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 Post subject: A Liverpool Lad ©
Post Number:#1  PostPosted: 24 Aug 2010 08:52 
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The Beginning

I am a child of a mixed marriage,something that is not given a thought nowadays,but in 1940 it was considered outrageous.
Mum was from a protestant family,and Dad a catholic one.Seems hard to believe now,but it near tore both families apart.
They were very much in love,and could not be dissuaded from seeing each other.My Mum had the support of her elder brother ,through whom she met Dad.All of Dads family were set against the marriage,the parish priest used to rail against Dad.But their love for each other held firm,and they decided against a church wedding,and got wed in a registry office instead.
This upset both families,they were to be considered as living in sin and for the first few years of married life were ostracised by all but a few brave siblings.
When my sister was born in 1940 ,Mum allowed her to be baptised a catholic,as a sop to her mother in law.
In '42,when I turned up,my parents decided,in view of the anger that the protestants felt in my sister being made a catholic,determined that I was to be left "Unchurched"
So, after making my debut in Stanley Rd. hospital,I was taken home to Mum and Dads rooms in Medlock St.
I was 11 pounds at birth and my poor old mother was confined to bed to get over her ordeal.
On her third day in bed,my Dads 15 year old brother turned up and asked Mum if she would like him to take me for an outing in my pram so that she could have a rest.She was really pleased that he could be so thoughtful ,and said yes.
What she was not to know was that my Nin,the catholic grandma,was waiting at the bottom of the street with her hubby and various offspring,all in their best Sunday clothes.They were off to a christening.......,mine!
I was returned by my uncle, none the worse for wear,but with a baptismal certificate pinned to the coverlet.
When the protestants learned of this,in their minds,infamy,I was taken for another walk by a protestant aunt,this time returning with an anglican baptismal cerificate.
My early childhood was spent pretending that I was a catholic with one side and a protestant with the other.I can enjoy the humour of it now,but it was a lot to cope with then.
I learned to love my mixed family,it was a lot more interesting than being on the one side.I did not get confirmed in any of the faiths,I believe in God,but not in religion.
All through my childhood I "sailed " beneath two flags. My two sets of grandparents lived within a mile of each other,off the same thoroughfare. I was a catholic when within range of Nin's house ,and a protestant when within range of grandma's house. I managed the deception well for a long while;but that is getting ahead of myself, there was a war to finish first.



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 Post subject: Re: A Liverpool Lad
Post Number:#2  PostPosted: 24 Aug 2010 09:00 
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War's End
I was a sickly baby,in and out of hospital,more time in than out.
My Mum said if was'nt for M.& B. tablets,I would have snuffed it at 3 months.
So ,life did'nt really get started for me until I was two years of age.That was when they let me out of Heswall. I have no memories of things before that date.
We now lived in 2 rooms in a big old house in Fountains Rd.It seemed a magical place to me,there were three other families sharing the house and I remember one of them in particular,the McElwains.(I dont know if that is the right spelling,but thats how it sounded).
Mr.McElwain was an Irishman,he always wore a hat,an unbuttoned waistcoat and a collarless shirt.A pipe was always clamped between his lips,from between which I never heard an unkind word.He had a little dog called Tess,a dachsund, which my sister and I loved dearly.
We never met Mr.McElwains wife or son ,it was still wartime and they were "somewhere else";his son had a big toy box in their room and old Mr M. would let me play in there.My Dad had'nt been called up,he was an aircraft fitter and could'nt be spared.So in that old house,in 2 small rooms,I started out life surrounded by love and security.
Even though I was a mere babe I knew there was a war,there were lots of soldiers marching down our road from time to time,when I asked my Mum where they were going she would simply answer"The war".........I grew up thinking the war was a place.Dad did his bit too, he was a part time fireman in the AFS,when he was at work I used to wear his helmet.I was so proud to see him in his blues.
When I was 3 ,the war was over ,peace was declared 2 days after my birthday and decorations were hung out in the streets.All of this was new to me , I don't recall seeing any decorations before that time.My Nin lived in the next street ,Tintern St. ;there was a space were some houses had been that were lost in the Blitz,and in that space a bonfire was built.A cable was strung across the street at roof level and an effigy of Adolf Hitler was dangling from it .This was the scene that greeted my 3 year old eyes as I was carried up the street from Westminster Rd.
The memory I am about to relate is mine,not a given one.
I had never seen a bonfire before,nor a Guy Fawkes,there was a makeshift band ,banging bin lids and blowing horns ,all of which was new to me.
The fire was lit,the crowd was cheering and the band was making a dreadful din.I saw the poor man hanging above the fire,getting lower and lower as the ropes were slackened,the nearer to the fire he got ,the louder the screams became..........The screams were mine,I thought it was real.I was carried home sobbing into Dads shoulder.
It was shortly after that time that Dad was called up for a soldier.
I only saw him once in his khakis,he went away to the army and while he was away,the forces of protestants and catholics joined battle and tore our little family apart.
We left Kirkdale and it seemed like a lifetime before I saw my father again.
I can remember the night we stole away,crammed in an old wagon,the back of which was full of our belongings.
Mozart Street in Toxteth was our destination,my days of sunlight were beginning to fade,it was time to grow up!



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 Post subject: Re: A Liverpool Lad
Post Number:#3  PostPosted: 24 Aug 2010 09:10 
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--------------------------------------------------------


We got to our new address late at night,we were tired and could'nt really take in what was happening.
A plump old lady showed us the way up the gloomy stairs to our rooms.
There was hardly any furniture,it was gaslit by a tiny mantle in the front corner of the room,the grate was empty and the place was cold and unwelcoming.Our bedroom was up another flight of stairs,which were unlit,there was one big double bed up against the wall.
Mum lit a candle and made the bed and all the while we could hear a barrel organ cranking some old tunes,my sister and I looked out the window and saw a man outside the pub,on the other side of the road,turning the handle of the music machine.
That barrel organ was to provide the only music we ever heard inside those rooms,we had no radio or record player,just the sound of our voices as we sang the songs we heard elsewhere.
I wanted to go home,but this was it for the next 4 years
Come daylight we had our first look at our new abode,it was on the top corner of Mozart St.,our bedroom was over a secondhand shop, and our "living"room faced into the street.
Mum had to cook everything on an open fire,no stove or cooker,not even a gas ring.All of our food was either boiled or fried with a bit of soot for flavouring.
My sister and I were inseparable,she was 2 years older than me and was my guardian angel.Very soon the time came for her to be enrolled at school.
Tiber Street was just a short walk away and that was where she went.
I pined so much for her when she was gone that Mum told a "porky" and got me in a year before my time.She coached me into telling everyone I was 5,but when we got on the tram I had to say I was 4.
I was 4 on the trams for the next 3 years!
School made life a lot more bearable.The rooms were warm,the lighting was electric and the classrooms were filled with lots of wonderful pictures.
My first teacher was an angel called Miss Thomas,after my Mum she was the next big person that I loved the most.
The playground was a revelation, there were games to play and friends to make,thats where I first met the Sproule brothers ,John Gerrard and Ikey Harris.After years of sheltering in Hospitals and isolation I was learning to be a boy.
That war thing kept on coming up though;there were more than a few children in our class who had lost their Dads in the "War"...........It played on my mind that my Dad might go there and get lost as well.
Slowly we settled into the life of the street;poor old Lodge Lane had taken a pounding during the blitz ,we kids did'nt know that,the empty spaces were overgrown and weed choked and seemed a natural part of our landscape.
There was a bomb site right at of the bottom of the lane at the Junction with Princess Park Rd.That was were we kids played at "House" ,the girls in our gang would get the boys to make little houses out of the rubble and we would innocently play at mothers and fathers.
On Grand National Day, we boys would use that same rubble to build a racecourse;bomb sites held an endless fascination for us kids,you never knew what you would find amongst the rubble.What we found was complete enjoyment, you could build dreams out of that old rubble.
------------------------------------------------------------------------



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 Post subject: Re: A Liverpool Lad
Post Number:#4  PostPosted: 24 Aug 2010 23:29 
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Lodge Lane was a funny old thoroughfare,the road was made of wooden blocks,not that we thought it was funny then,it was just our road!
The sound that horses hooves made was lovely,a kind of hollow clip clop.And there were many horses then,the bin wagons were all horse drawn,as were the railway delivery wagons,bread wagons,brewers drays and some haulage companies still had them.There was a tram line down the middle and,I think,it was the 26 and the 27 that used it.When we first moved in, a lot of the shops were empty,bomb and fire damage had seen to that.Gradually,the shops were fitted out,piecemeal,and the new occupants moved in.
Bessie Holden opened a grocers shop 2 doors down from our street.She seemed a lovely woman and she allowed Mum tick to make things easier.
We were still in a fatherless state,money was scarce and, to make things easier, my Granddad Hengler insisted we spent every Sunday at their house so that we would have proper meal each week.They lived in Eton street right next door to Goodison;although avowed protestants they were all Evertonians in that house.
Jess and I loved going there on a Sunday,it was a happy house,my Mum was one of eleven children ,one had been killed in that awful place "the War" and all but 2 of her siblings were married with children.So we had cousins galore.The 2 offspring still at home were still in their teens and used to take us to Stanley Park when the weather was fine,it had a lovely glasshouse and a lido ,as well as the swings and boating lake.When I reflect on those moments of ancient sunlight ,I see the flower beds in full bloom and hear the sound of the cuckoo clock,marking the passing of the hours.When my uncles and aunts were courting they would take us on the walks through the park almost as chaperones,whatever ,they always bought us ice cream and took us on the boats.
Walton was on a different planet to Toxteth.Mum would stay at home on those Sundays,which meant that my 7 year old sister was responsible for getting us to Walton and back,never gave it a thought then,now the social services would have had us taken into care.
As '46 iced its way into '47,Mum was always being sick and had grown fat,Christmas came and went and she seemed no better.My dad had now assumed mythical status,my mates did'nt believe I had one,amongst my Mums kin he was always referred to,scathingly,as that Billy Daley.
Everything seemed to be his fault;I wanted him to take us home but he never ever came.
January '47 was bleak,cold and snowy and ,to top it all coal was rationed,I can remember queueing up at the coal /coke yard in Crown Street ,hoping to get some fuel.Things got progressively worse,early in February my Mum went into labour and I had an accident.Because it was snowing and my Mum had had her bed moved into the living room,Jess and I played in the cellar .The landladys' two sons were playing there with some other big boys and they let us join in.They were playing pirates and we were to be their captives.It was a good game,until they decided to put me in "prison".This was an old disused gas stove,it still had its old iron shelves in ,but nobody knew that when they threw me in.I was slung in by the back of my collar and trousers and flew face first on to the sharp edge of a shelf.It opened my cheek to the bone and blood was gushing everywhere.I was frogmarched up the stairs,but Mum was in no fit state to do anything.There was a woman who lived half way down the street who I was scared of,not because of anything she did ,or said,but because she looked fierce.Mrs King was her name,somehow she got to hear of our predicament and she came and took me to hospital.She was kindness itself,her looks belied her nature and I was too young to know about consumption.
She waited with me in Myrtle Street while they stitched me up,and when she took me home I was taken into to see my newborn sister Bette.
So ,I have 2 reminders of that cold,cold night in February, a sister and a scar.
BrianD


Last edited by BrianD on 24 Mar 2015 10:30, edited 1 time in total.


