View Full Version : Hullo Old Home

brian daley
07-27-2007, 07:55 PM
My name is Brian Daley,I was born 65 years ago in Stanley Rd.Hospital,and
started out in life in Kirkdale.We lived in Medlock St. and then Fountains Rd.,spending a short with Grandma in Eton St. before moving to Toxteth.
We seemed to be one step ahead of the rentman all my young life.In 1952 we moved to Speke Rd. Gardens in Garston,the first place we could really call home.We lived in a 3 bedroomed tenement,which my mother kept spotless.My elder sister and I were given household chores,which meant polishing the brasswork and furniture ,we earned our pocket money by helping to make the house a home.
We lived in Garston until 1960,by which time I was in my second year at sea,and the family moved to Kirkby,to an old ROF house.It had a garden,our first,and the road was so quiet after the "Tennies" that it took the family some time to adjust.
I was at sea when they moved in and,although I knew they were moving to Kirkby,they omitted to send me the address.
I found them by asking in the first pub I saw when I got off the train,The Railway,yes they knew my Dad and pretty soon I was back with the family.But not for long,I left Liverpool in 66',shipping out of London and the Continent for a while.After meeting a beautiful young lady at a shipmates wedding in Oswestry,I ended up moving to Birmingham,where she lived.That was in December 1968,we were married in February !969,and are still together. We now live in Tamworth in the middle of England,this our thirty first year in the place and we love it down here.
I am still a Liverpudlian,I was made in those streets,taught in Tiber Street and Gilmour Heath Rd. schools.The city,my teachers,my parents and family gave me my dreams and aspirations.I was a paper boy,an Appletons delivery boy,worked on Garston market,all while at school.My first job after leaving school was with W.E.Kearns,the butchers.All of those jobs were just filling in time until I could go to sea.Which I did in '58.
I have a lot to thank Liverpool for,and I now take my children,and grandchildren to the land of my chidhood and they are beginning to love it too.
I've just realised that I have gone on a bit long ,so I will say goodbye for now and post some more in the future.

07-27-2007, 07:59 PM
Bloody 'ell Brian :handclap:

Terrific to read and a warm welcome aboard mate, this is the perfect place for such a fine fellow :hug:


PS have you checked out the Liverpool Houses section in the Liverpool Past area of the forum? You might find some piccies or put a request in.

07-27-2007, 08:00 PM
Hi Brian welcome to Yo :PDT_Piratz_26:
I went to Tiber Street school,what years did you teach there?

Mandy :)

07-27-2007, 08:05 PM
Hi Brian

Great to read all this. Welcome to the site. That's quite a "Scouse Story" you told.... Much enjoyed. You didn't go on too long. I'd like to hear more of your memories, mate.


07-27-2007, 08:28 PM
Welcome Brian.

Very interesting story.
I think you meant you were taught in Tiber Street.

07-27-2007, 08:35 PM
Welcome Brian.

Very interesting story.
I think you meant you were taught in Tiber Street.

Oh yes, sorry I misread that :)

07-27-2007, 08:40 PM
Welcome Brian, what a story, I hope you enjoy the forum, they could use walking bookshops like you. :)

brian daley
07-27-2007, 10:57 PM
I'd like to thank you all for such a warm welcome,sorry if I led you to believe that I was a teacher,it was a grammatical error.But I was at Tiber St. from 1946 until 1952,the year King George V1 died.
I'd love to catch up with some of the kids I went to school with,Ikey Harris,Tony and John Sproule,John Gerrard,Billy Duncan and the whole pantheon of kids who peopled my life in Lodge Lane.
It's easy to view life through rose tinted glasses,but I loved it all,the impetigo,boils and warts,we were all bloody poor,but we had fun.
Come May Days,when we had our own little procession,dressed in rags,true back entry diddlers.We had what a lot of kids today dont have,hope!!!!
Our teachers,having come through a war,some of them two wars,used to fill our heads with dreams of a better world,little raggedy arsed mites being taught that there was a field marshalls baton in every privates knapsack.
We still had an Empire where we could go and make a future,our classrooms had posters of liners in foriegn ports,maps of the world all covered in pink,as Arthur Daley would say"The World really was our Lobster"
I'll be back up there tomorrow,28th of July,thats where my daughter wanted to go for her birthday present!
We used to believe the words to Land of Hope and Glory,you should,if you live there.If you should come across a bald ,bearded,fat geyser wearing glasses and a hat,walking about town with a young lady and two grandchildren,grinning manically,that'll be me ,'cos I'm home.

07-29-2007, 08:13 PM
Hi'ya. Nice to meet you on the forum. keep posting :)

07-29-2007, 08:44 PM
Hello Brian, :)

Lovely to read your posts, you will enjoy it here the people are very friendly,

Look forward to more of your postings,

Jacky x :PDT_Aliboronz_11:

07-29-2007, 08:47 PM
Hello Brian and welcome :PDT11

brian daley
07-30-2007, 06:56 PM
Well,we got to Liverpool on the 28th.No disappointments to report.
We drove in through from Runcorn,so that we could see the Airport and Bryant and Mays,both of which played a big part in my childhood.
It was free to go into the airport then, and we children would sit on the balcony for hours,watching and dreaming.We would wonder where those silver birds were flying to,they were all propeller driven and glamorous.
Bryant and Mays was where Mum and big sister worked,we lived in the tenements across the road,and,when the works hooter sounded a flood of green overalled,white turbanned women would spill across the road and through the gates.I cannot watch Chigley with my grandchildren without being reminded of the matchworks.
We drove on through Garston and Grassendale, where I had my first job as a paperboy.I delivered to all those beautiful big houses in the Serpentine and surrounding avenues.
As we passed along Aigburth Rd.,on our way to Sefton Park,I called to mind a time when I was an errand boy for Appletons hardware store in St. Marys Rd. in Garston.
I had one of those bikes with a basket in front,and one very cold winter Saturday, my boss Mr. Moore,told me he had a big order for the Nurses Home in Grassendale;a 2 trip job!
Well,I loaded up for my first trip,the basket was so full and my load so heavy that I had to stand on my pedals just to keep moving.The bitterly cold wind was biting into my cheeks and I was frozen stiff by the time I got there. The cooks were busy getting lunch ready for the nurses as I cycled back for my second load.The second trip was even worse, for the wind had strengthened and I was really at the limit of my powers................
I arrived in a cold and frozen heap,the kitchen window was opened and through it came the aroma of steak pudding,boiled potatoes,gravy and carrots etc. etc.
The cook took one look at my frozen physog and asked " Are you hungry son?"My heart leapt! "Yes" I replied.She disappeared into the kitchen and my head filled with visions of a steaming feast.She returned,"ere yar"she said ,handing me a single spring onion!!
Back to Saturday,we went on through Sefton Park and I was thrilled to see that the houses surrounding the park were being refurbished.My memory of them was of dereliction and decay.The last time I was in the Park was as part of a contingent of Birmingham Trade Unionist's,taking part in the start of the Peoples March for Jobs.Days of Hope eh!

You know,I've got so many memories from that park alone that I fear I will bore you all rigid ,so I'll stop right here,because if I move beyond those Park gates and into Lodge Lane,I'll end up being barred from the site.
Geez, my head is spinning with so many stories that want to be told.
Thanks for reading so far

07-31-2007, 12:31 AM
Oh Brian ,
What lovely memories , I really enjoyed reading them ,
My dad was at Tiber 1943/49 as were his sisters & brother , surname Minton , They also lived at 69 Tiber St, (small world hey ,)

Take Care ,
i look forward to reading more of your posts,
Love Karen

07-31-2007, 08:39 AM
Great posts. George Melly said that Liverpool marks its children (in a good way), and your posts demonstrate that.

07-31-2007, 09:39 AM
:)welcome aboard !!

brian daley
07-31-2007, 06:58 PM
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.
I'll post some more some time,

07-31-2007, 07:17 PM

http://cgi.ebay.com/1981SYLVAC-MUG-PEOPLES-MARCH-FOR-JOBS-L-pool-London_W0QQitemZ250145484613QQihZ015QQcategoryZ279 8QQcmdZViewItem



07-31-2007, 10:07 PM
I really enjoyed reading your posts Brian.Y'know you should keep copies of them and add to them, I'm sure loads of people would like to read a book full of your memories. Of course you should post them on here first lol, Hope to read more soon..:handclap:

brian daley
08-01-2007, 08:21 AM
I would like to thank everyone who replied to my posting.
I enjoy the fact that you enjoy my memories,I would like to share with you many more of them and,God willing,hope that I don't bore you.
Kind Regards to you all

08-01-2007, 10:34 AM
As Chrismiz says, your memories would make an interesting book. :)

brian daley
08-01-2007, 07:09 PM
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 and a half.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!
Til next time

08-02-2007, 11:35 AM
:PDT_Aliboronz_24:Well Brian nice to hear you again, good site this you will
enjoy it, good crowd and great pictures,cheers, Ernie.

brian daley
08-02-2007, 12:41 PM
Hi Ernie,
I found this site through one of the postings on The Sailors Home,and I agree with you,its a great site.You could spend a lifetime on it and still not have enough time to see all that is on here.My wife is about to do me for desertion because I spend so much time on the P.C..
Who would'nt when you meet so many nice people on here.
Are you going to Sharpness next week? I am ,and if you are I'll keep a look out for you.
Keep posting,cheers

08-02-2007, 05:29 PM
glad you are enjoying the forum - it is very addictive :) :)

brian daley
08-02-2007, 06:42 PM
Hi Lindy,
I'm fairly new to the net,I got started by a need to touch base with old shipmates,my daughter said we might shake some out of the ether.
It has'nt happened yet,but I'm meeting some nice people while I'm trying.
I realise that my postings so far have seemed like a mini autobiography,if you're happy for me to continue with "lifes journey" I'm happy to plow on.
You're nice people.

08-02-2007, 10:22 PM
I realise that my postings so far have seemed like a mini autobiography,if you're happy for me to continue with "lifes journey" I'm happy to plow on.
You're nice people.

Keep on plowing Brian, please:

brian daley
08-02-2007, 11:33 PM
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.
Wow, I've just looked at the clock ,I better log off before I cause my better half to have coniptions,
Bye for now,

08-03-2007, 02:24 AM
Great story Brian, keep it going.:PDT_Aliboronz_24:

brian daley
08-03-2007, 03:59 PM
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 wadown 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.
I'll be back,

08-03-2007, 05:13 PM
I enjoyed reading about Stanley park. Those were the days when it was a proper family park.
Unfortunately it is now a shadow of it's former self.

08-03-2007, 11:08 PM
So ,I have 2 reminders of that cold,cold night in February, a sister and a scar.
I'll be back,

Love it Brian,hoping to hear more :handclap:

brian daley
08-04-2007, 01:21 AM
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 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 youself" 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.
'Til next time,

08-04-2007, 07:46 AM
Soon I'm going to have to make a thread all of its own for these wonderful memories

brian daley
08-04-2007, 01:19 PM
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 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 tuppence!!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 was electified,she never wore make up and had very masculine features.She always wore tweed suits,lisle stockings an 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 kid,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"
Thats all for now folks


08-05-2007, 12:19 AM
It's a late welcome from me Brian but welcome to Yo and happy posting, it's been great reading your tales so far!

brian daley
08-05-2007, 09:46 AM
HI Iain,
Thank you for your warm welcome,I'm beginning to feel at home here.
I clicked on your pictures and I thought they were wonderful.You have the eye of an artist!I could say so much more,suffice to say, they bring the viewer enjoyment,

08-07-2007, 11:40 AM
Brian you must write a book ! :handclap:

I'll be reading some of this to my dad who was brought up around the County rd area. I'm sure he will remember the greengrocers and Meesons.

brian daley
08-07-2007, 12:11 PM
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.
Thats another story

08-07-2007, 12:25 PM
I love reading your stories & I agree with LindyLou you really must write a book :handclap::handclap::handclap:

brian daley
08-07-2007, 04:47 PM
Thanks for your kind remarks,I wish I could write a book,it seems too great
a task and I would rather have your approbation than the rejection of some profit only publisher.
Writing this has given me a great deal of peace,I have known what I wanted to tell of;I did'nt know whether anyone out there wanted to hear it.
I want those of you who take the time to read this,to know that my world has been peopled with some wonderful characters,and I only hope that I am up to the task of doing them justice,

I'm off to have a madeleine,

brian daley
08-07-2007, 08:36 PM
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 coud 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 Twonk 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,
more ......soon?

08-07-2007, 09:38 PM
I hope there's lots more to come Brian, keep up the good work, I'm addicted

08-08-2007, 01:32 AM
I wish my memory was a fraction as good as yours, but even though I'm only about 5 years younger than you, I didn't go through the things you did.
Your last memories started out by reminding me of the riots in 1981, which I witnessed in Lodge Lane, but as your story went on to describe Jews' shops getting looted, and in 1947 (when the world was supposed to be learning about the Holocaust), I was very surprised.
I don't doubt you for a minute, but it just proves that not so long ago we were only told the news that the establishment wanted us to hear.
We were told about Jews being persecuted in Germany in the 1930s which eventually led to "The Final Solution", but that was all done by the Nazi's.
Not once were we told that things that were happening in Germany in the 1930s were happening in England in the 1940s.
I'm saving all your writings.
Thank you.

08-08-2007, 04:05 AM

Your stories are truly captivating, I really look forward to reading more!

Well done :handclap::),


brian daley
08-08-2007, 09:02 AM
Hi Phillip,
I can understand how you feel,so many people have no udea of what happened that night in '47.
I have been haunted by those events for 60 years.I never read about them anywhere,as the years went by,my Mum would say "Oh it was'nt like that" and my elder sister had no recollection at all.
But the images would not go away,this could'nt be imagination,surely not?
A friend of mine loaned me a novel last year,it was about a Jewish girl who fell in love with a Christian boy in post-war Liverpool.It was a fairly pedestrian story but the description of Liverpool 8 in the 40s were very good.And then there it was, the Toxteth riot!!
I was'nt dreaming,it had happened.
Yesterday,I entered the the above heading into my search engine and was faced with the bigger picture.Do it yourself,you will see that the singers of the siren songs,those peddlers of the old lies, were active then ,as they are today,They wrap themselves in the flag of our fathers and lead the simple to that road that leads to smashed up shops and a green coated man standing on a chair with a rope around his neck.
I'll be back with a happier tale

brian daley
08-08-2007, 06:53 PM
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.
Til next time,

brian daley
08-10-2007, 03:45 PM
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,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!

08-10-2007, 09:58 PM
I just can't imagine kids now playing donkey rides Brian, they don't use thier imagination. I wasn't born at the time you're talking about, but I remember similar Chrismas's to yours. Brilliant :handclap::handclap::handclap:

brian daley
08-13-2007, 07:55 PM
These are just some of the people who appear in the story of my childhood and youth.
The next episode will appear very soon, I am recovering from a rather hectic 50th anniversary reunion of sailors from the Vindicatrix Sea Training School.
See you soon

brian daley
08-14-2007, 08:53 PM
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,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?
Bye for now

naked lilac
08-15-2007, 04:14 AM
:handclap: Your writings are well worth a read.. ta for sharing.. waiting for the next chapters.. ta

08-15-2007, 10:29 AM
Hi Ya Brian:)

08-15-2007, 11:40 AM
Hengler is a very rare name.
I see there's only two in the 1936 Liverpool street directory.
Were they all related to the Hengler's Circus people?

08-15-2007, 12:27 PM
Brian, I enyoy reading your stories but I find the one about a man being lynched in Lodge Lane very disturbing. Are you sure it really happened? Liverpool had quite a large and influential Jewish community at that time. What did they do about it?

08-15-2007, 01:04 PM
Brian, I enyoy reading your stories but I find the one about a man being lynched in Lodge Lane very disturbing. Are you sure it really happened? Liverpool had quite a large and influential Jewish community at that time. What did they do about it?

I know Brian can speak for himself, but he's already answered this.
He didn't say that somebody was actually lynched, just that he saw a frightened man standing on a chair with a noose around his neck.
Outcome unknown.
It was the looting that came as a surprise to me.
Minority groups have always been singled out from time to time.

brian daley
08-15-2007, 01:24 PM
Hi Phillip and Jericho,
To answer your question first Phillip,I didn't become aware of the circus connection until the !950's.All through my childhood the name seemed untraceable.My Uncle Bill tried to find out if there were any leads that might lead to the origin of the name(remember,this was in the 40's).One day he had to deliver a grand piano to the Shakespeare theatre in Liverpool ,it was for an act called The Hengler Brothers.He was so excited to have such a good lead........alas,they were Polish and had chosen the name from an old circus handbill that they had found,because their own name was unpronouncable.
When This is Your Life started on the BBC in the 50's they had Britains ,then ,oldest actor as the subject on one show.Eammon Andrews told the audience how he,A.E. Matthews,had started out in showbusiness as a stable lad with Henglers Circus.I was agog ,here was the first mention of the family name outside of our little circle.Eammon went on to relate how the Circus had now become the London Palladium theatre.I was more than agog now,how the hell had our family gone from being famous circus owners to hard up tenants in a council flat?.Well the story is a long and an ironic one.We all believed for years that we had circus blood in our veins,but it turns out that our ancestor was,like those Polish brothers,an alien with an unpronouncable name who adopted his new one from a circus poster.My cousin Robbie researched it on the Net.
As for that poor old Chandler,Jericho,he wasn't killed.My mother and the good people of Mozart Street saved him.He went back to his shop and was still there in the summer of 1950 when we left for pastures new.
I don't think anyone mentioned it too much,because of the shame?I can't say, I was too young to know what went on in the wider world,and as to knowing if anyone in the Jewish community even knew about it...........I did't know what a Jew was,or come to that a Hindu or whatever.But I know what I saw, and still feel the emotion that charged my very being on that awful eve.

brian daley
08-15-2007, 06:37 PM
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!

brian daley
08-17-2007, 09:56 PM
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.

brian daley
08-18-2007, 12:55 PM
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 turnthe 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 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.

brian daley
08-19-2007, 12:32 AM
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 f*****g 'orse!!"
The last of the great romantics............

1950 was looming over the horizon and maybe the half century would bring even greater changes...........lets wait and see.


brian daley
08-19-2007, 11:40 PM
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****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 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 ishes ,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......................................

brian daley
08-21-2007, 10:08 PM
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 were 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!"

brian daley
08-22-2007, 08:11 PM
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 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 then all is blackness.

brian daley
09-10-2007, 10:14 PM
I could hear a young girls voice in my left ear,it was saying"why are you in my bed?"Slowly I became aware of her presence at my side,I tried to turn toward her voice but could not properly move my head.She stood closer and, because I had no pillow beneath my head, I could only see her head and shoulders.A pretty pig tailed girl,she was asking me what I was in hospital for and the memory of the fall returned.I put my hand up to my throat and felt some fabric,I tried to talk and could not work my voice.My hand inadverdently knocked the dressing off my throat and I saw the little girl faint away,A nurse appeared from nowhere and replaced the dressing and the blackness closed in again.
I would like to pause here awhile and ask you to bear with me whilst I ponder at the wonderful series of events that lead from a spike in a Welsh railway cutting to the happy existence that I have enjoyed these many years since.
When that accident happened Britain was recovering from a long and costly war,financial restrictions were put in place that meat that no individual could take more than £25.00 abroad for holidays.A new medical service was finding it's feet,The National Health Service.These few facts had a very great bearing on what was about to happen to me.
I had to go into Myrtle Street Hospital about a year after I had recovered from my Welsh sojourn;Mum told me that I had to have my tonsils out.So in I went and for years afterwards I would enter on to my medical forms in the M.N. that I was tonsil free.
In the Christmas holiday of 1968 I was staying at my wife's house whilst on leave from the M.N.,when I developed the most awful sore throat,it was so bad that I had to go to the ENT hospital in Birmingham.I couldn't speak so I wrote down that I thought I had Quinsey because I'd had my tonsils out 16 years ago.After examining me the Doctor informed me that I had still got my tonsils and that they were very inflamed.Much puzzled by this turn of events,I asked my mother,when I was back in Liverpool,how come I still had tonsils when they were supposed to have been taken out in 1952?
She then told me what had really happened back in LLandudno.
The spike had penetrated the thorax and caused major damage to the larynx.That little hospital put out a call on the NHS network for the help of a throat specialist and,oh blessed financial restrictions,there was a Consultant Surgeon ,a Mr Ferguson,on holiday in LLandudno with his family.
He was based in Myrtle Street hospital and he answered the call for help.
Had the accident occurred 10 years later I would most probably be dumb because the middle classes were then holidaying abroad.Fate is an awesome thing.Those tonsils?Well it was rectification work on the larynx that took place,something that I wouldn't have understood then.

But here we are back in that Welsh hospital;I'm now in a very dark room and there are silvery white lights coming into view,a man with a very kind face leans down toward me ,speaking gently ,he points to what looks like a ball of spinning white gossamer and tells me to blow it away.It hovers in front of my face and I blow and blow and then the world slips sideways.
I have no idea how long I was unconscious,I cannot remember being given any food to eat or liquids to drink.There was just a blurring of reality,all I can recall are the colours of eau de nil and whiteness.The colour of the walls and the ceiling of the room I was in,the doorway was brown and there was a window behind me.I couldn't speak and could barely move my head.I cried for my Mum but for some reason she was never there.Days passed in a drugged blur.One day the nurse came and sat me so that I could see out the window and as I looked I saw Mum and Dad come into view across the field.I can still see them now down all these years,standing in the long grass that was turning to gold,Mum in her gay floral print dress and Dad in his best pale green sports jacket.They stand there waving as they see me through the window,little did I realise that they were waving me goodbye.
A little while after,cousin Willie came in to see me,it was wonderful to be with someone I knew,he gave me all the news,told me that grown ups were not allowed to see me ( I believed him then,now I realise that he was letting me down gently about my family's return to Liverpool)
I was not yet able to do more than croak,but I used to look forward to Willies visits, he was so funny and sometimes he would bring his friends Gordon and Hughie,pretty soon I was feeling at home.Time passed and soon I was eating and managing to get my voicebox back in action.Days became weeks and I was beginning to find it hard to remember what Mum looked like,I would dream that she was by my side but could never see her face.The nurses were so kind as they heard my nightime sobs,I felt so far from home.
And then one day Aunt Dolly came and took me back to Alexandra Rd.
There was such a welcome from everyone,Elizabeth ,Eleanor and Uncle Owen,they treated me like the returning hero and thus began a phase when all sadness was banished and my life became filled with sunlight.
Willy and I shared everything,he gradually introduced me to the rest of his gang and they let me become a fullfledged member of their "mob"
We enjoyed a late summer of scrumping and the hunting of golf balls on the links,the Wooden Horse was on the cinema and we emulated the escapees by burrowing into the sandhills on the links,Our days were filled with adventures along the seashore and up and over the Great Orme.
This was a different world to the one I known in Liverpool and I was happy in it.Sundays would find us scrubbed and polished to a holy sheen as we trooped off to chapel to hear blood and thunder from the pulpit and the soaring hymns from the congregation.After chapel it was back home to a dinner that was fit for kings and then dominoes or ludo while we listened to the Sunday radio.Uncle Owen was funnier than the comics on the wirelesshe knew what made boys laugh and he would keep us children in fits of laughter with his stories and jokes.
As summer gently cooled into autumn the school holidays were ended and I had to be enrolled in the local school,Alexandra Rd.Primary.
I was a figure of curiosity because the Merseyside accent had not yet taken hold in LLandudno and the Welsh was spoken at the school,I was taught in english and learned a little Welsh but there was never a problem
there.My accident was known to nearly all of the pupils and they all had to be shown the "scar",they would always grimace at the sight of it,but it made me many friends.The Alexandra Rd.gang had a rival which was led by Daffy Jones,a much feared leader,but once he had seen my scar he told his gang to leave alone,an unwanted bonus.
I mentioned that when I fell on the spike I could hear an hysterical laugh,it was an old lady whose house backed on to the path that ran along the allotment fence.She had turned odd at the sight of me stuck on the railing and was never the same again,bizarrely,she used to polish that spikehead so that it shone silverlike for years after.
As autumn set in we spent more of our time going to the pictures where I saw such classics as Winchester '73 and Walt Disneys Treasure Island.We always went as a family an experience that I loved.There would be a bag of hot chips on the way home and then time for bed.
Aunt Dolly would take Willy and me to market in Deganwy and Conway and I still cherish the magic of those stalls lit up on the dark nights with the Tilley lamps and paraffin lamps ,clothing their wares with a luminence that gave them a look of treasure.There was always a bun or some other treat before we caught the bus home.Yes,home,for I was now so long without sight or word from Mum that I was beginning to feel like Willys brother.
And then one day Mum came to take me home.Oh,the jumble of feelings that surged within me!There was my Mum,there in the kitchen as though in a dream,was she real?I was frightened to run to her in case I was dreaming............................and then the leaving of my new family,my new schoolfriends,and lovely LLandudno.
The train journey back to Liverpool was not the joyous journey it had been earlier that year.We were stiff and uncomfortable,"why had she left me for so long?""what will our Jess be like,will Betty remember me?","what about Dad?"Silent questions ,unasked and yet to be answered.......................................... ...............................

09-12-2007, 08:36 PM
hi brain and welcome to the forums go to warn its a big crowd:hug:

09-12-2007, 08:47 PM
Hi Brian, I havent been reading you're posts recently, I havent been in the right frame of mind to read due to post op medication. Anyway I've got loads to catch up on and really looking forward to it.

brian daley
09-14-2007, 09:23 PM
Going home, after a long time away,is never easy.You expect life there to be the same as when you left.It never is,I learned this when I got back to our lodgings(they could never have been called home).I'd forgotten about our sticks of furniture,we had 2 kitchen chairs,1 dinner table and a rickety old chaise longue,that was the living room/dining room.We had a utility wardrobe and a couple of old beds upstairs and that was our household.
Gaslit and no cooker and this was 1952.
Our Jess was 12 and was gradually becoming chief cook and bottlewasher,feeding me and Bette while Mum And Dad went out to work.I am not going to say it didn't harm us,we could see what our school mates lived like,we often went in to their brightly lit homes,heard music on their radios and sat on proper furniture.Envy was what I felt when I saw how they lived,shame was what I felt if they ever spotted where we lived.
After all that time in LLandudno,where we each had a seat at the table,where we didn't have to take a candle to go upstairs or sing when you heard someone coming towards the unlockable,shared,toilet door.Aunt Dollys' was far from being luxurious,but it had shown me what a home could be like.
I can remember my first meal back at home,the glimmering gaslight in the corner ,Jess and I standing at the table,Dad in one chair and Mum with Bette on her lap,on the other.I just wanted to be elsewhere.
Life at home had really moved on,Bette was now 5 and was like quicksilver,never walked when she could run,and she was very independent.Jess was now in the senior school and was very good at her studies,she loved singing and I think she was in the choir.I can still hear her singing "the Erle King",it must have been a song they were doing in a concert for she sang it repeatedly,perfecting each line.Having no other form of music in the house her sweet voice helped to fill an empty void.
When I returned to school I was in for another reminder of how life moves on without you.In the summer of our trip to Wales,we had been preparing for the Festival of Britain at Tiber Street,that had been and gone by the time I got back.No trip on the H.M.S Britannia for me;my old class had all moved up a year,I was 2 years behind and was stuck in Class 2D,this was for children with learning difficulties,full of children who,cruelly,me and my pals had always made fun of.I was now classed as one of them.Apart from wanting to see my "war wound" my old my mates were afraid to be seen with "one of the 2D mob".
I sat on the front row in class and had a boy and girl either side of me who were not quite "there".Charley and Barbara,they both wore glasses with a patch on the lens,and they both had green candles hanging down their noses,which every now and then they would lick away.
Miss Bell,our headmistress,held a spelling test for the whole school shortly after I returned.We were formed up in a queue outside her office and taken in one by one to be tested on our ability to read words.
She had a large book,the pages the size of a broadsheet,it wasn't a dictionary,there were just columns of words running down the page,three columns to a page,they were not in alphabetical order,I clearly remember that.She had us stand beside her while she pointed with her cane at each word,up and down the columns went the cane and we had to pronounce each word she pointed to.I was going like a train,with no radio or record player,reading was our only entertainment at home.Twice a week of an evening ,Jess would take me up the Lane to the Library where we would choose our books or, sometimes, listen as the librarians read stories.
On and on,I read through the columns until I came to the word SCIENCE,I couldn't get it right and my test came to a halt right then.
She was smiling when she dismissed me,next day I was told that I had come joint first with a girl from the top form,next week I was put into the top class with my old mates.
I used to mispronounce a lot of words,you'd come across new words in a book and tackle them until they sounded right to you,but you could be so wrong.
About this time I had started reading some of the news items in the Echo, as well as Dick Tracy and Curly Wee.I started to become aware of the world about me as a city with suburbs and a waterfront,Birkenhead,Wallasey,Seacombe,Ellesmere Port,Collison and all those other places across the Mersey started to become familiar to me as I read about them in the Echo.That place Collison though,it seemed to be a very dangerous place.My Uncle Bill Worked for British Road Services as a long distance driver,during the summer holidays he would often take me with him.I really enjoyed it,he didn't have any sons and he treated me just right ,never patronising,always pointing out interesting places as we passed by and telling me stories of his time in the Indian army.He was the man to ask about that dangerous place called Collison."Uncle Bill,why are there
more crashes in Colison than anywhere else?" I asked,"Where is Collison?" he replied.I was gobsmacked,this man knew the world and he didn't know Collison!!
I pulled out the front page of last nights Echo,"There" I said pointing to the headline"TWO LORRIES IN COLLSION" That bloody "I",how had I missed it.Uncle Bill had a job containing his laughter.
He drove a petrol engined 10 tonner and we used to go all over the place,having overnight stops in flophouses,three drivers sharing a bed,all strangers.I never thought anything amiss and nor was there for that was the way of the world then.Those greasy spoon cafes were great,you'd get doorstep sized bacon butties,dripping with fat,I'd never heard of cholesterol,just loved the taste,and the best taste of all was a fried bread bacon sandwich.......Iv'e just put a stone on thinking about them.
Thinking about food........................I loved school dinners ,yes ,you read that correctly,we went to Dinorbin Street dinner centre at the top of Parliament Street.It was quite a walk from our school so our appetites were sharpened by the trek.There would be lines of kids from other schools queued up outside and you could smell the nosh outside.Oh,those meaty stews with rich thick gravy and chunky big potatoes,steak and kidney puddings with shortcrust pastry tops which had suety undersides.
Sago,rice,tapioca and semolina puddings,we loved all of it and hardly left the enamel on the plate by the time we ad finished.
Food and sweets were a major preoccupation for us postwar kids;we would watch the American pictures where "Moms" would exhort little Wilbur to drink his milk and finish his cookies,and Wilbur would whinge that he didn't want them.I would be silently screaming at the screen"Give them to me,I'll have them" How in the world could anyone refuse a cookie?It was beyond me.
Time was moving on and we began to see small changes taking place,Lewis's was being rebuilt,boarding started to be erected about the bomb sites in the town centre.There were ships on the river that were painted in company colours instead of the wartime grey,food packaging which had been drab;dark blue boxes for sugar and dried eggs,National Margarine,National Sugar,grey unsliced bread,all of these things started to be replaced on the shelves of our shops,colour was coming into our lives.....................and then the King died.

brian daley
09-16-2007, 12:38 AM
!952 was a memorable year for me,I was now aware of the greater world outside my neighbourhood.The newspapers and the cinema newsreels brought the big world into focus.There was a war in Korea(wherever that was)and our soldiers were being sent out there to fight some people called the communists,The Fying Enterprise was sinking in the English Channel and the newsreel brought us the pictures of her brave Captain,Carlsonn was his name.A man called Ken Dancey jumped from the tug "Turmoil" to try and salvage her.These men were our heroes,fighting the elements,trying to save a dying ship,or so the newsreels said.Most of the stuff we read about
Korea,was from G.I Joe comics or the Blackhawks,it was only as I got older that I heard from men who had been there and learned another side to the story.That war has echoes in todays confict.
But the biggest thing that occurred was the death of King George the sixth.
I had grown up with his face on the stamps,on the walls of my classschool,everywhere in fact,and now he was no more.In the shops,up and down Lodge Lane,black and purple drapes festooned pictures of our late monarch.At school we were assembled in our classes while our teachers read out some words about the death of the king.
There was a sombre feeling that seemed to touch everyone,young and old alike.And then Princess Elizabeth returned from Africa and was proclaimed Queen.
In the meantime I had been hospitalised once more for further work on the throat and so missed a bit more school ,I should mention here that I was almost part time at school now.I was such a regular visitor to the schools clinic in Smithdown Rd. that I used to lose about 2 hours a day on the trip to and from the clinic.Boils and abcesses were my problem,I was forever eructating,bloody great lumps would appear on various parts of my body,red angry mounds with thrusting yellow heads.
My Dad said my neck had more decorations on it than than the Town Hall did for the Festival of Britain.There was a particularly savage nurse at the clinic who seemed to take great pleasure in slapping on red hot poultices on the offending lumps,fixing them into position with extra strong plaster,and then ripping them off a day or so later, removing layers of skin in the process.I went there that often that I was put in charge of the rest of the kids who went from our school.What a parade we made,kids with bandages and plasters,impetigo sufferers with their skin died blue,kids with big dabs of orange over them,for scabies I think,and the shaven headed victims of the nit nurse off for another dowsing of blue unction.
All that was lacking was a bell to warn people that the unclean were on the march.
When the weather turned warmer,Dad took me for a ride on a Crosville bus,the 120,we were going to Speke he told me,I had no idea where Speke was,but it seemed a nice journey.We passed through Aigburth and and Grassendale,which were lovely and green,with trees lining the road,and then on into Garston,which was still a distinct vilage.Up and over the big railway bridge and then we stopped outside of a large group of tenements.I thought they looked lovely with their red tiled roofs and white paned windows so neat and orderly."Take a good look at them son" said Dad,"We've got a chance of getting one of them"
My heart nearly burst out of its chest;we might live there,in that beautiful place.I couldn't believe it and I didn't want to hope too much in case it never happened.
Dad had been writing letters to our M.P.,the council and even Sir David Maxwell Fyffe, the Home Secretary.His letters bore fruit and one day he showed us all the reply from the Home Office.We were going to e rehoused,we didn't now when, but we were going.
For the first time in years we had something to look forward to.
I was afraid to tell my mates in case it never happened,so life went on pretty much as usual.There were new things happening though,the electrical shop at the top of the Lane had a television set in the window.It was amazing,moving pictures on a wireless..............It cost £76-00d,can you imagine,my Dads wages were about £8-00d a week,how on earth could anyone afford to buy one.To us, it was all academic anyway,we didn't have electricity.
The pictures was where we got our entertainment,Jess and I were now allowed to go to the early evening shows,the only problem was you needed to be in the company of an adult to gain admission.We used to stand alongside the queue,proffering our sixpences to grown ups,asking"Can you take us in Mister?"We always succeeded in getting in,and without harm I might add.
Spring slowly bloomed into summer,school would soon be over and those long lazy days yawned ahead,but we could feel the changes in the air,the whispered conversations between our parents about what ifs and how and when .Change was on the way.

09-16-2007, 09:01 AM
go steady on your post lol you keep doing them the same:gossip:

09-16-2007, 01:00 PM
go steady on your post lol you keep doing them the same:gossip:

I haven't seen any repeated, seems like a continuing story to me.

brian daley
09-22-2007, 03:15 PM
When I look in the mirror nowadays I quite often see my granddad looking back at me,shiny bald dome with silvery white hair about the ears.It wasn't always thus.Hair and the profusion of it caused me grief and embarassment at Tiber Street school for Miss Bell,our headmistress,insisted that boys had short back and sides for haircuts.Fringes and long hair were anathema to her.But haircuts cost money and anything that wasn't absolutely essential was considered a luxury ,and that was the heading that haircuts came under in our house.
A few tears earlier,Granddad Hengler had tried to help out with the barbering situation by giving me a basin cut,shoving a pudding basin on my head and cutting off all the hair that showed beneath it.That would most probably be right on fashion today,but back then it was deadly blushmaking.So there I was,just a few days away from my 10th birthday and my hair down over my ears,my fringe down to my nose,so much so that my mates called me Curtains.At Friday morning assembly,Miss Bell called me out and there,in front of the whole school,she tied a blue ribbon in my hair and announced that "If a boy wants to have hair like a girl,he should dress like a girl too".As I walked back to my seat my cheeks burned with humiliation.I was made to wear the ribbon for the rest of the day.
Mum was adamant that she couldn't afford a haircut,I dreaded school next week.
Saturday mornings post included some letters and birthday cards for me,there was a big one from Llandudno and I opened that one first.It was quite an elaborate card ,there was a wishing well on the front and a little winding handle on the side,which ,when turned ,raised a little cardboard bucket.I did so and when the bucket came up there was a shiny silver half crown in it! Mum ,who had been looking over my shoulder,swiftly pocketed it and gave me sixpence in return."You can go and get your haircut now son",was all she said.Good old Aunty Dolly,she had not only saved me from further embarassment at school, but had most probably paid for the gas that weekend as well.
It was now official,we were being allocated a tenement flat in Speke Road Gardens,we would be moving before the end of term.
I was beset with mixed feelings,I couldn't wait to get out of that rathole ,but I loved Lodge Lane.I knew it so well now,there were a lot more shops open ,among them Rays' Cafe.It wasn't in the same class as Capaldis or Reeces,but Mrs Ray did nice home made cakes and a glass of pop at prices we kids could afford.Williams cake shop,where a halfpenny would get you a dollop of peanut butter on a piece of greaseproof paper,delicious.At the sweetshop on the top corner of Tiber Street,we got off the ration delicacies such as Locus,a semi dried fruit that had the consistency of soft toffee,Stickylice(liquorice)little pieces of twig which could be chewed for hours ,giving you a tangy taste.Cinnamon stick,which we lit and smoked like cigarettes(Schoolboys Whiffs) Tiger nuts,chewy squidgy little things.When sweet rationing ended those delicacies disappeared into herbalist shops and were never eaten by choice again.
I still think of some of the schoolmates that I was sorry to leave behind,what kind of lives did they have and where are they now?Billy Duncan,the class comic,Tony Sproule,classmate and friend,Jimmy Duggan, possessor of a wonderful imagination,Lenny Pugh,my constant dinner companion,our trips to the dinner centre were always enjoyable, Stanley Gill,quiet and steadfast ,we got on well.I haven't seen any of them since we moved away,but thats life.
It seemed to take forever to get moved to Garston,Mum and Jess had to do lots of trips down there to get things in shape for moving in.We had three bedrooms,a bathroom,a kitchen and a dining /living room.It even had electricity...................no more gas mantles!!
We moved in 2 weekends before the end of term.It was summertime and I can still recall the excitement as I walked up up those sparkling clean stairs to to our fourth floor flat.The walls on the landings were painted in 2 tone,the top a light peach tinted cream,and the lower half,maroon.Not a bit of graffiti anywhere.The front doors were scarlet,with six little panes of frosted glass at the top and a beautiful shiny brass letter box and knocker in the middle.This was my introduction to 17c,my new home.What kind of future lay in store for us now?

09-22-2007, 06:08 PM
go steady on your post lol you keep doing them the same:gossip:oh it must be me seeing things but he has wrote a lot lol:handclap::handclap:

09-22-2007, 06:35 PM
oh it must be me seeing things but he has wrote a lot lol:handclap::handclap:

You might find this hard to understand, because you haven't lived through the hardship people did years ago. If you go back even further it was even worse than this, look up the history of the workhouses you will see what I mean.
BTW most of us hope he will write a lot more.:handclap:

09-22-2007, 06:49 PM
Me too, keep 'em coming. I suspect Mr D has these already written. I certainly couldn't type all that lot in!


brian daley
09-22-2007, 10:50 PM
I'm not very well versed in P.C. language...................what does lol mean?
Thanks for the support some of you have shown my postings,but honestly I don,t know what the hell I'm going to post before I sit down at the keyboard.The memories come surging forward and I try to marshall them into some kind of order.........and life doesn't work to order,it just happens and we have to handle it the best way we can.So stick with me if you want to,there is a lot more,but you don't have to read it.

09-22-2007, 11:00 PM
It means 'Laugh out loud'. I never use it. I think it looks daft.

09-23-2007, 09:36 AM
Thanks for the support some of you have shown my postings,but honestly I don,t know what the hell I'm going to post before I sit down at the keyboard.The memories come surging forward and I try to marshall them into some kind of order.........and life doesn't work to order,it just happens and we have to handle it the best way we can.So stick with me if you want to,there is a lot more,but you don't have to read it.

Keep the posts coming Brian and thank you for spending time posting them, :handclap:

09-23-2007, 11:15 AM
Brill posts Brian I have really enjoyed reading and want to say a big TA for sharing.

09-23-2007, 01:16 PM
You might find this hard to understand, because you haven't lived through the hardship people did years ago. If you go back even further it was even worse than this, look up the history of the workhouses you will see what I mean.
BTW most of us hope he will write a lot more.:handclap:
ok lol i didnt know im not that old i know someone that was born in 1902 and they are still alive

brian daley
09-24-2007, 08:02 PM
Opening that door,with "our"key was a very special moment.This was the first unshared abode that our family had.Stepping inside, it seemed so spacious to what we had been used to.The hallway had all the rooms off it and had little red tiles on the floor,the bedrooms were laid with lino and the living room had bare wood floors.Very basic, but this was early days.
Mum showed me my room,there was a "new" bed in it,I found out later that it was a hospital bed off a ship,solid iron with drop down sides and feet with bolt holes,that bed was going to be indestructible.
Soon after we'd settled in we went to have a look at our surroundings,we lived in a quadrangle,our block had six homes per floor and there were 5 floors.Opposite stood a similar block with only 4 homes per floor,and that too had 5 storeys,to the left of the square stood a 2 storey block,which was called the White Cottages and this had 3 homes per floor.In the middle of the square stood a large air raid shelter,and to the right of the square was our playground.the play ground was surrounded on 2 sides by an ornamental railing and on the far side,away from our square ,by another 2 blocks of 5 storey flats.
In later years ,I heard many people say how bleak such places were,nothing could be further from the truth,a child could play in that square and playground and always be looked over by concerned adults.
The play ground itself had baby swings,junior swings,a witches hat,a jerker,maypole,monkey bars,merry go round and an 8 seater rocking horse,things we had to go to the park for in Lodge Lane.
As we walked around the playground the local kids looked warily at us,weighing us up.That night passed without incident and bedtime was,for me,exciting.My own room at last.I stood at my window, after we said our goodnights ,and surveyed my little kingdom,not much in the room but the view was great,from 4 floors up I could see over to the Matchworks,the traffic on Speke Road.....................and all the flats opposite.Ideal for a peeping tom!I never took the opportunity.
It must have been a weekend when we moved for there was no school the next day and I found myself on my own so I went out on a further exploration.I didn't get very far when I was met by a group of boys my own age coming up the stairs to our landing.They were the welcoming committee
John Tillett,Tony Ross, Norman ?,one of the Quirk boys and Wally Carr.
They wanted to know who I was,where I was from,and if I would fight John Tillett!!!These boys took no prisoners and pretty soon John and I were kicking and punching like Kilkenny cats.The next thing I knew was that we were pulled apart by our new next door neighbour ,Mrs.Matthews;John had a small cut over his eye and my card was marked as a bad 'un.
Thankfully,it was a reputation that didn't last long.John and I became friends and I was gradually accepted into the gang.
There was an hierarchy in the square,at the top you had the older boys and girls,up to about !5 years of age,then came the 12 to 14 year olds and then us,the 10 and upward group.
The square,s gang was like a family,or even a military grouping,but more of that later.
Come Monday morning ,Mum took me down to Banks Road school to get enrolled,there were only 2 weeks of the term left,but she had taken time off work for the move and she didn't want us roaming the streets when she wasn't there.
I was still acting the big lie,i.e.,making out that I was one year older than I really was;after all when I was still at Tiber Street the class I was in was due to go up to the senior school after the holidays.
So ,when we got to Banks Road Mum told the secretary whatever,and the next thing I knew was that I was taken to a classroom that had the children in who were due to go to the senior school.
They were a great bunch,Jimmy Lothian in particular,he lived in the next block to ours and he quickly showed me the ropes.
I was only there 2 weeks but I would go there lots of times on a winters evening for they had a great play centre.
The summer break came on like an express train and Garston and Speke were wonderful places for young boys to grow up in,we had the Airport,Garston shore,Oglet,Hale,Woolton Woods,and "over the ironbridge".
Horrocks Avenue estate was not yet built,the were site markers in the ground,but that summer saw fields as big as the prairies,adult free all the way to Allerton and Hunts Cross.
Some of the most Epic battles of the century took place in those fields,the different squares(there 3 main squares comprising the Tennies)formed separate armies and fought pitched battles against each other,Japs and Commandos,Cavalry and Injuns,Nazis and Brits.We played them all at times.We had dug foxholes all over the place and our wars ranged far and wide over the whole area.I can remember one exciting ,life and death battle,we had the enemy at the point of surrender and had pushed them right back to the foot of their block,they had nowhere to go..............this was it.Where Monty had failed at Arnhem,Ronnie Jones our General was going to show us how it should have been done.Over the sound of battle came the cry"Ralph....yer teas on the table!!!!!"And Ralph Gherkin,our mortal foe, stepped out of his foxhole and went home to tea.
Our battles were all pretend and we were all the best of mates at school,but rivals in the squares.
Excepting for the "battles" we mainly kept to our to our own groups and summer passed by in such a series of adventure.
Our block of flats had been built in 1929 and a lot of the tenants had moved in at that time,they had brought up families and had a fierce pride in their square.They had painted the landings themselves for the Festival of Britain and each family was responsible for scrubbing the flight of stairs adjacent their flat on a rotational basis,in our case we were responsible for scrubbing 2 flights of stairs once every three weeks.Mum and Jess did that job,and it was woe betide any kid who dared make them dirty,you could chalk on the play ground but never on the walls or the stairs.It was an orderly little world,and one that was giving us the real feeling of being at home.

09-25-2007, 01:25 PM
brilliant posts Brian. You are a gifted writer :handclap:

09-28-2007, 04:27 PM
lol brian what level you in writing you a pure writer keep it going:PDT11

brian daley
09-30-2007, 01:27 AM
Although we had left Lodge Lane,we hadn't severed all our ties with it,Mum still had her"slate" at Bessie Holdens and Dad still had his collars starched at the chinese laundry.When we first moved,it was Jessies' job to go and get the groceries and laundry,as time passed the journey to Bessie Holdens stopped ,but Dad still had his collars done at the chinamans.
Let me tell you about dad and his clothes,he was a snappy dresser,never wore ready made suits,always had them made by a tailor called Mr Duggan.He would come to our flat and measure him up and then come back for the fittings.He had a fine collection of suits and cut a handsome figure when dressed up.He always reminded me of the actor Fred Mcmurray,in his lounge suits he had real class.My mates used to ask if he was a detective or special agent and I used to feel so proud if the way he looked,I promised myself,even at that young age,that I would be as smart as him some day.
He worked hard at staying smart,Saturday afternoon would find him polishing his shoes to a military gloss,checking out his apparel for that night out and making sure that his Sunday outfit was o.k. too.
His trouser press was under the mattress of their double bed,he would leave his trousers there all week,ensuring a razor sharp crease for the weekend.his shirts were boiled and starched by the Pioneer Laundry and our oriental friend in Toxteth took care of his collars......................................until a very unfortunate incident occurred.
Our Jess passed on to me the task of fetching Dads' collars now that there was no grocery to collect,I didn't mind this because it gave me the chance to keep in touch with Ikey Harris and I used to walk from Garston and thus pocket the busfare which gave me enough for an extra night at the pictures.
I would walk through Grassendale to Sefton Park and then on up the lane;being a Saturday there was no pressure on me for time and I would stroll leisurely around the park lake on the way back,loking at the model yachts and generally enjoying the sights.
Dads collars were always wrapped up in a brown paper parcel,tied with string and had a label attached which had chinese letters on it.I used to shove this inside my lumberjacket,thus leaving my hands free to pick up sticks .pick my nose, scratch my ears,or any of those things that you need a free hand for.
One particular Saturday I was making my way around the lake when I heard a voice calling from the opposite shore"Hullo ,You there" I looked across and saw a man calling to me,he was pointing to a beautifully rigged model yacht that was heading towards me,"Turn her round please" he called.Without thinking ,I leaned forward and turned her about and ,as I did so, the parcel of collars slipped from my jacket and splashed into the water.I was horrified,Dad was still a martinet and I was a dead boy."What the hell was I doing in the park?"he was sure to ask that question ,"Where was the bus fare?"Oh, was I was a goner!!.But the parcel didn't sink,it dipped under and then floated.I was old enough to know that you shouldn't hold wet paper too firmly and so lifted it gingerly from the water and laid it on the grass to dry.The day was warm and sunny and old Sol did a brilliant job of drying that parcel,so good in fact that you would never have guessed that there had been a mishap at all.The label was still intact and the unsuspecting eye wouldn't know a thing.
When I got home I put them on the kitchen shelf as usual and made myself scarce.That night ,as Dad was getting ready,I heard him explode with anger at the state of his collars"That little *******,look at them,they're like prawn crackers!! I,m not sending any more collars to him again" Phew!!That poor old laundryman carried the can for my misdeeds.
Now that we had a place of our own we began to see a lot more of our relatives,on a Saturday night Mum and Dad would go up to the Coffee House in Woolton where they often met up with Dads relatives.Come closing time they would nearly always come back to our place with a crate of ale,Mum would have had a pan of pea soup and spare ribs simmering on the stove,which our Jess took care of ,so that when they arrived it was ready for consumption.You know ,those ribs were so well done that you could eat the bones , no trouble.You could stand your spoon up in the soup.
The Daleys' were a musical crowd,Dad was a great singer,like a cross between Bing Crosby and Al Bowley,his brother George,a big powerful man, with a voice to match,sang like Eddy Fisher;indeed he sang professionally in the pubs in Liverpool until quite recently.And then there was Great Granddad Maher,a bull of a man,he'd been a donkey greaser on the White Star and Cunarders,and had lost a lot of his fingers so that he just had stumps,but he could play a concertina with the best of them.
So ,Saturday nights at 17c were a lot livelier than we had ever experienced anywhere else.Jess and I were often called from our beds to perform our party pieces,she with Me And My Shadow and one or two other songs,and me with my bits and pieces from that long ago minstrel show.
Our uncle Harold had a second hand car business and he would ferry everyone home,blind drunk the lot of them,already for mass in the morning.
No matter how much Dad put away on a Saturday,he was still up with the lark on Sunday,getting the saltfish on the go to the sound of Alastair Cookes letter from America on the radio.YES,we now had a radio!!!Oh ,the magic that little brown and cream box now brought into pour lives.Dad put it on the highest shelf in the wall cupboard to ensure that we never fiddled with the dial,in fact he used to feel the case when he got in to make sure we hadn't been using it.It was a valve radio and got hot when it had been on for awhile.
Of course we "fiddled" with it,thats how we discovered Radio Luxemburg,AFN and Radio Athlone,great stations for the Yankee records,we always made sure it was put back on the Light Programme before Dad got home.
The school holidays were fast drawing to a close and it was soon time to go to my next school,Gilmour Heath Road Secondary Modern.It was a boys school and had been built in the 30's and was much newer than Tiber Street or Banks Road.It was in Allerton,a much posher area than Garston and it had huge playing fields.The classrooms were bright and airy and the whole place had a drive and impetus about it that I had never felt in the other schools.The head master,MrSimpson,was a very grand personage,he had a wooden leg,it was believed he lost his leg in the trenches,and came to school each moring in a chauffeur driven Daimler.The head boy would meet him at the pavement edge and take his briefcase in one hand and his arm in the other.Any boys who were in the vicinity of the gate had to form a line and greet him with a "Good Morning Sir" as he made his stately progress into to school.
All of our teachers were ex servicemen,some from the Great War and the younger ones,from the Second War.My first teacher,Mr.Parry was one of the younger generation,he was kind and helpful and we boys really liked him,a kind of hero worship developed.
Most of the boys who were at Banks Road were here as well as boys from the CofE school and the local junior school in Allerton,we would be together for the next four years.
I'll never forget that first day,we were all lined up in the yard ,and Mr Haigh ,the Deputy head and Miss Pugh the school secretary,were checking us off and detailing us to our new classes.When she came to me,she drew a blank."Who are you boy?"she sked,"Daley,Miss,Brian Daley"."Well you're not on my list young man" she replied."We've only just moved here from Toxteth Miss"I told her.She Took details of my old school,Tiber Street ,and I left it at that.2 weeks later I was called to her office and was told that my records had been lost in the post and that they would sort everything out.So I was still a year ahead of myself.
I was going to like this school,not only did it look good ,but it felt good too.

10-01-2007, 02:15 PM
Bloody good read that.Enjoyed it.:PDT_Piratz_26:

10-01-2007, 05:04 PM
smashing stuff Brian :handclap: you should definately get this published - I'm sure a book like this would sell loads.

brian daley
10-02-2007, 11:16 PM
It still rankled with me that I had missed the Festival of Britain,the square we lived in had remnants of the decorations here and there, my new school had illustrations of the Festival site in London and the motif,that three pointed star topped by the head of Britannia,was everywhere.In our art classroom,there were paintings by the pupils showing all manner of images of the wonder of the modern age..................and I had missed it all.Well there was now talk of something even greater than that old Festival,and I was going to make sure that I wouldn't miss out on that;we were going to have a coronation!!
You couldn't miss the news about it,in every paper ,magazine,childrens comics and on the newsreels,there were nonstop items of what 1953 would bring.Now I don't know how the Earl Marshall of England,the Duke Of Norfolk,was planning for the day itself,but the women in our square were very well organised.I don't know who was in charge,I was too young for that,what I do know was that plans were afoot for our square to have a celebration to beat them all.Almost a year in advance dicussions were taking place as to who should do what and how they should do it.These people had celebrated V.E. day and the Festival of Britain but this was going to top them all.Collections were held for the decorations,all the men got together ,landing by landing,to set about painting the walls come springtime.After years of drab greyness, colour started to come into our world.And I'd like to dilate on that world if I may.
Speke Road Gardens sat majestically between the matchworks,Bryant and Mays,the railway sidings,Speke airport and the docks.
Blackwells foundry lay just over the bridge and behind that lay Garston gasworks.When you walked into Garston ,you walked through clouds of thick black smoke that issued from Blackwells chimneys,you breathed in the sulphurous fumes from the gasworks and your ears were filled with the sounds of steam trains chugging as they heaved their loads from Garston docks whilst overhead was the drone of the Dakotas taking off and landing at the airport.The docks were but a stones throw away and you could hear deep throated sounds of the ships whistles,mixed with with toot toot of the tugboats as they travelled up river.Garston thrived with industry,you knew that when you left school you were going to have a job.Thus was the world I now lived in;as I lay abed in my room at night,I knew that one day I would be sailing down that river to places unknown.
But,I had to grow up yet ,there was school tomorrow.
Our school had a very strict code of discipline,corporal punishment was meted out for any misdemeanours,the Headmaster would administer the punishing of any thing that was deemed serious,teachers could cane you at any time in class.Our form master,Mr Parry never dished out any rough stuff,we thought he was O.K.
I was still in the first year and heard that there was a form of punishment that was talked about in whispers,The Mystery Tour!!This was a system whereby a boyhad to go to every classroom in the school and get beaten by the different teachers, right there in front of the class.
I had been there six months by now and had ever seen that punishment take place;I had seen many canings though.
We were always having fund raising drives at Heath Road,we had football teams,rugby teams,swimming teams,cricket teams and athletic teams and they all needed money,and we got it by fund raising.
One of the most lucrative ways of raising money was by collecting jam jars,we used to get thousands of them,and the school used to give prizes at the end of term to the boys who collected the most jars.
The Avenues to the north of our school were very affluent,a lot of the houses had cooks and maids,dinnertime would find me and my trolley going door to door collecting the empty jars.This one day I had a load so great that it was taking me forever to pull it back to school,but I knew that it was a prize winning load that I had aboard,I checked it in with the caretaker and went off to my class feeling like a hero.............I was late ,everyone was at their desks and Mr Parry stood at the front.He seemed cross and I heard him say "Daley,go on a mystery tour!" I couldn't believe it ,but he stood there pointing at the door.Speechless with shock ,I set off on my journey around the school,12 classrooms,12 teachers,I was beaten on the hands,legs and buttocks,standing in front of class after class,barely able to speak the words "Mystery Tour" as I approached each master.When I got back to the door of my class,I couldn't go in for I was crying with pain and was sore all over.The door opened and Mr Parry stood there looking at me ,"Where the heck have you been Daley?"he asked.I couldn't speak but showed him my hands,full of red welts.He looked horrified "What have you done" ,I managed to sob "I went on the Mystery Tour sir". He laid his hand tenderly on my shoulder and said "You silly,silly boy,I told you to go and stand outside the door"
He put his hand in his pocket and gave me a shilling,"Go the pictures tonight boy....and listen carefully in the future"After that ,you bet your sweet life I did.I don't recall ever seeing another boy go on a Mystery tour...........Those jam jars?I got a swimming costume next prize giving day,treasured it for years.

10-03-2007, 11:34 AM
Fantastical writings Brian, briliant recollections and you paint a picture which has us living it with you as though it were yesterday.

You can find some Speke Road Gardens pictures here and many more


Keep the memories coming.

10-03-2007, 11:56 AM
Absolutely superb Brian. You brought back so many memories with your vivid and inspired words.

10-03-2007, 01:41 PM
Hi Brian

Great reminiscences, Brian. I am handing them on to my 87-year-old Mum who used to live in Garston on Inwood Road. They should bring back memories for her as well. Bravo. :handclap: :snf (41):


10-03-2007, 03:13 PM
I've been showing Brian's posts to my dad. :)

brian daley
10-03-2007, 09:03 PM
It wsn't a palace,but by god it was a step up from what we were used to.That little 3 bedroomed flat seemed enormous to me when we moved in,it had everything,a kitchen with a stove and a boiler,a big hot water tank that was heated by the living room fire,electricity,a bathroom and 3 bedrooms,for the first time in my short life I wasn't ashamed of bringing my mates home.
We were still a bit short in the furniture department,we each had a chair at the table though ,and Dad had treated himself to a rocking chair.The chaise longue stood in the bay at the front of the room,so there was a lot of space for us to play in.Mum had bought a big jute mat for the living room,nowhere near as posh as a carpet but it softened the sound of our feet on the floor so as not to annoy the folk who lived beneath us.
And that was a real consideration , those floors transmitted every sound right through to the ceiling below.We were lucky with the people above us,they had lived there for years and never gave us anything to complain about,they were far from shrinking violets,having teenaged children who were very lively.
Our next door neighbours were alright too,not having a wireless,they were very quiet at night,On the other side of the stairs was a "different " family.
Old Mrs.T lived with her two middle aged sons,one was a woodcutter and the other had lost his mind.I shan't call them by name ,it would be hurtful to do so ;the woodcutter always looked angry and ready to blow his top,whilst his brother used to stare vacantly into space.No one ever insulted them or made the usual calls that kids did to those who were different.It was strange,like living next door to uncaged tigers.The elder brother was hardly ever seen without his old army overcoat on,most nights he would bring home big logs,3 or 4 foot long ,and he would cut them up on his doorstep.I remember one summers eve, when he was chopping away at a huge log ,sweating profusely,when he stopped,went into his flat and came out with a hammer and nail,which he proceeded to knock in to the wooden front door.And then he hung his coat upon it.
Mum used to say that Mrs,T. had a lot to put up with,we were never to how much she had to put up with until many years after we had left Garston,when we heard that she had been axed to death by her son.
But that was way in the future, our neighbours to the right end of the landing were the Hamptons,a nice couple ,with an even nicer daughter,Pat,who was quite the prettiest girl on the block.They seemed fairly well to do and were always very pleasant,Frank was the father but I can't remember his wifes name.The end flat was occupied by the Barnett family,Florrie was the matriarch,a lovely woman who loved a glass of stout.They had an African grey parrot that used to sit on its' perch, outside the front door,whistling and singing,whenever strangers called,the parrot would shout "she's not in" and some of them turned and left.
So these were our close neighbours for a few years,there were a lot of the families within our square whose children were now grown and had left to start families of their own.The first family to go, would be our neighbours upstairs,the Jones,but that was a little way in the future.1952 had not yet run its course and Christmas was on the way.
This would be our first Christmas in a house of our own,Mum and Dad were working hard to make ends meet and Mum was determined to see that her children did not go short.Sturlas cheques and the talleyman provided her with the wherewithal,all she had to do was pay them back,at a huge interest rate.But you don't know that when you're a kid.
Both Mum and Dad used to work five and a half days a week,leaving Jessie to look after the major household chores,I did the dishes and polished the brass,but our kid was forever cooking ,scrubbing and tidying up.
Mum would go shopping in the town centre on a Saturday,getting cheap cuts of meat in St.Johns market and the veg too.We used to sit in the bay overlooking the road,watching out for her return ,Dad ,who would have had a couple of pints on the way home,would sit in his rocking chair,nodding off to sleep.The Saturday before christmas, he came home just a bit worse for wear and was in a grouchy frame of mind,we ignored him and sat there looking out of the window ,Mum should be home soon. Jess said to me "Can
you smell burning?" I sniffed,"Yeah" She then turned and saw that Dad was
smouldering.He had droppped his cigarette when he fell asleep and was just about to ignite.Jess shook him awake and he gave us all such a look, you would have thought we had set him alight! When Mum got home he told her that I had been wafting the embers trying to get a fire going.
Dad used to cut himself a lot when shaving ,he used a Gillete safety razor
The only thing was,Jess and I always sharpened our pencils with his blades when he was out at work.He never found out,but you could hear him cursing in the kitchen that they didn't make blades like they used to.Jess and I kept our heads down and went on with our drawing.
Christmas was a week away and we were getting excited........................

10-04-2007, 02:41 PM
So am I, so am I....

brian daley
10-04-2007, 07:54 PM
The thing I loved about Garston was the wealth of characters that dwelt there and the nature of the "village".Come on a walk with me from our house;we go over the bridge,past Blackwells,cough,cough,and here we're just
passing Horrocks Avenue on the right hand side,the 86 tram runs up there,past my school,through Allerton and all the way to to town.On the corner of Horrocks Avenue stands Henry Wilsons,they make stuff for the army and navy stores.Pickfords garage is just down from there and you can see the heavy haulage wagons parked up on the central reservation ,monstrously sized,these are the wagons that haul anchors,chains and propellors amongst other things.On the other side of the road are of couple of terraced streets and then a vast open stretch which rises to a fair old height,on the part that is at ground level stands a solitary black sentry box,which,on a closer look,turns out to be a sandwich "shop".Within waits a little old lady who will do you a dripping crust for a penny,or a piece of toast for a ha'penny more.The "shop " was made of wood and was covered in a kind of oilskin.It was just big enough for her to turn around in,I don't know what she used to cook on, the place closed down
before I was big enough to see over the counter.But I loved that dripping toast.There was a big sandstone cliff face for about 50 yards,after which was the Trustee Savings Bank and then Irwins grocers.
Back up on the other side of the road was the tram and bus garage,there would be a steady stream of drivers and conductors milling about,some just arriving and some getting ready to go.
Down past the garage was the heart of Garston ,the Washouse,you would see the ladies heading there with familys' weekly wash,all in a bundle which they carried on their heads.There were still a few "Mary Ellens" about at that
time,wearing linsey skirts which ended just below the knee,black lisle stockings and a black top too.They wore beautiful woollen shawls,which had intricate patterns, around their shoulders and on their feet they had black lace up boots.Their hair was done up in a bun on their crown,this acted as a cushion for the heavy loads they carried there.They would have seemed more at home in a 19th century fishing village as they smoked their little white clay pipes.Both my mother and sister became members of the washhouse sorority,and ,though the work was hard,they enjoyed the companionship they found there.
Cheek by jowl stood the Baths,our sports master sweated blood trying to teach me to swim there,his name was Bert Holmes and he had been on Britains Olympic swimming team between the war.I was not one of his successes.
The crossroads at the bottom had a big pub on the corner that led down to
"under the bridge",sitting with his backside on the middle window ledge ,was Manxie,our village bobby,and a bigger.fatter bobby there never was.Everyone knew him ,and vice versa,you could hear his laughter half way up Saint Mary's Road.And that was a nice road then,there were cakeshops,pubs,shoe shops and chemists,sweet shops,clothes shops banks and hardware stores.Lloyds where the latest bicycles,radios and televisions filled the windows.Appletons,the windows a wonderland of colour withthe new wallpapers and paints.
We had two cinemas in Garston,the Empire,where the ushers and doormen were decked out like Ruritanian generals,and the Lyceum ,which was more down market but popular with courting couples because it had twin seats at the back of the stalls.
Along these streets would flow a river of people,Soft Sid,an immaculately turned out old man with a mental age of a 5 year old.He would call in all the shops waving a cheery hullo,his smile would light up your day.Yarbo,a villainous looking character who walked with one foot in the gutter,swooping every now and then to scoop up a cigarette end.He carried an old shopping bag which he would fill as the day went on.
The Swearer,this was a big fat jolly looking man who would get on the bus and proceed to utter the foulest of profanities for the whole journey.We none of us were aware of Turettes disease then.
And the Man with no Nose,this poor fellow used to walk around holding two handkerchiefs which he covered his nose with ,every now and again he would lift them and reveal a gaping great hole where his nose should have been.Garston accepted them all,there were no kids cat calling after these poor afflicted souls,they were just part of village life.
So ,there you are then,my village.

brian daley
10-06-2007, 12:23 AM
I can't remember the Christmas season starting in late Autumn as it does now,with us it began to get Christmassy just a few weeks before the big day.
About a fortnight before,we would start making the multi coloured paper chains in readiness for the the "official" start which was two or three days before Christmas Eve.
We didn't have a fridge in those days so the goose,or leg of pork was left in the butchers until Christmas Eve itself.Like most people then,Mum saved up in the Butchers club ,sixpence a week,to buy the festive meat.
This year we were going to have both a leg of pork and a goose.Now that Mum had a proper stove she was showing just how good a cook she really was.We had two stoves in fact,for the range in the living room had an oven and 2 hobs.This was a great iron contraption,very modern in 1929,but considered a nuisance in 1952,it had to be blackleaded every Saturday,yes,you guessed it,by our Jess.Today a yuppie would snap your arm off to buy one , back then Mum couldn't wait to get rid of it.
The weekend before the holiday,I was given some money to take our Bette to Lewis's grotto.They were always fabulous affairs and we excitedly boarded the 82 to go to town.When the conductor came for the fares,I handed him the 10 shilling note Mum had given me and ,after he had dropped the change in my hand ,I counted it and it was 2 shillings short.He was collecting the fare off a soldier in the seat behind me and I told him he hadn't given me enough change.He called me a liar and said that he had counted it out, so I was trying it on.2 shillings was an awful lot of money to me,and my Mum wanted her change!
I held out the money he had given me and asked him to count it,he started to get angry when,the soldier uncurled himself from his seat.He was enormous;" How much was the fare?"he asked ,I showed him the tickets,"Wheres the change?" I gave it him."This is 2 bob short mate",he said to the conductor."Give him his money" he demandedThe conductor,red faced ,gave me 2 shillings.When we got off the bus,I felt a little lump in my coat pocket,it was the 2 shilling piece.Somehow it had slipped through my fingers and found its way into my open pocket.I felt really sorry for that conductor ,honestly,he had been humiliated for doing nothing wrong.
But 5 minutes later,we were in the grotto and all was forgotten.
We had a christmas party at school before breaking up,we all took cakes,jellies and trifles.It was fantastic,all the rules were suspended on that last day and the whole thing ended in a massive bunfight.The season could now begin!
Our little home was magically transformed by the paperchains and tinsel,a tree was put in the window bay and all was set for Christmas Eve.
When we lived in Mozart Street,Jess and I knew what we were getting for Christmas presents because Mum was very poor at hiding them;when we were on our own,Jess would prise open the wardrobe door, just enough to get our presents out(they were not wrapped yet)and we would have a little play and put them back.Not now though,the pressies had been well hid so that this year we could really act surprised.
Even though I was ten and a half,I still got butterflies going to bed on Christmas Eve,it took ages to get asleep,but the sandman soon got to you and next thing you knew was it was CHRISTMAS!!!
When I awoke, I could hear Bette and Jess opening their presents as I was opening mine,there was an Eagle annual,a Dan Dare ray gun,some games and some new clothes.More than I'd ever had on a christmas morn before.
When we got out of bed there were some more presents,one that I remember still,a hardbacked edition of Robinson Crusoe,it was from my Aunt Sally and I treasured it for years.
It was still salt fish for breakfast and then on with our new togs and off to the "rellies" in Walton to wish them all the best ,swap some presents,pick up a lot of pocket money and get back home for Mums first Christmas dinner.
There was a magic in the air at Yuletide,as you walked along Walton Road ,strangers would call out greetings,families in their brand new clothes off to church or Grandmas,children playing with their new bikes and scooters and the men going from pub to pub for their free christmas tot,something that I was to enjoy when I was old enough.Arms laden with presents,cheeks still red from aunties kisses,it was back on the bus and home to Mum.
What a feast there was that day,the meat just melting off the goose,the potatoes crisped and brown,sitting alongside the juiciest carrots and rich green cabbage,a creamy flavoured gravy covered the veg, and the whole lot went down without touching the sides.And then it was time for the pudding,covered in sweet white sauce, it was just perfect.We washed it down with lemonade shandy and then we cleared everything away and got stuck into our new presents,the radio in the background playing the sounds of Christmas. Boxing Day was when we had the pork,a big leg wonderfully glazed and roasted so that the crackling crunched in your mouth,as it should do.We went to the cinema after dinner and saw a Doris Day musical,I loved her then,with her blonde hair ,red lips and blue,blue eyes,as young as I was,I wanted to crush my lips upon hers.Yes,I was beginning to notice girls.It's funny,but I never thought of my sisters as being girls,they were just sisters,but the girls who lived on our block were "girls" and I fancied them like hell.I never ,ever told them.I fancied Dolly Hinton and Ralph Gerkins sister,but I knew I would never stand a chance,anyway there were games to play and lots of mates to play them with.Soon enough 1953 came bursting in and it was going to be an exciting time for our family not just with the coronation ,our whole world was going to change.

10-06-2007, 10:45 AM
subperbbbbbb how u write like that u must me a lvl a++++ if you dont do that 7a

brian daley
10-06-2007, 11:13 AM
I read your posting Gerrards fan..........................I don't know what it means,I'm afraid that I am a dinosaur,can't text,can't post properly........
bear with me while I learn this new language,
love and peace,

10-06-2007, 11:17 AM
oh soz i wish u could undertand the new language sorry brain

10-06-2007, 07:39 PM
Brian Daley,,,,
fantastic stuff.Put it all together in time for xmas and you got a buyer.
Really good.You should do something about getting a few quid for your stories.
Nice work.:PDT_Piratz_26:

10-06-2007, 07:39 PM
subperbbbbbb how u write like that u must me a lvl a++++ if you dont do that 7a

are you drunk ? All day ?:PDT_Xtremez_42:

brian daley
10-07-2007, 01:13 AM
Where do our memories reside?,in the heart,or in the mind?.Both my head and my heart are full to bursting with the emotions that are evoked by those long ago happenings.!953 brought such richness into my world that the heat of those moments lives with me still.
At school I was a very poor pupil,I was innumerate(still am),incapable of any kind of sport and was given to daydreaming.I was so so at art,good at history and geography,loved english lit.,could start the most fantastic essays,but never had the staying power to finish them off.
Our woodwork master,Mr Campbell,was a lovely man with the patience of a saint;he had to have with me,I was forever destroying chisels and planes as he endeavoured to teach me the rudiments of carpentry.
Our form master in 53' was a complex character called Mr Butler,handsome,smartly dressed and with a degree in sarcasm,he caused me quite some grief during my time with him.
He had been in the RAF during the war and I was ready to hero worship him,
he looked the part,white teeth and slicked back hair,he could have stepped out of the pages of the Eagle.There was just one problem.............he didn't like me.
Let me tell you what I looked like then,some toothy kid,a bit like Alfalfa out of Our gang,my hair still fell in curtains right down over my nose.I never possessed a school uniform,but wore some cast offs from a second hand shop and my shoes were down at heel.......very down at heel,I had to put the cardboard from the Kellogs boxes to cover the holes in the in the soles.
Mr Butler noted all of these things,his way of helping me was quite unique.
One morning,when the bell had sounded and we had formed up in our class groups in the school yard just prior to entering assembly,he stood in front of the assembled pupils and called me out to the front."This Boy is an example of how not to dress!",he roared and ordered me to turn my back to the assembly,with the handle of his cane he hooked my instep and pulled up my foot so that the sole of my shoe could be seen by the multitude."And this is not how we at Gilmour wear our shoes!"the memory of that moment burns within me still.With a sneer,he dismissed me and turned away.
My classmates were shamsfaced when I rejoined them.
My maths book was a constant source of humour to his twisted mind,there was a song in the hit parade at that time called 7 Lonely Nights;after a maths test he paraded my maths book in front of all the boys,singing "7 lonely sums make one lousy test.................."
But the man could paint and draw with best of them,he taught me about perspective,how to mix colours and compose pictures ,so much so that I had one painting hung in the Walker Art Gallery in a schools exhibition and another was put in the bar of the R.N.R clubship that once stood in the Albert Dock.
Mum packed up work in the spring of that year so there was one less pay packet coming in.I stopped having school dinners and used to come home
and she would do welsh rarebit or poached egg on toast and then I had to run like hell back to school.I had a mate,David Royle,and we used to do the journey together,we were supposed to get the tram,but we pocketed the fare and bought sweets with it instead.
Just before I stopped school dinners,an incident occurred that lived with me for a long time.During our lunch, I could always be found in the queue for second helpings,of dinner or pudding;one day we had prunes and custard for pudding........................I had three large helpings of same.
It was during an english period with Mr Reed that the prunes began to make themselves felt.After my fourth hurried run from the classroom,Mr Reed summoned a prefect and gave him the tramfare to take me home.Not before lecturing me on the power of the black coated workers.
I used to enjoy those times at home with Mum,listening to Athlone on the radio,eating my lunch while she did the ironing,the smell of ironed starch still lingers in my nostrils yet.
Bette was at school and Jess was top of the form at Duncombe road,although they were my sisters,they were girls and girls stick together,confide in each other and consider boys a nuisance.I used to wish I had a brother that I could confide in.............................I started to notice that Mum was putting on weight.
Meanwhile ,both at school and in the Square ,plans were afoot for celebrating the coronation,the four houses in school started to get sports teams together for an in-school coronation sports day.A usual, I was selected to be part of the audience,well someone has to do the cheering.Flags and bunting were made ready,both in the tenements and at school.Easter went by at breakneck speed and every newspaper and magazine ran storys' of how Britain and the Commonwealth were going to celebrate the crowning of the new Queen.
One of the girls from our square was chosen to be our queen for our own coronation.Chrissie Hogg was the young lady,and the women of our square were determined the she would do us proud.
Slowly our square was being transformed with streamers ,bunting and flags,all in red white and blue and all coordinated so that there was a uniformity of design.
Our school was bedecked with artworks, done by both pupils and masters and all was made ready for the great day.Coronation Day was declared a holiday so we had to have our celebration at school before then.
Every schoolboy was treated to ice cream and a coronation mug.
Saint Marys Road was also decorated and Lloyds,the television shop,let some lucky people view the broadcast while sitting in deck chairs in the shop entrance corridor.
Mr and Mrs Hampton had bought a 14 inch television set and invited our family to watch the whole event with them,even though the picture was black and white and subject to interference,it was a great experience.The party in the square was an even greater experience,chairs and tables had been fetched from the flats and set into line in our playground.The tables were bedecked with red white and blue covers,laden with sausage rolls,pork pies,sandwiches cakes,trifles and custard and jelly.The months of planning
culminated in a banquet that would not be seen again in that Square.
We children were sat in our places awaiting the arrival of our own queen.And down she came,in a beautiful dress,a crown upon her head, trailing a red velvet cloak with imitation ermine trimming.In her hands she held the Orb and Sceptre and we kids cheered her to the echo. As we sat down to our feast ,kids from the other squares looked on enviously.The Mums in our square were the only ones who had put so much effort into making it the greatest day of all.
The party went on all night as the adults brought out a grammaphone and bottles of beer.What a day,2 queens crowned,Mount Everest conquered,seeing the whole thing on live television...........life couldn't get better than that,could it?....Mum didn't half seem fat now.................

10-07-2007, 10:23 AM
Brian you are truely a gifted writer and I love reading about your life. I too have printed the stories out (hope you don't mind) for my mum, sadly we have just had to put my father into a care home and reading your memories has restored her spirit so I thank you for that. Please continue with them. Have you tried to get them published anywhere I can't believe that in our year of culture somebody wouldn't bite your hand off to get these wonderful stories out there.
Thank you again from my mum and me :handclap:

brian daley
10-08-2007, 10:47 PM
I went up to Liverpool again on Sunday,my 9 year old granddaughter had expressed a desire to go and see the wonderful places I had told her about.St.Georges Hall ,the Museums,the river and the seashore at Waterloo.
Whilst sitting on the seafront at Crosby,watching the ships and seagulls,she snuggled into me and said "We will come back again,won't we Granddad?"
Such moments in life are a gift.
I want to thank you all who are giving your gifts,you will never know the feeling I get from knowing that my words have given someone,somewhere,pleasure.I love writing for you,I feel grateful for the interest you have shown.And I hope your Mum is getting on now Sweetcheeks.Thank you Lindylou, Chrizmiz and everyone else out there.
I'll be posting some more very soon,

10-09-2007, 11:17 PM
Looking forward to hearing more Brian. I'm hooked :handclap::handclap:

10-10-2007, 12:24 AM
I went up to Liverpool again on Sunday,my 9 year old granddaughter had expressed a desire to go and see the wonderful places I had told her about.St.Georges Hall ,the Museums,the river and the seashore at Waterloo.
Whilst sitting on the seafront at Crosby,watching the ships and seagulls,she snuggled into me and said "We will come back again,won't we Granddad?"
Such moments in life are a gift.

In August 2006 I took my 4 year old girl to Liverpool - the Matthew St festival was on. She adores all the cousins she has in Liverpool. She started school a week later and in the first week came home with a cornflakes box with three little boxes stuck on it, painted with glitter all over. I asked her what it was and she said the buildings in Liverpool. It was the Three Graces at the Pier Head. I was amazed, and coming from a 4 year old - so observant and the buildings must have made an big impression. Nothing in London makes an impression on her.

She thinks Liverpool is a separate country as it is so different to where she lives and that she lives in England. When we leave she asks if we are going back to England. I always reply, yes.

Again last August I took her to Liverpool and she had a ball. West Kirkby beach, pony rides, the sand, glittering pebbles which she collected and train rides through tunnels. All so exciting for her.

10-10-2007, 10:50 AM
ahh, that's nice to hear how much she enjoyed Liverpool. it's good that she is learning about our city too. :)

brian daley
10-11-2007, 11:17 PM
Although we had only been in Garston for just under a year ,we were well settled in.The coronation party had been a great ice breaker for getting to know the neighbours and we began to feel a part of the squares community.
At school,I had made friends with boys from other parts of Garston,Frankie Williams,a real laugh a minute person,always up for a joke,we didn't know about "speed" then but he he seemed to be on it.John Greavey,he was my closest mate at school,he came from "under the bridge".Jimmy Lothian,one of the boys from Banks Road School, a bit of a scally but a good pupil.
We all stayed dinners and would get up to Woolton Woods,or the Golf course
and do a bit mischief,never anything serious,scrumping apples,hunting for conkers or searching for "lost" golf balls. We were the least succesful criminals in the business.
That hour for lunch at school at school seemed interminable,we seemed to wander at will for ages before the whistle went.
The school itself was very nice,it had an enormous playing field,there were football pitches,rugby pitches,cricket pitches as well as athletics tracks.The field was so big that the local farmer used to graze his cattle on it during the holiday,a consequence of which, were the great big cow pats that we would stumble in during games.
They were sports mad at that school,you had to be on a team,there was no escape.I was put in one of the rugby teams.Mr Bagot was our coach,a real Gung Ho type,ex navy,square jawed and all round sportsman.He was going to make me a rugby player!He had no chance....................I was born with 2 left feet and poor spacial coordination.The poor man didn't stand a chance..
I'd flunked at every other sport and this proved to be no different.I was very good at minding the coats and things,the lads in our square had learned that too,whenever we went off to "fight" ,I was the one at the back carrying the macs and spare "weapons"I always had a comic in my back pocket for use on games days or "battles"
Consequently ,on our great summer sports day,at which there were dignitarys' present,I was the boy at the far end of the field, out of view from the prying eyes of the masters,catching up on the latest adventures of Dan Dare.I was never caught,or maybe they just gave me up as a hopeless case ,I've never changed,I'd rather go for a good walk than play golf,and watch a good movie than athletics.Odd I know,but I enjoy life.
The sports day always ended the spring term and then we broke up for six long weeks.........Bliss
With Mum at home, her cooking skills seemed to blossom ,her apple pies were special,a thick, sugar crusted, short crust pastry covered slices of apple, so juicy and sweet that they melted in your mouth.She covered it in a rich ,golden coloured custard that could have been eaten alone, it tasted so good, Whenever Ikey came to us from Mozart Street,Mum would always do an enormous load of sausage and mash,we both loved it and Mum was quite proud that Ikey ate such quantities.
About Ikey,he was the closest thing I had for a friend,he loved coming to the Tennies,and the girls there loved him.The girl I had always had an especial affection for,Pat Hampton,took one look at Ikey and dropped me like a hot potato.But we never let girls come between us.
Mum had stopped her slate at Bessie Holdens and started to shop locally,Billys' was the nearest grocers and we would get the bread, milk and other stuff there. Mum would go to the Co op for her main shop,49908 was her divi number.Billy opened a chippy next door to his shop and did a roaring trade,because it was the only one for miles! He had a unique way of cooking the pies though.............he would chuck them into the fryer for 5 minutes and serve them up drenched in fat............I loved them!!
As July came,Mum got tireder and slower,she was pregnant,not that she told me,or that I had guessed,it was Jess that gave me the news.And what news!!! I was going to have a brother! Nobody told me that-I just knew it.
I was excited,we were going to be mates,I would take him the Pier Head and show him the ships,I would take him on adventures to Speke,the Cast Iron Shore.And I would have someone to tell my secrets to...............I wonder what he'll be called.?My imagination worked overtime.
That summer is indeliby etched into my memory,August was a long sunny month,the hedgerows were a riot of colour with foxgloves,celandine ,daisies and dandelions.Bees hummed lazily in the torpid summer air,spiders spun their gossamer which glistened with the morning dew.On such days we would leave home with a bag of sandwiches,a bottle of milk and some water and ,clutching our penny for our "scholars returns" we would head off to anywhere in Liverpool.We'd get home in time for tea and a good scrub and then off to bed.
And then one morning Jess awoke us at the crack of dawn,or so it seemed,Mum was still in bed and Dad was still at home. Jess had made us some Polony sandwiches,some banana cake ,a bottle of milk and a bottle of water.She handed me the bag and told me to take our Bette and go out for the day,she wasn't coming with us.Bette and I called up to the Lloyds,on the next landing and Frank and his sister Vera came out with us.
We went down to Garston shore ,a weird place,the Bottle works used to dump all their broken glass on the beach ,and several factories had waste outlets that poured out their poisons as well.We never went swimming there,not that I could anyway.No, we used to walk to Oglet(What a name) from Garston,it was quite nice there, and then on to Hale Beach,which was very nice then.We spent hours among the sand hills and then made our way back through Speke,walking along the boulevard by the airport.We had munched our way through pounds of blackberries that we had picked ,our hands,faces and clothes were stained deep purple.We were within site of home when our Bette began screaming.I couldn't see what was amiss ,she hadn't fallen or cut herself on the brambles.It was when she pulled her dress up that I saw what was wrong,she had stood on an ants nest and had a small army of them at the top of her legs,heading straight for her knickers.We swatted them away and started off for our flat.We never had watches,and you can't really tell the time in the summer,so we were just hoping it was tea time.
When we got to our square,Doctor Gibsons car was parked by our stairway and people were on their landings,gossiping in little clusters.They looked at us ,all filthy, and then looked up toward our flat and my stomach turned over.We ran up the stairs and our Jess met us at the door,I could see a man in a surgical gown and mask in the doorway of Mums room,Jess hushed us and took us to get washed in the Kitchen sink.She told us that Mum was very poorly and we had to be quiet,the doctor had been there for hours,and, with the help of the midwife, had had to perform major surgery on Mum because she was in a very bad way.It seemed hours before the doctor left ,when he did ,the midwifetook Bette and me in to see Mum.........and our new baby. Mum looked so tired,the dark rings beneath her eyes testament of the agonies she had endured,seeing us,she motioned us to her and showed us the little bundle that lay by her side,a mass of black hair,three and a half pounds in weight..................my new sister!
I fell in love,lock stock and barrel.
She had a very tough start in life and our doctor devoted a great deal of time to Mum and baby.He was a dour Scotsman with a heart of gold,to him ,my sister would always be Brenda, Mum and Dad called her Christine,I always called her Chris...
Jess was a mother to Bette and me for nearly six weeks,Mum was realy ill.
Dad tried his hand at the catering one day,serving up something that was just about edible,which we forced down,but I drew the line at the way he made the tea.Milky.......I hated milky tea ,and do to this day."Drink that tea Lad!!" he growled. Normally one growl was enough for me to jump into line,but not for Milky tea."No" I replied all of a tremble,"I can't drink milky tea Dad". "Well you better start learning then ,hadn't you ?" he snarled .his face pushed close up to mine.
I don't how I did it ,but I picked up the tea cup and poured it over his head!He sat there non-plussed,the cup on his head and a look of total bewilderment on his face......I was up and out of my chair and speeding to my bedroom.I slammed the door shut and slid the bolt across,shaking with fear at the enormity of what I had done.Within seconds ,he was beating on the door,murderous threats pouring from his lips.I was dead,memories of the coffee episode came sharply to mind ,I was a trembling wreck,but I was'nt going to open that door.I heard my Mum calling,"Billy what are you doing?" he roared a reply but she was calling "Billy,Billy,come here"
He stopped banging the door and I heard muffled words through the wall.
All went quiet and then ,a little while later he came back and gently tapped on the door,"Brian,let me come in and talk to you,I promise I won't hurt you" "You will,I know you will"."Brian son I want to take you for a walk,just you and me...honest" Frightened to death,I opened the door and he took me in his arms and hugged me.Down all these years I can still feel the scalding tears that fell down my cheeks.......I felt safe in his arms.
After that,our Jess took over the role again,she was thirteen and did everything for us ,I washed the dishes,in a fashion and did some brasswork too ,but our kid worked so hard that Doctor Gibson expressed his concern to Mum that if she didn't have a break she could end up very ill.
As soon as Mum was able she sent Jess off to Llandudno to spend a fortnight with Aunty Dolly.
Meanwhile we were getting to know our Chris.

brian daley
10-13-2007, 05:43 PM
When Jess got back from Llandudno,she had some smashing photographs of Willy,Elizabeth and Eleanor,and looked so much better for her holiday.
Mum was on the mend ,but Chris was still in need of constant care,being visited by the midwife everyday.The midwife was lovely,black haired with dark brown eyes,her starched collar and pinafore,her lovely face and her black hosed legs,I was madly in love with her,but I was only 11.Doctor Gibson was a regular visitor too so we were all aware that Chris was in a bad way.But she was a happy baby and I considered it a privilege when I was allowed to hold her.Dad made us treat her like she was made of glass,when he came home from work he would examine her for bruises in case we had been less than gentle with her.With the love and care of Mum and the family,the ministrations of the Doctor and Midwife,and plenty of Abidec,Chris began to thrive.
Our relatives began to visit us more often now that we had a new addition,
and Mum started to get some new furniture.She was at home for a long time,looking after Chris,but as soon as she was toddling,Mum started looking for another job.And I set about earning some coppers too.
We used to have scrap iron men come around in an old Bedford 5 ton,ex army breakdown truck.It had a little crane on the back and they would buy any scrap metal,copper or brass.They had a set of scales in which they would weigh your load and pay you what they thought it was worth.
We used to scavenge anything that wasn't tied down,rooting through bins and rubbish heaps,we made just enough to get in the cinema.One week Georgie Hogg,Kenny Ford and me struck gold.The scrap men paid by weight......we had "found " a buffer off a railway wagon,it was laying in the long grass by the railway embankment and it took the 3 of us to move it.We left it where it was until the scrapmen appeared.When they came we told them to hang on while we fetched our special cargo,we got our sisters skipping rope and tied it around the buffer and dragged it up to the wagon.
We could'nt lift it and we thought we would get a fortune for it.
The mens eyes lit up when they saw it and they came and helped to drag it for the last few yards."We'll have to lift this up with the crane" said the driver as he disappeared into the cab and started the engine.His mate threw a chain around the buffer and lifted it clear of the road,and as soon as it was , he jumped aboard, and the wagon sped away with our fortune.You never saw such discontented kids,all of our dreams of big money disappeared with that wagon .They never came back.
We tried to get jobs potato picking,but we could never get up in time to catch the bus.A mate of mine from the next square,Joey Fergo,had a paper round in Grassendale and let me help him with it for 2 shillings a week (I know,I was a sucker),the houses we delivered to were very posh,The Serpentine comes to mind,all beautiful Edwardian buildings with neatly trimmed lawns and colourful gardens.
The shop Joe worked for was called Gents,run by Mr, and Mrs Gent,who had a special son called Charley.He would be about 20 when we knew him,but he was of a younger mental age than Joe or me.
In the attic of the shop,Charley had constructed the most elaborate model railway that I had ever seen.It was built on a base that was about four foot high,and covered the entire attic.He had stations and villages,bridges and canals,it was a miniature world and had taken him years to complete.I saw it only a few times but was very grateful for being given that pleasure.
Sometimes Joe would let me do the round on my own,I got an extra shilling when that occurred,and on one such occassion I was walking up the driveway to a house in The Serpentine,when the front door opened and this tall,distinguished gentleman,came out toward me and said "have you got my Radio Times there boy?",I had it in my hand and gave it to him.
He riffled through it until he spotted something,and then he held it toward me and said "That's me there boy"showing me a picture if himself............
"Commodore Ivan Thompson,the Captain of the Queen Mary,talks about life at sea". I was thrilled as I gazed in awe at the page,"Thursday night ,home service at 9 0'clock,don't miss it boy" he said as he slipped sixpence in my hand.
I used to keep a look out for him after that,but never saw him until many years later in very different circumstances.
Besides spending my money on the pictures and sweets,I used to buy a lot of comics,the Eagle was my favourite,never had to buy the Knockout ,Dandy,Beano,Film fun and Radio Fun because Grandma Hengler always had them in for us at Eton Street,where I still went every Sunday,well I had to keep up with the serials in the comics.So,the comics I used to buy were the Yankee ones,loved the westerns,with Lash LaRue and Tom Mix,Superman,Batman,Don Winslow and Archie.They were fabulous
productions,multicolored and well drawn.We kids used to swap comics,they were precious commodities, I had a mate in the next square I used to trade with, Frank McNemeny,(Try saying it) we were the sharpest traders in the district,we dealt in everything readable,movie mags,War Illustrated,Classics Illustrated and the Funnies out of the American Sunday newspapers.
Looking back, we had what would now be priceless pass through our hands.
Television was becoming more popular,Joeys' Dad bought one and I used to watch some of the early evening programmes with them,Television Newsreel,The Grove Family,The Appleyards to name but a few.It was tame stuff compared to the radio where we had Journey into Space,Riders Of the Range,Dick Barton,and a whole host of comedy shows.Radio was in your head,your imagination creating scenes that no film crew could ever produce,television was very limited in content.But that did'nt stop us wanting one.
At school a new divide opened up,those with T.V. and those without;it almost followed the divide of Garston from Allerton and Hunts Cross.
We had to wait awhile in our house before the cathode ray tube made its appearance.
And at school we had started to sort out our pecking order,a gang of sorts
was formed out of the harder elements,and victims fell prey to their bullying.Mercifully I learned that a fast tongue and a good joke was all it took to keep the bullies off your back,all except for one that is.We called him Fat Bob,because he was fat and his name was Bob.He was a minion of the class top dog ,Arfur,who was always O.K. with me because I was mates with his younger brother.But Fat Bob was always looking to punch ,kick ,chinese burn or otherwise disrupt the peaceful day of someone smaller than himself.I suffered the occassional bit of grief from him,you put up with it because he would always theaten you with something worse if you made a fuss.One day,we were playing some kind of chase game in the playground when I found myself alone behind the bike sheds with Bob.He thought he would treat himself to dishing out a bit of gratuitous GBH,on me!
I freaked when he started toward me and slammed my fist into his stomach as hard as I could............................................. ....and he burst out crying.I waded in with everything I had,which, on reflection was'nt very much ,but it was enough to keep that bully off my back forever.
Gradually his victims were reduced in number to the very few who would never fight back,I felt sorry for them,but you had to watch out for number one at a boys school.
And thus another year passed and 1954 brought some more small surprises

10-15-2007, 09:09 AM
You gotta get a book sorted for christmas.It will sell no problem.
Loads of people enjoy your stories here......Get em' out into the big wide world.
Honestly,you really need to do a paperback book/magazine of some sorts.
Am sure many on here would pay a few pennies for more of your tales.

