In the early days of this blog we had a look round Liverpool in 1953, the place I was about to get born into. In this follow up to that one we’re going to come in a bit closer. Having spent much of my life with no early photographs of my early days, I’ve recently gathered up a few, courtesy of my Dad. And they’ve got a story to tell.
But before I arrive, of course, my parents have to meet.
In this lovely picture Joe is eight and Terry four. Meaning it’s 1936. They are living in North Liverpool down by the Dock Road.
“Even at that age, in those days, we were allowed to roam wherever we liked and I was trusted to look after Terry’ Joe says now. ‘We’d go to church on our own and then go off wandering around the docks and streets and even into town. I remember me and Terry being in town together even after it had gone dark. We had a much bigger Liverpool to play in than children seem to be allowed now. It was great.”
In a troubled world the freedom to walk home & know it will be there is not to be taken lightly.
It will soon be Christmas Day and many people are thinking of home. Walking home, sailing home, even flying home. Getting home come what may. So I’d already decided that for my Sunday walk this week I’d get on a random bus, get off miles away from here and then walk home. Simple and always a joy to do.
Then just as I’m about to walk round to the bus stop Cerys Matthews plays a song on her BBC6 programme that’s so beautiful it stays with me all day on my walk. It’s called ‘Bound for Lampedusa’ by The Gentle Good and is about being driven out of your home and setting off for a new one you may never find. It’s for everyone waiting to walk out of Aleppo into uncertainty, through the meltdown of human decency and kindness that is Syria this Christmas. Maybe you’d like to listen to the song as you read the rest of this walking meditation about home: Continue reading “Walking Home: A meditation”
Knowing this was likely to be an interestingly varied Wednesday, I decided I’d photograph my way around Liverpool and record what happened and who I met, on one day late in April in 2016.
The previous day, after a 27 year wait, we’ve had the findings of the Hillsborough Inquests into the deaths of the 96. And through the day we’ll all talk about how tense we felt, how the whole city seemed to hold its breath waiting for the judgements. Continue reading “One Day in Liverpool”
A few weeks ago I had a walk round Stanley Park with my friend Rachael O’Byrne one winter’s morning. Well today we walked there again, with some other friends, because spring is on its way and we’re going to watch it carefully as it turns up in our lovely Stanley Park.
I’ve walked through Stanley Park occasionally on this blog when I’ve been doing one of my general inspections of Liverpool but I’ve never stayed long enough to write a whole post about the place. In the bright winter sunshine of yesterday I decided to put that right.
So another springtime reliably arrives in Walton Hall Park in North Liverpool. Nothing special, just an ordinary miracle? Well maybe not. For reasons we’ll be coming to this could be one of the grand park’s final springtimes.
But to tell the full story today’s long and intensely photographed walk begins in another park a couple of miles away.
Over there next to Diana Street, the place where I was born. Many of my baby days would be spent in here, the park at the end of the road.
You have to read this book. This book about Bill. Bill Shankly, the manager of Liverpool Football Club. The manager of Liverpool Football Club from 1959 to 1974. All of the book is Bill. Bill is every line of the book. ‘Red or Dead’ it’s called and it all happens in Bill’s head. Through Bill’s eyes. Bill Shankly, the manager of Liverpool Football Club.
David Peace wrote it and he calls it a novel but it’s pure Bill. Bill laughing, Bill running, Bill playing football. Bill playing football with the players. The players of Liverpool Football Club.
The same author wrote ‘The Damned United’ about Brian Clough. About when Brian Clough was trying to be the manager of Leeds United Football Club. Bill tried to sign Brian Clough when he was a player. Tried to sign him for Liverpool Football Club. But the Directors of Liverpool Football Club wouldn’t give Bill the money. Not for Brian Clough. Not for Jack Charlton. Not for Gordon Banks. The Directors of Liverpool Football club gave Bill the money to buy Trevor Storton from Tranmere Rovers but not Gordon Banks from Leicester City. The Directors of Liverpool Football Club wouldn’t let Bill buy the best goalkeeper in the world for £60,000.
Bill meets Brian Clough in this book, often. At the side of the pitch at Anfield. The home of Liverpool Football Club. And at the side of the pitch at the Baseball Ground. Bill meets Brian Clough when he is managing Derby County Football Club. Bill likes Brian and Brian likes Bill. They are both socialists.
I’ve never known quite what to make of Southport. A good place for days out growing up in the 1960s. Much closer to home than getting up early to catch the X61 Ribble bus to Blackpool for a start. But since those days I’ve found myself going there less and less.
Recent walks have taken us to Churchtown, the lovely Botanic Gardens and the windswept beauty of the Ribble Estuary. But as for the town itself, last time we’d been there, sometime last year, we’d walked along Lord Street counting the empty shop units and felt simply sorry for it.
Well yesterday we found something there that’s changed these feelings of vague pity to something close to awe. Something that is unquestionably the best thing I’ve seen happen to Southport in my lifetime.
So, continuing my Sunday walk this week. It’s a beautiful, sunny day. And having walked to the Bold Street Festival, through Granby, Canning and down the hill from Hope Street, now I’m outside St George’s Hall.
I get off at Walton Lane and walk along Bullens Road to the first place I want to see.
This is the street of my earliest memories. We lived in two different shared houses here until I was three years old. I don’t remember any cars then, back in the 1950s. People like us just didn’t have them. But I do remember standing in the front window sometimes and watching thousands and thousands of people walk past the house.
A joint post today by two of the boys from Mr Keith’s class in 1965.
Sparked by lots of comments on here and on Twitter about the awfulness of blancmange a few days ago, even involving the band Blancmange themselves in the end, I thought it might be good, in a perverse sort of way, to do a post about the general awfulness of food in the 1960s.
So I got in touch with Barry Ward, hero of the 1963 birthday party incident and one of my boyhood best friends, and suggested we both dredge through our food memories. Which we duly did.