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 Post subject: Re: A Liverpool Lad
Post Number:#5  PostPosted: 24 Aug 2010 23:44 
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Winter tightened its icy grip after my sister was born,the snow brought all transport to a halt and that meant no fuel for anyone.
It was not long before our hearth was empty,no coal meant no fire,no fire meant no cooking.It must have been hell for my mother,3 kids to feed and no chance of doing it.
We got up one morning to find that the road had been stolen!All of those wooden blocks had been dug up overnight and there was black smoke curling out of chimney pots up and down the lane.But not from our chimney.
My Granddad turned up that day and took us all back to his house in Eton Street,just 6 doors away from Goodison,(this was protestant Granddad,an avid Evertonian!!)
The feeling of relief that we felt at being taken into a clean,warm, house was immeasurable.My Gran was of the old school,her house glowed with shining brasswork and mansion polished furniture,The floors were covered with linoleum and strewn with home made rugs.The electric lights meant we could read at night time and the radio brought music and laughter into our lives.
My baby sister was so small that she had a drawer for a cot.With feather beds and counter panes, our cup was running over.
I used to go with Grandma to get the "rations",the shopkeepers in County Rd. all knew Maggie Hengler and I would often get slipped an apple by the greengrocer,a cake by the baker a biscuit by the grocer, and sometimes,if I was lucky, a piece of slab chocolate by the lady in Meesons.
This was a fair exchange for helping Grandma carry a few packages.
My Grandparents had raised 11 children,and had excercised a regime of discipline to keep them in line.They were'nt cruel,our presence in their house was proof of that,nor were they harsh,they just expected children to be well behaved and if they stepped out of line,they got strapped with a leather tawse.
Their children were now adults and lots of them had children of their own,but that tawse still hung on the wall by the door to the kitchen.
One Saturday,Grandma was getting ready to go for the rations and, when I went for my coat,she told me I could'nt go with her.I asked her why,thinking of Meesons,and she told me I could'nt because it was a" Surprise"
As she left the house I started to imagine what the surprise could be.
In my fevered 5 year old imagination the surprise took on many guises,a box of sweets,a Dinky car, a toy gun;I eventually settled on it being a box of lead soldiers.Thats what she'd meant,yes, a box of the Kings Guardsmen in bearskins and bright red jackets ,we'd seen them in the toy shop window last week.
I sat on the step awaiting her return,I ran to her when I saw her come in sight ,relieving her of one of her bags I hurried back to 69 to look for my box of soldiers.Granddad was sitting at the dinner table, picking out his horses for his afternoon bet,I started pulling the stuff out of the bag,there was nothing in that bag, and when Grandma came in I stood on tiptoe waiting for her to empty that bag too.There were no soldiers...........just spuds carrots and assorted groceries."Wheres me sojers" I shouted,Grandma looked puzzled."What soldiers?","My Surprise Sojers" I shouted back.
Granddad was nonplussed" Get in here Jessie" he called to my Mum in the Kitchen.(She related this story to me years afterwards.)" Theres no soldiers ,no surprise ,now behave yourself" Grandma shouted.
"****in Bastid" I yelped,............she reached for the tawse and hissed"What did you say?","****in Bastid",I replied ,the tawse lashed across my face ,"****in Bastid",lash and so it went for a dozen times until Granddad grabbed her arm and told her to stop.
From that day on , I added fear and respect to the love I felt for Grandma.When Spring returned ,we packed our bags and went back to Mozart Street.
We still went to Grandmas every Sunday,somehow Mum had got us kitted out in Sunday best to make the journey,she did'nt want us to look like the Bisto kids.With these new clothes we became members of the "Indigo Club".
On getting home of a Sunday night our clothes were neatly folded and wrapped in a brown paper parcel,ready to be taken to the pawnshop first thing Monday morning.The cash we got, paid for our school dinners for the week.
There used to be a long line of kids outside of Uncles every Monday morning.Indigo Monday, out de come Saturday.And thats the way it stayed until Dad came home.

BrianD
That's my elder sister Jess ,and me ,standing by the cuckoo clock in Stanley in 1947. The other picture shows Jess and I,on the same day,with some cousins,outside our great aunt's house.
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eton street-1.jpg


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 Post subject: Re: A Liverpool Lad
Post Number:#6  PostPosted: 25 Aug 2010 14:38 
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Lodge Lane
So we're back in Mozart Street,how to tell of that awful abode?
Our living room had a Dinner table 2 dining chairs and a chaise longue. There was a kitchen cupboard beneath the gas mantle and a wall cupboard alongside the hearth.No tablecloths or matching crockery,last nights Echo was our napery and we ate off plates courtesy of Cunard and other great shipping lines.
I could'nt take friends home,there was nothing they could have done,no play room.I suppose I felt ashamed of how we lived,but we got by.The house on the opposite corner was occupied by 2 families,the Browns and the Heslops.
Our houses were as different as chalk and cheese,where ours was dark and gloomy,theirs was full of light and life.
Maggie and Eddie Brown were fabulous people,they had 5 children ,3 girls and twin boys,they very quickly made friends with our small family and that made a change for the better in our lives.
Maggie and Eddie knew how kids worked,we wanted magic and excitement in
our lives and they created it in many ways.The biggest room on the first floor was made into a childrens playroom,there was a dolls house , a rocking horse and boxes and boxes of toys.All of them made by Eddie,he also had a giant meccano set and had built a scale model of the transporter bridge.
Only the children of that house and my sister and me were allowed in that room,it was a little bit of paradise.Eddie also had a hand cranked film projector and would sometime screen old silent comedies.
Downstairs,in the cellar,they had converted the old kitchen into a family room.There was a big hearth with a great brass fender,which was big enough to seat three adults.Most days would find Maggie,Mum and Mrs Heslop sitting there supping tea and setting the world to rights.
Of a night time the room would be occupied by us kids as Maggie told us the tallest of tales of the time she lived with the Red Indians in America.
She peopled her stories with characters so real that we each identified with a particular one ,not realising that those characters were based on us.
We kids were putty in Maggies hands,this is what she could do........I'm playing ollies with my mates,she and Eddie are sitting on their step,she waves to me,"Come here Brian",I scoop my ollies up and run over to her,"What ?" I ask,"Eddie and me have been watching you,and I told him you looked just like Wakplonk the young Indian brave I told you about" I was Gobsmacked,me ,like an Indian Brave!"Eddie said that he did'nt think you could run as fast as Wakplonk,but I told him that I thought you could"
Just let me prove it,I thought ,she could read us like books.
"Wakplonk could run a mile before the Big Chief could count a hundred,now Costigans is about the same distance,so ,if you run there and back I'll count and we'll see if I'm right.Oh by the way,get me six rashers of bacon while you're there".With that she'd stuff the money and coupons in your hand and you would take off to the sound of her counting aloud,"One,two................"
When you came dashing back,there she'd be,still on the step," Ninety eight ,ninety nine,There you are Eddie ,I told you he was faster."
I was a sucker but I loved it.
Ahh,those shops in Lodge Lane.There was a gradual renovation of all the vacant properties we had the new grocers, Holdens and a toy and model shop opened next to hers,at the end of that block a greengrocers opened Percy's it was called and we got more than potatoes from there,the son of the owner became my baby sisters husband a couple of decades later.
The shop for us kids though was Dickie Woods.It was ancient,dark and grubby,it was more a cave than a shop,but Dickie would let you buy a comic for threepence and buy it back off you for a penny!!You'd see kids sitting outside on the window ledge,heads stuck into this weeks Beano and then going back inside ,coming back out with a pennyworth of chews.
It all came to an end one dark November night.
On the way to school we saw policemen outside Dickies shop,There was a buzz going round that something terrible had happened the night before.
In assembly rumours were flying around the room when we we called to silence by the presence of the Headmistress,Miss Bell.Those of you who had met her will remember her fierce countenance,she had iron grey hair that looked like it was electrified,she never wore make up and had very masculine features.She always wore tweed suits,lisle stockings and brogues.It was rumoured that she smoked a pipe.
That morning she strode across the stage,a wild look in her eyes.Thrusting her arm out and pointing a trembling finger at us primary school kids,she shrieked,"Murderers!!!!"The finger swept around the hall like a search light,"One of you killed Mrs.Woods",she thundered."You know what happens to murderers?"We blanched,each one of us trying to look not guilty,"THEY HANG!!!!!"
You could smell the fear in the room as she told us what had happened.
Some miscreant had gone into Dickies and bought a banger firework off his Mum,a half blind,deaf old lady.They lit the banger and gave it back to her,whereupon it exploded in her hand and she dropped dead of the shock.
We kids were terribly cruel,when we got in the playground we were screaming with laughter,saying "bang,you're dead"
BrianD