10-15-2007, 07:13 PM
I'd buy that book :)

10-15-2007, 07:20 PM
Well shall we sign a petition to get this guys works printed up?
I will!!!
Infact...sign below the dotted line........................................:handc lap:

brian daley
10-16-2007, 09:55 PM
I really wanted a pair of "longies" for Christmas '53,but it was not to be,there was some unwritten law,"Thou shalt wear short trousers until your plums drop" or something like that.Iwas going to be 12 in May and I wanted to look "older".One of the kids in the square,Georgie Hogg,was so way ahead of all of us 12 year olds because his Mum ,who'd been to America,came back with a full yankee outfit for him, Wrangler jeans,baseball boots,tartan shirt and a hand tooled leather belt.We were green with envy.You only saw kids dressed like that in the movies.We had to make do with our grey flannel pants and buttoned up jerseys.
Chris was getting stronger and I used to love cradling her in my arms to help get her to sleep.Jess was becoming a proper teenager.getting bumps in the right places and Bette was becoming a bit of a tomboy,nerves of steel ,she was up to everything,Dad was still a bit of a martinet with his brass inspections,no pocket money until the job was done properly,and Mum was being a homebody. We now had lino on the floor in the living room and a nice big rug,life was getting better by the week.
Winter eased into spring and summer was getting near and before you knew it,it was my birthday and........................I was given a pair of "longies"!! I can still feel them now,slipping them on in the bedroom,getting the braces just so that the turnups rested on the top of my shoes.The touch of the flannel on the back of my legs,the crease ,sharp and true,I was officially grown up.It felt great going to school,in a blazer and long grey trousers.And there was an even bigger surprise to come,they had also bought me a grown ups suit.It was a brown double breasted one ,I looked the business,Mum had good taste,she had got me a new shirt and a tie to match.Walking to Walton that Sunday ,with Dad in his Sunday best and me in my new suit,was a feeling that would stay with me forever.But the trouble with boys is that they grow,and how.It was'nt long before Mum had to let down the turn ups,she had a job to keep up with me.But we all of us kids were in the same boat.
I started looking round to see if I could get a good part time job,like a delivery boy,or a paper round ,they were like gold dust .As soon as a job became vacant,there would be ten boys queueing up to get it .I started getting a bit of work on Garston Market,helping the stall holders pack up and carrying thier baggage to the station.It was only a couple of times a week ,I used to do a weekday and a saturday,but I would make about 5 shillings a week.It was a shilling to get in the Empire cinema and 6d for an Orange Maid iced lolly,so it was'nt too bad.One of the stallholders,a Mr Phineas Cohen,had a haberdashery stall and let me work for him all day saturday for the princely sum of half a crown;I was still fetching and carrying for the other stallholders at the end of the day and so pulled in nearly 7 shillings for a days work.Magic.I was becoming financially indepedent,not quite a magnate,but better off than I'd ever been.It was decided to let me go to school camp,something that had been beyond my wildest dreams.To spend a week in Port Erin in the Isle of Man................here was the catch ,I had to pay for it myself,I was earning see.
I gave my Mum the lions share of my weekly earnings,leaving me with my picture money and a bit left over.Out of the money I gave Mum,she would give me some back on a Monday to make weekly payments to the camp holiday fund.One black Monday, she told me she could'nt afford to let me have anything as she was "broke".I was outraged,I'd given her 5 bob on Saturday,where had it gone?I'm sad to relate that I lost my temper and said words that a son should never say to his mother.
I slammed out of the house and made my way ,not to school,but to the Pier Head,I was running away.Mum had a job at Dunlops,and would'nt have known that her errant son was off to make his way inthe world.I knew where I was headed,LLandudno,not to Aunty Dollys',but to a cave that Will y had shown me all those years ago.I was going to stay there until I was a man ,and then come back and show them what I had become.Armed with my dinner money,I walked to the Pier Head and got the ferry to Birkenhead .I walked down the New Chester Road through Bromborough,where I bought a bag of broken biscuits for stores."I'd show 'em,they won't half feel sorry when they realise I'm gone."
I was walking through a little village called Neston ,when a Bobby on a bike came riding by.He passed me slowly,taking a long look at me ,and the turned full circle to come alongside me."What are you doing out of school son?" he asked,"I'm on holiday sir" I replied."There are no schools on Holiday around here,where have you come from?".I hesitated before replying and before I could say anything he said"You running away from home son?".I was dumbstruck,lost for words,I shook my head."Have a row with your Mum this morning?" he asked kindly."Don't you think you Mum wil be upset when she gets home and finds your not there.Filling up ,I nodded,trying to hide the tears."Come on with me,You look like you could do with a nice cup of tea and a cake".He got off his bike and pushed it along with his free hand resting on my shoulder.
As we walked to the station he told me of the time he had fallen out with his Mum when he was my age.By the time we got to the station he had put my world to rights and told me to say SORRY to Mum.
The Police station was small and welcoming,the desk sergeant telephoned Dulops and gave Mum the news and told her to come and collect me.It was hours before she turned up but the segeant magicked up some comics to keep me entertained until Mum arrived.
I was nervous when I heard her enter the station,the Bobby who had found me was talking to her and he was soon making her laugh.When she turned and saw me she gave me a rueful grin and said "Come here soft lad,you've caused me a lot of trouble" Waving goodbye to the sergeant she turned to me and said "Don't you tell anyone about this,'cos if your Dad finds out you can kiss your holiday goodbye".She bought me the Junior Express to read on the journey home and I knew that things were going to be alright.And I still had a bagful of broken biscuits!!

10-17-2007, 02:13 PM
Hello. Welcome :)

brian daley
10-18-2007, 10:14 PM
Changes were taking place in our little abode,added to the new 3 piece suite, lino and rug,was a new fireplace.Out went the iron masterpiece,and in came a "modern" fireplace,a little tiled affair that was easy on the eye,took up a lot less space and was easy to clean.The men who fitted it threw the old one over the landing,a drop of about forty feet,and it smashed to pieces when it landed.All we lacked now was a T.V. set.
Mum never told Dad of my "running away" episode and so my holiday was still on.As the time drew near they set about kitting me out for my week under canvas.Dad offered his advice as to what was the best equipment for me to take ,he'd been in the Army and knew about these things.So it was down to the Army and Navy Stores, by Lewis's for the kitting out.I kitbag,ex-army,1 set of eating utensils,ex-army,1 sleeping bag,large,ex-army.I was a bit embarassed because I was the only one in my tent who was done up like a private in the Pioneer Corps.
Soon the day arrived for our journey to the Isle of Man,Dad took me down to the landing stage and there were thousands of people milling about.We were going on the Ben My Chree,but the were other boats alongside as well,the King Orry and another one whse name has slipped my memory.The St Tudno was tied up a little way down from the Manx boats and the whole river was abuzz with ferry boats and tugs.The sky was slate grey with a fairly strong breeze ,but we were too excited to be put off by smal things such as the weather........we were going to sea!
Our teachers gathered us all together in the main hall and ticked us off on their lists,Dad waved goodbye from the doorway and then we were marched on down to the gangway,jostling and joking,the air electric with happy anticipations.There were other schools making the journey as well as families setting off for their annual holiday,teachers anxious for their charges,Mums and Dads,laden with kids and luggage,and sailors in blue jerseys making ready for our departure.The ship seemed like some fantastic beast ,you could feel it tremble,smell the fuel oil,hear the hum of its great generators And then there was a clanging of the telegraph and an almighty blast from the ships whistle,and the whole ship reverberated as the engines thrust into life.
Children rushed to the side to watch as we pulled away from the pier,this was it we were really on our way.I saw Dad,amongst a hundred other parents waving from the shore,it was a strange feeling ,leaving him there.
To sail down the Mersey was an unforgettable experience,looking back at the three Graces,those unmistakeable landmarks,sailing past the docks ,full of ships from the world over, the river itself was a mirror of the sky ,grey and uninviting.Seagulls wheeled and shrieked above us and the Red Ensign was cracking in the wind.Past Burbo Bank now and a gentle swell starts to make us move in a way that was new to us.I felt so alive,this was what I wanted to do forever.
As we began to gather speed,the movement became more pronounced and little faces started to turn green,soon we were rolling and dipping and big faces turned green too.The toilets were full of people heaving and retching but our small group seemed immune.For a small while we lost sight of land and that seemed to make some people worse,but the time flew by and Douglas appeared on the horizon in sharp silhouette.As we got nearer the excitement was palpable,this was our first trip abroad!
The decks filled with people who had been down below for the journey and the rails were crowded as everyone strained to take the scene in.
We were disembarked and on our way to the station in double quick time,no customs here,everything looked the same as Llandudno but was different too.
The trains were the first big difference,beautiful old steam engines,painted in green and gold with massive chimneys,brass rimmed,and a big bell housing in gleaming brass too ,the coaches were small but cosy,and very Victorian,it was as though time had stood still.There was a slamming of doors and a belching of steam ,Chugga chugga,and then we were off to Port Erin.We went through some of the most picturesque places,Rushen stands out in my mind ,being ablaze with floral colour.It was raining and were off to a holiday under canvas,very few of knew what it would be like,those that did kept quiet.Nothing was going to spoil our enjoyment.
The camp was in a field alongside a kipper curing house,the farmer that owned the field,let the organisers have it at a special rate because of what we would leave behind.
Every year our school,and other schools too,had a fortnight booked so that the field was occupied for the whole summer.There were no toilet facilities,instead a large rectangular pit was dug,about 6 foot deep,3 foot wide and about 10 foot long.two large tree stumps were sunk into the ground at either end of the lenghth of it and a thin plank was nailed to them.This was our loo,and the contents were part payment to the farmer.!
If you were caught misbehaving,you were put on the bog squad whose job it was to keep the place clean,and keep the load level.Our group were forever on the bog squad.
Port Erin was an unspoiled little resort,pretty as a picture,with a perfect bay and Bradda Head standing sentinel.Our group were out first thing ,after a breakfast of porridge,thick and sweet,followed by a very tasty kipper,washed down with a cup of tea ,after which you swilled your eating eqipment in a bucket,made sure your tent was tidy and then the day was yours.No supervision,no guided tours or lectures,this was freedom with a capital F.
Mum and Dad had given me a pound spending money and I had saved twice that myself,so I was loaded.There were 2 other lads from the Tennies with me Joey Fergo and Jimmy Lothian,there was Eric Cran from under the bridge and a couple of other classmates so we were well set for a good time.And that is exactly what was had ,when it rained ,we went to the pictures,and when it was dry we went out for long walks or boat rides.
If it was too wet too go out we would sit in the tent and play games,one time,we must have exhausted all the games we knew ,for we found ourselves playing the most stupid game ever.Only a bored schoolboy could have thought it up.The rules were thus, one boy wielded a tent peg mallet as he knelt down,whilst another boy sat on the floor with his legs stretched out,The sitting boy had to scissor his legs open and closed while the other boy had to hit the ground between his legs with the mallet........Eric had to have his ankles strapped up for what remained of the holiday,he was hobbling for a week or two after we got back to Garston.Another prank they played was rubbing the tent canvas above some unsuspecting boys sleeping bag with a damp cloth.This allowed the rain to pour right through,Jimmy Lothian got soaked.And then someone had the bright idea of performing an ancient initiation ceremony.......on me!They whipped my kecks off and covered my meat and two veg with black polish,it was pouring down outside and I could'nt get out for a wash and so went to bed in my Pyjamas which got covered in it.
Our week came to an end all too soon,we had been fed like farm horses and had had kippers with every meal;when we packed for our return, we took boxes of them for our families .My kitbag needed a good airing afterwards.
Dad was there to meet me when we got back and I near made his ears bleed on the bus journey, there was so much to tell.
It was great going home, seeing my sisters as though I had been away for a year,Jess wanted to know all about it,and Mum wanted to know how I had managed to get my pyjamas in such a state.
I had a fund of memories from that time in Port Erin,and I never had another holiday until I returned to the Isle of Man 12 years later.
1954 still had some tricks up its' sleeves however.

brian daley
10-19-2007, 09:36 PM
While the summer holiday was still on, there was a day when I was left to take Chris out,I think our Jess had to go the wash house now that Mum was back at work.I had planned to go off with the lads as usual,but I couldn't wriggle out of it.So there I was,Chris, me, and her pushchair.I was standing in the square wondering where to go ,when Kenny Ford came by ,holding his little brother ,Danny,by the hand.I asked him if he wanted to walk to Oglet to see if there was anything about,you sometimes got things washed ashore,
one time we found a whole box of Brazil nuts.So off we went,it was a very grey day ,but it was dry.There were puddles eveywhere from yesterdays downpour but we were not bothered,the sand should be dry,it always was.
We walked down Window Lane,past the Bobbin works,down by the Bottle works and then on to the path above the shore that would take us through to Oglet.This path was atop a sandstone wall that looked like an old sea wall.It was about seven foot high and the path was about three foot wide and there was a chicken wire fence that ran along the back of the Bottle works.There was just enough room for a pushchair,there were puddles on the path and they seemed to be getting deeper.we could not go along the shore because it was filled with broken glass from the bottle works and there were a lot of large rocks up against the wall too.
We were about half way along the footpath when we came to a puddle too deep for the push chair.Kenny picked up Danny and walked along the top of the sandstone wall.I could not carry the chair with Chris in it because the wall was too narrow and the weight would be too heavy to attempt such a precarious walk.I took Chris out of her chair and told her to hold on to the fence while I carried the chair across the puddle.She nodded,smilingly,all of one year of age.I watched as she held on to the fence and then began my passage along the wall ,just as I had reached the other side I saw a look of horror come across Kennys' face.I turned and saw Chris standing on the edge of the wall.Dropping the pushchair on the dry path I ran back to the puddle to grab her..................................I was too late.I still recoil in fear as I recall her little black coated body,falling down to the rocks and glass below.Over and over she went,bouncing from rock to rock,landing with a sickening crunch in the mound of broken bottles.Heart thumping with fright for her,I jumped down and raced to her.She was lying face down,making a kitten like mewing sound.I turned her over and she looked up at me ,her little face showing shock and surprise................but no cuts or other injuries.I almost wept with relief,I'd nearly killed my beloved sister because I was foolish and unthinking.
We carried on our trip,and had an enjoyable time,but the experience marked me for life.
It was shortly after that that an old lady in the White Cottages died,she had lived by herself, but was not reclusive,she was always on her balcony watching the goings on below.
Her daughter came and made all the funeral arrangements,having her mother laid out in her coffin in the small front bedroom for people to come and pay their last respects.We watched as the trickle of adults passed through the doors and someone ,I can't remember who,thought it might be a good idea if we paid our last respects too.I had never seen a dead person and so went out of curiosity.We were allowed in and were a bit awe struck at the site of this old lady laying there like a waxwork.Word spread like wildfire,kids started coming from the other blocks to see the dead lady.Pretty soon word got out past the tenements and kids were coming up from all over Garston.By nighttime there was a queue right around the square,little kids,big kids, kids with sticks ,kids with macks tied around their necks like cloaks.Every manner of boy and girl was in that queue,and some of us paid our respects twice.
When I went the second time,the white silk coverlet that lay near face was blackened by the multitude of grubby fingers that had grasped it.
It was our mothers that brought the proceedings to a halt,shooing the strange kids away and taking us home out of it.
After the funeral life returned to its' normal pace.

We were playing in the square, just after our evening meal when I felt a tap on my shoulder,I turned and saw my Dads youngest sister Joan.This was midweek and late evening,what was she doing here?
"Granddad Mahers dead"she said abruptly,"Wheres your Dad?" I was shocked,my great granddad was dead,like that old lady.I couldn't believe that he was no more,that tough old bruiser who had sailed the seven seas and called me Brian Boru ,his stumpy hands would no longer squeeze a tune out of his concertina.I didn't even know he was ill.
I never went to the funeral and in a short while he had passed into history.
As winter neared Dad became very ill and it was my turn to go to my Nins with a message from my Mum,he was very,very ill.
Doctor Gibson was again the ministering angel,because Dad was too ill to be moved the good doctor treated him at home.
I remember the note Mum gave me to take to Nins,it said that he had developed pneumonia and was hallucinating.I didn't really understand the last word,all I knew was that he would cry out loud that strange things were happening.
It was while he was ill that I had my next brush with death;I was on the 86 bus going to town to get a few messages for Mum.It was a a very rainy day and I was sitting in my favourite seat,top floor ,front, on the drivers side.We had just entered the bottom of Smithdown Road, and were coming toward the stop by the Home and Colonial,when a lady wearing a green gabardine mac with the hood pulled down over her face,stepped into the road.
Right into the path of the bus.I watched it all with horror,the bus swerved in an attempt to miss her .People screamed ,there was a sickening thud,and we screeched to a halt.The conductor came upstairs and asked us to stay in our seats.The adults talked hurriedly amongst themselves,no one had seen what had happened,crowds gathered round the bus,but we were above the tumult and could only hear what was happeing beneath us.
Soon the police arrived and began asking if anybody had seen what had occurred,heads were shaken and the policemen were turning to go downstairs when I found myself saying "I saw it ,I saw what happened ".A big segeant came and took my address and left me to carry on .
I didn't think to tell Mum about it when I got home ,she had enough on her plate with Dad.About seven o'clock that evening the front door was rattled so loudly that it woke Dad out of his slumbers,Mum hurried to the door to find two poicemen standing there."Mrs Daley,is your son Brian in?" one of them asked.Dad was calling out "Who's at the door Jessie?"" No one Billy,just some men for Brian" ,"What bloody men?" he cried. "We,re from the police,Mr Daley" one of them said,not knowing of Dads' condition.What father said then could not be published in this missive ,suffice to say that the policemen
took heed of mothers gestures and shut up.They assured her that I wasn't in trouble and just wanted a statement from me as witness to a fatal accident .I sat with them and related what I had seen,all the while with Dad raging from the bedroom.
A few weeks later I received a letter from the police thanking me for my statement and life was starting to return to normal,well almost normal......Maggie Brown had moved into the Tennies.!!!

brian daley
10-19-2007, 10:55 PM
Lindylou,Zappa and all you other kind folk,
thanks for showing an interest in my writing,it is something that I feel driven to do.Not for the want of fame or fortune,there is no chance of that.But to record the events of my life so that I might understand what it has been about,to bury old ghosts' ,and to rejoice in the memories of those loved ones who are no longer here.
I was given a wake up call this February when my number very nearly came up.I realised that I could have gone without my grandchildren ever really knowing from whence they sprang.I would never be brave enough to sit and write a book,but sitting here ,talking to you via my keyboard,helps me nail those memorys' to the page.Thank you once again for your kind support.
With Love and Peace

10-19-2007, 11:38 PM
Keep it going Brian.:handclap:

brian daley
10-21-2007, 06:57 PM
Horrocks Avenue was shaping up into a nice little estate,there were a mixture of houses,3 bedroom family houses and pensioners cottages.There was a school being built,Blessed John Almonds,a Roman Catholic secondary modern.
This new estate began to have an effect on our square because some of the older families,whose children had grown up and left home,were rehoused on that estate.New families moved into the vacated flats and ,slowly,but surely ,our little world began to change.
We had a new family move both below and above us,the ones' above were boisterous and not too neighbourly,and the family in the flat below us were a really tragic little group.The mother was heavily pregnant when they moved in and when she went into labour ,she suffered a massive stroke that left her paralysed down one side of her body.
Her husband left her shortly after,leaving her to bring 2 small children entirely on her own.She was hardly ever seen outside her door and no sounds were ever heard from her house except for the crying of her children.
Even now I can see that sad little woman,one side of her face hanging limp like a clowns sad smile,holding her baby in her good arm ,dragging her crippled body as she shuffled her way to the door.She ,obviously,could not join in the cleaning rota for the stairways,the woman above us wouldn't join in,she said "It is'nt my job!".And so the stairs started to get grubby.It was something that was happening to the whole block,pride was going and so was the community spirit.In the autumn of that year, a coach was being organised for a trip to Blackpool Illuminations.Normally it would have meant having to book a big coach because so many people would want to go.Not this year folks,with so many of the old community gone,very few new ones wanted to join in.We got just enough people for a smaller coach,there were about 30 of us.It was a few weeks away yet and we had to start saving the coppers,it was just Mums and Kids ,the Dads would be down at the Gay Cavalier.
Maggie had been in the Tennies a while now,she was the reason Mum was able to work at Dunlops,she had our Chris during schooltime,she only lived around the corner, so Jess,or me , would take her there and bring her back.
Our relationships with her daughters had changed,they were quieter,the house was smaller,and Eddie hadn't come with them.Maggie was still a madcap though,when she came around to see Mum,she would have her in fits of laughter with her tales;Dad never liked her coming round,it reminded him of the Time they had been split up.
Joey Fergo,who I had always thought of as being a mate,started to change,he was a year older than me,his features started to harden ,as did his attitude,he used to set boys against each other,had a knack for starting fights so that he could watch us knock lumps off each other.
Now this kid upstairs,he wasn't coming on the coach to Blackpool,nor was Joe,so they started to take the mickey out of those who were going.
I put up with Joes insults,I couldn't beat him ina fight,but the kid upstairs? I was'nt going to take any s==t from him. I told to stop the mickey taking or I give him something to think about.
Word got back to Joe,and subsequent events showed me what a real piece of work he had become.He knew that I picked up our Chris from Maggies on the way home from school,and it was while I was doing just that one evening that Joe and his cronys' met me at the bottom of the stairs by Maggies.I was holding our Chris and they egged the kid from upstairs to have a go at me.
I told them to wait until I had taken Chris home,but Joe wanted blood,now! We were by the pavement edge when he jumped me,I'm trying to stop my baby sister from going into the road and this swine is not giving any quarter.I took a beating but got Chris safely home.I felt terrible,the boy I had thought of as a friend had just engineered a crushing humiliation on me.
I waited until I got the kid upstairs alone,it was only a day later,and I gave him back in aces what he had given me that awful day.I realised that he was a coward and treated him as such ever after.Joe faded out of our existence,he didn't live in our square anyway.That coach trip?It was brilliant,there was John Tillett,Frank Lloyd and me,we had as good a time as you could with a pound,we even made a record,Frankie Laines "Water".Cost a shilling in the little booth by the pier,I didn't have a record player so I never heard what it sounded like.I never went to Blackpool again until 1973. Not that I didn't want to ,but thats another story.

10-21-2007, 08:38 PM
Hi Brian, just started to read your stories they are brill :handclap: and i agree with the others you should try get them published as mant poeple out there who dont have a pc would love to hear them.
oh by the way wierd coincidence my hubbies name is Brian Daly lol
Look forwrd to more from you
Scousette X

brian daley
10-23-2007, 10:18 PM
I was starting to enjoy school now that we had a new form master.His name was Mr Reed,a man of infinite wisdom with a unique sense of humour.
Picture a man who looked like Eric Morecombe,with the build of Ronnie Barker,and it will help you to visualise Mr Reed.He could control his class of adolescents with hardly any recourse to the cane ,or other punishments.
We knew he wasn't a pushover,he was firm and fair ,but also very funny.
He was a dapper person,wore three piece suits,with a matching tie and handkerchief ,and his shoes gleamed .Using chalk had given him a form of eczema and so he always wore white gloves,which seemed to add to his authority.He took us for maths ,english and history.Literature was then a part of the english lesson and Pop Reed made those periods so enjoyable that they became a thing to be looked forward to.He would read to us.I know it sounds simple,but he would take books like David Copperfield or Ill Met by Moonlight ,and make those pages come alive for us.It was through him that I came to know Mr Micawber,John Ridd,Masterman Ready and hundreds of other characters that live within the pages of those old classics.
I can recall those golden afternoons,chin on hands,resting on my desk ,watching the dust motes glistening in the shafts of sunlight,my mind on some distant coral strand ,as old Pop took us on another verbal adventure.
Sometimes,in those moments when you are changing from one lesson to another,he would sit with his newspaper and read out items that were never on the page.Holding the paper up to his nose you would hear him mutter things like,"Hmm..car drops dead in high street...",or "House falls through window,police informed." I was unaware of Beachcomber at that time,but when I discovered him years later,I was much minded of old Pop Reed.

We used to have an examination at thirteen in those days,it gave you a second chance to gain a scholarship to a grammar school.Well,I never took the 11 plus and now I missed the 13 plus,not that I would have passed it mind.
I missed because I was beset by a plague of boils.And an abcess.They seemed to appear overnight on my right arm ,just below the elbow.There was this huge abcess ,upon which were eight boils.A red,glowing mountain with nine yellow pustules.You could have heated a room with that arm.The good Doctor Gibson arranged for me to be taken to Myrtle Street hospital to have them seen to.Dad had to take me because they were going to give me an anasthaetic.This was duly done and I was off school for the week with my arm in a sling.I had to go back at the end of the week to get the dressing changed.There was standing room only in the outpatients that morning, next to me was a little lady who had two small boys with her.My arm was in a sling and she asked what had happened to me,I told her about my boils and near sent her to sleep.The sister came around and told us that we would have to assist the nurses by removing our own dressings because they were so busy.I quickly stripped off my bandage and saw that there was a piece of something sticking out of a hole where the abcess had been.It was multi coloured,green ,red ,yellow and yuck...I was staring at it,fascinated as to what it could be,when the sister came by again"Just pull it out boy" she said.
I did ,all 18 inches of it,covered in gore.There was a sigh and a bump beside me,the little lady passed out cold at the sight of it.I was going to ask the nurse if I could take it home to show my mates,you know how pre-teenage boys are.

One mans rubbish can be another mans treasure,and I found this to be a truth when the council opened a tip at the back of the Tennies.You could'nt imagine it being allowed today,but they had a rubbish tip within hundreds of yards of our homes.The adults were outraged,we kids were not.Although our families only dumped rubbish ,there were those who dumped anything that was superflous to their needs.And we kids were there to harvest such things.This was in the days before the HSE and political correctness,the tip men never chased us off,we would stand there as the bin wagons disgorged their loads and then dive in, rummaging like mad before the next wagon was ready to tip.I found a miners helmet which I kept for years,lots of old toys and books,some times you would get gems,like when I found some very early American movie magazines.Soon ,there were loads of kids sifting through the rubbish and it began to attract the attention of the police.
They would let you pass unheeded if they thought you didn't have anything of value,just warn you that you shouldn't be doing that etc.etc.
One night I struck gold,there was a huge leather bound book laying atop a heap of freshly dumped rubbish.I hurriedly picked it up thinking it was an old family bible.It was huge,about 12 inches long ,8 inches wide and 6 inches thick.The leather cover had a golden coat of arms on the front,and on the spine,in gilt,was written"A History Of Clan Tartans".The pages were vellum and it was hand written ,in the most beautiful copperplate,rather like the old white five pound notes.On pages that were made of a thicker paper,were attached pieces of tartan cloth which were covered in a kind of tissue paper.
It was the most wonderful book I had ever held in my hands.Not wishing it to come to further harm,I made my way home to show it to my parents.The two policemen were on duty as usual and ,as I passed,one them reached out and snatched the book. "We could 'ave you for this lad" he said,putting it under his arm,he turned to go"Now get off home before I do yer". I felt gutted.
The tip soon lost its' magic after that,there were lots of other distractions for a boy then though .
Some of our mates joined the cadets,I can't recall anyone from the square joining the scouts or the boys brigade,that seemed to be a bit of a middle class thing.We were a mixed bunch really,catholics and protestants,without any of the tribal aggro that you got in Walton or Everton;remember ,I came from a mixed background where religion counted,but it wasn't like that in Garston.There was the Orange Lodge,and on the 12th of July some of the catholics would go on the coaches with their protestant friends for the knees up in Southport.I never saw any violence in the village when the bands were marching,we'd all be on the pavement enjoying the colourful parade.
And Garston loved its' parades.The annual carnival was always a sight to behold,the different churches,streets,clubs and assorted groupings would create the most wonderful floats,bedecked with flowers and bunting and accompanied by brass bands, pipe bands,and the ever hilarious Woodcutters Band,they would make their way through the village,cementing the bonds of the village community.
I suppose it must have rained sometimes,but I can only recall the sunshine and the bright,bright summer days.
But here we are at the end of another year,Christmas is upon us and there is much to be done.No toys this year,books ,pencils ,cartridge pad and clothes.I wish I'd got a bike, but none of my mates did either, so I was far from deprived.
!955,our Jess would soon be leaving school............

brian daley
10-27-2007, 03:19 PM
Grandma now had a t.v. set,as did a lot of my classmates families,the newspapers carried lots of stories about the programmes and the new television stars.We were missing out,but I couldn't quite see what it was that we were missing.When I went to Grandmas ,on a Sunday,I would see programmes like "Animal Vegetable Mineral" which had professors guessing what objects had been laid before them.Sir Mortimer Wheeler,Professor Joad,Marghanita Laski and other divers characters peopled these shows,and they were popular! But only because there was the one channel.There was always a childrens play on a Sunday,as well as Sooty and Sweep.Most of the good stuff seemed to be on in the week,which we never saw because we never had a television.And then one day Mum got Jess and me together and proposed that we get our own t.v.set.We would have to contribute towards it,but it would be like being able to go to the pictures every day.Sold!!
She went off to arrange an HP deal with Pools(shudder),and within a week they delivered the most wonderful looking television set.It was like a small wardrobe,finished in polished mahogany,it had two doors,behind which was a 17 inch screen.It was a wonderful piece of furniture...literally.When the man installed it, he got a picture of the test card on screen ,switched it off ,and then told us that broadcasts would start after 3-00p.m
We waited for Dad to get home so that he would have the pleasure of launching the Daleys into the T.V. age.
As soon as we had cleared away the evening meal,Dad switched on the box.
Zilch,there was nothing but snow on the screen and loud noises from the speakers.
Jess had to call Pools out to get things sorted,days later,the man turns up,twiddles the knobs,gets the test card,and goes away again.That night was a rerun of our first night,and so it went for many more weeks(I find it hard to believe that people put up with such poor service then ,but they did)
Pools would not take the set back,Mum wouldn't pay them,we were missing programmes.I phoned Pools,I told them that their set was being put on the landing and they would have to get it before the local kids did.It was gone within hours ,and Mum went to Radio Rentals.
Prior to possessing a t.v.,Mum and Dad would go out every Saturday,leaving Jess to watch over us.They would go out with friends and relatives to places like the Coffee House in Woolton. It was always jars out after closing time,and they would come back to our house for a pea soup and spare rib supper.There was always a crate or two for wetting the tonsils,and everybody used to give us their favourite song;quite often Jess and I would be fetched out if bed to sing a song or three.
Television killed all that stone dead.
Mum would stop at home from now on,there would be a big bag of toffees,and all, except Dad, would sit down in front of the box for our evenings entertainment. Dad would get togged up as usual and go off on his own to get bladdered.He always came home with the War Cry in his pocket.
What was it that kept us glued to the Box on a Saturday?Well,there was a thriller serial at about half past seven,"The Quatermass Experiment" and "The Trollenberg Terror" are two that I remember.We were so frightened of them that we checked under the bed before going to sleep.There was a series of "Saturday Spectaculars" which were variety shows hosted by stars like Eric Sykes,Dave King,Jon Pertwee,and others.Except for Jon Pertwees,most shows were just stage shows,with jugglers,ventriloquists,etc.Jon used to have some filmed sketches as well.Broadcasting stopped well before midnight,and so we would be in bed by the time Dad got back.

Mum staying at home enabled Jess to get out and start enjoying her teenage.
She was now a very pretty young lady,with a string of admirers and some very nice mates,with whom I was constantly developing crushes,not that they ever knew it,pre-teen age boys didn't appear on teenaged girls radar.
There were very few lads over the age of eighteen about now,I was beginning to become aware of a thing called National Service.Something my Dad was always saying we could do with.Apparently they made men out of you,it certainly changed the older lads in our gang.Teddy boys went in and would come home on their first leave.....unrecognisable.Short haired,with a Khaki uniform that had creases that were razor sharp ,and shiny boots to match.They were smart,and Dad used to point them out as examples.

Our Jess would have gone to college in another life,she had the brains for it ,and the aptitude,I was like Eeyore beside her.But school leaving time was here and Jess was going to work,in the Matchworks.
The first working day after Easter !955 saw our Jess,with a fresh white turban and an emerald green overall,join in the throng that responded to the works hooter.Out along the landings they flooded ,a green and white tide surging across Speke Road to begin another working day.For Jess ,it was the first step on the road to independence.

It was now my job to see to the fetching and and carrying of Chris to Maggie Browns.It was not much bother to me because I did it on the way to and from school.
It was around this time that my Mums younger brother, Frank ,came to see us .He was living at Grandmas with his wife Vera and their three children,life was a bit crowded for them there and he was so excited because the railway were going to let him have one of their trackside cottages by South Liverpool cemetery. It was very isolated,reached only by a long cinder track that ran between the cemetery and the wall that protected the railway track and property.The gate to their cottage was set in the wall about a third of a mile from Horrocks avenue.When they moved in ,Uncle Frank invited me over and showed me around.It was wonderful,there were vast expanses of growing areas ,and it was all his.The wall shielded the property the whole length of the lane.Frank was so excited as he mapped out the land with his hands,"We'll have potatoes there ,and cabbage,over there I'll plant beans and peas.Here we'll have a flower garden and we'll clear some ground for a play area." I was swept along with his enthusiasm and promised to help as much as I could. The cottage itself was very Victorian,there was room enough for all his family but it was old fashioned.Vera and Frank would have their work cut out for a few years before they would make any headway.

In the meantime ,I was still on the lookout for a regular source of income.And most jobs for schoolboys involved the need to ride a bike.Problem.I had never had a bike,nor could I ride one.
One of my classmates had a commando bike,these were made during the war for our special forces,they were fold up bikes and had a double crossbar.But they were bikes and I would have been glad to have one,however on this day,Ray let me have a go at riding his bike.I got it in motion,very shakily,but momentum ironed out the wobble ,and soon I was riding.I didn't see the kerb until it was too late.The front wheel hit it and I shot forward on to the double crossbar crushing the crown jewels.I hobbled home,covered in embarassment,for some of the girls from Duncombe Road school had seen my mishap.
When I went to the lavatory that night ,I saw that my stool was bright red.I didn't wish to alarm my Mum an kept quiet about it.Next morning ,it was the same bright red colour.After dropping Chris off at Maggies,I went to see Doctor Gibson,who promptly ordered an ambulance to take me to Myrtle Street hospital.I was pushed and pulled ,and given a good old examination,but they were puzzled as to why I was making bright red stools.
They gave me a note to come back next day,with a parent,or guardian ,so that I could have an X-ray.Mum asked Maggie if she could go with me and she said o.k.
Next day I was mortified when Maggie sat in the room whilst the doctors pulled my meat and two veg this way and that.The X-ray was taken and the doctors were looking at it,trying to see what was wrong,when I reached into my pocket for the bag of sweets that I had there for the past three days.
I was just putting an aniseed ball into my mouth when the doctor looked at me."How long have you had them for?" he shouted.I told him and I thought he was going to hit me,but he burst out laughing instead."Go home boy " he said.And I walked out with a familliar burning of cheeks.
Maggie couldn't wait to tell Mum,she also told her something else"You Know his willy isn't any bigger than it was when I caught him waggling it at our Rose 8 years ago.I wanted the floor to open up beneath me.

brian daley
10-29-2007, 09:30 PM
1955 was skidding past so fast it was hard to keep track of things,I was thirteen and a bit and the old Adam in me was beginning to make itself felt.
The voice was thirst thing to change,going from a boy soprano to a squeaky,uncertain croak,the spots bursting out in crucial places.Adolescence was a terrible price to pay for the journey into manhood.Which was still a long way off.
At school we had had showers installed and it was mandatory to use them after sports.That 12 months difference became very obvious when I was in the showers with the rest of my class.......................I was the pubeless one.I wished to god for at least one or two little follicles to start sprouting,instead I was greeted with cries of baldy b++++++s,whenever I showed up.You just had to laugh along with them or you'd go under.
I was mates with 3 lads from Woolton now,Joey Lewis,Billy Dawber and Reggie Owen.We were four very different characters.Joey,loved the Teddy boy style,but would never dare dress like that,had a machinegun style of patter and a very sharp wit,Reggie,he was always dressed very conventially,school uniform and hair very neat and tidy,but game for a laugh and a joke.And Billy,almost a mirror image of me,no school uniform,hair and clothes unkempt,but the funniest of the four of us.Dinnertime would find us spending our school dinner money on a vienna loaf from the bakers,always hot and crusty,we would bite the end off it and hollow it out(eating the removed innards),and then we would go to the chip shop and get threepennorth of chips, which we would pack onto the hollowed out loaf.Sheer bliss,I would love to do that one more time before I die!
With our change,all this was out of a shilling,we would buy a chocolate cigar from the sweet shop and then meander up to the golf course or Woolton park.
There were some beautiful chestnut trees on the Woolton side of Heath Road and boys from our school had gathered their conkers from them for generations past.
It was at such a time that one our of class mates,Googy Mills,climbed high up one of the bigger trees and fell.We were shocked to find that he had died ,it's a cliche ,but he really was a nice kid.
The whole school went into mourning for Googy,he was an all round sportsman,and a proper lad,he was greatly missed.
We four ,on the other hand,were all round wastrels,not one of us was in a team,we were always amongst the last in cross country races and were never picked for teams,kids in leg irons had a better chance than us!
So,what were we good at?......................Enjoying ourselves.I count those dinner time walks as being amongst the best times of my school life.I was only sad that the four of us didn't live closer so that we could spend more time together.
We would discuss what we had seen at the pictures,Joey would practically re-enact whole films for us,talk about our favourite radio shows,The Goon Show being top favourite,with Ray's a Laugh coming a close second.Television did'nt feature much in our conversations,there wasn't really that much on then,ITV was not yet born.
Sex raised it's head,quite literally,in the dying months of '55.Our class had a boy from a well known orphanage join us.He appeared to be a lot older than the rest of us ,worldly wise and full of new swear words,and we thought we knew them all,he was contemptuous of all the masters and pushed them to their limits.One afternoon,we were in a maths class taken by Mr.Blease,a man of great age,looked like Degaulle without a moustache,but must have been 70 or so.When we went to his class,we four would always sit on the back row,so that we could have a laugh.This time the orphan was in our midst.Midway during the lesson,he put up the lid of his desk,pulled out his willy,we thought he was going to pee in to the desk,but he shocked us by doing something we had never seen before.We could't fathom out what the hell was going on,he was groaning and grunting and all the while fiddling,and then of a sudden he stopped,with a dopey look on his face.Blimey!Old Mr. Blease hadn't noticed a thing,but the whole back row had just undergone a rite of passage.
A short while later I underwent another rite of passage.It was when I took our Chris around to Maggies for her babysitting stint.I knocked on the door as usual and one of the twins,John or Paul,I could never tell them apart,opened the door and told me to take Chris into the bedroom,pointing to which one.I went in and saw Maggie sitting on the bed in all her naked glory.This was the first truly naked woman I had ever seen,I didn't rush out,I couldn't.I was transfixed,she was so voluptuous,I just drank in the vision,seeing everything that had heretofore been a mystery.Womanhood.She threw a towel at me and told me to scarper.I limped to school in a dream.
When she came round for her money on Friday ,she told Mum that I wasn't such a little feller after all.

Did you ever look in the larder and notice that there was something there that had been there forever?Being a bit of a gannet I was always on the lookout for a surplus bit of grub.Now there was a Peak Freans christmas pudding that had been on the back shelf forever,well since last christmas at least.My bedroom was at the rear of the hallway,but our Jess's was next door to the larder and ,for reasons that I have long forgotten, I was put In Jess's room for one night while she was away.Next door to the larder!
When everyone was safely abed,I snuck out to the larder and lifted the pudding.I unwrapped it and got stuck in.Bit of a job eating an uncooked pudding,I managed to put away half of it,and ,forgetting I was in Jess's room,chucked the remains out of the window.Instead of landing on the green below,they landed just to the left of the front door step.Next morning I was awakened by Mum,holding the half eaten pudding,I never knew she had such a salty vocabulary.Good job she didn't tell Dad.

brian daley
11-10-2007, 01:58 PM
My search for work was unceasing,I wanted to have a bicycle like most of the kids I knew,but I knew that I was going to have to get one myself,it was out of the question to ask Mum or Dad for one.
By late '55 I was working full time on a Saturday for Mr. Cohen in Garston Market,as well as doing the baggage carrying on a Tuesday for two other stall holders.It gave me enough for the pictures and my comic books after Mum had taken her 7/6d off me.(37.5p).
One of the lads in our class worked for Appletons hardware store as a delivery boy,and ,knowing that I was looking for just such a job,informed me that he would be leaving school at Christmas and that I should apply for his job.
I was down at the shop as soon as I could get there,the manager,Mr. Moore was a very smartly dressed man of about 30,he wore a starched collar and his tie was done in a perfect knot.He gave me the once over,asked me a stack of questions,you would have thought I was applying to join the police!
He never asked if I could ride a bike though,and I never told him I couldn't,(after that crossbar incident on the commando bike I had never been near a bike)
As soon as school broke up for Christmas,Roy left Appletons and I reported for duty on the Saturday.
I was given a brush and told to sweep the main shop floor,and as the staff arrived,Mr Moore introduced me as the new lad.The staff consisted of three ladies,Mary,Barbara and Anne.Mary was silvery haired and had a very nice disposition,she became like an Aunty to me,Barbara had a beautiful face and a lovely figure,her blonde hair was styled like Lauren Bacalls,and she always wore a sensual perfume.But when she smiled...............,she hadn't got a tooth in her mouth!
Anne was about 16,she wore her hair in braids tied at the top of her head like a young fraulein,she had a wonderful complexion,blue eyes and nice red lips,but she was very,very chaste.Her family were strict christians and would not countenance any stylish dress or allow her to go dancing,she never complained,it was all the life she knew.
I came to love all three of those ladies during the course of the next two
years,Mr. Moore became,Ronnie after a little while and he and his family became very close to me during my youth.But I still haven't been out on a delivery yet!
It was during the morning that I was given my first delivery,a couple of tins of paint,bundles of wallpaper,paste,brushes and everything else required for a full decoration.Mr. Moore helped me load up my carrier,opened the back gate while I got the bike out and then,thank god,closed the gate and went back inside.What the hell was I going to do now?The shop was on St. Marys' Road,which was a slight hill going towards the crossroads at the bottom,apart from those tenuous few yards on the commando bike,I had no idea about getting started,I wheeled the bike around to the front of the shop and then down the road to the other side of the crossroads,just by the woolshop.The load made the bike heavy and hard to balance and I couldn't get my leg over the crossbar without it falling over.Phew,what the hell was I going to do?This delivery was for Speke and I was told to get back as quick as I could because there would be some more to do later on.There was a man my Dads age walking towards the Baths and I asked him if he could help me to get started.He laughed when I told him my story and eagerly jumped at the chance to get me mobile.Held the bike while I got mounted and then ran with me ,steadying me as I wobbled a bit,"Get pedalling now!" he shouted and I rode off toward Speke!
It felt marvellous,up past the Bus sheds,past Horrocks Avenue,struggled up over the railway bridge and then freewheeled down past the Tennies and Bryant and Mays.Those were the days when there was far less traffic about,I felt safe and when I came to the cycle track that ran along Speke Road I was on easy street.I practised braking and dismounting,I didn't want to land in a heap outside the customers house.The lady lived in Central Avenue and was so pleased when I arrived that she gave me sixpence as a tip. I flew back to the shop and did 2 more trips that day,getting another tip in the process.I was on 12 shillings a week ,Mum wanted 7/6d,and so ,with the tips, I would soon be a man of means .
That Christmas was the first that I was able to buy some gifts for my parents,not big gifts,ciggies for Dad and Black Magic chocolates for Mum,but it felt good being able to do it.
I still helped in the Market after I finished at Appletons and thus helped to swell my coffers by about another 5 shillings.
!956 saw me leaving the market jobs behind,Appletons were getting busier,which meant more deliveries,Mr Moores' wife,Mary had given birth to a little boy,Ronnie was his name and I sometimes babysat for them.Apart from my clothes,life was getting to be very good for me now,the clothes?..I was growing so fast that everything was too small for me in no time flat.Mum was despairing and resorted to buying second hand to help keep the costs down.
I can remember a suit she bought me ,it was about 30 years out of date,looked like the one Jimmy Cagney wore in Public Enemy.Double breasted ,with wide lapels and twenty inch bottoms on the trousers,this was my school suit,it was also my work suit and I pretty soon ruined it by getting the turn ups constantly meshed in the pedal chain.The bottom of my right trouser leg was an oily, ragged, mess.
By now I had my bike,it had a carrier and a name board under the crossbar,but it was a bike!Mr Mooore,or Ronnie as he was now known to me,let me take it home everyday.I rented a lock up by our block and used to keep it in there .I cleaned and polished it and gave it the occasional lick of paint,this was my independent mode of transport.There were a whole group of us order boys,Irwins,Pegrams,Dewhursts and the Co-Op to name just a few.We would swap tales and race each other,friendships were born among those young knights of the road.In my spare time, I would get a large cardboard box,an outer from the Kellogs cornflakes.This would sit snugly in my carrier and I would cut two small holes in the bottom and a larger,horizontal rectangular hole near the top.I put a cushion inside and,on top if this I would put my little sister Chris.She loved it,it was her car and we would go for long rides all over the place.
Jess was almost independent now,still at the Matchworks,but she wanted to see the world.Mum had become used to Jess's wages and she wasn't about to let her go off,she was sixteen.It was time for her to get a life of her own,she was desperate to join the Wrens,Dad was scathing,he was always telling us that life in the forces would do us both good ,but when Jess wanted to find that out first hand, he put the block on it.Jess tried to persuade him but he put his foot down and said that he didn't want his daughter becoming an officers groundsheet.That insult hurt our Jess,and it still hurts today,to think that her father had so little trust in her her own sense of propriety.
That same year a group of soldiers came to our school,they were recruiting for the Junior Army,(I was still a school year ahead of my real age and was in the class that would start leaving School in the summer),they showed a film and gave us forms to take home to our parents if we wanted to go there instead of going into a factory when we left school.I was dead keen,and wouldn't Dad be proud of me ,going off to become a soldier?
He hit the roof when I showed him the papers ,"who the Hell d'you think you are?" he shouted,"You're too soft to be in the Army"............Disappointed,I tore the forms up,but resolved that I would show him someday that I was not as soft as he thought I was.
There was only one boy out of our class who went into the Junior Army,David Hough was his name,the last time I saw him was in 1959,he looked great,every inch an officer type ,with his cravat,cavalry twill and desert boots.I often wonder what became of him.
But school still beckoned for me,and I was beginning to get concerned about the Big Lie,soon I would have to reveal that I was only 14 and not, as the rest of the class ,15.When I revealed my fears to Mum she told me that she had told Banks Road school my real age and that the class I had been put into there ,was the class I should have been in after the summer break.It was my fault...........................................,h ow was I going to explain all that to our headmaster,Mr Simpson,and man renown for his lack of humour.
At school assembly one morning,during the punishment period,he had two senior boys standing there awaiting the cane.He read out the "crimes" that they were accused of,one of which was smoking behind the bike sheds.
Glowering at them,he turned to the rest of us and thundered"SMOKING ,BEHIND THE BICYCLE SHEDS!!........I COULD UNDERSTAND IT IF THEY WERE GERMANS!!!!"
We kids were given a mental image of German kids walking around puffing on fags.An image that I found to be very untrue when I went there a few years later.
So how to tell this choleric old man that I was a fake?.....................Mum sat down and wrote him a long letter and told me to take it to him in person.
The very next day I asked Miss Pugh,his secretary,if I could have a word with Mr Simpson,she went in and asked ,and then came out and led me into his presence.Close up he was very poweful,he could have been a general or captain of industry,such was his persona.Looking over his halfmoon glasses,he asked what I wanted to tell him,tongue tied ,I handed him Mums letter.He took his paper knife and slowly cut it open,the only sounds to be heard were the cracking and spitting of the coal fire,and the thudding of my heart.
I watched as his eyes scanned Mums words.Slowly,but perceptibly,a smile started to appear on his face.And then he laughed,this fearsome man was laughing aloud.He put the letter down and looked up at me "Daley,this is wonderful,you now have the chance to catch up on you education!"I was amazed,no shouting,no punishment,what had Mum written?To this day I don't know,but whatever she wrote ,it worked.
That summer,all of my classmates would leave school and embark on their careers,I would have another year at Heath Road.
What would the future bring?

brian daley
11-15-2007, 09:59 PM
The period between Easter and Summer school holidays was long and I looked forward to the break with very mixed feelings,all of the boys I had spent the last four years with were about to go out into the great wide world to start their working life.I,on the other hand,was going to spend another school year,with boys who were near strangers to me,boys who were heretofore called"juniors".
There was no slacking off in my studies,I still had a lot of learning to do.
It was ironic in that I was still treated as a school leaver,when the class were taken on visits to the various factories that would be recruiting school leavers,I was always included.I did not like what I saw.We went to Dunlops,The Box company,Manesty's,Evans Medical and others.I could'nt see myself stuck at a lathe or welding machine for days on end.Besides my Dad wanted me to be apprenticed to him at the ROF.God,he was bad enough at home with his sergeant majors ways,there was no way that I could work under him.I would be forever disappointing him.
I liked metal work though,we went to a prefab type building in Horrocks Avenue for our weekly sessions.Unlike my pathetic woodworking skills,metalwork was something I understood and liked.
The first thing I ever made was a key fob,just a little copper tag,pierced with a hole at one end;we covered it in wax and scratched the name of the recipient on it.I wrote my Dads name,we then dipped it in acid and the name was etched sharply in to the metal.I took it home and gave it to Dad,he looked at it,turning it this way and that,and then said "You left it too long in the acid,you'd a got a better finish.................."He saw my face and never did finish that sentence.I never took anything I made home after that,I made shovels,lampstands,a beautiful multicoloured poker and a coffee table.I gave them all to my boss at Appletons,he and his wife Mary always made a fuss when I gave them something.But life has a way of showing us how wrong our assumptions can be,when my Dad was dying in hospital,I was sitting with him and he reached into his bedside drawer and pulled out his wallet.He took out the key tag and handed it to me.................he'd kept it close to him for more than forty years.What fools we men can be,that summed up our whole relationship,never saying what we really felt,letting our heads rule our hearts.
But I digress,back then ,in '56,life was changing,and so was the music,skiffle was all the rage,we had 6,5 Special on a Saturday night and jive was the dance to learn.Our Jess loved dancing and was an ace jiver,she had the pony tail,the waspy belt,the chiffon choker..............and a trail of boyfriends.
We saw less and less of her now,she was always out,and Mum worked at the Matchworks with her now.Chris was three and Bette was nine and a bit,our Bette was lumbered with the job of picking Chris up from Maggie Browns now because I used to go to Appletons straight from school.I did'nt have time forthe Market now and,anyway I'd got myself a Sunday morning job delivering papers for Thompsons,the paper shop across the road from the fire station.I got 7/6d for a two hour round ,I was getting to be able to afford to buy some clothes now,out of Freemans catalogue!
Mum was embarrassed by my my ragbag appearance,I remember one Saturday when she was going to a wedding reception,I was pushing my bike out of Appletons yard when she was walking past the street I was in,there she is,striding up St.Marys Road,dolled up to the nines in her big fur coat,surrounded by her mates,all in their glad rags too,when this ragged urchin calls out "Where are yer gowin Mam!!?"She near died of embarassment,she fluttered her hand and smiled ,pushing her mates forward.I twigged,but not a moment too soon.
Another time I was tootling along on my order bike,I turned left off St Marys Road to take a short cut past the Empire,when I runs into a pack of screaming females,our Jess's mate Brenda amongst them.What the hell was up?They were jumping and yelling,some were crying!And then I saw why,Frankie Vaughan was signing copies of his latest hit in the record shop.
Shirley Bassey was there a few months later.It was'nt rock and roll but it was pop and it was coming eveywhere.
There was a little cafe on the road up to Garston Park and it was around this time that the owner installed a Bal Ami juke box.America had arrived in Garston!! The place was packed out everynight,6d got you a cup of coffee and a shilling got you four records on the box,it even took threepenny bits.I can ramember going in with Frankie Williams and finding the place full of semi Teds,they had the hair styles but no suits,I went straight over to the juke box and stuck me 3d in ,picked a record,Lonnie Donegans Rock Island Line,this immediately began to play and I was subjected to murderous threats by this enormous kid Because he had just put a shilling in and my record played before any of his.Frank and I retired gracefully,zapping off to the Lyceum to lie low for a few hours .
The Lyceum,a place of learning as the Greeks would have it ,not that place though.It was a flea pit,the screen was full of patches and the seats were so uncomfortable.It never showed the top films,I don't suppose it could afford them.But that was the place I saw the original King Kong,a fantastic film,they showed all the X rated and H rated films,so fleabitten though it was,it was never empty.And it had one thing the Empire never had,love seats.Double seats where you could sit and canoodle,sometimes the action in those seats was better than that on screen.
I spent many a happy ,if unhealthy hour,watching life in all its glory from the
shilling seats in the Lyceum.

We had a new teacher now,one who would colour the world a little differently,he was an ex Merchant Navy officer.

brian daley
11-16-2007, 12:56 PM
I hated maths,couldn't see the point of filling a bath with holes in to see how long it would take,algebra,logarithms,triginometry,it was all chinese to me.I used to spend blissful hours at the maths desk,counting the dust motes as they glistened in the shafts of sunlight,dreaming of distant coral strands where the surf broke on golden beaches and palm trees swayed in the gentle breeze.My maths results reflected the attention paid during the lesson.7 out of a hundred was my usual score.Our new maths teachers had no more chance of gaining my attention to the matter in hand than I had of flying to the moon,but he did succeed in one thing.He determined me on a seagoing career,to the exclusion of everything else!
Mr Pomfrey was not a young man,nor was he handsome or well built,he was portly and not very tall,but he was magnetic when you got him onto the subject of ships and the sea.
The maths lessons for Form 4b became a history of Mr Pomfreys' life aboard the ships of the Merchant Navy,through him we learned of the best ports in the world for a sailor,what life was like in Shanghai before the war,what burgoo was(porridge),that ceilings were deckheads,that boys were peggys' and that the 12 to 4 watch was the best watch of all.He taught us Masefield,"Dirty British coaster with a salt caked smoke stack,ploughing through the channel on a mad March day.He related mathematics to his time as a 2nd mate,and illustrated the uses of logarithms and all the other disciplines,their applications in navigation and other trades.All I learned was that there were ports called Nombre de Dios,Belawan,Trincomalee,that there were oceans where flying fish skimmed the waves,that the best beef steaks were to be had in Buenos Aires and that a Captains word was law.
Through him I began to take a greater interest in ships and the men who sailed on them,Granddad Hengler was an old salt and had worked for Cunard and the White Star.He'd been at sea through the Great War and gave little glimpses of what life had been like then.Uncle Charlie was still at sea,he was a cook and when he came home he would light up the street with his laughter and tickle our palates with his home made Yankee doughnuts,just the sight of him was advert enough for the M.N.,always tanned ,with a gleaming set of teeth and a roguish twinkle in his eye,he was every inch a Jolly Jack.
In Garston you would the the seamen going to the pubs ,with their pockets full of tin,wearing yankee denims that were sea blue,T shirts , tartan shirts and open, suntanned faces.They stood out from the pasty faced locals and I couldn't wait to be like them.But you had to 16 before you could apply to go to the training school and that was a little way off yet.

I had to get on with the jobs I already had,I enjoyed both of them,the one at Appletons was the best because I was always out on the road ,as long as I got my deliveries done Ronnie left me pretty much to do what I wanted.
There was the odd time or two when I wondered if I was in the right job though...................like the time he asked me to deliver a dustbin to Speke.
The bin filled the whole of my basket if it was stood upright,the problem was ,you could not see where you were going,always essential if you are on the road.He laid it across the basket,this enabled me to see but gave me limited use of the handle bars for steering.He decided that the latter way was the only way I was going to manage,and so he made it fast to the carrier and helped me out into the street, where I mounted and set off on my journey.It was like learning to ride all over again,the steering was so limited and if I moved the 'bars too much they would bounce off the other side of the bin and cause me to veer wildly.And all this was while I was still outside the shop!
I got out in to St Marys Road and headed downhill,the handle bars were rattling like hell and I couldn't control the steering..................I left the road,mounted the pavement and shot through Blackledges doorway at full speed ,hitting the cake counter and sending the staff into a panicked frenzy.I picked up my bike,with a dented bin and walked the ****ed thing to Speke.
The other time I had second thoughts was on a very cold winters day( I have already related this tale in my first postings)I had to do 2 deliveries to a Nursing Home in Grassendale,both trips would be with a fully laden carrier,quite weighty.The wind was blowing in the direction of Garston,from Grassendale!I was standing on those pedals almost the whole way there,the cold was making my teeth chatter,my hands were frozen and my legs were aching with the strain.When I got there ,dinner was being prepared,I got my load off and flew back to the shop with a following wind giving fillip to my efforts.The second load was even heavier than the the first,and the wind was still as biting,I arrived,almost blue with the cold,the Kitchen door was open and I could smell the hot food,aromas of steak and kidney puddings and boiled veg assailed my poor frozen nostrils.The cook seeing the hunger written acros my face,asked if I was hungry.My heart leapt as my head nodded yes,she disappeared in to the kitchen and returned"Ere yar lad " she said,handing me a solitary spring onion.
But ,happily, those were the only times that I questioned my job.

Meantime,Frank and Vera were settling in nicely in the railway cottage,there was still a lot to do in the garden and I loved having a go when I could ,not having a garden of our own.
Sundays were still spent visiting the relatives,I quite looked forward to it,as well as dinner at Grandmas,there was tea at Uncle Bills,he was a great story teller and a gadget man.He was always finding something that you did'nt know you could'nt live without ,and sometimes,if I was lucky,he would take me with him on one his trips in his BRS wagon.Sarah,his wife would always bake me a jam turnover,knowing that it was my favourite.Another aunty I used to call in and see on a Sunday,my uncle Gerrys' wife,Lily, always had a Jam turnover freshly baked for me,I had it for elevens's.It was a good job that I was so active,they'd have had me fat as barrel between them.

The summer of '56 saw the Speke Airshow,to us at the Tennies ,it was rather special for a lot of the boys there were model plane enthusiasts and this was a great chance to see the real thing.There were to be planes from all over the world,stunt planes,war planes,veteran planes and jet planes.This year though,they had someone special coming,a Belgian called Leon Valentin.
We had seen him at the cinema in the Pathe News,this man could fly......without a plane! He would go up in a plane and jump out wearing balsa wood wings.We had seen him do the stunt ,gliding gracefully down through the sky,it looked fantastic in film,and now we would see it for real.
It was a beautiful sunny day,a group of us lay on the grass at the edge of the airfield,listening to the commentary coming over the tannoy,the mans voice sounded just like Kenneth Wostenholmes,that beautifully clipped, clearly enunciated english that we were so familiar with.There was a lot going on and it was some time before the "Birdman" made his appearance.The first we knew that the event was beginning,was when the commentator drew our attention to a Dakota aircraft rising up in to the sky,that was the plane carrying Leon Valentin.The plane reached the required height,we could see the door in the fuselage open,and then a colourful figure appeared in the doorway.The man was going to fly.....now!
He launched himself into the air,the wings appeared to be funny,they were above his head.........................he was plummeting to earth and the commentators voice was strangulated with shock and grief.To us ,on the ground,it was a falling shape in the distance,there was no emotion involved.we were too far removed from it.The poor man landed in Hunts Cross,when he was found,most of his balsa wood wings had disappeared,rumour had it that local kids had snatched them as souveneirs.
I still find it hard to look at sky divers without thinking of that far off summers day.

11-16-2007, 01:14 PM
Marmilise ? Marmalise ?

How do you spell it, doesn't seem to be in the dictionary yet it was a word me mam used to say she'd 'Marmilise me if I didn't eat all my tea up' etc etc - it was used in other forms too to coax me to do things I didn't want to - like go to bed or get in from playing footy in the square.

11-16-2007, 05:00 PM
I was at that airshow Brian, I remember the picture in the next days echo just showing his watch which had stopped when he hit.

brian daley
11-17-2007, 06:03 PM
All too soon the summer holidays came to an end and it was time for my last year at school.
When I returned to Heath Road, I was tickled pink to find that they had put me in the top form,4a.Not that I deserved it,I was an academic duffer,could'nt do maths to save my life,could spell physics,but had absolutely no understanding of them.And science,forget it,our science master,Mr Hamilton,later became leader of Liverpool City Council.He came from a very old and distinguished family,but he failed with me.Sad to say,the only subjects that I shone in were History,Geography and English Lit.There were not many jobs on offer in Garston for anyone who specialised in those subjects.
Settling in with my new classmates was not too difficult,they knew of me and treated me with an easy caution,when they knew me a bit better,things improved.I missed my old gang and had to make new friends,one boy I became friendly with was called Ernie,he lived in the terraced houses just past Blackwells.He was an easy going fellow and we spent some time together,we even went to night school.He was a much smarter dresser than me,but he was'nt condescending,we found we enjoyed most of the same things and we even managed to get girlfriends who were mates.
They came from Allerton,college girls,they only ever wore their uniforms and we never got to taking them out at night.We met them at the 86 bus by the church at the other side of Mather Avenue,they were geting off the bus we were supposed to be getting on.We had seen them a few times and this time we took the chance to talk to them.I was amazed when they chatted back,we didn't bother getting on that bus,but walked awhile with them.Every night after that we chatted when we could and then hurried off,Ernie to home and me to Appletons.I had my first proper kiss with Brenda,I can remember wondering how it was done.Did you keep your lips closed or did you ....I can remember our noses bumping and our teeth clashing.As a great first kiss it rated zero.I can recall the conversation Ernie and I had on the bus afterwards,it was all about the proper technique for snogging.We dallied with the girls until the dark nights came along and then they were met at the bus stop by one of their mothers.We found out later that they were only thirteen!
Christmas that year was one of the first that we spent at home,we made a lightening visit to Walton and returned to Garston for a proper Christmas at home.Mum did a goose and a leg of pork and all the trimmings that went with
it,we had christmas pud with custard to follow and,as a treat were given a glass of port.After the dishes were cleared away,we watched t.v.,this was the beginning of the modern christmas.
Mum had bought me a huge artists cartridge pad for my main present and a whole load of pencils.I was very much into art at that time.I used to spend hours down at the Pier Head ,trying to sketch the waterfront.I would get so absorbed in what I was doing that I never noticed how many people stopped to look at what I was sketching.Sometimes they would stop and talk,in fact I met the most beautiful young lady there who got chatting to me,I was smitten the moment she started to speak.She was from Cheshire and had come over on the ferry,I cannot remember too much of what we spoke about,only that I wanted that moment to last forever.Alas ,her father came for her and I never got to know her name.
I loved that landing stage,this was in the days when there were ferries to New Brighton ,Wallasey,Secombe and Birkenhead.There was such a hustle and bustle about the place.The ferry boats themselves were like bewhiskered walruses,huffing and puffing across the river,there would be three alongside ,three in the river and three on the other side.The whole waterfront was alive with ships,whistles and steam horns blowing,a forest of masts in the docks ,the sound of jack hammers and rivetting guns in the shipyards across the river, all adding to that marine symphony that provided the sound track of that wonderful ,dirty old river.
As I walked around the streets across the Strand I would look up at the shipping offices,their walls arrayed with the names of the places their ships were bound,Pappayanni's,Blue Funnel,Pacific Steam Navigation,and many ,many more ,What boy could not be curious about the places named,Pago Pago,where was that?Sumatra,Chile and far off Hong Kong.Mr Pomfrey had lit a fire within me and I wanted to go off and find these places for myself.

I was made deputy head boy of the school,only because they did'nt know what else to do with me.The head boy was the total opposite of me,an all round sportsman,iron jawed,tall and resolute,I felt tired just looking at him.I was a prefect too,totally useless,but the badges mattered,they gave you a certain cachet.I spent very little time in class in my last term,the teachers used me as a kind of gofer.Any boys that had to be taken home or to the doctors ,yours truly was the man for the job,I was'nt unhappy to do it ,in fact I liked it,after all those years of swotting, this was the business.
When the schools inspector came to give the leavers career advice,he offered to help me get a job in journalism.When I told Dad ,he scoffed at the idea,he still expected me to work with him.
I was determined to be independent of him and started to look around for any kind of a job that was not factory work.
Ernie and I had become engaged in finding some place that suited our talents and to that end,we would scour the jobs adverts in the Echo,although it was the period of full employment,for a Garston lad,that usually meant the Bottle works,the Bobbin Works,The Tannery,the gasworks or one of the factories in Speke.None of which appealed to yours truly.
Mum spotted an advert for a new butchers shop that was opening in Spring,Grandma knew the owner of this chain,W.E .Kearns,she helped me compose a letter.It was weeks before I got a reply and Dad was growling that I should'nt be bothered trying to get a job anywhere when he could get me a job at the ROF.
Meanwhile,I'd got into the pattern of going to Ernies after we had been to night school,he would make a bit of supper and we'd have a chat about this and,I'd noticed his Mum sitting in the front room,sitting at a table upon which there was a small board game,or so I thought.I asked Ernie what she was doing,"Oh she's talking to Dad",I must have looked puzzled,because his Dad was dead."Er,how d'you mean?"I asked."She's got a ouija board and she talks to him every night" he replied ,as if it was the most natural thing in the world."Come on in ,I'll get her to introduce you to him".So in to the parlour we went,Mrs Hesketh looked up and said "Ernies brought someone to meet you".she said to the ceiling. Now I was having a job to keep a straight face,I thought they were joking.The little glass she had her finger on started zipping around the letters,so fast that I could'nt keep track,she said "He says Hello"My face must have been a picture,I must have shown my disbelief."Don't be frightened Brian (I was'nt),he can see the future,ask him anything." Well, I wasn't going to ask the obvious,like where will I work when I leave school(just weeks away now),so I asked him who I would be working with. Back came the reply "You will work with a B.K,a B.M. and an S.L,there will be others too" Seeing as how I had'nt got a job yet,that could have meant anything.
Next day I got a reply from W.E Kearns,they wanted me to go for an interview
at their head office in Old Swan.It was very intimidating ,my first interview for for a proper job.Mr Kearns was a very kindly man,cut from the same cloth as Mr Simpson,first world war veteran,churchgoing and very much the business man.They had a chain of shops and their Garston shop would be their biggest,it would have 12 employees.I got the job and would start during the Easter holiday.I could'nt believe it,I would soon be starting a whole new life...

brian daley
11-24-2007, 05:22 PM
I never did any schoolwork in those last few weeks,I was given estimated marks for my end of term report.................................I ended up with the fourth highest results in the class,which was the top form.Not that it was going to do me any good though,I was going to be a butcher boy!
I'd done 5 years at Heath Road and it was quite a wrench to leave.It was Easter and my birthday fell in the last couple of days of the school break,so I assumed that now I was 15,I could start work.Wrong assumption!
I turned up at the new shop to start work the day I turned 15,I had no proper paperwork,I thought the school would send it all on when the holiday was over and the shop manager,Mr Lewis,accepted that that would be the case and put me to work straight away.
The shop was'nt due to open for another fortnight,the floors were still being laid in the main sales area so most of my work consisted of cleaning up after the builders,decorators and carpenters.I still went to Appletons in that first week,I did a couple of deliveries and would officially leave on the Saturday,the butchers not being open for business allowed me to leave Ronnie and the girls with good grace.Come Saturday evening,Ronnie closed the shop door as usual and the girls,instead of rushing for their coats,formed a little circle about me and Ronnie made said a few words about my going out into the real world,and how happy he had been with my time at the shop.
I was choked,old Mary then stepped forward and gave me a beautiful leather wallet,"To put your proper wages in,and with a little bit to start you off with"
As each of them kissed me goodbye I was filled with sadness to be leaving,I was only going 300 yards down the road,but I was taking my first great step into manhood.I walked home,for the first time in 18 months,no more order bike.Taking the wallet out of my pocket,I undid the fastener and saw that there were three pounds in it,with a little note wishing me all the best signed by all of them.That was a huge amount of money,more than two weeks wages at the butchers shop.Mum had to buy my blue and white striped apron
so the money helped out there,Kearns provided the white coats.
Work started at 7.00a.m.,with an hours break for lunch at 1.00p.m.and then you worked from 2.00p.m. until closing time at 6.00p.m.,you had to clean up then which saw you going home at about 6.30. Wednesdays was half day closing and you worked all day Saturday.
The floor layers were still working when I turned up for work on the Monday,they were from Milan and spoke very little english ,but they were good for a laugh and proceeded to teach me to curse in Italian,some of which I have never forgotten.The regular staff who would be working there started to turn up on different days that week,the first two,Brian Kibby and Betty Melia..(Those initials,how did Ernies Mum guess?)came from another of the companys' shop elsewhere in Liverpool.We were all put to scrubbing and polishing,the floor was finished the counters fitted,the fridges stocked with meat,more staff arrived and by Friday the bosses,the Brothers Kearns,arrived to make the final preparations for Sarurdays opening.We now had a staff of twelve and I was the youngest,my job was to do whatever anyone told me to do,carry,clean and polish.When old W.E.,as the elder Mr Kearns was known,found out that I was local,he asked me if I knew where the local timber yard was,I answered in the affirmative and he despatched to fetch a sack of clean sawdust.The timber yard was under the bridge,down by the tanyard,a hell of a walk with a hundred weight bag of sawdust on your back,but that was a journey that I would be making every week for the next 18 months.It was dreadful,I had a sack that was as big as me and I had to fill it to the brim,knot it and then tote it on my back.The sack was of a loose weave and the particles of sawdust would work their way down between my collar and my neck ,I would be chafed raw by the time I got to the shop.
I used to be given little homily's by W.E., or Mr Lewis, about how much harder it was when they were young,like a sucker ,I believed them.It was'nt worth complaining,your parents had been forever telling you how bad it had been for them.This was how you got to being grown up,toting big bags of sawdust and scrubbing wooden blocks until they looked bleached.
My leaving school without the proper paperwork caught up with me in the second week at Kearns,the school contacted me and told me that I was'nt due to leave until the summer break,I explained that I had started work and that it would jeopardised my chances if I had to go back to school,old Mr Simpson said that I could never get anything right ,but he did the paperwork and made things O.K.

It was'nt all doom and gloom at work though,very far from it.The food was great! Every day I was allowed to to pick out chops,steaks, kidneys and liver and take them to the kitchen upstairs where I would put them under the grille for the staff lunch,there I would cook them until they just right,the smell of all that sizzling meat would permeate the whole shop so that appetites were sharpened,there was a near stampede for the messroom as soon as the front door was bolted .I always made sure that I never went short,indeed ,I used to dip bread into the juices as I was cooking it ,oooooooooooooh bliss,but I never put weight on,they worked me to blooming hard for that to happen.
Being a kid,it was like being invisible , five ladies worked there now,at dinner time I would sit in the corner and get stuck into my food,the older lads would go out and tinker with their motorbikes ,or play cards,neither of which appealed to me ,so I would sit and read a paper and overhear the womens gossip.They were salty as hell,talking about their "fellers" and what they got up to,I think they knew I was listening because I would blush crimson whenever I heard anything outrageous.This was the days before tights and they would adjust their suspenders while I sat there.....phew.I think I saw more of them than their "fellers"did,but I was only the kid so what did it matter.But it did,to me.I didn't have a girlfriend but there wasn't anything I did'nt know about suspenders.
Mr Lewis was a stickler for discipline,he did'nt allow talking in the cutting room,every now and then he would put his head around the opening from the sales area and tell me to shut up."any more and it's either you go or I go " he would say,leaving me a very puzzled boy,why would he want to leave because I was a chatterbox?
I was surprised at how quickly the people came and went from that shop in those first few months,gradually a team began to form,Mr Lewis was the manager,he was an ex segeant major,and looked it,with severe short back and side and cheeks shaved to a high gloss,there was John Kearney,he had been in intelligence during the Italian campaign and could speak fluent Italian,not very useful in a Garston butchers,but came in handy in in the war.
Then there was Joey,cocky ex National serviceman,did his time in Cyprus and was full of tales about EOKA,there was Ted,nobody liked Ted,he was spooky,quietly spoken,near middle aged,the women said they always said that
he looked as though he was undressing them,I never felt comfortable with him either,could have been an axe murderer!After Ted came Mick,he was a body builder,fit as a flea,built like Garth but was a great bloke,taught me the different cutting methods and and how to pull the girls(never worked );below Mick was Bernie,he was just a bit older than me but his social life was a lot wider than mine,more of which anon,and after Bernie came Harry and me.
Harry came from a new estate on the edge of Gateacre,he looked a lot like Marty Wilde and he ,like Bernie,loved rhythm and blues.Long before I'd heard it called one,Harry used to play the air guitar,moving his hips like Elvis,he would go off on a riff,old Sid Lewis would go beserk."Corser!!" he would yell,"Any more of that racket and yer down the road!!"
Bernie would also play the air guitar....silently.This then was the male crew,the females consisted of two Marys,Betty(she was Jimmy Melias sister)
there were three other ladies whose names I have forgotten,but whose faces remain in my memory,they were pretty,but older than me,they never knew how I felt when they would tickle my chin or kiss my cheeks,I loved them to death but was mute with shyness.

I still kept in touch with Ronnie and his wife Mary,little Ronnie was now a toddler and I would often babysit for them and,as a reward, Ronnie would either take me to his favourite pub ,the Queens, and buy me cider and guinness,or take me to see a science fiction movie,he loved them.
That autumn they told me that they were going to have another baby and were very excited about what the child would be,Ronnie fancied having a daughter.They were a lovely couple and life looked very rosy indeed.

Bernie asked if I would like to go to a dance at his youth club,it was in Speke,in a catholic church hall off Central Avenue.There would be plenty of girls there! Mum had just bought me an outfit that was very hollywood,a pastel green jacket with patch pockets with pale green gaberdine trousers,a gold flecked shirt and crepe soled shoes.I felt like a killer!
When I got there,there were girls, one of them looked like a film star,her name was Helen and she was at college.Her hair was jet black and hung in perfect
bangs with a neat fringe,crimson lips beneath the deepest blue eyes.
Even though I couldn't dance ,I plucked up courage and asked her to the floor while the band played "Witchcraft"I smooched around the floor ,feeling electric with this dream in my arms.Luckily,the band only knew about three tunes,Witchcraft being their favourite,so the dance seemed to last forever.
She turned out to be one of Bernies social circle so we all sat together.I couldn't imagine a girl like that wanting to know someone like me ,but she was kind and included me in her conversation.The night passed in a whirl and pretty soon it was coats on time and off for home.I just seemed to stay with Helen....all the the way to her house.I wanted to hold her hand but was too shy to attempt it,I wanted to tell her that I thought she was great,but was too tongue tied.Instead we talked of her college work,she was doing Greek mythology,which I liked and the more we talked the less chance there was of asking for a date.I was stupid,I had three sisters,but knew naff all about girls.I left her,standing at her gate saying see you next week,and walked hopelessly to the bus stop.

I thought I was ugly,with my scrawny neck,jug ears,big adams apple and spots,how could a girl like me?I used to envy the lads at work when they spoke of their weekend conquests,all talk about first and second base was over my head,I was'nt even on the field!
It's a good job I had my relatives,helping Frank and Vera with their garden and going out with Uncle Bill for wagon rides helped keep me anchored.
The railway cottage and garden was becoming idyllic,isolated,acres of garden behind a long,long,wall,away from the prying eyes of nosey neighbours,no busy roads,it was a lovely place to bring up kids.Vera took a part time job to supplement the household bills,and little by little, their house became a home .Vera could bake pies as good as my mothers ,with all the rhubarb that Frank had harvested she was baking on a production line basis,that sugar dusted, short crust pastry would just melt in your mouth.I was so glad they lived so near.
One Sunday I went to Grandmas and met a young lady who captured my heart,she was red haired,green eyed,and loved me on sight!When she put her paws on my shoulders and licked my face I was hers.Every Sunday I would take her to Stanley Park and we would spend hours running and chasing through the trees over the bridge,round the palmhouse and on the fields.I had been frightened by a dog when I was very young but Rusty,for that was she,removed any fear that may have been left.We'd get back to Grandmas ,just in time for dinner and then I would leave her for another week.Sadly for Grandma,Rusty needed a home where she would get regular exercise,happily for Rusty,Uncle Bill took her to his house,his daughters,there would be six of them eventually,loved her .And that was the reason I made sure that I visited them every Sunday,I too missed Rusty.When I walked around the corner of the top of their road ,Rustys' head would shoot up and she would come bounding toward me.There is nothing quite like a dogs devotion and I enjoyed Rustys' for many a year.
One Sunday when I was at uncle Bills,he engaged me in a conversation in which he asked me what my favourite things were,I thought it was a bit unusual and wondered were it was leading to.He stopped his questioning and then clicked something and the next thing I knew was that he was asking the same questions that he had just asked me,only his lips were,nt moving and I did'nt recognise who was giving the answers.The girls were looking at me ,giggling for they knew what was going on,Billy had just used his newest gadget.....a tape recorder!!! I was amazed,that strange voice was mine. I had to have one,they were enormous great reel to reel things but I could see all kinds of possibilities.It would cost me a shilling a week for 4 years,I didn't have to think about it,the following Sunday I picked up my Phillips reel to reel and started a whole new career,or so I thought.But although I never became an ace reporter,or record producer I did have fun........................

brian daley
11-26-2007, 04:29 PM
That tape recorder was the size of an airline flight bag,mains powered ,it required a 3 pin socket to operate,but it was as modern as you could get then.
When I took it home,Mum thought I was wasting my money on such an expensive bit of kit,Dad looked bemused,and my sisters could'nt wait to see how it worked.We spent hours recording them, singing ditties and pieces of nursery rhymes,no could believe that they "sounded like that".Later,the lads in the square had me around to some of their houses to let their folks see the wonder of the modern age.At one of the houses,the mother had her friend in for a cup of tea and a gossip, and Norman,her son,got me to stick the microphone under the table to record the gossip.We let it record for about 5 minutes and then,when there was a break in their chatter,I played it back at full volume. They were astounded,thinking that someone else was in the room having a jangle.Me and Norman were in fits of laughter under the table,they were baffled as to what was going on, and embarassed that such juicy gossip was now on tape. I erased it and showed them how it worked.

Bernie told me that his mate ,Ricky,had a tape recorder that he had bought when he was in the States,he was what we called a "Cunard Yank".He was a steward with Cunard Line and was home that week,Bernie asked if I would like to bring my machine to Rickys',he had all the latest records from New York and would, most probably let me record some of them.This was a time when American music ruled the world,Elvis,Gene Vincent,The Everleys',Chuck Berry,Buddy Holly and all those other "rebels" were making the kind of music we kids raved about,the only trouble was we never got to hearing the records until months after they had been released in the States.Over here we had the Embassy label, which was sold in Woolworths, and they were all
covers done by unknowns .But Ricky had boxfuls of the real things. So ,yes,I wanted to meet Ricky.
Come Friday night,Bernie took me around to meet Ricky,he was a real nice bloke,dressed in american clothes,he looked the business.He let us look through the record collection,they were all long players and e.p.'s.The first I had seen in real life,we had 78's,big brittle discs that would scratch easily,and crack with the slightest pressure.This was heaven,and the music was great.
While we were there,Ricky made us a bit of supper,it was out of a can and the can had been bought in a deli in New York.That was the first time I had tasted ravioli,I was knocked out by it ,it was like eating food from another planet.This was another reason for me to go to sea,there was food out there that was waiting to be eaten....................by me!
We played around with our tape recorders,and I taped a load of his records,we also managed to create a great sound of our own;Bernie had a halfway decent voice ,so we got him to sing "Wake Up Little Susie" an Everley Brothers hit.We then played it back and got him to sing along with it,we double tracked it ,treble tracked it and ,by the time we had finished,it sounded like something by Les Paul and Mary Ford,fantastic!
There used to be a dance in the school hall in Central Avenue,when Ricky was home he would take his american discs along and the place would be packed.I went along once or twice,I was still a lousy dancer,unlike our Jess,she was a real "dancing queen".She tried to show me the basics but she never had much success.
She was a good singer too!This was a time that skiffle was at its peak,Lonnie Donegan,Nancy Whiskey and Chas McDevitt were amongst the top singers and players then and our Jess could sing just like Nancy Whiskey.
Freight Train was her favourite song and she had me tape that a time or two so that she could get it just right. She had a friend who lived in Speke,Josie Murphy,Josies' Dad,Terry ,had an electric guitar which he was expert at playing.He had been on the Carol Levis Show some years ago and now did a bit of backing for singers in pubs and clubs.Jess got me to go down to Josies' with her and record she and Terry doing "Freight Train" and one or two other numbers.They were brilliant,I'm sorry that I never kept them,but you don't realise that the future isn't endless when you are that age.
Josie had a pretty young sister,I think her name was Anne,and Josie and Jess thought it would be nice if I asked Anne out on a date,(Sisters can be a pain sometimes),so I asked Anne if she would like to go out."Where?" she asked.
My mind went blank,Where? I did'nt know."Paul Anka is coming to the Empire" our Jess said,"You'd like that ,would'nt you?" said Josie to Anne. Anne nodded silently,my first date,arranged entirely by the elder sisters of both parties.
On the bus home from the Murphys',Jess went through a list of do's and dont's".You have to buy her a box of chocolates,you don't get kissing her face off,you have to buy the cigarettes,you don't let her pay the busfares,you have to buy the drinks or ice cream ,you don't get fresh on the way home."
I don't know what Josie told her kid sister,but that night was endured ,not enjoyed,I was not really able to relax and enjoy the show lest my hands should accidently touch something they should'nt.
I think Anne was just as relieved as I was when it was all over.

