Shortly after we are born the rationing from World War II and the subsequent austerity finally ends. Sweets rationing has finished a year earlier and now bacon and meat (somehow considered separate items) are the final items whose removal makes ration books redundant. All ready for us to grow up into a world of plenty which, eventually, we do.
But at the time, the place we are born into still looks as if the war has only recently ended.
But of course we see none of this, we’re just born after all. Born only days and streets apart, though we won’t meet for another five years.
Our Mums and Dads and their friends?
Ties and quite formal dressing up clothes. People look somehow different to how they will later on. Like the team who manage to get relegated from the First Division this year.
Maybe it’s the Brylcreem and the short back and sides, but their ears seem very big? How are we looking?
We are both born in the north of the city.
But we don’t stay here. When still quite small we are moved to a northern suburb of Liverpool called Maghull. The houses are built years before most of the shops, as will prove the way with most suburbs. And it looks like this.
Very few photographs get taken. This is the only one I’ve got.
When we are five years old we meet. In the first year of St George’s Infants School.
Then with Paul and Tony and the others in our class we begin the serious business of exploring where we’ve ended up. Children roam the land in these days. No one worries about us and we are never threatened.
There is still some working traffic on the canal. And we wait for it at the swing bridge nearest us, swinging out over the canal as they push open the bridge for the barges to go through. In my memories it is, of course, always sunny. And we are always singing ‘From me to you’. The Beatles have started, and we look out for them everywhere.
As well as this we try and get good enough to play for our teams. Him for Everton, me for Liverpool. Even playing ‘Three and in’ in King George’s Park we know the teams might spot our potential.
We grow up and go to big school.
And not long after big school is over, we go off and have our lives. He helps me buy my first house. And years later I see a picture of him in a music magazine, buying the same LPs as me.
Then when it’s nearly now, we meet again. There is a reunion with the boys from our class. Then we begin writing together. And what we write, here on this blog, about food, sweets, ice cream and growing up together, gets read every day. By thousands of people now. And it’s put together with such joy and fascination.
Some day soon we’ll go walking together too. Along the tow paths and back lanes of our childhood. There’ll be no Pendleton’s Twicers, but there will be Barry Ward and Ronnie Hughes. And we’ll probably write about it.
Happy Birthday Barry. Good to be back in touch. Consider this your birthday card!
And big thanks to Keith Jones for the wonderful Breck Road picture.