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 Post subject: Re: A Liverpool Lad
Post Number:#7  PostPosted: 25 Aug 2010 14:55 
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Summer 1947
My sister Jess and I were inseperable from the Brown family,Margaret,who was known by all and sundry as Chicken,was our leader.She was a year or two older than my sister and was very worldly wise.
Her two sisters were Joan and Rosalie,Joan was a year older than me, by about a year,and Rosalie,who was my age.Rowley,or Rollie,how do you spell a nickname?, was my mate.She had a happy disposition,blonde curly hair and a lovely smile.Truth be known,I was half in love with her.
Those long ago summer days would find us trailing off to the parks,Sefton and Princes,where there were lots of things to fill our days.
In Sefton Park there was an open air theatre where they had lots of shows,we penniless kids would stand outside the railings ,enjoying for free some wonderful entertainments.I developed a love of the of the theatre whilst watching those shows.
The boating lake was another of our favourite places,watching the model yachts skimming across the waters,their "captains" ashore watching over their course,I was thrilled when one of the boat owners would call across the lake for us to turn their boat around when it neared our side.
We would watch enviously at the families in the little motor boats,chugging their way around the vast expanses of that wonderful lake.Would we ever ride on one of those?
Now ,I don't know how Chicken managed it,I'm just happy that she did,but one magical afternoon she disappeared from our party there at the lakeside,had she gone for a pee? No,oh no,about ten minutes after leaving us she returned.............in a motorboat.It was driven by a big ,burly man,who had his little daughter by his side.She was exquisitely pretty and dressed in the nicest clothes I had ever seen in real life.He looked foriegn,like a Lebanese,and was wearing a light, pastel coloured,suit.
He pulled the boat into the shore and waved at us to get aboard!!!
Chicken had that kind of magic,she got us many more rides with that man that summer and I used to dream of being rich enough to be able to dress and live like him.
In Princes Park,Chicken had the ice cream situation sorted out.Ice cream was an unattainable luxury for us back entry diddlers.We could,at a push afford an ice lolly between the five of us, but an ice cream cornet! Dream on.
One day Chicken introduced us to a lovely old man she had met in the maze,he had a kind face and he could do little conjuring tricks which kept us all amused.After watching his little "show" he would buy us each an ice cream,that was real magic.
After the parks,the "pictures" was our next best form of escape.Those Saturday matinees,with the serials,cartoons and the big picture,which would invariably be a western.Oh how we loved those westerns,Gene Autry,Tex Ritter,Roy Rogers and all of the rest of those heroes from that make believe world where the goodies wore white hats and the baddies(with the exception of Hoppy),wore black ones.
I was an emotional kid,if the cowboy lost his dog,I'd get upset,but if he lost his horse..........There was a scene at the end of a Gene Autry wessie,where his horse had been killed by the badmen,and after getting his revenge,Gene was walking into the distance while up above in the clouds,Tony his horse was galloping through heaven,while Gene walked on to the end credits with Tonys saddle over his shoulder and "Empty Saddles in the Old Corral"played out the film.I sat there blubbering as the lights came on and the usherette,who just passing my seat looked and asked "Whats the matter son?"And I replied "Its all the cigarette smoke Missus"
You might ask yourself,"how could we afford the pictures?" Well at the tender ages that we were Jess and I had a little job in the timber yard that was next door to our house.The man there used to sell bundles of firewood that were made up from the odds and ends of his"leftovers".We would make the sticks up into bundles by by dropping them into a mould and tying them with a wire ,it was'nt hard work but it earned us threepence each a night,enough for the pictures and an ice cream too.
The Pavilion theatre at the top of Lodge Lane was a place that Mum and Maggie could always scrape the cash together for when there was something special for the kids.It was always an early evening show that we went to with acts like Old Mother Riley,George Formby,Sandy Powell etc.
I was enchanted by the theatre,the auditorium,the lights,the proscenium arch and the rich draperies all combined to create an impression that was fantastical.As you sat in the gods and beheld the scene,the fire curtain with the colourful adverts for the local shops,the musicians bustling about in the orchestra stalls,and the audience, settling in their seats,waiting for the lights to go down and the tap of the conductors baton signalling the overture as the band sounded the beginning of the evenings entertainment.
I was well and truly stage struck,I did'nt just want to be part of the audience,I wanted to be on that stage,entertaining.
I was to get an opportunity to do just that sooner than I would have believed.
Thats another story
--------------------------------------------------------------------

Thank you for all those kind remarks, there is a lot more to come,
BrianD



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 Post subject: Re: A Liverpool Lad
Post Number:#8  PostPosted: 26 Aug 2010 16:21 
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Summer 1947
My sister Jess and I were inseperable from the Brown family,Margaret,who was known by all and sundry as Chicken,was our leader.She was a year or two older than my sister and was very worldly wise.
Her two sisters were Joan and Rosalie,Joan was a older than me, by about a year,and Rosalie,who was my age.Rowley,or Rollie,how do you spell a nickname?, was my mate.She had a happy disposition,blonde curly hair and a lovely smile.Truth be known,I was half in love with her.
Those long ago summer days would find us trailing off to the parks,Sefton and Princes,where there were lots of things to fill our days.
In Sefton Park there was an open air theatre where they had lots of shows,we penniless kids would stand outside the railings ,enjoying for free some wonderful entertainments.I developed a love of the of the theatre whilst watching those shows.
The boating lake was another of our favourite places,watching the model yachts skimming across the waters,their "captains" ashore watching over their course,I was thrilled when one of the boat owners would call across the lake for us to turn their boat around when it neared our side.
We would watch enviously at the families in the little motor boats,chugging their way around the vast expanses of that wonderful lake.Would we ever ride on one of those?
Now ,I don't know how Chicken managed it,I'm just happy that she did,but one magical afternoon she disappeared from our party there at the lakeside,had she gone for a pee? No,oh no,about ten minutes after leaving us she returned.............in a motorboat.It was driven by a big ,burly man,who had his little daughter by his side.She was exquisitely pretty and dressed in the nicest clothes I had ever seen in real life.He looked foriegn,like a Lebanese,and was wearing a light, pastel coloured,suit.
He pulled the boat into the shore and waved at us to get aboard!!!
Chicken had that kind of magic,she got us many more rides with that man that summer and I used to dream of being rich enough of being able to dress and live like him.
In Princes Park,Chicken had the ice cream situation sorted out.Ice cream was an unattainable luxury for us back entry diddlers.We could,at a push afford a ice lolly between the five of us but an ice cream cornet! Dream on.
One day Chicken introduced us to a lovely old man she had met in the maze,he had a kind face and he could do little conjuring tricks which kept us all amused.After watching his little "show" he would buy us each an ice cream,that was real magic.
After the parks,the "pictures" was our next best form of escape.Those Saturday matinees,with the serials,cartoons and the big picture,which would invariably be a western.Oh how we loved those westerns,Gene Autry,Tex Ritter,Roy Rogers and all of the rest of those heroes from that make believe world where the goodies wore white hats and the baddies(with the exception of Hoppy),wore black ones.
I was an emotional kid,if the cowboy lost his dog,I'd get upset,but if he lost his horse..........There was a scene at the end of a Gene Autry wessie,where his horse had been killed by the badmen,and after getting his revenge,Gene was walking into the distance while up above in the clouds,Tony his horse was galloping through heaven,while Gene walked on to the end credits with Tonys saddle over his shoulder and "Empty Saddles in the Old Corral"played out the film.I sat there blubbering as the lights came on and the usherette,who just passing my seat looked and asked "Whats the matter son?"And I replied "Its all the cigarette smoke Missus"
You might ask yourself,"how could we afford the pictures?" Well at the tender ages that we were Jess and I had a little job in the timber yard that was next door to our house.The man there used to sell bundles of firewood that were made up from the odds and ends of his"leftovers".We would make the sticks up into bundles by by dropping them into a mould and tying them with a wire ,it was'nt hard work but it earned us threepence each a night,enough for the pictures and an ice cream too.
The Pavilion theatre at the top of Lodge Lane was a place that Mum and Maggie could always scrape the cash together for when there was something special for the kids.It was always an early evening show that we went to with acts like Old Mother Riley,George Formby,Sandy Powell etc.
I was enchanted by the theatre,the auditorium,the lights,the proscenium arch and the rich draperies all combined to create an impression that was fantastical.As you sat in the gods and beheld the scene,the fire curtain with the colourful adverts for the local shops,the musicians bustling about in the orchestra stalls,and the audience, settling in their seats,waiting for the lights to go down and the tap of the conductors baton signalling the overture as the band sounded the beginning of the evenings entertainment.
I was well and truly stage struck,I did'nt just want to be part of the audience,I wanted to be on that stage,entertaining.
I was to get an opportunity to do just that sooner than I would have believed.

Brian Last edited by brian daley; 07-07-2008 at 02:42 PM.



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 Post subject: Re: A Liverpool Lad
Post Number:#9  PostPosted: 26 Aug 2010 16:53 
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Life and Love in Lodge Lane
For many years I have had memories that would be better left unspoken;they want out and I can no more stop them than I can stop the sun rising tomorrow.
It is still the year of 1947 and,after the harsh winter, we were rewarded with a gentle spring followed by a warm summer.
I was becoming a little more aware of the world I lived in and was becoming to understand that "The War" was not a place but something that moved around..........There was now a war in the land where Jesus was born, Palestine ,I still could'nt make out what wars were or who an "Enemy" was,but they were out there ,and my uncles were involved in them.
One summers eve,Delly,Ikey,Bernie and me were playing at the top of our street when a different sound came drifting down the lane,it was hard to tell what it was.Like when you hear the distant sounds of a band,the sound just a whisper above the street noise,then growing louder as it nears.
We could'nt make head or tail of this sound,we could hear a mass of voices,indistinct,and the sounds of crumps and tinkles.
We shot past the watching eyes of our parents and hared off up the Lane to get a look.The sight we beheld was hard to take in,there were hundreds of men and boys filling the road,yelling at the tops of their voices. Shop fronts were being smashed in and all manner of foodstuffs and goods littered the pavement.Bousefields, the greengrocers,had its wooden shutters pulled off and people were passing out fruit and vegetables.It was like a devils banquet,we did'nt know why it was happening. it just was.
We filled our pockets with apples as all around us chaos reigned.
There were some smartly dressed men in the crowd who looked like policemen and we prepared to run in case they caught hold of us,but ,to our surprise, they pointed to Platts sweetshop and told us to help ourselves.
Could this be true? "Go on lads,get the Jew boys sweets" This was official?
We tore over to the sweetshop and started stuffing our pockets with as many sweets as we could get in them.As I was doing this,I could see, Mr Platt crouching behind the remains of his counter,his arms around his little daughter, protecting her from the ravening mob.Young as I was,I burned with shame.We emptied our pockets and made our way back to our street.
I did'nt know about the Holocaust,had'nt heard of Belsen ,Dachau or Auschwitz.I did'nt know about the Yids or the Jews,but I was hearing about them now.
The crowd were chanting "The Yids ,The Yids ,We've Gotta get rid of the Yids!!!"
As we neared Mozart St, we saw a crowd of people standing around the lamp post on the corner,there was a man who appeared to be standing on something,we could'nt see what,but he was head and shoulders above the crowd.Was it a meeting,outside our house?
There was jeering and yelling,and, as we got closer we could see that the man was wearing a green cow gown.It was the man from the Chandlers shop next door but one to our house.He was wearing a noose!
The rope was thrown over the arm of the gas lamp and he was standing aloft,his shoulders slumped and his eyes expressionless.
There was a womans voice coming from the middle of the crowd,it was so filled with rage that it was frightening to hear.we climbed on the windowlege of the butchers shop opposite to get a better look.
It was my Mum,whirling around like a dervish,brandishing our meat knife,screaming at them to" F@@k Off!!!".The men at the front were trying to push away from her wrath .Then,thankfully some men charged in and started dragging the thugs away.And all the while that green coated figure stood on that chair,resigned to his fate?
Many years later I was in a slaughter house in Brisbane and saw sheep walking up the ramp to their imminent deaths with that same look in their eyes.
I dropped my apples in the gutter as the crowd dispersed, and ran to Mum, my tigress.
I learned at school that two British soldiers had been hung in an orange grove in Palestine ,................and Mr Platt and our Chandler were to blame?????
Pretty soon life returned to its regular rhythyms,the summer holidays would soon be upon us and we had games to play,errands to run and money to earn.
It's still '47,and a boy could not be seen without an old bicycle wheel(spokeless
of course) or a car tyre.How else were you to get about?
I was one of the lucky ones for I had found an old car tyre on a bomb site in Granby St.All you needed to make it go was a short stout stick.You just gave an initial push and then twocked it with you stick to keep it in motion.
A boy could go places with the right tyre.We would even race each other ,bike wheels versus tyres.The bike wheels were faster ,but noisy,you got a smooth silent ride with a tyre.
I was going towards St Bedes church one day,gently coasting along in first(thats one Twock a second ) when this car shrieked to a halt,smoke coming from its tyres.A fat man jumped out and ran over to me,he grabbed the tyre and had a good look at it" ere Yar kid " he said as he thrust half a crown into my hand and and drove off with my tyre.I'd lost my only means of transport,but gained a blooming fortune.
It was off to Capaldis for my mates and me,ice cream cornets and tall fizzy drinks all round.
You think ,life can't get any better than this,but it does,oh yes it does,and its still only summertime!
Sweet Summertimes of days gone by,
BrianD