My Dad asked me to go out with him one Saturday night,he had never done such a thing before,what was going on?........The tape recorder!
One of his cousins sons was getting married and Dad,and some of his brothers were invited to the reception,Dad thought it would liven things up if I took my machine along;this was in the days before Disco's.
So there I am in the Co op hall in Walton,at the front with my machine plugged in and a great big queue lined up to sing into the mike.They would sing their song and I had to rewind the tape and play it back again,with them saying"Is that Me?" every time!!People loved it,and I got quietly p====d.Nearly everyone I recorded gave me a drink.
Dad and his brothers got palatic and we had to stay at his cousins in Arnot Street,four of us in one bed,nightmare,between the snoring and the big,beery farts there was not much time for sleep.
I used that old tape machine so much that the motor burnt out within a couple of months.The shop replaced it with a little Italian machine,an Elpico Geloso,it was a cracker,I used that everywhere,making up my own radio shows,Kenny Everett ,he had nothing on BeeDee, I was years ahead of him.But mine was a fantasy existence.

At work,Mr Lewis started to let me do a bit of butchering,I was not let loose with a boning knife,I was taught to use a cleaver and small chopper.We had a lot of frozen meat and this had to be butchered in its' frozen state,this meant using the big cleaver,rather like an executioners axe.You needed a good eye and a steady hand to use that .One of you had to hold the frozen carcass whilst the other,usually a senior hand ,swung the cleaver.This was held over their head and swung in a mighty arc so that it cut clear through the carcass in with one good blow.
Joey had been on the beer one Friday night and was cutting some mutton carcasses, with Bernie holding them,he was a little bleary eyed and Bernie was just a little wary of the proceedings.Down came the cleaver,the carcass was neatly sliced,as was Bernies apron,white coat and shirt,miraculously, Bernies skin was unmarked........I think his underpants were though!

Mum and Dad were going on holiday with Betty and Chris;Jess and I were going to be trusted to have the house to ourselves!!
Unfortunately,I did'nt get to enjoy half as much as I could have done..all because of a sheeps head.
I was now allowed to skin sheeps heads and to do this I had to use a pretty lethal , long thin bladed knife,it was so sharp that it sliced easily,parting the skin from the skull,flicking the eyes from the sockets,it took just a few minutes.I was working my way through as sackful of them the Saturday that the family went on holiday,my knife was a blur,Mr Lewis was on holiday and was being relieved by one of the Kearns brothers,the black sheep of the family ,Jack.Mr Lewis would never have let me near a boning knife,but Jack was'nt so fussy,"Get stuck In on them 'eads' lad" he said passing me the knife.
I jumped at the chance,so there I was out in the shop, where all and sundry could see me,applying my skills to those old sheeps heads.I was nearly finished skinning the second one when it skidded off the butchers block.I managed to catch it before it hit the floor,I finished it and was reaching for another one when I felt something squidgy in my shoe.It was my sock,and it was soaked in blood,....mine!
When I caught hold of the head I did it with both hands,but I still had hold of the knife.The blade was so sharp that it had stabbed right through my knee without my realising it.I called John Kearney over and he looked at the cut and went for the medicine box,"You're gonna need a plaster on that Brian"he said as he took out a bottle of iodine.He had rolled up my trouser leg and I could see the hole ,gaping like an open mouth,Mr Kearns came over to have a look just as John was about to pour the iodine into the cut.He slapped Johns hand away from the cut,shouting "You'll bloody kill him with that,e's cut a vein" They put a tourniquet on and despatched me to hospital.It was a Saturday and there was only a sister on duty,she stitched me up and sent me back to work,when Jack Kearns saw me limp in the shop, he told me to get off home and put my feet up.
Come Monday morning,my knee was swollen to twice its' size,Jess had to go to work and so I limped to the hospital.The nurse took the dressing off and called a doctor,the cut was badly infected and I had to take time off work.I had to go and get fresh dressings everyday,which meant walking a hell of a way,people used to call me Chester,after a character in a T.V.western. I was off work for the whole of Mums holiday and never was able to do what teenagers would do in those circumstances.But there was a side benefit,when I got my first weeks sick pay,it was for twice the amount that I was earning.I did'nt tell Mum ,I gave her the usual amount of housekeeping and bought myself a Brownie camera with the extra money.

We had a neighbour who had a sailor for a husband,she was tall ,blonde,good looking and a terrible tease,to me that is.I was fifteen and a bit and exploding with testosterone,and she knew it.She was great friends with my Mum and often came along the landing for a chat.They would spend hours leaning on the balcony talking about this and that,whenever I had to get past them A. would say "I'm gonna 'ave 'im first Jessie",smiling wickedly as she said it,I would limp away,blushing madly.Mum chuckling at A.s joke.
One morning the gas went and Mum asked me to go along to A.s to see if she could give us a shilling for two sixpences.It was only 2 doors away and so I sped off. Our front doors had little glass panels in them so that they let light in and they were rippled so that they blurred the vision, but you could recognise someone through them.I knocked the door,it was 8.00 in the morning,her face peered through the glass and she opened the door..........she was wearing black lace underwear!!!!!!!!! I must have exploded my trousers,she gave a little shriek"Ooooh,I thought you were my feller,Brian " she giggled. I croaked "Ave you got a shilling for 2..............."
"What are you blushing for" Mum asked when I got back with the shilling.
On another occasion ,Mum told me to take a book to A.,she said she had forgotten to give it to her earlier and told her she would send me with it later on,so off I went,book in hand.The door was slightly ajar when I got there,"Anyone there " I cried,"I'm in the bedroom Brian,come in a minute",I went in ,expecting her to be making the bed or something,she was on the bed..............wearing a little pink baby doll nightie,see through!!!! I dropped the book and fled.
She haunted my fevered nights,I used to wake up like a hollow eyed wreck and Mum must have known the effect it was having on me ,she did the laundry!
So there I was ,the owner of a new Brownie,Jess wanted me to take some pin up shots for her boyfriend Graham,he was in the Army,based up in Westmoreland,she wanted him to see what he was missing.
We went over the Ironbridge to take the pictures,it was a week day and there were no kids about ,Jess wore her one piece bathing costume and I took half a reel of film of her.On the way back home,we bumped into A.,she asked what we had been doing and Jess told her that I had just done some pin up pictures for Graham."OOh " she said,"You can take some of me for my Feller" We all went up to our landing and,as I turned to go to our house,she got hold of my arm and said "You come with me while I get changed". Jess just smiled and shook her head bemusedly.I was like a lamb to the slaughter.
She went off to her bedroom to get her bathing costume,and then brought it into the living room,where she proceeded to strip off.I turned to face away from her,"Don't you want to see what I look like?",of course I bloody well did,but she was a married women and her husband and had a reputation as a hard man.I just gulped "Errm,its o.k" After much teasing ,she was ready for the camera and we decided to go down to the green to take the pictures. I left the flat just ahead of her ,and walked...... slapbang into her husband coming up the stairs ,with his seabag on his shoulders.She was standing behind me with her swimsuit on...........................now what conclusion would you draw if you were in his shoes?All I know was that he did'nt hit me ,he hit her instead.We saw her later ,with a black eye and a look on her face like the cat that had stolen the cream,it must have turned him on.

Jack Kearns was at our shop for longer than 2 weeks,I can't remember why, but we soon found out why he was known as the black sheep.Whereas his brothers were churchgoing and courteous,he was rude and uncouth,lazy and bad mannered.Pretty soon the standards started to slip and the shop developed a foul smell,he did'nt care,he let the lads home early and the cleaning went to pot.The older hands tried their best ,but he had stopped having the waste products van call and our collection of scraps started to hum.His coarseness showed one Saturday afternoon when an Encyclopaedia Britannica salesman made the mistake of calling in to see if he could get an appointment (He must have been desparate),Jack made an entertainment out of him,treating him sarcastically,he thought he was being hilarious,but we were just embarassed for the poor guy.Why did he have to walk into the lions den? Jack had hold of one of the volumes,his hands greasy and bloody,"Look at this" he was saying,"It's ****,And you *******s want to charge how much?" The man was visibly distressed and just wanted to leave,Jack made sure he did by thowing the book into the road,where it was run over by a corporation bus.I felt so sorry for that man,but it taught me a lesson,never let yourself be a victim.
Jack left not long after that and the sergeant major returned ,pretty soon the shop was back to normal.
Harry and I,as juniors ,found that we had a lot in common,we liked the same music,saw the same films and were always on the look out for the main chance with girls.
On our afternoons off we would go back to our house,I'd do a bit of lunch and we would listen to my tapes and practise our dancing, I was going to crack this if it killed me,we would take turns at being the girl.
We neither of us were very good ,but we tried.Apart from the school hops,we had'nt been to a proper dance,we were far from ready.
As part of my job,I had to deliver meat to two places everyday,I loved doing it because it got me out of the shop for a couple of hours ,and I used to get a sandwich and a cup of tea when I got there,My first call was to the fire station at Speke Rd,the cook was a nice old Irish lady,who was called Scarlet by the firemen ,because her surname was O'hara.The men used to treat me very well,I was called Butch,for obvious reasons,I forget most of their names,but I remember them as people.They were kind ,funny,and never said a bad word ,Scarlet loved them and called them"her boys".
That first year they invited me to their Christmas Ball,it was to be held in the Co op Hall in Walton Road,there would be a meal and a proper band because this was the City Fire Services annual do!They were paying for my ticket and I would be sitting at their table.I was chuffed.
I can still remember that star spangled night,the glitter balls sparkling ,the ladies looking so pretty in their posh frocks,and the music calling the dancers to the floor.My feet were tapping away as I sat and watched dance after dance,Scotty,one of the older men,got his daughter to get me up for a turn around the floor,I nearly ruined her feet, the amount of times that I stubbed her toes,but she persisted and stayed the course.The next dance was a Paul Jones,this made me a bit more confident and I relaxed to the music.I could dance!!.................or so I thoght.

11-27-2007, 11:56 AM
Fantastic as ever Brian. One of the best autobiogs i've ever read.

brian daley
11-27-2007, 03:11 PM
So,thinking we could dance,Harry and I decided to go for broke,we were going to go to the Thursday night dance at the Wilson Hall,that was the night they played non stop rock and roll.Harry and I had got ourselves crew cuts,I'd also got myself a royal blue zipper jacket,with white piping on the collar and pockets,Mum bought the shirt.It was the Elvis look we were after.
About that crew cut,Dad was dead against anything that looked "common",he would rail against Teddy boys and rock and roll.He told me if I had any notion of getting drainpipes or drape jackets,I'd better forget it.He failed to mention crew cuts.Harry and I had ours cut in the village during our lunch break,prior to that ,my hair was brylcreemed into a huge wave.When I sat down to tea that night,Mum nearly freaked,"Yer Dad 'll kill yer" she wailed,"All that luvly 'air ,gone",and so on, and so on ,until at length ,Dad arrived home. He came into the living room to get out of his overalls,looking at the t.v., he noticed me,and did a double take,"What the fr****** hell 'ave you done to yer 'ead" he yelled. "It's all the rage Dad " I replied meekly."Rage My arse" he said and that was the end of the matter.

Harry and me had spent all Wednesday afternoon practising our jive,we were going to pull,big time!
We got there about 8.00p.m.,the music was blaring into the street and the place was full of Teds and girls with swirling skirts , pony tails,beehive hairdos and perms.Yowser!! We studied the talent very carefully,who was going to enjoy my terpsichorean skills?Which beehived beauty would just melt in my arms? There she was,in the middle of the floor,right beneath the glitter ball,her mate looked o.k.,and so nodding to Harry, we went out to split them up.Elvis was belting out Blue Suede Shoes as we in our Dunlop crepe soles took them in our arms.We were on our third twirl when she stopped dead,hands on hips ,she looked at me and shouted "OO the f*** said yew could dance?"
I was dumbfounded,standing there with my mouth agape,too shocked to reply,"F*%+ off " she shouted and stormed away.
I crept away from the floor,feeling about 2 inches tall.Harry came over and told me the girl he was with dumped him too.
It was awhile before we went dancing again.

Shortly before Christmas,I was working in the back room at Kearns when one of the girls from Appletons came in,Sid had let her come through ,she had an awful look on her face.I asked her what was up and,with tears in her eyes,she replied,"Marys' dead","Which Mary?"I asked ."Mary Moore,Ronnies wife". I felt dizzy,I could'nt take in what she was saying, I'd only babysat for them a fortnight ago. Holding my hand,she told me that Mary had gone into labour and there had been complications. She died while giving birth to a son.
Sometimes the world can seem such an unfair place,the last time I saw Mary was when I popped in for a cup of tea after I had been to bank the shop takings,only last week.She was wearing a pretty floral smock and looked so full of life, with that bloom that heavily pregnant women get.
The boy had survived and was going to be called Stephen.
I went up to see Ronnie ,the house was closed up,he was'nt at the shop ,I never saw him for months.The boys had gone to his ,or Marys' sisters.
I was sad that I never got the chance to say goodbye.But I've never forgotten her,there is a little corner of my heart in which the memory of Mary still remains.

Christmas was coming and that goose was getting fat,in fact the geese,the turkeys and chickens too ,were getting very fat.....and it was our job to clean them......uugh!
Kearns had an Xmas club and customers could buy shilling, or sixpenny, stamps every week throughout the year to save up for the christmas fowls.
We had hundreds of customers and they wanted all manner of fowl.In those days it was unusual for a family to buy chickens as regularly as they do now.
We sold about half a dozen on a Saturday and very few during the week,customers liked to keep the giblets then,but wanted them prepared.It was job that we avoided if we could,quite simply ,they stank! When you cut through their backside you get a nasty ,methane type pong,and if you burst the spleen..........yuck. But come Yuletide,all of the lads had to come in on the Sunday before christmas eve and spend all day eviscerating those darned birds.And we did'nt get paid,no such thing as overtime then.The men were given 50 cigarettes and the boys a small tin of Quality Street.
We did get tips off the customers for cleaning their birds though,they were pooled for fairness and Sid shared them out on Christmas Eve.

Mick,the body builder,had got himself a steady girlfriend and wanted to get some transport that he could take her out on,yes,on, not in ,this was 1957 not 67,young men could'nt afford cars yet.He was after a BSA 500,second hand of course, and he was ten quid short of the necessary.I had been given £8 in tips and had a few pound languishing in my Appletons wallet.Mick had a Wearwell sports bike,DeRaillier geared,lightweight frame and in showroom condition.I wafted the money under his nose and went home on my very first bike!!!!
She was a beauty and she took me everywhere.The difference it made to my life was fantastic,she was fast light and good looking.
I used to ride to see my relatives, Liverpool shrank in size. Bernie had a bike and we would often go out just for rides

That second delivery I had to do everyday was to an engineering company in Speke Hall Avenue,the cook there was none other than Ikey Harrris' Mum.I had'nt seen him for a couple of years and she put us back in touch.Like me he was a butchers lad,and,also like me,he had Wednesday afternoon off.So I would sometimes ride down there and we would pass the time, either biking or just hanging out.I did'nt drop Harry,he had other mates and you had to spread yourself about a bit.
When I lived in Lodge Lane,one of the treats we had, was going to the Pavilion Theatre,at the beginning of '58 ,Ikey suggested we go to see the Peaches Paige Show,this was a nude show,and ,being a 15 year old male,I thought it might be good.It was an early evening show and ,apart from Ikey and me,there were a load of asthmatic old men and one young woman, who had two little boys with her.I'd never been to a nude show before and never knew what to expect,there were comic turns ,Joe Baker and Jack Douglas,jugglers,acrobats and light opera singers.The nudity consisted of static tableaux where the girls were artistically posed,Peaches being the centre piece of every display.In one piece ,she sang the aria from Madame Butterfly,Iv'e never seen "One Fine Day" performed since without thinking of those massive mammarys'.The show closed with Peaches freewheeling across the stage on a mens drop handled sports bike.........it looked suspisciously like a Wearwell!!!

Before I finish with 1957 ,there is one item I must relate,on Church Road ,there was a little chip shop that we used to go to of a dinnertime,we would get a big bag of chips to have with our chops,(Oh for those cholesterol free days) I think it was run by May Newby,a small ,jolly fat lady,who,loved a naughty joke.She was organising a coach trip to Blackpool and it was going to be for her customers,Mick and I put our names down and pretty soon she had enough to fill a 28 seater.The lights were still on and we would stop off at a half way house to have a few beers.Saturday night arrives and we are waiting for the coach,standing outside the chippy,we hear the clatter and bang of the coach before we see it.We were going to Blackpool in THAT!! "That" was a pre war Bedford,a poor sad looking thing.We climbed aboard and off we went,wheezing and spluttering up to Queens Drive and the East Lancs. I can't remember where the half way stop was,we did'nt get beyond it,the coach dropped dead in the car park and we spent the night in the pub whilst the driver was banging away with his spanners trying to repair the motor.It was way after closing time before the coach was ready to take us home,I had had far too much to drink and was,I was later told ,acting very obnoxiously.To the point of offering to fight the driver!!I can remember them stopping whilst I called for Hughie.I can't remember much after that.Having to walk home from the village helped to clear my head so ,by the time I got home ,I did'nt look or feel so bad.
On Monday,May told me I'd been offering to fight a few of the fellers aboaerd the coach,she said none of them took me on because she had told them I was a master of the martial arts,me,who was built like a beanpole!

I was coming up to sixteen in '58and was determined that I was going to go to sea.On some half days I would go around the shippng offices to see if I could get a place;my cousin Gerry got a place in the Blue Funnel Training School at Aberdovey,I tried,and failed.I went to the Norwegian shipping office a few times,Mike Quirk had got to sea that way,but I had no joy.You had to be 16. Well there was'nt long to go now.

11-27-2007, 07:39 PM
enthralling and entertaining stuff as always Brian :handclap:

brian daley
11-27-2007, 08:05 PM
Although I'm only part way through my life,I don't think I will be allowed to carry on much longer.When I get my manhood ,it won't be good for a family website.I led too adventurous a life for it to be fit for all and sundry to look at,even though it was fun for me.Do you have an adults only site?
Just asking,

11-27-2007, 10:35 PM
When you get to that stage why not continue it in the SH site. just about anything goes there. Discuss it with Kev, he might just think it will be OK on here. If not no harm done and I am sure he will appreciate your consideration.:002:

11-28-2007, 10:12 AM
You can't do this to us Brian, was it 'A', I wanna know what happened with 'A', come on tell us, did you go back when your whatsits dropped and give her what for..............Ha ha.

11-28-2007, 10:14 AM
When you get to that stage why not continue it in the SH site. just about anything goes there. Discuss it with Kev, he might just think it will be OK on here. If not no harm done and I am sure he will appreciate your consideration.:002:

what's the SH site ?

11-28-2007, 10:17 AM
I assume the Scouse House site - anything goes on the SSC too (Skyscraper city)

11-28-2007, 10:19 AM
oh, ok :)

11-28-2007, 11:52 AM
Hey Brian, don,t stop now I,ve got your stories circulated in the "News of the World" mate, you can,t let me down now!

Keep at it matey.

11-28-2007, 12:46 PM
I assume the Scouse House site -

NOOOOOOOOO anywhere but there!
I was reffering to the Sailors Home.

brian daley
11-28-2007, 01:03 PM
It seemed to be a long,cold winter that year and events that happened made it seem even bleaker.
Frank and Veras' little Eden was ruined in a single night when Vera was subjected to an horrific attack on her way home from work.
The cottage they lived in was down a dark ,unlit, cinder path called Brunt Lane.Allerton Cemetery was one side of the lane and the long railway wall was on the other side.It was dark when Vera entered the lane but she knew it well and had done the journey many times.There was an iron railing fence along the whole length of the cemetery and,as Vera made her way home,she saw the black shape of someone amongst the gravestones,walking parallel to her.She walked a little faster,and so did the shadow.Fear gripped her and she started to run,and the shadow ran with her.She reached her gate and had just got on the garden path when she was grabbed and assaulted.The path was too long for her screams to be heard from the house.I cannot begin to imagine the terror that she felt,that once beautiful little cottage had now become the place of nightmares.
The whole family was shattered by the awful event,Vera became withdrawn and suffered badly with her health,Frank was riven with guilt to think that he had brought them to that spot.Within weeks ,they had left for safer parts and I slowly lost touch with them.I have never forgotten that terrible night and every time I read of such attacks,I feel grieved for the women who suffer them remembering the effect it had on Vera.

One foggy February day,we were cleaning out the shop windows when this middle aged man came in ,he looked as though he had seen something terrible.Sid asked him if he was alright and the man shook his head and cried,"They're all dead,killed",his body was wracked by his sobs.We came to him ,thinking there had been a crash........................There had ,in Munich.
The Busby Babes were killed in an airplane crash .I was'nt a football fan but I felt saddened by that catastrophic crash.This was a time when Manchester United ruled the game,Matt Busby was the greatest manager in the world,the team had lost players like Duncan Edwards,Roger Byrne ,Tommy Taylor and David Pegg.Eight died, and Bobby Charlton and Matt Busby both suffered devastating injuries.The sporting rivalries between the clubs took a back seat and fans everywhere went into mourning for the loss to the game.

One of the problems that butchers shops have is that people like to buy pink or red meat.This is not much of a difficulty with frozen meat because the cuts are usually displayed on a refrigerated counter and retain that essential colouring so beloved of the buyer.Fresh meat,however is different,it quickly turns brown when on the counter,we used to call this "erk".The meat is actually better this way for the blood will haved drained away ,rendering the joint more tender.Sadly ,that is not how the customer sees it,and so on a Saturday afternoon ,it was our job to "work the erk"; that is ,convincing the customer that brown was better.There was an old couple who used to come in late every Saturday afternoon,they always liked a nice shoulder of lamb,frozen of course;I had a counter full of brown ,prime welsh lamb.I persuaded the to buy the biggest,brownest joint on the counter,with the promise that if they did'nt like it they could bring it back on Monday and I would refund their money.
The joint cost them 7/6d (37.3p),I was on £1/10s (£1.50p) per week,I spent a bad weekend worrying ,Kearns did'nt do refunds ,if they did'nt like it I would have to pay them myself!
Midday Monday they came in to see me...................they had enjoyed it so much that they asked us to be sure that they could have the same every weekend.So pleased were they that they invited Harry and me to tea on Wednesday,we took them up on their offer and found them to a wonderfully eccentric couple,he played the organ and she sang .We spent a few wintry Wednesday afternoons there.
Sometimes we would pull a few crafty stunts to get rid of unwanted cuts of meat,not that the boss knew about it .Like this for instance,we used to have an American who was a regular customer,he called mincemeat "chipped beef" and would never buy any from the display."You never know what the hell you guys' put in that stuff" he would say.No ,our American friend would get us to slice a nice chunk of rump steak and put it through the mincer.......which was in the back room.I would put a piece of shin beef through the mincer,at least three times......he always came back for more.
That prime bit of beefsteak would,invariably end up in the grille pan for yours trulys lunch.

Lunch breaks seemed to last forever,Harry and I would go to Woolworths, to flirt with the girls,a hopeless endeavour,but we never gave up trying.All the ones we fancied were already taken,and those that were'nt did'nt fancy us.
There was a girl in Hales cake shop though,Anne was her name,I thought she was lovely and could'nt imagine that she would like some one like me.Most days the girls in our shop would ask me to get cakes when I went to the bank.I would stand in the queue, looking moonfaced across the fondant fancies as this little angel smilingly served her customers.One of the older ladies usually served me ,but I only had eyes for Anne.
There was an Anne who worked in Woolies,I was unaware of her existence until her supervisor told me that she liked me to come in everyday,I asked her why and she told me that this Anne fancied me and that everytime I went in she would throw herself into a frenzy of scrubbing and polishing on the counter she worked on."If you came here for longer ,she'd 'ave the 'ole shop gleaming" I was embarassed,life is so unfair,why can't you fancy the right person,and the right person fancy you?
It was about this time that Harry started to have trouble with his teeth.I thoght he was a wimp,he would'nt go to the dentists even thought his back teeth were giving him real gyp.
Bernie was progressing faster than Harry or me,we were scally's ,always out for a laugh and a joke,Bernie seemed about ten years older than we two,even though he was the same age.I liked him though and had some fun times out of work with him,but at work ,he was very serious.
We were working in the back room one day,me making dripping( a very technical job,boiling all the fat and suet,yuckkkk!) Bernie , boning a shoulder of frozen beef.We were talking about this and that,me stirring the fatty lumps and Bernie struggling with the big collar bone.He was pulling the knife along the big bone when his hand slipped,and plunged the knife deep into his stomach.We both went very quiet,Bernie looking at me,shock on his face and the handle of the knife sticking out of his belly.Sid and Joey took him in hand and the ambulance was there within minutes.Bernie was critically ill and was off work for a long time .We went to see him at hospital and he was on sticks for some time after that.
In the meantime,Harry and I were drawn closer ,our friendship deepening,we liked the same things,were always chasing ,but never catching,girls,and had the same sense of humour.But those bloody teeth of his,his mouth was beginning to pong and he was in constant pain.One day he picked something out his mouth,he was looking at it ,it was like a piece of rotting wood."What the hells that ?" I asked," I think it's my backtooth" he replied.
Next day he came to work and his jaw was really swollen,I told him he must have a gumboil or something because it looked very sore and red.He still would'nt go and get it seen to,the smell got so bad that Sid told him he'd better get something done about because the girls were complaining that it made them feel sick.
He did'nt come to work next morning,his mother turned up about mid morning,her face a picture of sadness and distress,she came to me in the back room,for mine was the only face that she knew."E's in 'ospital Brian lad,Arry's in 'ospital,'is jawbone cum right through 'is skin"She broke down crying and we took her upstairs where the girls made her a cup of tea.She told us that they were operating on him that day,it was'nt a gumboil ,it was cancer.Even now ,50 years later I can still feel the shock of those words.
Harry ,the most handsome lad I knew, was being eaten away by cancer.
He was in the Southern Hospital and I went to see him right after the operation,his Mum and family were there and she asked me if I wouild go with her to see the doctor,he wanted a word with me because I was his best mate.
He explained that they had had to remove one side of his jaw,but was confident that they had removed all of the cancer.When they were sure that everything was o.k. they would fit a plastic replacement and he would be as good as new,just a small scar along the jawline.The doctor wanted me to tell
Harry,"he would trust you more than us old fogeys" was how he put it.
I was ushered into Harrys room ,he looked bizarre,one side of his face was sunken right in,his mouth was filled with a set of stainless steel teeth and half of his lips were sewn together.I tried not to look horrified,I don't know how I got through those first moments,But Harry,oh Harry,he was great.When I had finished telling him what the doctors had in store for him,he was so enthusiastic.He did'nt feel sorry for himself,he had not a shred of self pity.He could'nt wait to get out of there and get the next 12 months over with so that he could get his face back.I went to see him every week,the people in the shop sometimes gave me cigarettes to take him,but he was quite happy just to have chat.
I had Wednesday afternoons to myself now,no Harry or Bernie to hang out with.
I succeeded in getting a date with one of the Woolworths girls though.It was Mick who asked her for me,her name was Eileen and she was beautiful.We went to the Lyceum,had a love seat and kissed the faces off each other.I kissed her all the way home,but never attempted anything further than that.Jeez,she dumped me!She thought I was ....slow.
One Friday night I came home from the flicks and my Mum let me in with the words "Theres a big surprise for you in the living room" I looked in and did'nt see anything,the door swung open and behind it stood Harry.I was ecstatic,he was still half jawed, but he was out,he came back to work,but Sid kept him out of sight in the backroom.Harry did'nt care,he never liked working on the counter anyway.
We picked up our old routine,no dancing this time,but we still went out,mostly the movies but occasionally for the odd,illlicit pint.
Harry was quite comfortable with his appearance,it would come as shock to those who had'nt seen him before,but most of the girls in the village were never bothered by how he looked,in fact one night we pulled a couple of crackers at the Empire.I really loved the way the girl who sat with Harry ,treated him no differently from any other guy,she cuddled him and made him feel good..
I think of him often now,unbeatable,never once complaining,and always looking to the future.

It was coming near to my sixteenth birthday when Mum told me she was going to get me something special this year,a tailor made suit! Mr Duggan,my dads tailor was coming to measure me up ,and I could pick my own material.
It took about six weeks to make,I had three fittings and it was tailored to perfection..It was done in a dark blue with a red birds eye that seemed to change colour when you moved.I felt like the Duke of Bootle,all I needed was a Duchess..

11-28-2007, 03:19 PM
NOOOOOOOOO anywhere but there!
I was reffering to the Sailors Home.


You can talk about 'hows your father' and 'one, two, buckle my shoe' on the old sailors home board ???

11-28-2007, 03:38 PM
More intriguing tales from Brian.

OMG ! I could see it all in my minds eye - the accident with the blade :shock:

- and poor Harry - I'm very glad no one treated him any differently, and I'm glad he got a kiss and a cuddle :) :)

brian daley
11-30-2007, 01:52 PM
AS I sit and write these few words,I wish I could change the course of events as easily as one creates a story.......but this is not a story, it is a tale of lives ,and loves,that I played an acting role in all those years ago.
We are now at the summer of 1958,me and my new suit are getting as many outings as possible.I dont do much dancing now,Harry was conscious of the effect his appearance would cause in a dance hall,so it was mostly the movies for us two. I did go the Winter Gardens on my own one Saturday night ,a new rock and roll group were on,this was before the Beatles,but this group were going to be famous,or so it was said.They were so good that I can'y recall a thing they played ,or even what they were called.I only remember them for what happened that night.
The Teddy Boy fashion was still booming,most of my old classmates from Garston were at this dance,with their D.A.'s , full drapes and drainpipes,they looked a very colourful bunch and their girl friends looked great in their swirling skirts, and those wonderful suspenders that were flashed as they did a twirl.The band were tooled up with the latest in electric guitars and had a fabulous drum kit.The lead guitarist thought he was gods gift to women,he stood there ,on stage,ogling and winking at all the girls. Joey Fergo was there with his girl and I could see he was getting cheesed off with the guitar player.The interval came and the guitarist went to the toilet,followed by Joey.
When the band resumed their places on stage,the guitarist was standing there with a big black eye.He played the rest of the session with his eyes fixed firmly on the floor.

During the summer I made renewed efforts to get myself to sea,Wednesdays would find me making my way round to the Pool and the Norwegian shipping office,and then, Bingo!! One Wednesday, Mr Brown in the Shipping Federation gave me application form to take home and get filled in.
Mum said that Dad would never agree to my going away,I tackled him,I could not see why he would not let me go..He said I was too soft,all of his seagoing relatives were hard men,they had to be he said."You wont last 5 minutes on one of them boats,you'll be coming home crying to your mother,forget it lad",and so on and so on.I persuaded my Mum to forge his signature and sent the papers off.I was so excited ,I could'nt wait to tell everybody.My boss ,Sid, tried to persuade me not to go,the big boss, Mr Kearns came to the shop and gave me a little talk on how I would be so much better off stopping where I was and what a great future there was in butchering.I was deaf to it all,until,until........I told the girls in the cake shop that I was off to sea and little Annes face changed so much ,she was brushing away a tear!!
The managress told me to stop messing about,Anne had been waiting for me to ask her out!!!!!!!!! I was astounded,the girl of my dreams actually liked me.We only had time for a couple of dates before I went off to the training school.We were innocent and our relationship was boy and girl,I would'nt have dreamed about doing anything of a carnal nature to Anne,she was sweetness personified.Apart from Harry,those few short weeks with Anne were happy ones.
I felt really guilty about leaving Harry,still do after all these years,telling him was very hard,he never questioned my decision,but the look on his face told me it all,what did the future hold for him?
For the moment ,I was greatly preoccupied in getting my kit together for the sea school ,I had to go to a place called Sharpness.There I would be trained in the art of seamanship at the Sea Training School,Vindicatrix.
By now Dad was reconciled to my going off and started to tell me of some of the things that happened to him during his time in the army.
As the time drew nearer for my departure, I went up to see if I could make contact with Ronnie Moore before I left,it had been ages since I had seen him and I was curious to know how he was .Well,life for him was on the up,he'd met a very nice woman,also called Mary,she loved his boys and was going to marry Ronnie so that she could bring them up as here own.She was as different from the other Mary as snow White was from Rose Red.Dark and earthy with a very placid nature,I became their babysitter once more until it was time to go to the sea school.

Those last few weeks at home passed by in a blur,I was in a state of waiting and wondering,what will the training school be like?Will it be full of of hard knocks and no goods?The only people I could ask where away at sea,and they were'nt great fighting men ,best not to take any notice of Dads scare stories.
The week before I went away,Harry got taken into hospital,I went to see him after the operation,they had removed the rest of his jawbone.
He was sitting up in bed when I walked in,his head slumped forward on to his chest,he looked up and smiled,there was only half a face but he was smiling.
He could talk,albeit with great difficulty,and he told me that they had removed the rest of his jaw so that they could fit a complete new one.
He was indomitable,a lesser man would have been self pitying,not Harry,he could'nt wait to have his new face ,he would be off chasing those girls again.
When I got to work I told the staff of how things were,but they were not as concerned as I had been.I went to Woolworths and one of the Supervisors asked me where Harry was ,when I told her she asked for details and I thought she would send him a card. How wrong I was.

When A. found out I was going,she said I could find out all I wanted to know about women from her.Mum chased her off with a mop,laughing as she called her a dirty cow , another night of tossing and turning,literally!
That last day,I got a few little gifts and a lot of kisses from the ladies at the shop. On my last trip to the bank,I gave the girls in the cake shop a wave as I passed by ,I heard my name called behind me as I was heading for our shop,I turned,it was Anne,she kissed me and gave me a little present,"Don't forget me,please write",she turned and ran back to her shop.There was a little keepsake wrapped in a piece of paper that bore her address.

Monday morning found me in Central station,meeting up with some other boys to catch the train that was to take me to the beginning of another life.
30th november 2007
Brian Daley

brian daley
03-09-2008, 12:49 PM
So , there I was ,standing beneath the clock in Central Station, the sun was shafting through the glass skylights ,the smoke and steam from the waiting engines swirling upwards to the roof. I saw Mr Brown from the Pool standing with two other lads , they looked in my direction as I walked toward them. We three were bound for the National Sea Training School at Sharpness in Gloucestershire ,and Mr Brown was there to see us off.
Leaving home had not been easy , the longest I’d ever been away since reaching adolescence was a week, and that was with the school at the Isle of Man. This time it was different , I was going away for three months, and then going away for who knows how long?
Travelling to town on the Crosville to catch the train , I looked at everything as though for the last time .All those years of wanderlust were now about to become a reality . Aigburth Road looked trim and green in the autumn sun , soon we were down into town and at the station ,the sadness of leaving the family behind me ,the excitement of a new life ahead before me.
Mr. Brown, introduced me to the other boys, George and Alan ; they were roughly the same age as me and were from the same kind of background.
Our train was at the platform getting up steam and we were soon aboard and in our compartment as the engine shuddered into life .The whistle screamed ,great clouds of steam enveloped Mr Brown as he waved us goodbye from the platform and we were off.
Alan and I had both volunteered to go for a sea career , George was there at the behest of some official or other. He was a very likable young man, he suffered with the same kind of problem that my Granddad had, he was troubled with a speech impediment. Certain words caused his tongue to get stuck and he struggled to get them out . He was’nt at all embarrassed by his “problem”, if anything ,he was angry with it and asked us both to bear with him if we saw him get stuck. I could not but admire him , he was a gutsy fellow.
By the time we reached Gloucestershire we had each of learned a little of each others lives ,Alan and I were from similar backgrounds, George had had it tougher than both of us and he was determined that he was going to master that impediment before we came back!
When we changed trains at Gloucester a crowd of other lads got aboard, they were from the West Country and Wales , our small party was now a very big party.
We arrived in Sharpness in the late afternoon, the sun was still up and we could see that it was a bit different from Liverpool ! I fully expected Will Hay to appear on the platform, it was just like the station in “Oh , Mr Porter “ Standing at one end of the platform was a man in full merchant navy officers uniform ,he had a big beefy face with a nose like an old fashioned doorknocker ,with him were some lads our age ,in full battle dress uniforms.
They were in dark blue outfits and had crossed anchors in red on the sleeves , shiny black boots and white puttees. “Crikey “ I thought ,”It’s the bloody navy!”
We piled out of the carriages in a heap and the officer stood ramrod straight watching this untidy melee. “Right Lads !” he barked,” form yourselves up into columns and we will march up to the camp !” There was a great deal of shuffling and , with the assistance of the uniformed boys ,we formed some sort of order and proceeded up to the sea school.
We could see the docks and the river , it was the Severn , everything seemed very orderly on the route to the school. It seemed like an army camp , as we approached we could see a boy on sentry duty at the gate. When we were inside the camp we were met by more uniformed lads and one of them, who we found out later was the Senior Bosun , approached us and got us to line up ready for induction. That boy was so smart we thought that he must have been there for years. He had red lanyards and a kind of red scarf, crossed anchors , boots that shone like polished glass and gleaming white puttees. You could have sliced bread with the creases in his uniform so sharp they looked. We three looked at each other and wondered , was this what we were expected to look like.?
Little and by degree we were all enrolled , all save one that is ,just as the officer, Mr Wright was finalising our paperwork, a large black Daimler limousine braked gently to a halt outside the gatehouse. Mr. Wright looked out on the scene and started to shake his head in disbelief ,we turned to follow his gaze and saw the cause for his dismay. A young blonde , curly headed lad was getting out of the car, he was accompanied by a very aristocratic looking lady and an army officer, he was covered in ribbons and his hat was laden down with scrambled eggs.
He was a Brigadier. Oh , that poor lad ,what a start for him , he immediately became a “target”, but more of him later.
We were divided up into our categories after all the paperwork was done , the catering boys to one side and the deck boys to another. Fortunately ,we three were put in the same hut ,ther were about twenty or so of us in there ,all new , and all from different parts of the country .
There were two rows of double bunk beds and just inside the door was the officers cabin,the officer in charge of our hut was Mr Scott ,or Scotty as we came to know him.
After grabbing what bunks we could it was off to the Vindicatrix itself for our evening meal.
The “Vindi” as she was more familiarly known was an old sailing ship that had been built many ,many years before, she had had an illustrious career ,having served under the German and British flags as she sailed upon the oceans of the world ,and here she was now,moored alongside the quay on the Sharpness canal .
As we newborn babes made our way to the gangway we were very much aware of the hundreds of pairs of eyes that viewed us……..hungrily, as prey!
“New Boyyyyy” the low cry went up , following us along the quay and up the gangway ,”Neww Boyyy” we looked at each other, “You’re never goin’ ‘ome !”
We huddled like lambs to the slaughter, beset on all sides by the unseen callers of our doom.
The mess deck was ahead of us now and we saw some boys in blue candy striped blousons , our waiters! They waved us to our places in this cavernous room. There were ranks of tables filling the space ,enough for a couple of hundred boys ,for now there were just us new boys.
Two lads came to our table ,they looked like something out of Dickens; “It’s sea pie for tea new boys , you can ‘ave a second portion for a fag “ It was the Artful Dodger and Smike.
We were loaded ,we had our packets of Woodbines and Players Weights ,we gave them some cigarettes anyway,we did’nt want their dinners for them. We had a lot to learn………
Dinner was served ,Sea Pie ,none of us had ever seen anything like it ,we could’nt begin to guess what was in it , it was pushed around the plates ,lifted up on forks and inspected,poked and prodded ,but I think that I was the only one to empty my plate . There a bit of a commotion as one the deck lads who had been working near the galley ,rushed in and gobbled up as much of the uneaten food as he could manage. Hmmmmm, we were beginning our education.
Before we were sent back to our huts to unpack we had to go to the quarterdeck to be given a little chat by the assistant Captain ,Mr Poore. Whilst awaiting his entrance ,we were told to squat around the bulkheads (walls) and make ourselves as comfortable as possible. There were a lot of us and we staring to make conversations when some of the boys who were due to leave came amongst us. These were the guys who had been barracking us ,one of them ,a huge lad from the Scotland Road area of Liverpool loomed menacingly over us .”Got any smokes New Boy ?” he would demand. Boy after boy sheepishly proferred their packets to him.
He had a mean ,wolfish look about him and was clearly the cock’o the walk. Suddenly he was standing above me , I tried to make myself invisible , there was no way I could take him on “Where was that bloody Captain?” “ where are you from New Boy ? “ he asked ,thrusting his face into mine. I looked away. “I asked you where you’re from New Boy ! Answer!” he demanded . “Garston “ I croaked . “I’m going to have to teach this new boy some manners “ he growled . My stomach turned to liquid,well ,my Dad had warned me that I would’nt last 5 minutes and it looked like he was going to be proved right . “On your feet new boy “ he shouted, as I was about to offer myself to his beating ,a soft West Country voiced said “ Woy don’ yew pick on sumwun yore own soize boyo ?” My head swivelled round .as did everyone elses , to see a stocky little youth ,one of the new boys ,standing there ,arms akimbo, cool as you like . “ Oo are yew pickin foights wi kiddies ? Like to troy sum wi’ me Borr ?” The Bully slid away and we were not bothered again. Not for three years ,but we’ll come to that later.
I wish I could remember my , our , saviours name , he was a very plucky West Countryman ,the same type who man lifeboats and look fear in the face without flinching.
That night in our hut there was much debate about whether this was the life for us , I was staying no matter what , there was no way I was going back to Liverpool now.
It was strange spending that first night in the hut ,the bunks were steel framed with wire springs and had flock mattresses . We were issued with blue sheets and a couple of blankets and pillows ,you never heard such whinging , “Not like me bed at ‘ome “,” Sheet’s are rough” “ Not enough Blankets!” and so on ,and so on .For me ,it was an improvement !!
I fell asleep dreaming of tomorrow.

03-09-2008, 01:43 PM
Only just found this thread - but read it beginning to end. What a powerful memory you have - you're about 8 years older than me but a **** sight sharper mentally.

Lots of chords struck for me.
When we moved from Speke in 1961 we moved to Allerton, just by Gilmour school you went to. I went to Blessed John Almonds and many of my classmates came from the tennies you lived in.
Also have memories of Stanley Park as my uncle lived right by it and we used to visit.

Alexandra Rd in Llandudno stikes yet another chord as my wife stayed there on holiday pretty much throughout her childhood.

Also joined the Merchant Navy and also ended up in the midlands - near Wolverhampton.

Keep 'em coming!


brian daley
03-09-2008, 08:43 PM
Wow,got a bit of a gremlin in the works there folks,how it happened ..I don't know,but it has multiplied itself by the power of 20. Can it be fixed ? I really must apologise for the snafu. Let's hope the next one goes on wiyhout any hitches,

brian daley
03-09-2008, 08:50 PM
I seem to be going haywire tonight ,I have'nt had a drink even,but I just posted an apology for fouling things up with my posting and fouled that up
as well. I'm getting too old for this;by the way Kevin,thanks for your kind words ,who knows our paths might have crossed when you were a kid . You'll have to post some of your sea stories , they're always welcome,
Cheers ,

03-09-2008, 10:01 PM
BrianDaley, Click 'edit' and delete the extra posts then click 'save changes'.:PDT_Aliboronz_24:

brian daley
03-10-2008, 09:27 AM
Shy, Lindy and Co.
Thanks for your help ,as you can see ,I got it sorted!!

03-10-2008, 09:41 AM
Hello Brian

Glad you got it fixed. We always welcome your interesting and entertaining reminiscences. Good work, Brian.


03-10-2008, 04:00 PM
you put me to shame Brian with your story while I,ve been too busy finding new family. I must make a conscious effort to finish my work. Great stuff Brian, cheers

03-10-2008, 04:46 PM
Hello Brian

Glad you got it fixed. We always welcome your interesting and entertaining reminiscences. Good work, Brian.


I will second that.Good stuff:handclap:

brian daley
03-11-2008, 05:36 PM
I was free at last , there in that blue tropic sea ,down in the turquoise ocean with only the fish for company; shafts of sunlight shimmered down from above as I swam toward that shadowy shape in the distance..was it her ? As I swam nearer I could see her naked form ,graceful as a dolphin , she came my way.God but she was beautiful,and soon I would know her ,as a man should..
Then suddenly my world was shattered by the rasping sound of a bugle What the f!... "Come along now ,'ands off c###s and put on yer socks !!" Where the hell was I? Raising my head from my pillow ,I saw the other boys looking as shocked as I was
This was Reveille and I was bone dry and still a virgin.
Scotty was ranging up and down the hut ,rattling the bed frames with a stick, "Come on you layabouts , it's time for a little exercise!". My god ,was the man mad ,it was still the middle of the night and he was expecting us to get out and do P.E.!!
With a coughing and a spluttering ,the cream of British youth emerged from their slumbers and ,exchanging pyjamas for shorts and a vest ,were led out on to the parade ground where we beheld the sight of white scrawny forms about to undergo the same trial as us.
After what seemed an age ,we were led to have our morning wash , in cold ,very cold, water in the smallest sinks I had ever had to use . They were wedge shaped units made out of bare galvanised steel. No porcelain here boy. Those little sinks were for both us and our laundry. Time would tell of the effects it had on our hygiene.
When we got back to our hut to get changed for breakfast ,we noticed that we were three boys short. They had decamped during the night ,this was'nt the picnic they thought it would be . Once dressed we were led down to the Vindi for breakfast ,after which we would be given a medical examination and then issued with our uniforms.
We did'nt have to run a gauntlet of staring eyes today, everybody was intent on being fed.
The queue of boys stretched along the quay and up the gangway but it was moving pretty fast ,we were hungry now,it's amazing what a bit of exercise and a cold water wash can do for a boys appetite.
We reached the serving hatch at last and were given soup plates upon which the cook dolloped a ladle full of burgoo ,this was a form of porridge ,quite unlike what mother made,
I think Polyfilla must have got their recipe from this cook ,it stuck to your ribs and needed plenty of sugar too. Let me tell you about the cook , he looked like he was an escapee from Broadmoor , maybe 6 foot 2 inches tall ,25 stone ,lips like a rubber liferaft from which there always hung a cigarette ,the ash from which would drop off into whatever food lay beneath it,seasoning he called it. After the burgoo ,there was a cup of tea and then it was off for the medical.
The medico was a lady, she was called Codeine Annie ,I can't remember her proper name ,but I'll never forget her . She was not like my lady of the water ,no ,she was about 5 foot nothing ,very round , her hair looked as though it had just had 50,000 volts shot through it, and she wore glasses with very thick lens. We had to strip off and get the full monty of an exam , cough, bend ,say aah. And then we were weighed . She promised us that we would all put on weight during our time there, "Your diet has been has been expertly designed to ensure that you will be healthy ". Which meant that we would'nt be getting much !!
As we were taken from place to place ,we gradually learned more about what would be our home for the next few months. The camp itself, was built upon high ground above the canal, it was situated between the docks and the canal with railway running between the river frontage and the village. The town of Berkeley was close enough to walk to and across the River Severn was Lydney ,this was connected to our side by a many spanned railway bridge. The camps hut were brick built ,with corrugated roofs ,finished in whitewash ,they looked very neat and tidy. To reach the canal we had to negotiate a series of steps and then cross the lock gates to get aboard the Vindi . It was a pleasant looking place,this was before the days of leisure craft ,then it was a working canal but the main traffic was us trainees.
There were some very nice boats for us to train on , there was a pinnace that had belonged to King George the 5th ,a whaler ,a motor launch and a couple of lifeboats.
The Vindicatrix loomed large in that small canal and ,as painting would be a part of the skills needed by a sailor ,she was kept in pristine condition at all times. I was baffled by all the ropes and wires that festooned her masts ,but that was what I was here to learn about.
After the medical ,it was off to the stores for our kit .We had to pay for everything and what we got would stand us in good stead for our first few months at sea ,and longer.
The battle dress and trousers, blue shirts 2 off, beret with silver badge ,fishermans top ,2 pairs of dungarees,a black tie,sea jersey ,sou'wester , oilskins and sea boots. Fully laden ,we returned to our hut to become civvies no longer ,but Vindi Boys .

03-11-2008, 07:47 PM
Burgoo sounds like it says!!
Codeine Annie gave me an image of a fat "bride of frankenstine".It made me laugh.
Anyway brill story..keep it going.:handclap:

brian daley
03-11-2008, 11:22 PM
We were a right motley crew in that hut, there were Scousers,Mancs , Devon Boys, a local lad
from Lydney , a kiddie from Somerset and one from Cornwall,there was a Geordie ,he had an accent so strong that we took a while to grasp what he was saying ,there a Lad from Rochester too. Together ,we comprised the survivors, 2 more boys had slipped away after evening meal.
We represented the different classes that made up most of British society. One of the Devon Lads was really top drawer ,not aristocracy ,but from the upper middle class. He wore clothes that fitted him perfectly , Tattersal check shirts ,with a cravat and waistcoat ,topped with a classy blazer,he looked like he had walked in from a drawing room drama. . A lovely guy though, self deprecating and not all snobbish. Harry the ,Geordie was from the other end of the scale,from a mining village near Hartlepool ,he had Viking good looks and a perpetual laugh upon his lips .
Colin from over the bridge in Lydney , he had a shock of golden brown hair and an accent that had a soft Gloucestershire burr. He could see where he lived ,but he was a Vindi Boy now and there was no going home at night for him. Frank was from Manchester ,a quietly funny guy ,not pushy ,nor
sarcastic ,you could'nt help liking him , there was Dickie ,the kid from Rochester ,he was the closest to me in age and appearance ,but he came from a more affluent background than me, there was George and Alan too, but you have already met them. Of the rest of our hut,time and distance has
erased them from my memory. So, the task before us now was to get our uniforms in order.
We were expected to look like the boys who had met us at the gate ,but the outfits we had been given looked shapeless and were a bit ill fitting. Some of the older trainees came and gave us a few tips on how to smarten the uniforms up. The first thing was to swap sizes with kids who clothes were either too large or too small.We muddled through that and then we learn how to press the outfit and get those razor sharp creases , the secret was to run soap along the inside of the sleeves and backs down the inside of the trouser legs. When you applied a wet handkerchief over the intended area ,the application of a hot iron flattened the nap and produced very sharp ,creases.
Getting the beret to sit at the right angle was the next task ,badge over the right eye put a dimple just above the badge and then pulling it down to the left at a jaunty angle..Yes !! that was the business.
The boots took a little longer ,they were army issue and had a surface like a pebble dashed wall,
We had to bone them , this was done with the back of a tablespoon handle, .you had to exert maximum pressure and plenty of polish ,plus gobfuls of spit . It was hard labour ,but,as the week passed by those toecaps started to look like polished glass..That was'nt the only entertainment we had though . The camp had a sports hall and a big recreation room ,in which there was the biggest television that I had ever seen ,remember ,this was 1958 ,two channels only ,and both of those in black and white . But that t.v. ,it had a 36 inch screen ,enormous in them days ,and it allowed people at the back of the room to watch the programmes too. Not that there was anything you would want to see,outside of Oh Boy and Cool for Cats it was a bit of a waste of time when there was so much else going on. The music that filled our lives at that was made by Buddy Holly,Elvis ,
Connie Francis ,the Everleys,there was also Tommy Steele,Marty Wilde and a raucous newcomer with a mean streak ,bad attitude and the essence of teenage cool it was ,and I kid you not,Cliff Richard !! When he burst on to the screen singing "Move It" he had a snarling aggression that marked him out from all the rest of the British rockers ,you should have seen us Vindi Boys that Saturday night when he came on Oh Boy,we could'nt believe he was a Brit.
He took hold of that mike and snarled his song as his group laid down a beat that had us kids up and boppin ,hobnailed boots and all. Did'nt last long that eh? But that is getting ahead of meself.
We had to start learning some seamanship soon.

brian daley
03-13-2008, 08:50 PM
We were limited to the camp until we had passed our life boat examination ,it was a bit like being in jail ,no girls ,no women at all, only Codeine Annie ,and we only got to see her for checkups or illnesses. There was a girl who we sometimes saw in the distance, June ,the girl who worked on the pig farm. She was a big raw boned girl,you can weave fantasies about anything if you try, and June became the subject of some of the boys fevered imaginings. But we had to do some work on our seamanship before we were let loose on the world . Our Lifeboat instructor was Joe Moses ,a big burly man who had been a Vindi boy himself in the war years, although he was a hardened old salt ,(I bet he was only in his late thirties ) he was very human, perhaps he remembered the time he was there. Some of the happiest memories I have are those of the times spent in the lifeboat ,learning to man the oars ,not the easiest of tasks ,and learning how to luff and tack in a head wind .This was no ordinary school,we were training for real life .Joe's tales of war at sea and the stories of men who were forced to spend days adrift in the boats after enemy action made the lessons more dramatic.
As we mastered our rowing skills we were pitted against other boys and had races on the canal , it was hard not to enjoy lessons like those. Also on our seamanship course , we had to learn our bends and hitches ,knots to you !
Our instructor for this was a Mister Darke ,Popeye, this man must have smoked for England because he looked consumptive ,but he was good. He would commence his introduction to the art of knottery by picking up a piece of rope and saying "This is one end of the rope" turning to the other end he would say "and this is the other end" Then holding it by the middle he would say ,"And the middle bit is called the Bight!"
With a flurry of fingers he would then produce a fantastical knot , like a Turks head or a Matthew Walker, and then he began the task of teaching us how to do a clove hitch ,half hitch ,bowline ,bowline on the bight ,with an explanation for each one. Our spare time ,both night and day ,was spent tying and untying all of the knots that he had so patiently shown us during the day. Between Joe and Popeye ,we lads safely passed our lifeboat examination .It was now time to unleash the boys and let them loose on Sharpness. Not that there were many places to go , let alone have money to spend .
We were not paid for our time at the training school , we did ,in fact have to provide our own spending money by depositing our money from home with the pursers office when we arrived. This was doled out to us on a Saturday if my memory serves me correctly. 15 bob a week ,Woodbines were 1/6d for ten ,and we could'nt buy any beer,there was no immediately local place of entertainment ( there was a cinema in Berekeley but I cannot remember going there . There was a Flying Angel down by the docks and they had a snooker table and table tennis,a good t.v.system ,giant screen like the one in camp,a very friendly Padre, who had 2 beautiful daughters.
Mr .George was his name and most boys, even the non religious boys,
liked him. A pipe smoker,he was always very laid back and not an evangelising sky pilot. That and the pies and cakes he served won many a boy over.
Thus a pattern for our days emerged , lectures and practical work of a daytime ,interspersed with culinary abominations served up by the kitchen, at days end it was a cold swill and then off up the Burma Rd. for a game of snooker/draughts/ scrabble at the Flying Kipper and the chance of a chat with Mr Georges beautiful daughters.
Being autumn ,night had well and truly fallen by the time we had to go back to camp,on our way down the road we would give full throat to our Vindi songs,"We are the Vindi Boys,Vindi Boys are we, We love the Captains daughter.............."

And ,after three or four songs we were back at the gates of the camp,voices lowered to a whisper ,avoiding the chance of being charged with unruly behaviour and being given Jankers ! It was then down to the Vindi to get a mug of cocoa for supper (it was rumoured to contain bromide to reduce our libidos ,if it did ,it never worked )
After our cocoa ,we made our way back to our huts ,it was getting to be like home now,but without the usual comforts . Lights out and then crash, but we were adolescent boys ,full of testosterone ,about 5 minutes after we were plunged into darkness the rattle of bedsprings could be heard as the overture to the Onanistic chorus began . Bromide in the cocoa ?Some hope. No sooner was I asleep than my lady of the blue waters made her nightly appearance ,her naked form taunting my fevered,virginal mind . Swimming and Sh****ng,two things that I had never done ,and the way things were going ,it seemed I never would. All the other boys in our hut
claimed to have had more experience than Casanova and Don Juan put together ,I kept my mouth shut when it came to talking about doing "it",I did'nt know how to!!
Ohh, my sleep filled my nights with thoughts of lost opportunities. I used to wake up wrecked!!
Letters from home kept our feet on the ground ,Mum used to keep me supplied with news of what was happening in the family, occasionally she would give me an update on Harry ,he was still in hospital and had'nt made any progress . I felt guilty about how little time I spent thinking about him ,I was so taken up with my new world that I had little time for anything else. But guilt will always catch you out ,unexpectedly so!!
Right now though we had to learn about splicing ,rigging .boxing the compass and a myriad other seamanship skills, that , and keeping out of trouble ,occupied most of our working day.

brian daley
03-14-2008, 08:27 PM
Being a young man ,in the midst of adolescence ,short of money ,and only other like young men for company, we found life dominated by the two F's food and fags .
There was never enough of either ,our 15 bob a week did'nt stretch to luxuries ,like a 20 pack of cigarettes ,and our “diet “ meant we were always on short rations.
A typical Sunday meal menu would be ,egg and bacon for breakfast ,a pea sized egg accompanied by what looked like a crack in the plate , your bacon. Lunch ,or dinner as it used to be known as ,would consist of some meat of unknown provenance ,with watery mashed potatoes and soggy greens. Some kind of steamed pudding ,coated with what passed for custard sat limply in the bowl. But Sunday tea was a revelation ,we were given three slices of bread ,two of them smeared with imitation margarine ,in which lay two slices of chopped wood, flavoured with a hammy essence, the third slice had marge on with a thin coating of imitation jam . We usually went down to the Flying Angel after tea for a glass of pop and a sticky bun . As for the fags ,non smokers would buy them and used to barter them for a dinner or pudding ,we smokers formed little groups in which we would share a ciggie ,using a pin on the stump so as not to burn our fingers. The stubs were never thrown away , but were saved up and recycled ,with the use of Rizla papers , one packet would be made to go an extra 25% further . You never saw a dog end laying on the ground !! The camp was always
spick and span ,and if there any dog ends laying about they would have been harvested by the lads on Jankers ,for it was their job to sweep the pathways .
There was one bright spot on the food front ,but you had to work for it ,and you had to work as a team for it. This was a beautiful iced cake. An old fashioned, fruit stuffed , ,moist concoction that was a testament to the bakers art ,the icing was rich and soft , coating a layer of almond rich marzipan paste that covered the whole of the cake.
This wonderous thing was big enough to give each boy in one hut a large and juicy slice . The catch was that it had to be won ,and it was won by the hut that was kept in the best condition , the floors had to gleam, the beds had to squared off in military fashion ,your lockers clean and tidy and not a speck of dust was allowed…anywhere!
We lads had a boy who was made bosun of the hut ,it was his job to see that we did as we were told ,we took our boots off on entering the hut ,we practised making our beds until we were perfect and we kept that floor clean by making coverings for our shoes out of old blankets so that we buffed the floor as we walked around . The judging took place on a Saturday morning when the the schools Captain , Mr. Duguid and some of the Officers inspected every hut ,rigorously, lifting mattresses ,wiping their hands under shelves , on top of lockers , Everywhere in fact. After Saturday breakfast ,and just before inspection ,we would hare back to our hut and give it a final buffing. To give the floor that extra special shine we would put one of the lads in a blanket ,shape it like a hammock and haul him around the floor. It did the trick ,our hut won that cake two weeks in a row, and then some spy discovered our secret.
For a camp that had so many young men there was hardly any aggro, for the very good reason that if you bore someone a grudge ,or had subjected someone to a bit of bullying ,the officers always seemed to find out about it ,and when they did the parties involved were stuck in the ring on a Monday night and made to fight each other by the Queensbury Rules . As kids we had done that at Tiber Street , and here it was proving to be an aid to good order. Most of the boys would crowd into the sports hall to watch the bouts and officers and masters of ships in the docks quite often turned up on fight night . It did affect your behaviour, I can remember having a silly argument in the toilets with a cockney lad . We were debating the relative merits of our home towns ,a high flown discussion along the lines of " All Scousers are ******s"
" You Cockneys are a bunch of bleedin tossers" ,the stuff that parliamentary debates are made of. We moved around each other like snarling dogs ,fists knotted ,teeth bared tongue forming the next insult ,when from out of nowhere the sportsmaster appeared.
"Right you lads ,in the ring Monday ,O.K.!"
It was the Cockney who spoke first ,"We wuz only avin a laff sir ,wozzin we Scouse ?" My head nearly nodded itself off my shoulders , he was as big a coward as I was !! The sportsmaster looked at us suspiciously , we joshed each other and I said that we had been having the other boys on . It worked ,I never had to get in that ring ,
I'd seen George in there one Monday night , he was having a hard time of it and we were shouting advice from the stalls. He came over to the ropes and was struggling to tell us to keep our mouths shut when his opponent landed a haymaker to the side of his head . We shut up after that.
On a Sunday the sportshall became a church. The camp was very hot on boys attending church ,when you were inducted you had to state what you religion was.
You had to be either Catholic or Protestant ,no atheism ,agnosticism ,or any other ism was not allowed. If you hesitated when it came to answering what religion you were ,you were marked down as C of E. I , naturally, hesitated in answering because ,technically I was both ,having been dipped in both fonts . "? of E" he barked , thus putting me in that category for the rest of my time at sea.
The catholic service was held first thus allowing the papists a bit of extra leisure time on a Sunday morning , we Prods had to wait while the altar was reshuffled and then had our service ,which was conducted by Mr George from the Flying Angel,
There were no overlong sermons , a couple of prayers a few hymns ,and then time was our own ,meals excepted ,to do with as we wished . Some of the lads would go to the Evangelical mission in Berkeley , you got a sticky bun and a cup of tea or pop , free ,but you had to wait until after the service. ,Once on a Sunday was enough for me.
Some of the officers had other ideas of what you could do in your spare time , one of them was called Mr Agate , perhaps the most famous of them all .
I've got to tell you about that Brigadiers son , and a boy called Squeak ,but not yet !

03-14-2008, 08:56 PM
Thanks Brian for continuing the story :PDT11 :)

brian daley
03-15-2008, 03:01 PM

Sharpness had a collection of eccentrics among the staff ,Codeine Annie , Popeye, Mr .Poore , he was like a sinister Alfred Hitchcock , but they were as nothing when compared to Ginger Reeves and Mr. Agate ,note that Mister no,nicknames there . He was a committed Christian with a wry sense of humour . A bit like Jacques Tatis Monsieur Hulot ,he would ride around the camp on an old upright bicycle singing hymns at the top of his voice .He was'nt a tyrant but was strict nevertheless . The boys liked him enough to sing scurrilous songs about him"We're gonna join,We're gonna join , We're gonna join Old Agates Navy, Up at six o'clock, Marching round the block, Dirty big icicles hanging from your C**k,etc,etc..."
Old Agate used to have enthusiasms ,he organised a dance in the village hall ,we lads were ordered to attend or else!! It was Saturday night and we spent extra time on our appearance, okay, so it was'nt going to be the Locarno ,but who knows what ladies Mr. Agate might rustle up ? Hobnail boots agleaming , berets tilted at the right angle ,ties in neat windsors ,and creases you could shave with ,we strode forth to charm the girls of Sharpness ,who knows what the night might bring ?
The hall was up one of the little streets ,more like a chapel than a dance hall ,but we could hear Connie Francis singing Who's Sorry Now so it was not going to be George Formby and Gracie Fields as some of us had feared .When our little group entered the hall we found it was full to the brim. With other Vindi boys!!
There was little girl of about 8 playing with her hula hoop, another girl ,about 12 ,she was operating the Dansette record player ,and two very mature ladies standing by a tea urn and a table full of tea cakes !
"Come on boys!!" Mr Agate ordered ,"Get up and get dancing, you ,boy ,you take him and dance over there ,and you boys too ! Come on you have got to enjoy yourselves !!" we gaped at each other , "Come on Daley ,you dance with Higgins !"
In pretty short order he had us all doing the quick step with each other. Some of the lads were queuing up to dance with the old ladies rather be forced to dance with each other. And there was no escape, Old Agate stood at the door to make sure of that!
Still the tea and cakes were nice.
Ginger Reeves was like a cross between Yosemite Sam and Popeye the sailor.
Red haired and red faced , hardly a tooth in his head and a mouth full of the saltiest language ever, he could have compiled a dictionary of oaths . He would split words ,inserting a Fack as in Yesterfacking day and so on. He was funny in a scurrillous way and never funnier ,albeit unconsciously , at the Sunday service when............... Well this is what happened ,as I have already told you ,the Catholics used the Sportshall for their service and we Anglicans followed them. It was while we were waiting for the Vicar to proceed to the altar and we were settling in our seats the organist had not yet started to play and all was silent, the hushed beginnings of a Sunday at prayer, when ,into that holy silence some boy(not me ) let go with an enormous ,trouser ripping fart!!!! There was a stunned silence , and then Ginger sprang from his seat and roared "This is a bleedin’ church not a bleedin ablution!!" (very heavily sanitized version)
The entire congregation of boys shrieked with laughter ,Ginger was choking with rage ,the organist struck up with Soldiers of Christ Arise and on came the Reverend and his altar boys. It was awhile before we could settle down ,and even the vicar was suppressing a giggle. Poor old Ginger ,you could feel the heat of his blush five rows back.

Now , as to the Brigadiers son , his parents had played a lousy trick on him, they had given him the same forename as his surname ,not a good thing to do to a lad who is going to go to a sea school ! WW , as we shall call him, became a victim from the first moment he stepped onto the camp ,and, as a consequence he was in that boxing ring every week , sparring it out with his latest tormentor .It was'nt too long before he became quite proficient in the noble art and started to lay out a few of his tormentors .
He demeanour changed and he soon became a well respected boy ,you did'nt mess with WW any more. I've often wondered what his parents thought when he got home, thicker set and able to face any man.
And then there was Squeak , he was a Northerner ,from somewhere in the Pennines , his voice had'nt broken yet and he still had that squeaky timbre that pre-teens have. He was tall and skinny and had a gawky way of walking , but he had a good sense of humour. A catering trainee , he often served us lads and came in for a lot of good natured wigging ,but that voice , it was awful!! One night we had a concert and ,during the sing song, we were singing Carolina Moon ,when we became aware of this high pitched sound amongst us ,it was Squeak, almost as though a signal had been given ,all of the boys stopped singing and left Squeak to do a solo . Which he did ,with all the aplomb of a professional !.It was unique , a sound so awful yet entertaining too. Like WW , Squeak was a ring regular for a little while ,he too learned to dish it out .
Colin the Lydney lad was given permission to go home for a weekend after we had passed our Lifeboat exam, we were green with envy ,it would be more than two months before we saw our folks again. The week before he went our class had had a group photograph taken , there we were ,on the top deck of the Vindi ,standing at the rail with the bridge in the background . Smart as paint in our full uniforms .
When Colin returned to camp, he handed out to certain of us lads who were on his photograph, the names and addresses of some of the girls he knew back at his home. They had seen the photograph and asked Colin to put them in touch with the boys they had chosen to write to . I was pleased as punch when he gave me the address of my pen pal. Miss Maureen Stratford, near the Stag Inn,Yorkley, near Lydney,Glos.
From that day , and for near two years ,she and I exchanged letters . She filled many lonely hours with words from home, through her I gained a picture of village life ,we were not having a romance ,we were pen friends in the truest sense . I often wonder how life turned out for her , I lost track of her in the early sixties ,she went off to college in London and I was roving the world.

Those hobnailed boots of ours took a lot of pounding .We marched every day , P.E first thing ,get changed, get on the square and then get marching. Some of the lads had two left feet and never got to grips with it , when were you going to march on a boat? So some of them just went through the motions , others gave it everything they had . Ramrod straight , snapping to attention like a guardsman and cracking off a salute like a veteran. Those of us who could do that were formed into a squad and were given extra training , we did'nt know what for ,we did'nt care because it kept us off the labour squad . Gradually we were whittled down to a group of twenty , and we were marching for a couple of hours a day. Mr. Turner was our trainer , he was hard ,I suppose he needed to be because we were raw ,but within a week we could wheel and turn with the best. Alongside of this we were doing our seamanship course now , some of us had won our red stars for our lifeboat test ,if you won one for your seamanship, you were guaranteed a promotion to Bosuns mate ,or Bosun, or ,if you were amazingly good ,Camp Bosun! I was so eager to impress my parents ,particularly Dad ,he'd been an NCO in the army and had never let me forget it ,I'd show him. Well I got that star!! All it needed now was for the existing bosuns to leave and create vacancies for us new two star men .
But, fate had something else in store for some of us?..all that marching , it had'nt been just for show, we were going to London ,to march in front of the Queen!


brian daley
03-16-2008, 02:15 AM
Mr Turner told us that we lads had been selected to represent the Merchant Navy at either the Armistice Parade at the Cenotaph ,or the British Legion Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall. We were staggered , it had not entered our heads when we were doing all that square bashing that it was all to do with that !
We would be taken to the sea school at Gravesend and be trained with boys from there, to either march at the Albert Hall , or the Cenotaph .Not both , apparently a different type of marching was required at each ceremony. When we told the lads in our hut , they called us jammy buggers ,but wished us luck ,Dickie Eames ,the lad from Rochester ,asked me if I would go and see his Mum when I was in Gravesend. He gave me 15 shillings to cover the cost of any fares .I wrote home to Mum and gave her the news’ , her letter back to me was bursting with pride . The post was great in those days there were three a day and the letters posted at 6-00p.m of an evening were guaranteed to arrive next day. Mail call was the most important time of the day for a Vindi boy, we would crowd into the mess room and Popeye would sit out front with stack of letters and parcels . He’d call out your name , you’d put your hand up, and he would send that all important bit of post right into your hand .Years of practise had gone into his unerring aim . My Mum used to send me a wedge of Danish blue cheese once a week, Popeye took a great delight in hurling it at me , it was quite pungent .
Our party was leaving Sharpness on the Saturday , a fortnight before Remembrance weekend, on the Thursday night before our hut turned out en-masse for a farewell trip to the Flying Angel ,there would be no time on the Friday ,we had to do our packing and get an early night. We never drank anything but pop or tea but we had a good time anyway, a couple of games of table tennis or snooker and then a few songs around the piano. On the way back to camp we would bellow out The Vindi song or the latest Pat Boone hit , Love Letters in the Sand. All good clean fun.
After the nightly cup of cocoa and the late chorus of the bedsprings ,it was dreamtime.
Next day passed in a blur, not long before the off. I was running back to our hut after dinner when I slipped and wrenched my ankle. I was shattered, I could’nt stand , the pain was excruciating .I saw all my dreams fade as I was helped back to the hut by two of the lads.
I wish I could remember the name of the big Scouse kid who took charge of things that night . There was still time to go ashore and he and another kid got me by the arms and helped me down to the Flying Angel , they got Mr. George on the case and he ,and his daughter, bound my ankle in an elasticated bandage . He gave me strict instructions not to remove my boots when I went to bed . The lads helped me back to camp ,and I went to bed fully clothed . I did’nt bother with breakfast next morning ,the walk down to the Vindi would have crippled me. I mustered with the rest of our party and was helped aboard our transport, which was a Morris Commercial truck that was fitted out with wooden benches . It was canvas covered and uncomfortable as hell, but at least as I was’nt going to be on my feet for the best part of a day.
This was in the days before the motorways and the journey was really nice , passing through all of those towns and villages ,each with its’ own character ,was a real experience . The sight of Market Crosses and quaint town halls , the different high streets,not a Starbucks or a Macdonalds in view . I’m glad I saw it ,it now belongs to another age. It was ironic that there was’nt a single Londoner in our party , so when we passed through that great city we were all held in thrall by its’ many wonders .
We arrived in Gravesend just in time for dinner , and the food was so much better than we had been getting in Sharpness . The school itself was totally different too , we were told that it had been a womens’ prison in days gone ,although its’ design was more reminiscent of a hospital. There were several storeys and the dormitories were open and oval in shape ,the centre was hollow .as in a prison ,and there a wrought iron rail around it to prevent us falling over . There was a pier and a boat deck on the river side of the building. This afforded a wonderful aspect of the river , diagonally across the Thames lay Tilbury, where we could see the P.&O and the Orient liners. The sight of them gleaming in the sunshine, evoked images of distant ports in strange lands.
I never got tired of looking at the ever changing pageant of vessels that passed in view before us . This made my future at sea more immediate , at Sharpness we only saw a few cargo boats ,here they were in our line of sight every moment of the day.
Gravesend was different in many ways from the Vindi ,there seemed to more catering trainees here ,and there were some trainees that we never had at the Vindi, bell boys.
They all looked about twelve years old , a lot were Jimmy ****heroe look alikes . But I learned very early on that you don’t take the mickey out of them, I did , I think I said something like “What’s the weather like down there shortstuff “,no sooner than the words were out of my mouth than I was thrown to the floor and mobbed by a whole gang of them . I gave them every respect thereafter.
You could’nt go out in a party at Gravesend , they called the boys peanuts because no more than two were allowed together ,the result of fights that had taken place in the past . A lot of the lads did’nt bother with the High Street , they had a friendly landlord in a dockside pub who let them drink there of a night. His main trade was done in the daytime with the dockworkers ,and if it had’nt been for the sea school boys he would have no trade at all of an evening. A lot of girls frequented the pub and were known to put out for the lads , the ones I saw were not the type I would have liked for a girl friend, as desperate as I was ,I was’nt that desperate ! Besides I was very , very naïve.
On my third day there , I decided to visit Dickies Mum ,the local officers had told me where to catch the bus , and being November the night came quickly so by the time I was aboard the bus it was dark outside. I had no trouble finding where Dickies house was. I did’nt know if she was expecting me because I never had a phone number to warn of my arrival . I was impressed with the houses on his estate , nice semis with mansard roofs , a world away from the tenements in Garston.
I rang the doorbell and it was quickly opened by a very nice looking lady who seeing me standing in the darkness, dressed in my uniform cried “Dickie!” and threw her arms about me. “Erm, I’m sorry Missus “ I spluttered ,and she stepped back ,shocked to see a stranger and not her son . She ushered me into to the living room and called her daughter to see me .Dickie had written ,but we were both the same height and build that she had thought I was him . Dickies sister was beautiful and so nice. She and her mum made me so welcome and asked lots of questions of how things were at the Vindi and of how Dickie was. After a drink and some refreshments she said that Dickies friend had asked if I would see him while I was there , and I nodded my assent. Luckily he lived next door and was waiting on the step for me ,I was surprised to find that he was a married man with two little boys who had been allowed to wait up to see Dickies friend from the Vindi. I had a really thick Scouse accent in those days and the two little boys , who were aged four and five ,had beautifully modulated accents. They could hardly understand a word I said , but they and their parents were really kind and friendly. I was taken into their home and given more refreshments , after which the boys were put to bed . They had school in the morning , and when I enquired which school they went to they replied “Borstal”, I was astounded and their
Dad laughed and told me that it was a public school and not what my faced showed I thought it was. They asked their Dad if I could read them their bedtime story, which I was happy to do so. They shrieked with laughter as I struggled to make myself understood. I left that lovely little household with an invitation to dinner that Friday.
When I went back to say goodnight to Mrs. Eames , she told me that her daughter would go part of the way back to Gravesend with me . It was so nice to ride on a bus with such a pretty young lady ,she was on her way to see her boyfriend ,lucky guy.
My ankle was totally healed now and we were training in earnest. Everyday we were on the promenade, two groups one lot training to march up and down stairs and the other group ,mine ,training to march in line on the road . I was in the Cenotaph team. The Albert Hall boys would do their stuff on the Saturday , three shows, and we marched ,just the once ,on Sunday. We were mixed in with the Gravesend lads and were becoming a team. There was no competition between us , we were told that we were one team ,the Merchant Navy team. We would be issued with boiled white shirts and we would be expected to outshine every other service represented at the respective parades. If we were not marching we were polishing our boots ,soles and all ! The toecaps took on the appearance of highly glossed patent leather.
On the Saturday before Remembrance weekend ,a football match was organised for a mixed team of Gravesend and Vindi Boys and an amateur team in Strood. The match would be played in a park in Strood and we all looked forward to the change in our routine .I was chosen to play as a full back ,they were ignorant of my lack of sporting skills, and thought the whole thing would be a hoot. The other team had some supporters in attendance and one of them was very abusive towards us, he was a silvery haired old guy ,and one of our team told him to “shut his geriatric gob”
Stroods centre forward took great exception to this piece of advice being given to said old gent, particularly as said old gent was his dad . A lively debate ensued , during the course of which several blows were exchanged and we ended up running for our coach. We had to get changed as we drove along and our instructors told us to say nothing when we got back ,they had thrown a punch or two as well.

I wrote , a little earlier ,that I was very naïve, to illustrate just how naïve ,read on /
After a lovely dinner at Dickies friends I was walking back to the School from the bus stop in Gravesend and was passing a row of Regency houses when a lady called me into her house ,she was wearing a negligee and it never occurred to me that she wanted anything other than help of some sort . I stood in her living room waiting to see what she wanted and at ,length I asked her what she wanted . She gave me a puzzled look and then pointed to her kettle,”It’s not working “ she said ,I looked ,it was’nt plugged in so I plugged it in for her and smiled and went on my way. I was told later that I had missed my chance , she was known for her liking of lone young sailor boys . I had a lot to learn

brian daley
03-18-2008, 10:52 PM
The lad from the Pennines gave us all a surprise one night at Gravesend,we were in the recreation room and he sat down at the piano and started to play the Warsaw Concerto ,a very dramatic piece that was in an old British war movie called Dangerous Moonlight . The opening bars filled the air and I thought "He's bloody good" ,but that is all we got ,the opening bars ! He could just about play Chopsticks after that ,still ,he was a good laugh.
On the Friday before the Big weekend , the Cenotaph contingent were taken to Birdcage Walk Barracks ,right by Buckingham Palace. We were going to be taught how to march on light gravel , a supposedly tricky feat. Birdcage Walk was were the military contingents would start off from on Sunday morning and they did'nt want anybody tripping over as they marched across the gravelled parade ground to the Mall.
We got it right after a couple of attempts and ,after a quick tour around St James Gate to look at the Grace and Favour estate, it was back to Gravesend for our evening meal. After dinner , we assembled in the gym for a briefing on the weekends events.
Mr Turner looked very grave "One of the Albert Hall lads has injured his foot" he announced, "Is there any lad from the Cenotaph group willing to take his place?"
My hand shot up, I was hoping that they would pick me; as it happened ,noone else wanted to go. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to see the Albert Hall,it would be a long day ,but that never even entered my head. There was a small snag though , I had absolutely no idea of how to march up and down steps! I would have to cross that bridge when I came to it!
I was disappointed that I could'nt alert Mum and Dad to the fact that their little lad might appear on the Telly on Saturday ,they never watched the Beeb on Saturday!
Next morning we were up at the crack of dawn ,our crisp white shirts were issued ,togged up, it was on to the coach and then off through London to the Albert Hall.
There were literally hundreds of people milling about when we arrived ,coaches were queued up disgorging their passengers, Boy scouts , Sailors, Chelsea pensioners ,British Legionnaires, Wrens , Nurses ,Guardsmen , Gordon Highlanders , National servicemen........and us!
A sense of order gradually asserted itself and we eventually came onto the body of the Hall , there, the man in charge of the whole show ,Sir Ralph Reader , explained ,with the help of a huge public address system ,the order of play.
Most of our commanders had been well briefed beforehand , our particular commander was the Commodore of the Orient line. He had been warned by Mr Turner that I was a last minute replacement and so I was placed last in the line of march so that I would'nt put other people off their stride . When I saw how steep the stairs were I did a mental flip. I was glad I was at the back.. Rehearsal lasted a couple of hours, we actually did a full performance as though it were for real . Lunchtime soon arrived and the whole lot of us were taken off to Derry and Thoms rooftop restaurant in Kensington . Nobody had told us about that treat!
All of the participants were split up so that we sat amongst mixed groups of people.
When we sat down , I had an old Indian Army officer sat opposite me, a Wren to my left and a Chelsea Pensioner to my right.
I gulped when I looked at the tableware , I had never seen so many utensils , the old Indian Army officer had noticed my look and discreetly picked up his soup spoon and silently mouthed "Outside in" with a twinkle in his eye. With his leathery face and walrus moustache ,he looked as though he had just stepped out of a Kipling story..
The Wren took a motherly role with me and the old Pensioner told me of his time in the Boer War . I could never have a meal in such august company again I thought , but we were to have dinner there before the evening show.
The matinee was packed, there were families from all over the country , our group were sat behind the Royal Naval party and we made friends with a couple of Wrens who sat immediately in front of us. They gave me , and the lad next to me, a full packet of 20 Navy cigarettes each . Between the matinee and the evening show , which was to be televised , we had some free time after our dinner at the rooftop restaurant. Kensington may be a wonderful looking place , but it is'nt much fun if you have only got a few shilling in your pocket. Whole groups of us wandered around , staring enviously at the super rich alighting from their limos as they sailed into the glittering restaurants and bars. Never mind ,one day that could be us ,one day !.
It was back to the Hall for the Big one , the Queen and Prince Philip were due to arrive and the crowds were thronging the pavements. That is when we felt a little privileged , we did'nt have to queue to see the show, we were part of it!!
Running around the entire basement of the hall is a circular corridor , it was there that the various groups were gathered ready to take their place in the hall. As the Merchant Navy lads were assembling a Naval Commander wearing full dress uniform ,leather boots and cutlass, came amongst us. It was Commander Kerans ,he of the Yangste Incident ,the man who was played by Richard Todd in the film of the same name . We stood agog , awaiting to hear what he would say. "Any of you lads marching at the Cenotaph tomorrow?" he queried. All eyes turned to me ," Me sir" I whispered. "Well Lad ,your lot will take their orders from me tomorrow, so keep your ears open for my commands !" And with that he gave smile , did a quick about turn and disappeared. My head was swirling ,that was Commander Kerans???
Pretty soon we were standing at the top of that precipitous stairway about to make our entrance to the tune of A Life on the Ocean Wave. I was out of step from the start, down and down those stairs I went , skipping to get in step ,and failing every time.
Across the floor of the hall , I looked like I was doing a Tennessee two step.
Television cameramen love losers and idiots .That night I fell into both brackets.
Mum told me , when I got home, that she was watching her programme on Granada ,when she became aware of someone yelling "MISSUS DAALEE!!" over and over again. She ran to the door and saw Kathleen Flynn , a girl from across the square ,yelling at her "Your Brian is on the Telly!!"
Mum shot back inside and switched over , just in time to seem me skipping and hopping across the floor.
The camera looked lovingly at the Pennine kid and me as we flirted with the Wrens in the seats in front of us . By the time I got back to Garston , I was a star ,I had been on the Telly,with the Queen!
The show was marvellous ,we saw things that were extraordinary, the precision marching by the RAF, the displays by the scouts and the bands of the Marines ,the high point was the playing of the last post. The moment was so poignant ,the beautiful ,mournful notes of that silvery trumpet are something that I will remember forever. The Royal party seemed like gods in those far off times , as we took surreptitious glances at the box I could'nt help but feel proud to be a part of the occasion. All too soon it was over , and then it was back to Gravesend to get ready for tomorrows parade.
It was a tired and groggy Brian Daley who appeared at breakfast next morning, I was the brunt of mickey taking for a little while ,they had all seen my silly walks and the officers were non too pleased at our flirting with the Wrens. It did'nt last for long ,we were off to Birdcage Walk to do what I really trained for.
I forgot to tell Mr Turner what Commander Kerans had told me the night before , I mean to say, they had done this ceremony before ,they surely were'nt relying on a boy to give them their orders, were they?
Well it quickly became apparent that something was wrong immediately we started off down towards Horseguards Parade, the front half of our group were marching at a different pace to the back half. We had a Naval band in front playing something stirring and martial ,and a Police band behind playing The Death March. Whoa!! And who never explained about the lampposts in the middle of the road ! Being at the back I could the marchers in front dither as they came to the first obstacle ,Which side to march on? Or do we split , and go down either side of them? It was messy for a while , but thank God ,that part was'nt televised . By the time we got to Whitehall we were in step and in order.
Watching the thousands of old warriors pass in front of us as we stood to attention at the Cenotaph was a moving experience, there were still a lot of Great War veterans young enough to march ,and there were more than a few Boer War veterans too. The British Legions ranks were filled with men and women in their late thirties and forties, the men and women who had saved Britain and Europe from the stranglehold of terror in that all too recent war.
After the two minutes silence and the laying of wreaths ,we marched to our coach and were taken to lunch at Lancaster House. This was a surprise , and a bigger surprise awaited us when we arrived. The meal was hosted by the then Minister of Transport , Mr. Heathcote Amory, with him were the Commodores of Cunard ,P& O.the Orient Line and the Admiral of the Fishing Fleet. we were told to make ourselves at home (As if!! ) and to order what drinks we liked . Oh really? "Yes boys .just give the barman your orders" said Mr Amory. A horses neck ! Brandy and Soda ! A Manhattan ! Dry Martini please. Drinks we never knew what tasted like but had heard about in the movies. We were then split up and sat at table with one of the Brass .I was fortunate enough to be sat with my old customer from No. 6 the Serpentine, Commodore Ivan Thompson. I reminded him of the time he asked his paper boy for the Radio Times ,you could tell he did'nt remember ,but he was gracious enough to pretend that he did. After a really slap up meal , one that exceeded all of our schoolboy fantasies ,we were chauffered back to Gravesend sea School for one last night .Back to the Vindi in the morning ,and just four weeks to go before we go home !

brian daley
03-21-2008, 05:05 PM
It was a slower and colder ride back to the Vindi than on the outward journey, our heads were still full of the sights and sounds of the past few days . We would miss the friends we had made in Gravesend but we were getting back to our old mates in Sharpness.
Things had moved on in our absence,our group was now the senior ,all the lads had done their lessons and we now had practical work to do .Alan was now a full bosun as were some of the other lads ,but George was the camp bosun. His grit and determination had got him where he was,the ex tearaway ,now the top man. It was a truly remarkable achievement . We marching boys, even those of us with two stars on our sleeve ,were precluded from any promotion ,only fair I suppose ,but it rankled with some of us because there was no longer the friendliness that had been there before. So we little stars had to get stuck in to manual labour like the rest of the lads who had no stars The bosuns never mixed with us like they did before and they were always on the lookout for kids to stick on jankers .These were the ones who had to do the jobs that noone else would do. Sometime jankers were inevitable ,you were given jobs ,as part of your practical work which would cause you to breach some stupid code. An instance of this was the rule that said that you could'nt go to the messroom in dirty gear ,but you had to stay at whatever job you were doing until it was time for your meal .I was painting the toilets on the quay alongside the Vindi one morning when the bell was sounded for breakfast, I never had enough time to go and get changed and took a chance and joined the meal queue .I was fairly clean ,just a bit of paint on my boots and the back of my hand. One of my old mates saw me and told me to stand under the clock. This meant seeing the duty officer and getting both a rollicking and a spot of jankers too.
So,as well as going without breakfast,I was going to be stuck on the Vindi that night ,scrubbing the pots and peeling spuds ,no shore leave that night. Next night we jankerboys had to polish the gym floor.
After the third night I fell back on my own resources, on the morning of the fourth day I reported sick at Codeine Annies hut . I gave her a reasonable enough tale to be given a berth in the hospital . There were about half a dozen lads already in here with the “Flu”. I got into bed and found that we were nearly all kindred spirits ,skivers and refugees from the chain gang.
I was as fit as a flea ,no temperature ,no runny nose or cough. Old Codeine would becoming round the ward after tea ,she would be taking temperatures and dishing out pills. The boy in the next bed told me that she would go around the beds and stick a thermometer under each boys tongue and, after she had stuck the last one in she would go back to the first boy and read his temperature and so on. There was a radiator next to my bed ,which was halfway around the ward, when she left the thermometer under my tongue I put it on the radiator and left it there until she was at the bed before mine. I slipped it back under my tongue just as she moved toward me.
She pulled it out and looked at it ,her eyes nearly came out on stalks .She quickly felt my forehead ,and then put her face right into mine . "You are a very naughty boy!" I was afraid of what she was going to say next. She spoke softly to me "Are you trying to escape Jankers ?" I nodded yes. " Then you can stay here ,but you can't leave here if you are ill" I agreed and thus escaped the unceasing round of jankers that seemed to be my lot.
I missed out on the visiting concert party being stuck in there ,but there were some good guys in there ,in fact I sailed with one a couple years later ,a guy called Brian Rutter. He was from Liverpool too and he had a great sense of humour and thus kept us entertained . I would have liked to see the concert party ,they had been there before ,when we were rookies and the girls were very pretty as well as talented. The officers were all over them like a rash. We could hear the strains of the music and laughter up there in the sick bay , but you can't have everything. I was allowed to stay until I was a Bridge Boy ;this is what we called ourselves when the days we had left corresponded in number with the spans on Lydney Bridge..
The practical work we had to do now was the type of work we would be doing at sea,rigging ,operating cargo winches wire splicing etc.
We also had to attend lectures on sexual hygiene ,as most of us were virgins we pretended to know it all. How wrong we were ,first of all we were shown a film about venereal disease, it was horrifying. They showed a picture of a diseased member ,it looked like a sausage that had been very badly cooked ,it's a wonder anyone of us ever considered sex again .And the lecturers stories filled us with even more horror,none of which I would dream of relating here.
The days were now hurrying by ,we mentally ticked off those spans each morning.
Time was taking it's toll on our physical hygiene ,the lack of proper laundry facilities was giving our underwear a greyish yellowy tinge ,our bodies were little better , we must have been riffy,but because we were all riffy you never stood out.Walking contradictions,immaculate on the outside and pongy and dirty underneath . We were moved aboard the Vindi for our last two weeks . It had a terrible secret that no one mentioned before hand . The bed decks were swarming with cockroaches. We had seen cockroaches in the kitchen ,some boys often found them in their burgoo,but no one mentioned the bed decks.
When we stowed our gear away the accommodation appeared to be a lot more comfortable than the huts ,it was certainly warmer and we were going to first in the queue for meals. However,that night ,shortly after the lights went out we heard a rustling sound ,it was everywhere, the darkness was suddenly pierced by a dreadful scream. The light was flung on and we saw this black carpet splitting in two and disappearing into the bulkheads on either side of the bed deck. Was just like watching curtains being drawn, but fast ! These were creatures of darkness ,Mr Agate,it was he who had put the lights on, told us we were alright if we did'nt get out of bed when the lights were off. As I was falling asleep that night I felt something padding up my body ,I could’nt see it and ,when I felt it settle on my tum,I put out my hand to have a feel. It was the ships cat ,and I was in its bunk. We became good bed companions in the few remaining weeks .There is something comforting in the gentle purring of a cat,that and it’s warmth helped me enjoy some restful nights.
I was'nt swimming in that blue tropic water anymore, my nocturnal fantasies had taken a different course since London..........my night time lover was none other than the Queen herself!! I was guilty of Lese Majeste !!
I could'nt tell anyone ,but night after night she would share my bed ,god knows what we got up to but I was always wracked with guilt in the morning.
It's funny how quickly you accept things as normal,that nightly rustle after lights out became as much a part of our regime as pulling the sheets up.
Then came the day when we were photographed for our discharge books ,home was a short while away. It was down to the Flying Angel to say goodbye to Mr George and his daughters, come morning we would be marching up to Sharpness station to catch the train home . All too soon those friendships we made would be torn asunder and it would be each to his own. I could'nt wait to get back to Liverpool now ,I was going to be a Merchant Seaman!!

brian daley
03-24-2008, 01:20 PM
Saying goodbye is never easy. As we assembled before Captain Duguid to receive our discharge books and hear the farewell speech ,I was filled with a mixture of sadness and anticipation .Sadness that I was leaving a group of lads that I had become mates with ,and anticipation of seeing my family again . It was the end of the second week of December and we would be reporting to our local Shipping Federations to start our seagoing careers come the 15th of that month. George ,Alan and I to Mann Island in Liverpool and the other lads to Bristol, Plymouth ,Hartlepool ,Manchester and London. There was a spring in our steps as we left those camp gates , we had been given a medical just prior to our leaving , Old Codeine had said at the beginning of our course that our diet was designed to make us healthy and strong ,well we were all heavier and taller. She must have been right !

