall, we had a cathedral) to special events such as a visit from the Queen.

I can never fail to be awed by the place, in ways that I wasn't at such tourist attractions as Notre Dame in Paris. Perhaps it's because I feel like it's my cathedral, my designated luxury item if ever I get invited onto Desert Island Discs. But there were still places within and without I'd never been to and that's what 'The Great Space' is about - allowing the visitor to see the cathedral from a different angle.

This then was my first trip to the roof. It takes two lifts and a hundred and eight stairs to get there, winding about the bell tower, it's massive musical instrument within. The interior of the tower itself is very industrial, red brick instead of the sand stone found everywhere else. It perhaps wasn't envisaged that the public would ever see this side of the cathedral, like dropping into the back stage of a theatre. The sound when the bells are in full swing must be deafening.

Obviously the view from the top is outstanding, this the tallest vantage point in that part of the city, nothing in the area quite coming close. I live at the top of a tower block, so I'm somewhat used to see Liverpool from above, but nothing prepared me for the awesomeness of the sight, being able to see in one glance my bus route home, home being perfectly visible and suddenly looking puny in the distance.

I've been to all kinds of towers, looked out across all kinds of cities, but all of those were strangers. It's different when it's your city and you can recognize (almost) all of the landmarks in eyeshot. What I hadn't prepared for was that I could see my own life unfolding below me, from yes, home but also schools and to even my current work place. Despite spending some of my me in Leeds and Manchester, I'm still a Liverpudlian and the view through each carved crack in the wall demonstrated to me what that means.

The rest of the tour opens with a ten minute video explaining the sheer effort and force of will which led to the design and erection of the building. Through the device of a biography of a craftsman born on the day the foundation stone was laid, the history of its erection unfolded; even during the world wars the work slowed to a crawl but it never stopped. For the first time I actually understood the magnitude of the human achievement. From the foundation in 1906 to the consecration in 1978 generations had worked on it and I was a monument to their collective achievement as much as anything else.

The architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott had designed the building almost as an apprentice but had died before the final bit of stone carving was slotted into place. He said (I'm paraphrasing), and is what inspired the name of the tour, that we shouldn't look for him in the carving of the stones but the spaces in between. I was particularly moved by the fact that despite the grant from a wealth local family, the people of Liverpool had also given, the idea being that outside of the sheer horror of their daily lives, they could look up at this house of god and say: 'I helped to build that'.

Later in the tour, a display indicates the points across the building's timeline when each of the different sections were completed and at the end of the tour, standing on the bridge across the centre for the first time I could see that if you walk from the naive end of the cathedral to the back door, you're literally walking through eighty years of history. As the steward who'd kindly taken me up there noted, you can see the history of stained glass over the past hundred years, from a window in a very traditional style at one end to a very colourful, very abstract patternation (which wouldn't look out of place in the Metropolitan at the other end of Hope Street) on the other.

Other details worth noting. I hadn't realised that the Lady Chapel had been completed first and services begun whilst the rest the building was completed and it's revealed that as well as a time capsule, the foundation stone also hides a tin buried by a workman all those years ago which has a note in it complaining about the same poverty spoken about in the lecture I'd just been to. Plus you could always tell a workman from the cathedral by their non-symmetrical hands, one was fine from holding the mallet, but the other was muscular from the sheer hard graft that went into brandishing the chisel.

It's a good audio tour as these things go, although with perhaps a little too much poetry than I'm a fan of, rhapsodic descriptions of things which are already clear and bizarrely too desperate attempts to shoe horn in references to The Beatles for tourists. Cleverly when you draw near to a video display unit, they're enhanced by extra music and narration which can't be heard by other visitors. In one area I was amazed to find modern work men, in hard hat and florescent tabbard looking at the tools that were originally used in the buildings construction, like two eras touching one another.

Having already been touched though the opening video, in the end I actually cried. On that balcony are headphones which when listened to give the visitor an idea of what it must be like to be standing within the cathedral choir from that bridge, the voices around you echoing about the space intermingling with the sound of the organ, the effect absolutely convincing as though song and pipes are giving an impromptu performance just for you.

I cried, because it sounded exactly as it had all those years ago in the school choir, the memories of all those years flooding back. I couldn't really sing and I couldn't read music, learning everything parrot fashion from my colleagues, all at sea during the descants and never really getting the hang of things in the later 'bass' years. The steward saw the waves of nostalgia and I felt like I had to tell her, about Founders Days, about singing Zadok The Priest for the Queen and about the Thousand Voices in which all of the school choirs in Liverpool filled up the space with The Old Rugged Cross and You'll Never Walk Alone.

Then, oddly, on the way home I was given a reminder of where I am now. Passing The Adelphi Hotel I saw a girl with two large bags and a map and a puzzled expression in their face. I asked her if she lost and in showing me her destination she flicked through many pages of her A-Z and it turned out she was trying to get to the Solna Hotel which is almost opposite were I live.

When I told her all about this she was somewhat flabbergasted but in the end grateful to fate or whoever runs these things that the one person who stopped her, happened to be the very person who could tell her which buses to get, where to get off and which direction to walk. Almost like those scientists who look into the sky and try and work out were we all come from, she was able to look to me to find out were she needed to get to.