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 Post subject: Re: A Liverpool Lad
Post Number:#10  PostPosted: 29 Aug 2010 21:38 
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------------------------------------------------------------------------

With the coming of autumn,Maggie and my Mum enrolled the girls in a dance troupe,I was mortified,I wanted to be on stage;was'nt I going to be a Hollywood star?If I was going to get some practise,I needed to be in that troupe.
After much whinging on my part,everyone agreed that I could join.Those girls could smell talent and I knew I had it in aces.
The rehearsal rooms were over a shop half way up the Lane;Madame Cox,the owner of the troupe,was a tall glamorous lady,quite unlike the women who frequented the pawnbrokers queue.
The rehearsals were very hard work,having two left did'nt help,but I knew I would come good.
We spent weeks practising the same steps,it could have been boring as hell but for the fact that there were some very beautiful girls in the dance group.I was five and a half(but six and a half for school purposes and four and a half on the trams)and I really liked girls,one girl that I developed a crush on,Brenda,had legs taller than me.She was gorgeous,and I was her slave;I dont think she knew I existed,but you know how it is when you're a kid.
Our gang did'nt spend all its time rehearsing,there were still some days of summer left and we spent these in the park.
One Saturday we were sitting by the lake watching the model yachts tacking to and fro,when one neared the bank where we were sitting.I pulled off my pumps and waded in to turn it round when all of a sudden I plunged into deep water.To this day I don't know how deep it was in that particular place,just that it was deep enough for me to sink without a trace.
I watched the waters closing over my head, the sun, shimmering into nothingness.Down I went and a blackness came upon me,I gulped and and everything went silent.
I came to on the bank with Jess and Chicken kneeling beside me, they had dragged me out and got help to give me artificial respiration.
I was shivering because everything was wet through,there were no rides with our fat man that day.
Everyone was sworn to silence because,we thought,if our mothers found out it would be the end of our trips to the park.I was O.K. afterwards,but I had a terrible fear of the water for years .
Well,Christmas was in the offing and we were practising routines for a Panto at the David Lewis,we were dressed as soldiers,in sleeveless red coats,white shorts with a stripe of red and gold braid,red tap shoes and it was all topped off by a little red pill box hat.
The 5 of us were taken by our Mums to a photographic studio on the London Rd. where we had several pictures taken.
We were all so proud of ourselves and I wish that I had some of those pictures now,but they were lost in the mists of time.
The troupe did a show at a military hospital before the Panto,it was great because the audience were special.There were a lot of men in wheel chairs ,with every kind of dressing,behind them sat the walking wounded,the hall was packed to the rafters and all I can remember is the sound of non-stop applause and cheering.
The journey home on the coach was electric,if this was show business then roll on the Panto!
The day duly arrived when it was time for the show,this time the mums and dads ,and aunts and uncles ,would be in the audience.This was the big time,watch out Gene Kelly,Daleys on the way!
Being the only boy in the teenies line up ,as well as being the smallest child ,they put me at the head of the line to lead the dancers on.The orchestra struck up,we we went onto to our steps and,as we got half way across the stage,I spotted Grandma and some of my aunts,so I stopped to wave hello.The only trouble was,the rest of the line carried on dancing !!
That scene got the biggest laugh of the evening........and I was'nt chucked out of the group.
Christmas was just around the corner and New Year was going to bring us a big surprise.

BrianD



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 Post subject: Re: A Liverpool Lad
Post Number:#11  PostPosted: 29 Aug 2010 23:38 
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Christmas in Lodge Lane
As Christmas drew nearer the shops in the Lane began to take on a festive appearance;a new model shop had opened next door to Bessie Holdens.
The window was full of the best models and train sets that I had ever seen.There were aircraft hanging from the ceiling and boxes of train sets,dinky cars and trucks,it was nice to just stand and look.Best not to wish though,we were old enough to know that those toys would not be in our stockings that year.
There were one or two other shops up the lane that had window displays that were nice to look at,we would stand with our noses pressed to the window,pointing at toys and saying "I bags that!" You were not allowed to bags something if someone else had bagged it first.
The best treat we had was when Grandma took us to the Grotto in Lewis's.
They used to pull out all the stops,one year they had a "Magic Carpet Ride To Santas Workshop".We children were led by one of Santas helpers through a tunnel and ,at the end of it we were led on to the "Magic Carpet",There was a moving screen on either side of the room,at the carpets edge ,and this gave us the impression that we were flying through the air,over different countries,until we came in to land at the North Pole.
A door opened in front of us and we were led into the presence of Santa.
All our cares were left behind because we believed,we were handed a little gift and walked out sparkling.
It was only when Grandma took me to T.J.Hughes and then on to Frosts on the way home that I began to wonder how Santa could have got there before us and why was his beard and hat different?
We children were plagued with that conundrum for just a few years,but was'nt it lovely to have that belief?
We were going to spend Christmas at Grandmas,that meant we would be sleeping in real beds,have the radio,comics and,best of all,be surrounded by our many Aunties and Uncles.
Grandma had pictures of her children scattered on walls throughout the house.They were mostly hand coloured pictures and we had grown up knowing them as just being part of the background.But there were two that were special,one was of a handsome young man in a Petty Officers naval uniform,that was Uncle Tom who was "lost" in the war,the other was quite unique,it was'nt a photograph but a very good crayon portrait.It was done in various shades of green and,when I first became aware of it,I thought it was a picture of a film star.This was my Uncle Bill.
He was my Mums favourite Brother.Trouble was he had been away from home for 11 years and we kids just knew him by the storys that were told about him.
When he was 15 he stole some money from a slot machine in a fairground,he was caught and given a clip round the ear.He was afraid that the men would go around to the police and that they would go around to his parents.So great was his fear of the punishment he might receive,that he ran away.
My Mum told me that the family were frantic with worry,days turned into weeks ,weeks turned into months,and there was still no word from Billy.
Twelve months had passed when Grandma received a letter from an officer in charge of a regiment that was about to be posted to India.It was 1935,the Raj was still in existence and young Billy Hengler was being sent out to keep the King Emperors peace.
Granddad and Grandma we invited down for the embarkation parade.
They were down to Lime Street ,taking the next train to London.They were going to bring Billy home.
They came back the next day,without Billy.
Grandma said that when she saw how much her son had changed,how smart and well mannered he had become,and the Colonel telling her that her son was a credit to the regiment,she felt she had to let him go.
They were in India when the war broke out and he came home the long way,via Egypt ,Iraq,Persia,Sicily,Italy,Austria and Germany.
I had never met him but he was one of my very first childhood heroes.
11 long years....... I was sitting in the hallway by Grandmas front door,Mum was bent over her bucket scrubbing the front doorstep when the sound of a big engine came up the street.A car in Eton Street?I ran to the door and looked,the most fantastical car I had ever seen came growling up the street.I now know that it was a Wehrmacht staff car.It was covered in badges and pennants and was driven by a man so handsome that I could'nt believe he was real.I had never seen a really suntanned person before.The car was open topped and the driver braked to a halt outside Grandmas door.
He looked at me and winked ,as though we were sharing a joke.He was in shirtsleeves but wearing his beret.He did'nt get out of the car,he leaped out of it! Jumping over the car door ,he tweaked Mums bottom and she swung round,hitting him with her floorcloth.I was amazed,who was he?There was a short moment before Mum screamed "BILLY!!!!"
Pandemonium broke out all around me Grandma and aunty Betty came hurtling down the hallway,neighbours came running across the street and that was the start of one of the biggest parties I had seen in my young life.
The days passed in a whirlwind of activity and we children were heartbroken when our magic Uncle Bill had to go to some place called Demob.
So this Christlmas at Grandmas was going to be extra special for not only would Uncle Bill be home but so would our Uncle Charley,he was cook in the Merchant Navy and always managed to bring a little something from those foreign places he sailed to.
Although we would be considered poor by todays standards ,we were rich in the relatives we had around us.Christmas Day was spent at Grandmas,all of her Children were there, and their children too .The womenfolk had all taken a hand at preparing the food for that day.........the table was groaning with Christmas fayre.A goose was our bird,no poncey turkeys or chickens.The goose was more than just a meal,it provided the fat that would be rubbed on our chests when we had a cold and was good for making gravy too!!
After christmas tea we would play the traditional party games ,postmans knock,musical chairs,charades,we loved it when the grown ups made fools of themselves,it made things so much more enjoyable.
All the families ,but ours, left at the end of the evening,we would meet again
in the afternoon of Boxing day when we would go to the Pantomime and then back to Uncle Charlies for tea.Boxing night was for grown ups,they would all go off to the pub and we children would be left to play games.
I was'nt keen on this part,my sister and I were the youngest and our young Aunt Betty liked to put on plays,in which she would be the star,the next oldest in the pecking order would get parts requisite with their age.
As a consequence I was always playing a horse or a donkey,which Bettys character was required to ride.
It got better when our parents got back from the pub,they never got drunk ,just a bit merry and then it was singsongs,sandwiches ,beer and pop ,after which we would all go home.That tramride back to Mozart street was special,your head full of festive images,your arms full of presents and your pockets full of pennies.
1948 was knocking on the door and we were looking forward to that party because it was going to be at Maggie Browns!