The journey home was a little bit different than the journey down there, George and Alan had put a bit of distance between myself and them by virtue of their rank. It took a good few mile of travelling before we became easy with each other again.
By the time we got to Central Station we were back on form and promised to meet up on Monday morning to see if we could get a ship together.
Pretty soon I was on the 82 and heading for Garston, looking out on the roads and avenues ,it seemed as though I had been away a lifetime , it was well into winter now and the trees were bare and the skies were greyer . I hoped Mum would have some scouse in the pot ,I was starving!
I got off the Bus at the tennies , I was in my uniform ,kitbag on my shoulder ,boots gleaming brightly , I marched into the square and prepared to meet the folks.
The welcome home was terrific , Chris shyly greeted me ,Mum nearly hugged me to death, Jess and Bette gave me welcoming smiles and Dad told me that I looked very smart. There a beautiful smell coming from the kitchen , a smell that had my nose atwitch with memory, Mum had done me a tea that had surpassed all my expectations.
Stuffed and braised lambs hearts,with roasties ,cabbage peas and thick ,rich gravy.
I was home!!

On Saturday I went to visit Harry , who was still in Hospital , he was still full of optimism, talking was very difficult for him now that he had no lower jaw . He said that the surgeon had promised that he would soon have a plastic replacement. He did'nt know when this would happen but we both hoped it would be before the summer .
I was at a loose end that Saturday night ,putting on a couple of inches meant that none of my clothes fitted anymore ,and there was no hope of getting any new ones, I had'nt earned a bean for three months . Saturday night and nowhere to go!
Mum gave me a few bob and told me to go to the pictures ,nobody would take much notice of my uniform in the dark .I got a few odd looks as I walked into Garston ,this was a time when lots of young men were in army uniform . You could tell by the looks I was getting that they were wondering what service I was in.
I called in to say hello to May Newby at the chippy just down the block from the Empire, she was thrilled to see me and gave me a free bag of chips by way of a welcome back.
I can't remember what the film was , I got a seat on the front row of the balcony, right in the centre ,prime position for viewing the film. There was a load of short trousered young scallies sitting a couple of rows behind . They were being generally rowdy as young kids are ,but the cartoon had just finished and the Pathe News was next so maybe they will have settled down before the big picture..
It was during the Pathe News ,when I saw the flash of something twinkling in the light of projectors beam, there was a yelp of pain from the stalls ,one of the little scallies had chucked an empty bottle.
Within minutes the police were storming into the balcony audience ,the little scallies were sitting as quiet as mice, looking all angelic ,angry voices were raised and the next minute yours truly was wrenched out of his by a big flat capped policeman.
Arms up my back ,I was frogmarched down to the foyer and told I was under arrest.
The little sods had fingered me. The manager intervened and the policemen let me go ,but I was'nt allowed back in to see the show.
I ended up at home watching t.v. .I could'nt wait for Monday.

Dad had me up early Sunday, he had put the salt fish on and cooked it as he had always done ,slow boiled in milk. He had promised my Nin and Granddad that I would see them before I shipped out and so we had a journey that was so like those of a few years ago, just he and me and our great city. He had a wealth of information about our towns history so our journeys were never boring .At Nins I was given the once over,"Ees a big Lad now Billy ,the image of ar Joe". She got a picture of her brother Joe Maher, he was killed in the war ,there he was, in his quartermasters uniform on the Alcantara. It was true , I did look like him. That photo used to come out ever after when I visited Nins.
Then it was off along Walton Road to Grans in Eton Street ,another fabulous Sunday dinner and then up to Gilmoss to see my favourite Uncle, Billy Hengler. Aunt Sarah always baked me wonderful jam turnovers for Sunday tea. It was lovely to be back in the bosom of my family.
Sunday night was spent in checking everything in readiness for the Pool tomorrow,
After a fairly hectic day ,I hit the hay and sank into a deep sleep.
I was awakened next morning by mum calling me for breakfast, I yawned my way into the living room and saw a full cooked breakfast awaiting me . The radio was on and Godfrey Winn was reading out a record request from some lady somewhere. Housewives Choice, Housewives Choice!!!! What was the time!!? I was supposed to be at the Pool for 9-00a.am. Bloody Hell !! Mum had let me sleep in!
I was two hours late when I arrived at Mann Island, Mr Brown was not a very happy camper ." Punctuality ,Daley, punctuality is everything !" My mates were on their way to join their first ships. I was bereft , I felt that I had broken a pact. And, sadly , I never ,ever, saw them again .
Mr Brown took me through to see a Mr Repp,this man would play a great part in my seagoing life ,but that is in the future .What was going to happen now ? Had I well and truly missed the boat. Mr Repp looked at me and turned to look at a man seated behind him, he was a big burly man ,dressed in a three piece suit with a beautiful Albert chain across him tum. He came to the counter and inspected me , I felt like a lot that was about to be auctioned . He rubbed his chin and nodded to Mr Repp ,"He'll do" was all he said. Who was he? It turned out that he was from Blue Funnel Line and he was a boy short for a ship called the Eumaeus.This was beyond my wildest dreams ,you needed a letter from God to get in Blueys ,they had their own training school in Aberdovey and hardly ever took pool lads. I know for I had tried many times before to get into it .
I had to report to the Odyssey Works in Birkenhead,there I would be given a medical and instructions of where ,and when I would join my first ship.
I passed the medical and was told to go home and wait for the post.
Mum was a bit put out when I told her ,Christmas was just a couple of weeks away and I was going to miss it . But a whole new world was waiting for me and I was keen to get started.

brian daley
03-29-2008, 07:42 PM
The morning delivery on the 17th of December, included a letter addressed to me. It was from Alfred Holts and contained instructions for me to be at Lime Street station on Thursday the 18th of December. There , the crew for the Eumaeus would meet and be given their warrants to travel to King George V dock in London. I was trembling with excitement as I read the letter, this was it, in 24 hours I would be on my way.
Mum had got my clothes back to their usual pristine condition after the ?abuse ? they had suffered at the Vindi,what had been greyish yellow was now sparkling white.
She helped me pack my kitbag that night, there would be no lie in tomorrow !
After a hurried breakfast next morning,I kissed Mum goodbye ,Dad and Jess were at work and Bette was off to school, Chris came to the top of the stairs and gave me a hug as I stooped to kiss her . It struck me then that I would miss Christmas at home, no wonder Mum had been sniffling.
There was a large group assembled by the gate for the London train and I recognised a clerk that I had seen in the Odyssey works office. He was in the middle of the crowd and was being subjected to a bit of good natured ribbing, he was a bit gormless looking in a George Formby way. I thought that he was a bit like Masefields? grey squirrell, someone who would have liked to have been a sailorman ,but sailed a desk instead. He knew most of the men by name and was giving each one their papers. He came on the platform with us , I suppose to ensure that we all actually got on board the train. As the whistle was blown and the train started to move away , one of the men ,who was holding the carriage door open , proferred his hand to the clerk to shake goodbye. The clerk took hold of it and was hauled aboard and deposited on a seat .
?Oh no!? he wailed, this happened to him lots of times apparently. I felt really sorry for the sad man , it would be Crewe before he could get off!

I cannot remember the journey across London , time has erased that particular trip, but I clearly remember my first glimpse of the Eumaeus. She was tied up half way along the quay, she looked enormous, her big bluff bow , which curved down to the water ,the long sweeping lines of her hull .the sides of which were mighty steel plates that had double ,and sometimes triple ,rows of rivets. This gave her an appearance of strength and power. She was a three island ship, in laymens terms , she had a forecastle,the bow; then there were three hatches, a centre castle, this was where the accommodation ,bridge, engine room, galley and mess rooms where. Then there was a small hatch and aft of that was the sailors accommodation. There were two more hatches after that and then there was the poop deck, and it was here that the Chinese engine room crew lived . From the quayside the fore and after masts looked as though they scraped the sky. Her large funnel , atop the centre castle, was painted bright blue with a black band at the top. Ascending her gangway , I began to get the smell of her, the fuel oil ,mixed with the aroma of her cargo ,filled my nostrils with a scent as heavy and beguiling as any that Paris could offer. The feel of her, the steady thrum of her generators ,the hiss and wheeze of her steam pipes. All of this made me aware that this was a living entity.
She had just returned from the spice islands and we were a relief crew, the old crew was busy signing off in the officers mess and we had to wait for them to leave before we could occupy their cabins .
Some of the old crew knew the relief crowd and they swapped yarns whilst waiting for the off. She was going to be in London for a couple of days and then she had to go to Hamburg to discharge some of the cargo there after which she would sail to Liverpool. So it would be a short trip for me then.

After the homeward bounders had made their exit I was shown my first shipboard ?home?. It was a three berth cabin ,very spacious , with proper wooden bunks, a wooden locker for each of us and two drawers apiece for our clothes. We also had heavy weather lockers which doubled as two seater benches on either side of a table.
It was a lot cosier than I had anticipated. My two cabinmates had done a couple of trips before and were due to be promoted to junior ordinary seamen when we got back to Liverpool. At that moment though we were the three deck boys known more familiarly as ?Peggies?. It would be our job to look after the deck crowd , getting their meals ,washing the dishes ,scrubbing and polishing the messroom , bathroom ,recreation room and alleyways. We would take it in turns to do that job , the other two would either , work on deck or be the petty officers peggy. Whichever job we did meant working from 6-00 a.m. to 6-30p.m. with meals and ?Smokoes? in between.
The cooks were Chinese and the meal they were preparing that evening had me drooling at the mouth. After three months of short rations at the Vindi I was in for one heck of a surprise.
Being brand new I was?nt considered good enough to be a messroom peggy just yet so I sat down with the rest of the men for the evening meal . My eyes took in the fact that there was four lots of cutlery , soup spoon, entree knife and fork ,main course knife and fork ,and a dessert spoon .Was this a mistake ? No! I had died and gone to food heaven???we started off with a rich minestrone soup (the first time I had tasted it )this was followed by a beautiful Cornish pasty ,the shortcrust pastry so light it melted in my mouth ,the filling, not some noisome paste but a viscous mixture of meat chunks and fresh carrots peas and potatoes. This was followed by a dinner plate filled with roast beef ,potatoes ,parsnips carrots cabbage and gravy, oh very heaven itself, and this was Friday night ,not Sunday!! For afters there was a steamed fruit pudding that was right out of Mrs. Beetons book , figs .prunes .dates and sultanas all moistly embedded in a rich sweet suet mix, topped with a caramel custard???
I put three inside me that night. When I finished the last spoonful ,I looked up to see the astonished faces of the crew, they were trying to understand what they had just seen. THREE PUDDINGS!!! ??E must ?ave bloody ?oller legs ? one of them said . But they had?nt just left the Vindi..!
I helped the Mess Peggy to ?scrap up?, that?s what they called washing up. Once everything was squared away we had to get the Supper in , this consisted of a collation of cold meats and salad which would be left in the mess room for the deck crowd to snack at during the evening.
When we had finished our chores we had to shower (Mandatory) and do our personal dhobying, (laundry). You quickly learned that this was not an option ,it was something that you were expected to without question. My two cabinmates taught me to dhoby properly. Here ,unlike at the Vindi, there was an abundance of hot water and soap powder. We had a great big scrubbing board which ran along the bulkhead over the sinks ,and it was there that I was taught how to get whites sparkling clean through the power of elbow grease.
The A.B.?s actually paid us to do their laundry because we were so good at it.
I never had enough money to go ashore when we were in London and so I got to know the Chinese crowd because they stayed aboard too, they were inveterate gamblers and would spend hours playing Mah Jong. The steady clack of the tiles hitting the table being interspersed with hisses and many ?Aah So?s? They drank whiskey by the gallon and let me have a sip as well.
I explored the ship as best as I could during those nights aboard in London ,she carried half a dozen passengers ,there were none on board at present, and had a deck crew of 18 ,There was a Bosun, Lamptrimmer(He was a kind of Bosuns?mate ) and a Carpenter (known as Chippy )
While we were in port , we had a night watchman to look after the gangway. The one looking after our vessel was an old chap who had a very weather beaten face. With his oilskins and battered old peaked cap he looked the very image of an old tar.
I asked him if he would like a drink of tea and was very surprised when he answered yes, for his voice belied his features. It was a cultured voice, one that you would expect from an officer. I made him a cup and had a chat the first of many in the short time that we were there. I could?nt guess how old he was , his leathery skin and hawk like eyes made him appear ageless. I asked him if he had ever been to sea and he gave a little smile by way of a reply. ?A time or two? he answered . I asked him how long ago he had packed up going to sea . ?A good few year ago ? was all he said. We sat in silence , looking at the darkened warehouses and the skeletons of the dock cranes. I was curious , this man was older than my Granddad, why was he sitting here on a cold winters night. ?What were you when you were at sea ?? I asked. ?What do you want to know for ?? he asked in return. ? My Granddad was at sea before the First World War, I just wondered if you were the same as him ? I replied rather lamely. ? I could tell you a tale or two my boy, but you might not believe them? he said, looking at me across the years. ? I love to hear some ,honest?
He was a pipe smoker and he stuffed it full of a black mixture, all the while looking at me ,was I a young punk out to take a rise out of him? I got up and went to the messroom and brought back two oranges, one for him and one for me .
?D?you really want to hear an old mans story ?? ?Yes ? I nodded. He picked up the orange and began to peel it . The story he told me was of a man who had been a master of this very company I now belonged to. He was the Captain of an ?H? class liner and was due to retire , this was during the last days of peace ,and he had opted to retire to a life on a plantation on Malaya. He had taken his retirement money in sovereigns and he and, his wife were going to spend their sunset years in that far away land. They had no children , nor any ties to bind them to a life in the cold .cold northern climes. They were going to be the ?Tuan and his Lady?. He did?nt bank his sovereigns ,he had them in a brassbound chest locked up in a strong room in his bungalow.
Sadly for them ,the Malayan Peninsular was overrun by the Japanese army before they could get away. He managed to get his papers ,which included his Masters certificate, the money was lost ,taken by his captors. He was imprisoned in Sumatra and his wife was taken somewhere else .He never found out where ,she never survived.
At the wars end he was repatriated to England where he set about finding work.
He spilled ink across the date of birth on his Masters certificate and succeeded in getting a berth with Cunard, he managed to do a year with them before his deception was discovered ,and here he was now ,a lowly night watchman ,eking out his meagre pension.
You can imagine how the older hands laughed when I told them his story at breakfast the next day, ? If you believe that , you?ll believe anything Lad? was the general contention. When I saw him again that night , he smiled and greeted me by asking for a cup of tea. I fetched him one and when I sat down with him he pulled a waterproof package from his pocket which he unwrapped and took out a sheaf of papers.
I craned my neck to get a better look at what it was that he was holding.
He unfolded a piece of paper that looked like an old birth certificate ,it was his Masters certificate, tattered and inkstained ,there it was ,testament to his story. He passed across an old black and white photograph, it was of him as a younger man ,standing proudly on the bridge of an old steamship, four stripes on his sleeve denoting his position of Master of the vessel. That had?nt been a fairy story he had told me the night before ,it had been the story of his life.
Come Sunday morning I was roused out of my slumbers by the Bosun , an old Scotsman who was nicknamed? Whammy? (a rope yarn), because he never swore but used the expletive "whammy" instead of something stronger.?Pegs ? he yelled ,?It?s Sunday morning and you?ve to go and see the Mate for the altar cloths for the morning service?. Now I had?nt fallen for the usual japes like a ?long stand ? or a ?bucket of steam ? so I was prepared not to be taken in by this one. ?Sod off? I says. He grabbed me by the shoulders, ?we are all God fearin? men on this vessel ,and ,contrary to what you may?o been told , we pray of a Sunday. Now get your whammy carcase up top and ask the Mate for them altar cloths!? he roared. I was up the companionways tout suite. I knocked on the Mates door ? Mr Mate sir, the Bosun has asked me to fetch the altar cloths?, ?hang on a minute," he said " I?ll just have a look,?
He came to the door and told me that the Chief Engineer may have taken them, these were officers ,they would?nt be involved in a joke would they? And thus it was that I went from pillar to post in search of the unfindable. When I reported back to Whammy that they had disappeared, he told me to go along the dock to our sister ship the Diomed to see if we could borrow theirs?. When I climbed wearily up the gangway of the Diomed I was met by a very fat , balding man with the worst false teeth ever. ??Oo are yew ?? he enquired. I told him of my quest.?We ?aven gorreny? he said ? Yizz?l ?ave to yoos burlap instead!? he cackled. I crept back to the Eumaeus, his laughter ringing in my ears.
We were sailing in an hour, was I the only one to be excited,we were going to cross the North Sea, woww!

brian daley
04-02-2008, 05:00 PM
We were ?turned to? closing the hatches, putting on the tarpaulins ,three to each hatch , dropping the derricks and making everything ready for sea . The men worked like a well oiled machine , each man to his own task ,the senior ratings doing the difficult jobs and the junior ratings supplying the brawn. As a rookie , I could just about keep from tripping over my own feet . I was the new boy and it was very apparent that I knew very little about proper deck work. All I could do was trail after my cabinmates and keep out of harms way . For a newcomer it was breathtaking to see the speed and efficiency that these men displayed. Pretty soon everything was made shipshape and we were all set to let go and sail.
The tugs bustled alongside , like little ducklings abreast their mother. I was put on the back spring with a couple of old hands , this was a thick wire rope that helped keep the ship tight alongside the quay. I was regaled with tales of men who had been decapitated when one of them had parted and was extra careful to stand clear.
Soon the engines started up , making the whole ship shudder as the powerful screws began to propel the ship . We left the quay stern first and the head ropes were cast off and the little tugs nursed us toward the lock gates ,the dockside panorama swinging by as turned head up to go out.
We were soon into the river, sailing down the Thames toward the North Sea , experienced sailors get the ?channels ? when heading for home, I had them now heading for Hamburg.
I was now put in charge of the sailors mess , the Bosun ,having seen my performance on deck most probably thought it was a safer option, I was?nt too unhappy about the deal . It was warm and although I had a lot to do , I at least knew what I was doing. Deck experience would come later.
I was still eating for England , even after three days of none stop gorging ,I could?nt help it ,everything was so tasty. The chief cook was a Birkenhead man ,he was about 50, burly and surly ,but he ran a good kitchen. All of the rest of the kitchen staff were Chinese ,they were from Hong Kong and spoke ?pidgin? English. I had to pick up the rudiments of it to get the sailors meals. If I wanted a loaf I had to ask ?Hey cookie ,you catchee me one loaf chop ,chop!? Not difficult, I got a lot of practise with my requests for more puddings ,? Hey cookie you catchee me more duff ,chop ,chop!?
Well , on the third day aboard ,and my 10th time of asking for more duff ,the cook grabbed me by my throat and hauled me through the kitchen hatch. He looked furious, wielding a chopper , he sat me down in front of the butchers block (I thought he was going to behead me!).On the block was a ten man steamed pudding??and a spoon.
Holding me by the throat ,he pointed to it and said ?YEW FACKIN EAT !!?
I looked at his reddened face ,twisted in anger, he waved the chopper ?FACKIN EAT,NOWW!!? he roared. I picked up the spoon and ate, it was lovely ,for the first twenty spoonfuls ,I wavered and up went the chopper. On and on I plodded , forcing it down, all the portholes around the galley were filled with the heads of crewmen watching this ghastly ritual, death by duff! I was made to eat every last crumb, it was a long , long time before I could face a pudding again.

In the messroom , all the talk had been about what a fabulous place Hamburg was, this was 5 years before the Beatles and just 13 years after the end of the 2nd world war. The Deutsch mark was 12 to the pound and you could get a fortune for English cigarettes, coffee and other items that were still regarded as luxuries. Prostitution was rife and the sailors waxed eloquent at the earthly delights that awaited Jolly Jack Tar when he went ashore in that old sailor town. Looking back over 50 years , when the world was a lot simpler to a callow youth, I was not burdened down with thoughts of exploitation and political incorrectness , I was a testosterone filled youth about to burst his trousers, and here was a town full of young ladies only too willing to help me lose my cherry. It was a stormy crossing to Germany but the Eumaeus was a well found ship, she was made to face the roughest that nature could throw at her , and she was fast.
All too soon we were making fast in the docks in St. Pauli, the very heart of Hamburg. like Liverpool ,was a real sailor town , the dockside was full of little bars ,the deck crowd all had girl friends there and the most favoured bar was one called the Cabbage Patch ,but I had heard so much about the Reeperbahn ,and in particular, the Winkelstrasse, that I was not going to go anywhere else if I could help it. After our evening meal ,the washing up done and all squared away, we were sitting in the messroom and no one seemed to be making a move, why? No money that was why, we had only been aboard 5 days ,not enough time to have any spending money. Not on 2 pound a week anyway. But this was Hamburg , a place I had long fantasised about. I asked one of the A.B.s how we got money to go ashore , ?Just go up and ask the captain, he?ll give you some ?. Like a lamb to the slaughter , I made way up to Captain Curpheys stateroom . He was sound asleep in his bunk when I walked in, I went over and shook him by the shoulder (This Man had just brought us across a stormy North Sea and was having a well earned kip, but what did I know?)
He sat up and groggily shook his head, ?Wazza marrer?? he growled. ?Erm ,can I have some dough please skip?? I replied. He looked at me in disbelief , slowly, shaking his head ,as though he was having a bad dream ,he pointed to his trousers laying across the back of his chair .?Give us them ?ere ? he said ,I did so and he stuck his hand in one of the pockets and pulled out some notes. ?Ere,? he said ,thrusting the money into my hand,? Now sod off and let me get to sleep!?
I went back down to the messroom , clutching the three pound notes in my hot little hands. The look on the sailors faces was magic, it was not the result they had expected.
I went and got changed,almot feverish with excitement ,?tonight?s the night !!? I was going to kiss my cherry goodbye.
One of the senior ordinary seamen ,or SOS as they were known ,came into our cabin, ?I can show you the way to the Reeperbahn ,save you getting lost and that? he said, I was more than happy for him to show me the way, I would be doing the business that much sooner.
It was dark as we made our way there ,the district had been heavily bombed during the war and there were still lots of Bomb sites about . Soon we were at the Reeperbahn ,nothing in life had prepared me for this, there were endless neon lit bars and lots of beautiful young ladies plying their trade on the pavements, Matelots of every nation thronged the street ,hungrily they eyed the women. The very air reeked of unconsummated lust. But I wanted to go to the Winkelstrasse, this was a place of legend ,known by every sexual naif throughout the world, I had seen the photographs, I had some idea of what I could expect.
And then we were there. Metal screens stood at the end of the street , they were emblazoned with posters ,in 3 languages, forbidding entrance to all Allied personnel.
When the SOS and I entered , we could?nt move for Allied personnel!
The sight I beheld was beyond my wildest imaginings, the street had what appeared to be large shop windows lining both sides , about 6 windows on each pavement. Inside the window were tableaus of worldly delights, Dressed up like Lewis? window at Christmas, instead of pixies and snowmen there were ladies attired in all manner of titillating outfits.
Little Bo Peep , with her shepherds crook, the Dominatrix in her basque and thigh high boots ,nurses and milkmaids, blondes princesses and bewinged fairies. This was a Disneyland of lust and I staggered from window to window , hotter than hell under my collar and more nervous than I had ever been in my life. I could?nt make up my mind .Up and down that street I went ,in daze ,?Here it was, did I want to do it??
The SOS tore the money out of my hand, hurrying into one the doorways he called out ?I?ll tell you what it was like after ? I waited a miserable quarter of an hour and he came out looking like the cat that had got the cream. We had a couple of drinks on the way back to the ship and, as we were passing what I thought was a florists window,we noticed a silk shawl bearing the Blue Funnel badge , it was draped over an urn.
Stopping for a closer look ,we saw it bore the name of one of our sister ships that had been in port when we arrived. Written beneath the badge was the legend ,?In Memory of,? and here it bore the name of a seaman known to the SOS, ?who was killed on the 20 th of December 1958? just two days ago!
We walked back to the ship in silence,a very sombre ending of what should have been special night.

brian daley
04-03-2008, 10:58 PM
We had discharged the last of our cargo and made the ship ready to sail for home, I was a little more “savvy” than when we had left London ,this time I was trusted to stand by with the after crowd . It was all rope work at the poop. It was my job to coil the ropes as they were hauled back on board. It was getting on dusk as we made our way out of St Pauli ,I heard the second mate calling “You Lad “ I looked around to see what he wanted ,it was me he was calling. “Get aloft and clear the house flag” he said. I looked up at the after mast and saw that the flag was stuck in the rigging at the highest point of the topmast. He wanted me to go up there?
I stood gaping at the mast “Today…..please!!” he said firmly. I nodded and fled up there, it was exhilarating. , the deck shrunk in size as I ascended ,I looked out across the harbour and could see for miles, I must have taken too long for I heard him yelling from below. It was only a kink in the halyard that had snagged in the block. Job done , I descended and felt like I had passed a milestone. The sky was blackening as we cruised down the Elbe ,word had it that we were heading into a gale. Being mess peggy ,I had to get the sailors dinner served so did’nt get chance to watch the scenery going down to Welcome Point,it was dark anyway and by the time we got out of the river we were in very heavy seas.. My first storm, the wind was screaming through the rigging and the sky and the sea was black, white hores stampeded on the wave tops and the ship juddered and rolled ferociously. She was empty of cargo and seemed to bounce and shake , I should have been frightened ,seasick and cowering in my bunk, I was none of those things, I was fascinated, no movie ,no story book could prepare you for this. The endless mountains of waves ,rolling toward you ,curling and crushing against the bows , the engine seemed to race as the stern was lifted from the sea,and everything in the messroom was on the move. We had battened down and were roaring toward home. I was very tired after such a long day and got my head down early. Some of the daymen were doing overtime cleaning the hatches and my two cabinmates had joined them. I did’nt take much rocking to get to sleep, I was deep in my slumber when I was shaken roughly awake. Whammy stood by my bunk,he had on his oilskins and so’wester, a haunted look on his face.”Get up!!” he yelled, were we sinking? I was scared stiff, “Get on yer ‘skins and get down number 2 hatch,tell Lampy the fore tops’ls blown out and and we’re gonna lose the mast!!”
I scrabbled into my gear and made hurriedly for the deck, “ Get down there quick lad or we've all had it!!!” he called after me, I sped as though on winged feet.
In through the masthouse and down that ladder, I must have looked as the I was being chased by the very hounds of hell. Out of puff and gasping for breath ,I managed to shout out the garbled message, and ,as the words left my lips ,I realised that I had been had……again! Blushing like hell,I ascended the ladder to roars of laughter. Bloody sails ,on a motor vessel. Whammy was well in his cups when I got back, he gave me a cuff and said “Ye’ll larn lad,ye’ll larn” This was Christmas Eve ,a bit different from home,no use hanging a stocking up here boy.
Next morning was different, no work was done by the deck crowd,only the watch men and the peggies had to do their bit. If I thought the food had been good before , the fare on Christmas Day was awesome . It started off with a gargantuan breakfast and then was followed by a Christmas Dinner right out of Dickens.
The Captain allowed the men a generous ration of ale and all those not on duty got stuck in to a bacchanalian rout.We peggies had to keep the nosh coming and to keep a low profile ,old salts don’t like uppity kids. The Captain and the Mate came down to the mess during our evening meal, he brought a couple of cases of Double Diamond ,a bottle of Four Bells rum and made a toast, after which he made a sharp exit and let the men to continue their carousing.
As soon as he left ,some of the younger A,B.s thought it would be fun to have a bun fight , it might look fun in a Laurel and Hardy movie ,but when you’re the poor sod who has to clean up afterwards, it kind of takes the shine off it. There were trifles splattered on the deckhead (ceiling) meat pies and all manner of cakes squashed on the deck ,there was a hardly a square inch that was‘nt grunged and us peggies were stuck at it for hours before we got it clean again. Our alley was quite lively when we got back to our bunks , there was the sound of drunken singing coming from the cabins. The other lads said it would be best if we kept out of the way,if things got too rowdy we might get hurt. It was too noisy to go asleep so we thought we would go to the mess room and have a cup of something. I was the last to leave the cabin and ,as I was walking to the door on deck ,an A.B. from the Dingle ,Big Peter, called me to his cabin. “’Ave a drink pegs “ he slurred,offering me a bottle of Double Diamond . I was chuffed ,he had never said a word to me before then. He slumped down on his bench “Go on, gerrit down yer” he said, I raised the bottle to my lips and was smashed in the face by his bony fist .”Never let me see you drinkin’ yer F++++’n punk” He grabbed the bottle off me and slung me out his cabin. Smarting with pain ,and anger,I made my way to the mess and found it empty. I could hear the sound of an Elvis Presley record coming from a nearby cabin and went to investigate. Passing Whammys cabin ,I saw him sitting at his desk, a bottle of scotch to hand ,working on a belt that he was making, it was like macramé and had a Navajo Indian pattern. He paused and looked at me ,”it’s all about knots lad “ he said,”learn your knots and you could do this”. He reached under his desk and pulled out a Turks Head, “ make me one of these before we get to Birkenhead an’ I’ll gi’e ye a pound” .He passed the knot to me and let me go. The music was coming from the chief cooks cabin next door, I could hear the other 2 peggies in there and went to join them. They were drinking Tennants lager and motioned me to come in. The cook looked at me with drunken eyes “’Ere she is, Madame X, come and sit by me “ he leered. He was very, very drunk. A can of lager was stuck in my hand, the first I had ever tasted, it was good, the music was good ,and pretty soon there was another can, and then a glass of rum. I was getting whoozy. I did’nt notice the lads go, somehow it was just the cook and me. He looked at me in a way I had never been looked at before,
“ You’re a sexy little bastid y’know “ he said rising out of his seat, “I’ll show you what shagging is all about boy “ I stood up to go and he grabbed me about the waist. He was a strong swine ,he was panting and he forced me toward his bunk,” I’m gonna ‘ave you boy “ I could feel his hot breath on the back of my neck as he strugglied to undo my belt. I was kicking and wriggling for my life. The bosuns’ cabin was next door and I screamed for help ,my hands were free and I reached across his bunk and banged the bulkhead but nothing was heard but the sounds of rock and roll. I managed to twist around and I kneed him in the crotch,causing him to loose his hold. I shot for the door and he tried to grab me again ,but I was through it and pulled it shut on his fingers with a pleasing crunch. I raced back to my cabin ,the lads were sound asleep and I nearly cried ,so lonely and helpless did I feel. Christmas night, peace on earth and goodwill to all men . Next morning,when I told them what had happened , they said that he was having a laugh , I was mistaken and that nothing would have happened. I knew different ,I had felt his erection sticking into my back!
We got to Birkenhead on the 27th of December,nice and early, we were paid off and could go home as soon as we liked , I had to clean up in the mess and the other peggies helped ,one of the O.S.s said that he would pack my kitbag so that we could all get the bus and ferry together . I thought how kind he was and thanked him. When I got to the cabin,all was shipshape ,the kitbag locked and ready and then it was off ashore.We caught the bus at Morpeth lock and the O.S. said to bring my kitbag upstairs, someone might nick it from under the stairs, I had to look after it ,I had 200 hundred duty free in there.
When we got upstairs ,he took my bag off me and opened it,it was stuffed full of his smuggled duty free!! And one of my cabin mates had stuffed a ruddy great shackle in there for good measure. I did see the funny side. When we got off the ferry at the Pier Head ,I felt a bit sad a leaving these new made friends, it had been less than a fortnight ,but it had seemed like a lifetime. Walking toward my bus stop , I was filled with happy anticipation of seeing my family once more.

04-04-2008, 11:21 AM
Should be in a book all this Brian. :handclap:

04-04-2008, 01:03 PM
Should be in a book all this Brian. :handclap:

I keep telling him that Ged :) :)

brian daley
04-04-2008, 06:08 PM
Since finishing that last posting ,other memories of my first trip have surfaced into consciousness. The strange feeling you experience when stepping on to terra firma after a few days of bad weather, the solidity throws you out of kilter. Your first few steps are wobbly ,so used are you to the pitch and roll. Secondly ,the silence , every moment at sea you are living with the constant beat of the engines ,like a child in the womb is soothed by its? mothers heartbeat ,so the measure of a sailors day is to the accompaniment of the engines tune. It was hard to get to sleep for the first few nights at home.
When we received our pay off ,I found that Captain Curphey had not deducted the ?3 .00 he had given me in Hamburg, the S.O.S ,however repaid me the ?3.00 he had whipped out of my hand in the Winkelstrasse. This money,combined with the laundry money and my pay,with overtime, gave the princely sum ?11.18s,after deduction of insurance, union dues and 2 allotment of a pound a week to my Mum. I was awash with dosh!!
When I stepped off the 82 bus at Speke road Gardens ,I felt like a millionaire.
My elder sister, Jess was now courting ,very seriously ,a local man named Graham, we had known him for years ,and he was part of the welcoming committee that greeted me as I arrived home. It was still fairly early and Mum suggested that I might want to spend some of my money on a new outfit ,I had grown out of all my existing clobber. I still fitted my blue zipper jacket with the white piping on the lapels. I thought I looked very American in that, ah! the delusions of youth. That jacket and a pair of gaberdine trousers , were the only things that fitted me. Mum refused to take any keep off me ,she told me top get some decent clothes instead. So, it was off to town to get kitted out. Mum came with me and I went to Burtons, Hepworths, and Lewis?s before I settled on beautiful brown suit with a subdued tartan pattern. Mum bought me a Tattersall check shirt to go with it and I got a pair of golden brown suede shoes from Lennards. An emerald green cheese cutter and Lovatt pattern woollen tie finished off the ensemble. Never in my life had I felt so complete as a person, Dad said I looked like the Duke of Bootle.

That night Mum and Dad let me have a drink ,the first official drink at home. I was too elated to do much that night, so I stayed in with my Mum and kid sisters watching I love Lucy and whatever else there was on then. I had expected to have a good few days in which to enjoy my new status ,see Anne, my cake shop girl and go and see Harry. Well ,the best laid plans of mice and men etc.; next morning there was a telegram from Blue Funnel, I had to ?phone them immediately. I went to the ?phone box by Bryant and Mays and made the call. Did I want to sail on another of their ships was what they wanted to know, I answered yes ,yes !
They told me to go to Birkenhead ,now, and pick up my ticket for the midnight train for Glasgow. I had had one night at home, talk about torn. I was to join the Jason for a voyage to Australia. It seemed unbelievable, to cross half the world ,journeying through European ,Arab and Australian ports . I went home in a tizz.
Mum eyes filled up when I told her, but she never cried, I looked at Bette and Chris, and wondered if they knew how much I would miss them. And Anne and Harry, no time to see them and tell them the news. Instead it was a trip into the Army and Navy Stores to buy a Lybro jacket and some dungarees. I was embarrassed wearing the Vindi outfit and wanted to look like the rest of the crowd. I picked up the ticket from the Odyssey works and went home and packed.
I left home in plenty of time to catch the midnight train , I did?nt want mum or sis to see me off, and was too embarrassed to ask Dad. So there I was in Lime Street, kit bag and new suitcase (Mum said not to wear the suit on the train, It would get rumpled on the long journey). Sixteen years and seven months of age, and making the biggest journey of my life.
At that time of night ,Lime Street belonged to travellers and bums, most of the travellers were Scots returning home for Hogmanay, there was no rowdiness, just the polite chatter of strangers. Because I had missed Christmas ,and was going to miss New Year, Mum had made me up a parcel of her fabulous Christmas fare.
She had put in a very large wedge of her Christmas cake, this was a juicy confection, full of whiskey and fruit, the marzipan and soft icing giving it a magical once a year taste. I was going to enjoy that on the train. Just before we were due to leave, an old guy, who looked as though he had had a very hard time ,came and asked me for some money so he could get a bite to eat. He told me that he was an ex Merchant Navy man and could see that I was a sailor ,he was a flatterer. I fell for his story though and gave him my Mums package. The look on his face was wonderful ,it was showing ?F=+&^n? cake!? but he thanked me with words.
I was going to need that packet ,or so I thought .When the train got under way, my fellow passengers were kindness itself, they had come well prepared and were starting their celebrations early. We travelled through the night ,stopping at very few stations, but each time we did ,it was to pick some more home going Scots.
By the time we got to Glasgow ,I was looking forward to Hogmanay.I still had a couple of pounds left.
A new day was dawning, what was I walking into now ?

brian daley
04-05-2008, 08:12 PM
Bootsie ,Billo and Me

I joined the Jason in Govan ,she seemed much bigger than the Eumaeus, by just over two thousand tons. She had the same graceful lines and ,with the extra tonnage ,had an even greater appearance of strength and solidity. Laying just along the quay from her was the Eumaeus ,she was beginning to load cargo for her next voyage to the far east. There was hardly anyone about when I got aboard ,no bosun or deck crew were visible . I went up to the chief officers cabin to report and he took me along to the captains cabin to get signed on. My situation here was as it had been on the Eumaeus, I was a last minute replacement.
The captain sent me along to the second steward to draw my linen and towels,and he showed me to the peggies cabin after giving me the necessary.
The cabin was laid out differently to the one I had just vacated ,the three bunks were in line, two ,one atop the other, as you came through the door,and the third at the end of these two, screened by a wooden partition from the others ,with the bottom of that bunk beneath the porthole. That was the best bunk because you could see the ocean, or the shore if you were in port. The two best bunks were already occupied. My cabin mates ,who I had yet to meet, had joined her in Liverpool. So, I was left with the top bunk , it was about 7 foot off the deck , not the easiest berth to get into and even harder to make the bed. After unpacking my gear and stowing everything away ,I made my way to the messroom to see if there was any grub ,the evening meal was being served up but there were hardly any crew about. I sat myself down at the handiest position and was tucking into my dinner, when the first A.B turned up, he had been working down the hatch ,hence my not seeing anyone, looking at me ,he said "You don't want to sit there". The messroom had been empty," I don't see anyone else wanting to sit here" I answered. "Well ,don't say I did'nt warn you" he said, sitting down to eat his own meal. I was just starting to eat my pudding when an old salt staggered through he door ,he looked as though he had been at the bottle because his eyes were shut fast and he was feeling his way about. Fumbling toward me ,he made to sit down in the place I had occupied, feeling me instead of the chair ,he cocked his head sideways and opened his eyelids, very slowly. "Poooh yurr!" he snorted as he grasped me by the scruff of the neck ,and with one yank ejected me ,hurling me across the messroom as he did so. That was my introduction to the legendary Wally Skeggs. He had some kind of affliction which made it very difficult for him to fully open his eyes, the company allowed him to sail as a promenade deck man and his disability did not stop him functioning in that capacity. He was very old and I came to love him like a grandfather. The man who warned me of my faux pas was a Welshman called Elwyn Jones , he was one of the famous Welsh Navymen , all from North Wales ,they formed the backbone of most Blue Funnel crews . I was to learn a lot of seamanship from Elwyn .But of my cabinmates ,there was still no sign. When I finished my evening meal ,I strolled along the dock to the Eumaeus , the two peggies were still aboard her ,as were a couple of the E,D.H.s.
They were happy to see me and I was even happier to see them , I would'nt have to spend the night on my own now.
We went into Govan and had a mooch around ,it was'nt the liveliest of places and it seemed a lot bleaker than Liverpool, the pubs were warm and friendly though and we passed the night quite happily. Feeling sleepy after such a long day, I made my excuses and went back to the Jason to get an early night, the three pints of Heavy were making themselves felt. When I opened the cabin door, I was shocked to see my bedding strewn about the deck, there was still no one about ,only Wally and Elwyn .I quickly remade the bunk and went to sleep in a murderous mood.
I was sound asleep when the door crashed open and the lights were switched on . Standing in the doorway was a drunken young Teddy boy and a half cut callow youth.......my cabinmates! I roared awake "Which of you two smart arses tipped my bunk to the deck ?" I shouted . Bootsie , his face contorted in drunken aggression,replied "Ooh the f8=k are yew!" Sitting up, I said "You're new cabinmate ,Now which of you two *******s tipped my gear?" Pulling his Green River deck knife out of his pocket ,Bootsie waved it at me ,"D'yew want some o' this ?" he shouted. It was a stupid thing to do ,but I did it without thinking. I rolled out of my bunk and landed on his shoulders, which sent him crashing to the deck. He had dropped the knife and I grabbed his ears whilst I sat on his chest,and gave his head a good drumming on the deck. I thought I had been fighting for my life, poor Bootsie was crying "Don't hurt me mate, don't hurt me!" Tears were pouring down his face and his body was wracked with sobs. I stood up and saw Billo,cringing in the corner ,I could see he was very frightened. I helped Bootsie up and he told me that it was one of the O.S's who had made the mess ,they were too frightened to stop him.
After that bad start ,we shook hands and got our heads down. I would have to face that O.S. in the morning.
We were called at 5.30 in the morning by the night watchman. There was a hot cup of tea and a warm slice of toast for each of us in the messroom , the night watchman had prepared it before calling us. I met the bosun ,Wilf was his name ,a man about sixty ,chubby and hard looking, he gave us peggies our duties. We would work week about as ,deck peggy, mess peggy and bosuns peggy. The work load was equally weighted , we would start at 5-30 every morning and work through , with meal breaks and smoko's, until the last plate had been washed after the evening meal . There would be a Captains inspection every morning while we were at sea ,this took place at 10-00 sharp and everything had to be spotless. My first go was as bosuns peggy, the first job I had to do every morning was to clean the recreation room. This had 8 brass portholes, six tables ,each with four slide away brass ashtrays ,and brass strips on the door way . All of that brassware had to be polished ,the deck had to be swept and washed ,and then it was up to the bridge to polish the port and starboard lights and then the telegraph and compass housing. After that little lot we had to get breakfast for the bosun , lamptrimmer and chippy, like the other meals ,they were four course ,with the appropriate tableware for each course. When they had finished , the pots had to be scrubbed ,you had to find time to get your breakfast, and then you had to scrub the petty officers bathroom, the three cabins and then ,finally, the main cross alleyway ,which was also the engine room entrance. This latter was done on your hands and knees with brillo pads to get off the oily foot marks.. The duckboards from the bathroom had to be holy stoned before it was all set for inspection. This ritual was carried out by the captain ,accompanied by the ships doctor, chief engineer and one passenger . The captain carried a torch and wore one white glove , he would stroke the top of the doors and the underside of tables, randomly , the torch was used to shine into places that were hard to reach, beneath cupboards and under bunks. Sometimes he would put a chalk mark on the inside of a lavatory bowl, unseen by you of course. If there was a smut of dirt on his glove ,or a dull piece of brass, bit of dirt in the far recesses of a cupboard or beneath a bunk, if a chalk mark was still showing ,you would lose a days pay. Sometimes, he put a penny on a shelf that was high up ,or a door ledge, anything in fact to catch a tardy peggy out. He would see the joke if you exchanged the penny for two ha'pennies.
This then was the daily morning grind of a deck boy, come 7.o clock at night we were bushed, a long soak in the bath, do your dhobying and then sit by the men as they chatted about ships and the sea. A boy could sit on the sidelines ,he was'nt expected to join in.
When I went on deck that second morning ,I saw the Eumaeus pulling way from the quay, I felt really sad , I would'nt be spending New Years Eve with the guys I knew. And I still had to face the O.S. who had destroyed my bunk .I went along to his cabin before they turned to after breakfast. He was a big lad ,Norman was his name. " Did you tip my bunk out last night ?" I asked . Looking at me with disbelief written across his face ,he said "What about if I did ?" I replied " I don't mind a joke, but you can stuff your pantomime !" and walked quickly away. His mates had seen what I had just done ,there were bound to be repercussions.
I went ashore with Bootsie and Billo that night, we had a few in the pub outside the dock gates but the mate came in and wagged a finger at us ,out we went. The next night was Hogmanay ,New Years Eve ,the dockers had told us what a fabulous night it would be. So the three of us got decked out in our best gear and made our way to the centre of Govan. People seemed to be in ever such a hurry, we soon found out why, the pubs were shutting after 8.0 clock so that the staff could get home and prepare for the coming festivities. But what about us ? What were we supposed to do until midnight? A slatternly woman came over to me asked if I would first foot them . I asked her what she meant ,and she explained that it was good luck for a dark haired man to be first at the door to bring in the New Year . Looking at my mates I asked them what they thought. Like me, they imagined a booze up and some nosh as well. So I agreed and her husband gave us their address.
It was a bitterly cold night that we exited into from the pub, we walked for ages trying to find somewhere warm to have a drink and pass the time to midnight. Around half past nine we were ready to surrender and go back aboard. This certainly was'nt the way we did New Year at home. Feeling the piece of paper with the family's address on ,I suggested we go there to get out of the cold. It was'nt far from the docks and was on the third floor of an old brownstone tenement block. We were assailed by the smell of boiled cabbage and blocked toilets as we ascended the stairs. We gave the door a hearty rap and the door was opened on to a scene of poverty ,there were grubby faced kids climbing over ragged furniture, there was a mean coal fire glimmering in the grate and the father was supping a beer straight from a bottle. " You're way early man" he said as his wife ushered us into the room. Giving us the once over ,he said "Did you no bring a bottle ?" "No" I replied , Well you can't come in here without a bottle" Hogmanay!!??
The three of us went off to Glasgow town centre, it was still early ,and though the main square was festooned with festive lights ,there was hardly a soul about . There was a chestnut seller at the side of the square so we went over to get a warm by his stove ., Also standing there were some harridans ,there faces overly made up so that they looked like parodies of prostitutes. At least in their fifties ,they were eying us up as potential customers."Would you no like a wee girlie?" one of them wheezed. Jeez, lets get outta here !!! We fled back to the comfort of our cabin ,where all was silent. We still had two full days to go before we left for the continent.

Norman could get me any time..........................

brian daley
04-13-2008, 12:05 AM
We were still in Glasgow and I was expecting to be tackled by Norman, for what could appear ,to him, impudence. I had given a senior rating "lip". Billo and Bootsie told me that Norman was threatening to put me in my place ,in fact I got some very heavy glowers from him but nothing else. Being a natural born coward, I did my best to avoid any situation that would put me and him alone together .On the evening of the first day after the New Years break I waited until all the lads had gone ashore before I ventured abroad . Instead of going to the pub by the dock gates, I went to the Black Cat cafe a little further down the street. It was empty when I walked in , behind the counter stood a young girl, about 16 or 17 years old . I was wearing my plaid suit and cheese cutter and I could see from the look on her face that she was bemused. I asked for a coffee and a scone and she brought them to my table, there were just the two of us and she sat down and asked where I was from. She knew the Jason and told me that none of the boys came to the cafe any more. It was'nt much of a place so I could understand why. I asked her what her name was , it was Betty, she looked a bit like Connie Francis ,she black wavy hair, regular teeth and dark flashing eyes. We spent a little while chatting and I asked what someone like me could do until she finished work. When she asked why , I answered that I would like to walk her home. She told me she did'nt finish until after 10.00p.m. and there was only the pictures if I did'nt want to go the pub. I finished my coffee and told her I would come back later to see her home.
She gave me a big smile and said "See Ya Later".
The only film on the cinema was Merry Andrew with Danny Kaye and Pier Angeli , I paid my shilling and spent the next two hours thinking of Betty. Back out in the cold , I made my way through the gas lit streets to the Black Cat ,the lights were still on so she would still be there. I pushed the door open and was surprised to gang of Teddy boys sitting at the tables. The door closed behind me and I turned round to see who had closed it and saw 2 more Teds standing by it. Sitting at the table nearest the counter was a huge blonde haired guy with a razor scar that ran from his forehead to his lower jaw . He looked fearsome , he nodded and I felt my arms gripped by the Teds who had been standing at the door. I was scared to death ,what the hell was going on. They took me to his table,"So you're Brian" he said. I nodded affirmatively."And ye want to see Betty to her hame?". I nodded yes again. "She's ma sister ,by th'way" .I blanched ," So ya ask me furst".
To say I was tongue tied would be an understement. He nodded to the boys at my side and they let go of my arms. "Sit" he said ,I sat.Ah'm Johnny an' these are my boys2 he said gesturing round at all the gang. "We're the Bingo Gang, and we run this place. He called to Betty and told her to fetch me a drink and proceeded to give a potted history of what he and his gang did ,they were razor boys. His tale was filled with stories of chibbing , when he saw that I had'nt the foggiest of what chibbing was, he pulled out a flick knife and jabbed with it ."That's chibbing boy" he said ,he then got on to the subject of Betty. Yes I could walk her home ,but I would have 2 of his men to watch out for me, so no funny business . Tomorrow night I could take her to Barrowlands and 2 of his boys would watch out for me there too.
I was the perfect gentleman when I walked Betty back to her Tenement, the 2 Teds were lurking in the background and I did'nt know what the form was, if I touched her would I get a braining? She pulled me into the stairwell and gave me a kiss, and then I kissed ,holding her for a little while I felt the stars shine down over Govan.
Next day sped by in a blur, I could'nt get ashore fast enough ,this was going to be our last night in Glasgow and I was spending it with Betty. She was waiting for me at the Black Cat with our escorts , we got the tram into town and we had a good chat, they were just as wild as Johnny ,with their stories of razor fights and chibbings, they both had faces like patchwork quilts. When we got to Barrowlands they stayed in the background and I spent the next few hours twirling Betty around the dance floor.That was in the days of the big bands and glitterballs ,it was a night of musical magic , a pretty girl ,great music and not a care in the world ,what more could could a kid of 16 and a half ask for.?
Walking Betty home that night ,I was struck at just how lucky I had been to meet her, she was pretty ,good to be with ,and hard to leave. We kissed and cuddled in her stairway and ,as I walked away after saying goodbye, her brother strolled along with me. He told me he would see me safe through the neighbourhood, and ,as we walked ,he asked me if there was anyone aboard I would like chibbing . I had to stop myself from laughing , he was serious, I was Bettys' boy and if anybody gave me a hard time ,Johnny would chib them . I thanked him for the offer , and as the docks came into view, I bade him goodbye.
As I was walking past a shop doorway I heard the faint mewing of a cat, stopping to look ,I saw a little tortoiseshell kitten cowering in the corner, she was tiny .
I looked about and could see no sign of her mother and bent to stroke her, she looked so lost ,and I was still feeling good after my night with Betty. I let her follow me back to the ship. There was no one about when I got to the gangway,so I picked up puss and took her to the messroom to give her a saucer of milk.
She was starving ,and polished off a bowfull in no time. I left her in there and went to get my head down.
She was still their in the morning and we were due to sail, what to do ? I did'nt have to worry the cook liked her and gave her some titbits,we had a ships cat!
We left Glasgow and set sail for Hamburg, but this time there would be no trip to the Winkelstrasse ,I was saving my money for Antwerp,that was where we would go after Hamburg . The older hands told we three boys that we would all lose our cherries in Skipper Street at a place called Danny's Bar. We could'nt wait.

brian daley
04-15-2008, 10:42 PM
Glasgow was now behind us and we were sailing up around Scotland on our way to Hamburg, I would'nt be going ashore this time ,we were saving our money for Antwerp. We three deck boys were now getting settled into our routine ,we were up and out of our bunks at first call every morning; we had learned to our cost that it did'nt pay to ignore the man who called you, if you were not out of your bunk by second call ,you could be rudely awakened by a bucket of icy water. I was lucky I had the top bunk,Billo was the first one to suffer the icy awakening,and that's all it took for me and Bootsie to be early risers thereafter.
The Galley staff on the Jason were all English ,mostly Merseysiders ,and as she was a first class passenger liner,she only carried about 30 ,the catering staff were all top men. The chef was a man called Alf Brierley, he was as round as he was tall ,with arms like great big hams ,his number 2 was a man called Pete Heygarth,I think I've spelt that right. Pete looked like someone out of the Godfather, tall, granite faced with tight wavy black hair and a mercurial temper. The sous chef was a sleepy eyed laid back guy whose name I've long forgotten,but whose small kindnesses I remember well. The baker was a little camp guy ,the colour of the flour he worked with,dumpy and nearly always smiling, Billy the Baker could make tabnabs that would melt in your mouth and bread so fresh and light that it was no sooner made than eaten. Whenever I saw Larry Grayson on T.V. he always evoked memories of Billy with his soft ,camp humour.
We also had a deck crowd of regulars,these were men who would sail on the same ship for years. Wally Skeggs had been on the Jason for longer than he could remember, the Bosun,Wilf ,was also part of the fittings ,the Lamp trimmer Vic ,he was a Blue Funnel man who had been on the Jason for a couple of trips ,and then there was Elwyn,another regular. Frankie Kearns, was a man I would like to have modelled myself on ,quiet, almost taciturn,he only spoke when he had something worth saying. There was big Mike, a Russ Conway look alike, "Ruby" Murray ,an acid wit who was liked by everyone, Alan Roydes, international playboy, Peter Jeremiah ,another Welsh Navy man,Lenny Pitman ,from the south west ,he had a lovely accent ,I think he was from Cornwall. We had a deck crew of 22 , 9 men were watch keepers ,we had 2 senior ordinary seamen, 2 junior ordinary seaman ,three deckboys ,and the other six men ,were day workers. The sailors peggy had to scrap up after those 22,each meal being of four courses ,meant four pieces of crockery per man per meal ,plus cups and cutlery ,it was a huge undertaking but one that was very quickly mastered. There was always a plentiful supply of hot water and suds. The one thing we did'nt like was people who lingered too long over a meal, our free time was dependent on getting our jobs finished and we would use every stratagem to get the guys fed and out of that messroom as soon as possible. But there was always an awkward bugger,the guy who,instead of taking his post prandial cup outside ,liked to hog the table thus stopping us getting finished. Thankfully it never happened too much. The peggies life was also made sharper by the galley staff ,they seemed to resent us ,we boys were always copping the sharp end of their tongues. Like us ,they wanted to get their work finished and have a break too. So meal times ,for those whose job it was to to make things happen, was always fraught, you tried your best not to upset the cook,you tip toed round the second cook because like his soups ,he was always simmering. But gradually and by degree you tuned in with the mood and got on with the job. As deckboys we were expected to be seen but not heard,when the senior ratings sat talking about who was sailing on what ship and whatever happened to so and so ,I being unwise in the way of things ,would often join in, having overheard my uncles and grandfathers talking of the men they had sailed with and the ships they had sailed in,I would offer a titbit here and a mention there ,blissfully unaware that I was treading on forbidden ground. We were on our way to Antwerp when the dam burst, Frankie Kearns was chatting with the rest of the lads around the table, when he was talking about who was bosun on the one of the Empress boats ,I jumped in with the name I had heard at sometime . Frank turned around and said "The next bleedin' thing you' be tellin' us is you know the Commodore of Cunard!!"” “ Yes “ I replied “ Mr Thompson,he lives at 6 The Serpentine”
Jaws sagged in disbelief as Frankie screamed something unprintable ,but I got the message.
Billo and I started to make a little money on the side by doing a bit of dhobying for the A.B.’s. We were not going to get rich but everything helped ,we all left allotments for our mothers, it was’nt resented ,it was the custom then and a ships Captain would take a very dim view of you if you never made an allotment out for your mum. I used to send home 30 bob a week,you did’nt miss it because you never got paid until you got back to England. So all those extra pennies were going to come in handy when we went on the town in Antwerp. It was cold when we docked in the old port, there was a depressed feeling about the place, the war was over fourteen years ago but these people seemed very poor. The lads were selling coffee ,cigarettes and even blankets, one of them said women would sell their bodies for a proper tin of coffee, we did’nt have any proper coffee so we deckboys we not going to lose our cherries for a tin of Maxwell House. And anyway ,had’nt all the lads told us that there were all those beautiful ladies awaiting our young white bodies in Dannys’ Bar?
And so it was that the three unwise, and very foolish virgins, excitedly made their way through the ancient gas lit streets of Antwerp, seeking out that nirvana, we never broke our stride ,soon we were in Skipper Straat, the neon signs winked brightly in the gloom. There it was ! Dannys’ Bar the bright green neon lighting the way to heaven. It was only about 8.00p.m. and the streets were not yet crowded ,we entered the bar and were almost blinded by the lights and mirrors,chrome and dark mahogany and brass. The most beautiful women that I had seen this side of the silver screen sat at the tables around the bar. There were no men in there ,just us three boys. There was a Lana Turner lookalike in an off the shoulder gown ,her pale skin and generous bosoms thrusting at the front of her dress ,there was Jane Powell,and Rhonda Fleming too.The guys had been telling the truth,and they wanted to sit with us!!Oh heaven,this surely was Fiddlers Green. So there we where, a lady by each of our sides and they were buying our drinks. Somebody put a record on the jukebox and Lana took my hand and led me to the floor. She took a firm hold of me ,pressing her body into mine ,should I kiss her? her perfume and the feel of her bosom thrusting into my chest had my hormones running wild. Her husky continental accent,sounding like Marlene Dietrich had my trousers near at bursting point ,she knew and whispered into my ear “You want to make love Dollink?” she asked, rasping her five o’clock shadow against my virginal cheek.AAAARRGH!!!!! Lana was a Laddie,not a lady We three made our discovery almost simultaneously ,as we shot to the door we could hear Danny laughing his head off ,”Good night Darlings” he cried after us.
We were shattered,when we got outside. What do we do now? It was only early and there was a bar next door,the sign over the door said the Zig Zag Bar,let’s give it a try. In we went and this place was full of young women ,real women, not all raving beauties, but women . We sat down and ordered three beers ,the barmaid wagged her finger,no beer ,we’ll have a coke then .No coke she wagged,she pointed to the door and the we took a closer look at our surroundings, this was a lesbian bar. What kind of a mad world had we wandered into. When we got out into the street we did’nt know which way to go ,left or right ,we did’nt know the place. So we turned right ,the street was really poorly lit ,it had rained and the cobblestones glistened in the gaslight ,up the street we walked and just ahead in the darkness ,we could see a great big Norseman ,stripped to the waist,battering a man ,and laying on the pavement were two bodies ,motionless. Oh dear god ,what kind of a nightmare where we in. We turned a corner and saw a neon sign winking its name,The Cosmo, it had clear glass windows and we could see lads our age in there. Seeking a safe haven ,we entered into its’ cheery brightness and sat in a circular booth ,ordering three beers as we did so. Billo was visibly upset, the fight had unsettled more than anything ,it had been very violent. As we sat commiserating our selves ,we were joined by a French Foreign Legionnaire, he looked at Billo and asked him what had upset him. He seemed very friendly and Billo opened his heart to him, the Legionnaire put his arm around Billos’ shoulder as though to comfort him ,just as I noticed two of the barmen sticking their tongues down each others throats. WHOA!!! Lets get outta here!! We fled out the door ,down the street ,past the Big Skowegian adding another stiff to the pile on the pavement ,when we were brought up short by a group of men having a real knife fight on the
other side of the street. They were by a gas light and you could see the blood covered knives flashing in the lamplight ,we cowered in a doorway. It was so brutal,there about six of them and it seemed to last forever; you could hear the grunts and screams and we were near in hysterics. Hope to God they don’t see us in the doorway . Suddenly shots rang out ,and we could see some policemen running up the street toward the fight. There was a creaking sound behind us and we turned to see a small black guy ,he had a white dinner jacket on and a red carnation in his lapel .Tugging on his bow tie he said “Come on in boys. It’ safer in here”
What were we going into now? It was so dark ,there were people moving about in the shadows and we began to see a little better as our eyes adjusted to the darkness. We were in a brothel. The man was very kind,he could see that we were real babes in the wood and he gave us each a beer and ,when all was quiet outside ,he bade us goodnight and let us out into the darkness. Our feet never touched the ground until we got back to the ship. Abroad was very different from Garston!!

brian daley
04-20-2008, 08:43 PM
We went to Dunkirk after Antwerp,I never saw very much of it but I was shown the “scars” that were still visible of that awful episode in World War two,the stone work at the harbour mouth was a mass of shrapnel marks. It was hard to imagine the carnage that had taken place there not a lifetime ago.
On the way there I was given a bit of good news, good for me that is; Norman would not be making the voyage to Australia, he had been arrested in Antwerp for a bit of GBH. and was being held in jail awaiting trial . Somebody up there must have liked me. We crossed over to the Solent and picked up our passengers plus a replacement for Norman ,this was a young man who was nicknamed Bronco. I think he had been given that monicker for some past exploit with a toilet roll . I never found out the truth of the matter. Bronco was the perfect foil for “Rubys’” wit ,they had sailed together sometime before and got along fine. So, there we were, a full complement of good guys and no one to be afraid of . Our days now would be spent learning to be useful members of the crew.
The weather was brisk and the sea was choppy, this was winter in the Atlantic,my previous trip to Hamburg had removed any fears about being seasick so all the tales the lads told us about the Bay of Biscay seemed to be old salts tales. We’d be crossing it tomorrow,so what ! I’d been in a full blown storm in the North Sea, I’d got my sea legs ,bring it on !!! How are the mighty fallen………………
Bootsie and Billo were quite queasy next morning , the Jason seemed to be moving six different ways at once , Keeping things together in the mess was a nightmare,in the galley you could hear the clatter of pans and crockery as the waves buffeted and shook her . I was working with one of the A.B.s on the after hatch ,securing the the blocks on the derricks, we were on the weatherside .I noticed a passenger leaning over the promenade deck railings,he looked as though he was heaving. He was, and over the weatherside too!! Suddenly this multi coloured cloud spurted out of his mouth, it was scooped up by the wind and came hurtling aft……………all over my head !!
I was totally covered ,it was in my eyes,ears nose and mouth. I felt the gorge rising in my throat and fled toward the accommodation. I crawled to the toilet bowl and was having a technicolour yodel when I heard the soft south western tones of Lenny,”Hey Pegs,” says he “ If you feel any thing hairy in you throat, swaller quick!!” “Why?” I groaned ,”Coz’ it’ll be your arsehole boyo !!” he shrieked,laughing his head off.
The weather seemed to worsen and I seemed to worsen with it ,I must have been hollow by the time night fell. I crawled into my bunk when I finished all my chores and slept the sleep of the dead. When we were awakened the next morning I tried to throw back my sheets and blankets to get up but they were stuck to my knees. I had to peel them off for they were congealed with blood ,my blood! Billo told me that we had rolled really badly during the night and that I had been thrown out of my bunk.I had landed on my knees and they were both badly grazed . I had got back into my bunk ,all whilst still unconscious. I had no recollection of anything.
Pretty soon we were into the Mediterranean ,passing Gibraltar as we got there ,the sky was clearing but the wind was still fresh nevertheless we were in for fair weather.
As the temperature rose ,so did the spirits of the men , the blue skies and green seas seemed to have an exhilarating effect. This was time when the gear was overhauled , the block were lowered from the mast housings and oiled and greased, wire ropes were run out and given a coating of an oil and grease mixture. The mast stays were coated with Stockholm tar and the paintwork was scraped away and the bare steel plates given a good scrubbing with wire brushes and chipping hammers. All the way down the Med we chipped ,scraped and oiled. The bare steel was first coated with
A covering of boiled oil,this seeped into the pitted surfaces and helped stop oxidisation. When this had dried hard, a coating of red lead was applied and then we would put on the undercoat. By this time we had arrived at the Suez Canal.
This was our first truly foreign port of call, you can smell it before you see it , not the exotic smells of ancient Araby, but the pungent smell of thousands of years of piss and ****. But the smell belies the site, as you near the Canal you have been treated to a parade of every kind of merchant vessel that ever sailed the seven seas; tankers , liners
Arab Dhows, cargo boats,feluccas and all manner of small craft.An empty pedestal was all that remained of where the huge statue of Ferdinand de Lesseps once stood on the sea wall as you headed into the canal, a sad reminder of that short war in '56.
In the background was Port Said itself. A jumbled skyline of red tiled roofs and minarets,buildings gleaming white in the sun ,and the air filled with the sound of tug boats ,hooters ,a cacophony of car horns and the gabble of the myriad peoples milling in the crowded streets. We moored stern end onto the passenger stage and soon the ship filled with a procession of dock workers ,bumboat men ,booksellers,barbers,and ghillie ghillie men. They literally swarmed over the whole vessel. You had to make sure that your cabins were firmly locked and your portholes screwed tight.
We were fascinated, the bumboat men sold carpets,watches and Egyptian mementoes, the book sellers would sell,or swap paperbacks of every kind ,some of the lads took the opportunity to have a haircut but all of us watched the Ghillie Ghillie man.They could perform tricks that seemed impossible, this one had little chicks and three metal cups. He would place one of the chick under a cup,just like in the shell game , switch them about and then take bets as to which one the chick was under. It was under any one of them ,of course, but what surprised all of us was where it really was. When he had taken all their money ,he pointed to me ,3 rows back, and said “’E ‘as got it” and ,as he said it ,I felt it fluttering inside my shirt. To this day I still don’t know how he did it. We did’nt venture ashore in Port Said ,the passengers left for a trip to the Pyramids and would go on by train to the other end of the canal, but I would’nt have missed that journey through the Canal for anything. Once we left Port Said we sailed through Egypt,the banks to our left led to the Sinai,but the banks to our right led through farms and villages were life went on as it had done for thousands of years,we could see the fellahin at work in the fields ,riding their little donkeys and tilling their fields as that yellow orb burned brightly in the sky above. The sound carried clearly between the banks of the canal. We stopped at Ismailia to let ships coming north pass by and we saw how nice this place was , it had been a rest and recreation area for British personnel and was now used by the Russian pilots as accommadation.
Half way through we came to the Great Bitter Lakes and dropped anchor ,all those who were off duty went over the side for a swim, to my shame ,I was still a non swimmer.
Next morning we arrived at Port Tewfik and picked up the rest of our mail, the passengers too and headed into the Red Sea and seriously hot weather.
To a young boy from the north ,the Red Sea was a revelation, the sky and the sea were different shades of blue and the air was hot and dry,the only breath of air was that created by the speed of the ship. This was ideal weather for painting ,the heat kept the paint runny making it so much easier to apply. All of the deck crowd had discarded the jumpers and jeans that had been so necessary in the colder climes,shorts and flip flops would be the whole of our wardrobe from now on .We were now on our way to port Sudan where we would unload some machinery and take on water.
If there is a hotter place that ships do go than Port Sudan ,then I have never heard of it;
You could , quite literally fry an egg on the bare steel deck it was so hot. This was 1959 and it was still a British Protectorate, the dock workers were the descendants of those self same followers of the Mahdi ,who in the 19th century broke the “British Square”
Warrior like , they still wore their hair in the style of their ancestors ,we call it Afro now, then they were known as dervishes. Clothed only in a short shift ,with the black patches of the faithful ,at their waist they had the short curved sword that had decimated the British soldiers not a hundred years before.
They never bothered us , in fact they did’nt seem to take notice of our existence.
I was the bosuns’ peggy at that time, and after washing the lunchtime crocks ,I went and had 30 minutes on No.5 hatch . I fell into a very deep sleep, I had stripped to the waist and was lying face down , it was incredibly warm ,too warm . I was awakened by the Bosun telling me it was time to get back to work , putting my shirt on hurt like hell. I was badly sunburned. In those days , sunbathing was allowed ,as long as you did’nt get sunburned. You were liable for a logging and a fine if that happened . I was sunburned , but I could ‘nt tell anyone who could help with the problem. Because I could’nt afford to pay a fine. The next day blisters appeared and I was afraid to tell
The doctor in case he told one of the officers.
In no time at all, my back turned septic and began to suppurate ,by the time we had arrived in Aden I could barely see straight the pain was so great. Gradually the whole of my shoulders was scabbing over ,I could’nt admit it and so suffered in silence.
Vic , the Lampy ,came up to me and said I was’nt looking too happy,as he said it he patted my shoulder and I passed out with the pain. I came to lying face down on the hatch,the bosun was peeling my shirt off and I heard one of the lads let out an expletive. Old Wilf was kindness itself,he got me up to the doctors cabin and he dressed my back. I had learned very quickly ,and the hard way, just how dangerous the sun can be.
We sailed to Aden from port Sudan, the British still had a big base there and it was the premier refuelling port for most shipping companies .Aden was also a duty free port and a great place to go shopping. We had a night there and so we three deck boys went ashore to see what there was to buy and look around the town. Most of the shops were run by Sikhs and were stuffed full of cameras and transistor radios ,still a novelty at that time. There was no end of counterfeit goods ,everything from toothpaste ,cigarettes to Wranglers and Lee jeans..We stocked up on what little our money could stretch to and were exploring the back streets when we saw what looked like a childrens hospital ,a two storeyed building with bars on the windows,there were little boys sitting outside on benches. They were wearing little cotton shifts that were open at the back and they waved to us as we got near. When we saw grown men picking the boys out from the benches, we realised the true nature of the place ,a brothel for paedophiles!!! We had heard the lads joking about such places ,but never dreamed that they actually existed . The three of us were learning that the world was a wicked place for some. It would be a good few years before I stepped ashore to visit Aden again.
Early next morning we left the grand harbour and started to head south across the Indian Ocean ,we would sail past the Horn of Africa , the isle of Socotra to the east and journey many hundreds of miles to our first port of call in Australia. We were into flying fish waters now ,there was the Equator to cross and we would soon get our first glimpse of the Southern Cross,we were well and truly thousands of miles from home.
And I still could’nt swim!

brian daley
04-26-2008, 07:49 PM
It is amazing how quickly my sunburn healed, the doctor treated it with some heavy duty ointment and the pain,and blisters, gradually disappeared. I did'nt go out into the sun uncovered because the heat was intense and we were headed for the Equator..
A swimming pool was erected in front of the forepart, it was a wood and canvas affair , it looked very primitive but it was never empty out of working hours.
During the day, the passengers and off duty officers and engineers had sole use of it.
The crew could use it at all other times, because it was adjacent the pool , number 4 hatch was the favoured place for bronzying. The watchmen who were not working would be found there everyday, a pillow ,a towel and a book were the essential requirements then, sun block was unheard of.
As sailors peggy ,I could squeeze a I hour break after the afternoon smoko ,the sun was'nt so fierce then and I used to go into the pool because it was always empty at that time.
The pool was filled with salt water and I was able to float a little , I had'nt told anyone that I could'nt swim and was determined to have a go at learning. I was still having those erotic dreams ,swimming through clear blue waters ,searching for my beautiful naked lady, she was always there waiting with open arms to receive me . The heat played hell with our testosterone levels.
I did'nt realise that my attempts at swimming were being observed ,after a couple of days I was joined in the pool by the 2nd steward, he asked if I really wanted to learn how to swim and I answered yes. Within an hour he had me swimming ,first ,he taught me to relax, then, how to float ,getting me to lay floating face downwards,he then taught the breast stroke . I was thrilled ,I was no Olympic medallist ,but I could swim. I spent every spare moment in the pool thereafter; we were going to have a crossing the line ceremony very soon and the pool held no fears for me now.

Liverpool seemed an age and another world away now , the ship was so peaceful ,the long ,slow waves of the Indian Ocean ,giving the Jason a gentle rolling motion, it was fascinating to look across the deck and watch the horizon fall and rise with the movement of the ship. This was painting weather and all the day workers were set to painting the deckheads and bulkheads, their mood seemed to be in concert with the weather, you could hear the quiet murmur as they talked ,interspersed with bursts of gentle laughter. There were no seagulls about now ,the only things flying were the fish. We three first timers were amazed at the sight of the silvery projectiles ,rocketing out of the waves and gliding for yards along the crest of the waves,they were dazzling in that brilliant sunlight.
The three of us were now a team, as with all Blue Funnel crews then, we had an hierarchy , there had to be a senior deckboy ,just as there were senior ,O.S's and leading hands. I think I was made senior hand because I was slightly older and had got one discharge in my book already ,it certainly was'nt because of my seamanship skills . Bootsie was a far better deckhand than me ,and Billo knew his rope work better than me too. They had far better training at Aberdovey than we had had at the Vindi .But I was put in nominal charge of them ,this meant that I had to see that they were doing their jobs properly in the messes and make sure that the recreation room ,bathroom and brassware were all up to standard, if they misbehaved ashore ,I would be held responsible . I would be logged ,and possibly fined ,for any of their misdemeanours. I thought it was a bit much ,but they were both good lads ,in fact Bootsie was the most popular lad with the crew . He was quiet and always had a smile on his face ,excepting for our bad start, he was never any trouble. After all our work was done ,and we had spent our evening in the rec room watching the lads play cards or some other game,we would grab a bit of supper and a cup of cocoa and then get our heads down. Laying in our bunks we would talk about everything and anything ,but ,sooner or later ,the talk always turned to "It" .We three were still ignorant and ,if the old hands were to be believed , that would all change as soon as we hit the coast .
Bootsie was like a Bonobo monkey , every spare moment in our cabin he would get himself excited and then give himself relief, three or four times a night. He would'nt break off a conversation whilst he was so engaged , we could'nt see him because of the screen, we knew by the tremor in his voice and the grunt when he had finished.
All that use had given him equipment that would have pleased any woman ,it looked like a baby's arm holding an apple . I don't know about Billo ,but I was envious as hell.
It was Saturday when we were due to cross the Line O.S's and younger A.B.s had been preparing the noxious brews that would be used as part of the ceremony ,we three did not like what we saw ,there were buckets of grease and oil and whatever else could be found to make us look disgusting.

On the day ,and at the time ,King Neptune appeared with his courtiers,the pool would not be used for the ceremony, it would take place on the steel afterdeck by No 6 hatch.
There were 2 catering lads, a middie and us three who were up for initiation. The captain ,officers and passengers stood at the promenade deck rail to view the "entertainment". We were told to hide and the Kings guards would be sent to capture us , it was traditional to act as an unwilling participant ,until the moment that you appeared before the King.
Jimmy McClay ,a young E.D.H was sent after me ,he played the part well, dragging me as I struggled to escape, as we entered the "arena" he gave me a cuffing on the back of the head ,still playing the part, I retaliated ,and, before you knew it ,we were rolling about the deck ,going at it like prize fighters. It was getting out of hand! King Neptune sussed what was going on and commanded his men to bring this vicious upstart to have his due . I realised that I had been stupid in fighting and took my gunking like a man . I liked Jimmy, and I'm glad that he liked me ,little things like that can sour a situation. There had been no bullying on the Jason so far.
The initiation over, it was clean up time and back to normal, in those days, Saturday morning was a normal working day, afternoon was time for doing your washing and ironing, we peggies earned our extra coppers by doing the A.B's shirts and denims ,we never did underwear, that was beyond the call of duty. The toilet doubled up as a laundry ,and the Jason had baths as well as showers. We would throw the heavy washing in the bath and get in there with it , we looked like those people treading the grapes, it worked wonders on the wash.
The ship carried a laundryman , a little Chinese guy called Hu Ken Lu , he was tiny and his laundry was just outside No 6 hatch, as peggy we had to take our dirty sheets and towels to him and thus got to know him a little . He was from mainland China ,where he had a family, but, because he was on the Australian run, he had'nt seen them for nearly two years. The bulkhead of his laundry had on it pictures of his wife and 2 children, Marilyn Monroe in a pin up pose and a grim faced Chairman Mao.
He seemed more sexually frustrated than anyone of us ,he was always talking about jigajig. One day ,when I went to collect some fresh laundry , he was doing the passengers private laundry and amongst the pile was an enormous pair of pink bloomers that belonged to a very matronly first class passenger , Lu got very excited ,pulling them out ,he stroked them and was chuntering away in his sing song !Whoarrrrr Yunnggg Dahhhh "he crooned as he stuck them on his head. He started doing what looked like a war dance,the knickers looking for all the world like a red Indians war bonnet, whooping ,he jumped outside and started dancing around by the hatch "Oy Oy OyOy" he whooped ,not noticing the owner of the drawers standing at the prom deck rail .Someone called out and Lu looked up, his face a picture ,he shot back in the laundry and almost cried . I left him as he awaited whatever punishment might be his due. She could'nt have reported him because nothing was ever said.

The passage across to Australia was long and relaxing ,we worked hard but the surroundings were so enjoyable, the sunsets were like no other I had ever seen.The day workers would bring their chairs out of the rec and sit at the after end of our deck, supping a can of lager as they watched the sun dipping down beyond the horizon ,and as it did so the sky would go from blue to gold upon the horizon, golden shafts under lighting what few cloud there were ,the sea mirroring the sky ,became a wash of gold and heliotrope and gradually the curtain of night was drawn across the heavens. Black and velvet, splattered with trillions of flashing diamonds, below , the sea now a rumpled black silk, soon the moon would rise and cast a shimmering path across the waters.
As night settled in the real beauty of the deep was revealed .You look over the side and there in the depths below are green clouds of light ,they seem to boil and bubble and ,of a sudden ,green rockets seem to burst and explode beneath you. Porpoise !! they flash and frolic through the phosphorous at great speeds ,putting on the most fantastic pyrotechnic display imaginable. The whole scene is so magical that you feel the urge to join them. The raptures of the deep!

Soon we would be sighting land ,each of us wondering what magic there would be in this far off land ,Australia.

brian daley
04-29-2008, 10:57 PM
The weekend before we hit the Australian coast ,the Captain deemed the weather fine enough and the sea flat enough ,to have a cricket match. It was to be Officers and Gentlemen ,the deck crowd, and what stewards who were good enough ,being the Gentlemen. Nets were stretched either side of the welldeck,from the scuppers to a height of about 15 feet. We had the proper equipment and the best eleven were picked to represent our side. The captain was umpire ,and I was in the usual important role of, spectator . In such a confined space , the game was fast and rather furious;there was no really safe place to view the game ,the balls ricocheted all over the place. We never played it again ,I think it would contravene every health and safety condition today.And then there were the darts matches…………being a scorer in a rolling sea can be a very hazardous job, and just throwing a double can take forever. I never did sail on a ship that had a snooker table. Table tennis was bad enough; but I digress. 2 days out of Fremantle there was an emergency in the engine room, I can’t recall the full events of what caused the emergency, only that it was to do with a valve being jammed and steam pressure building up to a critical level. The whole of the deck crew were put on to their fire stations ,hoses were run out, the Kidde Rich fire suit was donned with the helmet at the ready .The engines were stopped and every available engineer was in the engine room working like the billy oh to get the valve released. I was assisting on a hose pipe at the engine room entrance and had a panoramic view of the proceedings.
The heat was volcanic , steam pipes hissing and shrieking. The engineers and greasers were stripped to their underpants ,sweat pouring down their bodies. The chief engineer a dour old Scotsman ,his body a mass of knotted muscle, was in the centre of danger, wrench gripped in both hands ,straining to open the valve. The heat was so bad that we in the area adjacent the entrance were being blinded by the sweat as it ran freely down our faces. I was both afraid and awestuck, any sane person would have fled ,but the men at the centre of it all worked with a feverish efficiency ,no sense of panic. Old Wilf ,the bosun ,kept us at our stations with a calming hand “Nearly done now boys” “ We’ll all ‘ave a nice cuppa when we’ve done “ Little and by degree ,the temperature rose at the tension heightened, but the older guys kept us younger one’s calm by recalling similar events they had experienced in the past. So calmed was I that I began to notice the state of the working alley. It was my job to clean it and it was getting filthy with all the activity and gear that was taking place there. I was going to have a hard job getting it clean when this lot was over. Suddenly it was all over ,valve freed, pressure dropped ,everyone back to their jobs. I was amazed at the switch from life and death to everyday. I suppose it was that attitude which led men like them to win against the odds in the last war. “They were only doing their job”
In those days ,we had fire drill ,lifeboat drill, and atomic warfare drill ,every week without fail. Life boat drill was called without warning , wherever you where in the ship ,you had to hurry to your station and get your boat into the water as fast ,and as safely ,as possible. The mate would time you and a very healthy spirit of competition always entered the proceedings. It was always the same team that put the boat down ,that would have been too easy ,we were set against each other and worked with a pride to be the best . We actually put the boat in and the ship would turn full circle while we practised our rowing skill as well. We could get a boat away , from the first warning and into the water, in under 2 minutes. Passengers could feel safe on a Bluey. I was ‘nt too keen on the Atomic warfare drill though, I was to be on the team that had the job of washing the fall out off the ship in the event of an A bomb going off.
In other words, I was expendable.

The morning of our arrival off the Port of Fremantle was heralded by a glorious sunrise ,the sky was a pastel shade of the palest blue against which the silhouette of the dark finger of land split the sea and the sky. There was a gentle breeze blowing from the shore, riffling the wave tops and the gulls wheeled and turned overhead, gleaming whitely in the first rays of a newly risen sun. The outcrops of the horizon began to take on form, set against the sunlit background the geometry of the town began to take shape. I was filled with an excitement as we ran out the rope and springs in readiness for berthing, the decks were being made ready for the unloading of our cargo and there was an organised bustle as everyone went about their respective duties. As sailors peggy my job was to get the breakfasts in for the deck crowd ,we would just have time for before we were ready to dock. I stood outside the messroom ,watching as we neared the port. A launch was cutting its’ way through the blue towards us , it was the bow wave like a bone in its mouth. It was a silver colour ,and, washed in the morning sun it looked almost magical. A young girl stood in front of the wheelhouse, her blonde hair streaming in the breeze, she was only a child of ten or eleven, may have been the pilots daughter but with her flaxen hair and her golden skin ,dressed in a floral print frock, she was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Remembering the children from that cold northern city ,I was enraptured by that golden child . Sometimes I recall that scene and remember the feelings I had then, this was a country that I would be happy for my children to live in. Australia fair.
Soon the Customs men came aboard and rummaged through our cabins to see if we had any contraband , we had bought watches and mementoes from Port Said ,prayer rugs and pyramids . A giant sized Customs man asked Bootsie if he had anything to declare ,”No ,only a f**king rug” he said ,”Gor’blimey blue “ said the man ,”I did’nt know they made them for that now!” Our first introduction to that dry wit that the Aussies excel in. We did’nt get chance to get ashore in Fremantle , we were only there a couple of hours, but what we saw of the dockworkers really opened our eyes.
Wharfies they were called ,and they came to work in what we would call leisure clothes ,get changed in their locker rooms and set to work in shorts and tartan patterned shirts, they were so CLEAN!!!. They were also sticklers for union rules. Demarcation lines were rigidly observed ,you were not allowed to operate any of the winches while they were aboard .We had been prepared for this by the bosun and lampy before we got there, you did as you were told and stuck to the guidelines ,no exceptions allowed. Apart from that , we found them to be a great gang of workers ,and they all wore trilbies !! Nearly everyone over 20 wore a hat in those days , the hatters of Oz must have made a fortune then.
By afternoon we were back at sea, heading for our next port of call, Adelaide, on the other side of the Great Australian Bight, a journey of many hundreds of miles.
It was high summer when we were there , the temperature was in the high 90’s and we heard reports of the very young and the very old being badly effected by the heat ,some had died because of it. As we sailed down the coast to Cape Leeuwin , we could see the trees on fire in the forests ,it was like a scene from hell ,in the dark you could see the infernos glowing as we swept by . Soon we turned past the corner and ,passing Cape Howe ,had our last look at the land for a few days ; we were now on the northern limits of the Southern Ocean. Here we would gain a loyal companion , an albatross, probably the most beautiful of all sea birds. When Elwyn pointed it out to me ,it was far astern, a tiny dot high in the sky, it seemed to glide lazily,now along the wave tops ,then soaring aloft ,almost to the clouds. It swooped and soared and soon took station above our stern. It stayed with us all the way across the bight ,a solitary giant keeping quite sentinel as we sailed safely on.

