Today I came across an internet forum focused around the subject of my old home town, Bootle, in Liverpool. An old school chum, Robert, had posted the above photo – I wonder if you will be able to tell which one of those fresh young faces is me.
It took me right back to those days in the junior school playground. Days when we had no cares in the world, when we simply didn’t know what we hadn’t got.
We would play all sorts of games including, hopscotch, tick, kiss chase, stroke the bunny, war, cricket and marbles or ollies, as we called them. We would line up in twos to walk to the school dinner’s canteen. I didn’t really like a lot of what was served up however, on Fridays, we would be treated to cheese pie – my absolute favourite dish – and the puddings were always very good, as I recall.
Actually there was one particular pudding that all the kids hated and, as a consequence, I never tried it – semolina! In our school, it was universally derided for some reason that, in later life, I never really understood. That said, I have still never actually tasted it.
After school, we would go to the Derby Park and play footie until it was time to go home for tea which would be something like egg and chips, which is still, today, one of my favourite dishes. After tea, we would huddle around the coal fire and watch the bakelite goggle box in its all its black and white glory.
Sometimes, I would get my dad talking about the war and what it was like. I remember him telling me about the time when a bomb had hit an air raid shelter just around the corner from where we lived. That night, as the air raid began, my Nan (Nin) and my dad decided to shelter in the pub rather than the air raid shelter; they were equidistant from the house. If they had made the opposite decision, I would not today be writing my blog.
I also remember the story he told me about the house being bombed and what was left of their furniture being salvaged from the ruins. The furniture, including the piano, had been removed from the ruins and placed on the pavement by a group of friends. With the smoke still rising from the rubble, in the wake of the Luftwaffe raid, my Nan got my dad (an excellent pianist) to knock out the tune There’ll Always be an England.
“There’ll Always be an England and England shall be free
if England means as much to you as England means to me.”
It still brings a tear to my eye to think about it.
You can read more about all of this in my book Fergus and Me. The story begins in the playground of Christ Church Juniors, which is where the above photo was taken, and it describes what it was like growing up in Liverpool at that time, post-war. It also relates the stories my dad told me about the war. The book is a semi-autobiographical account of my relationship with my best friend and our growing-up years.
If you have a Kindle, you can get a copy at Amazon here: Fergus and Me
The people in the photo are (best efforts):
Back Row: Colin Fearns, Rob, Brian Jenkins, Susan Clarke?, Billy Mayer, George Evans, Terry Savin.
3rd Row: ??, Alan Seel, Alan Lines, Peter Stephenson ?, Barry Morris, Alan Hunt, Eddy May, ??, ??, Billy Chadwick?
2nd Row, ??, ??, Eillene?, Olive Clarke, Coroline Harrison, Linda Wright, Sandra Mgarry, Emily McEllinborough, Carol Whittaker.
Front Row: ??, ??, ??, Will Edwards, Nikki Bailey, Robert Langley, Carren Parry, Albert Burgess?
Christ Church Juniors, around 1959/60