Hi Vicki,thank you for those kind remarks. These postings are the beginning of my story,scattered around this thread are postings that make up my time at sea. They are so mixed up that it will take an effort to sort them,hopefully I will be able to match everything up soon,
BianD



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 Post subject: Re: A Liverpool Lad
Post Number:#12  PostPosted: 30 Aug 2010 20:57 
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Life amd love in Lodge Lane
The period between Christmas and New Year was spent going to the pictures,pantomime and getting to see those aunts and uncles who had failed to make it to Grandmas.It was also time spent waiting for Maggies New Years party.
Maggie, Mum and Mrs Heslop spent some days before the great night, baking cakes and making trifles and jellies that would be set out for us all on the last night of the year.That New Years was special because some of my aunts,uncles and cousins came too.It's a good job that Maggies house was big because we filled every room.
She was very inventive in creating games that children would find fun in playing;there was one game in particular that we found gave us all the biggest laughs.I don't know what it was called,but I have never forgotten how it was played.
First of all the lights were put out,so that the room was in total darkness.
A candle was lit and this was held low down, at a small childs height,above it was held a saucer.Eddie Brown held these and Maggie,in her Indian Princess role,would ask us children questions that could only be answered with a Yes or No.We were each asked a Question in turn,about 5 questions each in total.If we gave a wrong answer,we had to wipe our fingers across the bottom of the saucer and then wipe them across our face.Wiping the left cheek first and the right cheek next.Oh those politically incorrect days.Maggie said that the stupidest child would turn black if they gave the wrong answers.We couldn't see beyond the glow of the candle so we didn't realise what was going on.When the lights went on we screamed with laughter for we looked like little piccaninnies.We knew nothing about soot and smoke.
So here we are in 1948,a brand New Year and great changes about to come in our little world.
I had always wanted a Dad,....my Dad,I felt it when my pals talked of the things they did with their dads,when their hands went up in class to tell teacher of what their dads did for a living.Oh ,there were sad kids in class who would never see their dads again because they had been killed in the war,but mine was around ,somewhere and he never came to see us.
I was 6 now and I had spent three and a half years without him.He had stopped being Dad, in my mind, and had become Billy Daley,a stranger.But life goes on,and we were full of it,we were also unthinkingly cruel at times.Anyone who was disabled ,or too small, or tall, came in for a terrible barracking from our little gang.There was one poor man in particular who we treated atrociously.He was the same size as me,about 4 foot high,he was well dressed,always wore a collar and tie,a nice suit and a little flat cap.
He must have been short sighted for he had glasses with very thick lens.
Whenever we saw him he had a leather case,which was in proportion to the rest of him.What caused us to notice him was not his size,but his head..........it was flat!
We called him Billy Bullethead,shouted it whenever he passed by,causing him to turn and shake his fist,which would always be answered with more jeers.
Lodge Lane was slowly recovering from the war,shops were beginning to open in the empty spaces and some of the older shops were being spruced up.The shoe repairers on the block facing our street was having a new window fitted which was covered in a lovely green film ,upon which was the legend "Charles Richardson"done in gold flake scrolled letters ,underneath it said something about bespoke repairs,also done in gold.We holy terrors were stood on the pavement outside Charleys ,gazing in wonder at the gold lettering, when someone called out that Billy was coming up our street.We turned away from the window and started shouting "BILLY BULLETHEAD" at the top of our voices.This enraged the little man and he set down his case,
opened it and pulled out a small jar of something which he flung with all his might ,hoping to hit one of us.He did hit something.............Charlies window!We stood rooted to the spot as it shattered into nothingness.59 years later I can still see the look of horror on Billys face as Charlie came storming out of his shop.Even then I felt sorry for the trouble we had caused him.I can't recall seeing him ever again
By now my Mum had got a job at Vernons Pools,at the other end of the world.She was getting up to work before I was awake, leaving my sister Jess to get me up and ready for school,washing, dressing and feeding kid sister Bette,and taking her off to our Aunty Sallys in Pembroke Place,all before getting to school herself.She was eight and a half.We were latchkey kids and our Jess was cleaner,cook and babyminder too.After school she had to go and pick Bette up and bring her home again.Mum wasn't intentionally cruel,but life was very hard for my big sister.
One day we came home to find our room covered all over in soot,great mounds of it.Jess was more frightened of what Mum might say than of the actual circumstance.So she organised the clean up.Now, two doors down on the other side of the street lived Mr Bishop ,the chimney sweep.Jess and I hadn't a clue what to do with all the soot,but I remembered that Mr Bishop always seemed to be carrying bags of the stuff on his bike,so perhaps he wouldn't mind a bit more.We filled the coal bucket with the stuff and I carried it to Mr Bishops back door.After God knows how many journeys,we emptied our room and filled the back entry adjacent the Bishops backyard door.
Mum came home to a clean room ,and a very angry Mr Bishop.
I don't know she settled things but life proceeded onwards.
And then one day I saw my Dad across the road,right outside Charlies shop....................Was he coming home?

BrianD



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 Post subject: Re: A Liverpool Lad
Post Number:#13  PostPosted: 01 Sep 2010 21:29 
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The man across the road was tall and handsome,he was wearing a cream trench coat which was open at the front,showing a nice suit and tie.
He was so smart.The look on his face was quite forbidding,his brows were furrowed and his lips were curled derisively.This wasn't the tall smiling man who had gone off to the army.
My Mum crossed the road and they talked hurriedly,Mum holding Bette out to him,Jess and I watching apprehensively from the other side.
I can't remember what happened next,did I erase the memory because events did not go as I would have wished? I don't know,but we didn't have the happy return that we had dreamed of.
Something did happen though,one weekend shortly after that visitation Dad came and took we three children to see our Nin.This was a strange experience,nearly three years had passed since we had seen them and we had forgotten what they looked like.They lived in Tintern Street, not far from Grandmas,but a different world.
Nin was kindly,but not too fresh,she had an aroma that was totally different from Grandmas,not a pleasant one ,I was uncomfortable when she hugged me.Granddad Daley was like my Dad but older,he was distant and quiet.
We were, after all,little strangers to them.Mum had gotten our best clothes out of pawn and we looked as we felt.....posh!In truth ,we were prigs,although we were poor and at the bottom of the heap,we never felt that way.Grandmas was our real world,a world of Brasso, Mansion polish and lavender.When Nin offered us a cup of tea in a cup so badly stained with tannin,I nearly gagged.Dad wasn't pleased with my reaction.
When Nin asked me about the things I was doing,I was quick in telling her about our dance troupe...........not the best thing I could have talked about.
A boy in a dance troupe?She asked me what football team I supported??????
Living so close to Goodison I had never been to a match!Living in a fatherless household I had never been initiated into the rites of the game.
There was only one team I supported,The Winslow.
This was the pub team which Granddad took me to watch on a Sunday.I loved it ,getting up early to travel across town to Grandmas.Granddad taking me by the hand to the coach full of players and supporters.It was all aboard and off to places unknown as the Winslow played other pub teams.
There were one or two other lads my age who would be with their Dads and we would go off on adventures in these new far flung places.
When I grew up I found out that we never travelled more than 10 miles away.But back then there were no Kirkby or Croxteth estates,that was the end of the world.One Sunday that sticks in my mind was when the team went to play, out near an airfield.We boys were so excited to see a Lancaster bomber,seemingly right behind the goal! We were off and running as soon as the coach stopped ,a real "Lanc",we'd only ever seen them in the sky or at the movies.We didn't see the fence,nor the tank traps,until it was too late.I got a wound that bled profusely and the first aid man from the Winslow did the business,so good that I never had to go to hospital.When I went back to Grandmas with my arm in a sling poor Granddad got what for from Grandma.
So there I am in Nins living room trying to explain why I didnt support any of the big teams.I am afraid that I never made a good impression.
So it was back to Mozart Street,and back to normal,or what we had
come to think of as normal.
I don't know what passed between Mum and Dad during that period ,were they making plans to get back together? I suppose so ,but thats looking back at it. We were more concerned with getting through the week,especially poor Jess.
I've written of that wonderful model shop just around the corner,I had to pass it every day on my way to school.One day, there appeared in the window a beautiful model of an Auster airplane.It was about two foot across and three foot long,made out of paper and balsa wood,there it hung,as though in flight.I loved that plane and wished that we were rich enough to buy it,but it was nineteen shillings and sixpence.An impossible dream.
But every day,after Jess had gone to take Bette to Aunty Sallys,I would linger by that window dreaming about that plane.
On one such a morning,I closed the door behind me to begin the journey to school, when I saw the unbelievable.There ,in the gutter,lay a one pound note.I snatched it up and went back to the step where I just held it before me wondering if it was real.I'd never had a pound before,then a dawning realisation came upon me............the plane!! I could buy the plane!
I determined to wait there until the shop opened at nine,to hell with being late,I was going to claim that which would soon be mine.
Time seemed to crawl by,I didn't have a watch but I knew as soon as the shops opened so would the model shop.
The man in the fish shop came out and lifted up his shutters,time to go.
Just then our Jess came around the corner with Bette,she was breaking her heart crying.I asked her what had happened and she told me that she had lost the pound that Mum gave her for Aunty Sally.The look of relief that came on her face when I gave her my new found wealth more than made up for an old airplane.
Did I tell you that our kid had a wonderful voice?Having no radio,she would sing to me and Bette,songs that she had learned at school,songs from our concert party and songs from the musicals we watched at the pictures.Up in our room with just the three of us,she created a little bit of magic.
For some reason or other,we had to move bedrooms at this time.we hated it for our new bedroom was at the very top of a dark and gloomy stairway.There were no lights,not even gaslights.We had to make our way to bed by candlelight,the glow casting eerie shadows on the walls.Big sis and I didn't like going up on our own but there were many nights when we had to.Jess used to sing "Me and my Shadow" as we made our way up the stairs.
By now we had a cot for Bette so Mum, Jess and I all slept in the one bed.It was comforting to be so near to your loved ones, and made the world a less frightening place to be.
And then one night, when I was in the fastness of sleep,a big pair of hands lifted me out of the bed and shoved me in Bettes' empty cot.........Dad was back!
BrianD