I went out on deck on a crisp and early morning ,the clouds like little puffs of cotton wool scudding across a turquoise sky ,a gentle breeze making the white horses on the wave crests, standing on the starboard side of the after well deck ,I heard the sound of the Captains voice intoning a prayer and looked up to the prom deck and saw a huddle of uniforms standing by the rail as the Captain read out some words from the Bible.
A church service , here in the Great Australian Bight? I stood, intrigued as to what was happening, the Captain finished speaking and handed the good book to a middie who then handed him a jar. The captain the took the lid off it and then shook it over the side. A cloud of ashes blew out and swirled through the air, the breeze picked it up and blew it over the afterdeck ,covering me in the process . The Mate hurried down to me and helped dust me clean. They were the last earthly remains of the young man whose memorial I had seen draped in the undertakers window in Hamburg , and here he was now ,in my eyes and in my hair. He had expressed a wish before he died that he be cremated and have his ashes cast into the Bight. It brought home with a force just how small this little planet can sometimes appear.
Not too long before we get to Adelaide ,we should be there a little longer than we were in Fremantle. The tales the older men were spinning around the mess room table were making we three virgins very excited. Lots of young Australian ladies we waiting for the chance to bring us into manhood ,and ,if that was’nt enough ,there were men who would come down to the dockside cafes to find young sailors to take back to their wives so that they could have a bit of young lust. Oh roll on Adelaide ,we are ready and willing to answer the needs of Australias womanhood !!

brian daley
05-03-2008, 03:07 PM
Well here we are, nearly a month board the Jason and I have missed telling you something that happened to me ,I lost my name! Old Wilf , the bosun , thought that I looked like Alfalfa ,the goofy kid in the movie shorts “Our Gang” .The name stuck and everyone called me Alf for short……..until I bought a cap in Aden .Then I was called Andy ,after Andy Capp in the Daily Mirror cartoon strip. That name stuck with me for nearly two years. It was only after I left the Blue Funnel line that I got my real name back.
So it was as Andy that I sailed into Adelaide. We were going to be there for two days so this time we would have the chance to see what Australia was really like.
It was quiet! Adelaide seemed to be about 50 years out of date ,the streets were wide,there were hitching posts out side the shops and the sidewalks were like those you see in the western movies. Verandahed to give shade from the strong sunlight,the shop windows were set back out of the sunshine. We never found any lively places and ended up going to the cinema. I can’t remember what we saw , but I do remember the audience, they seemed to be predominantly Italian. And they gabbled through the entire movie . In those days the National Anthem was always played at the end of a show , a picture of the Queen would be displayed as the music sounded ,and we always stood to attention until it finished. All my life that had been the tradition, here ,the music played and the Italians made a mad dash for the door. We were disgusted ,never had we seen such shows of disrespect . How old fashioned we must have seemed, it was only the few crewmen of the Jason and some very old Ozzies that stayed until the end.
So, we put Adelaide down as waste of time for young sailors, Port Melbourne was next.
We thought it was a beautiful place, big wide bay, a café on the pier and a few liners tied up alongside, very picturesque. There were two Italian liners in port and the crews on them were on strike, the bars and cafes were full of them , although they were on strike they seemed to be having a good time, every spare girl was taken up by them. We lads never got a look in at the port so we got the train into Melbourne to see what was cooking up there. This was the busiest place we had been to so far ,very Victorian in design, it was clean and had some handsome buildings. Across the road from the station was a pub in which there was a painting of a naked lady called Chloe; we had been told by the lads that you had to have a beer there before you could claim to have been to Melbourne. We did and I’m afraid we overdid it because we got very,very drunk. Somehow I ended up back on the beach in Port Melbourne,flat on my back on the sand, being shocked awake as the incoming tide washed over my head. It did’nt take many jugs of joy to make us tipsy.
It was at Port Melbourne that I was first introduced to the “gashmen”,these were the men who would collect all the waste food. Normally we would just empty the gash bucket over the side ,here all of the waste was collected and put into a big cart on the back of a truck. The stench of them was dreadful and these guys had to level the loads as they went along,this they did with their barefeet. It was bizarre to see them slapping the piles of gash down with their feet, they looked a bit like line dancers.
We moved up river into Melbourne itself to discharge more cargo and it was while we were there that the news came that Buddy Holly had been killed in ‘plane crash. As most of the crew were young men this had a saddening effect on them. The radio station played non stop tributes to the three young men who had died in the crash, Buddy ,the Big Bopper and Richie Valens . Funny how things stay with you down the years, I was sujying with a bucket of teepol mix when one of he A.B.s working with me started to tell me how that would be the end, no more rock and roll, Don Mclean
sang about it 20 or so years later in American Pie.
The bosun showed me how to make some extra cash in Melbourne, none of the lads stayed aboard for lunch, they would all go down to the nearest boozer for a liquid lunch. Wilf told me to draw all the meals as usual and he would get his mate ,the wharfie gang boss ,to bring his lads in for a meal. I got half a crown a dinner,three courses of course.. This had been a tradition for years and I did’nt have to give Wilf a piece of the action. It put a bit of spending money my way and I went night clubbing for the first time in my life.
Now Melbourne was not a wild town ,the pubs closed at six o’clock of an evening
So night clubs and illegal shebeens were the only places you could get a drink of a night,either way it was an expensive proposition to drink “after hours”
The nightclub I went to was the swishest place I had been to yet. It was right in the town centre on the first floor of one of the large blocks. It was full of business men ,,ladies in evening gowns ,and them bloody Italians ,they were everywhere.
There was a good combo playing standards and the Eyeties filled the floor, I’ve got to admit it ,they were far better dancers than we were. Volare was number one at that time and they sang along with gusto. A torch singer appeared ,she had long black hair in the style of Veronica Lake,here emerald green dress reached to the floor and was split to the top of her long ,and lovely , legs. Her shoulders were bare and she looked as though the gown had been painted on her. She glided silkily across the floor as she sang “Pennies From Heaven” in a throaty and sultry voice. I was sitting at a table near the band and she came over to me and sat on my knee as she warbled into her mike. The spotlight was on us and I could feel her gorgeous body next to mine ,I almost had an out of body experience. And then with a touch of her lips to my cheek , she was gone. She was the first real female I had felt the warmth of for months and I went back to the ship feeling scorched.

Television had’nt made any inroads yet in Melbourne, there were a few stores which had sets on display in the windows and of a night time you could see families sitting in deckchairs on the pavement watching the programmes through the glass window. It reminded me of how it had been for the 1953 cup final in Garston, when people sat outside the radio shop window in St. Marys’ Road. I was standing looking at the flickering images of Wagon Train when an old man spoke to me ,”Are you English?” he asked . I nodded yes and he said, “ I’ve been here 40 years, came after the Great War, where are you from?” I told him Liverpool “ Never got there, would’ve liked to, I’m from London ,never been back ,I miss it still though” I looked at him ,he was about 65 ,smartly dressed, you would not have known him from an Australian ,his big moustache and wide brimmed trilby hat gave him the look of a native. “My two boys don’t want to go to England, my wife’s from Geelong ; sometimes ,just sometimes ,I wish I was going back with you boys” He touched the brim of his hat and was gone.
I felt so sorry for that old guy ,he had such a sense of loneliness. Australia was still along way away then . But the mail service was good, you would get a letter in three or four days then, and letters were the very breath of life itself for most of us.
A great many of the crew were regulars on the Jason, they had girls in most of the ports down there, they would be off like a shot every night to see their ladies. It was only the new ones that went “ hunting”. I used to write a lot of letters back then, I wrote to Anne ,Maureen ,my pen pal, to Mum and dad of course, to my cousin Willie, to Harry ,and to my maternal Grandparents. Consequently ,there was always a letter at post call . Sometimes the mail would bear a Dear John to some poor sod. A good Dear John was ,invariably, pinned to the noticeboard. I’m only glad not to have had that experience ,I saw one guy totally crushed by the contents of a letter. There was an Ordinary seaman called Joey who did’nt get any post for three months once .As they got back to Gladstone dock he was given a letter posted the week before. It said “Dear Joey, I have’nt been able to write because I have had laryngitis…….”.

While we were in Melbourne we had another mishap occur, a rating called Peter slipped a disk in his spine as we were cleaning out the tween decks. He just bent forward and then screamed in agony. I wondered what the hell had happened. He was taken away in an ambulance and we would not see again until we returned to Melbourne, Sydney was our next port, that was supposed to be the best place in Oz.

05-03-2008, 08:02 PM
Brilliant reading ANDY,sorry Brian!
I had heard of "Gashmen" before but thought it was someone saying "gasmen" without their falsies in??
Anyway excellent stuff:PDT_Piratz_26:

brian daley
05-04-2008, 06:33 PM
Although it is nearly fifty years since I made that voyage to Sydney ,and the names of places along the coast have dropped from memory, the visual memory is still strong .
The heat wave was even stronger as we neared our destination, we had remained in sight of the shore for most of the way and the forest fire were still burning ,lighting the night skies with a spectral glow.
Nothing could prepare you for your first sight as you approach the Heads, north Head and South Head ,two Bluffs that that stand sentinel at either side of the entrance to the harbour.You are now in the South Pacific Ocean and the great waves that have begun life thousands of miles away come crashing against the foot of those mighty cliffs. I was told that the Cliffs at South head were called Suicide Point because of the amount of deaths that occurred there over the years. We arrived at the harbour entrance on a crisp summer morning ,the sun making myriad rainbows on the surfing wavetops while overhead the shrieking seagulls wheeled and turned. We had a gentle a gentle rolling gait as we swung headwards toward the main harbour opening and the vista that was slowly revealing itself was almost beyond words.There was Middle Head in front ,an emerald green expanse dotted with red tiled roofs and multi coloured houses , Watsons Bay to port ,Taronga Park to starboard, the Harbour ,now filled with small craft, yachts, motor boats and busy little ferries. Trying to work with so many distractions was almost impossible I was on the foc’sle team and had the best view possible ,if only I did’nt have to work !
There was Sydney Harbour Bridge ,huge ,and there beneath it was the memorial to HMAS Sydney, the bows mounted on the north side being a poignant reminder of those lost in the last war. Lunar Park with its legendary funfair was just past the Bridge. Passing Circular Quay, we headed for Darling Harbour where we would tie up at Pyrmont Wharf. Back then ,Sydney was a low rise city, the Tallest building being the Caltex Towers which were 13 storeys high, the radio had been announcing its’ opening for the last few days ,and there it stood ,the highest place in Sydney.
As we swung into to the harbour ,a twenty foot sailing dinghy came close to us and we saw that that the deck was graced with beautiful young ,bikinied ladies and there young men, they were deeply tanned and looked so alien to us ,we just gaped. One of the young men blew us a raspberry and, lovely stuff, his mates were changing tack and the jib boom swung round and caught him on the back of the head and knocked him overboard.
In no time at all we were alongside ,squared up and ready for the town, I was still sailors peggy and my restaurant would be open for business pretty soon. But today was Sunday so it was time to scout out the town. It was stiil like England in those days, most places were shut on the Sabbath, but it was a good time to see all the main places. It was not too far to get into town, just a short hike across Pyrmont Bridge brought you into the bottom of the city. The main streets ran north and south and had names like York,Kent ,Sussex and Clarence, the cross streets were, if I remember correctly ,called Market,King ,Erskine etc. For me it was love at first sight. This was like no other place on earth, the broad avenues and the buildings ,clean and elegant made it seem strong and confident. There was everything we had at home, except the grime and bomb sites.,There was a lot more too, the shining bay ,the hills, thick and verdant with all manner of trees and those ships at the quaysides ,the backdrop being new and clean ,instead of old and tired. A lot of our crew had well established girlfriends here ,they would be ashore for all the time out of working hours, the lunchtimes would be spent at Montys’ .a pub close by , I needed a till here. I had a messroom full every lunchtime. We used to sit 22 men in the mess,including myself, about 15 used to go ashore for a liquid lunch most days, that was nearly four pound a session for whoever was sailors peggy. Seeing as we were on less than three pounds a week ,that gave us considerable spending power while we were in port.
Next day we three went ashore to what we could get up to, we were’nt into getting drunk yet, so we looked for soda fountains and cinemas, and boy ,Sydney had them in aces. My experience of cafes was limited to what I had seen in Merseyside , Capaldis
was about the best then, in Sydney they were like the ones I had seen in the Hollywood movies, uniformed staff and proper soda fountains. What really impressed was the pure fruit drinks, the walls behind the counter had glass fronted storage spaces that ran from ceiling to counter and they were chock full of oranges ,apples .pineapples and coconuts. When you ordered your drink they would pick the appropriate fruit and ,within a short space of time have it crushed and pulped and served up with ice . The cinemas were quite magnificent too. There was one called the State and it was an art deco masterpiece, the space between the seat enabled you to stretch out in comfort without causing people who wanted to pass you any hindrance. The ceiling seemed to disappear into the sky it was that tall and the art work around the auditorium was a fantasy of ‘30’s styles. It felt great just to sit there. And here we were to see our first glimpse of the modern cinema, Cinemascope! There was no story,it did’nt need one ,just a collection of shots ,from a roller coaster ride ,through to a a performance at La Scala ,Milan. Enthralling then , it would never make a penny now.

Those bloody Eyeties were all over the place here, I did’nt realise they had so many ships, and like everywhere else so far ,they had hoovered up all the girls. We went to the ,I think it was called,the Union Jack club, this was full of them too. Billo and Bootsie upped stakes and left to go elsewhere. I was desperate for a bit of decent female company and stayed put. I was lucky. There was a real nice young lady ,she had come with her mates fro a nurses home out at Coogee but they had copped off with a couple of marineros and she had’nt fancied that. Robin was her name ,petite ,brown eyed and lovely black hair ,she was a good dancer and great company. She asked me what I was aboard ship ,not wishing to lose her if she thought I was one rung up from a ships cat, I told her I was the 5th officer. She was impressed ,and there was no one around to blow my story. Soon it was time for the national anthem and home ; I asked Robin if I could see her home ,not having the slightest idea where Coogee was pleased to let me do that and ,having a pocket full of half crowns , I hailed a taxi.
We spent the journey kissing the faces off each other and time sped by, pretty soon ,it seemed ,the cabbie said “Hereya kids ,Coogee Beach” We had stopped on the esplanade above the beach , the stars were glittering and out there in the bay was a little black mass dotted with twinkling lights, “That’s Wedding Island “ said Robin.
The moon overhead painted the trees with a silvery gleam , it was a romantic sight. I asked Robin if we could see each other again and she said “ Of course” and then kissed me goodnight. It was only as we drove back to Sydney that I realised how far we had travelled ,bloody miles. I had sod all left after I paid the driver. Still the “restaurant” would be open again tomorrow.
Next day I sold my Kodak brownie camera for 3 quid and my tailor ,birds eye suit for a fiver. I was more than solvent for tonight folks.
I was doing my peggies duty, scrubbing the deck on my hands and knees,out side of the messrooms. Heard the clatter of high heels on the gangway and the sound of female laughter coming towards the entrance door. “Excuse me “,it was Robins voice!!!
“Can you tell us where the 5th mates cabin is please?” Jeez, I had told her what ship I was on!! I had my back to them ,she had brought her mates too, and I was in my rags. I did’nt turn round but pointed upwards and buried my head in the bucket.
That night I went on the ale with the other two peggies. We went to Montys’, and as we were about to go in ,a crowd of raving “queens “ came sashaying down the street, pastel chiffon scarves tied at their necks and cheeks powdered and painted . “Cooee
sailor boys” they called to us, “Who’d like to have a naughty girl then?” By now the three of us were surrounded, cheeks were pinched and bottoms goosed and Billo near passed out with horror. Shades of Antwerp!
Some of the lads were already in there and they were laughing at our predicament.
They had seen it all before, now these “queens “ although madeup, were not in the least effeminate, built like brick s**t houses, they towered over most of the men in there. We felt most uncomfortable being the target of their affections. A huge one came and whispered in my ear “ Do you fancy a little girl then?” “Not if she’s got a pair of bollocks “ I replied. He grabbed me by the throat and drew back his sledgehammer fist, just as he was about to put me out another of the “queens “ grabbed hold of his fist and wrenched it back. “Leave the kid alone “ he growled ,hurling him away. He then turned to me and asked me where I was from, I was very wary because he was wearing make up and I did’nt want to go from frying pan to fire. “Liverpool “ I answered, “ I know that kid ,whereabouts in Liverpool?”
“Garston “ I replied. He cocked an eyebrow ,”Whereabouts in Garston?”
“Speke Road Gardens” “Really?” I nodded yes. “That’s where my judy lives” He could see the look of incredulity on my face .”It’s along story kid” I was listening ,”D’ya know K… D ….?” I not only knew her but her mail was regularly sent to our house by mistake, I was nodding like a good ‘un. He told me that he had’nt been able to get any letters to her because she was married and her husband was a very jealous man. “E’d kill ‘er if ‘e ever found out “he said. He asked to stay where I was for a bit as he was going to get back to his digs. The other lads were curious to know what we had been talking about and I just told that he knew a lot of people I knew.
He came back about an hour later and handed me a letter, there was no name on it,”Get that to K… when you get back home ,fer christs sake don’t let her old man see ya, he’ll kill ya if he finds out what yer doin” With those memorable words he left me a rejoined the gaggle of “Queens”
A little old man appeared at the bar ,he looked like every picture that I had ever seen of a Jolly Swagman ,battered old hat ,shaggy beard and timeless ,threadbare old rags,he had bowyangs on his trousers and looked like he had taken the wrong turning at the last billabong. He was on the bum ,but he looked interesting enough to buy him a cold beer,the hit song out here at the time was Slim Dustys’ “The Pub with no Beer”
I ordered a pint of Richmond and he thanked us profusely, after quaffing his first draught, he set his glass down and sucked the excess off his moustache then asked “Wurra yew fellas frum?” We answered Liverpool. A look of comprehension came on his features.. “Liverpool, ah thets jist outside o’ Londin aint it ?” And I suppose from an Australian perspective ,it is.
Sydney was getting to feel a lot like a place I’d like to live, but we still had Newcastle and Brisbane to go to before we returned on our homeward leg.

05-05-2008, 11:32 AM
Hi Brian - and others,
I tend to read several installments at a time so the following points don't relate all to one thread.

Getting to KG V. Think it was the same as for West India dock - tube to Aldgate East and then a taxi to the dock. There'd usually be a group of us so we'd split the taxi cost so it wasn't much.

I went to Adelaide once, and loved it - the only sad part was hearing that John Lennon had been killed the day before we docked. It was a Liverpool-registered ship, MV Warrior, with lots of scousers on board, so the mood was sombre. We were meant to be there a week loading grain for Jeddah. We were a bulk carrier but Jeddah had no bulk handling gear in those days so they ended up having to bag the grain on the keyside and load it on pallets, with dozens down the hold stacking the bags. As they stopped work if the temperature hit 40c, and it was that by twelve each day, we ended up there for three weeks.
We were actually docked in Port Adelaide, a few miles from the city. The bars still closed early in those days (9.00pm?) but we discovered you could still get a drink in restaurants if you were eating. We found an Italian restaurant.
'What's the cheapest thing on the menu?'.
'A dozen oysters'.
'Great. A dozen oysters each, please, and two litres of dry white wine'
We ended up in there a few nights a week and got very friendly with the staff.

Antwerp. Laughed my socks off because I saw something similar.
I was there in dry dock on a ship being sold to the Chinese - we were opening various parts of the engine up for inspection.
Went ashore at night - about 8 of us. One, known as 'Pinky' (the way he stood while playing darts reminded everyone of the Pink Panther) was getting very friendly with a young lady in a bar. We'd clocked straight away that it was no lady!
As the night wore on Pinky kept feeding her alcohol and trying to get his hand up her skirt. After several hours they were both pissed and swallowing each others tonsils - 'she' was sitting on Pinky's knee. Finally, he got his hand up her skirt and discovered and handful of something he wasn't expecting. He stood up sharply, dropping his playmate of the floor. We all screamed with laughter and Pinky realised we'd all known but said nowt. He stormed out.
Saw him about 5 years later and he told me the story had spread throughout the company, and every time he joined a ship and introduced himself, someone would say 'was that you in that bar in Antwerp?. He never lived it down.

Keep it coming, Brian - stimulates my own memories!

brian daley
05-05-2008, 08:37 PM
Hi Kevin,You are the same Kevin as on the Sailors Home are'nt you?
I'm really glad I'm helping to tickle a few of the old memory cells,it has been a great exercise for me too,I seem to have opened up doors that were shut for too many years. I can see myself getting closed down for going on too much.
I'm quite happy to carry on if the Moderators don't think I'm taking up too much space,
I can't wait to write about Brisbane.......................................... .......

Norm NZ
05-05-2008, 11:56 PM
'Spoilsport' Brian!! Come on! tell us who K.D. was in the 'Tennies' I might even have known her!!!!

brian daley
05-06-2008, 08:34 AM
Norm,I'm 66,so she would be about 75 now,her address had the same numbers and letter as our did,but in a different order. I would,nt like to get myself,or anyone else, into to trouble. I have wondered, for many years,what the relationship was between the two of them. And yes,I did deliver the letter when I got home. I will only give someones name when there is no chance of them being identified ,or for money!!

05-06-2008, 09:29 AM
Hi Kevin,You are the same Kevin as on the Sailors Home are'nt you?
I'm really glad I'm helping to tickle a few of the old memory cells,it has been a great exercise for me too,I seem to have opened up doors that were shut for too many years. I can see myself getting closed down for going on too much.
I'm quite happy to carry on if the Moderators don't think I'm taking up too much space,
I can't wait to write about Brisbane.......................................... .......

Yes - same Kevin.

Never got anywhere in OZ but Adelaide, so looking forward to hearing about Brisbane.

If moderators complained you were taking up to much space, which I'd doubt they'd do, they'd probably have a mutiny on their hands!

Norm NZ
05-09-2008, 11:21 PM
Norm,I'm 66,so she would be about 75 now,her address had the same numbers and letter as our did,but in a different order. I would,nt like to get myself,or anyone else, into to trouble. I have wondered, for many years,what the relationship was between the two of them. And yes,I did deliver the letter when I got home. I will only give someones name when there is no chance of them being identified ,or for money!!

"Good on ya"! Brian, 75 eh! same age as myself!! perhaps just as well we do'nt know the name! I lived in 14A but that was before 1950!!! Cheers, and keep the stories coming!:PDT11:PDT_Aliboronz_24:

brian daley
05-10-2008, 04:50 PM
The strange thing about Australia was how different it was from home and yet how familiar everything seemed to be. The town centres of Melbourne and Sydney were full of great buildings that were not unalike those in the centre of Liverpool ,the large department stores were like those of Lewis’s and Owen Owens, newspapers were so similar to those of home, The Daily Mirror ,The Sydney Morning Herald ,and the magazines ,so like the Picture Post and Everybodys that you could be forgiven for mistaking them at first glance . It was the sunshine ,cleanliness, the people and the environs that let you know that this was not England . Open the papers and you would immediately see the difference, there seemed to be a matiness in the content ,and words like bludger, bonzer , galah and many more sprinkled the pages. This country was as different to England as America is . I used to like the cartoons in the newspapers , Bowyang Bill and Doc Witchettys’ Tribe were two that spring easily to mind, in one particular magazine there used to be a feature called “Come in Spinner” which readers would contribute tall tales to ,I really liked that because it illustrated the real Australian sense of humour . The magazines also taught me of how little I knew of the Anzacs, that fabled army that did so much to keep Britain in the frame in North Africa and help defend the Australian and New Zealand people from the Japanese menace. I was to meet many an old Anzac during my time down there , Australian Anzacs that is ,never forgetting that it was a force of both the New Zealand and Australian armies.
So , leaving what had seemed like a second home, we sailed from Sydney and made our way to Newcastle. This was a very different place to Sydney, it was very industrial, here were the steelworks and copperworks and coal mines too. The bay was full of bulk carriers , anchored awaiting a berth. A lot of them were Australian and were very drab looking, no fancy coloured funnels or white paintworks ,they were like the British colliers, painted in a monochrome maroon ,funnel ,superstructure and hull. But ,the older hands told me that conditions on those ships were far superior to ours. There was one large bulk carrier lying way offshore ,separated from the rest ,and not by distance alone. She was Japanese bulk carrier , the very first Japanese merchantman to enter Australian waters since 1939. The wharfies were refusing to let her enter to pick up her cargo of iron ore , this was where I learned a lot more about how the Aussies felt about their erstwhile adversary.
When we tied up at our berth we could see lots of ex-servicemen carrying placards telling the Japs to go home. A common slogan was “Remember Kokoda !”, I was told that this was a place in New Guinea were the Anzacs fought , and held, the superior forces of the Imperial Japanese Army. This was only 13 years after the end of the 2nd World War and events were still fresh in the minds of most Australians.
The situation was headlines in all the newspapers and we saw it on the cinema newsreels too. Unfortunately ,I have no great memories of Newcastle as a place ,the striking Wharfies and one other incident have remained clear though. As I was scrapping up after the sailors midday meal ,an old soldier popped his head through the messroom door and asked if I had “Any spare tucker”. I had just cleaned the last remains off the plates into the gash bucket and it was now full of garbage ,fish heads and the bits and bobs that are usually left on the plate,plus tea leaves and soup. A real grisly potage. This guy spots the bucket and says,”I’ll empty that for yer mate!” then grabs the bucket and scarpers. He was wearing a slouch hat, an army great coat and a tattered old pair of K.D.’s, he was also barefooted. Bizarre! We never saw the gash bucket again !
Gash buckets ; sailors and peggies were constantly at loggerheads over gash buckets, they had to be emptied after every meal ,if you left them they would pong in that heat and were unsightly too. To leave one unemptied overnight constituted a major crime. If the ship was at sea and she started rolling ,the bucket could tip and it would take a lot of cleaning up. Consequently ,the senior ratings were forever giving peggies a reminder to clean out the bucket ,or else! We found out what the “or else “ could be when Billo forgot to empty it one night. He had the bunk below mine and ,in view of what happened, I was glad I was up above him this particular night .
It was about 2.00 in the morning and we were all sound asleep in our cabin when we were awakened by Billo yelping as though the ship was going down. The farmer on the 12 to 4 watch had placed the full gash bucket in Billos bunk, right next to his head, he turned over in his sleep and got the lot over him. Phwoar, poor sod smelt like a skunk.. We never ,ever forgot to empty the bucket after that. ( A farmer was the man who did the middle two hours on lookout, the first and last hour being on stand by)
One last story of the gash bucket, the Jason was a first class passenger boat, the cooking was of the highest standard possible , we were all well fed ,and sometimes the sailors went right through the menu, some days though the gash bucket got filled pretty quick ,like the time we had kippers as first course for breakfast .We were in the middle of the Australian Bight and the sea was a bit rough and a lot of the lads gave the kippers the go by. I was cleaning up for morning inspection ,our lads ate between 8 and 9 a.m. and the passengers sat down to break fast at 9.00. Big Alf , the chef, squeezed his way through the mess room door ,this was something new ,the chef Never, ever ,came in to the sailors mess. “Pegs” he says “ ave yer gorrenny kippers left?” I pointed to the gash bucket ,”Only them in there Alf “ I says. “Orlright “ he says and scoops up three ,sticks them under the tap to rinse the gubbins off ,and says “We’ve got none left for the bloods” (passengers). Well what the eyes don’t see…….

Soon it was goodbye to Newcastle and then on up the coast to Brisbane ,the weather got hotter the further north we sailed ,the coast line was interesting ,there were lots of little settlements along the cliff tops ,interspersed with great stretches of what , I was told ,were eucalyptus forests. I was doing a spell at the helm when a forest fire came into view and the mate on watch told me that this was perfectly natural, the plants needed fires to propagate ,the heat opened the seed pods and the ashes helped fertilize the soil. You learn something new everyday.
Brisbane is on a river of the same name, it meanders for miles and the shorelines were full of multi coloured bungalows , there were wharves dotted along the river ,each with ships flying the Red Ensign at the stern. This was where Britain got the bulk of its’ frozen lamb and beef ,plus tinned fruit, we were carrying cars, tractors ,rolls of steel ,plus a myriad products from Britains’ factories and we would return with the food needed to keep a hungry country fed. This was the place where we would finally empty our holds and then begin the process of cleaning them out and preparing to carry food. I was to learn how immense this task was ,in Brisbane I was deck peggy.
We dropped off cargo at various little quays on our way up river ,until we arrived at the jetty across the river from Bulimba. We had come here to empty our rubbish and there was tons of it. In those days ,cargo was carried in what was called “Break bulk” fashion, that is to say ,it was carried loose and each consignment had to be stowed so that it would’nt move ,or contaminate the cargo adjacent. This was a highly skilled art and the mate , bosun and carpenter were the men who oversaw the stowing. The carpenter used dunnage (wooden planks cut to size) to contain the cargo and keep it intact in all weathers. It was now our job to clear out the dunnage and get those holds spick and span. We had no wharfies aboard whilst we carried out this work, our lads manned the derricks and winches as they filled the gigantic canvas slings that were used to unload the mess. My job was to stand on the back of the rubbish wagon on the quay and unhook the slins so that they could discharge the dunnage into the wagon. It was hot and dusty work .I was only wearing shorts and boots. There was a wooden wall at the east end of the quay ,on the other side of which there was a small ferry landing. As the load grew higher in the back of the wagon ,so I began to see more of the ferry landing , there was a small wooden gangway running down to a little jetty, that was were the Bulimba ferry came .At the top of the gangway stood a little shelter in which there was a wooden bench, and on that wooden bench sat the most wonderful girl I had ever seen. I was too shy to take a proper look at her ,but I could see that she was looking at what I was doing ,I was filthy and dusty and embarrassed that such a pretty young girl would have to see me in that state. When the wagon was full it drove off and I had to do the same on the next wagon, and as the load grew higher I began to see that that lovely young lady again………..she radiated sunshine. She had strawberry blond curly hair and was wearing a flowery print dress, as I was taking another furtive peek at her I saw she was looking at me, as I was about to look away ,she waved , she waved again .I was’nt mistaken ,I looked around, there was no one else, she was waving at me! When the wagon was full and I was waiting for the next one ,I heard her call me ,there she was at a hole in the fence ,beckoning to me. I ran over ,my heart racing , close up she was even prettier than I could have believed, her strawberry blonde hair and her golden skin ,spreckled with lovely amber freckles made her seem like someone out of a dream. She asked me where I was from ,what my name was ,how old was I, how long would I be here ,and all the time I just stood and gaped…………..She was talking to me! A voice yelled “Andy,get yer arse back on that wagon!!”
I fled to the wagon, crushed that I had muffed my chances, as the load grew higher ,I saw her still sitting in the same place, my heart leapt.

brian daley
05-10-2008, 07:51 PM
I had’nt noticed before ,but I saw that little ferry putt puttering across the river half a dozen or more times and still my lady sat smiling. When I finished the next load , I shot across to the fence to find her waiting at the hole, this time I asked the questions. She was looking at me with golden lashed green eyes ,a smile hovering on her cupids bow lips. Her name was Pat, she was a student nurse and lived on the campus across the river. She loved everything English and would love to go to London, all this through a hole in the fence. She was on her way home when she saw me and thought I looked different ; taking my heart in my hands ,I asked her if she would like to see me after work.Cat calls and wolf whistles were being made by the lads aboard ,but I did’nt care ,she said yes ,she would like to see me and did I have a friend .You bet ! So we arranged to meet outside the gates at 7.30 that night ,she got on the next ferry and waved as it crossed to Bulimba. I felt ten foot tall ,no lying about being 5th officer ,she had seen me as I truly was ,a deck boy. At afternoon smoko I went along to the galley and asked Terry ,the scullion, if he fancied a double date, he was well up for it ,he was the same age and build as me, and we got along just fine.
We did’nt know where we could take them ,we had never been to Brisbane before. I could‘nt wait for work to end so that I could get a shower and put some decent gear on.
Just after our evening meal ,old Wilf came and turned us to ,what the hell for ? I had to get ready. “We’re shifting ship lads” he said. I could’nt believe it ,what about Pat?
The older hands could see I was shattered, to find someone so nice and then to lose her again so quickly! I felt murderous as we moved slowly back down river. We finished berthing at the other wharf about 7.15, but ,what the hell ,I did,nt know her address, how far away we where, and if I did ,how could I let her know we had moved.
Muttering disconsolately ,I helped to rig the gangway, the shore telephone was passed aboard and the jack plug put in ,I was still holding the unit when it started ringing. I lifted the handset from the cradle to hear Pat saying “Is Andy there?” Wowee, “It’s me, Pat ,it’s Andy” , “ Andy, did you get a mate ?” Yes ,Yes I answered . “ Good , we’ll see you outside this gate in half an hour “ she answered.
The wharf we were at had palm trees on the perimeter ,night had fallen about 6.00 and it was now as dark as midnight . This was the sub tropics. Terry and I walked anxiously to the gate, what was his date going to be like?
They were sitting on a fence just outside the gate and their faces were wreathed in smiles as we stepped toward them, Terrys’ date was lovely, gamin ,with an Audrey Hepburn haircut ,she was as dark as Pat was fair. We asked where they would like to go and they answered “ just for a walk”. We fell into step and we talked , and we talked, it was so joyously free from any awkwardness, they were just as full of dreams as we were. In an age when instant sexual gratification might seem the norm, it may seem foolish to some folk when I say that I was so thrilled just to be able to hold her hand and walk through that tropic night ,listening to her voice tell of her hopes and aspirations. The gentle breeze shushing through the palm trees and nameless night birds trilling their evening songs, the silvery yellow moon so large in the black velvet sky all went to make this night so special. We sat on a paddock fence and sang the songs of our childhood, we ran through the jacarandas and bougainvillaea ,playing tag and hide and seek. This was an innocence so far removed from the slums of my mind ,I felt carefree and so much in love. Can that happen in the space of a few hours? All I knew was that my heart was aflame with joy at the veriest touch of her hand . All too soon the night was over ,they asked if we could meet again tomorrow and could they see the ship? Yes ,we answered, for Terry was as smitten as I was. They had told us that that would really like to hear the songs from My Fair Lady, at that time a Broadway hit , they had only heard the occasional song played on the radio, they had never been aboard a ship either and they were as excited as we were to have them aboard. After a fond and loving goodnight kiss , we saw them safely on the ferry and made our way back aboard. Frankie Kearns was nigh****chman ,and he had seen us with the girls. He never made the expected ribald remarks, he must have seen the stardust in our eyes. “Two nice girls lads, are you seeing them again?” I spilled out our story ,yes we were seeing them ,tomorrow ,they want to come aboard ,but I could’nt take them to my cabin, Bootsie would go into overtime and pull himself to death. “Andy ,I’m on the nigh****ch again tomorrow ,you can have my cabin “ I was so happy at those words ,up to yet I had only seen the hard side of Frank. “I’ll get you some drinks in as well ,and you can use my record player too” I was so excited when I got into my bunk, all was quiet ,Billo and Bootsie were well away. I can’t remember a thing about the next day , only the night . Terry and I were waiting at the ferry at 7.00p.m.. They were both wearing light dresses and had high heels on, they looked gorgeous. We led them to Franks cabin and there were the beers in a bucket with some ice and some Schweppes soft drinks too. The record player was set up and ,waiting on the turntable was the LP of the Broadway show My FairLady, Frank,you angel. The girls were ecstatic, we sat and cuddled as we listened to the songs that they had so longed to hear ;we had been sitting thus for about half an hour when the door was rapped, I got up to see who it was. It was Pete Heygarth, the 2nd cook, in the
full outfit ,crisp white chefs hat ,spotless white jacket and blue checked trousers ,a white kerchief ,and in his hands ,a silver salver ,holding a prawn cocktail with a cold collation and Peche Melba dessert. “Supper for the men and their ladies” he announced. This was totally unexpected ,he came in and laid out the feast as though we were first class passengers and not deck boy and scullion, as he finished serving he gave me a smile and a conspiratorial wink. Pat and her friend were so overcome with the splendour of it all. The night was perfect ,we supped and chatted and then walked to the ferry ,gently kissing and holding each other. This was heaven and I never wanted to leave. And so the days passed , a romantic idyll ,chaste ,yet filled with tenderness. On the Saturday before we sailed , one of the lads had the great idea of going out to a farm and hiring some horses. The idea seemed just right, this was like the wild west and we could play at cowboys. So ,taxis were ordered and we were off to the paddock . Eight of us went and when we got there ,the ranch seemed to be the size of Wales. The horses were like Brumbies,a half wild thing like a mustang, you had to collar your own out of the herd that was ranging around the paddock. That did’nt take too long, even though I was a rookie, I’d only ever been on a donkey at New Brighton, we had to put the saddles on the horses ourselves. I did’nt want to be cruel and so left the girth a little loose, wrong ! I mounted up and the horse immediately galloped over to the herd that was roaming loose , and ,as he galloped the saddle started slipping sideways until I was hanging from it, my hitting the earth with every step. I was petrified in case I was hit by one of his hooves. Happily I slid to the ground and had to chase after him. Once caught , I tightened the girth till his belly looked like an hour glass. Mounted again , I rode over to the rest of the lads and we turned around and headed for town. We thought we were the Bees Knees, looking like a sheriffs posse. I managed to get into to the rhythm of the horses canter, the paddock gate was just ahead and then we would be on the road to Brisbane ,we’d find a pub with hitching posts’ and then and get some 4 x’s down our necks. I was at the back of the crowd tailing behind them as they headed out the gate. My horse stopped at the entrance and refused to move another inch. I dug my heels into its’ belly ,pulled on the reins, shouted Giddap a thousand times. It was going nowhere. I turned its’ head to go back to the house , still would’nt budge, I got off and started pulling it towards the stables, it stood rock still. Would’nt go forwards ,or backwards. Two little blue jeaned boys with straw hats on, were sitting on a five barred gate across the road. They were chewing on corn stems,”I reckin ‘es a Pom mate “ said one , “Bloody looks like it “ said the other one. I got back aboard the recalcitrant one and gave up the struggle. I must have dozed off ,for all of a sudden I felt the horse jolt beneath me and it reared and turned back toward the stables, the lads were on the way back in and this little swine wanted to race them back to the stables. I was totally out of tune with it ,as its backside came up ,mine was going down, it was bump ,bump all the way back ,and at speed too. She slewed to a stop outside the stables and threw me sideways. I’ve never felt quite the same about horses to this day. It was Saturday night and we were going to a hop at the campus.

brian daley
05-12-2008, 09:57 PM
The Dance was to be held at the campus ,which was home to a lot of young people ,nearly all of them students of some kind. It had been built for American troops in WW2 and was a nice looking place. When Terry and I told the lads on the Jason about the hop, there were so many that wanted to go that we had to order three taxis to get us there . We duly turned up in style, there were about ten of us ,all the junior ratings, deck and catering alike. Everyone one of us had put on our best clobber because this was a Saturday dance. The boys who were already there were in “T” shirts and denims ,or tartan shirts and denims. We were a little bit over dressed and the atmosphere seemed a bit strained at first, when the music started ,the ice was well and truly melted when they locals watched how the lads from Merseyside danced rock and roll. The whole thing was free and easy, there was a local group who did sets between the records ,there was no D.J., some kid just kept on changing the records. And what records they were, Nash Rambler, Long Tall Sally, Paul and Paula, Singing the Blues and many , more. When the dance was finished ,Terry and I got our girls and walked ,we were going to have to say goodbye tonight and I did’nt know how I was going to manage it .They knew we were shifting down to Borthwicks and it was going to be too far to get back to see them, how do you say goodbye to someone who has stolen your heart ? There was a song that was popular at the time ,it was from a film called The Inn of the Sixth Happiness ,a chidrens’ song called “This Old Man”.
The four of us sang it as we walked through that star filled night ,the cicadas providing a wall of sound around us , we sang and we dreaded reaching the ferry. Pat said “Come on fellers, let’s play hide and seek , you two count to fifty and then come and find us ,no looking now “. Like kids ,Terry and I started counting……….1.2….
35,36 when we had nearly reached 50 ,Pats voice called out from a distance “Goodbye ….,Goodbye .Andy “ her voice breaking on that last syllable. There were no street lights , I strained to look at where she had called from but could only see the
moonlit topped palm trees . Terrys’ girl called out goodbye to him and we descended to the ferry in silence . I felt my heart breaking as we climbed back aboard, Frankie was at the top of the gangway, “Yer a sailor now lad ,heart aches are all part of the job”

Borthwicks was were we going to load the frozen meat for home, it was miles from anywhere because it was an enormous meat packing plant that processed cows ,sheep, lambs and calves from the hoof to tins or carcases. The three of us deckboys took a walk to see if we could get to a nearby hamlet ,we were told that there was a little cinema there. The main road must have a couple of miles from the packing plant
because it took us along while to walk to it. There were huge paddocks either side of the road and they were filled with cattle or sheep. I had been to Stanley Abbatoir a few times ,but that could never prepare you for this . The animals seemed to know what they were there for ,the lowing of the cattle had a very mournful tone and although it was dark they crowded to the fence calling as we passed.
When we reached the main road we saw that it stretched endlessly to the left and right, which way to go? As we stood and pondered a little Holden pulled up alongside and the driver asked where we were going , we told him that we had heard about the cinema that was nearby and he told us to jump in. His told us grandfather had come from England and that he worked on the packing plant , he took right up to the cinema. It was a shed ,a long shed , and the seats were deck chairs locked together in rows. There were about 12 rows and the floor was bare concrete with a gentle slope, it was’nt the Odeon but it was purpose built. This was farming country and the audience was mainly young farmboys and girls, it was not the type of audience you got at home. Boisterous and chatty ,we never got to hear the movie properly ,but we did get to see how the farm kids enjoyed themselves, after finishing their bottle of coke ,they would roll them on the floor and they would career down the slope ,their ribbed sides making a noise like a tank on the concrete . They were not aggressive and they took not the slightest notice of we three strangers in their midst. When we started walking
back to the main road another Holden pulled up by us and asked where we were going, these people were great, they were not suspicious of strangers like folk in the big cities . They dropped us off at the top of the road and we walked past those animals ,trying not to think about what was going to happen to them tomorrow .
Next day we set to work to the sound of industrialised death ,the thud and thump of the factories machinery accompanied by the noises of thousands of distressed animals.
Now ,don’t get me wrong ,I’m not a vegetarian ,I love a rare steak, but when we saw the brutal way in which the process took place we were all chastened. The big paddocks we passed the evening before all led into a marshalling paddock which had overhead lines from which dangled live electrical cables, hundreds of them, there were lines of piping overhead too and these had shower heads on them ,The cattle were soaked by the sprinklers and the live cables delivered shocks which were conducted much faster by the dampness. Mounted drovers herded them toward a ramp which they went up in single file. At the top of the ramp was an affair that looked like a horse box ,this was about 10 foot above the ground floor ,on top of the box stood a man who looked like your worst nightmare,shaven headed dressed in just shorts and a leather apron ,every part of him splashed with gore. He was astride the box , above the cow, and he had a pole axe in his hands , the cow entered the box ,the gate slammed shut behind it and Igor swung that axe through an arc of 180 degrees ,crushing the animals skull. The instant the smashing sound was heard ,a man beneath the box threw a lever and the trap door opened beneath the box ,the cow fell struggling in its’ death throes and one man stepped forward and looped a chain around its’ back legs . This was attached to a winch and the cow was pulled up,a second man stepped forward with a razor sharp bill hook and slit open its’ stomach ,the offal falling over him as he did so. It was like a scene from Dantes Inferno ,as soon as one cow was hoisted another was in the box being slaughtered. A conveyor line carried the carcases through some screened doors and about 50 yards beyond that ,lines of corned beef tins rode on a conveyor belt toward the despatch bay. I wo’nt write about the slaughter of the lambs and calves ,as an ex butcher boy I could see that it was gratuitous slaughter. We were only there for a couple of days but we used to bet each other how long we could watch it without feeling queasy, the answer was forever. You can get used to anything if you watch it long enough, the men who worked there seemed brutalised by the job , sometimes you would see the same kind of guy in an English abbatoir. Just don’t get on the wrong side of them.
We left the Brisbane River next morning to find we were one S.O.S short ,Bronco had skinned out. He went quietly , packed his bags and no one saw him go ,we would miss him because he had a great sense of humour and used to help us learn the ropes. It was back to Sydney now , me nursing a sore heart and the three of us still virgins.

brian daley
05-15-2008, 10:17 PM
Going back down the coast to Sydney was not as exciting as it had been as arriving there for the first time, we were a bit sad to be on the homeward leg.
Bronco had gone ,and with him a little bit of magic ,he had kept us lads entertained. Plus it was not just me who had got all silly over a girl, a couple of the younger ratings were a bit down in the mouth about leaving their girls in Brisbane too.
The older hands were not at all sympathetic towards us moonstruck kids,"Yer shoulda give 'er one" was the phrase most used, as well as "She was'nt after your sweet nothings boy,next time just do the business and get it over with" . With moral support like that ,you could'nt be down in the dumps too long..
Back in Sydney I mated up with the galley boy ,Jimmy Traynor ,a nice kid ,he was on his first trip too, he was quiet and unassuming ,he had to be for he was right at the bottom of the pile in the catering pecking order.
I remember that the movie "The Vikings"was showing at one of the big cinemas and a few of us bottom feeders went to see it. We thought it was great and it had a really distinctive theme tune, it started off with the sounds of long brass horns playing a haunting refrain. Jimmy learned to play this refrain on the kitchen hosepipe and would drive old Alf the chef round the twist with his incessant blowing. We deckboys never succeeded doing it on our hosepipes.
Nothing remarkable happened while we were in Pyrrmont ,excepting for the time the three of us were in our bunks ,we were still awake , Billo and I were reading and we knew what Bootsie was up to by the sounds coming from behind his curtains ;he had drawn his bunk curtains ,but not the ones on the portholes. We were all brought to full consciousness when a loud Ocker voice shouted through the open porthole Fack me mate ,yew've got more ta bleedin' play wiv than I've got to walk with !!" This gap toothed wharfie was laughing like a drain ,he said he'd been watching Bootsie ,on and off for half an hour . We heard the sound of the curtains being drawn and Bootsie went back to his business.

We shipped a replacement for Bronco in Sydney, a deckhand from Liverpool, he had gone out on the ?10 scheme and now wanted to go home. He was what we boys thought of as cool, his Scouse accent had been softened by his time in Oz and he did everything in a laid back way ,he had hair like Jeff Chandler (noone knew then that Chandler was gay) and a lopsided grin. He never treated us lads with anything but kindness and was a real Jack the Lad with the ladies.
Someone must have told him about my unfulfilled state because one evening he came to me and said , "If you go to my cabin you will find something that will do you good"2” I went to his cabin not knowing what to expect, the vision of what confronted me lives with me still . Mr “Cool” had sent me to his cabin , and there I found a woman ,sitting in the lotus position, facing the door, with nary a stitch of clothing on her body . My eyes came out on stalks ,for there was the secret of secrets right in front of my face. But, but , she was an old woman and the flesh on her thighs hung in massive folds and her womanhood looked ,well , past it .
She did’nt turn a hair “Yew want some ?“ she asked parting her thighs even wider .”Oh god ,no,for christs sake missus ,close your legs !” I screamed inwardly . I was so embarrassed,”Er ,Ronnie asked me to see if you’d like a cup of tea “ I stammered. “Naw” she replied and I fled , burning with shame and embarrassment.
I did’nt tell a soul, if I??d told Bootsie you can imagine the consequences . That night the gang of us went down to Circular quay to have a drink in the legendary pubs down there .There was an Orient boat in and the place was really lively. I can remember going in to the Captain Cook ,but I cannot recall much after that. Just before we left Sydney a car with some of the girls from Brisbane turned up outside the docks .One of them must have taken her Dads car, and they had driven all the way. The police came aboard and sought out the respective boyfriends’. They warned them that they could not go anywhere near the girls as they would be committing an offence ;we never found out what that offence was, but the girls had to go back to Queensland.
Shortly after that we set course for Port Melbourne. It seemed we were going to be in for a lively time for the radio was full of a festival that was to be held there ,it was called Moomba on the Yarra, there was also going to be a bit of a do for the arrival of Australias 10 millionth immigrant .
The Italians seaman had ended their strike by the time we got back to Port Melbourne, the pier had a Strath boat ,an Orient boat ,a beautiful looking Port boat and an Italian liner ,the Sitmar, all tied up alongside. Smokey Joes’ ,the café at the end of the pier ,was packed, full of sailors and girls and the juke box playing hits like the Platters “Smoke gets in your eyes “ and many more.The atmosphere was brilliant ,so many lovely girls that Pat was quickly going on to the back burner.
The three of were sitting near the bar when we saw this guy walk up to the counter , he was tall ,deeply suntanned ,wearing a white polo shirt that was in danger of being ripped apart by the huge muscles that strained beneath it . With his strong cleft chin and Tony Curtis haircut ,he looked how we would have wished we could look,a mountain of testosterone filled manhood…………And then he pulled out his little purse and lisped “A rathberry cordial pleathe”,daintily dropping the coins into the the barkeeps hand. Billo just blushed ,Bootsie and I were stifling our laughter………………and then it happened.
This guy, about 30 years old ,came up behind us and asked if he could buy Bootsie a drink ,he did’nt want to know about Billo and me. He asked Bootsie right off if he would like to go back to his house and have a drink with his wife. So the stories were true!! Billo and me were crushed ,what had Bootsie got that we did’nt have,did that docker in Sydney spread word? So off went Bootsie and me and Billo nursed our discontent over a couple of cokes. Each thinking “Dirty ,.lucky *******.”
We failed to pull and made our way back aboard, after a bit of supper we went back to the cabin. Sleep was out of the question , we were kept awake by the thought of what Bootsie was doing now, and what we were’nt! The hours ticked slowly by , midnight was sounded on all the liners at the quay,one a.m. came and went ,”Jeez,I bet he’s drilled her to death by now “ said Billo. Half past one ,quarter to two, I said that he would explode through the door and give us chapter and verse. It was just past two when Bootsie stole into the cabin, like a thief in the night, he crept toward his bunk. We sat and listened to him climb beneath his sheets,the two of us jumped up and went round to him.”Well ,come on…What was it like!” He was sitting with his knees up to his chest ,silent,oh so silent,his little shoulder heaving as he broke out sobbing. His voice broken with pain ,he shuddered out the words of the ordeal he had undergone . Oh ,he had made love alright,he had lost his virginity, and when he was in the act of losing it the husband entered him. That was fifty years ago and I still feel the pain he was filled with that night. If I might move the narrative forward 16 years ,I can relate the consequences that summer night had for Bootsie. I was stopping with Mum and Dad for a few days ,my wife Sue had gone shopping with Mum to Kirkby market and so I took my ,then ,three year old son Steven ,for a ride on the ferry . We went to Birkenhead , I wanted to see what the old Blue Funnel stamping ground was like , although there had been quite a few changes ,D’olivieras Café was still there. That was where the Bluey boys would meet up of a day time . I took Steven in for a pop and a cake. There were’nt too many people inside , a couple of old aged pensioners some young kids , and this piece of exotica sitting at the back. This was midday in Birkenhead , and this bouffant haired ,mascara’d and lipsticked guy was sitting there ,fluttering his long black lashes at me. Yes ,he was looking at me ,smiling coyly….and then recognition dawned, Bootsie !
I went and had a up of tea with him, but I just felt so sad . Was this his true destiny? I’ll never know ,all I do know was that he was set on that road in the summer of ’59.
Billo and I kept the rape a secret from the rest of the lads,.in fact we never spoke of it again. Bootsie was quieter, he got on with his deck work and became very proficient at it. God knows what he was nursing within him.
Port Melbourne brought other changes too.

brian daley
05-16-2008, 11:14 PM
One of the more pleasant aspects of mooring on the passenger quay in Port Melbourne was watching the liners depart, it was always a very colourful occasion.
On the Saturday, I stood watching a Strath boat leaving for England ,there were hundreds of people who had come to wave goodbye to their loved ones, thousands of coloured streamers seemed to hold the ship fast to the quay, the great horns were blowing their goodbyes and the farewell music on the ships tannoy helped add to the ,already emotional atmosphere. Slowly ,she pulled away from her mooring ,the bells of the telegraph could be heard across the boardwalk ,heartfelt shouts of goodbyes and good luck filled the air as the streamers began to part . As she was tugged and manoeuvered into position ,her great propellers threshed the waters and she gently steamed toward the seaway ,the crowds turning to make their way home. There were lots of pretty ladies who had come to see their men off ,faces wet with tears they walked slowly to their loneliness.
Later on I was feeling pretty lonely, it was Saturday night and I never had the money to go ashore . Billo and Bootsie had gone to the movies and most of the other junior ratings were also ashore. There seemed to be just me and the night watchman. I was sitting by the gangway ,dusk was turning to night and I was watching the quay ,ogling the girls and wishing I was elsewhere. The shore telephone , which was at the top of the gangway ,shrilled out ,being close to it ,I picked it up to hear a female asking if I wanted to go to a party. Without hesitation , I answered yes ,she asked if I had a mate ,I asked her to hang on while I went to see if I could find one. I dashed into the accommodation, running past all the ratings cabins , Old Wally was in but I ruled him out, a couple of lads were lying on their bunks ,lost in their lager fuelled dreams .Stan Hall was in ! Stan was in his late 20’s , he might be game. He was sat on his bench , a case of 4xxxx’s at his feet ,looking at the cool glistening cans like a father looks proudly at his new born son, I asked him if he fancied going to a party ,that some Sheila was waiting for an answer. He was really torn , could he leave his tinnies for a real party? I was a salesman even then , I told him they sounded great and that it was supposed to be a really great “do” at the nurses home .All he had to do was put a shirt on and we were made. “O.K. pegs , take me to the party”. She was still on the line ,”Meet us at the gate” she said. Stan almost had to run to keep up with me , I was excited ,a party at a nurses home, this was the stuff of legends ,and most of the lads had missed out on it.
It was well and truly dark now, standing in the shadows near the gate were what looked like a female version of Laurel and Hardy. “Oh jeez, let the little one be mine .” “Are yew Andee “ she called. “Yes “ I answered “And this is my mate Stan” . Stan muttered murderously out of the side of his mouth .”What the f**k d’you call this peggy” I cringed and asked their names, the little one said “Oim Del and she’s June “ pointing to the large one . June gripped hold of Stan , like a sumo wrestler grips hold of a chicken leg. “I guess we’re gonna a have a great toime boy ” she threatened . Stans look could have killed most men at thirty paces.
“Er, listen fellers ,the girls just told us that the party’s been cancelled ,so we’ll have to go somewhere else “,said Del. Stan hissed into my ear “Andy ,you are so f**king dead”
This was Port Melbourne, if you wanted to drink after 6.0p.m. , you had to dine . “Where ar yer takin’ us girls ?” asked Stan. Del said that she knew a nice little place in Melbourne , we would need a taxi though. I did’nt look at Stans face ,it would’nt do me any good at all. Nevertheless ,Stan hailed a cab and we took a slow ride into the town .Stan sat in front with the driver and I sat in the back with Stan and Ollie…………and Stanley, I mean Del ,was feeling fruity and the night had’nt even started. At length we drew up outside our destination , it was that posh nightclub I had gone to when we were on our outward journey. I mentally closed my ears to the death threats that were issuing from the side Stans of mouth. We took our places at a table by the dance floor and the girls ordered a cart load of food and buckets of beer. I was lapsing into the throes of fear instilled insanity, Stan sat staring balefully at me ,mouthing the foulest of threats whilst our dates used shovels to load themselves with a months stores. June ,burping gracefully into a ham sized hand ,asked Stan if he was into cha cha, half dazed by the sight of the gorging ,he nodded weakly and she grabbed him and steered him round the floor. I had seen films of first world war veterans who were in throes of shell shock, Stan looked very much like the worst of these when he came back from his dance. June sat down and started on the sweet trolley ,she had the good grace not to eat the wheels as well. It’s amazing how fear can add a new dimension to a night out, I could see it in Stans eyes when June said that he could see her home that night.
We got a taxi back to the pier and Del walked me to a secluded spot out of the range of prying eyes, June frogmarched Stan somewhere else ,and we two were alone.
Stood up against that warehouse wall ,Del did things to my body that no female had ever done before ,I was lost in wonderment as she let me freely explore her every part , I was like a gynaecologist ,a pioneering one at that ,I was going where I had never been before. But when I left her I was still a virgin ,my natural timidity had prevented me crossing that final bridge. Still, I went back aboard with ahead full of technicolored, erotic dreams.
Luckily for me ,Stan survived his ordeal and was now reunited with his case of Castlemaine. I fell into to a deep slumber, no underwater dreams that night.

I was a bit put out on Sunday, I wanted to see Del again ,but I had’nt taken her address or ‘phone number ,I would’ve like to see how much further things would go, but I was stymied, there was no way I could find her.
Alan Royds ,our night watchman, came to the rec’ room, ”Andy ,there’s a woman on the phone,she’s asking for you” I tore around to the gangway ,picking up the handset ,I heard, “Andee, darling is thet yew?” I mumbled yes “ Sweetie, could you look in the left pocket of yer jackit,Oi think Oi moight ev dropped my lighter in it by mistake last noight”
I told her to hold on while I looked , it was there! Back on the phone , I told her that I had found it and that I would bring it to her.
“Don’t worry sweetie, I’m at the gate , come and fetch me aboard”
Years older than last night ,I told her I was on my way. I told Alan of my predicament ,”don’t worry And, you can use my cabin ,I’ll get you a couple of beers too.”
What a guy !
I took Del into the cabin and led her to Alans bunk, she tore my clothes off and slipped her own off so quickly that I was making love before I knew it , no preliminaries, just the most fantastic experience of my life thus far, she moved as one with me and I felt worlds collide and crash, a continuous series of shuddering explosions racked my frame as my innocence was at last ended . Spent with the power and the fury, we relaxed into each others arms ,our hot flesh enfolding us …..and then I heard the sound of applause. Alan had gathered what wharfies and crewmen there were and they had viewed the whole show through the opened portholes .The bugger had pushed open the curtains without us noticing . Del was’nt fazed at all , she reached up and closed the curtains and she got me going all over again .
Laying there ,in the warm afterglow, the smoke of our post coital cigarettes entwining as they coiled towards the deckhead, Del said “ You know ,I only came down to the pier yesterday to wave goodbye to my new husband……..he’s a sailor on that P.&O. boat, we got married nine days ago.” I felt lousy! How could she do that ? I was still very young , but I did have a very strong sense of right and wrong . When I said goodbye to her that night ,I meant goodbye and not au revoir.
I went to Smokey Joes the next night ,Billo and Bootsie came with me. We were sitting listening to the juke box when this really nice looking young girl came up to me and asked if it was true that I had taken Del to bed. I was shocked rigid, how could she know? I asked her who had told her that and she answered ,Del. She must have spoken favourably of me because this girl wanted me to take her “home” too.
I did not get involved with her ,just a one night stand, I was becoming a sailor.
Only three more ports to go ,I was starting to look forward to going home , I wanted to see Anne again.

brian daley
05-24-2008, 03:27 PM
The run up to Adelaide was pretty straight forward ,calm seas ,no forest fires lighting up the night skies ,and a general air of contentment amongst the crew, we were on the homeward leg.
We went dancing this time in Adelaide ,I think it was in a United Kingdom club, I seem to remember the hall being draped with Union Flags and a large Annigoni painting of the Queen taking pride of place on the rear wall of the stage.
The band was made up of elderly musicians and they were playing the type of music that Victor Sylvester played on his radio show. I was bemused by the instruments the musicians had, the drummer had a set of cow bells, and the bass player had a broomstick upon which there countless metal bottle tops which gave a jinking sound when he shook it. There was a soprano saxophone and a banjo, this was not a rock and roll band, and the dancers were not hep cats. The average age of the ladies would have been about 50, but ,God bless them, they were there to see that we young jolly jacks could have an evening of frivolity and cup cakes.
Where did all the young ladies of Adelaide go? We never ,ever found out.
On leaving port, we had the long haul across the Australian Bight and then we were going to a place called Albany, this is a town that is situated at the southern most tip of Western Australia a little to the east of West Cape Howe. We would be spending the one night there and it was all ashore to taste the delights of this far away place. It was dusk by the time we got into the main street and the sight that met us was incredible. The town had taken on the appearance of a wild west cattle town, there were jackaroos galloping hell for leather up and down the main street . If you have ever seen Frederick S Remingtons paintings of the bronco busters hitting the town ,it will give you an idea of the scene that we were faced with. A policeman, who was calmly watching the proceedings , told us that the jackaroos had just driven a herd of cattle hundreds of miles and were letting off steam. "Don't go near 'em boys, they're gonna get so ****ed that they will fight any man who is'nt one of their crowd. So we stood on the verandah of a store and watched the "show". To see the horsemen tearing up and down that street ,whooping and roaring and making their brumbies wheel and turn ,the horses nostrils flared and snorting, eyes ablaze with a devils fury. It was one of the best sights I have ever seen.
We never got a beer that night, but we watched a few good natured fights.
Come daylight ,a silence reigned over the town as we crept out to sea .
Fremantle was next , another Victorian type town , a good seamans mission and lots of young lady volunteers made it a pleasant enough stay ,but the smell of home was in our noses.
Sailing back up to Aden was just as good as heading down to Oz, we had our airborne companion with us ,wheeling and dipping ,as much a fixture of our ship as was the Red Duster fluttering at the stern. We were making the ship ready for home ,paintwork and greasing was the order of the day, we peggys' were learning how to use a chipping hammer and scraper, mastering the art of sujying, mixing the right amount of lye soap and caustic soda so that you could could through the salt and grease but not damage the paintwork. Every morning commenced with the washing and scrubbing of the decks ,teams of men ,armed with stiff brushes and holy stones, mounted in steel clamps at the end of a brush pole, would follow a leading hand who was applying a strong mixture of soap and caustic soda to the wooden decks. We started on the bridge and made our way down all the deck levels scrubbing and rubbing until those decks gleamed bright in the morning sun. A team of lads followed the scrubbers ,they were the hose men ,and they washed away all the dregs. We would start at six a.m. and were finished in time or breakfast. A great way to start the day, there was always a laugh and a joke to be had, and on those warm southern mornings you never wore anything but shorts and seaboots, you'd burn your feet if you wore flip flops.
For those of you who are landlubbers ,I'd better explain what a holy stone is . It is a large block of sandstone, many times larger than the ones used by our grandmothers to scrub their doorsteps. There are several versions as to the origin of the name,some say that it was because the decks were originally scrubbed on a Sunday and that the ancient seaman had to get down on their knees to scrub that it looked like they were praying. The stone Ashlars in Masonic temples are the exact same size and composition and this would offer another explanation of the use of "holy". But ,I digress, all that brushing and scrubbing would give a young man a hearty appetite, and the cooks made sure that we were not disappointed when we sat down to breakfast. But I have told you about that already..
The measure of our days when sailing was marked by a regularity, we awakened to a hot cup of tea and a slice of buttered toast ,prepared by the 4 to 8 watch "farmer" .By 6.00 we were out working and at 8.00 we were dining. 9.00 we were back out on deck ,and then at 10,30 it was smoko ; we worked for one and a half hour stretches in the main,and we really did work,no slacking was allowed. The only man to work to his own routine was Wally Skeggs, our promenade deck man. Wally was ,and still is ,a bit of a mystery to me. In a profession where you were subjected to rigorous medical examinations every six months ,and your eyesight was the most important part of the examination, it did give a person pause for thought as to how a "blind" person could still make it to sea.
Apparently ,Wally had perfect eye balls ,he just could'nt raise his eyelids . He seemed as old as the hills,but was very far from feeble, when you saw him stripped to the waist you could see that he had been made out of solid muscle when he was younger. I don't know where he came from originally ,his accent was an enigma ,a mixture of Australian , scouse and west country. His skin was olive coloured and his head was packed tight with thick iron grey curls. When aboard ship he was always wearing a cap ,taking it off only for meals and showers ,when he went ashore ,he always wore a trilby and a brown .pin striped three piece suit ,looking every inch a gentleman with his gold Albert chain strung across his waistcoat. He loved to bet on the horses and you would see him of a weekend ,making his way ashore through the densest of traffic ,eyes clamped shut ,striding across Flinders Street ,or wherever, scattering the cars and buses ,they gave way to Wally!!
We peggy's respected him for his age ,as well as his skills , to see him tie a whipping on a ropes end with his eyes shut tight was amazing, to hear him tell tales of ships long gone was engrossing. The only thing about Wally that would set our teeth on edge was his timing, every morning ,as we peggy's were putting all the finishing touches to our making ready for the 10.00 a.m. masters inspection, old Wally would come into the sailors washroom for a clean bucket of water for his prom deck sujying . He would stumble down the newly cleaned alleyway, barrel his way into the washroom ,feel his way to the sink ,stick his bucket under the tap and fill it until it was slopping over the top and then stumble his way back out ,splashing water all over the place ,muttering "Pooh yer,huh huh huh".
We then had to make a mad dash to get things clean again. Some things you learn to live with. Some people were very cruel to Wally, I was a replacement on this ship ,and it was'nt until we were homeward bound that I heard about the lad I was supposed to have replaced. When the ship was newly arrived in Glasgow, it was deep in the heart of winter and Wally was in the showers cleaning himself up after work. Two of the EDH's went into Wallys cabin and removed all his clothes and bedding ,opened the portholes and blocked off the blowers, When Wally went back to his cabin ,wearing only his towel ,the lads pulled his door closed and locked him in. A silly enough joke to play on anyone, but on an old man? Wally soon realised his predicament and started calling for help,there was no one around to hear his shouting and he was getting very cold ,and very angry. When they had decided he had had enough ,they quietly unlocked his door ,retired to a safe distance and shouted to him that it was unlocked .And just at that moment a new deckboy was making his way down the alley past Wallys' door looking for his new cabin ,out steps Wally ,maddened to a frenzy, carrying a very large fid ,the size of an Indian club ,seeing the deckboy through his eyes ,which had used all his might to open , he swung the fid down on the boys skull and practically killed him. I was the said boys replacement. I never found out which of the EDH's carried out that prank . It was never talked about openly. A second outrage was perpetrated against Wally ,this time by an Irish slimeball ,if he is reading this he will know who he is, a psychopathic bully, good looking ,but mean and nasty. He was always quietly bullying us peggies, we never let him succeed though ,we stuck together and never let him get us down........................but old Wally,the punk thought that he was easy meat. When Wally sat down for his meal ,the peggy would place it in front of him ,it was no effort and it kept the boy happy. Beef was on the menu today ,Wally was sat awaiting his food ,and when the peggy placed it in front of him ,Irish dropped a floor cloth over the top of it. The messroom went silent ,Wally set about trying to cut his meat, "Poooh, it's bleedin' tough today Peggy boy" he grunted. Eventually he succeeded in cutting a slice of cloth and put it in his mouth to chew it, choking ,he spat it out and strained his head sideways ,slowly forcing his eyelids to open. It was a frightening sight ,the rage that appeared to burn out of the reddened orbs would have scorched anyone he looked at. Grasping the floor cloth ,he uncurled himself from his seat and bellowed with rage "If I find the man who did this, I'll facking kill him". Trembling with anger ,he made his way back to his cabin and got hold of his trusty fid. For three whole days he stood out side the door to the after deck ,head to one side ,eyelids straining open, as he scanned the faces of the men stepping out on deck. The Irish slimeball had shot his bolt ,we never grassed on him, but he knew we could ,end of bullying! After that little episode Wally was left in peace.
We were going to call in to Aden on the way home, it would give us a chance to buy gifts for the family ,the bum boat had some great stuff to sell, Japanese and German cameras, new fangled transistor radios ,battery powered toys and loads and loads of counterfeit goods. A pound could get you an awful lot in Aden .
It was still a British possession in those days and we were going to pick up a family of three who had been out there for some time.
The third person in the family was a little boy of about four years of age ,when he climbed up the gangway and saw the oil stained seamen in their shorts and flip flops ,he squealed excitedly "Look Mummy ,white coolies!" Oh, how it endeared him to us!!.
Among the many bits of bric a brac that I bought in Aden ,was a musical cigarette lighter. Style ,or what ,it played Smoke gets in Your Eyes everytime you lit up.
Caused a sensation when I got home, had orders for half a dozen if I ever got back to Aden .
Back in the Red Sea now ,so hot it feels like somebody has left Hells doors open ,our cabin was too hot to sleep in so we took our bedding to the passageway outside our cabin, looped a blanket over the bulkhead handrail and tucked the other side beneath our mattress, making an open ended tent the gentle breeze that blew through it keeping us cool through the night. Beat all the air conditioning ,the sound of the sea hissing past the ships sides and the steady thrum of the engines gently led us into the land of dreams,and this time my dreams were of home.

brian daley
06-01-2008, 12:51 PM
The Jason was a fast cargo liner, she could do 450 miles a day ,not much when compared to the Atlantic greyhounds but fast enough for a cargo boat.
We were soon at Port Tewfik , at the Red Sea end of the Suez canal , there was a lot of mail from home for all of us . We would each take our letters and find a quiet spot to catch up with the news from our loved ones and friends . I was getting used to the idea that life still goes on at home even though you are not there. Mum's letter had to be read twice before I grasped what she was telling me, our Jess was now Mrs Tillett . She had married her soldier boy Graham ; it was a register office wedding (had to be ,too many religious differences to accommodate and cause offence if it was the "wrong" church). So I now had a brother in law.
I was a bit peed off to have missed the celebrations but this was all part of going to sea. Family life really can go on without you ,you learn that you are not the centre of the universe,just a part of it.
There was the usual Dear John letter pinned the notice board after mail call ,the older hands were very philosophical about romance , the ones who were in serious relationships kept quiet about them ,the "Jack the lads" were out for a girl in every port ,rivers of booze and a non-stop good time and all the rest was propaganda..
We were very shallow in regards to the opposite sex , the messroom conversations consisted mainly of our conquests ,of the girls we had tupped and the ones we were going to tup. Love 'em and leave 'em was the attitude that seemed to govern them ,and I was no different.
Sailing through the canal was a peaceful interlude . You glide along a mirror like surface through a landscape of sand hills and palm trees ,passing villages and farmsteads that are splashes of emerald amidst the never ending gold. Sound carries clearly along the river bank and you can hear the braying of the donkeys , the crowing of the roosters and the laughter of the children, it is almost like sailing through someones backyard, so close and yet so removed from the life around you.

Arriving in Port Said is always exciting , the huge harbour is so full of ships from the world over ,liners ,tramps and tankers lay at their moorings awaiting transit through to the Red Sea. This was 1959,just three years after the Franco British invasion of Suez , and the port still had some sunken wrecks that had been victims of that war. There was a hulk moored to the far side of the harbour on which the legend "Home Rule For Wales" was emblazoned on its hull,what the Egyptians made of that I don't know but it was always a source of mirth for those who saw it for the first time.
We stopped in Port Said for a few hours ,giving us the chance to get some last minute presents, some postcards and some of the little novels that the port was so famous for. "The Autobiography of a Flea" being the most popular in this genre. The bumboat men were so quick witted and could speak many languages and dialects. There was a barber who could switch from Scouse to Geordie and most other British dialects ,and he was perfect in everyone of them ,it was worth the price of a haircut to hear him perform. There was also a bookseller who had an American sense of humour ,he came out with non stop one liners ,one of the lads wanted to swap some books and Abdul looked at him ,witheringly and said "Whaddya tink dis is,.............a lending library?" But the funniest was the guy who was engaged in a haggling session with one our Chinese firemen, the bumboat man had met his match with our fireman, he had beaten Abdul down to the lowest possible price until the bumboat cried "What are you,.........a Scotsman?"
The bargaining and the bustle was ended all too soon and then we were out into the Mediterranean ,speeding for home, we had to get a good tan before arriving in Liverpool and so the decks were littered with bodies at every work free interval ,we never used sunblock or tanning lotions ,no one knew of the devastating effects that overtanning could wreak back then, we just wanted to be brown ,it was a good puller we were told..
Springtime in the Med can be great, mild breezes and a warm sun combine to make perfect sailing weather ,and the colours are so different too.
After the sultry reds and purple textures of the arab seas, the azure and turquoise of the middle sea was so refreshing ,the white topped waves and the seagulls wheeling and turning in the skies above were heralding our return to northern climes.
Within days we were passing Gibraltar , around Finisterre and then across the Bay of Biscay, colder and fresher but Summer was in the wings and there were no storms this time.
Dunkirk was our last port of call before going up to the Mersey, mail call brought a lot more post and we went off to read the letters ,agog for the latest from home.
Mum had a bit of trouble getting her words down, she was all over the place ,and then the words sprang out and stabbed to me in the heart .
The doctors had given up on Harry and were sending him home to die . It pains me still to write this even after all the years that have passed since then. I was heartbroken , blinded with tears, I walked aft until I was at the stern end. Leaning on the rails beneath the ensign, I re read the letter, I was riven with guilt, I had been having the time of my life and poor Harry was all the while dying , I had written the odd letter and collected some Australian magazines that I thought he would like, but I felt so guilty . As I stood grieving I felt a hand on my shoulder, it was Vic the Lampy. "Some bad news Andy?" he asked gently. I struggled to tell him what I had read, "I wish I had a friend who cared for me like you care for him Andy, you'll be home soon, go see him" He gave my shoulder a squeeze and left me. I felt so comforted by his few words ,he was a kind man.
Whilst we were in Dunkirk we had some cleaning ladies working in the hatch ,we were unloading grain and they were sweeping up the spillages.One of the women was hit by a fully laden sling and was very badly injured. She had to be lifted out of the hatch strapped to a hatch board ,I heard that she had died of her wounds ,life can be so arbitrary.
The "channels" gripped everyone as were sailed up from Dunkirk, the mess was alive with stories of what the men were going to do when they got home,new suits ,new girls and good times were the order of the day,meanwhile we had a ship to get ready for home .The paintwork was given the finishing touches ,the brasswork was buffed to perfection and old Wally was slapping on the varnish on the prom deck rails.
Bootsie was subdued in our cabin ,we sympathised with him ,but we were caught up in the general excitement of going home.
After we picked up the pilot from Holyhead the excitement was at fever pitch, we were just hours from home.
It was mid morning when we passed the Bar Lightship ,the sun was still in the east, silhouetting the waterfront ,there were the cranes in the Gladstone over the water stood New Brighton ,still proud then ,and the ferries buffeting across the coffee coloured waters. Tugs busied themselves about us like ducklings ,lines were thrown ,hawsers paid out ,whistles tooted and horns blared. We were home.

brian daley
06-07-2008, 04:53 PM

As soon as our foredeck came close to the Gladstone lock entrance ,the shore gang jumped aboard. These were mostly ex Bluey sailors who had swallowed the hook ,they replaced us in our docking positions thus enabling us to go and get ready for home.
Everyone , except the mess peggy, made a dash for the showers ,the mess peggy had to make sure that everything was clean and packed away ,the shore skipper would inspect it and if it was not up to usual inspection standards the peggy could be "logged".That is fined a days pay and have a black mark against him for next trip. We did'nt have too much trouble getting everything squared away, we were going to go "round the coast" on her anyway. This meant having only 5 days at home , rejoining her to discharge her cargo in Glasgow, Hamburg ,Amsterdam and Antwerp ,we would be back in under 3 weeks and then have another 9 days leave. Bootsie , Billo and I decided to come back for another trip ,we had gotten used to each other and we liked the "run".
The crews quarters was filled with crowds of people by the time I got finished in the mess, everyone was going home ,some for 5 days and some who would'nt be making the return trip. The sailors alley was going to be empty and I had to find someone who could take care of Puss while we were on leave. Old Wilf suggested I ask the head man down aft ,he was from Shanghai and had been on the ship for years..
I carried Puss aft and went to the Tomilows cabin ,I pointed to Puss and asked if he would look after her until I came back next week. Smiling and nodding ,he took her from me and gave me the thumbs up. Job done, I went back to our cabin and finished packing. Jimmy the Galley boy lived quite near to me in Garston so we decided to share a taxi. We had'nt officially signed off yet , that would happen tomorrow at the shipping office in Birkenhead. We had to wait to be cleared by Customs ,the "Rummagers" were going through some cabins with a fine tooth comb. There was'nt much you could smuggle from Australia and drugs were not even on our horizons. No, these guys were looking to see if we had the extra bottle of spirits or a surplus packet of fags. Having got our taxi ,not a difficult job ,we then had to negotiate our way out of the dock gate, you were warned by the old hands to have at least half a crown ready for the Bobby on the gate. No money and he would have you out of that taxi and search your cases for contraband.
This was in the days before mini cabs, our taxi was one of those Hackney carriages ,the driver up front in his little cab ,luggage space on the left hand side of him instead of a passenger seat and a great big klaxon horn just in front of the drivers door. A real taxi.
As we drove along the cobbled Dock Road we were in an unending stream of traffic, to the right of us was the Overhead Railway, elevated above the rail lines that ran beneath it. There were steam wagons ,with great solid tyred wheels wheezing there way along, horses and waggons jostling with 10 ton trucks for their place in the traffic. Above us ,the little brown wooden coaches of the Overhead glided gracefully along , no impediments to their passage; on the rails beneath steam tank engines of the dock railway chuffed their way along, big brass bells warning of their progress. The air was filled with the chatter of steam winches and the rattle of chains, the honking of wagons and the whinnys' of horses. The pavements were abustle with dockers, shipmen and sailors of every size and colour, buses and trams made their way through this mayhem, Liverpool in all it's mercantile glory.
Jimmy and I decided to spend some time together if we could, after seeing my family ,I wanted to see Harry .I told Jimmy how guilty I felt and he surprised me by saying that he would like to come and see if he could make him feel better, Mum had said in, her letters, that none of the people from the shop bothered with him now, I thought Jims offer was spot on.
After dropping Jim off we drove into the our square ,passing under the great arch of the service road, my heart beating like a sewing machine . Kids were playing on the swings and roundabouts ,mums and dads leaning on the balconies ,laughter echoing around the buildings, the driver honks his horn and all eyes turn to the taxi.
He spins the hackney around the square and pulls to a stop at the foot of our stairs, I get out and pay him, unload my luggage and notice that I'm surrounded by kids ,little ones. It's still school time , Jess will be at work and Bette down at Banks Road school.. One little kid is smiling at me ,her fringed face with twinkling eyes and lovely smile , it's Chris ,my kid sister, she's with her little friend Doreen and she is too shy to run and kiss me. Leading the way , she scampers up the stairs to warn Mum of my homecoming . Neighbours wave hello as I pass them on my way up, it is a wonderful ,glorious feeling , cries come across from other landings , Mrs Flynn ,Mrs Barnett , Mrs Wade, waving and greeting. And then I'm on our step and there stands Mum, a smile to light the heavens and her eyes aglitter with unspilt tears. The smell coming from the kitchen tells me that my homecoming is being readied. Stuffed and roasted hearts followed by sugar crusted apple pies and custard. After a little hug ,she lets me go and unpack while she goes back to her cooking. Looking out my bedroom window I get a strange feeling,nothing has changed ,everything is just as I left it. The only thing different is me ,and then I realised ,we were one member short . Our Jess.

Jess was not at work as I had thought ,she was now living with her new husband in Walton ,it would seem strange not having her at home any more. The only good thing about it was it meant Bette and Chris now had their own room.
Mum came into my room to see if their was any dirty washing, eyeing my neatly ironed shirts and spotless underwear, she expressed her amazement ,she had expected a load of smelly old clothes.
When everyone was home ,Mum served dinner and the world seemed such a peaceful place ,I had little gifts for them all and I wanted to give them after dinner. I was in my room ,getting the presents from my case, when the front knocker was rapped .Mum answered it ,I heard her say "A. what d'you want ,ar Brians 'me " "I know" answered A,"Ive got something for 'im", she replied. And then I heard Mum screech "Gerroff yer dirty cow!!" and then the door slammed. I asked what had happened and she looked at me ,eyes filled with laughter, "She was wearin' a mac,held closed by 'er 'ands ,and when I asked 'er what she 'ad for yer, she opened 'er mac an' she 'adn't gorra stitch on !!" Mum laughed ,and I limped back into my room.
It was hard, in more ways than one in getting to sleep that night. There was no sound ,the heartbeat that had rocked me to sleep for the past 3 months was silenced.
Next morning I awoke to a smell that I had never smelt at breakfast in our house, bacon and eggs! Mum had been to Coopers in town and bought corn cured bacon in honour of my return. It was a beautiful to start the day. Freshly washed and dressed I had to meet Jimmy and go to Birkenhead ,it was pay off day .We got the tram right down to the Pier Head and then the ferry across to Woodside .On reflection ,there was so little road traffic about then and public transport was so frequent that time was not a problem in getting anywhere. 10'0clock saw us in Argyle Street ,a lot of the crew were already there, looking so different now ,all dressed up their very best suits, some of them had their wives or girl friends with them. As we stood chatting on the steps ,a beautiful maroon coloured Jaguar saloon glided to a halt , "must be the Captains" I thought . Out stepped a very good looking lady and two very smartly dressed schoolchildren and they were followed by the driver, Alf the Chef.
It would be an understatement to say I was gobsmacked ,she was beautiful and he had to be at least 25 stone.!
We would be back here signing on in 5 days time so it was quick goodbyes all around and back to Garston ,we had money to burn!! All ?28-00d of it ,four nice white fivers eight green ones and some silver. My pockets had never been so full.
But first things first, I had to go and see Ann at the cake shop , see the crowd at the butchers see if I could find Ronnie and then visit Harry. I was in for five very busy days.
I made arrangements to go with Jimmy to see Harry later that afternoon ,first it was up to the cake shop, after a quick hello at Kearns, then up to Ronnies place. I felt sorry for the lads in Kearns, they seemed so pasty faced and unsmiling compared to my shipmates, Sid gave me a smile and told me I'd grown and that was about it.
When I walked in the cakeshop I got a fantastic welcome, Ann looked lovelier than ever , we would go to the movies that night and then to the Park on Saturday. I then hurried up to see Ronnie and was lucky to find him in. He had married his Mary and she was expecting their first child ,he asked if I could babysit for them on Saturday and was amazed when I said yes, I would get Ann to do it with me and we could be alone to do what we wished.
I met Jimmy a little while later and we travelled up to see Harry , I had brought the magazines I had saved from Oz, I was full of trepidation ,not knowing how Harry would be. I warned Jim that it might not be pleasant.
We got there just before 5 o' clock, Harry was sat in a Queen Anne chair by the front window ,his head was resting on the palms of his hands when we walked into the room . The atmosphere seemed so desolate , there was no hope left in him. He slowly raised his head and looked at me ,he was finding it hard to focus, recognition crept across his face. Inside ,I cried great tears ,this was the Kid ,indomitable, what kind of God can do that to anyone!! His face was bloated from the drugs and he could only talk with difficulty. I went and sat beside him, showing him the colourful pictures in the pages of those magazines. He rested the palm of his hand on the back of mine ,and I understood ,no use showing him all that ,it reminded him of what would never be. Jimmy was great he spoke to Harry ,telling him of some of the things that we had done ,he even made Harry smile. I was too emotional to handle things at the moment. The front door clicked open and I was startled to see the beautiful supervisor from Woolworths standing there. She crossed over to Harry and spoke softly to him ,there seemed an intimacy between them. Harrys' mum motioned me into the Kitchen and told me that ever since I had left for sea she had visited everyday ,she sat with him until bedtime ,holding his hand ,talking gently. She was truly an angel ,the most beautiful girl in the district, any man would have been proud to call her their own ,but she gave her love where it was needed most. I saw Harry once more before I returned to the Jason, Jimmy continued to see him after I was back at sea ,another unexpected angel.
Sitting in the dark of the cinema that night ,my thoughts were mixed, Anne was by my side but felt guilty about my mate in Gateacre.

I was a shallow youth, I was so intent on carnal pleasures that I would listen to any fool advice . As we were sailing home ,some of the older Lotharios would give lessons in sexual conquests. No woman likes a wimp, you have to master them ,they love it. If you don't try to tup them they will think you're *****. Just kiss 'em and tell 'em you love them. Let them feel you are excited, that is how they make you feel." "You're a woman ,I'm a man ,we're only acting naturally". "You would be amazed at how successful that is kid , kiss 'em and grip 'em tight and it will come out right".
And thus it was on Saturday night. Anne and I had spent a lovely day in Sefton Park, we had taken a boat out ,gone to the Palm House and walked through the little tunnels ,kissing and cuddling and whispering endearments ;and all the while I was thinking of the night ahead.
We waved Ronnie and Mary off as they headed off to their night out ,the boys were safely abed and I quickly changed the living room into a den of seduction. Anne thought it was fun ,the bottle of wine and the sexy music ,I closed the curtains ,dimmed the lights and sat ,no lay, beside her on the couch whilst I attempted to seduce her.........................t was awful. I was ashamed that I had even attempted it. She was'nt Del, she was a good clean girl who deserved better than this . Anne went home as she had come out, but I could never face her again.
I learned that you must be yourself ,not some cheap piece of work.
I saw her home ,and ,sadly never saw her again, so Anne, if you ever get to read this Anne,............................Sorry.
After a whirlwind 5 days, I rejoined the Jason in Birkenhead. When I went to get Puss back off the Tomilow, he smiled and said "Tank Yo,velly good chop" Poor old puss had ended up as a chow mein.
When we got to Glasgow ,there was a letter from home,on opening it a little piece of paper fell out on to the deck, it was a newspaper cutting from the obituaries column, my best mate had passed on. And thus we pass from childhood to manhood ,via a journey of broken hearts.
The ropes that had tied me to the shore were being severed one by one ,I was on my way to being a sailor.

brian daley
06-14-2008, 05:00 PM
Full Steam Ahead

We got back to Birkenhead in mid April and had five days leave before sailing again. I kept close to my family in the time I had left ,making sure I visited the grandparents and all my uncles and aunts . I also re-visited the Wilson Hall ,the place where I was almost put off dancing for the rest of my life,but now I could dance , and I had a great time rock and rolling . It was never going to be the same without Harry,but he was gone and life has to go on.
The days seemed to whizz by , and it was’nt long before we were setting out for the Continent and Australia. There were a lot of new faces among the deck crowd, Bootsie and Billo were still my cabin mates,but we had new Jos’s and Sos’s and a couple of new AB’s too. Vic the Lampy had left us and was replaced by a little fellow who came from a large family of sailors,all them with a reputation of being “hard men”. Our new Lampy wanted us to believe he was cast in the same mould as his big brothers,problem was he was five foot nothing, ginger headed and built like shrimp. He tried to walk like John Wayne,carried a Bowie knife nearly as big as himself and had a cat o’ nine tails pinned to the bulkhead above his bunk. He was totally without a sense of humour,laughing only at other peoples misfortunes , and tried to treat us peggies as less than human. The three of us had now gained enough experience to hold our tongues and never give cheek ,we would always get our own back ……we served them their food!!!
Amongst the deckhands we had an unpleasant little AB,he looked like Joe E. Brown the comedian,he always had a smile on his face, but there was murder in his eyes. Slightly built and in his fifties, he tried to push the younger ratings about ,sometimes making an entertainment out of it for the benefit of the whoever was in the vicinity at the time. We kept out of his way as much as we could ,never rising to the bait ,sometimes that only made him worse. He would do nasty little things like “accidently “ knock over a full gash bucket so that we had extra work or keep you waiting while he lingered over a cup of tea,stopping you from getting your work done on time. But more of him later.
We were back in Hamburg now ,this was my third time in 5 months,I was getting to like the place . St Pauli was a real sailortown , although it had suffered major damage during the bombing just 15 years ago ,it was now a boom town,there were cranes everywhere as building were being erected and the docks were full of ships of every nation. Going ashore in such a place is exciting, the little bars were full of seamen ,and the women who depended upon sailors for a living. The dockside bars were very different from those at home, they were nearly all polished mahogany and brass with just enough room to swing a cat, the music on the Juke boxes was nearly all German ,a singer called Freddie was number one on the playing lists and even we Brits liked him,he sang songs we understood .
A Royal Navy aircraft carrier arrived while we were there and the streets began to fill up with jolly jacks in their fore and aft uniforms. I met a gang of them as I walked up from the ferry, they could see I was English and called out to me . I went over to them and they asked if I knew where to go, I took thenm to a little family bar that I had been to a couple of times. They ordered a round of beers ,which was served in half litre glasses decorated with a coat of arms and a gold rim. The lads commented on how nice they were and supped up ,pocketing the glasses as they did so. The landlord asked them to put them back and one of their number, a little London Italian, walked to the bar ,glass in hand and said “Yew want this back mate?”
The landlord nodded and said “Ja ja” and the little jolly jack smashed it right across the landlords face. I was horrified, his nose and cheek opened to the bone and there was blood everywhere. And the jolly ,oh so ,jolly jacks ran giggling from the bar. That was the first time I ever felt ashamed of my countrymen. I had to leave the bar and walked up to the Reeperbahn. Passing the Winkelstrasse ,I made my way to a little bar at the far end of the street ,it was the only one that did’nt have a doorman and I thought there might not be a floorshow. There were films though, pornographic cartoons,they looked just like Disney cartoons ,but I had never seen what Donald and Daisy were doing before ,let alone Mickey and Minnie,and Goofy? Well I’ll draw a veil over it here,the was a beautiful working girl there who came and sat by my side,her face was so familiar that I bought her a drink. I had seen her before but could not remember where, she was smiling at my perplexity and said “You haf seen me beforetime Ja?” I nodded and she gave rueful smile “Photos ja?” Yes ,that was it ,Alan Helsbys pack of pornographic playing cards ,he’d brought them to school and let us have a look …………52 different positions and here she was sitting by my side! I never had enough money to do the things that her presence made me want to do. I drank up and left and walked slap bang into a crowd of German matelots,just getting warmed up. Down the other end of the street were our British sailors getting their rations too. It was going to be an interesting night.
I ducked into a small bar that had clear glass windows and waited for the show to start. The one outside I mean, within minutes the Battle of Jutland was being re enacted before my very eyes, they launched themselves at each other with a ferocity that I had never seen before,there was blood and snot everywhere and the sound of sirens and police whistles got louder and louder. Soon there were Naval Police and civilian Police caving heads in as they separated the warring factions. I tarried a while longer until peace was restored and then sought another bar, I met up with a guy off a Ben Liner and we had a couple or three before heading back to the ferry. Passing the police station you could see matelots having out of the barred windows singing for all they were worth ,faces black and blue ,teeth missing ,not caring a ****. They were going to have a hell of an awakening in the morning. The Ben boat man and I had a bit of an awakening when we got to the landing stage ,we had missed the last ferry!
The was a fairly large vessel still alongside the stage, all the lights were out on it but you could see the saloon and the door to the salon was open. So we went on board and got our heads down on the very well upholstered settees, it was’nt too long before we nodded off .
I came to with a start,the settee was moving gently and I could feel the throb of an engine. I sat up to see that we were heading down the Elbe ,the sun was up and the harbour was coming to life. We ran up to the bridge and the skipper near had a fit ,he did’nt speak English ,nor we German ,but ,good enough ,he headed right back to the landing stage and put us ashore.
Back aboard we commenced a re run of our first trip, Amsterdam,Antwerp and Dunkirk, we did’nt call into the Solent this time but left France and headed for Suez. And it was at Suez that we saw Joe E. Brown get his first comeuppance.
To most Englishmen at that time ,the Egyptians were just “wogs”,to be treated with contempt and never to be trusted. One Englishman could finish off ten “wogs” before breakfast;such were the thoughts of the simple minded ,and Joe was surely one of their number. We were just leaving the Great Bitter Lakes and the lads were playing cards and enjoying cold beers on the after end of the accommodation. Joe was explaining to everyone how “wogs” were all “arse bandits” One of the boatmen from Suez was sitting nearby and Joe would nod in his direction as he coined his latest witticism. “They don’t mind where they dip their wicks, d’you Abdul” he shouted, “Camels ,donkeys, they do’em all,eh ,don’t you mate?” The boatman sat never showing what he felt. Joe raised the ante,for he now had an audience “That Nasser ,eh Abdul ,I bet ‘e’s a bit of an arse bandit eh!?” The boatman stood up and walked over to Joe,landed a a whacking great smack on his nose and said “English, make joke of me ,I don’t care,make joke out of Nasser………….I care!” showing Joe some knuckle he went back to his seat and carried on smoking .Joe slunk back to his cabin.
Between him and the lamp trimmer we peggies took a lot of stick. But we never let them beat us.
On the passage to the Australian coast we had to take action against Joe and we did it the only way we knew how ,with fear. The three of us were red leading the the housing beneath the aftermast and Joe was working in the stores inside the housing . We positioned ourselves outside the porthole to the stores and spoke loud enough for Joe to hear what we were saying. He was on his own,and we talked of how we would follow him when he went ashore ,we were going to jump him ,drag him into an alleyway and give him the hiding of his life. We waxed eloquent about the hammering he was going to get,and we even said that some of the Jos’s wanted to have him as well. At Smoko that afternoon Jo was very polite,saying what a nice cup of tea the peggy had made. We never had any trouble again from that little bully. The Lampy was another story though.
It was’nt just us he was bullying ,it was everyone below the rank of AB ,that fool did’nt realise what a hate bank he was building for himself.

brian daley
06-24-2008, 08:49 PM
That second run to Australia was but a pale shadow of the first, the crew did not seem to be as happy go lucky as on the first run plus we had a couple of bullies who were trying to make names for themselves .There was "Joe E. Brown" a simian faced little guy who took pleasure in browbeating boys ,we had him sorted before we got to Oz. The Lamptrimmer was another story; imagine a man about five feet three inches, built like a whippet, ginger curly hair and given to blistering in even a mild sun.
He had deliberately cultivated a gruff voice to give an air of hardness, he could never address a junior rating in civil tones, everyone was "YEW!!" as in "Hey Yew!!,"
He wore a deck knife that was overlarge ,almost a cutlass, swaggered and strutted ,his lack of confidence was apparent to all ,he would be forever standing in the shadows of his big brothers.
We three boys put up with his bullying there was no way we could hit back and not be punished we did however pay him back with every mouthful of food he ate . We always made sure that the meals we served him had that little bit "extra ", it gave us great pleasure to watch that little prat stuffing his mouth with our "special recipes."

It was winter when we were down under this time, you could'nt tell it from an English summer ,but there were reports of snow in Victoria ,we saw it on the newsreel, just a couple of flakes ,but snow nevertheless.
There were no events that made this trip stand out in ones memory ,save that of Bronco coming down to see us when we got to Brisbane, he was doing great and had got himself a good job, and the other odd event was when an elderly couple took out adoption papers to enable one of the EDH's to settle down there in Newcastle. It very near came off, I think it was his real parents who put a stop to it.
And so the days , and ports pass by in bleary recollection .By Julys' end we had cleared the coast and were heading for home, this would be our last trip as deck boys, we had achieved our steering tickets and could sign on our next vessel as Junior Ordinary Seamen. I was determined to take a China Boat for my next trip, I had heard so much about the ports out there and I wanted to see if they were as good as the lads said they were. But we had to get home first, and we had a few more weeks to go . After leaving Port Said for the homeward run,we spent the remaining time painting and polishing,that ship had to look good as it sailed down the Mersey.
Our little lampy was beginning to realise that the Jason was going to be more than a few men short in the crew department, hardly anyone could stomach the thought of having him giving his orders again. Blue Funnel measured the success of a Bosun or Lamptrimmer by how many of the crew returned for another trip.Little Red was facing humiliation by the exodus that would be taking place on arrival home.
To try and undo some of the wrongs ,Lampy organised a "Channels" party in his cabin and invited everyone above the rank of deckboy to it . There were caseloads of ale and the party went on into the wee small hours of the morning, come daybreak lampy was missing from the hose party and the bosun sent me to see if he was still asleep.
The scene that was before me in Lampys cabin was horrific ,and blackly comical too.
The first thing I noticed on entering was the blood ,the bulkhead by his bunk had a peacocks tail pattern of it ,thick and dark red ,he was lying in his bunk with a hobnailed boot stuck on the left side of his head. It was congealed to his matted hair and his nose and cheeks were red ,black and blue. I thought he was dead and then he drew a ragged breath, I touched him on the shoulder and he sat bolt upright ,boot still stuck to his head! He groaned and felt his face and then glanced across at his mirror, he shrieked upon seeing his reflection and accused me of "Doing Him"
I replied ,with barely concealed hate, that "I did'nt do it ,but wished that I had done."
The police were called when we docked but things just died away ,no one was prosecuted and I never found out who beat him up. I was'nt sad to leave the Jason, she had been a good ship, just had a few bad apples on it this time.

I now had three weeks of paid leave, it was hard to know what to do with all that time.
The first thing I did was to make a grand tour of the greater family, Dad took me with him on my first Sunday home and this time I joined him and my uncles for our Walton pub crawl, we would start off at the top of the street next to Tintern and have half a glass in each one until we got to the Royal Oak at the bottom of Spellow Lane.
I would then bid the Papists goodbye and join with the Protestants in the Winslow ,from whence we would repair to Grandmas in Eton Street for one of her fabulous Sunday dinners.
After dinner I took the 19 up to Gilmoss to visit my favourite uncle ,Billy. He was a long distance lorry driver and had taken me all over the country with him when I was younger . He told me that he had an overnight run to Newport in south Wales and asked if I fancied the run. He was leaving at ten that evening and I jumped at the chance, the roads were still a pleasure to drive on in those days.
Ten o'clock that night saw us leaving the depot in Studholme Street with 10 tons of cargo for Newport. We were in an old AEC, it seemed huge then, an eight legger as they called it ,big bluff fronted old beast with a top speed of 45 mph. The steady thrum of the engine soon knocked me to sleep and I awoke with the sunrise as we entered Newport. I pick up Billys' road atlas and looked at where we were ,we were right on the River Severn, not a million miles from Sharpness and the Vindi, looking at the map I could see Lydney ,just along the A48 from Newport . And there , a little way out of Lydney , was Yorkley,the hamlet where my pen pal Maureen lived. I showed Billy the map and asked if I would have time to go there. He said that we had to leave Newport at 7.00pm that night and as long as I got back in time he was happy for me to go .After breakfasting on a lorry drivers special, I caught the bus to Lydney, once it left the environs of Newport ,it travelled on the lower edges of the Forest of Dean ,passing through ancient little towns and villages. We stopped in the market square in Lydney and it did'nt take too long to find the winding lane that led to Yorkley. There were no buses ,it was Shanks's pony ,but it was a beautiful day and the sun was high in the sky. The lane slowly wound upwards through hedgerows that surrounded fields of golden corn, reapers were at work ,dipping and bending as they tied up sheaves,no monstrous harvesters then, lovely big shire horses were drawing the combines along and the workers were burnt brown ,as tanned as any returning sailor. I was waved at as I walked by, there were no cars or wagons on that little lane ,just the jingling of harnesses and the click of blades. At length I entered the main street at Yorkley, which way to go? I turned left toward a hill, Maureens' postal address was "Near the Stag Inn", let's look for that. In the distance I could see a building at the foot of the hill ,it had a pub sign outside and I could see the Stag portrayed on it. It was opening time so I thought I would have a cool glass of beer to refresh myself.. The Stag Inn was not your usual pub, there was no bar, just a trestle table upon which were a collection of glasses and bottles. On the floor were four barrels of ale, each sat in a little cradle and covered with a sod of grass. As I stood gaping at this scene a lovely ,motherly lady came in from the back room and asked if I would like a drink , I asked for a pint of her best and then she floored me by saying "You must be Brian then?" This was 1959 ,telephones were as rare as hens teeth and I had'nt called or written to say that I would be coming...........how could she know?
Seeing the puzzlement on my face, she laughed and then told me that nobody ever visited Yorkley, Maureen had a sailor that wrote to her regular, here I was all sunburned and looking all lost asking for a beer in a funny accent ,"You has to be Brian ,don't yew?."
I asked her where Maureen lived and she took me out back and pointed up the hill ,there stood a little cottage and at the fence of the cottage stood two ladies, they were waving to me ,calling "Hullo Brian!" This was a very strange experience ,the jungle telegraph worked very effectively in that little hamlet.
I walked up to the cottage and was greeted by Maureens Mum and Grandmother, they did'nt stand on formality ,I was hugged and greeted like a long lost son. They took me in the little house and sat me down to a nice cup of tea and a sandwich. They had read all my letters and were asking me about some of the things that I had seen and done, the horse riding in Brisbane had made them laugh and they thought my descriptions of the Suez canal were colourful. I sat there amazed, those letters seemed to mean such a lot to them, but where was Maureen ? She was working in a factory in Lydney, finished just before 5.00 ,I could go and meet her Mum said,""She'll be surprised boy." she laughed. The bus for Newport left just after 5.00,it was going to be a short meeting. And then I heard Grandma saying "When you come back ,we'll have your tea ready and we will take you down to my sons where you will be staying the week " I was embarrassed ,how could I tell them that I was only down for the day? I did'nt realise that this meant so much to them . I found it very hard in telling them that I had only called by chance ,I would have loved to have stayed, but Uncle Bill would be awaiting my return and I had no way of contacting him, and besides , I had come without a change of clothing.
They were sad but understood my predicament. Soon I was strolling back down to Lydney, wandering what Maureen looked like. She had seen a photo of me but I had'nt seen one of her, I only knew she was blonde.
I sat on the steps of the cross in the market place ,groups of ladies were coming out of the lane that led to the factory ,which one was she?
At last, two young ladies stood staring at the lad on the steps of the cross, one blonde the other brunette. They looked at me and said something to each other,looking and nodding as they stood there. The blonde walked hesitantly toward me "Is it Brian?" she asked in a lovely soft accent. "Maureen ! " I replied. She sat down beside me as I gave her a quick resume of the events that led to the market cross. She was lovelier than I expected, her complexion pure peaches and cream ,her golden curls and cornflower blue eyes were to die for , and I had a bus due any minute. I learned that she was off to London when the summer break was over ,she was going on a teacher training course and would be there a few years.
Soon the bus arrived and I boarded it with the greatest of regrets, everyone had been so open and friendly , I would have loved to have stayed . But Fate has a way of toying with you ,I had been given a glimpse of another life ,but it was not to be mine.
Billy was pacing up and down outside the depot when I got back, I was only just in time.On the way back we stopped at an all night cafe somewhere in Shropshire and I met a girl there who was as lusty as me, she was going to Liverpool too and wanted a ride..............she got one!!

06-24-2008, 10:48 PM
Hello Brian, I,m sure I know you from somewhere!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!haha

I can,t continue with my story for some reason I think I,ve been censored but I keep trying my friend.....and getting frustrated..............and trying again.

keep at it Bri, great stuff.:PDT_Aliboronz_24:

brian daley
06-24-2008, 11:23 PM
Chippie,great to hear from you,don't self censor,Gerrit down!!! You have got a story to tell and we are waiting to read it! Like your web name ,keep chippin' away,

brian daley
06-28-2008, 03:43 PM
The Ordinary Seaman

My long leave gave me the chance to go places that I had'nt been to for a long time,
Llandudno ,and to do things that I had'nt done in Liverpool before, dancing at the Locarno and Grafton Rooms. My mother was responsible for my going ballroom dancing ,she did'nt like to see me spend all my time in the pub and persuaded me to get up to West Derby Road and get dancing ,they say mother knows best and that was very true in this case. This was so very different from the dance halls in the ports we had been to ,the whole scene was fabulous, the girls in all their finery, the red plush and the glitter balls and most of all the music. Looking back it seems incredible that we danced to 20 piece bands with an array of vocalists that were top line. The rotating stage would spin and the big band would disappear and there in its place would be a rock band or a jazz group; we took it all for granted ,our few shillings gave us the chance to dance in style and cop off with some of the best looking girls in the world .
You had to have a good dress sense when you went there, young men used to wear tailor made suits from Britains finest ,Burtons ,Hepworths ,Weaver to Wearer etc.
After paying your entrance fee it was down to the toilets to check the hair and tie ,practise a few moves and then up to the bar to see what the talent was like.
You only had to be able to dance to pull, I nearly always went alone but I never left alone, I saw girls home to every part of Merseyside during my dancing days.
Just before my leave was up I decided to go and see cousin Willie in Llandudno.
I had'nt been there since my accident those many years ago, I had seen Willie and his family at my Aunt Bettys'wedding just three years ago ,but they came to Liverpool for that; I fancied going back to see some of my old haunts. I got a travel warrant because I was a merchant seaman so the faret cost me practically nothing. The journey was a rerun of that taken back then with my family ,I had'nt told anyone I was going just thought I'd pop over for the day.
Aunty Dolly would'nt hear of my going back so soon ,and Willie, Eleanor and Elisabeth were just as strong in urging me to stay. It turned out to be a wonderful few days, Willie rousted up the members of his old gang and we went out on the town and had a great time. We found ourselves on the seafront in the early hours of the morning, me with a gorgeous young girl from the west Coast of Ireland, she was a chambermaid in the Hydro. Her hair was glossy black ,hanging in silky bangs and her eyes were emerald green ,she wore no make up and her skin was the purest alabaster .But her voice, the sheer delight of her gentle brogue was music to my ears. We sat in the shelter by the promenade ,watching the night turn to dawn ,touching each others very souls. We parted as innocent as we met , loth to leave each other, hoping we might meet again. Alas we never did. She was confined to"barracks" the next night and I was back home the night after that.
On my last night there we went to the cinema to see some forgettable British comedy ,whilst I was in there I unknowlingly, dropped my discharge book ,without which I would never get a ship. I discovered the loss when I got back home. Blue Funnel had sent me a letter asking me to report to the Odyssey Works ,they must want me for another trip ,better take the discharge book'............................that is when I found it was missing.
It was two days since I had left Llandudno,I'd only taken the book so that I could show my cousin. What the hell was I going to do now? My thoughts were interrupted by the sound of the mail coming through our letter box, looking at the envelopes I could see one addressed to me ,from Wales. Upon opening it I found my discharge with a letter attached to it. It was from the cinema manager, his cleaner had found it and sent it to me that very day. When I was back at sea I wrote him a letter of thanks for he had saved me an awful lot of trouble.
Thus armed, I was able to report to blue Funnel at the appointed time.
I was met by the personnel officer, a very nice lady, she said that I was now able to sail as a Junior Ordinary Seaman and a berth was available for me on a ship that had just completed its maiden voyage. It was called the Machaon and was sailing to the far east ,my cup was overflowing. When I expressed a wish to join her she filled a form in and asked me what books I liked to read and what kind of music I liked.
I was quite bemused but she told me to report the following day for a medical ,after which I would go on board to sign articles.
Did I tell you of Blue Funnels medical officer? No?.Well,he was a very dapper man he wore chalk striped suits with silk ties and matching handkerchiefs and he had a patent leather haircut a la George Raft....,until you looked closer and saw that every hair was skilfully drawn on with an eyebrow pencil. Ah vanity.
On joining the Machaon I missed another important family occasion ,the birth of my sisters first child ,she came into the world two days after we sailed ,she would be four months old before I clapped eyes on her.

The Machaon was built in the traditional Blue Funnel style a three island ship ,meaning she had a forecastle ,upon which was the windlass for the anchors the winches for the mooring lines and under which were the rope lockers ,chain lockers and deck stores. Then came the forward well deck in which there were two hatches and the main mast and housing ,above the well deck was winch housing and Sampson posts for the fore hatch on the main deck ,and then another winch and Sampson post island for the hatch in front the the centre castle .The centre castle was where the accommodation and bridge and engine room were situated and then came the after well deck in which there were another two hatches and the after mast and housing.
Aft of this was the lazaret, the name originating from the time that lepers were kept isolated from the crew but now it was where extra cargo could be stored. The after castle was where the Chinese crew lived ,and where crew men with a taste for real oriental cooking could be found when the Chinese cook was feeling generous.
The sailors accommodation was air conditioned which was a very rare thing at that time, our cabins were superior to anything that I had seen and the architects had seemed to anticipate a sailors needs. She promised to be a comfortable berth.

The Bosun was radically different from old Wilf on the Jason,this man always wore a neatly iron dungaree jacket and trousers, a white peaked cap ,polished boots and gloves. Today ,he would be dressed as though he was going out ,then he was just ultra smart. He was stocky and had a bullneck, cauliflower ears and a very broken nose. This was a genuine hard man, he was very much in charge. His Lamptrimmer was the same one who was on the Eumaeus ,Big Bob, we had a mutual antipathy ,I had'nt liked him on the Eumaeus and the indications were that that was going to remain the same here. The leading hand was a guy who Elzie Seagar modelled Popeyes arch enemy on. Big Albert was a dead ringer for Bluto ,I was going to have to start eating spinach if I was going to survive this trip.
My cabin mate was a very dour Welsh youth from the west coast of North Wales, grim and unsmiling he spent as little time with me as possible . The other junior ordinary seaman was a great character from Chorley, Joe Preston was his name and he had a wry sense of humour. Joe more than made up for my cabin mate. There were only two peggies, one was north Liverpool and the other was a very open faced lad from south Devon, his name was Fred and he was ever cheerful.
One of the nasty *******s from the Jason was in this crew,the Irish guy who had thrown a flannel over Wally Skeggs' dinner . I was going to have to watch him.
On the plus side we had a guy called Joey Snelgrove ,he was a Cunard Yank in the making ,he had'nt yet been to the States ,but coming from Bootle it was essential that he complete his growth pattern and get to New York.
There were also two brothers, non drinkers ,but very musical ,both played guitars
And they could perform as a duo, they were also photographers and carried all the equipment required for the processing films. This ship was the only one I ever sailed on that had a hobbies room on and this was utilised by the photographers.
Socially this could be a good trip.

brian daley
06-30-2008, 08:57 PM
The Machaon called in to the continent before heading out east ,this time it was to Amsterdam ,Antwerp and Dunkirk ;although I had been at sea less than a year,these ports were becoming familiar to me. I loved Amsterdam because of its wonderful mix of sin and saintliness .The canals lined with brothels, where the ladies sat in open display in their little windows ,beneath them ,on the canal pavements ,children played and sailors and tourists milled about .Sometimes there would be a Salvation Army Band playing hymns ,the churches towering over everything ,with the bell booming out to signal matins or the angelus ,the barges tied up alongside the quays ,some selling flowers and produce and others being homes for the families that sat about the decks.
The garish bars and restaurants sat cheek by jowl amongst the brothels ,and family life went on as normal amidst this festival of carnality. Somehow it never seemed seedy.
Another thing I liked about Amsterdam was the food ,little cafes abounded in the centre, McDonalds had not yet arrived and so the delights of Dutch cooking were freely available. Nothing could be nicer after a night in one the bars than a bag of hot croquettes and fries, I can just about taste them now.

Soon we were cleared of Europe and heading for the Med it was strange not having to serve the meals, I was now in the mess room pecking order. You had to use the same position at the mess room table everyday, every meal .There, the pecking order was rigidly adhered to. Senior ratings had the best seats ,there were two long tables that were in line ,with a break in the middle ,wide enough for people to access through to get to the places that were adjacent the bulkhead. The positions at the middle end of both tables ,adjacent the bulkhead and thus facing the door ,were reserved for the leading hands; they were at the centre of things and seemed to orchestrate the conversations that took place. Woe betide a junior rating who tried to usurp their positions. Being a very junior ordinary seaman my place was at the furthest end of the table with my back to the hot press.
The food on the Machaon was no less than excellent ,she did'nt carry as many passengers as the Jason ,but she still had the same high standards .
Two of the cooks were solid gold nutters, Oxo was the second cook, a roly poly little guy who sported a Van dyke beard ,and his mate Taff a hulking great thing who was totally subservient to Oxo in every way, I was reminded of John Steinbecks novel "Of Mice and Of Men". But they had a great sense of the ridiculous, as we will see anon.
There was a young galleyboy on his first trip who was just like Ananias ,he could'nt help lying ,every time he opened his mouth out came a porky ,and they were'nt even good lies .But he was good for entertainments sake.

Although I had only been on a very short trip with Bob, the lamptrimmer, he remembered me very well ;I was not a Blue Funnel boy ,worse, I was from the Pool ,a Federation boy. I was given every job that was filthy or boring, he had me on my knees for nearly a week ,using a wire brush to strip the after well deck down to the metal, the other ordinary seamen had the pleasure of painting it,I was given the job of Stockholm tarring the mast stays,fore and aft stay too.My fingers were ingrained for weeks.
Big Albert ,being Bobs number 2 usually oversaw me carrying out my tasks, we hardly ever had direct contact with the Bosun ,he would be there on deck when we were working, but he never spoke to us junior ratings ,excepting in anger.
Another special task that I got landed with was greasing the running gear on the derricks. Most ships I ever sailed on would see all the gear lowered from the mast tables and Sampson posts so that the work was carried out on the deck. Not so on the Machaon ;some bright spark had the idea of send the Jos (me) up aloft with a bucket of oily grease and a big wad ,the idea being that we would reach out ,or up, and grease the blocks in situ from the mast tables or Sampson post spider bands. This meant leaning out from the spider band and stretching as far as you could reach to dollop on the oily mix. You needed one hand to hold on with and the other to work with.
Not a good idea ,especially you and the post are slippery with grease.
I managed to do the mast running gear, the Sampson posts were something else, I was reaching out as far as I could but the Holy Trinity (The Bosun, Lampy and Big Albert) were shouting at me to reach further ,any further would mean letting go of the spider band. There was no way I was going to do that, "Hold on to the block and grease under it" yelled Big A. The block was heavy with grease,I'd just greased it "Eff Off!!" I replied. The Bosun grinned, he looked like an undertaker ,Lampy leaned forward and said something to Albert. " If I 'ave to come up there and show you ,you'll really be sorry boy!!" "No way" I shouted back. Albert grimaced and his face clouded over with thunder,"You can always go back peggying boy!!!" he roared. Looking at his big red ,angry face ,I dipped my wad in the bucket ,and then hurled it down on to his physog. It hit him square on ,the image lives with me still ,all hands frozen ,heads turned toward Albert, Albert tearing the wad from his face ,howling with inchoate rage.
"YOU'RE EFFIN DEAD BOY!!!" He raced to the post ladder and scrambled upwards ,20 stone of raging hell .The Sampson post trembled as he thundered his way upward, "Where was that feckin' spinach?" All heads were now looking aloft ,not a soul stirred ,only my bowels. Albert had his knife between his teeth, he was still climbing, muttering imprecations through his clamped teeth. Suddenly he was here ,climbing on to the spider band! As he stepped toward me I slid around the post and literally slid down the ladder as he went around the post after me. I hit the deck running and shot down aft to the Chinese quarters. He never came after me ,the Bosun saw that things had got a little out of hand. There were no repercussions ,Albert was not that kind of man...........and then we started lowering the gear to the deck to overhaul it.
Oxo was always playing little pranks, he could'nt help himself , he told the galleyboy that he could do hairdressing ,and the galleyboy ,being the possessor of a very fine Tony Curtis wanted it trimming ."No Problem" says Oxo ,and they agree that he should do it that evening .I was sitting in my cabin when the galleyboy appears at my door, "Andy" he wails "look at me 'ead" He was as bald as a coot. I went down to see Oxo ,he was lying on his bunk ,nudie magazine in hand ,doing some serious reading.
" Yer made a right mess of the kids head" I said. "I got me film stars mixed up, I thought he said 'e wanted a Yul Brynner" Oxo said smiling. All of a sudden I was clamped from behind ,it was Taff the Hulk. "You need a bit of a trim yourself Andy" Oxo grinned. Within a trice I was pinioned to the chair ,held fast by Taff and the Galleyboy whilst Oxo laid waste to my wavy black locks. I left that cabin sheared to the wood. When we arrived in Port Said next day I purchased a gob cap and a ten gallon hat .He had left my sideburns so it did'nt look too bad in a hat.
There was another thing that Oxo was "good" at ,"spreading" or mooning as it is known as today. When we were sailing through the canal we were passing the ex British military hospital ,which was now used by Egytian and Russian military personnel. The nurses and patients were waving at us from the balconies and suddenly their waves turned to shrieks as hands covered their eyes and the men shook their fists .Looking to see what could have brought this about ,we heard obscene yells coming from below and ,looking over the side I saw a line of bottoms sticking out of the catering cabin portholes. It was an Oxo production ,the first of many!!

At Port Tewfik we embarked some pilgrims who would be making the Haj
We had to rig up awnings over the midship hatches for that was to be their home for he next few days. They were going to Mecca and as it was Ramadan, these pilgrims would not eat or drink between dawn and dusk and we were entering Gods oven ,the Red Sea. They were a picturesque crowd ,nearly all men ,and nearly all old men at that ,their pristine white beards and crisp white galabayas ,gave them a biblical look, and our surroundings heightened that effect, the far off mountains of Sinai recalling tales of Moses and that other biblical journey. We found our travellers to be polite and respectful and we ,in turn ,respected them.
The journey to Djeddah was but a few days ,the weather was so hot that the sweat was drying to salt on my forehead, even with a sweatband and a Stetson .
Entering Djeddah was a journey back in time ,most of the buildings
were still low rise ,and nearly all were a startling white ,the only signs of modernity were the dock machinery and the motor vehicles. All of the men were thin and wiry ,for the most part draped in galabayas and tarbooshes, they were timeless. On the quayside were Cadillacs and Lincolns ,amongst them were caged trucks ,and in those trucks were the labourers.........chained together! They were using prisoners to unload us!
They were unshackled and hustled aboard ,barefoot with the steel anklets still on them ,they went to their allotted tasks ,the overseers carried thin sticks with which they would flick at the dockers ,encouraging them in their labours.
Our steel decks were so hot that you could feel the intense heat through the soles of you shoes ,the dockers were all barefooted ,they must have had hooves instead of feet.
They did have a sharp turn of wit, Joey was leaning across a winch to do something when he let rip with a sonorous fart. The old Arab winch man standing nearby retorted " Don't speak to me of love when there is work to be done!!"
A lot of American servicemen came aboard and were whisked off up to the bridge ,we thought they were on an official visit ,but they were just waiting for us to sail, Saudi Arabia was ,and still is ,an alcohol free country. The penaltys' for possession are very severe ,the Americans would be sailing with us to beyond the three mile limit when they would get stuck into Scotlands finest. Meanwhile ,it was Friday ,the Islamic Sabbath and the local agent invited us to go and see the Friday executions and amputations in the main square ,we all passed on that one.
As the day passed we saw all manner of traffic on the quay ,military jeeps with Arab personnel ,coloured burnooses instead of caps or berets, block long limousines with darkened windows ,behind which we sometimes glimpsed yashmacked beautys with kohl blackened eyes ,the stuff of Arabian nights. In the harbour were magnificent Dhows ,some reminiscent of those great Elizabethan galleons that once circumnavigated the globe. The nearby shipyard had a half dozen under construction,and they would sail to the very reaches of the Indian Ocean and Africa.
As the sun set we let go our lines and headed into a fiery sea ,and the Yanks made for the bar. A U.S navy launch followed in our wake ,waiting to pick up the imbibers.

Another benefit of being a JOS was that I was now allowed to have a beer ration, there was no drunkenness at sea ,but you could save your ration and have a pleasant ,sup or three after sundown when all labours had ceased .We were well down the Red Sea one such evening ,three of us Junior ratings and half a case of cold Guinness. The night was as cool and black as our drinks ,the lights of distant Araby twinkling in the distance ,overhead glowed a crescent moon and there ,high in the sky ,shone Venus ,the symbol of Ramadan. The ship was ours again now ,the faithful had departed at Djeddah and we were a day away from Aden where we would load up on the duty free swag. I shouted to Joe to throw me another bottle from the bucket and as he did so ,it exploded in mid air. It was quite spectacular ,like a liquid supernova. He passed me another one and we resumed our rambling conversation when I felt my foot sliding in my flip flop. I looked down and saw a gaping wound on my instep. Blood was pumping out like a gushing fountain . The lads helped me up to the nurses room and put my foot in a blue plastic bowl while they went to fetch the nurse. I sat watching ,fascinated as the blood started to cover the bottom of the bowl and then slowly rise up the back of my heel. The nurse bustled in ,he was a big man, very camp, but capable. He threw up his hands when he saw the amount of blood in the bowl. One of the A.B.s came in to the room ,by this time the blood had reached the top of my ankle and then something very strange happened. I was looking at what was happening..........from a position high above everyones head, I felt as though I was bobbing about on the deckhead (ceiling) and I could clearly see myself sitting there with Alan ,the A.B. and the nurse attempting to stifle the bloodflow.
Of a sudden I was free and flying high up in the sky ,below was the Machaon ,the bow wave and wake glowing luminous against the wine dark sea ,above me were the stars
And over yonder lay the whole of Araby and then all was blackness.
I came to encased in a bamboo stretcher ,they had put a tourniquet on my thigh and given me some morphine. When the nurse heard me groaning ,he told me that the RAF were sending a fast launch for me ,I was to be taken to the military hospital in Aden.
The sun was well up by the time the launch came alongside, I was gently lowered onto the launch and watched as anxious faces looked over the proceedings. I was passing in and out of consciousness and have scattered memories of what came next ,it was a bumpy ride ,I can remember the attendants being solicitous ,wiping my brow ,soothing my fears. Soon we were bumping alongside a quay and I was lifted ashore and laid to rest on a stone paved quayside. The sun was a boiling yellow orb in the sky and I was fortunate that someone had remembered to put my hat on, I would have burnt to a crisp without it
I was only able to move my head a little as the bamboo stretcher had me tightly bound, I was drowsy and kept fading in and out of consciousness. An old Arab was squatting by a wall about 20 yards from where I lay. At length he rose and came toward me ,he took hold of my chin and turned my head left and right ,I felt him feeling about the outside of the stretcher ,muttering who knows what as he did so. I faded again ,when I opened my eyes he was still sat against the wall .Where was the ambulance? How long had I been here? Sleep claimed me again and then I felt myself being lifted ,waking fast ,I saw that a veritable giant of a man was carrying me ,like a suit case! He smiled and told me not to be afraid ,the old man had called them,them being the Red Cross. He carried me out to a Singer Gazelle estate painted in the Red Cross colours .The man was a local and could speak perfect English ;he said that the old mans call was the first notification they had had, I would still be lying there if he had'nt called .I was resting with the stretcher in the passenger footwell ,the passenger seat was folded down and the back of the stretcher was resting against the rear passenger seat .This position afforded me a good view of where we were going , out through the town and then into some military installation ,there ,over on a patio type area were some British military types ,in dressing gowns ,some in wheelchairs other on crutches and some just sitting. This was the hospital ,but we were not slowing down, we passed through a barrier and went off into the mountains ,stark and grey, they looked ominous. I must have looked frightened because my driver pointed to the logo on his badge "Not Military,Red Cross ,is okay?" I nodded ,we were really climbing now ,a little chapel appeared on one of the peaks "There is hospital" my driver smiled. We pulled up in front of a prefabricated building and a Nun appeared accompanied by a smiling, tubby character ,with a florid complexion and a drinkers nose. He had bushy black eyebrows and was wearing a bush hat ,calico shirt ,khaki shorts ,green wellingtons and a brown rubber apron. He was the surgeon and both he and the sister were from southern Ireland. With the assistance of some huge Arab orderlys they had me off that that stretcher and on to a gurney in double quick time. I had been half a day on that stretcher ,the Machaon had been due in Aden that very morning and I told him that it would be sailing early afternoon. The good doctor knew naught of this and he informed me that if he were to operate ,and get me back to the ship on time ,then an anaesthetic was out of the question , he left me to make the decision. "Just do it Doc" I answered. "Good man yerself",he said "I'll give you an Arab anaesthetic."
I was wheeled to a theatre that looked for all the world like a fairground booth,it was circular,had a conical roof in which the lights were set and the was a low rise wall all around beneath the canopy .There was an opening for the passage of trolleys. Patients and visitors leaned on the half wall viewing the proceedings ,the doctor gave a whistle and four big orderlys' came in,"Here's your Arab anaesthetic" says he as each one sits on my shoulders and thighs. "Don't let these fellers see yer afright" he smiled "Remember yer British!!" I had severed the main artery in my instep ,it required much pain and many stitches to put it right. He was fast and he had me back in that ambulance and speeding back to harbour within minutes. The Machaon was ready to sail by the time we got to the harbour ,the Doctor had called the agents and there was a launch at the quay waiting to take me out there.
I was half carried back on board and taken straight to the hospital, a two berth cabin near the nurses cabin. The nurse came in to see me settled and later on Fred the peggy brought me my dinner. This was the life kid!
The nurse gave me a sedative to help me sleep that night and I was awakened by Fred with a cooked breakfast ,he had even brought me a magazine. This was turning out to be a cruise. Just after nine the Bosun came in with a coil of rope "We don't carry effin passengers ,get stuck into that lot ,I wanna see a load of Lizards when I get back,an' if yer want to eat,get off yer arse an' get down the mess room!!" and with a growl he was gone. That was his form of TLC.

brian daley
07-01-2008, 09:33 PM
There was only one problem with having to keep the dressing on my foot dry, I could'nt have a shower or a bath and we were now in the Indian Ocean where a body needs bathing at least once a day. I was having to make do with an all over wash and it was proving to be none too successful. Within a couple of days I had contracted *****ley heat. This was a dreadful affliction which caused the sweat glands to block up and the surface of the skin became brittle and very itchy. I was already being treated by the nurse for my foot and he took great delight in administering his treatment for my affliction. The rash first appeared across my shoulders and he painted the affected area with salysilic acid............................................. have you ever had a spot of acid ,caustic soda or some such ,burn your skin? Well imagine it burning the whole of your shoulders.
4.00p.m.everyday I had to go for the treatment ,it spread to my armpits ,chest and stomach and the treatment was unrelenting ,the nurse said it was essential to burn off the epidermis in order to unblock my sweat glands. I used to watch with horror as the rash slowly reached down to my meat and two veg ,when it did ,the nurse enlisted the aid of one of the stronger A.B.s to pin me to the table. To para phrase Martin Luther King Jr. " I have been to the mountain top !!"
Happily ,both my foot and the rash were cured by the time we got to Penang on the Malayan peninsular.
This was my first sight of the mystic east and it did'nt let me down ,the sea was a dark green and was full of jelly fish ,millions of them bobbing along just beneath the surface, in the distance we could see a green covered peak that rose above the red tiled roofs of the shining white buildings. The waters in front of the port were carpeted by a vast array of ships ,liners, freighters, dhows ,sampans, fishing vessels and all manner of small craft . We anchored off the port and an army of barges and launches came bustling towards us, our passengers were going to spend the day ashore and we could follow them after our work was finished. The shore wallahs came aboard and they were a mixture of all the races that had been a part of the recently deceased British Empire ;there were Sikhs ,Chinese ,Malays ,Hindus,
Tamils and the British too. Malaya was not yet independent.
I had heard of the delights to be enjoyed ashore in this old port, there was the food ,the beer ,the sights but most of all ,a certain house of ill repute where the ladies taught boys to be men.
After a light meal and a few beers ,I was led by the hand to paradise.
This was not like the seedy haunts of north Europe ,nor the clinical milieu of Amsterdam ,it was sensuous ,the atmosphere was relaxed and the sounds of Indian music, low and melodic telling of old romances filled your ears and your senses.
I met a young Malay woman, she was clothed only in a diaphonous sari, her pert young breasts ,like lush pomegrenates, longe to be be touched and suckled. Her smooth bare midriff rose above her beautiful mound of Venus and I was made as Adam and she was Eve and we were driven to the wilder shores of ecstasy. It was paid for love ,but how else was a young sailor to enjoy the bodily pleasures when in port for such a short time?
After an evening of earthly delights we progressed to the godown where we would get the launch to our ship. There were four launches tied abreast of each other and ours was the outermost one ,to reach it we had to cross three large passenger launches which were from some of the big liners in the harbour. Our boatman had a list of who was ashore and had ticked everyone off except Taff and Oxo. We had to make everyone wait until those two reprobates were back. And then we saw them ,silhouetted by the lights of the town, weaving an unsteady passage to the godown. Some of the crew started to yell encouragement to spur them on.................big mistake. Little Oxo ,hearing his name, staggered on to the godown, followed by a teetering Taff, he stopped beneath one of the lights and waited for Taff to catch up ,he said something to Taff and they both turned their backs ,dropping their trousers as they did so ,and treated the passengers of all the launches to an almighty spreader. Sounds of applause mingled with screams filled the Malayan night and the two malefactors then proceeded to make their way across the launches. They were bulletproof ,impervious to the looks of outrage from the passengers ,and the lustful glances of the crew of a Greek liner; on reaching our launch,Oxo made his way to the wheelhouse ,where a little chinaman in a starched fore and aft rig stood at the helm. He seized him by the scruff of the neck and slung him overboard ,leaned out the wheelhouse window and yelled "Mr Mate, let go forrard ,let go aft ,Taff steer for feckin Yokohama!!!!"The boatman was safely recovered and we made our way back to the Machaon in an embarrassed silence. Just before we reached the gangway ,one of the passengers, a bearded geologist, called for everyones attention ,he said that what we had just seen was nothing more than a display of very high spirits and that he personally would not like to see this matter go any further ,he felt sure that if the helmsman was paid some recompense that would end the matter for all concerned, We crew were astounded ,we thought they would have wanted them both flogged. He passed his hat around and all ended happily . Well nearly all. Next morning I was passing the recreation room and saw Oxo and Taff asleep on the banquettes ,they were each lying down one length of a corner piece ,their heads touching at the corner. They had vomited over each others head and were stuck together. Not a pretty picture.

Port Swettenham,or as the Americans called it ,Port Sweatingham ,was our next stop.
This was reached by passing islands of mangrove swamps and is on the Sengui River,the rise and fall of which is about 30 feet. The speed of its flow was quite awesome and it required great skill on the part of the pilot to get us safely to our moorings. It is a very industrial port ,most of the rubber from the plantations is processed there and it is not a sailortown. We ventured to the seamens mission for a dip in the pool but found it closed, a hapless Skowegian had taken a dive from the top board into to the deep end when the pool was empty!

We were off to Singapore after Sweatingham.
Nothing can prepare you for the vista of the Grand Harbour, all else is prologue.
Imagine if you can, a scene stretching from horizon to horizon and the whole of that scene filled with hundreds upon hundreds of vessels of every shape and size, a vast tapestry of sail and steam ,pirogues and gleaming white liners ,sampans and river steamers ,ocean greyhounds and junks, a multi coloured display of mercantile history passing by ,each vessel an argosy ,row boats and launches ,pinnaces and tugs ,there is no point that eye can look and not wonder. The town beyond this armada was still a low rise one, the tallest building being the clock tower on the harbour front ,beyond that there is a jumble of red tiled rooves and the skyline is dotted with minarets ,
steeples,onion domed mandhirs and gold tipped bhuddist temples all vying for the allmightys' attention. From the town there is a concatenation of sound that bodes a very busy place. We can't wait to get ashore; we're tied up close to Anson Road ,a proper sailor town. Work over ,best T shirt and a clean pair of jeans ,a pocket full of Singapore dollars ,we are off to sample the delights.
There was a massive market strung all along the waterfront where stalls sell everything that the Orient has to offer, silks and calicos, perfumes and spices, herbs and dried snakes ,ointments for every ill, battery powered toys from renascent Japan, cameras,radios and all manner of things you never knew existed .The dollars burned holes in my pockets as I loaded up on shirts and sarongs .We were close enough to the ship for me to drop my packages off before I went dancing, and I was going to Tobys' Paradise to start the night off ,along the street it was on were dance halls where you could get a taxi dancer; the dancers were not *****'s, just nice young ladies out to earn a few bob ,and some of them were lovely and very good company. But there was so much else to see and do that it was a job to squeeze everything in. Boogie street was another must see place ,this came alive after dark and was a street full of open air restaurants, a quite spectacular sight then ,lots and lots of cooking ranges with seats adjacent ,all lit up by Tilley lamps with each wok tempting you toward it by its' marvellous aroma. In the background was the parade of fabulous lady boys ,famous here before the Bangkok ones and even more exotic traps for the drunken jolly jacks.
After a night of kaleidoscopic wonders it was off to bed , tomorrow was Sunday and we could get some sight seeing done.
The scene in the Sunday morning mess room was one of alcoholic remorse, faces that looked as though they had been to hell and back grappled with breakfasts that were beating them, a round of toast and they were back off to their bunks.
I'd been told that the Tiger Balm Gardens were one of the must see sights of Singapore and so I walked along the front to view them for myself.
The gardens had been put together by Aw Boon Haw ,one the founders of the tiger Palm company and were meant to depict the spirit of Chinese religion and show the meaning of good and evil. When you entered the gardens you walked through series of beautifully created tableaux showing the pantheon of Chinese gods ,the creation of the world, and the evils that lie within it and the rewards that are for those that lead good and pure lives.....................all with the aid of Tiger Balm of course.
I went down to the toy stalls in the evening and learned to haggle ,the stallholders liked it when you engaged in a bargaining session ,drinks would be poured and you had to be patient ,they did'nt like to be rushed, your "bargain" would be shown to you as though it were some prized possession and a price would be set for its purchase, you would be expected to disapprove and slowly but surely you would arrive at its real price. They trained me well for I did'nt buy anything that day ,I had heard of the "Kumshaw" that deal that could be struck when you bought in bulk. I asked how much Kumshaw they would give if I came back and ordered a case load ,they laughed and said come tomorrow and see. When I got back on board and told the lads what I could get ,four of them asked me to get them some as well. What were they? Things that would fetch a fortune now but were considered gimmicks then ,a model of the earth sat upon a pedestal that had dials and switches ,between the pedestal and the globe was a little blower with a nozzle on top .When you switched the gizmo on the earth would rotate and the blower would send up a jet of air on which you sat a model of the sputnik, a bleep, bleep sound was made ,and there you had a model of the worlds first satellite. Another was a model of a rickshaw in which there was a drunken sailor rum bottle in one hand and Chinese cheongsammed dolly bird at his side ,at the front was a rickshaw boy and when you flicked the switch of he would go, little legs flying ,crying "Lickshaw, lickshaw" .And there where police cars with sirens ,707 jets with screaming engines plus robots galore. When I went the next night ,I bought so many toys my Kumshaw covered the cost of the toys I wanted plus a beautiful leather wardrobe case to put them in.
The night before we left, I went to the White Horse Bar and had the misfortune to run into some "freedom fighters" ,they were Chinese and they hated my white arse. I did'nt realise they were serious when they started accusing me of being an aggressor ,me the kid from Garston! I tried to walk away but one of them stood in front of me ,stabbing me in the chest with his finger and ranting away. Another Chinaman took my arm and told them to behave themselves leading me out of the bar, he shook his head and told me to go home where I would be safe. For now my ship was my home and we still had a lot of travelling to do. We were leaving for Balewan
in the morning and that was in the East Indies.

07-01-2008, 09:45 PM
Brilliant once again Brian. The rash sounded horrible. Especially being pinned down for the treatment. Ouch!
Fantastic stuff Brian.
Our friend Richie said you had a brilliant memory (he also told me the x rated exploits too) and how right he was..:handclap:

brian daley
07-05-2008, 05:02 PM
The East Indies

Sailing from Singapore ,through the Straits of Malacca, is a magical experience.
On the port side ,when you are heading north west ,is Sumatera ,or as we knew it then ,Sumatra ,one of the larger Indonesian islands. When you are in the narrows of the strait you have land either side of you ,Malaya being to starboard. The palm fringed mountains provide a wonderful backdrop to the scene about you and the dawns and sunsets are nothing less than spectacular. The straits are always busy ,ocean liners and fishing boats vie with each for sea room. During the day there is so much to see with the ever changing back ground . The air is filled with the scents of the strange flowers and plants that grow on the plantations that abound on the verdant slopes of the passing mountains. The stiff breeze created by the ships passage through the green waters helps cool us against the tropic heat. Sea birds glide lazily above the myriad fishing craft that lay scattered across seaway. And so our journey to Belawan proceeds. There was talk in the mess room of what a violent place Indonesia was, there was an "insurgency" taking place ,rebels were seeking to overthrow the government of President Sukharno ,who was head of the resistance against the Japanese,was now fighting against a motley grouping who were backed by ,some said, ,the Dutch and the Americans. What it meant to us was that white people were considered potential enemies ;tales were told of crew who had been attacked ,and sometimes killed ,by the local militias. And so it was with trepidation that I entered the port of Belawan. The Dutch had colonised it for a few centuries and the evidence of that was before your eyes as you sailed into the harbour ,the buildings that could be seen beyond the wharves were gabled in the Dutch manner and were once red tiled ,now they were decaying and the colours were long faded .there were many ships
alongside the quays ,their bright paintwork standing in sharp relief against the crumbling warehouses .
There were lots of soldiers in evidence on the dockside ,dressed in olive drab ,their uniforms were very well turned out ,blouson and trousers starched and replete with razor sharp creases ,they wore their G.I helmets like every Hollywood soldier you ever saw. They were toting automatic rifles and squatted on the bales of cargo that littered the quay. Their presence seemed intimidating as they sat smoking , eyes on our every move. A whistle shrilled and they started to shuffle along the quay and our dockworkers started coming aboard. The natives wore mostly sarongs and ragged T shirts with a cloth wrapped around the head in the manner of a turban. They were small but powerfully built and seemed to have a contemptuous air about them,there was also an undercurrent of anger. The Bosun warned us not to upset them because it could cause trouble. Pre warned ,we kept our heads down and got on with the job.
After the cool sea breezes ,working alongside in Belawan was like being in a steam bath ,it was so humid.

The shower after work was over was so bracing ,the cold jets almost hissed as they hit my parched skin, a good scrubbing and then some dinner and soon I was on my ashore.
I was told it was safest if we stayed within the port area and so went to the nearest bar ,this was right outside the dock gate. There were linen suited Dutch businessmen seated in the main bar ,I was the first of our crew to get there ,and so apart from the Dutchmen ,I was on my own. I was an inexperienced drinker and had been told to avoid drinking native hooch ,bearing this in mind ,I ordered a Heineken and then kept them coming until I looked for something different. Scanning the bottles behind the bar my eyes alighted on what seemed like a bottle of Spanish wine. I pointed it out to the barman and proceeded to work my way through it. In a little while I began to feel very mellow, the room took on a roseate glow ,this was lovely stuff. "The lads'll love this " I thought. "Should be ashore soon" A glass or two later one of the lads seemed to appear before me, I could'nt understand a word he was saying and the room seemed to be on the move. I'd passed mellow and was starting to feel queasy,"I wish this bloody bar would stop moving" I could'nt form any words properly and got up from my stool to head for the toilet. Weaving my way through the tables I lurched forward towards the Dutchmen ,pink suits ,pale green suit and nice cream suit......?..A Niagara of vomit burst forth from me and drenched the pastel coloured Dutchmen. Strong arms gripped me and hustled me to the lavatory. I don't know how long I knelt there, eventually I got to my feet and went back in the bar. It was Joey who had helped me and he had something to settle my stomach for me when I got back to the bar. The Dutchmen were waiting for me too and I had to pay them enough money to get their suits cleaned. Joey pointed out to me that I had been drinking native wine. What I had thought had been a bottle of Malaga was a bottle of Malacca. Never again.

We just had the one night in Belawan and it was no hardship to leave ,there had been very little to do there and there was very little evidence of there being any women there too. Tanjung Priok in Java was our next stop and the lads said it was a bit like the wild west, lots of bars ,women and wild men. We were soon squared away and got the ship cleared of all the debris that littered the decks ,it was our home and we did'nt like the mess that shore wallahs caused. The journey back down the straits was no less magical than our journey up ,this time we would be going on past Singapore, by islands with exotic names ,PulauLingga, Pulau Bangka ,Belitung and then into the Java sea .The heat was terrific ,we were stripped down to sarongs and flip flops and we were showering twice a day. At night the sea was scattered with twinkling white lights shimmering in the blackness ,these were the fleets of fisherman little outriggers each with their oil lamps to tell us they were there. Great clouds of phosphorous boiled and glowed in the midnight depths and shooting stars were streaking across the heavens.
Java night ,velvet black and strewn with jewels of light.
The dawn appeared as a violet streak upon the eastern horizon , the mountains on the islands silhouetted black ,slowly the violet turns pink as it moves up the sky and then is tinged with gold , the sea is a sheet of silk reflecting the colour of the heavens and the silhouettes of the islands .As we stand looking at the mornings glory ,a black shape detaches itself from the island outline and soon we see it take the shape of a bird, a large bird. The upper sky is now pastel pink and the bird looks so beautiful as it flies gracefully towards us. We are nonplussed when it seems to collapse and falls slowly on to our foredeck. It is a flamingo as pink as the lightening sky and as dead as yesterday. The moment is so poignantly beautiful that my heart was filled with wonder ,life and death ,dark and light ,and now the dawning.
Tanjung Priok lived up to the reputation the lads had given it, we were still tying up when we saw our first shooting. A wiry little fellow was haring along the quayside ,from what we never knew, but he had passed us and was heading the gate when a shot rang out and we saw him stumble forwards ,he was dead.
Some soldiers strolled up to him and nudged him with their boots, satisfied ,they squatted by him pulled out a pack of cigarettes and sat smoking until a truck came.
Welcome to Tanjung Priok!!.
Inflation was rife in Indonesia ,officially ,the rate of exchange was 150 rupiah to a pound sterling. We used to pay 7/6d for a carton of 200 State Express 555 cigarettes in the ships duty free slop chest(35p in decimal). If they were in flat tins of 20 we would get 1000 rupiah for them ,and we did just that ,we had stored them up for our arrival there. The only drawback was that you were only allowed to take 150 rupiahs ashore with you. A big drawback, the cost of a nights entertainment with a lady was a hundred rupiahs ,you would'nt have much left over if you relied on 50 rupiahs. There were two ways to overcome this ,you could try and bribe the customs man at the gate ,this was risky because he might take your bribe ,and you as well ,or you could secrete in the rear luggage space........up your bum!!
And that is what most of us did ,you could live like a millionaire on a 1000 roops. The favourite place for jack ashore was the Radio Bar ,this was run by a little guy called Maas, he looked after us sailors and was never known to cheat anyone ,his beer was good and he played the latest American records ,English pop music had’nt made it abroad yet.
The girls who frequented the Radio Bar were good lookers and did'nt have a bad reputation either. The bar was a straw roofed affair ,open at the sides and lit up like Blackpool ,there were other little bars and eating shacks about and intermingling with them all were the little straw roofed rooms where the girls would take you to mik mok.
Oh the testosterone that powered that little settlement, you could have lit up New York with it . We where there for three nights and I made use of everyone of them to sate my myself ,the food was excellent ,Nasi Goureng being the main dish ;one night I saw a bowl full of golden fried chicken legs and purchased a pot full. They were absolutely delicious, but they were'nt chicken ,turned out they were frogs legs and I've loved them ever since that time.
Some of the lads turned up as I was finishing the bowl and started a bit of horse play ,they totally trashed the place until I was left sitting there ,no roof ,no walls just the table chair and me. They gave the owner a wad of roops and he started putting things back together,mad happy days. Our next port had a beautiful name ,Tjirebon,you say it Cherrybon,it was as pretty as it sounded.

brian daley
07-12-2008, 04:08 PM
Going Native

Tjirebon was a Muslim port, there were mosques and the men nearly all wore the little black caps that people who had been on the Hadj wore .Whereas Tanjung Priok had been brash and full of bars this ,then little, town was far more subdued. It was here that I first heard a proper gamelan orchestra and saw a Javanese puppet show.
The town was a mixture of Dutch colonial buildings ,native huts and Islamic temples; there was a market place where all manner of fish and spices were on sale as well as beautiful batik sarongs. As I strolled through the winding streets I got a greater feeling of what Java was really like than I had at Balewan or Tanjung Priok . I was'nt hassled as I meandered past the houses and shops and, as I walked into one of the little squares, I saw a crowd of people sitting watching an entertainment .This was the puppet show, There was a large rice paper screen which was backlit and the puppets were elaborately carved figures which were manipulated by sticks . I don’t what the story was but it was marvellous just to see, the gamelan players provided the music as the puppeteers played out scenes of love and death . The screen was illuminated by oil lamps and the villagers and setting were timeless. I was the only anachronism ,in my T shirt and jeans I was wildly out of place. But I was welcomed into their presence, children made room for me on the benches and sat casting shy glances at this stranger in their midst. I had left the lads down by the dockside and wanted to see what Tjirebon was like. When the show was finished , the puppeteer let me see the puppets which hitherto had only been seen as silhouettes upon the rice paper screen, they were painted in brilliant colours, reds, greens and gold and I've often wondered why the audience were never shown them that way.
On the way back to the ship I saw a poor young man who was like a wild boar,he was snorting and grunting and scrabbling bout on the ground, the people around him behaved as though this was normal.

As we journeyed around the islands most of the lads abandoned the shorts and jeans for sarongs, some of the regular crew had a variety of them ,big Albert looked like a Serang ,or head man, with his neat little beard and his huge girth ,he would'nt have looked out of place on a pirate vessel.
At that time I was a doodler, when at school I had developed a knack for cartooning and I used to do caricatures of people. Not that I would ever show them to the people I had done. One night Albert came to my cabin and asked if he could borrow my writing pad ,it was on the table so I passed it up to him. I realised too late that the back pages were filled with sketches of Albert , as Bluto. An almighty yell filled the alleyway, "ANDEE !!!"? a shiver of fear ran through me ,"?Get Your Arse Down Here NOWWWW!! " I walked slowly to my doom, Albert sat at his writing table , looking at the sketches . "Is that supposed to be me?" he asked ,I was afraid to speak."It's bloody brilliant" he laughed. "You'll have to do one I can send to the missus" he said. Phew !

After we left Tjirebon we went on to Semarang ,we were getting higher out of the water now as we discharged our cargo ,only a couple of more ports and then we would start the loading. I have vague memories of Semarang ,we did'nt go ashore ,we were told it was too dangerous. When we stayed aboard the lads made their own entertainment , the two brothers ,I think they were called Terry and Jimmy ,used to get their guitars out and we would sit on the afterdeck singing songs old and new. Most of us would sit sucking on cans of lager but those two boys never touched a drop. Even when we went ashore they only drank pop or coke, I was impressed. Terry always said that you did'nt have to be half cut to have a good time and judging by how happy they always were it seemed to be true.

Surabaya came after Semarang, this was a pretty bleak place after the previous ports ,we were tied up a long way from the dock gates and the favoured bar was a fair distance from the gates. One of the Blue Funnel officers was reputed to have been killed here by the dockers ,from the attitude that these dockers displayed you could feel that to be true. They were surly and aggressive, we had to do cargo watch down the hatches to see that no cargo was broached ,most of the dockers seemed to be very young men and a couple of them used to masturbate openly ,daring you to say something. I have since sailed to many places but nowhere did I experience such open contempt towards us .It was even worse ashore. We went ashore in a group ,safety in numbers, there were a lot of trishaw men outside the gate ,all touting for business, Flashing smiles and making friendly gestures they competed with each other for our business. They would'nt let anyone share and so we all went alone with one of them.
When we got to the fabled bar it turned out be a let down ,no girls, a couple of bolshy barmen and only old records on the juke box and some rubbish beer. A bit like Liverpool really.! After a few beers we decided it would be best if we went back to the ship ,there was no fun to be had here. Accordingly ,I went outside to see if the trishaws were there, as soon as I stepped out there I was surrounded by an angry crowd of them. They wanted all of my money or they would "Kil "me.? One of them brandished a knife and I had an out of body experience. I told them that I had left my money inside and went back to get it. When I told the lads what happened they decided to go out together, Oxo and Taff decided to stay put , I thought that they were pushing their luck. When the trishaw boys saw how many of us there were they went back to being their servile selves and we made the journey without incident .
Back on board ,we got the beer out and sat and had a few cans before going off to our bunks. Around about an hour later we heard a commotion at the gangway and Oxo and Taff came roaring aboard, Oxo was wearing the dock militia mans peaked cap,he had whipped it off his head as he was running past the gatehouse, talk about balls of steel.! We sailed next morning and Oxo still had the cap.

Balikpapan ,our next destination ,was on the Island of Borneo in Kalamantan, it was a huge waterfront with lots of oil tanks and cargo jettys. There was an Eagle oil Tanker in the middle of the harbou ,it had been there for more than a year,and could be there still for all I know. It had been bombed by the rebels during the Insurgency and was split into two halves, the after part was stern down ,the funnel and superstructure just showing above the water. The bow section and center castle were still afloat and would swing around on her anchor with both parts meeting up when the tide was right. I am sure she was called the San Flavinio. I don't know what happened to the crew ,but it was supposed to have been an American mercenary bomber pilot who was in the pay of the rebels who had finally done for her.
It was Sunday when we got to Balikpapan and there was hardly anyone about ,after mooring and making things ready for unloading we heard the sound of a truck coming down the dock, we were the only ship alongside so it must be coming to us. It came to a halt just by our bow and we saw that it was full of soldiers, they clambered down, rifles in hands and then formed themselves into marching order. There was a civilian with them , a ragged little fellow in chains ,an officer barked out some commands and some of the soldiers gripped the prisoner by the arms and marched him over to the warehouse wall. He stood facing the soldiers who were now lined up with their rifles pointing toward him. The officer flourished his baton ,looking at us as though he was a circus master and this was the next act, turning to his men he cried out and raised his baton, dropping his arm ,the rifles thundered and the little guy crumpled in a bloody heap. Four men stepped forward and took a limb each and then toted him back to the truck ,when they had slung him aboard the rest of the troop climbed up and they roared back down the quay. A pool of blood by the warehouse wall reminding us that this was not a good place to be. It was pretty quiet in the mess room that night.
We made our way back to Tanjung Priok by way of a few anchoring ports too small to be of note and each one looking the same.. Getting back to Tanjung was almost like going home, our trishaw boys were glad to see us ,we always used the same one, they would stay with us for the night and keep us out of trouble, it was the same with the girls ,nearly all of the lads stayed with the same girl, if they went back on the same ship those girls would be waiting for him when he got back. The girls all called me Joe Butterfly, I never had the same girl twice, I was like a kid in a sweet shop, they were all so pretty that I wanted them all. We were there for about four days and it felt like paradise to a young Lothario . I remember one night when I had imbibed just a little too much and flaked out in my seat by the dance floor, it was like a small settee and I was at full stretch. I don't know how long I was out but I was awakened by the sound of girlish laughter, I tried to open my eyes to see what was going on but could'nt raise the lids,there was something standing on them! Groping towards them I felt a huge insect there............it was a stag beetle, a huge thing the size of my hand, with antlers just like a reindeers. It sobered me up tout suite.
The mate on the Machaon was a bit of an entomologist and he used to ask us to fetch him any specimens that we came across, I never got to giving him that one but a few days later I came across one sitting on top of the windlass .They are fearsome looking creatures and I was'nt sure if they bit you or not so I whacked with my marlin spike. It did'nt splatter or crack but just lay still and I picked it up and carried it up to the mates cabin. When he came to the door I opened my hand to reveal the creature and it unfolded it's wings and took off ,making a sound like a B52 bomber as it did so.
I don't know who was more surprised ,me or the mate.
The captain had arranged with the agent a day trip up to a lido that was on the top of an extinct volcano, this was a good few hours journey from the capitol Djakarta and nearly all the crew wanted to go, we had’nt been close to civilisation for weeks and weeks ,just to see proper pavements and streets would be wonderful.
On Sunday an army truck came to collect us ,this was just like the one I had travelled to London in from Sharpness. Cases of Tennants were loaded first and then we sat where we could, the canvas sides were rolled up so that we could all see where we were going. As we entered the city we followed the riverbank for a good part of the way. The banks were thronged with people, some bathing ,some doing the laundry and others squatting as they emptied the contents of their bowels, all within yards of each other. As we left the city and entered the suburbs we passed the colonial houses, beautiful gardens surrounding them ,so gracious after the stews we had become used to . In the distance we could see a range of purple mountains ,our lido was up here ,we went through acres and acres of tea plantations ,the fragrant aromas scenting the air ,everything was clean and fresh and there was a riot of colour from the many flowering shrubs and trees. The locals waved as we passed by and motorists honked there horns and waved ,this was so different from Surabaya.
The lido was huge, there was an Olympic sized pool and a plunge plus a kiddie pool. The place was full of Dutch people, hundreds of them ,this was their weekend retreat. We dropped our cases of beer in the deep end of the pool and went off to get changed.
After a finding a space to "camp"? by the pool we decided to have a beer so one of the lads dived in to get a can. He came shooting up out of it like a rocket !! It was bloody freezing, very few of us spent long in the pool ,just enough to get a beer , the Dutch kids did'nt seem to be affected by the cold ,they frolicked about as though it was warm. Still, it was a good break and the views were marvellous ,from the diving board you could see the plains below stretching out for miles. We stopped at a plantation on the way back and we purchased small chests of tea to take home. I took a chest of Sukabumi and it was very aromatic ,Mum did'nt like it at first but by the time she was half way through it she was hooked.
On the way back to the ship the beer flowed freely now that you did'nt risk freezing to death to get it. The lads were slowly getting sloshed; the locals who had been to the pool were following behind us and I was sitting in the tail end and a young Javanese couple on a motor bike rode close in to us and started a conversation ,they were happy to meet English people visiting their country and we were having an erratic converstion ,the flow broken by the twists and bends in the road. We lost them at point but they caught us up and handed me a load of branches which were full of lychees, they were gorgeous, fresh and sweet. One of the lads rewarded them by stepping up to the tail and dropping his shorts .revealing a very hairy, fifty year old arsehole. The young couple looked as though they had been scalded and overtook us . I sat there feeling ashamed. Lager louts are nothing new.

brian daley
07-19-2008, 03:54 PM
Merry Christmas Gentlemen

We were nearly through with the Java coast, we just had a consignment of tobacco to load and then we were going back to Singapore.
The tobacco was packed in foil and then covered in straw matting which was sewn very tight with a kind of twine. The deck of the hold where it was stowed was covered in straw matting and when it was loaded the top of the cargo was also covered in this manner. It gave off a wonderfully aromatic scent. We also loaded copra in some of the holds, this carried with it hoards of copra bugs,a little like ladybirds ,but not so bright ,a kind of dull iridescent green. They got everywhere ,they were not harmful but it was'nt nice having them in your bedding and lockers. They completed the voyage home with us.
Our homeward cargo was made up of raw materials ,teak and mahogany logs, spices, palm oil ,tobacco ,copra ,rice ,latex and a myriad other products from the islands.
We topped up the hatches at Singapore ,where we had a whale of a time just walking on proper pavements and enjoying ourselves without the ever present danger of violence.
We picked up just one passenger for the homeward trip, a beautiful young Malayan woman who was going to study at the Malayan College in Kirkby.
It must have been a strange experience for her, being the only female amongst about 60 or so men, but she was always treated with the greatest of respect.
Our next destination was Colombo , in what was then Ceylon ,we had to load some tea ,and we would be able to buy some for our families as well.
I had heard a lot about Colombo, it was reputed to be the cleanest city in the East ,not counting Japan, and the Singhalese had a reputation for friendliness.
Britain still had vestiges of Empire and Colombo still had a British Naval base there ,some of the lads reckoned you could have a great time in the NAAFI bar.
So we headed for Colombo with the anticipation of a good time ahead.
Christmas Day came a day before we arrived in Ceylon and the catering staff laid on a great feast ,the mess room and the dining and recreation rooms were festooned with decorations ;Oxo made a special Christmas tree for his cabin, instead of baubles and tinsel ,he adorned it with old sausages and chops ,cooked of course!
After our Christmas dinner the captain invited the deck and catering crew for drinks in the dining room, and here I must tell you of how beautiful that was. The bulkheads (walls) were of silkwood and were inlaid with marquetry designs of a contemporary nature, there were mirrors which were engraved with nautical and mythical maritime scenes and in the centre of the deckhead was a wonderful crystal chandelier. It was a very gracious setting. The Master ,Captain Readshaw ,was very old school , he had to be in his late 60's ,or even 70's,hosted the Christmas drinks and let us sit where we liked; a novel experience for a JOS. Spirits flowed like water and when everyone was settled and warmed by Christmas spirit , Captain rose to make a little speech prior to giving the toast. He was standing in front of the sideboard at the head of the dining room and we sat facing him, that is all of us except Oxo, he quietly climbed aboard the sideboard and got himself behind Captain Readshaws head. When the Captain called upon us to raise our glasses to goodfellowship and kindness , Oxo dropped his pants and mooned ,the cheeks of his behind showing behind the captains head like a sacrilegious halo.
Old Readshaw was bemused by our laughter ,unsure as to whether we had found his little speech witty ,but nevertheless proud of his delivery. He never found out about the "spreader", even the young Malayan lady laughed!
Next morning ,Boxing Day ,we tied up in Colombo. Above the dock walls we could see that there was a covered market across the dock road ,this had a giant Father Christmas sat upon its roof ,it seemed bizarre, most of the Singhalese were in sarongs and saris and there above their heads was the spirit of winter.
We were only going to be there for the day ,we were sailing that night ,because it was a holiday the bosun let us go ashore .I was getting changed when one of the Tally men came knocking at my cabin door. He was after any foreign coins or notes we might have for his sons collection. I had a roll of Indonesian banknotes ,they were totally worthless now ,so I let him have them.
Freshly washed and dressed we three ,the JOSSES ,made our way to the British Naval base.. The streets were clean ,so different from anywhere we had been lately ,even cleaner than Singapore.
The NAAFI was closed though ;when we got to the base some of the bootnecks told us there was no bar until the next day but that there was a bar that they used just outside the base ,the White Horse bar .That was where they drank ,so off the three of us trooped .We were the only customers and the staff made us very welcome, it was Christmas and they filled us full of the Christmas spirit...........................for a price of course.
Soon we were out of funds but just getting a taste for the local brew, we were just about to leave when the Tally man I had given some money to walked into the bar, he waved to us as he was sinking his beer; I called to him and asked if he could buy us a Christmas drink. No problem he said ,finishing his beer ,he told the barman to give us what we wanted ,throwing a roll of notes on our table ,he waved us goodbye and wished us a Merry Christmas. Anther round of drinks was brought to the table and we gave the barman most of the roll of money. He went off to the bar and gave it to the boss who roared with anger, It was the Indonesian money !
Shaking with rage ,he came to our table carrying a scimitar ,he whacked it down sending the glasses smashing to the floor. "Christian *******s!!" he shrieked " I vant my monies Thwack went the scimitar again. My bowels were on the point of opening when a little Babu entered the bar ,he was wearing a dhoti and an English blazer with a shirt and tie.. He was carrying a rolled umbrella and had a pair of black oxfords on his feet ,every inch the caricature of the Indian Lawyer. Seeing the disturbance ,he told the manager to calm down ,this was the English festival of Christmas ,it should be peace on earth and goodwill to all men. The manager turned the full force of his ferocity on the little Babu and we three exited stage left at a great rate of knots. We were greyhounds then and just managed to keep ahead of the barman, a little Morris Oxford taxi stood on the corner and we dived in and gave the driver orders for the docks.
There was a rosary hanging from his rear view mirror and a sacred heart of Jesus on the dashboard. "Merry Christmas Gentlemen" he greeted us ,"I am Roman Catholic" This very happy Time. You are enjoying this holy time?"
We had been, and he was'nt going to like what happened next.
Arriving at the Dock gates amidst a stream of felicitations to us and our crew, I handed him the rest of the notes and raced through the gates with a torrent of imprecations hurled at the back of my retreating head. Of course I felt bad about it but there was little else I could do then.
And so we left Colombo ,with some Singhalese left with an image of the English that was not very good.

The weeks went by very quickly after that ,New Year was spent in the Arabian Sea and I stayed up for the of the New Year ,the 50's were ending and a new decade was about to commence.
The sea was as black as ink and the heavens above were exploding with light from the stars ,the warm night was cooled by a gentle breeze and only the steady beat of the engine pierced the silence. The poignant sound of the bell tolling out the decade broke the stillness ,sixteen times it rang ,eight for the ending of the old and eight for the new.

Up through the Red Sea and then on through the Suez Canal ,places that were now becoming familiar and places that heralded the passage home. I was getting excited now, I would have a good pay off this time, I wanted a new wardrobe and would spend my spare time planning the things I would do and dream of the girls that I might meet, and best of all I had a new niece to meet, Jeanette was her name and she was a little blonde bombshell , or so the letters from home told me.
As you near the British coast a frisson of excitement enlivens the crew , no one is immune from it ,it's called the channels ,and the nearer you get to your home port the greater the feeling becomes. We'd be docking in the Gladstone on the Sunday but would'nt be paying off until the Monday. This was awkward for Joe and Fred because they could'nt go home until after payoff and that was in Birkenhead come midday Monday. I invited them to stop the night at our flat, it would be a shakedown on the settee but it was better than nothing.
We got a taxi home and as were neared the tenements Joe said “You don' really live here d'you Andy?" Fred was goggle eyed as we entered the square " Erm, it looks a bit rough mate" he said. And for the first time since we had lived there I saw that they were right , my once demi paradise was now a slum. The walls were full of graffiti and the pavements were full of litter. I felt so sad ,it took the edge off my homecoming . But not for long ,soon we were in our little abode where Mum had a homecoming tea ready and my sisters were busy unpacking my cases.
After dinner Dad took the three of us to Walton to meet some of his brothers, we went to Tims in Westminster Road ,a quiet little place that had a good pint and a human juke box.
There was a little old man ,wearing a shabby mac ,battered brown trilby and a nicotine stained walrus moustache. Dad bought him a gill of mild and this inanimate little man sprang to life and sang "I know a Millionaire" when he finished the song ,he lapsed into silence and supped his drink,Joe bought him a gill and he gave forth with "Swanee"and then silence,we got about four songs out of him and moved on.
This was'nt how we really envisaged our first night home, but we had'nt paid off yet!
We crawled home just after closing time, ready for bed and eager for tomorrow. I would'nt be going back on the Machaon,I could'nt stand the thought of Bob's gallows humour and chapel ways. I was still a kid and wanted laughter and enjoyment, so it was goodbye Machaon!

brian daley
07-26-2008, 04:41 PM
On Leave

When Fred and Joe departed for home I decided to go over to Llandudno to catch up with Cousin Willie, there was’nt very much going on in Garston ;it was the middle of winter so I thought I would get a bit of a holiday at the seaside . Looking back ,I find it amazing at how forbearing my aunty Dolly was ,I would turn up without so much as a by your leave, and a bed was always made ready .Not to mention my free board!
But it was great to see the Llandudno mob, they were all working ,and were still bachelors ,but Willy was smitten with a girl from Wigan. Her family had stayed as paying guests and Willy had been writing to her since she left, he had even been up to Wigan to see her ,this was serious, was this the end of “our gang” ?
Being winter ,we never got further than the pubs ,I spent two days on what appeared to be a massive pub crawl, it was good fun though.
I was at a bit of a loose end when I got back home I had a pocketful of tin and not very much to do all day. You become a bit of a fish out of water when you are on leave ,you lose touch with your schoolmates, most of the girls you would want to date are working and so you have to get through the day so that you could enjoy the night.
Our family was much bigger now , Jess and her husband ,Graham would come up on a Sunday they would bring my new niece ,Jeanette, she was delightful, 4 months old and full of curiosity. Jess was now living down near the Flat Iron pub, they had a landlady who looked like something out of a Hammer Horror. But they seemed to be happy.
Betty and Chris were zipping up ,it is amazing how quickly people grow and when you see them only every four month or so, it is like watching a tape on fast forward.
Gradually you lose the closeness that you once had and become more of a visitor .
It was soon time to be off again. This time I got a coastwise passage on a ship called the Anchises. This ship had a bit of a war record, she had become entangled in the fighting between the Nationalists and the Communists in 1949. The Chinese nationalists bombed her when she was sailing down the Wangpoo river. Her engine room was flooded and she had to be towed upriver to discharge her cargo when she was bombed again. It says something for the strength of those Blueys ,bombed twice and here she was nearly 12 years later, and still going strong. She was pretty much like my first ship, the Eumaeus, the crew was something else though. They were mostly coastal only men ,they had given up going away for long stretches and were content to work away for just two or three weeks. We joined her in Amsterdam after she had returned from the Spice islands. To get to Amsterdam we had to go to Harwich on the night train and the get the overnight ferry to Ostend and thence a train to Amsterdam. It was quite an exciting journey, there were about 18 of us deck crew ,mostly strangers to each other and a long journey like that is a good way to get to know people. Most of the senior hands were either married or engaged ,hence their liking for short trips, the junior ratings ,like me were filling in time awaiting a deep sea trip.
The long journey was fuelled by an unending flow of amber nectar, some one had one those newfangled transistor radios that he had bought in Japan and we had music as well as booze. I don’t think we were too rowdy, there was no trouble during the whole journey.
When we got to Amsterdam we were met by an agent who had arranged for us to get to the Anchises via a bateaux, a nice glass topped tourist barge. We had to await its arrival on the canal steps by the railway station. Among our crew were two old salts ,Harry ? and Joe Patino. They were both old enough to have sailed in the 1914 to 18; Harry was a fastidious old timer and Joe was just the opposite, a scruffy little man ,flatulent and very short sighted. They had both sailed together before and were like an old ,argumentative, married couple . Some of the AB’s and EDH’s knew them and were not very nice to them; age was not revered at sea.
Old Joe became the victim of one the EDH’s pranks as we were leaving the station on the bateaux; he pointed to a battered old suitcase on the canal steps “I’ve got one like that” he said………It was his ! some one told the helmsman and we went back for it. That set the tenor of the trip. Pranks and tricks, some funny ,some malicious, I was glad I was’nt going deep sea with this shower. They treated the peggy like ****, I can remember one evening when he had cleaned up and was getting ready to go ashore .Two of the EDH’s came in and ordered him to make some tea, it was his time off and he protested that he had finished. These two characters laid slices of bread the whole length of one table, buttered them ,poured sauce and salad cream on them and then tipped the lot onto the table and deck ,”You’re not finished now you fat ******* ,get that lot cleaned up” I was only a JOS and had to keep my mouth shut.
One of the other JOS’s was a youth called Brian Munro –Smith, a very handsome but scruffy person, he never had any seagoing gear and was a real greenhorn , to the point of being dangerous. He could’nt do his bends and hitches and we all wondered how he ever got to be a JOS. I forget who the other JOS was , but we had a newly made SOS who was a bit of an enigma. Sober , he was a good deckhand, quite funny and was very much aware of the pecking order. I like sitting with him at smoko and mealtimes, he had a fund of stories about Japan and Hong Kong, both of which I wanted to go to ,he knew all the best bars in Amsterdam, Antwerp and Hamburg . He would be the ideal shore companion, would’nt he ?
We went to a little bar just off the city centre , it was full of professional ladies and they seemed to know Johnny ,we did’nt seem to be buying anything ,these friendly folk were hosting our evening…..good old Johnny! I vaguely remember being told that we would be making a film, a porno film!! I was too drunk to take part in it ,thank God.
On the way back to the Anchises ,Johnny was in a terrible mood ,I had messed his plans up ,as well as the front of my suit. He got into an argument with some Boers, and they were arguing in Dutch!! As drunk as I was, I was still very surprised that he could sprechen sie Hollandaise so fluently.. They exchanged a few sharp punches ,with Johnny coming off best ,and we sped back aboard.
Next morning he denied being able to speak a word of dutch and was his usual affable self. Talk about Jekyll and Hyde.! On our second night ashore it was like a rerun of the first ,but without the porno bit this time, half a dozen Stella’s down his neck and he’s talking Dutch again ,only this time he wants to fight me……..I was a pretty good runner then.
When I was awakened by the nigh****chman for breakfast next morning, he gasped as he looked at me, “You’ve copped out for something Andy “ he said making a quick exit from the cabin. Apart from the usual morning after feeling I seemed to be O.K..
I got up and as I got my toothbrush from the holder beside our mirror I got a glimpse of my face. It was covered in red spots. I went up to the doctors cabin and he sat me down and started to give me check out . He was looking worried ,he left the cabin and came back with the Mate ,I could hear words like “hospital” “isolation” etc. He got me to open my shirt ,my chest was covered in them ,blotches everywhere, As he lifted my arm to take my pulse, one of the blotches smeared ,it was lipstick ,some bleeder had caught me out in a practical joke. I don’t know who was more embarrassed ,me or the doctor.
Later that day I would need his services for real, some of the lads had been ashore for a dinner time session and ,when we resumed work ,thought it would be a good idea to run at me with a large piece of dunnage ,held just like a battering ram. They cracked three of my ribs……oh they were such jokers ,the *******s!
There was’nt one of them that I would have chosen to do a deep sea trip with ,perhaps I had been spoiled. Poor old Harry had it worse than any of us though. His cabinmate ,old Joe, was incontinent, when he had to go ,he had to go…….in Harrys drawers ,shoes ,suitcase ,bunk, you name it ,Joe crapped in it . He wore Long Johns ,which were a nasty shade of grey , when they were hanging in the drying room there was always a large brown star shaped stain on the bottom part. Someone said that a famous African politician saw it once and was inspired enough to design his newly independent countries flag by it.
On our last morning in Amsterdam when the men were making the ship ready for sea ,the Lamptrimmer asked me to pop ashore and purchase a jar of Brylcreem
and a pair of leather boot laces for him. He gave me a couple of guilders and off I went the ladies were already on the streets touting for business and I was greatly attracted toward them ,but I had an errand to run and no money excepting that for the Lampys’ gear. Purchase completed, I meandered slowly through the red light district ,taking a lingering ,lustful last look at the ladies. They were so pretty.
As I was passing one stationed by a lamppost ,just like Lili Marlene , she whispered “Make love to Me Johnny” like a lamb to the slaughter ,my hormones had me nodding yes and I followed in her wake back to her rooms.
I was out of my kit in a blink and she was half way through undressing when she mentioned money. “Money ? I haven’t got any money.” Said I .She pointed to the Woolworths bag which held Lampys Brylcreem and Laces. “I take” she said ,and disappeared into a backroom . I heard a muffled conversation and then she returned and got down beside me.
Lampy did’nt half give me a clout when I got back!! But I heard he laughed about it later.
We got back to Birkenhead on the 21st of February, I wanted to get out East again,to Japan and Hong Kong, but I had ten days leave to get through first.

brian daley
08-02-2008, 04:30 PM
The Antenor

The ten days leave passed speedily by and I was soon boarding the good ship Antenor in the docks at Birkenhead ; she was pretty much like my first ship the Eumaeus,she was launched in 1957,for years after the Eumaeus and had those extra touches of modernity. I did'nt realise it at the time,but I was sailing on a ship that represented the peak of British shipbuilding. Only the ships of the Ben line came near to the perfection of strength and symettery of the Blue Funnel liners.
This was going to be another voyage to the Far East,calling in to the continent on the way to pick up cargoes from Holland ,Belgium and France. I was getting to know those European ports as well as I knew Liverpool.
The crew was a good mix ,we had two deck boys ,both from the same village in Southern Ireland , a place called Termafechin, and a place that I had a family connection, my mums mother had a cousin who lived there. Joe and Pat were the deck boys, cousins , they were as different as chalk and cheese. Joe was a well set dark haired youth ,about my size, skinny, and Pat was a six footer and about 19 stone.
Joe was quick witted and Pat somewhat slower, but a nice pair of guys.
The Jos's were me and Smiffy ,yes that same Smiffy of the Anchises,the one who I had vowed never to sail with again, he was my cabinmate too! Ray Mansell made up the trio.
The Sos's were Georgie Dodd and Brian(Gabby) Davis, the AB's and EDH's,were Tommy Austin and his mate Jimmy, Joey Snelgrove ,Johnno from North Wales.
There was Billy Trippier and a poor guy whose names eludes me but whose feet are imprinted firmly in my memory, he had the worst case of foot rot that I have ever seen and perhaps would like to remain nameless , There were others ,but the sands of time have scoured them from my memory..
The bosun was named Joe and I think his surname was B*s**ard ,but that could be just my memory of him ,a wiry little man ,always wore a trilby and had a nose like Mr Punch and a mouth like a hatchet slash ,never smiled and was'nt really a good seaman as events would prove during the course of the voyage.
The Captain was an Anglo African, Mr McDavid ,ultra smart and very punctilious.
His chief officer was seemed to have stepped out of one of those wartime British movies ,behaved like Noel Coward and dressed similarly.A fop, but a good man.
The chief cook was a man called Paul ,he looked like a French chef and cooked like an angel ,his second cook was the one off the Machaon and we had a baker who had served his time on the Cunard liners ,our stomachs were in for journey of gastronomic delights. The stewards were a great crowd, Alan off the Machaon was there as was the senior steward Phil, a real character who reminded me of Sergeant Bilko.
We had a supernumerary aboard, a chief steward who was travelling to Singapore where he was to join a ship on the MANS run ,a fabled voyage that took you away for over a year and to places like the Far East , New Zealand ,Australia, the West coast of America, through the Panama and up the East Coast of the U,S and many ,many more places. He was a really interesting person ,he was openly homosexual, honest and very ,very funny. A bit like Ned Sherrin ,he had a vast collection of films and slides and would put on shows for us in the recreation room . He was a motor cyclist and had travelled all over Europe on his machine and had captured his journeys on cine film, this was years before continental travel had become available for the masses and his shots of the mountain passes in Switzerland and Italy were breathtaking.
He used to slip in gay movies amongst the travelogues and the lads laughed uproariously at them ,there was no outright porn, just allusions and comical ones at that. I'm sure that Annie Proulx must have based her short story "Brokeback Mountain" on one of those little gay westerns.

This then was the main crew who would make or break this voyage ,most of them were regular Bluey men and had done the trip many times,the deck boys were first trippers and I had yet to get to Japan.
Smiffy was a bit of an enigma. The bosun did'nt like him at all and the deck crowd were very wary of him ,but he was my cabin mate and I began to feel very protective of him. He was'nt a sailor ,definitely middle class but with not a penny to his name, little and by degree ,as the voyage progressed Smiffy began to reveal his story to me.
Meantime we had a ship to spruce up and Captain McDavids ideas of fighting the old enemy ,rust, were quite unique . He would never allow the use of a chipping hammer and was overly cautious on the use of scrapers too. He mustered all the deck labourers on the midships hatch and expounded his method of work. You had to use a sharpened scraper to strip off the old layers of paint ,making sure that the surface of steel was never abraded ,a gentle shoving on the scraper was all that he wanted and he demonstrated how it was done. He had had this ship from new and it was rust free. No sound of hammering ever disturbed the air aboard her, every trip she was scraped to her, still pristine, steelwork which was then steel brushed and coated with boiled oil. This seeped into the little pits on the surface and sealed the "skin". Red lead paint was then applied ,then an undercoat and, finally , a top coat. That ship looked nigh on perfect when she was done.