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 Post subject: Re: A Liverpool Lad
Post Number:#14  PostPosted: 02 Sep 2010 08:49 
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I can remember waking up very tired the next morning,my head was pressed against the bars of the cot,making me wonder where I was.............Dad was home!!
It was a strange feeling,to have something you have wished for,for so long, come to pass.So much time had gone by since he had been our Dad,there was a wariness, no kissing and hugging.Just a strained politeness that strangers have when meeting for the first time.
Now I am older I can empathise with how he must have felt, no little lad running to greet him,just a fearful boy wondering if the stories he had ovrheard at Grandmas were true.Poor old Dad hadn't had a "good press" amongst the Protestant side of the family,he was,and would remain for a few years more,"that Billy Daley"when referred to in their conversations.
We were glad he was back though,we had been suffering from a bit of bullying by a neighbours teenage son,and now we had a Dad to stand up for us.
Things started to change shortly after he moved in ,I was given a bed of my own almost immediately.The sheets and blankets came later,in the meantime I had Dads army greatcoat as my covering,and thank god he was an N.C.O as the stripes on the sleeve gave me extra warmth!
I cannot speak for my sisters in this account,this is a purely personal memoir,
but one of the first memorable things he did, concerning me,was buy me a pair of boxing gloves.
Now,Tiber Street school was a boxing school.From infancy boys were encouraged to take up the noble art. When I was in the last class in infants I can remember having an enormous pair of boxing gloves put on me by Mr.Bath and being stuck in a makeshift ring with John Gerrard and urged to knock lumps out of each other.He was one of my mates,wore glasses(still had them on)and felt the sameway as I did.WE DID NOT LIKE IT!!
So,Dads first gift went down like a lead balloon.He tried though,the next thing he tried to get me interested in was football.He took me to a match at Goodison,his holy ground. I spent the whole time looking to see if I knew anyone in the crowd,I had absolutely no interest in what was happening on the field.He Tried to make connections but I must have been fairly set in my ways,I was six going on seven and all I was interested in was the pictures,the Pavilion,comics and our dance troupe.
He was very worried that I was less than a boy and certainly not the son he would have liked me to be.
I started to hear him urging Mum to stop my attendance at the dance school.I may have been the worlds worst dancer,I can't say how good or bad I was,but I loved being in that colourful place and hearing the music and songs.We still had no radio at home.
My exit from the world of showbiz came in a most unexpected way.At school my closest pal was Tony Sproule,he asked me where I went to of a Tuesday that stopped me playing out with him.I was proud of what I was in and tried to explain that I was involved in real show biz.We were rehearsing for another production in the Co-op hall the following Tuesday and I asked him to come along to see what went on.He seemed very keen,I made it sound like it was going to be a Hollywood style extravaganza
That night it was a dress rehearsal and I was done up in all my slap and a toy soldier outfit.Tony had brought his brother John and they had a grandstand view of proceedings.When we had finished our number,I went over to them,fully expecting them to overawed by my appearance.With horror struck faces they said "You look like a bleeding Tart!!"And thus ended my journey on the road to Holywood.I couldn't get out of that stage outfit quick enough.They had achieved what Dad had failed to.
Remembering the Coop hall has brought back memories of the queues that used to form outside the Co-op butchers on a Saturday morning.It was nearly all kids in the Queue,standing in line to get the meat ration.We aways went early Jess and I ,it was almost like a cinema queue.It curled around the block and if you didn't get there early you would be left with scrag ends.We were given a little treat, by one of the butchers,he would come down the line with a big jar of sweets and give them out to all of kids.I still remember Mums divvi number,49908.
After the shopping we would go home and get our picture money and then go to the Tunnel ,Capitol,or Cameo.Jess had developed a tremendous wheeze,having got our tickets at the kiosk,we would slip past the usherette collecting the tickets,this was done when there were a lot of other kids going through at the same time.She would keep hold of the tickets and put them under a flat iron when we got home.That way they always looked new.We would go to the same cinema many times with the one set of tickets,always ready to give them in should they be asked for ,the picture money would be used to buy ice cream or lollies.
Bette was now old enough to come with us.All went well for a long time until I, in my stupid boyish way, demanded that I look after my own ticket during the week.
You know how busy a boys pocket can be,marbles,cigarette cards,lead soldiers and the odd sticky sweet all find their way in and out of your pocket during the course of a week.Imagine then,the state of my ticket for the next matinee at the Capitol.We slipped past the ticket box,I sauntered in a superior manner,I had my own ticket and didn't need our Jess to tell me what to do.I dawdled along the corridor looking at the posters, savouring the moment.I looked toward the ticket collector,Jess and Bette were through,there was only me in the corridor."Wheres yer ticket lad?" she asked. I fumbled in my pockets,pulling out a very soiled and crumpled ticket.I gave it to her,"Where did ya get this?" she demanded."Off the the ticket lady"I whimpered."What Bloody Year?" she yelled.I was taken to the lobby and the police were called.I was terrified.My Dad would kill me if he found out.Granddad,my Uncle Bill and all my auntys would be ashamed of me
At length ,an old Bobby arrived,he took me along the passge to a place by one of the windows.It was lighter there, he told me that what I had done was very wrong and that I could be taken away from my family and school.He could see I was frightened,so he took me outside and told me to go home and stop being a silly boy.I was lucky to have met a real policeman.
It didnt stop us getting into other japes though.At the Cameo, and the Kensington cinema,they would have sing songs before the films and they would call up the kids who had a birthday that week and give them a free iced lolly and some other little gift.The three of us would take turns in having birthdays in alternate cinemas.We were never caught.
Woolworths also took a terrible hammering from the Saturday matinee crowd,we would swarm through the doors and reach up to the open counters,unable to see what we were grabbing,shove whatever it was in our pockets and go like hell out of the other doors.Divvying up the loot outside we would find things like hairgrips,rubber bands and maybe a comb ,crime most definitely did not pay.
When the pictures let out ,we boys would be astride our invisible horses, macs tied around or necks like cloaks and,slapping our behinds, we would ride off into the sunset,going home for our tea and then our weekly bath for tomorrow was Sunday.
BrianD



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 Post subject: Re: A Liverpool Lad
Post Number:#15  PostPosted: 03 Sep 2010 10:20 
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Life and Love in Lodge Lane
As to those Saturday baths,since Dad had come home we were treated to a new tin bath.Our living room,such as it was,was situated on the first floor,the nearest tap was in the bathroom on the half landing,one flight above.for some reason or other,we couldn't use the bath in there.So prior to the arrival of the small tin bath ,all our washing was done in the small handbasin in the bathroom.
I still wonder just how Dad managed to fill that little bath with hot water.There was no boiler for hot water on tap,he had to heat the water in a pan on the fire in our room.How many journeys to the bathroom it took to fill that I do not know,but he did it.The bath was placed in front of the fire and we kids took it in turns to have our scrub.Being a boy,I had to go last,Bette, being the baby,went first ,then our Jess and then yours truly. I had to sit on the stairs until the girls had finshed;by the time it was my turn the water was grey and there were grey bubbles on the surface.After getting dried we were covered from head to foot with DDT powder.The house was plagued with fleas and our parents took every measure to ensure that we were kept free of them.Our bed sheets, pillows and mattresses,were dusted regularly.
Worst of all was the nit comb,we had our heads washed in Derbac,which smarted like hell,and then that steel weapon was dragged through scalp to gather every one of the little blighters that hid amongst our follicles.
I can still hear the cracking sound they made when Mum crushed them with her thumbnail.
So,scrubbed and deloused,we made our way to DDT powdered beds and awaited the morning.
You know,I never did find out how Dad emptied that bath.

Since Dads arrival home Sunday mornings changed.He loved salt fish and we would awake to the smell of it boiling on the fire.He used to put a bit of smoked bacon in with it to give it flavour.We were called down to breakfast when the fish had been cooked to such a turn that the meat practically melted in your mouth.I have sailed the world over and have never had salt fish the way Dad cooked it ,boiled in milk,a touch of smokey bacon ,it was fit for a king.
After breakfast,we had a quick swill and then it was on with the Sunday best,retrieved from the pawnshop on Saturday,and then off to Walton.
Dad would put Jess and Bette on the bus to go to Nins,and then he would walk me through the town,a different route each Sunday,and he would relate the history of the places we passed on our way to Walton.I still treasure those golden Sunday mornings.Dad was erudite,he should have gone to college,but ,as the eldest boy in a poor working class family,he was needed as a wage earner.So he was destined never to fulfil his potential.
He never spoke to me of this,he told my daughter many years later.
But there ,on those Sunday morning walks,I learned of the building of Liverpool as a great commercial city,of the railway and canal pioneers,how Crown street and Edge Hill were at the forefront of the railway revolution.
The walks through the cathedral cemetery,where he would point out the good and the great,the stroll past the Goree Plaza where he told me of our shame.History used to live on his lips,his words made things come alive.
I never felt bored as he illustrated things.He deepened my love for the city.
I remember, clearly,when he showed me the Oriel Chambers in Water street,explaining how the design of that building enabled architects to build the skyscrapers in America.
I don't know how long it took to get to Nins,but we always arrived at the same time as his brothers and sisters ,who had brought their children as well.
Now that we were family again we were discovering our catholic cousins.
And there were many of them.My favourite uncle on Dads side was his younger brother Gerry.He was now a docker and he used to get Yankee comics!!!!They opened up a whole new world to me.That was where I first met Superman, Captain Marvel,Tarzan,Casey Ruggles,(surely the finest scripted and drawn comic ever).He also got the funnies from the American newspapers,Li'l Abner,The Katzenjammer Kids,Terry and the Pirates and a host of other favourites used to spill out from their pages.
The Liverpool Echo had a two frame strip of Curley Wee and Gussie Goose plus Dick Tracey,which I loved.It wasn't until the appearance of The Back Entry Diddlers that I really got interested in English newspaper comic strips.
Another uncle,Harold, was a prankster.One of the first Sundays we were back at Nins,and the first time I had seen Uncle Harold ,he saw me standing by Nins chair and called out"Look what he's done" pointing to the floor behind me,where there lay a huge turd.It certainly hadn't been there when I walked in for I would have seen it.I was mortified,I must have looked a picture,guilt written all over my face ,and yet I was innocent."it wasn't me" I stammered.Everyone burst out laughing for Harold had just pulled off another of his pranks.I didn't know it was a joke turd,and when he stooped to pick it up I was horrified..........I had a lot to learn.
When all of Nins sons were congregated,we kids would have a short play on the bomb site opposite her house,with strict instructions not to get dirty.As soon as the pubs were open ,Dad would walk us along Walton Road ,across Spellow Lane and to the bottom of Eton Street ,where he would watch us make our way to Grandmas.They never became reconciled ,Dad and and our Hengler grandparents.
At number 69,Grandma and aunty Betty would be busy polishing and cleaning as well as preparing the Dinner,Granddad would be up at the pub ,so Jess,Bette and me would sit and read the latest editions of the Beano,Dandy,Radio Fun and Film Fun while listening to the radio.It was blissful.When we got there,it would be Time for 2 Way family favourites withJean Metcalfe and Cliff Michelmore,this would be followed by the Billy Cotton Bandshow,with Alan Breeze and Kathy Kay,around this time we would have fetched Granddad from the pub,with his big bottle of shandy,and then it was down at the table while Grandma served dinner to the sound of Ray's A Laugh ,Up the PoleTake It From Here,or one of the many other shows from those golden days of radio.
Pudding was always eaten to the sound of Jack Payne.
After making our rounds of the various aunt and uncles who lived at the top end of Walton,it was Jess's job to get the three of us home.We used to ike sitting on the long seat at the back of the tram so we could kneel and look out of the window.
hen we got home now Mum would have prepared a Sunday tea with a trifle and biscuits too!! Life was getting a little bit brighter.