Fire drill and life boat drill were carried out to the book and the captain made sure that we were expert in what we were doing. No warning was given as to when lifeboat drill was taking place ,it could be anytime during the working day and on any day. Every other ship I was on it took place on a Friday and at the same time each week.
Captain McDavid engendered a spirit of competition in the exercise , two crews were set up and we had to see who could get a boat in the water first. From the sounding of the alarm to letting go the falls , we got it down to 2 minutes. And you could be any where when that whistle sounded ,up a mast or down the hatch ,it did'nt matter ,if you were late on your station your mates would let you know about it.
I used to love the evenings on number 4 hatch ,the one that separated the deck crowds accommodation from the centre castle. Yarns would be spun as we sipped our Tennants , the stewards would come and join us and the evenings ,while being fun ,never disturbed the watch below (those men who were asleep and would be doing the night watches). Smiffy would never sit out on the hatch ,the lads thought him odd and were always pumping me for info about him ,I did'nt have any to give ,Smiffy was very shy.
As we sailed down the Red Sea Smiffy started to tell me his story, he had joined the Merchant Navy with but one aim in mind ,to see his father ,a man who he had last seen nearly 9 years ago, and when you're, seventeen that is a long ,long time .
I learned this story over the time it took to sail from Egypt to Singapore , and I found it very hard to believe at first for it was as different a tale from any that I had heard before.
Smiffy was born in China ,where his father was a Taipan, a businessman, and a successful business man at that. They had a chemical factory in Tsientsin, before Smiffy was born they had to leave it because the Japanese occupied that part of China.
They moved back at the end of the war and Smiffy had an Amah (nanny) from whom he learned to speak Cantonese ,he could also speak Mandarin and told me many stories of the time he lived there. The communists forced them to leave mainland China in 1949 and his family then settled down in Hong Kong and rebuilt the business there.
Sadly for Smiffy ,his parents split up and his mother took him ,and his sibling to England ,where she took a job in nursing. She struggled to bring up her children but she managed to get them a very good education and Smiffy was proof of that. He was cultured in a way that I would never be ,proficient in Latin and elegant of speech ,he had all the makings of an English gentleman, all that is, except money. He was as poor as a churchmouse. I could never tell any of the lads his story ,who would have believed it ?
He was eccentric too, I was laid up for a bit with something or other ,as I lay abed ,I heard Smiffy come into the cabin ,my bunk curtains were closed .and I could hear him giggling ,prolongedly, I peeked through the curtains to see what he was doing. He standing in front of the mirror eating a tabnab (cake) ,as he munched it he looked at himself and broke into giggles. "What the heck are you doing Smiff ?" I asked.
" I'm just looking at how ridiculous I look when I'm eating ;I never realised I looked so silly" he replied as he carried on eating. I was learning something new about him everyday.

Our first unloading point was Port Swettenham, we were moored to buoys as on the Machaon and we used the motor lifeboat to ferry the crew ashore, the midshipmen were in charge of the boat and it needed a bit of skill navigating that fast flowing river. Smiffy and I did a couple of trips ,acting as linesmen ,tying up and letting go.
Somehow ,and I cannot remember the circumstances, we two were left in charge of it for one trip. I still blush when I think of it ; we had to pick some of the crew up from ashore and I was on the tiller and Smiffy was amidships in charge of the engine. The tide was on the flood and we were fairly zipping along .When we were about 200 yards from the quay I called to Smiffy to stop engines," Don't be silly Andy,we're miles away yet" he said as we almost surfed toward the dock wall. "Just f*ck**g stop engines !" I yelled. He shook his head ,almost in exasperation,"We're miles off"he answered. "Full astern!! Full af**ck**g stern !!" I screamed. He smiled at me as though I was a half wit. The quay was looming large ahead of us.............I unshipped the tiller and beat him across the shoulders . "Full ast......."CRUNCH !!!!! The lifeboat collided with a barge ,sideways on, and the flood tide was pushing us under it. Some Malayan dockers could see our plight and jumped aboard and helped push us off the barge and , taking our lines made us fast to a bollard and helped get us tied up properly. The boat was in a terrible state, the starboard side was almost straight from stem to stern, what the hell was I going to do? Smiffy just kept apologising," I did'nt realise.....etc.etc." There was only one thing to do, all my training had prepared me for this moment..We took the boat back to the ship ,empty of course ,moored her alongside and then just forgot about it. IT WORKED!!
Questions were asked of everyone excepting the two Jossers, the Captain was furious ,but not furious enough to suspect we two.
We adopted very low profiles for a day or three.
Singapore was next and we would be going to Hong Kong after that, my cabinmate was getting more excited by the day, it would'nt be long before he was back with his Dad. Question was ,would his Dad be glad to see him?

Me at Smoko on the Antenor

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brian daley
08-03-2008, 10:56 AM
Since writing those last words some memory cells have popped open and brought to mind a member of the crew who loomed large in my life at Tiber Street Junior School and was now part of it again on the Antenor. I shall not give him his full name,not for anything that he should be ashamed of ,but for the shameful thing that was done to him. For the sake of this piece I will call him Eddy. When we were at Tiber street I was envious of Eddy,he was bigger than me, active in all the sports teams and a favourite of the teachers. We were prefects together but he was more suited to the position than I was, he had an overbearing character, I was a wimp.
So there we were, eight years later,he was now a full grown young man, handsome, muscular and senior to me. But his nature had changed dramatically...............he was nice! He never joined in the usual banter ,never bullied the junior ratings ,was always attentive to the other speaker when in conversation . He remembered me too , and never once told a story against me. When all the younger ratings went ashore ,Eddy would remain aboard writing letters home. The poor guy was in love, and the girl he loved was picture perfect, her face adorned the space around his mirror and was stuck on the bulkhead by his pillow. At every mail call there would be thick envelopes for Eddy, with the usual SWALKS and other acronyms written on the back. He was saving to get married and he never spent a penny on himself having fun,he was happy and contented as any man could be.
There was a record in the hit parade at that time called Running Bear, that was their song and Eddy hummed it all day long. He was a rarity ,a young man going to the wildest flesh pots on earth and remaining above it all. Would that I had the motivation to act the same way, I was a slave to carnality...........and loved being one too!!

Another member of the crew I failed to mention was Braddock, she was the Bosuns only love, the care and attention her lavished on her was awesome, if he found any of us whispering endearments to her ,or giving her titbits ,he was not best pleased. She was a bit of a Wh*r* though. At every port she was the first one down the gangway, and she never returned until minutes before sailing; how she knew that the time was right I never found out ,but just as the gangway was being made ready for taking aboard ,Braddock would rush past the crew ,looking dissolute after an orgiastic sojourn ashore. She had a voracious sexual appetite and was always up for it. Some of the lads would tickle her butt with a rope end and she would present herself ,ready for a feast of priapic splendour, as you pulled the rope end away from her she would whine and back on to it ,almost begging for consummation. But woe betide the man caught in the act by the Bosun, Joe did not like his cat being treated as anything other than a Lady.
Joe, some called him the Screaming Skull ,but that sobriquet belonged to someone else. It suited him though, he never tried to run the A.B.'s , he left that job to the Lampy, but he treated the deckboys and junior ratings very shabbily ,everyone was,"You",never a name,or nickname ,surname at best,but nearly always "You" He was as incompetent on deck as he was with his communication skills. One day we were all up the masts and Samson posts giving them a fresh coat of paint, Joe had the the two deck boys with him and they were painting the derricks,which were resting in their fastenings, to paint the parts that were resting on the fastenings and that hidden on the places where they crossed over other derricks, Joe had them raised a few feet to allow the painting to be done. This was not an easy job and should have had more than an old man and two boys to do it..They succeeded in raising the derricks and Joe put the peggies to work painting the hidden parts. Georgie Dodd who was working on the Samson post above them noticed the Big Pat was slowly being crushed by the derrick he was working under, you could hear the strangulated cries all around the ship. Luckily for the lad , Billy Trippier and others were quickly on the scene and the derrick was raised clear to allow Pat to escape without further injury to the bruising that he had suffered. Joe............he would nearly kill some one with paint.

We arrived in Singapore with gleaming paintwork and bulging pockets, Anson road awaited our pleasure and those of us who were young and unattached made our way to the fleshpots.
It was the rainy season now ,the skies would blacken and the heavens would open ,pouring down rain in Biblical proportions. It helped to cool things down though, the humidity was stifling at times, you needed to shower at least three times a day . One evening I was caught in one such deluge and was soaked to the skin, literally. I went into a clothes shop opposite Toby's Paradise and bought a complete new outfit ,the shopkeeper loaned me a towel and I stripped off ,dried off and put on the new outfit.
With the damp clothes parcelled up I stood under the arches waiting for the rain to stop so that I could cross over to Toby's ,I wanted to get amongst the girls.
Just a few steps away from stood a young woman, she was a Malay and she had the most beautifully aromatic scent about her, musky and sensual, I turned to take a closer look at her and was astounded by her beauty, her skin was so dark it glistened in the burgeoning moonlight. Her hair ,black and lustrous ,sprinkled with a gossamer of raindrops, added to her enchantment. She was dressed western style,with a black lace wrap about her shoulders,this was no dockside floozy. I had to speak to her. " Does it always rain this heavy?" I asked, she turned to me ,the whites of her eyes and teeth in sharp relief against her velvet dark skin "Yes" she smiled " This is the Monsoon season" "Are you going somewhere special ?" I queried. "I'm on my way home" she answered "And you?" I told her that I was about to go dancing and she laughed and said that that was what all the sailorboys said. I asked her if she would like a drink and she looked at me ,sizing me up,I could see that she was wearing an engagement ring and was about to apologise and walk away ,when to my surprise she said yes,she would like a drink.
We did'nt go to Toby's ,instead she took me to a quiet little bar where she had a tonic water while I sipped on a beer. She asked me about England and the ship I was on, did I have girlfriend etc.etc. I pointed to her ring and she told me about her love. He was Dutchman called Jim,he had been working on the building of the new harbour and was a sailor like me ,he had worked there for 3 years but his contract was finished and he had to go back to Holland. They loved each other very much and were going to be married,she would join him in Rotterdam sometime in the future. They corresponded with tape messages,he did'nt write good English and she could'nt write good Dutch but they could communicate very easily via the tape. The rain eased off and we bade each other goodbye, her heart was with a lucky Dutchman ,my lusts were elsewhere.

The second cook on the Antenor had bought a Greenheart fishing rod when we were on the Machaon;everytime we were tied up somewhere he would jam it through the railings outside the galley ,bait the hook and hope that he might catch a fish . He had put that rod out so many times now and had never had so much as a tiddler. And here we were,tied up against the quayside in Singapore ,day two of our stay, when the fishing rod started to twitch. The rattle of the rod against the railing soon brought the 2nd running. The rod was now bowed in a perfect arc and looked fit to break such was the strain on it. What the hell had he caught? Pretty soon the news spread throught the ship "Cookie had caught a big one!" Crew men and dockers lined the rail to see what was on the other end of the line. A Shark, a bloody great shark!!! All worked ceased as we watched the shark thrash and turn,the cook was almost exhausted by the strain of holding on to the line "Why did'nt it break?" It was only a Greenheart not a shark fishing rod.! Advice was hurled at the cook from all quarters ,the officers became interested and ,pretty soon ,so did the Captain. The fishermen amongst us took spells at holding the rod ,it was best to play her ,don't try to haul her in ,fish with a silken thread,all the old adages about fishing filled the air as the hours passed by. Captain McDavid ordered a barge to be brought around to the galley side. The lads could get down closer to the catch, slowly and by degrees the shark got tireder and did'nt thrash about so much, the line was slowly reeled in and the thrashing became weaker and weaker. Joey Snelgrove got a boat hook to try and gaff it. As soon as the shark was close enough he shoved it down the sharks mouth and pulled.......only to bring up a load of intestines! Still the shark fought on , the light began to fade and this made the lads more determined to land this beast. Joey had nigh hollowed the thing out with his gaffing .As the moon rose in the sky ,the shark ceased its struggling and a cargo hook was lowered to helped lift it aboard. The prize was taken to the fridge to be kept there until morning.
As soon as the sun was up next day the shark was brought out and hung from a cargo hook whilst nearly every member of the team who had helped to catch it had their photograph taken ,singly, standing there ,rod in hand ,to show the folks at home how they had caught a shark single handedly.
Photo session over, the shark was dumped over the side and work was recommenced as normal. About two hours later ,a large Mercedes drew up alongside the gangway and a Chinese gentlemen came aboard. He had heard about the shark and wanted to buy it,he was willing to pay good money.....did that poor cook ever feel gutted? Almost as badly as the shark!!

naked lilac
08-04-2008, 07:06 AM
Brian.. You write so well..I really enjoy reading your journals.

Ya looked like a right good sailor on the Antenor.. :handclap: Those were the days!!

Keep the writings coming.. Aloha

brian daley
08-05-2008, 09:05 PM
Hong Kong

Singapore slowly sank beneath the horizon as we steamed our way to our next destination, a port so fabled amongst sailors that there was a general air of excitement through the ship. In those days the must see ports were Kobe ,Yokohama, Osaka, all in Japan, and then Hong Kong ,followed by Singapore. I had been excited by the latter and was thus looking forward to getting to Hong Kong, or more properly speaking ,Kowloon, we would not be tying up on the island but on the mainland.
If the crew were in a state of excitement , Smiffy could be said to be in a state of hysteria. He was just days away from finding the father whom he had been missing for so long. As we lay in our bunks ,he would talk endlessly of the things he had done ,the schools he had attended ,the respect in which his father had been held by the locals .It was a whole different world from the one I had lived in I let him spin his tales for they gave me a peek at a world fast disappearing.
Joe ,the bosun had a down on Smiffy,he gave him all the mucky jobs, and between Singapore and Hong Kong he gave him the worst. Stockholm tarring the mast stays.
One of the special qualities of Stockholm Tar is that it is hard wearing ,it has to protect the steel cables against the corrosive actions of salt water ,it is thinner than paint and seeps into every pore. You cannot wear gloves when you are coming down a forestay in a bosuns chair ,you need to feel the cables ,you have to execute a manoeuvre when passing the block for the anchor light halyard that requires skill and bare hands. So gloves are a no no ,and your hands remain resistant to all the turpentine and other cleaners. Nails, and skin look filthy black and not at all like a young gentlemans should look like. And , as we arrived in Hong Kong Harbour ,that was just how Smiffy's mitts looked ; to add insult to injury, he had spent the morning greasing the cargo blocks before we were sent to docking stations and looked in a right old state.
But that harbour.............................nothing had prepared me for the majestic splendour of it, the towering heights of the island itself, and the buildings that lined its waterfront ,fingers of glass and concrete reaching for the sky. The sampans and junks scurrying amidst the great white ocean liners that were disgorging tourists into pristine white launches as they set out to sample the delights of this enchanted place.
Kowloon rose before us , the wharfs crowded with Blueys and Ben Boats, Straits Liners, the P.& O liners and the black funnelled ships of Buttersfield and Swire.
There was a busyness here that I had never experienced before ,all manner of vessels on the move like an expertly choreographed display ,ferry boats danced a gavotte with sampans and tugs and stately liners minuetted with old steamers and all the while the whistles and horns of the myriad craft provided the musical background of the port.
We slowly warped the Antenor into her berth, I was on gangway duty, swinging it out and lowering it to the quay ,we had to erect the rails and put in the ropework ,last of all put our name sign at the bottom of the rails and then make her fast.
As I was putting the finishing touches to this task I noticed a silver coloured Rolls Royce parked just across the quay from us,a very smart chauffer stood at attention by its near side, peaked cap ,double buttoned tunic ,jodhpurs and highly polished boots, he could have been a driver for a crowned head or statesman. As soon as the name board was up, he opened the passenger door and a tall man emerged ,he reminded me of the Duke of Edinburgh. Wearing a pearl grey suit and silk shirt and matching tie he looked so elegant; he strode toward me and asked "Is Brian Munro Smith aboard this ship?" Speechless, I just nodded an affirmative. He stood smiling ,the next question unasked ,I ran off to get Smiffy while his father ascended the gangway .I found Smiffy on the foredeck reeling in the oily backspring , oil stained and covered in tar ,he listened while I told him his Dad was here. He fled toward the gangway and his father ,not caring about the state of him, clasped him to his breast whilst Smiffy let go a dam that had been building all those lost years, I looked away, overcome by the emotion of that scene. Mr Smith took his son by the hand and went up to the Captains quarters ,when they came down Smiffy said that his Dad had got him off duty for the whole time we would be in Hong Kong. They did'nt waste anytime ,his father whisked him away as he was, covered in oil and muck. This could'nt have been more than twenty minutes after we had docked and the lads lined the railings ,staring in disbelief as the Rolls Royce sped away along the quay.
I had very mixed feelings at that particular time , envy and excitement: how could he have a Dad so rich ? and what action was there going to be ashore tonight?
We had docked just after breakfast and at afternoon smoko I was sitting on number 4 hatch sucking on a Pall Mall when this image appeared before my eyes , a young fair haired man ,with a beautifully tonsured head ,wearing a sea Island cotton sports shirt ,sharkskin trousers and pair of loafers that would have cost me a months wages, his carefully manicured hands were fiddling with a gold braceleted watch and he was saying something to me. I was tongue tied , this was Smiffy!!? His Dad had spent the morning getting him the very best of Hong Kongs attentions,manicured,tonsured ,massaged and scrubbed ,all the while being measured for the outfits that would become the son of one of Hong Kongs Taipans.
But Smiffy was still that wonderfully shy person he had always been. "Daddy wants me to have a party for the crew tonight Andy" he said ,my ears cropped open "Great ,smashing" was all I could think of to say. "He would like you all to come to the Peninsular Hotel at about eight o'clock tonight,is that alright ?" The rest of the lads had gathered around by this time and we all said "yes we'd be there." Smiffy smiled shyly and went back to his Dad. The atmosphere in the alleyway was incredible,a millionaire was inviting all the deck crowd to a party at the Peninsular Hotel; The very best hotel in the whole eastern world. We'd better make sure that we had our best dungarees on ,no scruffs were allowed in there!!..

brian daley
08-12-2008, 10:09 PM
Peninsular Hotel

Thus it was in a great state of excitement that the crewmen of the Antenor made their way to the portals of the greatest hotel in the orient. In sparkling white T shirts, bright tartan shirts with rolled up sleeves and well scrubbed denims they strode past the doormen and maitre de who lost some of their inscrutability at the sight of us. We were guests of the Taipan Mr Smith and they had to stifle their inclination to hurl us down the steps. Flunkeys ushered us into a ballroom where Brian and his Dad awaited.
The table , a huge oval thing ,more used to having statesmen around it than a hoard of jolly jacks, was filled with cold beers and numerous bottles of spirits, I doubt that the great crystal chandelier hanging above our heads had ever illumined such a scene before. Mr Smith did not stand on ceremony , he ordered the waiters to refresh any glasses that were emptying and saw that a steady flow of ale was ferried to the table.
Tommy Austin , sitting at one end of the table ,called for order and said that we could'nt let Smiffy's Dad buy all the rounds and called for a tarpaulin muster.
A pint glass was soon chock full of Hong Kong dollars and Tommy gave it to Mr Smith who only accepted it for fear of causing us offence. I was seated by Smiffy and his Dad and they were still catching up on each others lives , it was hard not to eavesdrop as they revealed the missing bits of each others lives. Mr smith involved me in the discussion by asking what kind of seaman his son was, I could'nt tell him the truth, I said that he was a great deckmate ,and so he was. Even I blushed though when his Dad asked if he was still a virgin, Smiffy blushed enough to warm the coldest of rooms, he was a very gentle and innocent youth. His Dad chortled and winked that he would soon alter that, I was very envious of Smiffy at that moment.
The night moved into a beery haze and some of the lads skinned out to go to the fleshpots, pretty soon there were just a handful of us left and Mr Smith took his son to catch up with life. No sooner had the Smiths left than the flunkeys slung the rest of us out. Still having a pocketful of dollars ,I too left and made my way to the Red light district ,getting there was a visual adventure . The narrow streets were filled with all manner of humanity, little workshops sat cheek by jowl alongside jewellers ,tailors , pastry shops ,woodworkers, ivory carvers and every kind of huckster. Old men squatting at workbenches carving exquisite scenes of Chinese life upon ivory , young boys hammering patterns into copper pots,the click clack of Mah Jong tiles competing with the sounds of a Chinese orchestra coming from an old radio, the street cries and firecrackers weaving a pattern of sound that is ineffably Hong Kong. I reached the 5 Sisters bar ,thirsty and in need of a dance ,both needs were sated in a trice and the night soon eased into morning.
With a thick tongue and a head full of the evenings splendour , I turned to with the lads to do a spot of sailor work, the harbour is too distracting to stop looking at it for long and I spent most of the morning idly pretending to work whilst I watched the massive parade that is Hong Kong .
Smiffy came on board at lunchtime , he took me aside and told me that his Dad was organising a China Chilo for him and asked him to bring 2 friends. A China Chilo was some kind of feast and I was all for that , problem was that Smiffy's shyness had prevented him from making any close friends aboard the Antenor, I was the nearest thing he had for a mate ,so he asked me to pick someone and bring him along . We were to meet in the bar at the Peninsular at 7 that evening and then we would go on to a restaurant were a room was booked for the exclusive use of our party.
There was only one guy I could ask ,he was a poser, last night he was the only one to wear a suit and tie and he had the gift of the gab. Step forward Brian "Gabby" Davies.
He was well pleased when I asked him and at seven o'clock , there were the two of us ,best suits and ties on ,sitting in the lounge bar of the Peninsular waiting for the Smiths. Gabby's use of a suit the previous evening was bearing fruit as we sat there, some JAL hostesses waved to him ,he had sat at the bar when the rest of us had been slung out and chatted them up. Some Australian Navy officers said hello, they had been subjected to Gabbys bonhomie last night too. Some Pan American pilots called out to him and pretty soon our party of two was now ten in number. The drinks flowed freely and a middle aged American lady came over to us , she had seen us there last night and thought we were so nice, she looked like a million dollars ,but was worth ten times that. We were now eleven in number and Smiffy was late. They turned up at 8 and Mr Smith, eyeing the party , immediately invited them all to the China Chilo. As we sat finishing our drinks in readiness for the off ,one of Mr Smiths business colleagues turned up and had a drink with us ;he had known Smiffy in his China years and wanted to join the party but he had promised his wife that he would be having dinner with her that night. Of a sudden, he slapped me on the shoulder and asked me to go with him so that his wife could see that he was not fibbing about the party,"She'll believe you"? he said as we made our way out to his chauffer driven limousine . We drove out through Kowloon and up into the hills where the houses became mansions, this was Taipan territory. As we cruised along his drive he warned me that his wife had a bit of a temper, "Keep close beside me ,she won't shout at you".
A servant opened the door and a torrent of Chinese abuse was hurled down the grand stairway ,followed by a beautiful ,but angry Chinese lady. His wife. The shouting stopped when she saw me and she flashed a welcoming smile. Tex, that was he, quickly explained about the party and she went up to change, she was'nt going to miss this.
Minutes later she reappeared looking gorgeous in a silk cheongsam,slit to the thigh and an orchid in her coiled black locks. As I sat beside her in the limousine I realised that this was a totally different world from one that I would ever live in.
The Chilo was fabulous ,all manner of exotic dishes were served ,and I had Tex's wife beside me to show how they were eaten . We sat for hours as dish after dish was put before us ,rice wine flowed liberally and the conversation was fascinating, rich businessmen and sailors ,petite Japanese hostesses and Australian naval officers, Yankee Airline pilots and us, plus Mrs B. the lonely multi millionaires wife(Her husband was back home in Texas sucking black gold out of the ground)
The dining over ,we were taken out to open topped cars and driven to a nightclub, I sat in the Smith mobile with Mrs B beside me, it's amazing how beautiful money makes a woman, I was becoming attracted to her ,perfectly coiffed and painted ,clothes by the best French designers ,and a body that was testimonial to the corsetieres art ,she was a fanciable lady ,plus her musky perfume would drive any male wild. As we drove we sang the theme song from the Wizard of Oz, it had been a film that the Smiths had enjoyed together in pre revolutionary China and the song seemed to capture the tone of the evening for we were off to see a wizard ,one called Al Koran, who was an international magician and a star of T.V. in the days of black and white T.V .
The nightclub had been primed of our visit and all the entertainers made a fuss of our party ,with the greatest attention being made to Smiffy.
When the dancing started , Mrs B made clear her intentions as we waltzed ,she practically ate me as we smooched around the dance floor ,her well armoured chest pressed near through to my backbone and my groin took a bit of a bashing too.
I had been sitting next to a Brigadiers daughter who lived on the Wirrall, she was lovely and we had a few dances but there was no way that you could have a short lived affair with a girl like her ,so I set my cap at Mrs B. Sometime in the early hours ,I found the party had been reduced to Gabby ,the Japanese hostesses ,the PAA pilots and me, plus Mrs B.
We got outside and caught a big Buick taxi which took the lot of us ,there were fold down seats and we set off for the pilots hotel. Mrs B sat between Gabby and me and I began to make my first move by placing my hand beneath her skirt, only to find Gabby had got there before me! He who hesitates...........
I ended up drinking bourbon out of a plastic cup in the pilots room while Gabby took a well primed Mrs B back to her room at the Peninsular.
To say I was peed off would be an understatement ,I had done a lot of first fixing with that lady and was disappointed not to see it through.
The next day was to be our last full day there ,we would be sailing the morning after and our destination was Tsientsin ,Smiffy's old home town, now in communist China.
I never had any money left to go ashore for one last night ,it looked like I would be stuck aboard in the liveliest place in the world. Gabby could'nt go ashore either ,it was his turn to be night watchman and he was disappointed too. Just after our evening meal ,he took me to one side and showed me a roll of American dollars that Mrs B. had paid him for services rendered .He peeled off 40 dollars and asked me to go to Scabby Heads (no kidding ) shop and buy a big chest for his Mum ,he described it in detail and said that if I told Scabby Head it was for Gabby he would know which one I meant. There was a bit of change that would be left over so I could get myself a drink out of it. "That's great Gabby, I'll take Ray with me and we can carry it back between us", so saying I collected Ray and proceeded in an easterly direction to the 5 Sisters bar. We had a riotous time ,40 bucks was riches indeed and we put it to good use.. In the wee small hours of the morning I made sure that Gabby would not be disappointed, we stooped off at a bakery and I bought him a ham roll ; not quite a lacquered chest but tasty.............and yes ,he did see the funny side of it.

brian daley
08-17-2008, 05:11 PM
Red China
Darkness had fallen by the time we had left our moorings, the shore lights of Victoria and Kowloon setting the harbour ablaze with colourful reflections. We were leaving the bright lights and heading for Tsientsin, Smiffy's old home town. The pilot was still aboard and we had to negotiate the great harbour ,filled with the many busy little vessels chugging to and fro across the now choppy waters. A fast launch was coming up astern of us ,it's klaxon blaring and a searchlight focussed on our bridgedeck ,flashing on and off. The engine slowed and then stopped and we lowered the gangway to receive our important visitor. Who the hell could be so important to prevent our passage to China? We gathered along the railing to gain sight of the V.I.P.. As soon as the launch came alongside the gangway a spritely little Chinaman in a lounge suit ran up to the head of the gangway and ,upon sighting our name board ,muttered drunkenly "Not Demodocus ?" and fled back down to the launch. Ah, those drunken orientals ,all Blue Funnel ships look alike to them.
We had to sail north ,through the Straits of Formosa ,now called Taiwan, and the Nationalist Chinese and the Red Chinese were in a state of constant warfare. Ships that passed through the Straits had to display a clear identification of where they were from and their name. We had great wooden signs that had on our name and a huge Union Flag. These were hung amidships on the port and starboard sides so that they would be visible to both sets of Chinese. Not that either side particularly liked us, the Korean war was still a recent memory and the Yangste incident had only happened ten years previously. We would be sailing through waters that were filled with a clear and present danger. Quemoy was the main target, this little island was subject to constant bombardment and we had to pass it . The signs hanging over the side were floodlit to ensure that our ID was visible at every hour of the day.
The balmy weather of southern China soon changed into a cold and rainy clime ,grey skies and grey seas, it was time for sou'westers and oilskins. I saw my first waterspouts as we sailed north , quite a bizarre sight ,there were dozens of them spread from horizon to horizon. In the grey light they too were grey, spinning towers of water that reached from the heaven to the stormy seas ,one of the wonders of the deep.
Our Chinese crew ,who had been very western in their attire and attitude ,started to wear the apparel that we were accustomed to seeing the Reds wearing , pictures of Chiang Kai Chek were being replaced on the cabin walls with those of Mao Tse Tung. We too were told to remove any nude pinups and to keep cameras out of sight and any binoculars were to be locked away in the Mates cabin. We were going to experience the delights of Red Chinese democracy. We anchored off Tsientsin on the morning of Good Friday, we could'nt go in because we were told that it was a holiday. Smiffy reckoned that they were being sarcastic and were taking a rise out of us by saying that it was a Peoples holiday ,showing their contempt for our effete Christian culture. Whatever, we were going to be stuck out side the harbour until Saturday morning. We had a big job to do anyway; the Antenor was carrying an enormous drill head ,reputedly the largest one yet made , and we had to get the Jumbo derrick ready, this was a very heavy lifting derrick ,capable of lifting 150 ton and that is why we were chosen to carry the drill head..
We spent the best part of the morning "breaking" it out and getting it guyed up. Just after we had turned to after lunch a young "middy" came tearing up the foredeck, his eye wide with panic and fear, mouth open in a silent scream. Lampy grabbed hold of him and tried to ask him what the matter was. The boy just gibbered and pointed aft, "N, number 5,n,number 5 " was all he could say. Lampy dashed off aft to number 5 hatch ,quickly followed by the rest of us. There we found another "middy" standing by the hatch ,a look of horror on his face. Looking over the coamings we saw the 2nd mate laying at the bottom of the empty hatch ,body like that of a broken marionette. The "middy" told us that the 2nd had slipped off the top rung of the ladder and had hit the propeller shaft housing before smashing to the lower deck.
A hatch board was lowered and the doctor and two deckhands went down with it to bring the poor man up. I never saw such care and tenderness displayed as I witnessed that day. Billy and Johnno gently lifted him to the board and the doctor set to work in assessing his wounds. He was taken to the bosuns mess and laid upon the table, barely alive ,his body being a broken mess. Signals were hoisted and radio messages despatched but the shore authorities insisted that nothing could be done until the holiday was over. That was still many hours away. The mood in our messroom at dinner was pretty murderous ,just next door a poor mans life was ebbing away because he needed the skills of a surgeon . I went into to see him when I had finished my meal, he was just about conscious, face bloated with bruising ,he managed a little smile and I felt a burning in my eyes, we were helpless and there ,not more than a mile away was a city with a hospital and doctors. I grinned weakly and muttered something encouraging.
We were roused from our bunks at midnight ,the Peoples holiday was over and they were graciously allowing us to enter port immediately for humanitarian purposes. We were alongside and moored up before the clock struck one, an old American army ambulance stood on the quay, the back doors open and a couple of squat faced attendants standing ready to take our 2nd to hospital. After Hong Kong and Singapore ,this place looked like hell.

We awoke to the sound of martial music being played over loudspeakers ,the tune was ,I later found out ,"The East is Red". A very heavy piece, sounding like something by Mussorgsky rather than a Chinaman. We were to hear this music night and day during the length of our stay, and there was no escaping it ,there were loud speakers everywhere. We had to parade on the prom deck as soon as we were up, the PLA were there to inspect us ,and our cabins too.
Inspection over ,we had to attend to the job we were there for, get the drill head ashore.
A railway wagon stood on the quay awaiting its cargo ,cameramen were stationed to film the proceedings, this would be on their newsreels. Everyone ashore was dressed in kapok lined jackets and wore trousers to match, atop every head was the familiar Mao peaked cloth cap. Although the style of dress was universal the cloth it was made of differed with the rank of the wearer. The dockers wore cloth of the lowest quality ,checkers and tallymen wore something a little better ,policemen and and PLA men wore better still ,later that day we would see what the party bosses wore.

The drill head emerged fro the hatch like some monster rising from the deep,it was huge and you could hear the steel cables straining at its weight, slowly it rose until it was clear of the sides and then it was guyed out over the quay and then lowered into the cradle awaiting it on the railcar. Massive applause broke out from the assembled throng that viewed the spectacle ashore..
As the railcar pulled away an enormous parade took place,this was headed by a current model open topped Cadillac Eldorado, green and fawn two tone ,and seated atop the back seat like some presidential hopeful in a ticker tape parade ,was the local cadre dressed in the same style as his workers but in a suit of the finest cashmere. George Orwell saw it all many years before,wrote a book called Animal Farm and we were now in it.
The things that remain vivid in my mind are the lack of colour and the dinginess. There was an air of desolation and trampled hopes, no one was starving and everyone was clothed and shod, but you only saw the blue of their clothing ,the Brown of the PLA (Peoples Liberation Army) and the grey of the buildings, there were violent splashes of red ,these were the propaganda posters decrying the American Imperialists and their running dog lackeys ,us !
All the radio stations were jammed so the only music we heard was that mournful dirge The East is Red. We were glad to shake the dust of that place off our heels as we sailed for the Phillipines

Whilst on passage to Manila ,we were painting the deckhead on the promenade deck and I was standing athwart the taffrail to reach up with my brush when I slipped and landed heavily on that broad wooden rail. My coccyx took the full force of the impact and within a couple of days I developed a lump the size of a tennis ball there. The doctor said it was a combination of heavy bruising and the growth of a sebaceous cyst. Whatever it was, it was bloody painful and prevented me from working . The Bosun was none too happy because he could'nt find any light work for me to do. I was'nt too happy either because when we got to Manila I could'nt go ashore ,and this was reputed to be better than Singapore ,almost like the wild west the lads said ,and Silver City was supposed to be the wildest place this side of Panama. And all I could do was look from the taffrail. A doctor came aboard and made a prognosis about my predicament; it would require an operation but they could'nt do it because the hospital was not air conditioned and the perspiration would cause infection. I would have to wait until we were back up north. In the meantime the Bosun and me would have to live with it. We were in Manila for a couple of days and from what I heard ,from the local radio ,this was little America,all the DJ's had American accents and they played a lot of Elvis and other Rock greats. One of the lads brought some Manila rum aboard and gave me a few glasses of it ,by the third glass I was up and bopping to the King,
And as I was giving it large with the legs I noticed the doctor looking through the porthole. The bosun turned me to with a vengeance next morning,but it was pretty soon apparent that he would have to feed me some Manila Rum if I was going to be of any use.
Joe and me started to fall out with each other,it was a mutual dislike ,he thought I was malingering and I thought he was an incompetent tosser. But he was the boss.
When we got to Masinlok ,a beautiful little place of gleaming white sand, turquoise sea and swaying palms he made me get up and work while we docked. It was obvious I was incapable of doing any physical work and the gang I was working with let me be winchman. It was a Sunday and so would be overtime ,but I was'nt interested in that fact at that moment, all I wanted to do was keep alert and not make any foul ups,the pain was blinding and I was having a job to hold on. Billy saw the pain I was in and as soon as he could ,he let me go back to my cabin. That was another port I missed . We went up to Borneo after Masinlok,we were going to load the hardwoods of Sarawak. The lump started to shrink and I was able to work freely and without pain. The river Reyjang was where we were bound and our wharfingers were going to be Dayaks,famed for beheading their enemies and keeping their skulls in their long huts. They lived on a floating dormitory, a three decker with louvred wooden windows. They were skilled at their job and put those giant logs in places that you would have thought impossible. The Reyjang had a great rise and fall and was fast flowing,we moored out in the river and never got ashore,but what we could see from the ship was right out of Conrad, the dense jungle and the sounds of the wild creatures that dwelt within that green mass. The fishermen in their long prowed craft casting nets and the smoke rising above the trees gave the place a timeless air. Soon we were loaded and on our way back down the river ,as we were navigating the waterway we heard the sound of muffled thumping at number 6 hatch, as we got nearer we could hear a voice wailing ,plaintively. Opening the hatch we found a Dayak,all hot and sweaty,he must have had a catnap and missed all the palaver that accompanies the battening down and squaring away. A passing fisherman was hailed and our little Dayak docker was taken away by him.
Belawan next stop and then Singapore,we were on the homeward stretch,I never heard any more about the 2nd mate,all I knew was that he lived.

brian daley
08-24-2008, 07:19 PM
Goodbye and Farewell?.

There was a curfew in force when we got Belawan, Sukharno was facing some military uprising and foreigners were not welcome. We were only going to be here a couple of days so we were not too worried. The wharves were nearly empty, the only other vessel alongside was a Norwegian ,which was tied up astern of us. On the first night ,I made the mistake of going ashore by myself ,the police on the gate subjected me to a full body search before they would let me through the gate ,they also made it quite clear that they wanted my the shirt off my back quite literally .I had bought it in Singapore when we were outward bound ,it was a lightweight white cotton with a gold thread woven in a window pane pattern ,very nice ,but the wrong thing to wear here. They fingered the material and made gestures for me to take it off, threatening me with their guns. Luckily some of the Norwegians came along and took me with them. The looks those policemen gave me as we left for the bars let me know that it was a matter that had not been concluded.
The curfew was due to start at 10 ?00p.m. so I made my way back a bit earlier, I went into the next gate along so that I would not meet up with the same guys who had given me so much grief on the way ashore. When I walked through the gate I knew that they had been briefed by their oppo?s on the other gate. They started pawing the shirt, ?You give me Johnny? they were saying ,pointing their rifles and sneering, they were having a great time giving me sh*t..
I ran back to other gate and got there just as our crowd were going back through, one of the cops spotted me and pointed two fingers at me ,miming a shot. I wore an old T shirt when we went ashore the next night ,and I made sure that I was with our lads ,I passed through the gate without incident.
The dockside bar was full of Norwegians celebrating Norwegian Independence Day.
They were well in to their cups, as boisterous as Vikings and they insisted that we join them in their celebrations, we did?nt take much coaxing, pretty soon we were all a little pie eyed. At ten o?clock the bar owner put the shutters up and told us to go ,the Vikings were having none of it, and they were not going to let us go either. They roared at the barmen to bring more beer and the poor little buggers were too scared not to, they passed it out through the windows ,closing them after each refill ,and there we sat ,on the verandah singing along with the Vikings as they gave voice to some of the worst sounds (you could?nt call them songs) I have ever heard. Pretty soon those sounds of carousing reached the ears of an Indonesian soldier on curfew patrol ; he came around the corner and used his rifle to motion us toward the dock gates , a few of us started out of our seats ,the Vikings pulled us back down. They yelled at the squaddie to go away and hurled a few cans at him. He walked a few paces away and then turned ,dropping to one knee he shouldered his rifle and took aim???my bowels moved uneasily and the Vikings gave him the Finger. There was an explosion and a big chunk of plaster sprayed out of the wall behind our heads, mentally I was taking ten foot strides toward the gate ,physically ,I had a big Skowegians hand on the back of my shirt pulling me back into my seat. The soldier stood up and walked off , shouting a few epithets in Tagalog. We were just getting our teeth into the next round when a big half track full of soldiers pulled up, they piled out of the back and an officer got out of the cab. He spoke perfect English and ordered us out of the verandah ,the troops behind him aiming their rifles at us as he did so. The Vikings must have known that this would happen because they had a carry out ready and they stood up and made a line , getting us to join in, and, with cases of ale on their heads , they started a conga line back through the gates. The soldiers had a job to keep in step as we danced back through the gates ?Ay Ay Yah Yah Conga ,Ay Ay Yah Yah Conga?.? We all ended up on the Norwegian and drank ourselves into oblivion.
In the morning it was time to leave for Singapore ,we looked forward to getting back to civlisation ,clean streets ,plenty of bars and no corrupt policemen.
I did a bit more buying for the lads when we got here, I had so much swag now I had to get another suitcase to hold it all. I got a letter off my cousin Willie when we were there, I wish I had kept it because it was posted on our outward leg and had been sent to every port that we had visited and had missed us and then been forwarded on, there were eight different stamps and postmarks on it ,be a collectors item now ,but I sent the envelope back to Willie to show him how well travelled his letter was.
And we were travelling now to Ceylon to pick up some tea. Our destination was Trincomalee, I had read about this port in an American magazine, there was a sunken admiralty drydock which was ,according to the article, home to the biggest grouper in existence, so big that a man could stand in its mouth. How did they know, did a man stand in its mouth? And ,if he did ,did the grouper take advantage and have a free meal ? when you are 18 questions like that come easily to the mind. Before we left the Malayan peninsular we had occasion to see what a wealth of sea life there was about us , we had a stop in a small harbour while the engineers effected some repairs. It was a beautiful unspoiled place, no human habitation spoiled the vista ,just densely forested hills and a deep,deep harbour. The anchor was lowered , engines were stopped and all was silence save for the animal cries amidst the trees and the crash of surf upon the shore. The Chinese crowd had their fishing lines out at the first opportunity and, looking over the side ,we were amazed to see dozens of hammerhead sharks, sea snakes by the hundreds ,like lots of multi coloured ribbons ,turtles and the silvery flashes of all manner of fish. The Chinese were pulling in sea snakes with every line dropped , they were so brightly coloured it was hard to believe that they were deadly,as soon as they hit the deck they were battered with a great big fid. They all went into the pot.

When we arrived in Trincomalee harbour it was plain to see that the superlatives that had been used to describe its beauty had not been overstated, it was a huge perfectly formed basin that a whole fleet could have anchored in, the softly rounded mountain tops towered all around and the verdant hillsides were dotted with white bungalows ,gleaming in the sunshine. This had been an important British naval base and some of the installations were still to be seen, its main purpose now was a tea port, there were vast warehouses full of the soothing balm. Our Captain was not over keen on the work that the wharfies were doing and came down to the hatch and started to show them how to load the stuff, some of the older crowd, referring to his skin colour mockingly alluded to him as being good at it? ?cos he was only a coolie anyway? Good job he never heard them.
We were allowed to buy a box of tea to take home ,I never bothered, they were still working their way through the last lot I took home on the previous trip.
On our way across the Arabian sea ,Joe ,the bosun came to me to sign the month end sheet for my overtime, I looked at the sheet and saw that the Sunday I had worked at Masinlok in the Phillipines was missing .When I questioned him about it he said that I never worked then because I was off sick ,I protested and he blanked me, there was to be no overtime for me . I went to see Billy ,I had been his winchman ,he was?nt going to argue with the bosun ,young Pat also denied all knowledge. I realised that I was?nt a company man, they were and they were not going to rock the boat. I started to think about leaving Blue Flue, there were too many company men for my liking, the guys from the pool seemed to have more open minds and a greater sense of experience. This was beginning to feel like a village where everyone knew everyone elses business. Things came to head a few days later when I had knocked off work a few minutes early to get cleaned up for lunch, I was standing at a washbasin scrubbing my hands when Joe stuck his head through the porthole just above the sink. He started shouting at me ,telling me that I would be logged for sliding off early ,that horrible skull like trilby topped head ,like a tortoise in its shell was sticking through the porthole ,inches from my face. I grasped his throat in both my hands and started to strangle him ,I was yelling ?You Bast*8rd !! I knock off 2 minutes early an? yer wanna log me ,You steal a whole Sunday off me and I get shafted!!? He was going purple and started to go limp when the Lampy ran in the bathroom and pulled me off him.
I was shaking with anger when I sat down to eat, people just stared at their plates and talked in muffled tones. I was sitting in my cabin having a smoke prior to turning to for the afternoon session, Joe tapped the door ,he was holding a sheet of paper.
? I?ve found that bit of Sunday overtime, put your monicker there? I was gobsmacked, I really thought I was going to be up before the Captain, but that was the finish of it. Did?nt change my feelings though, I wanted to see what the rest of the Merchant Navy was like.
Gabby was going to have a big party when we got home ,it was his 21st and his family were pulling out all the stops ,it was just days away before we would be docking in KG5 in London and the Antenor was being given a final lick of paint so that we would be ship shape and Bristol fashion when we arrived. Painting was about the only thing Joe was good at and he could be seen at it long after everyone had knocked off, the evening before we docked in KG5 he was brushing away on the fo?csle head brightening up the windlass. The drum ends were still tacky as we nosed through the lockgates and Ray Mansel ,who was hauling in the head rope was struggling to handle it as it kept sticking on the tacky paint, the bow was veering and Ray tried to serve some slack ,but it would?nt take it and all of a sudden it whipped and hurled Ray right over the drum end ,sending him smashing face down on the steel deck. His face was badly broken and his jaw was smashed too. A terrible final curtain for what had been a fairly good voyage. It was a subdued crowd that took its payoff and headed for Euston Station, the sunny skies and thoughts of home started to ease some of the anger that we felt towards that halfwit ,lucky for him that he was not with us on the train.
And what a train journey that was, it was mid June, and it was scorching, Billy Graham was in London on his great crusade and the station was filled with home going pilgrims. Gabby, Tommy ,Johnno, Jimmy and I managed to find some seats in a compartment in which there were some Salvation Army women .Two of them were middle aged and there was a very pretty young lady of about 17 with them. The compartment was sweltering hot and Tommy and Jimmy had brought a couple of cases of beer on board, the trains bar had run out of soft drinks and these poor ladies were dehydrating. Tommy persuaded them that they would not be sinning if they sipped a little bit of Guinness, reluctantly they realised that it was a case of drink or die. Cans were opened and the ladies slaked their thirst, by the time we got to Crewe they were more than slaking their thirst ,this was a slow stopping train and they needed a lot of cooling down. After a while Gabby slopes of with the young one and gave her a good seeing to in the goods van. When we arrived in Runcorn, their home stop, they were well away and fell out of the train into the arms of their husbands and friends who were waiting to welcome them home. I see them still ,trying to stand upright ,bonnets askew ,while their menfolk look on this terrible sight ,bewildered no doubt at just what Billy Graham had done to them.
Soon we were in Lime Street , saying our goodbyes and looking forward to Gabbys party. I had a bit of a problem though, in the last letter I got from home ,Mum had written that we had a new house on the R.O.F. estate in Kirkby, she would be sending me the address in the next letter, it had?nt arrived yet. So , my first job was to find the R.O.F. estate and then find them .
It seemed strange to riding north out of the city instead of to Garston, I was going to miss Speke Road Gardens, goodbye and farewell?????????????

Flamin? June

On the way from Lime Street little details ,such as my new address,came to mind ;I knew we now lived in Old Kirkby ,in a road at the back of the Railway Pub ,near the Malayan Teacher Training college .It was on the R.O.F. estate and Dad got the house as part of his job. What mum had failed to put in her last letter to me was the house number and road! Taxi drivers appreciate information like that, homegoing sons appreciate them even more. I told the driver to drop me at the pub, it was evening opening time and I thought Dad was sure to drop in for a jar on his way home ,as was his usual custom.
The place was a bit basic ,some of the guys were already well into their cups and it was only 6.00 p.m. I ordered a pint and dropped my cases at the bar, it was?nt the kind of place that you got suntanned travellers with kitbags and cases in, the clientele was of the broken nosed kind and I could feel their eyes giving me the twice over. A crossed eyed guy ,with a nose like an old fashioned doorknocker sidled up to me ?Oo the f**k ar yew?? he enquired politely. I told him we had just moved into the neighbourhood and that I was looking for my old man. ?Wassisname?? he asked.
?Bill Daley? I replied. ?Old Billy,Yisss,I know Billy,smashin ?feller.always in ?ere ?e is? He looked round at the assembled cut throats ?Dis is Billy Daleys lad, he?ll be alright ?ere? turning to me ,he said ?Gerrus a pint ?o mixed lah,me an? yer ol? man are best o? mates? After his third pint somebody made a sound like a bell and Johnny,for that was his name, put his fists up and started sparring???????..I had just met Johnny the punch drunk wreck. The gaffer popped his head in from the snug ?Cum in ?ere lad, thats the ?ead cases bar!? The gaffer was called George Gavin and he turned out to be one of the best. He knew my Dad and he also knew that our family lived in South Park Road ,near the top end ,and he also knew that my Dad never ,ever ,drank in the ? ?ead cases bar?
I supped up ,grabbed my gear and marched down to our new house. It was a balmy June evening, the lane from the pub was alongside the railway line and to the right of the lane it was tree lined and full of flowering shrubs, halfway down the lane was a little Chinese takeaway . South Park road was unadopted and had an unpaved roadway, very rustic. The were a few bungalows and old Victorian houses at the very top and then you came upon the R.O.F estate. The houses had been built during the war and had flat roofs , they were in long terrace blocks and each had their own little front garden. It looked so neat and tidy and was so very quiet, everyone indoors ,this was so different from Garston.
It was pure accident that I knocked the right door first time, our Bette opened it and stood there gaping ,Chris came behind her and Mum called from the living room ?Who?s at the front door?? They both yelled ?Ar Brian!!?
Mum came into the hallway, eyes aglitter ,and a smile starting across her face, she was?nt big on cuddles and hugs , but I could feel the warmth of her welcome at ten paces. ? Come in Bri? I?ve got yer favourite for tea? Stuffed lambs hearts ,gravy and three veg," she knew the way to my heart !

After our evening meal I unpacked and gave my family the gifts I had brought back from Hong Kong and Singapore, there were all kinds of electronic toys and gizmos but there was the usual bottle of duty free for Dad and I shared out my cigarettes with both Mum and Dad. I still had a load of goodies left and I would take these down to Walton to give to some of my cousins. Dad cracked opened the scotch and we had a glass each and then went up to the Railway ,where he made proper introductions to the regulars in the snug.. This was Dads weekday watering hole ,Saturdays were spent down at the K.T.A., the Kirkby Tenants Association clubhouse. It was a wooden wartime structure,could have been on any military campsite , wooden walls ,with a coat of eau de nil,a rickety little stage and a wartime sound system. Dad was gaining a reputation as a vocalist there and he was backed by a piano and a drum kit, played by his workmates from the R.O.F
The ale was good and cheap ,so next night , Saturday night I went down there with Mum and Dad, they were a popular couple ,judging by their reception, by 9.00 the place was packed and there was a really friendly atmosphere, Joe Davis was M.C. and he fancied himself as a bit of a yank, like Jack Carson ,the film star. He was also the drummer and around half nine he went to the ?mike? and said ?Layeez an? Gennulmen, we are privileged to welcome back on stage Kirkbys own Bing Crosby??.lets hear it for Bill Daley.!? Dad ,looking impeccable in his black lounge suit,strolled on stage ,took the ?mike? in hand and said ? Thang yew Joe, and thank you too folks, I?m now going to do a little Crosby number??.It Happened in Monterey???.? It was?nt Vegas,but the folk there loved it.
Around about 10.30 I made my excuses and caught a cab to Liverpool, I wanted to be among the girls down in the burgeoning club scene, there were not as many as there are now but there was enough for me.. Next day, Sunday,it was off to the Grandparents and favourite aunties and Uncles, but it was going to be one of the last times I kept to the routines of my childhood, next Saturday was going to be Gabbys birthday ,his 21st, and his family were planning a giant hooley. During the week I went over to Birkenhead to see what the situation was and got to drinking over there ,and staying over there, Tommy and Jimmy were well organised ,they knew all the clubs that side of the water and we would spend hours and hours going from place to place ,it was as though we were still crew together. I did?nt realise that I was annoying my family by stopping out so much, I only went home for a bath and a change of clothes!
Come Saturday ,it was all hands to Grange Rd ; Gabby lived in a large old Victorian house, the rooms were three times the size of those at home and were just right for a big party.. There were only two of us who arrived without a girl on their arm ,me and a mate of Gabbys? from a previous voyage. He was a really smart guy ,bit of a poser, but witty with it., we sat and observed the proceedings ,him telling me who was who and me filling him in on our crew. Tommy turned up with a fabulous blonde and Jimmy was escorting one of his sisters mates ,me and Laddo just drooled with envy. By about half nine the room was packed when in came Running Bear and his fair young White Dove ,she was gorgeous. Laddo says to me ? See that bird?? pointing to Eddy?s fianc?e, ?she?s got some soft bleeder who sends her an allotment every month; she?s bought a 500 cc motorbike and she shags for England!!? I replied that he had got the wrong girl ,she and Eddy were going to be married .?Well someone better tell him,?cos my mate give ?er one a couple of weeks ago?
Now Eddy?s girl really was a looker,and it was?nt long before Tommy,he of the golden hair and bulging muscles ,he the owner of a brand new pastel coloured two tone sports coupe, went over to her and flashed his dazzling white teeth. ???.And then they were gone,. Vanished. It soon became apparent to Eddy ,and Tommys girl, that they would be going home on their own that night. Eddy departed with a look of grief on his face and Tommy?s girl came to me, to cry on my shoulder. We sat on the stairs ,she with her head nestling into my shoulder ,me with my arm around her shoulder wishing she was mine, stroking her hair as she sobbed the night away. Me wondering if I was in with a chance ,smelling her sweet scented hair and feeling her warm and tender body ,but no, I could?nt be a cad.
We got her eyes dried and one of the lads drove her home; then Mrs Davis came in to the living room , ?Holy mother of god ? she said ,?can one of you girls go out in the garden and get that girl off Jimmy? The girl Jimmy had brought to the party went out and shortly afterwards a young blackhaired girl came in and got her things and left. It did?nt take long for Laddo to find out the score, Jimmy was lying on the ground, unconscious,and the young lass had been straddling him . One of the lads went out for a pee and rushed back in , Jimmys rescuer was playing the Blue veined concerto and he was still out for the count. The night turned into a devils banquet and I passed into alcoholic oblivion. I had a nightmare that I was being crushed to death and awoke in a strange bed with some plaster cast leg across my chest. Wearily I shivered my drink shattered body towards D?olivieris caf? at Woodside for a cup of strong coffee and then got the Ferry for Liverpool. Having fun can be such hard work at times.

I contacted Jean ,my posh girlfriend ,and made a date for Friday ,money was going through my hands like water and I had to slow down a bit. So I spent a bit of time with the family; come Friday ,I had ?1 left ,just enough for a couple of drinks with Jean and my fares to and from Toxteth. At 4.00p.m. the doorknocker was rattled and there on the step stood cousin Willy ,his fianc?e and her beautiful sister. I was nonplussed ,great to see him but his timing was crap and I did?nt have enough cash to go out with them. Willy persuaded me to go up to the pub for a quick one, he was gagging to tell me something .We walked in as soon as the doors opened ,the four of us sat in the snug and Willy announced that they were going to be married ,I was chuffed, even more chuffed when the sister sat next to me and put her arm through mine. Why is it you wait ages for a bus and then two come together? I had to see Jean and here I was spending the last of my cash. Luckily they had arranged to catch the train back to Wigan and that left around 8.00 ,I had the time to see Jean ,but I only had 8 shillings.
Waving Willy and the girls off on the train ,I walked home and decided to ask Dad for a loan, he was so stingy that if he dropped a half crown it would hit him on the back of the neck as he bent to pick it up. He haggled me down from two quid to fifteen shillings ,it was?nt what I wanted but it would do.
Our date passed very pleasurably until Jean announced that if I did?nt pack the sea up ,she was going to join the WRNS. Gentle Jean ,so meek and mild become a Wren? I could?nt believe it . The weekend passed so slowly,I had enough money to get to the pool on Monday , I was leaving Blueys and going to look at what the rest of the Merchant Navy was like.

Footnote. On the next voyage I received the one and only letter that my father ever wrote me ,it said ?Dear Son, I hope that you are well and have?nt forgot that you owe me fifteen shillings,love,Dad ?Goodbye and Farewell?.

Flamin? July

I caught the 92 to the Pier Head and strolled along to Mann Island ,it had been 18 months since I had been to the Pool ,that had been when I came home from the Vindi?;
I had?nt dealt with the clerks who ran this place .Clerks, they were all dressed like officers, you never saw a uniform at the Odyssey works, even the big man Capt. ,always wore civvies. I was about to learn who was who in this place ,to my cost.
Charlie Repp, a little guy ,dressed like a Spanish admiral ,mealy mouthed ,gave me a welcome ,?What are you looking for son?? he asked with his undertakers smile. ?This is great ? I thought ,?just like Thomas Cooks? Holding out my discharge book, I looked at the board and said ?Something goin? the States ? He sighed ,?All the Yankee boats ?ave gone lad, I?ve gorra smashing little Med boat ?ere ;signing on today??..Patrician, in the Alex? Signing on today ,that would be my financial trouble put to rest. ?I?ll take it? The deal was done and I caught the bus home to get my gear, she was signing just after dinner ,so I?d be on my way by tonight and I would?nt have to borrow off Dad again.
I was shocked when I saw her for the first time ,she seemed half the size of the Blueys I?d been on ,and old fashioned too ,all steam winches. After signing on in the saloon ,I got an even bigger shock ,she was?nt sailing until next Monday, I had another week in Liverpool ,and not a penny to my name. My depression deepened when I went to find my cabin, it was down aft, in a gloomy hole, and the cabin itself was as basic as could be. Bare steel framed bunk ,with a stained mattress, pillows that had had the life slept out of them, and little caged bulb on the deckhead casting a weak glow, mercifully hiding the awfulness of that grubby little room. Well ,I had better make the most of it, there was no going back home. I had said my good byes and they thought I would be heading down the Irish Sea tonight.
My cabin mate was a kid called Macca, he was the same age as me and came from Blackburn, he had just left a Federal boat that had done a long voyage, New Zealand and the States ,been away nearly a year. He was getting ready to go ashore that night, doing the rounds ,the Yankee Bar ,Ma Egertons ,Yates?s and then find a club.
He asked if I was going and I was honest with him and told him I was brassick.
?Come on ? he said ,?I don?t know Liverpool ,and I?ve got enough for two?
Macca was a good lad ,we did?nt go wild just a few gills and a couple of schooners of Australian white and then a big bag of chips while we walked to the number 1 bus stop.
I got another surprise when we got back aboard ,the dockers were working nights and there was a steam winch directly above our cabin. When it was running ,which was all night, it sounded like a jack hammer. I had never heard a noise like it in my life ,oh for those electric winches in Blueys, they just whined. I was absolutely knackered next morning. Breakfast was good , not as exotic as I had been used to but bacon, eggs and fried bread give you a good start to the day. There was?nt much for us to do while we were alongside ,stow a few stores, splice a few lizards and the odd bit of tidying up. The shore gang did most of the graft ,but I could?nt complain, I was getting three square a day ,a place to sleep and I was on pay too! Macca subbed me to the movies one night ,and we had a pint too. I was slowly getting used to the old girl, what had at first seemed like a nightmare was ,slowly becoming a home. I managed to rustle up a book and would spend my idle hours laying on my bunk being transported by Frank Yerby to some Southern Plantation where the pale skinned beauty?s yearned for a young muscular body to thrill them ,it passed the time. I was enwrapt in one such chapter on the Friday before sailing when the cabin door burst open and this big guy ,with an even bigger mate, came in and jerked his thumb saying ?Yer out! Get yer bags ,we?re on strike!!? I was dumbfounded ?Who are you?? I demanded ?The strike committee ,now gerra ashore! There?ll be no scabbin? ?ere? Macca and I slung a few thing in our kitbags ?Leave the rest? he shouted ?this ship won?t be goin? anywhere?
I did?nt have the bus fare home so I went up to the masters cabin and saw Captain Rigby, he already knew what had happened and ,although he was unhappy ,knew that there was not much we could do about it. He loaned me a weeks pay, I had enough in the ship because I had?nt had an advance ,so I had enough to get home and to pay for some of my keep if we were out for a few days.
I was not welcomed back home with the usual alacrity, Mum was worried how long I would be out for ,Dad was moaning about how much I owed him already.
I would have to husband my resources as skilfully as I could. No one knew how long this was going to go on for.
I went down to Kingston House on the Monday, there I was signed up in to the National Seamens Reform Movement, it was a heady period ,for the first time in years ,rank and file members were demanding an end to Union corruption and for a fairer wage. Sir Tom Yates was a bosses man and had become corrupt ,he was in the pay of the bosses and forced our wages down. Boy ,I was learning new thing everyday, I did?nt even know who Tom Yates was last week. Like thousands of other young men ,all I was interested in was having a good time , all the rest was propaganda. I did learn some other things though ,I learned how quickly the press can turn people into public enemies. MacMillan was in power then and he seemed a decent man,(I was na?ve ) ,we believed he would intervene and force some changes ,it was wishful thinking. The strike seemed to drag on and each day brought stories of outrage in the press , we were holding the country to ransom ,a lot of us were army dodgers and could?nt do a proper job. .Reds , Commies, traitors. Day after day the papers ran stories portraying us as villains. The worst story that appeared turned even my Mum against us. The Daily Mirror had a columnist who I had always respected ,William Connors ,or Cassandra,he was known ?a man of the people? fearless and truthful ,always ready to fight a cause. That was until he penned a vicious little tale in the final week of the strike. Since no ships were sailing, some docks were idle , Heysham was once such, and a man and his wife took their three year old boy for a walk around the idle dock. Somehow , the little lad escaped his Daddy?s grip and ran across the jetty and fell into the dock. The poor little babe drowned. Cassandra wrote that the fault could be laid directly at the striking seamens door. Had they been working , the family could not have walked around the dock, thus out of lies are hatreds born. I never read a story that man wrote after that. I thought our cause was just, I felt that we were led by men who had our welfare at heart. But when the strike was over , life was never the same again, we had been up against it and had been depicted as threats to the nation. Worst of all my family had believed some of the lies.
It was with a mixture of sorrow and joy that the strike ended, we had a few extra pound in our pockets, but a lot of trust had been lost. We were not Reds under the bed, we were not in the pay of Moscow, a lot of the men who were on the stones had risked life and limb in the wartime convoys ,lost mates and kin to bring in the supplies when they were needed ,now they were cast as villains. I learned that we were only villains for the moment, the dockers would be next ,and the car workers after them. Villains today ,Heroes tomorrow.

The Strike was set to end at a certain time on a morning at the beginning in the third week of July. I got the 92 to the Pier Head and , as I stood on the platform as we passed Kingston House .I saw thousands of men on the pavements opposite the Pool, there was an air of jollity about them, laughing and joking ,it was ten past nine and the Pool was open ,why were?nt they moving? I skipped of the platform as it passed the pavement on Mann Island side and pushed my way into the empty offices. A cheer broke out behind me and the mighty throng surged across the road. I had broken the strike????.. by 5 minutes . Did?nt do me any good though?????..

The S. S. Kenuta

Being 5 minutes ahead of the crowd did me no favours,there was a host of ships to choose from but I was prey to Charley Repp. I still was?nt wise to him. ??Ere y?are son, there?s a Sos?s job on the Kenuta, a beautiful P.S.N.C. boat ,great run ,west coast of South America..etc..etc..etc? I was like a lamb to the slaughter. She was signing on that morning and sailing that night. That would do for me, I owed my dad 15 shillings and so I?d get an advance note and pay him off ,give me Mum a few bob too,I?d been living for free few a few weeks now.. A quick trip down to where the Kenuta was berthed ,she looked sleek ,nicely raked bow and streamlined forepart ,should be O.K????..Never judge anything by looks alone !
I got an advance note and shot down to Canning Place ,you could cash them at the outfitters there ,half a crown in the he charged still ,it was only money. Walking back to the Pier Head I bumped into Bernie ,a kid I should have sailed with on the Patrician; he was on his way to cash his advance note ,it was opening time ,why not have a jar before we sail ? I forget what he was sailing on , but he was off somewhere exotic. So we began a tour around the local hostelry?s ,The Queens, Slaughterhouse, up to Ma Egertons, the Yankee Bar ,Yates?s ??..I was stocious and have limited memories of the bus ride home to get my gear. I fell into the house and my mother was very tearful when she saw me , I shoved some money into her hand and staggered back up to the 92 bus stop. The journey to the Pier Head was dreadful ,I was dizzy and kept fading in and out of consciousness, I was sitting on the long seat at the back and kept on falling against some old lady who sat next to me, why she never moved I don?t know. As we came down toward the town , I staggered on to the platform and released the contents of my stomach in the bus?s wake. I was too far gone to be embarrassed.
Somehow I made it on board ,that was when I learned where our accommodation was, down aft ,and as I made my way into the top of the companionway I missed my footing and went head over heels down to the bottom ,my kit bag broke my fall. A Mancunian voice exclaimed ? That?s a right good way to join a boat?
I was sobering up fast, sitting there , I looked around and was shocked at the dismal sight.. Dark and pokey, the cabins were stark ,the bulkheads were uninsulated and the bunks were made of cheap angle iron with chain bed?springs?. Two drawers and a narrow half length locker for your gear. A prisoner in the worst of British ?nicks? would have better quarters than this. I got changed and went up to the messroom to meet the lads, we were a right motley crew. The peggy was a first tripper from Swansea ,the other O.S.was a kid from Accrington ,his accent was so strong that I had to really listen to what he was saying ,he was a good seaman though. There was big Don ,an A.B. , open faced and a ready smile ,Jimmy, ginger haired ,slightly chubby, a joker with a short fuse, Alan the Manc ,a S.O.S like me, looked Italian ,Tony Curtis hairstyle and an easy way with him. Terry ,from Bradford, West Indian origin and so very cool, he had just paid off an 18 monther and was loaded. Nick ,redheaded ,broken nosed and mean looking ,his smile never reached his eyes ,such men are dangerous. Jock, scrawny ,his deck clothes looked two sizes too big ,he looked out of place ,pleasant but a bag of nerves. My cabin mate, Kenny, saturnine and eloquent as Welshmen are wont to be, from the Valleys ,full of fire and brimstone.And, finally, there was old Tommy, I never found out how old he was ,he looked ancient ,slightly built with a nice scouse accent, he was the oldest man on deck and had been at sea since well before the War, a family man; he had two of them ,one in Liverpool and one in Santiago in Chile ,he never sailed anywhere else. The bosun had a famous seafaring name, George Ungi ,he was great guy, firm but fair and a great accordion player too ,he could play the tango like an Argentine. These were just some of the deck crowd ,time has erased the others. We shared the messroom with the firemen and greasers ,this was a new experience for me ,they were all Chinese in Blueys. Some of those guys were quite memorable, there was Vic ,in his 60?s ,built like a brick outhouse ,sailed with them all ,fists like ten pound hammers, hardly a tooth in his head. Norman ,a strange one ,he was an anthropologist ,doing a spell at sea to widen his experience cut glass accent ,looked every inch a professor and never appeared to get dirty. His cabinmate was a grubby little guy who was not above pilfering Normans cigarettes ,more of which later. Our mess room made Stan Waters caf? look like the Ritz, it was years since it had had a coat of paint ,the tables were covered in cheap lino and there were long wooden benches either side ,there were no backs on the benches so you had to keep yourself from falling backwards when the sea was rough.
The toilets ,bogs would be better word, they were originally fitted out for an Arab crew when the Kenuta was under the Clan Line house flag. The lavatories had been ?squatters? , a hole with a pedestals either side, P.S.N.C. had westernised them by putting proper toilets?????on top of the ?squatters ?!!! This meant that when you were sitting down your feet were about 12 inches from the deck, dangling!
The one thing you need on a loo in a rolling and pitching vessel is stability ,you could hold yourself in place with your feet firmly on the deck. Not on this boat folks, the amount of times I went for a burton does?nt bear thinking about , you often heard the shriek of some poor soul as he went sliding to the deck.

The officers and catering staff all lived amidships ,as did the passengers, theirs was different world to ours. Air conditioning and insulated bulkheads, silverware and white napery. They were a strange bunch though ,from the Captain down they were flawed. John Jones was the Master , a short ,flabby Welshman ,wore a big hat on a small head so that it rested on his ears ,his mouth had a weak ,wet lower lip and he had a receding chin .His jacket was too long in the sleeves so that you saw just his fingers sticking out from under the 4 gold stripes, Chilean naval stripes too.
He had been Mate on that ship the previous trip and so his outfit was painfully new. His chief officer, a stocky little bulldog of a man ,had been master on the ship on the previous trip. How such a thing could happen I was never to find out ,it did?nt make for good relations though ,the Mate never accepted his lower position ,a situation I will enlarge upon as we progress. The 2nd mate was a Jack Armstrong type ,clean cut ,with cropped blonde hair and eyes that could see right through you , he turned out to about the only honest one among the lot of them. The real power broker midships seemed to be the Chief engineer , he had a fierce visage, I never once saw him smile the whole trip long and all the officers seemed to defer to him, I was to find out why when we reached Buonoventura.
The chief steward and the cook were in collusion in robbing our bellies and feeding us swill in order to line their own pockets, apart from a few minor players like the baker ,who was a pederast and Eddy ,a commis waiter ,there are no more characters to relate. The Kenuta is getting up steam and we are now ready to sail???

The S.S.Kenuta 2

As the years pass by you find your memory sometimes plays peek a boo, about an hour after finishing off those last few words,another crew mate came into my mind, Joe Murphy. Joe was of an indeterminate age,old enough to have done some sea time during the war, but young enough not to appear to be an old man. A dyed in the wool Scouser,with an accent you could slice with a knife, Joe was much given to the use of hyperbole; he would sprinkle his conversation with such gems as ?dis black Maria pulled up an? a ?undred scuffers jumped out wid about 2 ?undred police dogs?
With Nick and Jock, Joe would form part of the Kenuta?s Alcoholics club,but only as a junior member. He was a tall slim guy, with a full head of greying brown curly hair.
Nervous and always slightly jumpy, as though expecting some past misdeed to catch up with him, Joe would always seek validation from the listener that he believed what he had just said by looking for your acceptance. From what he told us ,he had a tough life in the Dingle ,no arse in his pants ,and crusts for breakfast,he was a character.
The ship of fools is now at sea,first port of call Antwerp??????..

brian daley
10-04-2008, 03:16 PM
Outward Bound

The voyage was but a few days old when the shortcomings began to manifest themselves ,first was the food; brought from amidships in dixies and aluminium food boxes, it was put in a hot press and left to the peggy to dish up. many of the crew were used to this situation ,but it was a shock to the system to me. The crockery ,or rather ,the lack of crockery made the issue worse. We had tin enamelled plates and for cutlery ,cast aluminium eating irons. Very soon the plates became chipped and the eating irons were bent and broken. We had muggin cups and as these were lost through breakages we were reduced to using tin cans. I am not exaggerating the story, as we ran out of knives and forks ,we were reduced to sharing ,waiting for another to finish cutting his food before you could use the knife. Using a spoon to eat because there were no forks. Soon we were using our deck knives to eat with ;not that there was much to eat. Our meals were minute and when we complained to the cook he just laughed in our faces. The chief steward was worse, he said that we were animals and deserved no better. Complaints to the mate met with no response and the morale amongst the men sank lower with every passing day. One of the firemen fashioned a soup ladle that had a handle about ten foot long. I saw him putting it through the galley windows ,they were open but barred and faced onto the after hatch. It was just before the 8 to 12 evening watch was finishing and he thought he would not be seen, he was ,by me! So ,his watchmate and my two watchmates,were able to enjoy illicit dips into the soup pot that used to simmer overnight. We could?nt take too much else our activities would be exposed.
And thus it was that the good ship Kenuta journeyed to South America. We stopped for bunkers at Las Palmas and had an explosive night ashore, my cabinmate ,the Welsh firebrand ,practised his oratorical skills in denouncing the capitalist pirates who ran our ship,?We should wake up and rebel, not live like animals? he ranted ,we got stuck into the cervezas and made the world look a brighter in our own way.
Now we were nearing the temperate zones , the mate ordered us to erect the swimming pool, a big wood and canvas affair, on the port side of the afterdeck immediately outside our accommodation. This was going to be great, not having air conditioning , we would be able to cool down in the pool?..how wrong can you be?
The aftercrowd ,firemen and sailors, were forbidden to enter the pool at any time.
We had a couple of passengers, a headmaster and his wife who were off to Peru to take over a public school in Lima, and a very nice lady who was off to join her husband in the Bahamas . The headmaster had a Dandy Dimont terrier with him ,which was kennelled on the promenade deck ,and the other lady had three sheepdogs which were housed away from the terrier on the far side of the prom deck.
We used to have our smoko?s on the hatchway adjacent the pool ,where we would watch the headmasters dog splashing merrily about as we sweltered. The lady with the sheepdogs would not let her dogs swim while we were banned from doing so.
We grew to hate the terrier, poor dumb animal suffered for his masters sins. When we hosed the decks down before breakfast , the hoseman would put the hose into the terriers kennel and give it a full blasting, pretty soon the dog grew to fear salt water. Before we got to Cuba it became a half crazed wreck, and his owners had no idea what was happening. It never came out of its kennel again. It would snap and snarl as soon as it heard footsteps approaching. But it never got the aftercrowd into the pool.

I had never sailed in American waters before and, as we got closer to the Americas, we began to pick up their radio stations. This was 1960 and radio in Britain consisted of the BBC Light, Home and Third Programmes, straitlaced and not a disc jockey in sight. If you wanted to hear rock and roll you had to tune into Radio Luxemburg, and reception from that was so erratic. The only time you got records on the Beeb was on request programmes like Family Favourites ,Forces Request or Housewives Choice ,all very refined ,but it was?nt rock and roll. Across the Atlantic the airwaves were alive with music of every kind and we would sit on the after hatch with Terrys Japanese transistor blasting out the latest in the American hit parade.

Our first port of call in the Americas was Freeport in the Bahamas, this was a picture perfect place, The blue sky and azure sea split by a strip of land with golden beaches overhung with swaying green palm trees, buildings showed white amidst the greenery and though it looked so inviting ,we would not be going ashore, we moored to some buoys to discharge some cargo and disembark the lady and her sheepdogs.
As we were unloading our cargo into the lighters alongside us , the sea started to get a little choppy and a long black line appeared on the horizon ,a stiff breeze was strengthening and the lightermen began to cast off and head for the shore, That black line was creeping up the sky. The captain came on the port side of the bridge and shouted at us to drop the derricks; the mate came on the starboard wing of the bridge and countermandered the order ,?Let her go? he yelled. And thus began a slanging match between master and mate while the second mate split us onto to two parties ,one to single up and make ready to leave and the other to drop the derricks and square up. And all the while the sky was blackening and the waves were getting higher. This was a hurricane.!
Within an hour the seas were in turmoil and the wind was screaming with rage ,lightning flashes jagged across the blackness giving glimpses of a watery hell.
I was at the helm and could see the mountainous white topped waves roaring toward us as we bucked and reeled through that sea. The captain was a forlorn figure standing by the wheelhouse door .He was learning what those four stripes on his sleeve meant now , sooner him than me. The was a metallic clanging that could be heard up here in the wheelhouse , the second mate came in off the wing of the bridge and took the wheel ? The weather door on the starboard forepart is?nt secure ,go down and make it fast while I take the wheel ? I was too young to appreciate the danger involved, I just fled down there and took the full brunt of the storm as I fought to clip back the door ,it was swinging and crashing in to its architrave with a thunderous crash, you had to be quick and snap the dogs on(clips) when it was in the closed position . I earned my cup of cocoa that night. Come the dawn and the sea was placid once more, we were entering the Caribbean Sea.

As the nights became really sultry ,Don would get his guitar out and we would sit on the poop deck singing all the songs that we knew the words to, and even to those that we did?nt. We may have had lousy accommodation , bum rations and stinking hot cabins, but those nights on the poopdeck remain in my memory as some of the really good times .
We knew we were nearly at Cuba when the U.S Navy Coast Guard plane buzzed us ,coming in so low you could the pilots face. We were carrying a load of Leyland Buses for Havana because America had put an embargo on trade with Cuba.
As we entered the near empty port we were given a tremendous welcome, tugs blew their horns and police and dockers waved to us ,we were good gringos.
We were given an even greater welcome ashore ,now that the Yanquis had gone, so had the greatest source of revenue for the bar owners and ?ladies?
As we went from bar to bar we were pursued by some of the most beautiful ?ladies ? that I had ever seen. Their rich Yanqui clients were never coming back ,and these girls who just months ago would have been plying their trade in the 5 star hotels, were
now having to make do with ragged arsed sailors from the U.K. It was eerie,to be sitting at a bar and to see beautiful women at every door and window begging you to invite them in, they were not allowed to enter without a male companion.
We all succumbed to temptation and my young lady led me to the portals of a hotel on the Corniche, where we took a room with a balcony overlooking that wonderful harbour with Morro Castle as a back drop. One year previously I would not have got past the doorman ,never mind taking a full suite with a mirrored ceiling. I was eighteen and full of testosterone and the politically correct world had not encroached upon my horizons, reality was left outside the room as I lost myself to the wonders of pure carnality. She taught me more in that one night than I had learned in all my days .
Later ,we strolled through the gardens and squares as she led me back to my ship, god I loved that senhorita, Rosalita, a Cuban rose.
On the way back to the ship I saw Taffy the galleyboy being shoved toward a policewagon. He looked shattered and was scared and drunk. I told Rosalita that the boy was off my ship and we went across to the police wagon and asked what he had done. The stupid boy had torn down a Cuban flag that was on display in the gardens ,the police were angry with the insult shown to their flag and wanted him to face a court. I said that Taffy was so proud to be here in Havana that he wanted to take back the flag to show to his people in Wales. Rosalita was translating and the police let him go, and allowed him to keep the flag! Truth was , he was just a bloody vandal.

None of the lads returned that night, the town had too much to offer a poor sailor and the rum was very cheap. Come breakfast ,there were only four of us in the messroom, Don , the Peggy ,the JOS from Accrington and me.
We were sailing at midday and the morning passed without any of our lads making a show. The three of us , plus the Midshipmen ,of which there were three ,were put to work dropping the derricks and squaring up, George Ungi, the bosun, rounded the drunks up, and boy were they ever drunk. He got them to the top of the gangway and they fell in a heap in the alley adjacent the gangway and sank into a drunken stupor. They were literally piled one atop another and stayed that way for hours. The six of us,plus the bosun ,put that ship to sea , Panama was next.

brian daley
10-11-2008, 03:39 PM
To The Pacific

It was a blissful run down to the Panama Canal, the sea was like a pond and the fair weather gave us the opportunity to overhaul the running gear ,our feet hardly touched the deck between Havana and Colon. The food was no better and the eating situation was unchanged regards tableware ,but it is amazing how fair weather can take your mind off things. That plus the fact we were heading for one of the great sailortowns of the world, Colon at the Atlantic end of the canal.
As we sat on the poop in the evening ,some of the older hands who had been on the run a time or time ,would tell of the bars and bordellos in Cristobal. The consensus was that this place was pretty wild and had all the ingredients that a Jack ashore could wish for. We younger lads could?nt wait to get there.
By this time in the voyage friendships had been formed and your run ashore mates were teamed. The guys I favoured going ashore with were Jimmy, the ginger headed A.B. and Terry the kid from Bradford. Jimmy was from Bootle , about the four years older than me ,and had a wry sense of humour. Terry ,he was 2 years older than me and was a very good seaman ,we were on the same watch and he would spend his spare time teaching me how to do wire splicing and rigging. He was pushing me to taking my EDH?s ticket when we got back home.
As we neared Panama the seas got busier with shipping ,there was every type of deep sea ship heading there ,and coming away from there too. They were mostly British ,but there were plenty of German and Yankee boats too. It was great at smoko ,sitting on the hatch with your fag and a cuppa watching the variety of ships ,liners, tramps and tall passenger boats of every type. This was one busy sea lane.
We would have just the one night in Colon and we did?nt want to waste any time ,the consensus of opinion was that Dog House Bar was the place to spend your hard earned. There were plenty of girls ,good music and the beer was cheap too. The Dog House it was then! But first we had to get docked and ready for discharging.
The docks were modern and most of the dockers were from Barbados , huge black guys, nearly all wearing yellow safety helmets ,they were quite friendly and worked very hard.
As soon as we were showered , the three of us shot ashore. We made straight for the Dog House Bar and we were not disappointed, the place was heaving , full of every nationality and girls galore. All the latest American hit records were on the juke box and the dance floor was full of jivers. I stood watching enviously as a black guy made the most incredible moves ,he was so fluid. I took a turn with a senhorita and the black guy came over to me and said that I was a nice dancer but that I needed to loosen up.
He was from New York and was a deck hand like me. I watched for a while as he had a few more dances and I copied him as best I could . I would?nt have got better tuition at Arthur Murray. The bar itself was full of interesting things to look at, pennants and banknotes adorned the walls and mementos that had been ?liberated? from various ships stood on shelves or hung from the walls. I went for a pee and in the cubicle was a wooden flap which bore the legend ?do not lift? I lifted it and a klaxon sounded in the bar, it was funny at the time. And the time sped by, soon we three were broke and the night was only just getting started. Terry said that he had some Yankee dollars in his cabin and that we should go back and get some .
It was now nearing midnight and the streets were still busy,Terry suggested that Jimmy and take our time walking and he would run back aboard because he would be quicker. As he shot ahead toward the dock gates Jimmy and I were accosted by a very wrinkled little old black lady. She was carrying a little wooden tray upon which there was a solitary banana. ?Hey Johnee? she cried ?You buy banana eh!? Jimmy and I did?nt have a red cent between us , and besides the banana looked a bit past it. We were just outside the dock gates now and this old lady was determined that we should buy her banana. She came alongside me and said that I would be ?powerful Man? as she stuck the banana in front of my crotch and waggled it suggestively.
I took the banana from her hand and put it back on her tray.?Noooo ? she shrieked and pulled a piece of crumpled paper from out of her filthy blouse. Unfolding it she declared that I had ..?broken de U.S. sanitation and hygiene law, yew cain,t handle de food boy less?n yew buy ,gimme 10 cents !? I laughed and turned my pockets out
?I?m broke Mary ? .She screamed to a little girl who was now at her side ?Go get de Vigi? and grasped my wrist. ?Yew is gwanna pay boy? she shouted as her girl ran off. Jimmy looked worried and said that he would run and get an American policeman from the dock gate ?If the Vigis take yer .they?ll batter yer ? he said. The Vigis being Panamanian policemen ,no lovers of ?gringos? I stood patiently waiting for Terry to arrive so that I could give this old hag her ten cents and then get back to having a good time. A hooter sounded within the docks and a river of bodies surged out through the gate ;it was knocking off time for the dockers. As the wave of yellow helmeted black guys came toward us Mary started pulling me about and crying pitifully. I felt a hundred pair of eyes turn toward me. Cries of ?White *******? and ,bizarrely, ?Remember Notting Hill? filled the air. Within moments I was surrounded by a mob of angry blackmen , they had seen a whiteman attacking a defenceless old black lady and were incensed. I protested that I had done nothing wrong but the crowd was winding itself up ?You come down here and screw our women ,and you kill our brothers ,white pig? I was thinking it was curtains for me when there was a commotion at the back of the crowd ? Let me troo!!? bellowed a deep bass voice, suddenly this huge helmeted black guy parts the mob and comes and stands beside me. He put his arm around my shoulder, took Marys hand off my wrist and shouted?
?Diss could be your boy in America, would yew like de Americans go treat him like dis ?? The mob edged away and ,still holding me by the shoulders ,he took me to a little bar opposite the dock ,bought me a beer and told me to stay put until my friends came back. My saviour then departed and I sat stock still afraid to move. Minutes later Jimmy came in he was red faced and very angry, he punched me in the mouth. ?You ******* ,I turn up with two Yankee coppers and there?s no bleeder there; they were gonna arrest me for being drunk !!? Terry turned up and defused the moment with a wad of greenbacks.
It was back to The Dog House Bar ;we walked in to a surreal scene, there ,seated at the tables ,were half a dozen of our sailors and firemen reciting the Dog House poem just as we did at school ,only it would have been Wordsworth ,not ?Everytime I have a shave my wife decides to s**t???..? Deathless poetry.
The bar was really popping now and there was a really beautiful woman sitting with some friends, she was wearing a powder blue outfit and was really stacked. Jimmy Jones was singing ?Let the Little Girl Dance ? and I took her on the floor and did just that. I was in terpsichorean heaven ,she moved like an angel ,felt so good in my arms,
and she wanted to have another dance when that song ended. We sat together and I fell deeper and deeper in love with her. ?I would like to marry you ? she said.. I was thinking of enjoying some of the things that married people do and nodded agreement.
?Yew get papers and we marry now yes ?? She said???all I could see was that marriage bed..?Yes,Yes!? I said. ?Hold on there honey ? an American voice called out. I looked around and there stood a bow tied ?queen? she looked daggers at him as he told me that the bar girls were always trying to get an American husband so that they could go on the game in the States. ?go back to your friends ,you?ll be safer with them ? he said. He came over to our crowd and told them to make sure I did?nt go back to the girl. Turned out he was from Liverpool, had gone to the States over 30 years ago and was a waiter on an American passenger boat. After that the night became hazier as the cerveza and aguardiente took effect. I cannot remember how I got back on board . Tomorrow we would enter the canal.

10-11-2008, 07:28 PM
Brian, when are you going to get this book printed !? :) :)

It would certainly be popular.

brian daley
10-11-2008, 10:29 PM
Hey Lindy,I think it would bore the pants off most people, I'm just grateful to Kevin for indulging an old salt in elating his story. I enjoy writing it ,and I hope you keep enjoying it. I look forward to Saturday mornings when I sit down at the keyboard and let those memories come flooding back. I don't what I'm going to write before I sit down, I press that first letter and it just starts to flow.
Thanks for saying nice things,it helps me to keep going ,

brian daley
10-18-2008, 03:56 PM
To The Pacific

We sailed from Cristobal and made our way to the first set of locks that would give us entry into the fabled Panama Canal. I had learned of the building of this wonder whilst a schoolboy,of how many hundreds of men had died of the fever during the course of its construction ,many facts and figures had been taught me , the man who oversaw the creation of the Suez Canal, that other great waterway that cut through continents ,was the man who developed the idea for this canal. The knowledge gleaned from history books and encyclopaedias cannot prepare you for the grandeur of the real thing. Everything about it is huge. It needs to be because this canal was built to take ,in 1914, the worlds largest ships.
.You enter the canal through Gatun Locks and have to be raised 85 feet above sea level to get onto Gatun Lake, an vast artificial lake of 163.4 square miles.To do this you have go through six locks ,each one being a 1000 foot long and 110 foot wide by 75 foot deep. Little locomotives called mules take your ropes and help guide you through the locking system It is arduous manoeuvring through the locks, not much time for rubbernecking but fascinating in watching those little locos ,diesel powered they are enormously strong. As you leave the last lock and enter Gatun Lake you confronted by a vision of lush tropical splendour, the shores rise steeply and are filled with dense green vegetation, the lake itself is filled with shipping heading both east and west ,there are seemingly hundreds of islands dotting the horizon and the air is filled with birds and flying insects. Insects of disproportionate sizes too; I had been out to the East Indies and seen the beetles and other winged creatures ,they were exotic to an English boys eyes but here , the hornets and mosquitos ,beetles and moths ,were all magnified in size and aggressive . As we sailed across the lake during the night hours ,I had to go and do a turn at the wheel. Climbing up the companion way in our accommodation I was assailed by what looked like a housefly , but it was as big as my hand. Really scary, it was sitting on the deckhead and as I hove into view it dive bombed me. Its buzz sounded like a B52 bomber and it was?nt to be deflected. I ran back to the cabin and got a magazine to swat it away ,it was?nt to be killed ,I hit it and it just shrugged and flew off. When I came down off the wheel two hours later, it was waiting for me ! I had a kind of duel with it and fought it off until I made it to the messroom. The fireman who looked like a professor came in off his watch and I asked him if he had seen the fly, he had?nt so I took him out to have a look at it.
It was still there but it was?nt moving , was it asleep? Anyway the Prof. Went off and came back with a big tobacco tin, he took the lid off and placed the empty tin over the beast. It made a hell of a row in there and old Prof quickly slipped the lid back on. He was going to take it back to Liverpool and show it to someone in the museum. He put the can on top of his bookshelf and there it should have rested until we got back
home. Not everything goes to the way we plan it though???..the Prof and I were sitting in the messroom having a cup of cocoa before turning in when we heard a blood curdling scream. It came from his cabin. We raced over to it and found his cabinmate trembling in the corner, the beast was buzzing round his head and he was nursing his hand. The Prof opened the porthole and ushered the fly through with a rolled up magazine. He then turned to his trembling cabinmate and said ?So you?re the ******* who?s been helping himself to my baccy?, by the bitemark on the back of his hand he really was caught redhanded.

We passed Gamboa in darkness ,this was not far from where ,

?Or like Stout Cortez , when with eagle eyes
He stared at the Pacific ?and all his men
Look?d at each other with a wild surmise ?
Silent upon a peak in Darien?