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 Post subject: Re: A Liverpool Lad
Post Number:#16  PostPosted: 03 Sep 2010 22:14 
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Life and love in Lodge Lane
But life with Dad was not all cakes and ale.
He worked long hours and would come home in some terrible states;he had a job at Stanlow,working in the new oil refinery.As a welder, he was working on the towers and would be filthy at the end of his shift.Mum gave him little treats because he needed something to cheer him up at the close of day.So,there appeared in our cupboard things that were for Dad only,things in that time of shortages that we had never seen before.
One of them was a tin of Nescafe instant coffee.Jess and I would look at these forbidden things and wonder what they were.
The tin looked nice,with its rich brown and gold lettering,it looked just like something chocolate.
There were just us three kids at home at the time.I lifted the can up to look inside and Jess warned me not to do anything,I was trespassing and could be punished.I told her I was only going to have a look.I opened the lid and saw the shiny,chocolate coloured grains,was it chocolate?
I wet my fingers to have dip.........ughhhhh!It was awful.I snapped the lid back on and put the tin back.
Shortly afterwards Mum came home from Vernons and put us to bed.
I was sound asleep when I was wrenched from my dreams by my Dad, he was holding me by the shoulders,shaking me and asking if I had been in his cupboard.
I can't remember what I said for I was so afraid,he was in a rage,screaming as he pummelled me with blows.I don't know how long the beating lasted,,but when it was over I was bleeding from my ears,nose and mouth.He had shouted that he would leave us again if I was going to behave like a thief.I can remember crying ,holding on to his arms and begging him not to go away again.I was frightened of being fatherless again.
Things were never the same between us after that night, we disappointed each other.
I must tell you a little about our baby sister Bette,she was terribly unlucky in that she was always having accidents,broken bones,sprains and a particularly nasty scald.We had to be very careful for the slightest fall could cause her an injury.
One day our gang was in Sefton Park and we were down by the boat hire place,it was very crowded and, as I made my way to the waters edge,I could see our Bette in the water.It looked like she was swimming for she was face down;there were hundreds of people about and I was so scared of water that I couldn't bring myself to go in to stop her swimming away.
All of a sudden people ran past me to drag her out,she was drowning!!
She was taken away in an ambulance with big sister Jess.When I got home she was already there ,safe and sound ,and I got a telling off for not trying to save her.
But life goes on,and our life was lived mainly in the streets.In spring ,summer and autumn,the family lived outside ,the kids playing their games and their mothers,and some fathers,sitting on the steps ,talking to each other and keeping a watchful on us.Sometimes play would be interrupted by a street singer,bellowing out sorrowful popular songs, cries of "Eres a penny go the next street" would often accompany them.
The Aunt Sally man with his horse and cart,with its barrels of powerful liquid soap,was always a welome caller with the ladies.they would pile out their houses with bottles and jugs to buy this universal cleaner.
The potted ,or pickled, herring man would always do a roaring trade as did the knife sharpener who had wonderful little cart which would unfold into a fullblown grinding machine.All of these visitors had their own cries which would herald their arrival.
Our streets resounded with the noise of life,the shrill cries of children at play,the barrel organ outside the pub,the peddlers calls,and the distant hoots of ships on the river ,the whine of the tramcars electric motors and the clang of their bells embroidered a sound picture that was truly Liverpudlian.
At school I was now in the juniors,the playground seemed enormous,so there was lots of room to run about in.We used to act out scenes from our favourite films at playtime,Cowboys and Indians,Romans and whoever,Japs and commandos,we weren't allowed to play ball games but it was permissable to massacre each other.
At the top of our playground stood the boys and girls toiletsThere were two separate entrances with a dividing wall in the middle.There were little cubicles on either side but instead of separate pedestals,there was one long trough with seats in each cubicle.The trough was spotless white and was flushed through at intervals.I was told ,by one of the older boys, that if I went into the cubicle by the dividing wall I would see the girl in the next loos bottom reflected in the water.I crept in and peered down,only to see the face of a girl looking back at me!!!
The Olympics were held in were held in London in 1948, not that we kids knew anything about them,a man from the middle of our street won a bronze medal at them for weightlifting.His name was Julian Creus and I don't remember him because of his medal win,but because I watched from the pavement as he was carried out of his house on a stetcher to an ambulance and I heard people say"thats Julian Creus, the Olympic champion ." It was years later that I read of his achievement.

The National Health Service came into being in 1948 and with it came hope for all the short sighted and toothless people of Great Britain,was I to young to know about such things?Absolutely not,our close neighbour was both shortsighted and toothless and she was so excited at the prospect of getting both false teeth and spectacles free of charge.
She was a grandmotherly type of lady,easy going and submissive to her husband, he was so uncouth in both appearance and manners,that he would have made Alf Garnett seem like Noel Coward in comparison.
He was a navvy and always bore a 5 o'clock shadow of ginger bristles,his oily flat cap was never off his head and he always ate his meals with one hand curled around his plate.How do I know this ? we shared the same lodgings!
He would keep his head lowered to the plate,snuffling and grunting as he wolfed his food down.
Come the day when Mrs.E is sitting at the table ,replete with new teeth and glasses,her husband hasn't noticed a thing,"What do you think Love?" she said, new teeth and glasses glistening in the gaslight.He lifted his face from the plate,glowered and said "You look like a fecking 'orse!!"
The last of the great romantics............



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 Post subject: Re: A Liverpool Lad
Post Number:#17  PostPosted: 04 Sep 2010 22:23 
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Goodbye to the 40's,A New Decade beigins

Tiber Street school was special to us kids in that it not only provided us with an education,but it was also open as a play centre in the autumn and winter evenings.It was a pleasure to go there of a night time,there was none of the rigid discipline of the classroom,we played organised indoor games, had drawing lessons,or just simply sat and listened to stories being read by teachers.
Miss Bell ,the headmistress,was given to enthusiasms,she loved organising concerts or displays.Every May Day a Maypole was erected at the top of the playground and selected boys and girls were chosen to enact the Maypole dance.This was a rather intricate affair,ribbons of red ,white and blue, were hung from the top and the boys and girls each held one of the colours.
They were taught to dance around the pole in opposing directions,skipping and weaving as they went.this was done to the sound of music played on an old wind up gramaphone.When the dance was ended the pole was covered from top to bottom with a red, white and blue pattern.
It took days and days of practice,I was removed from the team because I kept going the wrong way.
For Christmas '49 Miss Bell decided to put on a concert,in fact a N*gg*r Minstrel Show.Hard to believe now,given the way Lodge Lane is today,but way back then, we didn't even know the word racist.
A group of boys were chosen to be the minstrel choir and dance chorus,and I was picked to be in it.
Al Johnson was a very popular entertainer at that time and we all ,the minstrels that is,thought we were going to be like him.
We were given several songs to learn,which we did at home,and had to rehearse some simple dance and comedy routines at school.
I spent hours practising Swanee River, Poor Black Joe,By the Light of the Silvery Moon and several others.Whenever relatives came around I was hauled out and told to go into my routine.
Come the day of the show the minstrels had to take their pyjama trousers,a white shirt and their Dads hat(I was lucky mine had one ,a green trilby)the teachers had made us colourful bow ties,and blacked our faces too.
We lads were thrilled with our reception,and, when the show was over,went home still blacked up.All we got was nice smiles from passers by and pats on the head from old people.I shudder to think what would happen if a child walked home like that now.
We had an Indian boy join our school that year,the only Indian boy I had seen before was Sabhu, the young star of Soldiers Three,Jungle Book and The Drum.So this boy was invested with an aura of glamour before we got to know him.The Head Mistress had him on the platform and introduced him as a boy from the Indian Empire, and she let him tell us about the village he was from.He was a great story teller,I can't remember much about his village,but I remember the tale he told about the day a lion attacked his father.
We were spellbound as he told of finding his father clamped in a lions mouth,it was was dragging him by the shoulder, away from the farm.The boy picked up his fathers knife and slashed the lions nose,causing it to drop his father and flee.He was all of 9 years of age.
Another pupil from a far away land joined our class that year,a beautiful freckle faced girl with auburn hair.She was from California and I developed a massive crush on her,the sound of her voice,her lovely white teeth,and that sunny complexion, she was so different from any girl I had ever known.
She was to remain unaware of my affection because I would get tongue tied whenever she was near.

When 1950 dawned, Miss Bell informed us in assembly one morning, that 1951 was going to be an Historic year.The government had decided that there was to be a Great Exhibition, like the one held a 100 years ago in London.
Tiber Sreet Primary School was going to play its full part in the proceedings.
This was going to be different from the May Day ceremonies, grander than the school concerts. This was going to be an occasion that people would remember for the rest of their lives!!
When Miss Bell pronounced her wishes ,the school obeyed!!
Ideas were called for,discussions took place throughout the school,what kind of display would Tiber Street hold?
At length ,it was decided to build a battleship in the playground,it was going to be called HMS Britannia.We kids were imagining that the yard was going to look like Cammell Lairds.
She had to have a screw loose,build a Battleship in the playground.
And then slowly, the plan was given form,we children would be the battleship!
The outline of a ships hull was drawn in chalk in the middle of the playground.It was huge,at least to us kids it seemed huge.Whole classes of children were needed to stand along the outline of the hull,forming two curved lines from stem to stern.We were to be the ships bow, sides and stern.The superstructure was going to be built out of boxes or tea chests and would be painted grey.Canvas sheets were to be made and would be painted to look like the hull of a warship.we kids were to hold this in place.It sounded fantastic and nearly every day we were lined up in battleship order and made to practise moving in line like a ship under way.It was very hard trying to maintain the shape as we moved,but this was early '50 and we had nearly a year to practise.Most dry mornings would find us in the playground,all holding hands to keep the line intact,trying to sail gracefully across the yard.One of the older girls was chosen to play the part of Britannia,she would be sat atop the superstructure,with a shield and trident, just like the one on the penny.She took no part in the rehearsals yet, for the boxes had not yet been produced to make the upperdecks.
We may have been unable to add up or do long division ,but by the arrival of the summer holidays in 1950 we kids could match the grenadier guards for marching.
This summer promised to be our best ever for Mum and Dad were going to take us all on holiday to Llandudno.We were excited as could be for this was going to be our first holiday as a complete family......................................
BrianD



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 Post subject: Re: A Liverpool Lad
Post Number:#18  PostPosted: 05 Sep 2010 12:28 
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Hi Vikki,
The answer to the question "how do you remember................" Well, perhaps it should be turn the other way "why can't you forget !" My conscious memory is deteriorating as a result of brain damage that was incurred when I was in an induced coma for 3 weeks in the spring of 2009. When I was in ICU, I awoke to find that I had been given a tracheotomy and the surgeon said that I would most likely be mute for the est of my life. I spent 3 months in hospital and began to live within myself ,memories came unbidden.It was as though I was alive in memory. I was deluged. by the minute details f my past life and I wanted to impart those memories anyone who would listen. But I was without speech. My old boss gave me a lap top,which I had to learn to use all over again. I was already posting my story when I went in to hospital. Now I was able to continue, but this time with a clearer memory. And once started upon this venture I found I could not stop. It has been a great therapy for me and ,if some folk are enjoying reading my tales ,that makes it even more enjoyable for me,
BrianD



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 Post subject: Re: A Liverpool Lad
Post Number:#19  PostPosted: 05 Sep 2010 19:40 
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Life amd love in Lodge Lane
So, the anticipation of real seaside holiday excited us so much,we had been to New Brighton and Southport,but that was for days outings.
This was the stuff of fairy tales.We were going to stay with my Mums Aunty Dolly,she had a guest house in Alexandria Road on the West Shore in LLandudno.
We prayed that nothing could happen that would prevent our holiday,so often had we felt disappointments in the past, when rain had put a halt to a promised outing.
The months seemed to crawl by,but we still had school and the Festival of Britain rehearsals.We still had our street games and the endless diversions that filled our spare time.
There seemed to be a season for everything,at certain times of the year,whip and tops would appear,pavements would be chalked with hopscotch grids,ropes would be slung over the ladder arms of gas lamps and we would swing till we were dizzy.Who deemed it time for a game to start ,we'll never know;it was the order of things.Boys flicking ollies(marbles)into circles,a kind of junior bowls,girls playing balls with all the skill of jugglers,dresses tucked into knickers so that they could throw the balls under their legs,as a variation.The skipping games which were done to old street songs like Bobby Shafto,sometimes Mums and Dads would help turn a big rope so that up to half a dozen kids could skip in unison.
Those games brought us together as a group,we were part of a "tribe",the kids of the top end of a street would rarely play with the kids from the bottom end.There were exceptions,there was a family in Coltart Road,who were special.they were black,not something that was ever remarked upon then,the younger son was my age and he was part of our group of school mates.His elder brother was a rather dashing figure,he was in the American Army Air Force and he looked so "hollywood "in his uniform.
What made him special was that he always had time for us kids,with four steel poles and a couple of ropes,he would rig up a boxing ring in the street and give us proper boxing lessons.We thought he was a real hero.
Some of the older girls in our street were dating G.I.s, who would call for them in their Buicks and Plymouths,we would stand at the kerb awestruck at the beautiful chrome grilles,the fantastic interiors with the big bench seats and the ivory coloured steering wheels.Such opulence amidst such squalor.
Some of the brothers of the girls would get comics and candy and were the envy of us all.If we ever saw a "Yank",we would call out "Any gum chum?",sometimes you'd get lucky and be treated to a stick of Wrigleys,if not, we'd shout "Up your bum Chum" and leg it.
Thinking of American servicemen,calls to mind an incident that occurred during one of the school holidays,Our gang had been down to Sefton Park to watch a circus being set up,we were walking back up the Lane and where on the opposite side to Mozart Street ,when I saw my Mum coming out of Holdens Stores.I hadn't seen her all day because she had been at work.She was carrying shopping bags full of groceries so I shouted to her that I would help.Without looking left ,or right.I just hared across the road...........................right into the path of an American Military Police jeep.
I stiil don't know how it happened,but I ended up on the bonnet ,holding on to the spare wheel,while these two "snowdrops",with eyes like saucers,went skidding to a halt outside Percys greengrocers.I tumbled off and broke the 4 minute mile getting out of there.
When I crept back home later ,my Mum gave me such a larruping,she had dropped the shopping in fright and broke that weeks ration of eggs.
Summertime was here and the holiday was looming.
Cases were packed withour best clothes,no buckets or spades,we'd get them there.That morning saw the five of us boarding the train,shivering with the excitement of it.The station, full of people and trains,the kids clinging on to their parents for fear of getting lost in the crowd,the hiss of steam and the clouds of smoke,whistles blowing and the lurch as the great blackened behemoth shakes off the station bounds and starts to chug ,chug, chug its way to pastures new.Trundling out through the city cuttings she starts to gather speed,the clickety click of the rails sets up it melody in your head.The streets turn into fields,the gold and green of the meadows like some vast patchwork quilt.To a child of city streets this was a colourful awakening.With noses pressed to the windows ,we drank in the passing scenes,clickety,click, clickety click, are we there yet,clickety click,is it far? The whoosh and shudder as a train passes the other way,the blackness that swoops upon you as we enter a tunnel.The shrill sound of the train whistle and the slowing down as we come to the outer reaches of the station.People standing up to reach for cases from the rack ,the gentle click as we cross those final points.the slow lurch to a halt as we stop beside the platform."Come on lad" says Dad,"give your Mam a hand with her bags,We're there!"
BrianD



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 Post subject: Re: A Liverpool Lad
Post Number:#20  PostPosted: 06 Sep 2010 18:58 
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Location: Tamworth ,Staffs,
Custom: Sailors Home Spinner!
Alexandra Rd.,Llandudno
Mum led the way out of the station,my head was twisting left and right ,taking in the sun bright streets.No blackened brickwork, just clean,
brightly coloured houses,and spotlessly swept streets.You could smell the sea air and the seagulls cries echoed through the skies.
We were almost running to Aunty Dolly's,going down Augusta Street,with the Great Orme towering in the background,my first view of a real mountain,into Trinity Avenue,with its neat rows of Victorian villas and well trimmed gardens.Next came Kings Place,then Kings Drive and then we were in Alexandra Road.How do I remember the roads so well?Subsequent events will answer that question..
We didn't go in through the front door,instead it was round the back and into to the kitchen,where we received a very warm welcome from everyone.
Aunty Dolly looked just like Grandma,her hubby Uncle Owen had a face that was full of laughter lines,and twinkling,mischievious eyes.And there were Mums cousins,nearer our age than hers,lovely dark eyed Elizabeth,with long dark tresses,she looked like a fairy tale princess.Her younger sister,Eleanor,as fair as Elizabeth was dark,she was giggly and vivacious.Snow White and Rose Red.And then came Willie,just two years older than me,he had an impish grin and a sense of humour to match.There was an elder brother called Edwin ,but we only caught glimpses of him,I think he was doing his national service.
The house was just right ,not too posh that you would feel uncomfortable,but cosy enough to make you feel right at home.
After unpacking, and a bit of tea, Mum and Dad took us for a walk to have a look at the town.There were not many cars about in those days and the streets looked so much wider,there was a very old fashioned feel to the place,a feeling which was heightened when we got to Mostyn Street and saw the horse drawn tramcars.We bought some buckets and spades in one of the gift shops,all ready for our visits to the West shore later in the week.
Our eyes were dazzled by all the nice things for sale in the different shop windows;leaving the Mostyn Street we strolled up on to the Parade with its wonderful terraces of tall Victorian hotels,they really did look grand.
It was then on to the promenade,with its beautiful cast iron scroll work railings and little kiosks ,all painted blue and white,while the wooden boardwalks were bleached white by the sun.
We saw the Livepool ferry tied up at the end of the pier,with its yellow funnel and bright white superstructure,to my small eyes ,she looked like an ocean liner.After a short walk up Happy Valley,it was back to Aunty's for some supper and a nice early bed.We had lots of discovering to do tomorrow.

It was up with the lark next morning,after breakfast,cousin Willie introduced us to the family pets,first there was a loveable,patchy black dog,whose name has been long forgotten,then came the duck ,called,naturally,Donald.He had a quirky character,sometimes aloof,and other times sniffing and gently pecking you,to see if you had any tidbits for him.There were a couple of cats,one of which kept on doing whoopsies on the morning paper.And finally, there was a cockerel,he was the alarm clock for the family,no oversleeping there!
Instead of going out with the family that day,Mum agreed to let Willie take me around LLandudno.We went out along Marine Drive, on the west side,up past the statue of Lewis Carrolls White Rabbit and then on to the Great Orme.
It was so exciting ,Willie knew every nook and cranny,we went into "smugglers" caves,climbed down to the sea and were splashed with spray crashing over the rocks.We went up to the top and saw where the mountain trams came ,the cafe and look out post.We got back to Alexandra Road with a host of stories to tell.Willie was the best and bravest of all my cousins ,hadn't he taken me on a great adventure?
Uncle Owen kept a lot of chickens up in an allotment down the Brynau Road,before going to bed that night,he let me go with him and Willie when he took their feed.This was a noxious brew which Aunty Dolly mixed every day in a big old fashioned dolly tub.This mixture was made up from old fruit and veg,stale cakes and bread plus anything else that could be gleaned from the shops and allotments nearby.
It was Willies job to collect the stuff ,Uncle Owen had made him a superb cart,it could be used for fun ,but its main purpose was to carry the bin in which he put the gleanings.
I didn't want to go to the beach next day,I pleaded with Mum to be allowed to go with Willie on his gleaning round.She gave in,amazed that I was turning down a sunny day at the by the sea shore.
So, off the two of us went,me sitting on the cart with the bin and Willie at the front pulling it along.We went to the cake shop first,the lady dumped a load of jam and cream sponge cakes in ,I was just about to retrieve one when she came out and gave Willie and I a jammy rock cake each.This was the life!
The Grocers and Fruiterers helped fill the bin up some more but we weren't finished yet.
Willies last call was the alloments that lay alongside the railway lines that run into the station.The entrance gate was right down the road toward the station,but Willie would never open a gate if he could climb a fence,and he would never climb a fence if there was a more exciting way to get over it.
In this case there was a more exciting way, along side the fence stood an old gas lamp,just like the ones in our street,two ladder stays at the top on either side of the lamp.
Willie swarms up the pole,grabbing hold of the lamp ,he stands on the ladder stay and launches himself into the air and over the spiked railings.
Standing in the waist high grass the other side ,he tells me to wait there while he fetched the stuff..........No way,I was going to fly!!
I was up that pole and standing on that ladder stay before he could stop me."Look Willie...I'm flying!" I launched myself into space,falling ,falling,falling........and then THUMP!!!!I jerked to a halt,I wasn't on the ground,I couldn't move my head,My legs were scraping something as I dangled,The railings,where's Willie?Why can't I move?
My ears hurt on either side,I can't turn my head.........Theres Willie,in front of me ,screaming..............Theres a terrible taste in the back of my mouth..........I'm trying to pull myself away from the railing but I seem to be stuck.Theres something hard pushing against my jaw when I pull backwards.Behind me there is someone laughing hysterically,and I'm feeling wet all down my front."Up" shouts Willie,"Push yourself up"He runs to me pushing my feet and I push up,and there is a sucking sound as my neck comes free from the spike I was Impaled upon.
"Iv'e got to get to Mum"I was running , there was no pain yet,and I didn't understand what had happened,I was wet and I was red all down my front."Got to get to Mum,she'll make it better"....around the back and up the yard to the Kitchen door,through the window see Dad at the sink having a shave,razor freezes in place on his cheek,Mum at the kitchen door,mouth a blackened circle as she shrieks,stunned into motionlessness.Aunty Dolly,pushing her aside as she reaches up to the drying rail,pulling down a towel,wrapping it around my neck and half carrying, half pulling,she runs me down to the Brynau Road.
The towel is wet through now,a single decker bus from Deganwy is heading for the town,I can still see the drivers face as he sees us,and then the bus goes into a graceful turn ,braking alongside us ,arms reach out and pull me aboard ,the conductor whispering words of kindness,Mum is beside me and I'm beginning to hurt.The bus is going like blazes,passengers craning to see what is up.We jerk to a halt out side the hospital doors and some nurses come out and catch me as I fall.......................and all was darkness ...................
BrianD ------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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