Those lines of poetry ,learned by rote in a dusty schoolroom ,came alive here in Panama . Soon we were across the lake and heading through the Miraflores Locks, they were just as magnificent as Gatun ,but they were the gateway to the Pacific.
We dropped off the pilot at Balboa and headed into a different world.
The sea was calm and not a breath of wind stirred the air as we sailed down the Colombian coast ,Buenoventura was our next port of call , I?d heard it was a bit of a hole ,not much to see and even less to do so I took the night watch on the gangway when it was offered. We were going to be here two days ,and like the lads had said ,it looked a bit grim, there were plenty of policemen in evidence on the docks, looked more like soldiers in their helmets and khaki. The dockers looked like extras from a spaghetti western and the view through the chain link fence was pretty depressing too.
A few decrepit buildings ,no bars or neon lights ,just a queue of trucks waiting for freight.. There was a road that led up a hill that rose away from the dockside, that was where the town lay ,over the hill. The road was cut out of the rock and trucks were parked along one side of the cut for as far as the eye could see. I would have liked to have seen the town but I was night watch man and so I settled down with a book at the top of the gangway. It got dark early and there was no nightshift on the docks , the only lights ashore were those in the dock area, the road up out of the town and the surrounding hills were lost in darkness. All the boys were ashore and the only signs of life were the white helmeted policemen making an occasional patrol along the inside of the fence. The only sounds were those of the ships gennies and the insects buzzing and chirruping, the night passed slowly and silently. Towards eleven the first stragglers started drifting into the loom of the docklights ,it must have been strong stuff they?d been supping, they were steering a wonky course toward the gangway.
This was?nt the boisterous crew that had gone ashore, they were glum and taciturn, what had gone wrong?
The last person aboard was Nick, he wasn?t too drunk, unusual for him, just a bit tipsy. ?Hey scouse? he said ?I forgot to get a bottle of Aguadiente , I?ll give you a drink if you slip up the hill and fetch us one? he smiled. ?I?ll watch the gangway for you, and your legs are younger than mine? I never questioned why he had?nt bought one while ashore, the rain had stopped and I could do with a quick drink, so yes ,I?ll go and get him his drink. I had on my donkey jacket and seaboots because it was very wet and muddy and , thus attired, I made my way out of the docks.
The pool of light ended just outside the gate and the road ahead was in pitch darkness, as I was walking across the road toward the hill I heard a voice calling ?Hey Johnnie ,got any American cigarettes?? Out of the darkness came two of the raggedeyst people I had ever seen, black as coal and barefooted they looked like escaped slaves. They were smiling and had their hands held out in anticipation of a free smoke. I took out my Players and gave them one each, ?Not American? they asked. ?No ,Inglese ? I replied. ?You got some dollars for us ? they begged. ?No ,mucho poor,like you ? I laughed. I started up the hill ,by now my eyes were accustomed to the darkness ,there was a sheer cliff face to one side and a line of trucks ,stretching to the top of the hill on the other. In the silence the only sounds to be heard was the splashing of my seabooted feet and the plashing sound of two sets of barefeet. They were following me! I stopped and looked back, I could the distant lights of the docks but not the beggars. They were coming up on the other side of the trucks. I turned and walked faster and still they came on , matching my speed. The sound of music came faintly through the air and I began to make out the lights of a bar near the top of the hill.
Pretty soon I was stood at the counter of a truly low dive, there was only one customer sat there, a Norwegian ,he asked me what ship I was off and he told me he was on the one astern of us. He was well drunk and would?nt be getting back to his ship tonight.
I bought Nicks bottle of Aguardiente and asked the barman if he had an empty bottle I could have, he could?nt understand why I would want an empty bottle. I was going to need some protection on the way back!
After very protracted negotiations , he let me have an empty spirits bottle ,calling me ?Mucho loco? .With Nicks bottle in my pocket and the empty bottle gripped firmly in my right hand , I stepped out into the darkness.
Immediately I started walking ,the splash of barefeet sounded behind me, it was downhill now ,about 300 yards to the light of the docks . I was running and the sound of splashing grew nearer, I could hear them grunting and gasping for breath as they closed in on me. 200 yards now and I could almost feel their breath on the back of my neck, the lights were nearer now ,my heels were getting chafed by the rubbing of my sea boots ,I had to make it???.and hand gripped my left shoulder. I swung round ,smashing the bottle in the guys face , blood showered everywhere and I tore down the hill as his screams rent the night air. The policeman at the gate unholstered his gun and waved me past him as he looked into the darkness. I stopped running and then heard the sound of wailing up the hill. I felt really bad about what I had just done, I did?nt have time to get too maudlin about it ,what awaited me aboard ship was far worse.

brian daley
10-25-2008, 09:09 PM
Down South America Way

When I climbed back aboard the Kenuta the gangway was unguarded ,Nick had promised to stand watch for me but was nowhere in sight. I could hear raised voices coming from the afterdeck and went down to see what was afoot. The lads were gathered about the after hatch and they seemed none too happy ,they were drunk ,angrily drunk, and as I approached, Nick spotted me and came forward asking for his hooch. He was staggering drunk ,as were the rest of the crowd ; my cabinmate jumped on the hatch and started to harangue the lads about the terrible conditions in which we were living. His oratory was drink fuelled and he gave full vent to the simmering hatred that we had all felt these past weeks. Being sober I watched in amazement as his words gripped the bleary eyed crowd and galvanized them into a mob. Pointing to the midships accommodation ,he roared ?There?s a man down that alleyway that is the cause of our hunger ,a man who is robbing our bellies and lining his pockets with the proceeds!? heads nodded in agreement and Nick was passing the fresh bottle of firewater around , further stoking the fires of anger. ?Violence is the only language these people understand ? cried our demagogue, ?We should show them that we are men not mice !! ? The Manc SOS rigged up a noose, throwing over the aftermast table ?Let?s hang the f****r that?ll teach ?em!!?
Kenny pointed to Nick and Joe Murphy ,?Go and get the *******, he won?t starve us anymore?
Joe and Nick set off for the Chief Stewards cabin while the rest of the crowd started cheering and singing. I was frightened ,never in my life had I felt such an inchoate anger ,it was almost like the lynch mob I had seen when I was a child. I ran after Nick and Joe , following them down the alleyway to the Chief Stewards cabin. There, everything was quiet and peaceful ,it was 2-00 in the morning and the only sound here was the air conditioning. When they reached the Stewards cabin ,Joe kicked the door in and one of them flicked on the light, the Steward ,a ginger haired man with a balding pate ,came groggily awake ,blinking myopically ?Worrisit .?? he mumbling ,trying to understand what had disturbed his slumbers. Joe and Nick jumped forward and dragged him from his bunk, his pale scrawny body clothed in a singlet and greying skiddies..?Wossgoinon, fer fecks sake wossup?? he yelped as they dragged him across the cabin ,each one holding him by the armpits his knees scraping along the deck.
?We?re gonna f***in? ?ang yer ,yer c**t? said Nick ,smashing him across the cheek.
Though they were very drunk I thought they might still have a bit of ingrained sense of justice? Taking a chance I said to them that they should tell the Mate of what they were about to do and then that would make it ?legal?. Joe and Nick looked blearily at each other and then Nick nodded ??E?s right ,let?s tell the Mate ? and then they proceeded to drag the Steward up the companionways to the Mates cabin. I got to the Mates door just ahead of them and hammered it ,by the time Joe and Nick arrived with the Steward, his knees and shins raw and bleeding , the Mate was standing in his doorway clad only in his boxer shorts. He stood there rubbing the sleep out of his eyes ,trying to take in the scene before him. Two very drunk seamen, holding the slumped form of a gibbering wreck by the upper arms while said seaman were gabbling about injustice and revenge. I nodded to the mate and making gestures with both eyebrows and hands ,said ?Chief the lads have held a kangaroo court and have sentenced the Chief steward to death ,they?re going to hang him now? The Mate ,being more than quick on the uptake ,said ?Very good lads..but leave it until the morning and then we can all watch? closing his door as he said so. Joe and Nick let the Steward drop, hitting the deck with his forehead ,and ran aft to tell the lads the good news.
There was cheering all round and then they gradually drifted off to their bunks.

As day broke over Buenaventura ,bodies emerged from cabins to greet the morning sun. All was silent down aft, the hatchway was littered with empty bottles and the noose hung lazily from the mast table. The Mate called down from the prom deck, ?Daley ,get the deck crowd up here now? beside him stood the Captain ,Purser and Chief Steward.
They were a sorry looking bunch when I rounded them up, death warmed up. Groaning and muttering ,they shambled their way up to the prom deck. There, the mate made them stand in a line and ,surprisingly ,did not read the riot act, but instead started off by saying that what had happened the night before must have some deep and underlying reason,that he had never in all his days at sea witnessed such a thing and he wanted to know why it had happened.
This is just a bald summary of what he said and ,while he was saying it, you could see that the Steward was far from happy with what he was saying. He wanted blood ,and he looked like he was?nt going to get it. ?Orl right? said the Mate ? What?s yer beef, why did yer try an? ang?im?? he said jerking his thumb toward the steward. Silence?.?C?mon, yer don?t go toppin? a man fer nuthin?, what?? The men shuffled uncomfortably, shivering in the cold morning light. The Captain squeaked ?Some of you could got to jail for this ? and the Steward smiled gleefully, ?Now tell us why you did this terrible thing ? Joe stepped forward, his voice choking with fear ??E won?t sell us any yankee fags ? he said ,nodding toward the steward. That was enough for the dam to break and other lads started to tell of the short rations ,the lack of cutlery , the cups and crockery and the way that the food was dished up.
The purser was writing like fury getting down all the contributions and the steward was looking very angry ,he was not going to get any revenge here. We were dismissed and shortly afterwards were notified that we would be going to be put on to Board of Trade rations. This meant that each man would collect from the Steward his daily allowance of food ,meat ,flour ,sugar salt etc.etc., which we would then give to the cook for preparing our meals. We soon had a surplus of dry goods which we kept in our cabins, some guys had a regular little grocery store before long. But that was in the weeks ahead. We now had to leave Equador and sail to the most corrupt port in the Americas ,Guayaquil.
The Officers in P.S.N.C. had diagonal gold braid stripes on their sleeves ,different from all other officers in the British Merchant Navy, this was a legacy of some period in Chile?s history when the company assisted Chile in the fight for liberation from Spain,as thanks Chile made all officers of the company honorary members of the Chilean Navy. Honorary does not mean that a person so titled is honorable. Far from it ,we witnessed the smuggling activities which the officers were engaged in ,and on such a large scale too. The Colombian government had outlawed the importation of all Yardley cosmetics in to that country. Number 4 hatch was full of Yardley products ,specifically for the Colombian market. This was the booty of the officers and they worked hand in glove with the Colombian Police and Customs in smuggling it into the port. It was sold direct to the public ,the police organised the queue of people coming to buy it and the Customs officers oversaw the sale of it in the saloon . The proceeds of the scam being split four ways ,the company ,the officers ,the police and customs. Like pigs in a trough. We ,the men who had to fetch and carry the contraband ,never even got a thank you, in fact ,one of the lads who sold a tin of jam to one of the people in the queue, a tin which was legally part of his rations, was arrested and fined a months wages. The causes of resentment still ran deep.

brian daley
10-29-2008, 06:33 PM

?They heaved the log for fifty days,
And on the fifty first,
The greasy cargo went ablaze,
And then the hatches burst.
?Twas man the pumps,all hands to the pumps,
And curse ye as ye go,
A broken ship, a burning ship,
Bound out to Callao?
With Coal to Callao by E.J.Brady

You enter Callao round the headland of San Lorenzo, the port is well sheltered from the south winds and is old. The place grew up in the time of the square riggers and the stories about are the stuff of legend.
Fiddlers Green ,that name given by sailing shipmen in the days of yore to good Sailortowns ,was a faint shadow of its former self. The fabled **** Street, the Calle Marina ,was depleted of the many bars and bag shanties that had lined its thoroughfare, now there were a few neon lit bars, wild ,but not so wild as yesteryear and Jack ashore could still get his drink ,his women and a fight or two if he was so minded.
Terry ,Eddy and I ,went ashore a few times, we got plenty of the first two items on our list ,but being congenital cowards, we did?nt go looking for the third. I was struck at just how different this part of the world was, so far ,my ports had been dominated by British shipping, here there were Yankee ships aplenty, form both the west and east coasts. The German ensign was much in evidence too, whenever we saw a fight it was usually some English and German lads replaying world war two. I can only remember a few bar names ,Smokey Joes , The London Bar, the Cape Horn and some whose names are gone from my memory. In one of the bars there some quotations on the walls ,one read ? A woman is only a woman ,but a good cigarette is a smoke ?Anon ,and another was ?There a three kinds of men, the living ,the dead??and those who go to sea? Homer. On board our ship things were still a bit fraught , Nick was proving to be a bit of a pain, he was drunk most of the time and was becoming more aggressive with it. He would roar and rant when in his cups and spoke very offensively about his wife and daughter. Now we were not easily offended individuals, we?d all done our bit of dallying around the seedy parts of town ,blue jokes and four letter words were part of vocabulary, but we never thought it right that a man should describe his wifes sexual attributes or express desires for deflowering his daughter. Although we were repelled by his chatter ,none of us were brave enough to tackle him. It was in Callao that he and his cabinmate Jock went on their biggest bender.
They started it on Friday night ,going from bar to bar, they were not merry, they were on a serious drunk, morose ,dead eyed they sank spirits and beer like it was going out of fashion. We steered well clear of them , come Saturday morning ,Nick staggered aboard and collected an armful of his clothes and went back ashore. Around teatime ,Jock came rolling aboard, eyes out of focus ,grey faced and staggering. He disappeared down to his cabin and got into his bunk where he went into a dead sleep. Nick came back aboard around
8.00p.m. and he was clad only in his vest and dungarees. He had flogged all his clothes for booze. He tried borrowing money off the rest of us but we made ourselves scarce as he was in a belligerent mood
We saw him going down the gang way wearing Jocks best brown suit ,carrying some more clothes over his arm.
We went down to the bars shortly after and had ourselves a good time.
Next morning ,a very shaky Jock came into the mess room, he was all of a jitter, spilling his tea as tried to raise it to his lips. He asked us if we knew when he had got back and was amazed to learn that he had been asleep for 12 hours,he told us that Nick was flaked out starkers on his bunk, he could?nt rouse him so he?d left him snoring. He then said that he could?nt recall ever being as drunk as he must have been on Saturday. ? I cannae unnerston? it , Ah?ve nivver shat mesel? before, nivver. But ye ken it?s awfie strange ,ah nivver shat in ma Y fronts? We left him to puzzle that one out himself.

We left Callao a little while later ,heading out into the enormous swells that roll in from the west of the Pacific. Sailing down the western coast you see a constant line of birds heading south, birds in their millions , the source of Chile?s great wealth ; these are the birds who nest on the rocks of Chiles coast ,their droppings ,eons old forming the guano from which nitrate is obtained. From dawn to dusk the parade is unending, after a while you don?t bother looking ,they are always there .
We called in to Mollendo further down the Peruvian coast and there we loaded a little German circus that was going to Valparaiso in Chile. The wharfies had a hell of task on their hands with the lone elephant ; old Jumbo did not like the idea of going into a crate and just kicked off his chain and with a loud trumpet went bowling down the wharf. There was panic amongst the dockers and the mahout was sticking that goad into Jumbo but that just made him all the madder. We all lined the bulwarks roaring encouragement to Jumbo and then the armed police arrived. You could see them pale with fright as the elephant ran toward their white helmeted forms , they fled and gradually Jumbo was enticed with fresh greens and fruits . You can see him being loaded aboard below. We also took on some Bactrian camels , a few Dromedarys ,lions ,horses and performing dogs ,plus the performers. Jumbo was kept in his crate on the starboard side of the afterdeck and the lions were stored opposite him ,the camels and horses were put in stalls on the port side. And the dogs were kennelled at the foot of the aftermast.
Going on the amidships was hazardous , if you went via jJumbo and Lions ,he would try grabbing you with his trunk and they would snarl and roar as they tried to paw you through their cages.
It was a little better the other side ,save for the camels spitting their slobber at you.
They were going to be with us for quite awhile so we had to get used to them.

Our journey down the coast took us into a really godforsaken little place called Puerto do Ilo, it was a brown town set against a backdrop of bare brown mountains. It was a copper port , we were still unloading ,it was a very uninviting place and no one ventured ashore.
As we sailed along the animals were kept secure in the cages ,all except for the performing dogs, mostly poodles, they were trained in a way that made you want to hit the trainer. They were all dogs ,no *****es ,and to get them to walk on their hind legs ,the trainer had a steel tipped bamboo cane, very thin and springy, and if a dog failed to walk so many steps ,or wavered, he would flick the cane at its testicles. The sounds of the little dogs yelps of pain used to go right through. I cannot look at performing dogs to this day, it was very cruel.

We passed into Chilean waters when we sailed past Arica, there you could see a huge flag ,visible from well offshore .It was mounted atop the highest mountain and was flown in memory of the last great war between the Southern Nations, we did?nt go into the port ,our next destination was Antofagasta, this was another port I gave a miss to ,but only because I was saving my money for Valparaiso. Terry went ashore , as did Jock and Nick, the terrible two came back ,blotto as usual ,Terry did?nt ; we sailed without him and the bosun said that he would be taken to Valpo by the police and it would cost him a months wages because P.S.N.C. had an agreement with the Chilean police .
As we docked in Valpo ,the dockers swarmed aboard as we were still tying up. I was on the winch on the poop hauling in the stern rope and I was watching as the dockers started to lift a lions cage on our derricks . I noticed what I thought was a splash of white paint on the black goose neck of the port derrick and wondered how someone could have dripped white paint on to it. As the lions cage lifted higher ,the ?paint ? splash widened ,and then light dawned upon me ,the goose neck was cracking open and I was seeing bright steel. I screamed to the second mate ?The derricks going to fall ? and he yelled for the dockers to stop . They did just that and the docker who was sitting beneath the goose neck looked up and shouted something in Spanish and within seconds there was?nt a Chilean docker on that ship, they had vamoosed down the gangway ,leaving the lion suspended in mid air. We made fast the ship and then went to the derrick and lowered the cage to the deck V e r y , V e r y c a r e f u l l y. I can still recall the tension today ,if that derrick collapsed ,the cage would fall ,crack open and ,well you can imagine it yourself.
I have hazy reflections of Valpo, I can remember it was cold and wet, old Tommy spent the time there with his family . Terry had come back under his own steam and was waiting for us ,he had paid a driver to bring him from Antofagasta. No police were involved, but the captain fined him a months wages anyway. One more resentment added to the growing mountain.
The three of us spent our time there drinking and womanising ,but that fine had taken the gloss off thing.
On top of all that Nick and Jock got totally palatic, they had to be dragged back aboard and were unconscious for almost 24 hours. We altered the calender and , when they resurfaced ,we were back at sea, and we let them think they had been out of it for three days. It shocked Jock but Nick was a basket case.
We heading north now ,all the joy had gone out of the trip, we could?nt wait to get home. Terry started training me to take my EDH?s ticket when we got back. Night times and Sundays we would be practising my wire splices and rigging three fold blocks, I learned to do a Turks head and a monkeys fist. When we got home I was going to take the ticket then we would have a week at a holiday camp. Terry reckoned it was fabulous for getting the girls. So ,with something to look forward the homeward run took on a different tenor.
One of our last homeward ports on the coast was a place called Pieta, a town named after the Virgin mourning for her crucified son,it looked like a hole! We anchored off and the mate thought it was a good place to paint the ships side , he was wrong of course. The great Pacific rollers caused us to roll more than somewhat, somehow had Nick ,Kenny ,Joe and some others had purchased some neat Pietan rum from the guys off the lighters,with the result that a lot of guys got on to the painting stages in a very drunken state. We started at the bow ,three stages in a line , bowsed in by a wire rope ,the rake had us at an angle of almost twenty degrees, daft ,drunken Joe was in charge of the bowsing lime and it was slacked off and tightened erratically ,his head bobbing over the side as he asked drunkenly if we were okay. We were anything but okay,this was the days before Health and Safety regulations,no safety harnesses here, just a plank of wood ,some old gantlines and a drunk in charge of your safety. As we lowered ourselves down the rake became greater and we needed bowsing tighter. She had swung into the rollers now and was pitching alarmingly. Trying to stand up and use a paint roller on a striker was very difficult but the mate insisted that we finish the job . The bowsing line was slacking and we yelled to Joe to tighten up ,he did ,oh how he did . The wire became taut and then started to bite into the paintwork, it stared singing hat awful song that precedes a break , we were bowsed in at an angle of 30 degrees when CracK!! The wire parted and we were sent flying ,luckily we had been warned by the sound and we all held to the falls . We lost the rollers and trays the paint sprayed everywhere and we said ?Enough? we swarmed up those ropes and told the bosun in no uncertain terms what the mate could do with his bow. I went back to our cabin and got stuck into a bottle of rum.
Panama was passed through and we were into the Atlantic , we should be home in a fortnight ,the weather was fine , I had a holiday to look forward after taking my ticket ,we soon be off this bucket.
The best laid plans often go astray, as we came within spitting distance of England ,we were given the news that there was a major dock strike , we would?nt be going to Liverpool but to Antwerp instead. Great ,just bloody great, our plans started to melt away ,when would we we get Home?

brian daley
11-09-2008, 10:04 PM
To Hull and Back

It was misgivings that we sailed into Antwerp,instead of paying off in the morning we were going to be here for an indeterminate time. Our Butlins adventure was looking well and truly scuppered. Still ,Antwerp was a lively old sailortown,could have some fun here. As soon as we were able ,Terry ,Eddy and I headed off down to Skipper Street to have a couple of jars and a gander round the bars. We hove to in Dannys? Bar, that place where Bootsie ,Billo and me had the shock of our lives. I was a little bit older now and a lot less innocent, those ?girls? in Dannys would?nt bother me none , live and let live was my motto. As the three of us sat quaffing there ,we were joined by a tall blonde ?lady? ,?she? was very pretty and she had eyes only for Terry. Eddy and I were having a s****** because we did?nt think Terry realised that ?she? was really a ?he?.
They had a couple of smoochy dances ,chewing the faces off each other and when Terry sat down next to me I told him about he/she. ?Ah knaw? he said in broad Yorkshire ?But she awreet? We did?nt want to leave him there ,nor did we wish to stay ,so I kept on dropping hints that it was time to go and see some real women. Terry was oblivious to our concerns and they sat holding hands and cuddling. ?She? kept on calling me a spoilsport, saying that she and Terry were O.K. and only wanted a bit of fun. At length I got up to go and leave them to it when ?She? called out something to Danny behind the bar , he laughed and then called me over. ?You ?ave some drinks on the house ?he giggled girlishly. He poured two glasses of Stella and told me to take them to Terry and Eddy, ?You come back for your drink dahlink? he laughed. When I got back to the bar I found he had poured me a liqueur, ?Is very special?, he smiled handing it to me. ?drink quickly for best taste ? he said. I knocked it back and it slid down my throat like a Drambuie ,and I slid down the bar to the floor. I was conscious ,but I had lost the use of my limbs and could?nt speak or see. I could hear the howls of laughter from the ?girls? and felt myself being grabbed by the arms and legs and being carried. I was terrified,my body,eyes and voice were useless . I could hear Terry and Eddy laughing that I had been ?Mickeyed? and there were other voices too. I felt myself being carried up some stairs and placed on a bed and some got into bed beside me. I frozen stiff with fear as to what was to happen but I soon slipped into a deep slumber. I was awakened by movement in the room and found that I could see and speak, my head felt as though it had been hit with a ten pound hammer and I found that I was still fully dressed. Beside me lay one of the ?ladies? from the bar, I shook him roughly ,wanting to know what had happened to me and he looked a little afraid. He shook his head ?Nothing happen to you? he said, ?Your fren? he make love with my fren? ? I felt sick and tired as it was but I near threw up when I heard that. I shouted for Terry and Eddy and they appeared from different rooms ,both looking shamefaced. We walked back to town to get some breakfast and I was angry with them both for letting that happen to me but they both pleaded innocence.
We went back aboard to change and show our faces and then returned to the old town. We found a bar that was not full of *****s ,gays or sharks and settled there for a few drinks ,there was a billiard table and a juke box that the latest American records and the two most beautiful barmaids ever. The bar was owned by their father and he presided over things from a high backed chair at the back of the bar. One girl was blonde and Nordic looking and the other was dark and looked very Gallic. I chatted up the blonde and Terry the brunette, poor old Eddy was playing gooseberry but did?nt seem to mind. We spent the next two days with the girls, nothing untoward happened, they were just sweet girls who had never met English sailors before ,they were good company and seemed to like us too.
I got to liking my girl so much that I did?nt want to leave Antwerp ,and thus was born the idea of jumping ship. I had never thought of doing anything like that before, but Terry was a persuasive so and so. He said that if we pretended to miss the ship ,with proof that we had missed it ,the British consul would send us home by ferry.
It?s amazing what you will believe when you are half cut. The Kenuta was due to sail that night at 11.00p.m. ,Terrys plan was that we would take a taxi back to the dock after midnight, the taxi driver would then have to take us to the Consulate and he would affirm our story that we had tried to get to the ship. We would?nt be sent back straight away and could thus spend some more time with our girls. It seemed a great plan after half a dozen Stella. So there we where after midnight ,riding in a taxi ,which none of us had the fare for, on the way back to an empty berth. When we got back to the dock ,there she was, still unloading ,not remotely ready to sail. What do we do now? RUN!! The thing was ,the driver was faster than us ,he was hot on our heels and threatened to call the police if he did?nt get his fare . Terry practically kicked down the pursers door and demanded some money to pay the driver, I think the purser thought he might be candidate for hanging for he thrust a wad of money at Terry and the cab driver went away happy. We went tour beds and grabbed a bit of shuteye. Come morning the three of us were taken , separately, into the Captains cabin . The Captain ,the Mate .the Purser and Chief Electrician were there sat like judges at a court martial. We had been adrift three days , during the drift I had apparently met the mate and had been very abusive , calling him a series of foul names ,something that I had absolutely no recollection of, upon our return we had offered violence to the purser and practically robbed .him.
I could see me ending up in Walton Jail, was my sea career coming to an end here. My head was hanging in shame as the offences were read out, I had no defence, excepting for the abuse at the mate ,everything was true. How the hell was I going to explain this to my parents?. A mixture of thoughts were swirling around in my head as I stood there ,and then I became aware of what the captain was now saying to me, ?In view of your being one of the few crewmen who were able to get the ship out of port in Havana ,that and the action you took in Buenaventura in saving the Chief Steward an injury ,or worse, we have decided that you will be logged a pound. Nevertheless you must not think that we condone what you have done, consider yourself lucky boy!?
So they were human after all!
Terry and Eddy were not so lucky though ,they were logged and fined ,heavily.
We still were?nt going to Liverpool though, we were going to Hull. I was past caring where she went to be honest, I realised that I had been very lucky and just wanted to get home without any blemishes in my discharge book.
Hull has a lot in common with Liverpool, its people do not think of themselves as Yorkshiremen as we Liverpudlians never think of ourselves as Lancashiremen. They have a great seagoing tradition and her waterfront in some ways resembles ours ,with its domed Customs House and cobbled dock road. The dockers worked differently to anywhere else that I had been to, instead of using the wire runners on our derricks they used ropes ,or warps as they called them. Whereas our runners were on the drum of a winch , secured by a shackle, their warp was on the drum end and the winch was left running constantly ,they would throw a few turns of rope on the drum when they wanted to lift and throw it off when waiting for the next lift. Whether it was better I could?nt say.
We were going to pay of in Hull ,but not yet, we had to stay with her for another three days .Terry suggested that I take my EDH?s ticket while we were in Hull, you sat your exam and got your ticket immediately ,if you passed. I saw the captain and he agreed to let me have a go , the mate and purser made all the arrangements and at ten o?clock next morning I was down at the training school in Hull to see if I could cut it. There was an examination of young officers taking their second mates tickets in progress when I got there. Yhe examiner came out of that class and gave me a piece of wire rope ,?Put an eye in that ? he said disappearing back into the classroom . There were marlin spikes and rope yarns so I got stuck and then he was back again ,he took me to a model derrick on which there was a three fold block, there was another laying beside it and some cord .?rig that up? was all he said ,When he came back he stayed and took me through bends and hitches ,all the while throwing questions at random, pretty soon two hours had passed when he shook my hands and then signed my ticket.
I went back to the ship feeling like a million dollars. That night we all went to the Sportsmans pub and had a good old session. Whilst we were drinking two very Italian looking girls came and sat beside us . They were very outgoing and asked if we would like to go to an orgy. I had never been asked that question before ,it is something nearly every young sailor dreams of . ?Would I like to go to an orgy? Do donkeys eat carrots?? Their language was saltier than any sailors, and then they brought out some photographs ,they were box Brownie black and whites and were far raunchier than any you would buy in Port Said. Remember this was 1960 a long time before pornography was freely available. And here were these two women showing us the most graphic pictures imaginable of their last orgy. Turned out they were professionals and our interest soon waned. We were tipped out at closing time and made our merry way back to our ship ,this was the very last night aboard .
We were nearly home ,no more shocks or escapades ,pay off in the morning ,back home in Kirkby at tea time.
But there were still a few surprises before then .
When we got back aboard we found a full scale party going on in the stewards quarters ,Eddy took me and Terry down there to have a few drinks before turning in . While I was sitting having a sup ,one of the stewards whispered that my cabinmate was spark out in the bakers bunk and it did?nt look good., I shot round there and found Kenny being attended to by the Baker. Kenny was?nt conscious enough to know what was going on and the Baker was mightily upset when I ripped him off Kennys? sleeping form. Eddy helped me drag Kenny away. When I got back to the stewards alleyway, Eddy pulled me into his cabin and asked me to do him !!! I thought he was joking and goosed him ,but the look on his face was something awful ,he was serious! It fell into place ,it was always him who was without a girl,he did?nt fancy them ,he fancied me!!!

Paying off was an anti climax after all that, D.R.?s ,the worst thing a seaman can be given in his discharge book, were given to all the offenders in Buenoventura , very few of us escaped with the two V.G.?s that are expected every trip. I did?nt have much cash to pick up and so it was going to be a short leave.
So ,I left the Kenuta on the 13th of October 1960, kitbag and suitcase in hand ,I made my way to Hull Station to catch the train to Liverpool. As I was walking toward the station ,in my best bib and tucker ,I was nearing the station approaches when I heard ?Cooee, now Brian, don?t you want to know us? There, at the end of the street stood the two orgeists? .I froze, and then shot into the Kardomah. Caf?. It was filled with ladies doing lunch,all flowery hats and pastel coloured frocks. I cowered at the back hoping they had?nt seen me . They came through the door pointing and laughing raucously ?There?s the dirty little f++++r ? one shouted and a hundred saucers rattled. I wanted to fall through the floor as they came and sat beside me, ? Yer still want to go to bed wi? us dirty a**e?? they crowed. They were playing to the audience and the audience were riveted to the spot. I crept out of there with my ears burning and my face red with shame. What a way to end a trip.

brian daley
11-21-2008, 10:38 AM
A Different Kind of Leave

I met Terry at the station in Hull after escaping the clutches of those two Harpies in the Kardomah.
The holiday we had hoped to have in Butlins had now disappeared over the horizon and Mum had agreed that Terry could stay with us at home with me for the leave period.
I did?nt know what kind of a reception Terry would receive at home , black was a colour little seen in Kirkby in those days, my parents were no different from any other working class people and colour had never been an issue in our house.
My worries were needless, the whole family welcomed him with open arms and as soon as we had unpacked Dad took us both to the Railway pub for a drink. The regulars were taken a little aback when he walked in but within minutes he was the centre of attraction. His Yorkshire accent and ready wit won most of the people over within a few minutes .When we got back home ,Mum had supper ready and then she and Terry retired to the kitchen to talk about financial affairs, he was going to pay his way. He would have been staying in the Sailors Home or Gordon Smiths and it had been Mums idea to invite him to stay with us as a lodger .Terry was all for it, three square a day, laundry thrown in and a family to stay with, he was all for it. As for Terrys? own family, well details were a bit sketchy ,he had mentioned that his Dad was ?Sarf American? but never spoke of his mum or other kin .Home was Bradford but other than that I never knew ,or had needed to know. We spent most of our time drinking and dancing, the Locarno and Grafton became our favourite haunts and Terry was a hit with the girls. We went home from a different direction every night. Never made any dates, just one night stands. After the first few days Terry announced that he wanted me to go to Bradford with him to meet his Dad and family, this surprised me because he had never spoken more than a few words about him before then. So it was back to Yorkshire ,we took a couple of days clean clothing and our toilet bags ,we were not going to be too long . Bradford was a revelation to me, a smoky mill town full of Victorian buildings. The woollen mills were working at full blast and most of the millworkers were from Pakistan. This was in the days before full immigration was allowed and the immigrant population was mostly male. Terry took me to a Pakistani boarding house, we were staying there and not with his family, the place was clean but very Spartan, two single beds and a sink, there was a shared bathroom on the landing. Terry had brought his transistor radio and that was our sole form of entertainment.
When we had stowed our gear Terry took us to see his Dad, he was a wiry little Jamaican, his bedsit was very poorly furnished and his sole possession ,apart from the few sticks of furniture was an old black and white T.V. set. I was really embarrassed when I discovered that the purpose of our visit was to divest his father of that ,Terry had bought it for him on a previous leave and was going to take it away so that he could give it to his elder brother, one I was hearing about for the first time. After a short and bitter conversation ,Terry pulled the plug and we left the house with the t.v. set. My mind was becoming very confused, this guy had been kindness itself at sea ,taught me more than anyone else about seamanship and had helped me take my ticket. Money had never been problem ,he had been generous as hell, but here he was taking away this old cripples only form of entertainment. He must have seen my confusion and, by way of an explanation ,told me that his dad had been extremely cruel to him and his brother ? it was no more the ?e deserved? The brother ,who shall remain nameless ,was of a lighter skin colour than Terry ,small and stocky ,he lived in a one bedroomed flat with his very pregnant wife. She was due anyday now..He was a regular Andy Capp ,out of work living on benefits and a little bit of larceny. After we dropped off the t.v. Terry took me into town to see the high spots, one of which was Farmer Giles coffee bar ,that was the place to pull nice young ladies and Bradford was full of them. This was in the days before disco?s, juke boxes and coffee was the most you could hope for here ,the bars were for men and the beer was Hammonds, a good strong brew. Two mornings later we made our exit from the boarding house , via the toilet window on the first floor, not my idea ,Terry was a racist! ?Ahm not gonna a gi a Paki any brass mate? was his excuse. I was to learn more of his philosophy later.
Back home ,I was getting a bit short on the money front, we had been hard at it and Terry was earning considerably more than me and I could?nt keep up with his spending rate. We went to the movies ,saw a Cliff Richard musical, embarrassing, Cliff was no Gene Kelly. I had to pass up going to town on Saturday night , I was so stretched for cash that I just could?nt afford it. Terry then had the bright idea of going back to Bradford ,it was cheaper and he had?nt shown me half the things we could do,
Reluctantly, I agreed to go and got a sub off Mum. I was amazed when we went back to the Pakistani boarding house ,the landlord remonstrated with Terry and he smiled back at him and said that he had come to pay what we owed and would be staying for another week. We went to his brothers to see how his wife was getting along ,she was overdue now and then I was taken on a bus journey to Cleckheaton. Having a deep tan at that time of the year was very exotic and in a place like Cleckheaton it made you an object of wonder. Even the clippie on the bus tried to pick me up, I was very flattered when she gave me my change and then leant down and whispered into my ear ?Ahh could do things to you Lad ? I was still young enough to blush. We went to a nice old pub in Cleckheaton,the landlady knew Terry and she made us both very welcome, this was lunchtime and it was?nt very busy and the few regulars crowded around us plying us with questions about ?abroad? They had a genuine curiosity ,?were the skies as blue as they saw at the pictures?, ?was South America full of jungles? ?We acted up to their expectations and stretched the truth a little to make it more colourful . We were well rewarded for our yarns, we never had to put our hands in our pockets at all . One of the things that they were taken with were our stories about American fast food, hot dogs in particular ,they were tickled pink at the thought . The landlady made us promise that we would come back that night, ?let the other folk hear your tales? she said. At seven thirty that night we were back ,the place was packed and our reception was such that you would have thought that we were polar explorers or some such other adventurers. We were sat down at a table that had been reserved for us and , as we were supping our first pint , the landlady came in carrying aloft a big meat plate full of ?hot dogs?, Cleckheaton style. Big fat juicy Yorkshire sausages in soft breadrolls garnished with fried onions,. They were delicious and they vanished in minutes. Next morning we departed from our boarding house in exactly the same manner as before ,via the toilet window. I was?nt proud of doing it ,I was following Terry?s lead. We went round to his brothers flat and he persuaded us to stay the night there ,problem was ,they only had the one bed ,and no settee.!
We went back to Cleckheaton that night and we were told that there was a dance at a pub in Heckmond wike just down the road. Heckmondwike was a farm village then, nice little place and the George was where the ?hop? was taking place. The dance was in what had been the stable in a previous age ,now whitewashed and furnished with tables and benches along the walls ,it had a Wurlitzer jukebox in the corner and a big log fire on the on the far side of the room. The Locarno it was was?nt. All of the village girls sat on one side of the room ,they were pretty girls ,but were dressed in a style all of their own ,still very 1950?s. The music was what was in the current hit parade and no one was dancing, I went and asked various girls if they wanted to dance, there were only a dozen or so, and each time I asked I got an embarrassed refusal. A shake of the head , blushing cheeks and a giggle., no ! On my sixth or seventh attempt I asked them if they were all Lesbians (this was pre P.C.) they looked puzzled ,they obviously had?nt heard the word before. I went and sat down , again, and just then a very sophisticated looking young lady came in ,the girls huddled around her, all chattering at once ,glancing at me as they spoke. Another good record came on and I made my way across the floor again .?Anyone want to dance?? I asked ,and half a dozen jumped up to take up my offer. The ice broken, we had a great time ,one of the girls wanted me to take her back to Bradford, she wanted to sleep with me ,in my haste to comply I had forgotten about the sleeping arrangements. When we got to the flat she was devastated and asked to be taken home. Not an easy thing to do when the buses have stopped and you haven?t got a car or the taxi fare . Terrys brother said not to worry as he would sort the problem and promptly disappeared, He was back pretty soon and took the young lady ,his wife and me down to an old Jowett Bradford van that had been converted to an estate. I was impressed ,unemployed and a car owner. We set off for Heckmondwike at great speed, the brothers driving seemed somewhat erratic, traffic lights were ignored and roundabouts were negotiated by driving over them . It became increasingly clear that this guy was both drunk and a non driver. Luckily for us all we dropped the girl off at her farm and made it back to Bradford alive. I asked him, when fear had relaxed its grip on my throat, how long he had owned he car. ?Oh it?s not mine , I nicked it just before? Thank god we were home when I asked that question. Terry was waiting for us at the flat when we got back ,he had had his wicked way with one of the other farm girls. It was now the early hours of the morning and my body was wanting to sleep ,but where, the unasked question was answered by the brother when he motioned for us to join him and his wife in their double bed .He and his wife were to sleep at the top of the bed and Terry and I slept at the bottom .
It was gruesome, neither of them wore any nightwear and I spent most of the night finding my feet in places where feet should?nt ought to go.

After a very restless night ,we departed for home and I slept for most of the train journey, my relationship with Terry was under strain, I did?nt like the way we had been behaving and I did?nt like the wayhe treated his Dad. On top of that I found that his brother was a housebreaker and that they both enjoyed a bit of ?Paki bashing? But Terry also had a charm about him that could disarm most people. When we got back to the ?Pool ,we went and saw that nice Mr Repp down at the shipping federation and he sorted us out a couple of berths on the Swan River ,one of Houlders ,we would be joining her in two days time. Our last night at home was a Wednesday and we decided to go to the Locarno, midweek dances were nearly always ?grab a Granny nights? but this was promising to be different ;the posters stated that it was to be a ?carnival night? with extended opening hours. So in we went with the greatest of high hopes?.it was still a grab a granny night ,most of the women were older than us ,some of them middle aged and most of the men were either lounge lizards or Mr Lonelys. We managed to find two young ?unhappily? married women ,or so they said . We had a good time because they were very good dancers and offered us both a promising end to the night. The place started to empty around about 10-30 p.m. and the floor began to take on deserted appearance, Terry insisted that we must keep dancing otherwise the band would go home as well . Come 11.00 we were the only people left ,some of the musicians had left and some were playing in their overcoats. Giant sized hints were being dropped that it was time to go but Terry steadfastly ignored them .?We?ve paid to stay late and we bloody well will? he said. The bouncers made a circle around our table and the band was just vamping ,it really was time to go but the Lad was not having it. At length ,one of the biggest bouncers growled ?D?ja like ?ospital food mate,?cos if yew don?t shift yer bleedin? arse that?s wot you?ll be ?avin? termorrer? The girls were frightened now and I stood up ?C?mon stop acting the prat mate, these girls have got a home to go to?
We left rather hurriedly and saw the ladies to their houses before spending the last few hours at home.

Next morning ,as Mum was kissing me goodbye ,she asked me if Terry had given me any money ,I asked her why and she told me that she had said to Terry that she did?nt want any money off him but that he should give that money to me so that I could keep up with him. Terry had been giving me a few pounds ,purely as a loan he said.
We began our voyage on the Swan River as ex-friends.

naked lilac
11-22-2008, 07:51 AM
awww Brian.. another good tale of your youth.. ...

Funny how we really try and like some people.. thinking them such charismatic and good friends.. and then,after a bit of time, ones friendship becomes foiled by their cunning deceipt..

Their loss.. yet, do they ever understand the meaning?

waiting for another story Brian.. :handclap:

brian daley
11-29-2008, 03:38 PM
Down Argentina Way

Old Charley Repp must have been in a good mood on Bonfire day for he gave us a good berth on Motor Vessel Swan River. She was one of the Houlder Line ships and was making her second trip to
the west coast of South America .I could barely contain my excitement , a practically new ship and going to somewhere I had always wanted to visit.
We sailed shortly after signing on ,which suited me fine, it was single berth accommodation and each cabin was well furnished, we had a writing desk with a swivel chair ,proper wardrobe and plenty of drawer, a day bed and a good bunk with a spring interior mattress. There was also a sink, the first I had ever seen outside of officer territory. The toilet block had a wet weather room attached to it ,we had lockers in there in which we could keep our work clothes and heavy weather gear. Each locker had a heavy duty padlock which was painted in armorial colours and we each had key rings on which there was a tag painted with the same colours. This was a step up in the world after the Kenuta. The sailors mess was fitted out in melamine and was softly coloured . We hoped the food would live up to the rest of things.
The crew were a good mix it seemed, Terry was there of course but I was keeping my distance from him, I was a first trip E.D.H and was the youngest of the senior ratings, the others I remember were Teddy Woods from Kirkby, Eddy Clark and his brother in law Alec McNab, Taffy ,another E.D.H. a bit older than me ,he was a tankerman making his first trip on a cargo boat. There was Old Taffy, a middle aged balding guy with a terrible comb over, and there was Mr X , a weirdo ,middle aged he looked like a psycho and ,as events were to prove ,was deserving of that sobriquet.
The bosun was a big bluff man from Hull, he was in his 50?s and was very even tempered. We seemed set fair to have a decent trip, if anything ,I was the seemingly unsociable one , my unwillingness to expand on my relationship with Terry marked me out as a no mark and ,when we got to Cardiff ,my refusal to join the lads on a run ashore because Terry was with them, marked my book even more. I was?nt going to tell tales out of school ,they would have to take Terry as they found him. I did?nt stop aboard ,far from it with Alan ,another E.D.H. ,we made our way to the town centre to see what was going on, it was a market day and the centre was fairly busy, pubs were full of farmers who had come down from the hills ,after a couple of pints we made our way to the Mecca ballroom. That, too was crowded and most of the girls had partners, there were hardly any spare girls, but I wanted to dance . There was a very pretty lady sitting with her partner and she was looking wistfully at the dancers, I stepped forward and asked if she would like to dance, she looked at her partner questioningly and he smiled and nodded his assent and we took to the floor. She was a marvellous dancer, responsive to my every movement. As we glided around the floor I could not help but notice the wedding and engagement rings on her finger and I asked her if she was with her husband ? Oh yes!? she smiled ?He brings me here every market day; can?t dance for toffee,but ?e likes to watch me at the dancin? boyo? I spent the rest of the night with them, her husband was a sheep farmer and they had a couple of young children , they were still very much in love and he was?nt jealous of her dancing with other men ?Warms ?er up for me later boy? he laughed.
I walked back to the ship alone ,but I had had a good time.
When I got back, Old Taff was in the mess room having a cocoa, he was looking flustered , I asked if if he was O.K. and he said that he had nearly been arrested. I asked him why and he replied that he had gone up to the house where his first wife lived to see if there was any chance of a bit of nookey. When she opened the door to him she screamed or help and the neighbours piled out of their doors to see what was up. She was shouting for them to call the police, apparently he was about 5 years behind with his alimony payments. I was to learn that old Taff was a prodigious story teller.
We headed for Las Palmas after leaving South Wales ,just prior to leaving we picked up a passenger, a tall distinguished looking gent , looked like a colonel, clipped moustache, tweed cap and jacket ,cavalry twill trousers and expensive looking brogues. The captains wife joined us there too , she was a bit like the Queen Mother ,gracious and always friendly ,her husband Captain Potts was one of the best masters it had been my pleasure to sail with.
During the trip across to the Canaries I got to know some of the lads better , they were beginning to realise that I was?nt as bad as they first thought, I just did?nt want to open up about Terry. I had in the meanwhile made friends with the baker and a couple of stewards who were in my age bracket. There was a little fireman from Kirkby ,Bonzo was his nickname , of indeterminate age, he had great big saucer eyes set in a thin sallow face with a mouth that had hardly a tooth in it. His clothes were three or four sizes too big for him which made him look like a cartoon character, he seemed to take a shine to me though and there was never an unkind word that ever left his lips.
We went ashore in a big group in Las Palmas, it felt great to be in such company , not rowdy or drunk yet!!!
As we were strolling along past the bars I was stopped in my tracks by the sight of one of my uncles sitting at the bar. I was stunned, I had known him all my life but had never learned that he was a seaman. He got the bigger shock when I walked over to him ,(he had?nt recognised me yet ), and
tapped him on the shoulder saying ?Hullo, uncle Matty? He nearly fell off his chair ,turns out he was down below on the Reina Del Mar. It was a very happy reunion and provided my Dads family with a topic of conversation for many years .
Soon we were sailing westward to Uruguay, the sea was fairly rough all the way across but the Swan River was a good vessel, she rode out those storms with equanimity, nothing untoward occurred all the way across. Our passenger used to like standing on the wing of the bridge watching the waves hurtle towards us like a charge of white horses.
Soon we were entering the River Plate, on our way to Montevideo, I?ve always thought that a wonderful name, where the famous battle took place between the German pocket battleship Graf Spee and the British cruisers HMS Ajax, HMS Exeter and HMS Achilles ,which was part of the Royal New Zealand Navy. It was not too long since I had read the story and I was thrilled to be actually there where it all happened.
I was surprised at how European Uruguay looked, the docks looked as old as Liverpools? ,but they were cleaner, and there was a statue in the main entrance to the docks, erected in honour of the Trabajadores, a wonderful name for a docker ; I tried to imagine what kind of a statue might be erected in the Gladstone????? I still have?nt succeeded.
Everyone who had done the run before told me to save my money for Buenos Aires across the river ,I did?nt listen , I wanted to see things for myself. What I saw was a sailor town that had once seen better days, the amount of bars and clubs along the side streets told that story, lots of them were closed , there were an awful lot of souvenirs for sale, caps and hat bands ,neckerchiefs and daggers, all purporting to have come from the Graf Spee. This was nearly 29 years after the battle ,it did?nt take much mental arithmetic to work out that they must have had a crew numbering in millions for there to have been so many mementos.
We met up with a crew of a German ship ,.the Cap Norte, a very smart looking vessel , all white with a raked bow and steamlined superstructure, an ocean greyhound. The lads seemed friendly enough and we got by without the third world war breaking out. I slipped away a little while later for I had seen a lady who looked just like Marilyn Monroe, we had a few drinks and a dance or two and then ended up at her place. She was wonderful and we hardly slept a wink.
Next day , as we were preparing to leave, Mrs Potts came looking for me,?Your young lady has come to see you off ?she smiled ,? Go and say goodbye to her? I blushed to my roots, everyone but Mrs Potts knew what the ?young Lady? was, a *****. I made my way along the quayside , and yes ,she did look every inch lady, she a had a blossom in her hair which she took off and gave to me ,she did?nt act like a ***** and my heart warmed to her as she embraced me and whispered ?Adios Muy Amore ? I kissed her goodbye as though she were the love of my life.
The distance between Monte and B.A. is not very great and the river has to be one of the busiest places in South America. There seemed to be a lot of beachcombers in Monte, there were two in particular, English lads who claimed to have missed their ship many moons ago and now got by on the generosity of visiting British vessels. They were fed and watered by us for the whole time we were there, but their outfits were getting a bit threadbare, they were beginning to look like a couple of hobo?s. Another memory that lingers of Monte is the seaplane service, there were a couple of flights a day from there to B.A., it looked like a Sunderland flying boat and I always wish I could have taken that journey. But here we were ,about to sail to the place that had the largest British population in the Southern American continent ,the place of good air ,Buenos Aires.

brian daley
12-02-2008, 03:54 PM
Buenos Aires

I had heard so many tales about B.A. ,it was reputed to be a place of great contrasts, the city was picturesque ,the women beautiful and the police violent in the extreme. Thus it was with great expectations that we arrived at our berth, you could see the skyscrapers in the distance not quite New York but bigger than anything we had in Liverpool. The dockers were different from elsewhere they had a kind of class system ,the men who did the pulling and hauling were dressed in rough working clothes whilst the winch drivers and talleymen were dressed like small time gangsters. The latter strutted like peacocks and seemed very vain ,but ,as I was discovering ,that was the latino way.
We were going to be here for quite some time and we would have plenty of time to find out about the city ,one of the AB?s was a regular down this way and he gave the low down on the best places to go. He was keen to reacquaint himself with the 2 ?P?s ,porno movies and the Patchanga. I was amazed to learn that there were cinemas that showed porn in much the same way that the Tatler showed newsreels and cartoons non stop and with usherettes and ice cream. I did?nt get to finding out if that were true. I did find out about the Patchanga, it was a very risqu? dance that was all the rage in La Boca ,the older part of town. B.A. is colossal, and diverse, when we left the dock gates to get into town we had to walk up a road lined with the roughest shanties I had yet seen, dwellings made out of every conceivable kind of material, some were constructed out of old oil drums ,opened out and made into sheets and tacked on to wooden frames. They were the good ones, I saw one family that were living beneath an old dining table ,there were pieces of linoleum nailed to the edge of the table and hung down to provide shelter at the sides. A collection of upright refrigerators provided the wall of another house, and all this was in sight of the most opulent dwelling on the other side of the tracks. Poverty ,naturally brought with it other hazards, muggers! You had to be careful not to walk alone down that road ,once clear of it you were pretty safe, across the square from the station and you were into 25 de Mayo and all the bars that lay therein. There were literally dozens of places where Jolly Jack could go to slake his thirst and satisfy his carnal needs. One bar was favoured more than all of the dives though and that was the one run by a lady from Liverpool ,May Sullivan. Her bar was forbidden to the ladies of the night, there you would get a good beer in convivial surroundings .The d?cor owed more to New York than Latin America so it was favourite of Yankee sailors too. Being a young sailor with an itch that needed scratching ,I favoured the dives. I got to meet some beautiful women down there, not the flyblown old hags of yore, but ladies who were chic and wonderful dancers , there was bar after bar full of ladies who could dance and did?nt mind if you were just a kid.
I befriended a lovely lady ,she was a business girl ,but not out to business with me, she alerted me to the perils that could befall a young man in the fantastic old town and she told of the best places to see. Thanks to her I went to the fabulous cemetery where Eva Peron was interred ,the was the Recolecta , a necropolis full of the most ornate tombs in the world, there are streets lined all manner of buildings in which entire dynasties are interred. ,Evitas tomb was almost a place of pilgrimage, the bronze plaques upon its stonework polished bright by many thousands of lips.
Just down from the Recolecta was the American Catholic sailors mission. This was run by a crusty little priest from Boston, he looked like an older version of Hulme Cronin and had a club foot ,upon which he wore a very heavy circular boot. He used to run dances of a weekend and he would get his young female parishioners to volunteer to dance with the Jolly Jacks .
The mission was in a well to do area and his young ladies were well mannered daughters of B.A.?s affluent citizens. They were good to come and dance with what could be a very salty crowd of hairy arsed sailors.
Half way through the dance ,the band would take a break and the young ladies would serve soft drinks and cakes, strictly no alcohol!
One night the refreshments were being served when a youing lady squealed ,dropped her tray and rushed fro the room to the kitchen. Raucous laughter could be heard coming from a table where there sat a crowd off another English ship.. Next thing we knew was the peppery little priest was clumping across the stage carrying a baseball bat. Trembling with rage, he took hold of the microphone and with a voice choking with emotion he said ?If I find the man who told Miss Rosalba to shove the cakes up her feckin? ass , I ?ll shove this bat right up his feckin?ass!!? As he said it he blushed to his very roots and fled from the stage. The ballroom exploded with laughter, although we all felt sorry for Miss Rosalba.

Back onboard meanwhile, the cargo was being unloaded and the tween decks were cleared in the main hatch, we were given the task of cleaning up after the tween deck was empty. On Saturday ,which was overtime ,and very welcome too ! B.A. was?nt cheap. The whole crowd excepting old Taff turned to, he had gone off Tango?ing down in La Boca. The tween decks was where the strong rooms were situated, there were two sets of heavy duty double leaf doors which were secured by the same kind of padlocks that we had on our work gear lockers. These too had been painted in armorial colours . As we were sweeping up ,Terry said ,to no one in general ?Aye up, that lock is the same pattern as mine look? we smiled indulgently ,Twit ,did?nt he know they were Chubb locks? He got his key out and inserted it in the padlock, ?Click?!! It opened and you could hear the gasp of indrawn breath as the ten of us looked at the store of treasure stacked inside. Whisky???..tons of whisky. Johnnie Walker ,Glen Grant, Teachers, you name it, it was there.
The genie was well and truly out of the bottle.,this was?nt for drinking, this was given us by the gods ,this was our ticket for a fantastic time in B.A.
But how to do it? How d?you get the cargo up and ashore whilst the bosun ,the Talleyman and the police are all on watch?
With a little bit of graft and deception that?s how. The ringleaders, who shall remain nameless, went off to the bars to negotiate a deal ,they were back after lunch and told of how many cases would be required. My mind was racing ,how do we get the cases out of the hatch? Answer, you don?t ,you get the bottles out of the hatch. How do you stop the bosun seeing what we are up to,answer,you fill a carboy with whiskey and give it to him, he was off his head for a week. The polieman and Talleyman? You give them a percentage! We worked feverishly for the rest of the day, we smashed the boxes and filled cargo slings with the bottles and covered them with rubbish ,once the sling was on deck we took it down aft and the bottles were stored in our cabins ready for shipment ashore under the cover of darkness. The Talleyman and policeman stood rooted to their respective spots ,never once moving their heads ,one looking out to sea ,the other looking at the quay ,he must have counted every brick in the dock wall.
The strong room was emptied of everything but a crate of Benedictine, and by teatime Saturday we were all dockside millionaires.
We hit that town ,each in our own individual way ,and painted it red ,blue .yellow ??all the colours of the rainbow. Come Monday morning and time for the strong rooms to be un
unloaded of their expensive cargo ,there was general consternation on the upper decks ?Whodunnit?? They never figured it out ,the police were not called for had?nt there been a policeman on duty that very day, had?nt the Talleyman been present? Captain Potts put the case of Benedictine on top of the hatchway, nobody touched it ,He knew that we knew he knew ,but he did?nt know how.

Having the extra cash in my pocket I decided to go up town, it was really chic ,the main shopping street was just like Kensington ,in fact there was a Dunhill shop and a Harrods too ,very posh. It felt very cosmopolitan, pavement cafes ,theatres ,cinemas and nice restaurants too. Beef restaurants , the place was a carnivores delight, they had Asado?s these were restaurants which had a barbeque shaped rather like a hoopla stall ,the pole in the middle had spits ,like the spokes on an umbrella, whole sides of beef were impaled on these spits and they rotated on their own axis while the pole turned in a clockwork fashion around the booth which had woodburning grille in a circle . It looked like a gigantic vertical rotisserie. When you ordered your bife it was cut direct from the spit. I promise you ,you will never have a better steak. At the other end of the scale there were the small steakhouse were you could get a bife completo for the equivalent of 50p and he there was the Bife Lomo man ,a bit like Mr Whippy ,he had a van in which there was a charcoal stove and you could buy a Bife Lomo, a juicy rump steak with onions enclosed within a French roll ,25p ! No matter how we spent the night ,we always made sure that we had enough change left for a bife supper.

I was asked by one of the bar girls if I would like to take her young sister on a date, I jumped at the chance, she was my age, still at college ,could?nt speak English though .So it was duly arranged the I would meet young Amparo by the Recolecta ,which was not far from where they lived , I had brought a small posy and a box of chocolates in readiness. She was waiting there when I arrived ,blonde haired with pale blue eyes and olive skin ,she was devastatingly lovely. We smiled and shook hands ,where to go? We strolled along the boulevard until we came to a big cinema ,it was dark and the cinema looked inviting so in we went and got a seat in the stalls. The film was Italian with Spanish subtitles ,she liked it ,I know for I spent most of the show peeking at her, I could?nt believe I was out with such a beauty. I sat and held her hand ,afraid of being to forward ,after all I was on trust here. .After the show I walked her back to the foot of her apartment block and gently kissed her good night. Winged feet took me back to the bar. Her sister looked shocked to see me ?You no like Amparo?? she quizzed. ?Yes ,she?s lovely ? I replied. ?Then why you no make love to her?? I goggled at her?What!!? She looked at me as though I were simple. ? I tell Amparo I find nice English boy to take virginity ,and you?????? you loco!? I felt a right fool ,but I never got those signals off Amparo, to me she will always be that nice girl I dated in B.A.

A little while later that night I met a girl who nearly drove me crazy ; I went into a bar down near the station ,it was like a scene from an Edwin Hopper painting, dimly lit , the barkeeper with his head stuck in a book , the juke box playing a song by Carlos Gardel and a girl with hair as black as midnight and eyes to match. One look from her and I was lost.

brian daley
12-11-2008, 01:20 PM

Her name was Rosa ,she was dressed in white which showed off her tan wonderfully ,she looked like a dancer ,her taut bust ,slim waist and beautifully curved legs perfect in form. She was sipping mate from a silver capped cup. I sat down in the booth and ordered a drink. She stopped sipping and looked at me quizzically. ?You English?? she asked.
I nodded in reply ,?Where from?? ,I told her. ?You name?? ?Brian? I answered. ?Brian??.what name is this?? she asked. ?My first name? I replied. ?No, is name English ?? ?Yes ,what is your name ?? And little and by degree I got to know Rosa; she was just getting over an affair and was not looking to start another one so we sat and verbally fenced for a while. The barman put a slow dance on the juke box and we stepped onto the floor. Holding her close ,the warmth of her body and her sweet perfume made the moment special and I sank into her. Thus began a time of enchantment , we would meet there everynight , we would dine ,dance and tell each other lies. Up until that moment I had never met anyone who could make so many sparks, I knew she could never be mine, she was from a different class to mine;hers was a world of high powered cars ,speedboats a villa at La Plata and a very rich dad. I just enjoyed being her toy for the time it lasted.

While we were in B.A. old Taff disappeared for the first weekend , when he came back on the Monday morning he regaled us in the messroom with a tale of tango passion. He had gone down the La Boca district and met with a lady of refinement who had a passion for the tango. Old Taff so impressed with his dancing that she took him home for the weekend and they had spent their time in a frenzy of lovemaking and tango. We felt so envious,how could that baldy old B. pull a stunt like that ? We soon found out.
At lunch time ,the two beachcombers who we had helped out in Montevideo came aboard. We were surprised to see them but let them have a meal anyway. When old Taff came into the messroom ,they both greeted him with ?What time did they let you out mate?? Taff blushed deep red and mumbled something. ? ?E told us you was ?ere ? said one of them ? ?E was wiv us shovellin? horse**** in the police barracks all weekend? Poor Taff, he was always getting caught out in his tall tales.

I went for a stroll down to the old docks with Rosa one afternoon and saw something that was right out of a comic book. The dock was like a ships graveyard, the were old warships ,tugs and freighters that were laid up there. Taking up most of the quayfront was an old Dreadnought, it had two huge conning towers ,everything seemed intact, and up there ,50 or so feet above the deck, were floral curtains on the windows and plant pots hanging beneath them.
All the rest of the vessels were occupied in a like manner and plant pots added a splash of colour everywhere. I often wondered if the families living in those tall conning towers had small children for they were reached by the smallest of steel steps set into the mast. But when compared to those poor people living outside the dock gates,these people were well housed.

When we were still in B.A. ,the bosun decided that we should give the masts a coat of paint,it is a job we usually do at sea ,not when we are still discharging cargo. But he was the man in charge of our labours so it was up the mast and painting we went. The job is usually accomplished by two guys in bosuns chairs ,one in font of the mast and the other at the rear. You tie your paint pot beneath the chair and you try not to splash too much paint. We had to be especially careful this time because we had some men working on the winches directly beneath us . The winchmen ,as befitted their status were wearing their nice clothes. As Eddy and I we painting away up the topmast we began to hear the angry shouting of an Argentinian docker, the sound was coming from directly beneath us. Looking below ,I could see a wildly gesticulating winchman who was glaring up at me pointing to a splash of yellow paint on his nice velvet waistcoat. There was nothing I could do and so I carried on brushing ; he was roaring now ,he had a new spot. So I gave him the finger. He was behaving like the Tasmanian Devil in the Bugs Bunny cartoons. All work stopped down below as the dockers watched to see what would happen next. I lowered myself to the mast table and looked down. The winchman was climbing the mast with a knife in his mouth , he was spitting flames. I shouted down to him ?Hola? he stopped and waved the knife, even angrier than before .He was half way up now ,I called again and he looked up just as I tipped the entire contents of my pot over his head. The dockers exploded with laughter and cheering and the George Raft lookalike slunk off home to clean himself up.
Luckily for me ,we sailed to Rosario that night.

brian daley
12-20-2008, 12:34 PM

There was nothing rosy about River Rosario, I think the Spanish settlers were like estate agents ,they gave the grandest sounding names to the most ordinary places . Perhaps it was the weather that coloured my opinion of it.
The skies were grey and overcast for days, although it was not very cold it had that feel of late autumn about it ,but we were well south of the Tropic of Capricorn. It was nearly Christmas , and ,as I write this, I am mindful that the events I am now relating occurred almost 48 years ago to the day. We docked the day before Christmas Eve, the workers were all over that ship like a rash, I have never seen cargo moved so fast, it was obvious the holiday was nigh. We were not a fridge boat and so would not be carrying the sides of beef and lambs that the Argentine was famous for,we would be carrying meat though??..canned meat. Rosario was full of meat packing plants,Vesteys practically owned the town and there were a few blue Star boats that we had passed ,the Cap Norte was in port too so we would be having a drink or two with the lads off her.
Most of the deck crowd went aboard the German vessel that night , the Cap Norte crew proved wonderful hosts ,there was plenty of good lager and lots of bratwurst and other sausages ,ideal ballast when you are having a serious drink. There was no unpleasantness, this was still only 15 year after the war, and we said we would return the honours when we got back to B.A.

Christmas Eve was not a holiday there, it had the feeling of being just another day , Two of the catering staff that I had befriended Sandy ,an Essex lad and a blonde guy from Newcastle ,whose name has slipped from memory, asked if I fancied having a look for a good time in downtown Rosario . ?Being Roman Catholics, these Argies will be having parties and we just might cop off ? reasoned Sandy. Seemed like a good idea to me and Geordie so that night ,which was cold, very cold, we had to wear our overcoats, we set off to find a good time. None of us had been there before and none of the other lads seemed to know much about the place either. We walked through the gloomy dockside ,past the various meat boats ,as we neared the dock gates we saw one of the biggest rats ever. It was the size of a Jack Russell terrier, it was scavenging on some piece of carrion and as we neared it ,it looked up from its feast and glared at us. We gave it a wide berth.
I had heard tales of the rats in meat ports ,we never saw any in Australia , here there were millions of them. I heard tales of the legendary fridge rats that some of the older hands swore existed. These creatures were said to live in the fridges of the meat boats and had developed thick white fur coats to beat the freezing temperatures ,is it legend? I never saw any.
We left the dock area expecting to see neon lights outside of sailor bars, all was in darkness. There seemed to be miles of 2 storey blocks of dwellings on the side facing the docks ,a set of train and tram lines ran the length of the road between the docks and the ?town?. We walked for ages ,as we passed the streets that led off the dock road ,we saw no signs of life down them either. The dwellings were in blocks of courtyards, no doors led off the street ,instead there were large gates into the courtyards and we could see some life through the windows that were visible within the courtyards.
The whole place was eerily quiet; were heard the sound of a tram coming down the road and agreed to get on it when it arrived. It was bound to pass through a town centre ,or near a lively place, we were such optimists.
The conductor looked at us as though we were visitors from outer space ,?Que pasa?? he asked ,?Centro , cerveza ,tango!? we replied ,handing him a wedge of peso?s for the fare. He shook his head and muttered something ,gave us our tickets and left us alone as he went to chat to the driver. We were the only people on board. The three of us stood on the platform scanning the streets as we sped by ,the road was long and straight and the side streets were a monotonous blur of greying murk ,not a bar sign anywhere. We came to a grinding halt at a terminus many miles from where we had embarked, we were now off the road that had run the length of the river and where there were still faceless blocks of dwellings. We did?nt have a clue where we were. But we were British seamen and we were determined to have a good time, there had to be some bars somewhere ,surely?
Walking away from the terminus looking for what now seemed like El dorado, we came upon 2 policemen who were on patrol. They looked like regular lifesavers to us. We went up to them and asked ?Hable Inglese?, The answered with a shake of the head. We must have looked despairing for one of them smiled and beckoned us to follow him. He led us to a police station , where he spoke to the guy on the desk who listened intently to what he said ,The man nodded and made a phone call. He chatted to someone on the line and then ,handed me the handset, saying ?Muy Oncle? His uncle. I said ?Hullo, hable Inglese?? A voice , thickened with much alcohol ,replied ?Mairee Crizmiz!? ?Do you speak English?? I asked again, ?Si, si. Izz Mairee Crizmiz Si?? After three such fruitless attempts ,we thanked the policemen and returned to the cold ,dark street. Heading in what we thought might be the right direction ,we came upon a Gents W.C.. It was a grand marble affair,
The ceiling about 12 foot high , bizarre, not the sort of thing you would expect in a suburban situation. As we were relieving ourselves I noticed on the wall next to the pissoir , the word ?Help?. I was astounded, where we near civilisation at last? A line was drawn upwards from the word and disappeared into the gloom near the ceiling. We could see some words at the top of the line but could?nt read them as they were too high .
Geordie being the strongest of the three of us bent down so that I could stand on his shoulders, Sandy giving him support ,I stood and read out the words at the top of the line???..?We?re lost too! ? I nearly fell off I was laughing so much.
We found our way back to the tramway and rode tiredly back to the docks. We had just learned the hard way that the Spanish celebrate the birth of infant Jesus in a much more reverent way than we British do.

12-20-2008, 02:35 PM
If I met a rat in a fur coat I would do a runner :ninja: Anyway the biggest rat ever found was in Mount Pleasant it was three foot from head to tail it probably resided at the YMCA and got lost coming home from the wine lodge. :handclap:

brian daley
12-27-2008, 09:33 PM
Back to B.A.

Rosario was even quieter on Christmas day than it had been on Christmas Eve; being a free day, some of us took a stroll after breakfast to see if there were any signs of life. Back home we would have seen children in the streets playing with their new bikes and scooters,here nary a child or adult was to be seen. After a short walk around the block it was back aboard and await Christmas dinner.
The meal itself was fairly pedestrian, some of the ships I had been on the Captain had laid on a feast and we had been served by the officers. This time it was us and them ,as per usual! We were given an extra ration of beer and a couple of bottles of Four Bells rum was sent to be shared by the crew ,so Christmas Day was a fairly boozy affair. It still rankled that the officers got such different fare to us though, we were fed well enough but we never had instant coffee ,crackers, biscuits ,boiled ham ,things you took for granted at home but were for officers only on most ships then.
Christmas night found me in Sandys? cabin ,drinking with him and Geordie, later ,when we were in our ?cups? we felt the need for some crackers and cheese, trouble was ,the said foodstuffs were locked safely away in the officers pantry. Strictly out of bounds for a deckhand. Geordie ,being on the cooking staff had access into the galley and Sandy ,being a steward had access to the pantry. There was a dumb waiter that lifted the food from the galley pantry to the officers pantry on the deck above, Sandy reckoned we could just about fit into the dumb waiter ,one person at a time, and we could pull each other up to the holy of holy?s and get us some cheese and crackers.
We waited until all was quiet and then Geordie and I(Sandy was spark out by then) hauled each other up into the officers pantry. It was a wonderland of food ,a gourmet paradise, there were Stiltons,Wensleydale ,Cheddar and Danish Blue; Jacobs cream crackers and a whole variety of biscuits. There was a York ham and turkey breast and salad aplenty. Geordie and settled ourselves as comfortably as we could and started our way through the meats, I sat holding the leg of ham and Geordie the turkey breast. We were in Seventh heaven enjoying the forbidden goodies when in walked the 2nd mate. I don?t know who was the more shocked, his eyes stood out like organ stops and he stood baffled at the sight before him. ?How the hell didja get in here ?? he gasped. We must have looked terrified, mouths agape and hands full of ham and turkey. I cannot remember if we replied anything coherent ,but he burst out laughing . ?Get the f**k out of here ,and leave the meat where it is ? We fled back to our cabins.
There were no repercussions ,but we had failed in our original objective,we never did get those cheese and crackers.
Back in B.A. we moored at a different berth ,thankfully, I did?nt want to run into the guy I had covered in paint the last time we were here. I went to renew my acquaintance with Rosa, I must have been a masochist , she was someone who I would never stand a chance with normally ,but I was like a moth to flame and I was happy to be burned.

We had a galley boy who was a Punk long before the Sex Pistols were ever
thought of. Ginger haired , weighing about 5 stone ringing wet ,and just about 5 feet tall. Little Ginger used to wear spiked wrist bands ,big hobnailed boots , well scrubbed denims and tartan shirts. His language was full of eff words delivered in a cockney accent. In his own words he was ?Effin ?ard? But you never saw him without a smile on his face.
Some of the older hands hated him for his cheek and when we were back in B.A. they were going to bring him down a peg or two. ?Only for a laugh like?
The manner of Gingers taking down was achieved in a way that most people would find obscene, to this day I sometimes wonder how he was affected by it ,if indeed it did affect him.
There was an American prostitute called Kelly who used to hang around the dock gates. She had been battered by life ,down in the gutter now ,she would do anything for a drink. She might have been pretty once upon a time , now ,she was broken nosed , bloated and her hair was bedraggled, her clothes were ragged and it was only her Chicago accent that identified as being a gringo.. I felt sorry for her the first time I laid eyes on her. How do you get so low? Some of the lads arranged for her to come on board on Saturday afternoon ; she was going to be the device which took little Ginger down.
Kelly had made a deal with some of the guys ,she was going to take Gingers virginity ?????in the recreation room in front of an audience. All the crew and some of the crew on another Houlder boat that was astern of us knew of what was to happen , Kelly was going to be paid by the audience and the star turn ,little Ginger ,was totally ignorant of what was about to befall him. I went along because I knew no better then, the room was packed to the rafters, Kelly lay like a great white whale upon one the banquettes ,awaiting her victim. Little Ginger was carried in ,laughing and giggling ,unaware of what was afoot. He blinked uncomprehendingly at the assembled men and then looked across to Kelly . ?Wassfeckingoinon? he yammered as he was stripped and lowered between the waiting thighs of the old W***e. I?ll never forget the look on Gingers face, one of great puzzlement and shame. The lads were screaming with laughter, I wonder what they think now/

New Years Eve in B.A. was fantastic, I met Rosa down La Boca at about 10.30 p.m. and we went for the final asado of 1960, this was one of the finest steak dinners I had ever tasted, the restaurant was crowded and the air was filled with expectations. Soon after we had finished dining the clocks struck 12 and the restaurant exploded into vibrant life ,poppers and streamers filled the air and outside a band struck up the conga and people poured out of the bars and cafes and joined the line of dances as it snaked its way along the avenidas, other bands and lines of dancers crossed and criss crossed their way through line. It was a magic start to 1961. It was also goodbye to my troubled love Rosa for we were off to Montevideo very soon.

When I got back on board I went along to wish some of the lads a happy new year and found Sandy and Geordie having a quiet beer ,Sandy was in a petty sombre mood, he was having aggro with one of the other stewards and was going to sort him out soon. He?d been ashore and bought an open razor to do just that. I was horrified. Trying not to show my horror I asked to see the razor and he handed it to me ;it was a very well made razor, pearl handled and a long gleaming blade. I remembered the face on Johnny the gang leader in Glasgow. His gruesome features were caused by something like this. I stuck the blade in a drawer and snapped it off. ?That will save you getting jailed kid? I said as Sandy looked on shocked. I threw the broken pieces through the port hole and went off to my bunk.

I had said my goodbyes to Rosa in the early hours of New Years morning, she was going back to her family in La Plata, I was a free agent for my last night in B.A. It?s a great city for walking , all over the town are little plazas filled with statues and fountains, the main street uptown is great for watching the evening paseo ,when the young men paraded in their finery ,hoping to catch the eye of one of the young ,chaperoned, ladies . I wonder if that custom is still carried out today.
Families start to come out around about ten in the evening and the pavement cafes are filled with diners .On the street where Harrods was there were some wonderful cinemas and I went to one of them that night and saw Ben Hur. The auditorium was huge and when the lights went down and the curtains were drawn back, I heard the sounds of a live orchestra playing the overture to a stage show. I had?nt expected anything like this but I enjoyed it ,it reminded me of the Pavilion when I was little .There were singers ,jugglers ,acrobats ,just as you would get on any variety show back home. There was an interval when refreshments were sold and then I heard this tremendous noise above my head and looked up to see the ceiling opening and there up above was the velvet black sky, sprinkled with stars. This was air conditioning Argentine style. The lights went down and then the movie show took over.
Leaving the cinema ,I took a slow stroll down through the main drag ,most of the bars were closed and ,as I crossed the square in front of the station I heard mt name being called in the distance. I stopped and saw little Bonzo weaving his way toward me, :?Are yer gonna ?ave a bife before we go ?? he asked.
I had just enough to get a bife lomo and there was a little bife van still open outside the station. Bonzo and I tucked into those scrumptious little feasts as we meandered back to the ship. More than forty years were to pass before I had another bife lomo.

We left B.A. and sailed down to Montevideo, on the way we heard that the National Service conscription had ended and some of the older lads were cock a hoop, they could pack the sea in now. I had?nt thought of them as army dodgers before, but if you were in the M.N. you could?nt be called up. Some of the lads were married and had to stay at sea else they would have called up to do two years in one of the services and would have been paid about 5 quid a week.
So there were going to,be one or two celebrations when we got back to Monte.
The German lads off the Cap Norde were there when we arrived and we fell into drinking with them again, the Reina Del Mar was also in port and the bars were full of the ?queens? off her. I went ashore with the deck lads this time and we had a great night ,no fights ,just singing and dancing and doing a bit of flirting with the ladies. One of the lads got so out of it that we had to carry him back, we put him on his daybed ,which was leatherette, just in case he was sick or worse, much easier to clean. He was so drunk that we could?nt rouse him and one of the lads had the crazy idea of playing the best prank I ever saw. Now the ceilings (deckheads) of our cabins had stringers running along them, (the underside of the steel beams) these were pierced every few feet and you could tie things up their. So ,all the movable furniture in Teddy?s cabin was suspended upside down from the ceiling, bunk was unbolted ,as was the desk and chair ,and all was hanging there as though the ceiling was the deck and vice versa. They let Teddy sleep on and woke him by making the loudest noises possible a couple of hours later. We were thronged at the door and portholes to watch the effect as he groped his way out of sleep and when he opened his eyes he screamed and gripped the sides of his daybed for dear life. He heard our screams of laughter and relaxed shouting obscenities ,he jumped up and said that it ?was Effin great!?
Next morning I went along to Sandys? cabin to ask what kind of a night he had had ,he was laying on his bunk when I walked in. His eyebrows had been plucked and he had the remains of make up on his face. I must have looked shocked ,he smiled and said ? I?m no longer Sandy Brian, just call me Sandra from now on?
I felt poleaxed, I had no words.
?I went on board the Reina last night , I was shown what I really am?
?Yer wot !!? I yelled, he just wiggled beneath the sheet.
?I?m a woman trapped in a mans body?. I felt something last night and I know who I am now?
I got out of there as fast as I could. I could?nt hack it then and I still can?t now.
I was thrown sideways by that event and I seem to have erased the rest of our time in Monte out of my memory cells. The Canaries would be our next stop and then it would be back to Liverpool.

12-27-2008, 10:14 PM
A good read:handclap:

12-28-2008, 09:05 AM
Couldn't agree more, really enjoying it, keep going Brian!

brian daley
01-02-2009, 12:25 PM
Winter North Atlantic

So it was goodbye ,adios and via con Dios, we were leaving the sun kissed shores of South America and heading for a wintry England. Las Palmas would bring us our last taste of a warm weather port and then we would be heading up through the northern latitudes.
We were picking up some deck cargo in the Canaries, never liked deck cargo, it was not only something that you stumbled over in the dark but it came with its own built in hazards. It was on the deck ,not down below in the hold and it was exposed to the elements. It was the masters decision as to whether or not the cargo was carried ,he was paid extra and the responsibility for its carriage fell on his shoulders and ,consequently ,we were all responsible for its safe passage. No bonus for us though!

It was a load of 40 gallon drums of volatile chemicals, these were to be stowed either side of No 4 hatch aft of the midships accommodation. The Spanish dockers made them fast with a series of wire ropes and bottle screws,when all was made fast ,the mate checked it out and gave it the nod. Whilst all this was going on most of the deck crowd went ashore for a last few jars before the homeward leg. It was lunchtime and I decided to stay aboard and have my food while it was still fresh and warm,only one other person decided to do the same ,Mr X. So there we were just the two of us ,sharing a big empty messroom. He, one side of the room and me on the other.
I always avoided this guy whenever possible ,he had a permanent scowl and used to talk to himself in his cabin,he never joined in with the craic,never went ashore and ,if spoken to ,answered with a nod or a shake of the head. Being a fairly junior rating, a first trip EDH, I was not held in very high esteem by him. What little discourse we had ever had consisted of him telling me how much of a greenhorn I was .
I tried to engage him in conversation this lunchtime and was rewarded by him stonewalling me,I attended to my food, I was looking down at my platter and slicing my meat when I was grasped by the throat . Mr X had stolen up on me and was strangling me; my mouth being full of food made it impossible for me to cry out. There were only the two of us and I was helpless. He spewed forth a torrent of expletives ,interspersed with ?smartarse loverboy? and ?effin? punk kid? .I felt myself going and he flung me back in my seat and rushed out the mess room.
I was terrified ,the man was mad ,certifiably insane. I had looked into his eyes and seen a terrible rage as he throttled me.
I sat nursing my throat as the lads came back on board, I?d be safer now at least ,but what had I done to earn his anger. I was?nt the flippest of kids, Teddy and Alec had far wickeder wits than mine. I said nothing and pretty soon the bosun turned us to, to make ready for sailing. As we were lowering the derricks ,I found myself tidying away the block and tackle of the guy ropes,standing atop of N0 4 hatch ,and there on the deck below me was Mr X. I shouted to him,?Hey B*****k chops, ? He looked up, and I swung the guy block in my hand ? I could crush your effin? skull with this you ba****d???.Are yer feelin?hard now then!!!? His eyes were bright with fear and he fled the deck. One of the lads looked across and asked what was that all about and I shrugged and let it pass.

As we left Las Palmas we plunged into those great rolling swells that characterise the Atlantic, pleasant enough when there is just a light breeze, that gentle roll can help you have a great sleep when you?re in your bunk. But if the wind stiffens and those swells develop white horses things can turn rough.
We passed the isles of Madeira with the weather gradually worsening, we were making good headway and would be home in a week ,but this was near Januarys? end and the air was getting chillier by the day .
Just south of Finisterre the weather turned nasty and we heard that gales were forecast.The sky was slate grey and the seas were boiling , the waves, spume topped mountains that came roaring toward us and shook us like a terrier shakes a rat. It was Sunday and we sat in the messroom looking out on the afterdeck as great green waves crashed across the hatches.
The mess room door was flung open and the bosun stood there in his heavy weather gear,?Get yer gear on Lads, the deck cargo?s goin?!!? he shouted. I almost had an out of body experience ,?Go out into that!!!?? We put our gear on and followed him out. The barrels were bouncing about like ninepins, the wire ropes had given way and it was our job to make it secure again. I just did as I was told, I was too frightened to do anything else, we were moving every which way and those barrels were like stampeding cattle and DANGEROUS!! . The AB.?s were magnificent, with the bosun in charge and the lads putting their years of experience into practise ,we had them barrels corralled and secured within just a couple of hours. No one was injured, just a few grazes and bruises and an experience that would be re-told in many a messroom and bar for years to come.
Although it was Sunday we did not get a penny piece for saving that cargo. There was a section of the Merchant Shipping Act that covered that little escapade ,it was called Safety of the Ship. Any work required to make the ship safe was not regarded as work for profit, but the captain still got his bunce for delivering that deck cargo. It was things like that which made Bolsheviks of us all.

After passing the Scilly?s there was an excitement growing within the ship ,this was the ?channels? .Just days away from home and we were excited at the things we would be doing in a few days time. One or two of the lads would not be going to sea
again, with conscriptions ending they would be able to go on shore and get ?proper? jobs , 9 to 5 and and no more watchkeeping .Those of us who were single were imagining the delights that awaited us in the way of feminine company. Me ? I was going to go and see cousin Willie in Llandudno and see what young Welsh ladies there were to keep a warm sailor company on cold winters night. I was going to get some new clothes too,I had put a few inches on my frame and needed something that fitted.
I was?nt going to lose touch with some of these lads either ,Eddy Clark from Bootle was a nice guy ,my age , he liked the same things and we promised to meet up for a few nights out. It would be great to see the family again too ,I?d bought a few gifts for them and a bottle of Scotch and some duty free fags for Dad.
February the 2nd saw us safely in back in Liverpool, with a pocketful of tin I caught a taxi home to Kirkby??????I was really looking forward to this leave.

01-02-2009, 05:19 PM
I always find that there is always someone who takes a dislike to you wherever you go. I have had problems very similar to the one you related Brian. The account of your voyage is very good. I have a copy of sea wolf somewhere, it's a good yarn. You should put your'e stuff together and publish.

brian daley
01-02-2009, 09:18 PM
Hi Paddy,thank you for your kind remarks. You tell a good tale yourself, a bit like a modern day Cobbett,instead of a horse you've got the inter city and old transit vans. Why don't I get my stuff together and publish? The answer is that I have'nt got the energy to face all that rejection,there are a million tales like mine,my bookshelf is testimony to that. At the moment I'm writing for me ,and if folk like what I'm writing that's a bonus. My tale is only starting, in time I'm just about 19 and life stretches out ahead,there are many paths that I will travel,and many different jobs that I will do along the way. For a few years the place I call home will be a suitcase and I will lose my heart to many a lady before it finds its true home. If people are happy to hear tales of my sojourns ,I'll be more than happy to write them.
Happy New Year,

01-02-2009, 09:26 PM
Well I think you have the ability to hold peoples interest and that is a gift. When I was a lad the oral tradition of tale telling was very important. Sailors fireside tales were treated as gospel. One guy had a girl in Dingle mount who would shout after her seafaring boyfriend 'I'll dance on your grave', the retort being 'Thats good I'm getting burried at sea.'

brian daley
01-03-2009, 05:16 PM
Home Again

Getting home after Christmas meant receiving all those presents that I would have got had I been there on the day. Mum had pushed the boat out this year, I received a Philishave and a nice dress shirt ;she had also saved me some Christmas cake. Mums cakes were special, made a month or so before the holiday ,she fed them with a drop of brandy to keep them moist ,stuffed full of dried fruit and coated with marzipan and frosted icing ,they were fit for kings.
It had become a tradition that I spent the first Saturday evening of my leave with my parents. This meant going to the K.T.A. their club ,so called after the Kirkby Tenants Association. The estate we lived on had been built during the war by the Royal Ordinance Factory for its employees . Dad worked there and had thus got the house. The people on the estate never considered themselves to be a part of the Kirkby overspill and were a little bit snobbish. Not too much, but enough for me ,an ex Garston lad ,to notice.
The estate also had two pubs nearby, the Railway Inn and the Carters Arms. At that time the bar of the Railway was the province of the people from the council estate and the snug belonged to the people from the ROF estate. The Carters Arms was more upmarket then and was the province of the old Kirkbyites. There was a Conservative club at the top of our road and my Dad ,a near Bolshevik ,was a regular there.! His excuse was that the beer was better.
The K.T.A. clubhouse was a wartime wooden structure, an old barrack room ,it was ramshackle ,had a battered upright piano ,a worn out drum kit and a sound system that was long past its sell by date. But every Saturday night the place would be packed out. Families would come ,when I came home on leave my uncles and their wives would come up from Walton and we would fill a few tables. Mum would put on a big pan of pea soup with a sheet of spare ribs in as well as a little ham shank. This would simmer away during the evening while we were down at the club. Nin ,Granddad ,Uncle George and wife Frances, Uncle Gerry and his wife Lily would come up on the bus and we would have a hooley down at the club. Come closing time there would be ?jars out? with my uncles and me carrying cases of brown ale up the road ,singing as we went. Mum would leave the club a little earlier and get the supper ready. By the time we all arrived ,there would be bowls of thick pea soup ready for us, the spare ribs were so thoroughly cooked that even the bones were edible, soft and gently crunchy. She always did more than enough to satisfy the hungriest appetite and as we sat there mopping up the remains of that fabulous feast with our doorsteps of bread, some one would start to sing.
Each of my uncles had their own songs, Dad sang like Bing Crosby, before the war he won a Bing Crosby sound alike contest at the Co op hall on Walton Road; he also sang Al Bowley songs, Georgie had a voice like Perry Como and earned good money doing gigs around the pubs and clubs in the north end of town. Uncle Gerry had a lousy voice but could do Jimmy Durante impressions and so those Saturday evenings had a magic about them that will stay with me for all of my life. Nin would usually end up singing Nellie Dean and we would all join in, soon after that someone would phone for a taxi and the revellers would depart ,pockets stuffed with bottles of brown.

From Sunday onwards I started out on my own. First thing Monday I was down in town getting a new outfit ,it was still winter so I got myself an new light grey overcoat with raglan sleeves; to match I got a pearl grey drape suit from John Colliers and a pair of grey loafers from Lennards, over to Dunhills where I got a beaut of tie , grey with a silver thread. I was now set to knock the girls dead in the Locarno.
I called up to see Eddy in Bootle and arranged to go out with him to a club in Marsh Lane, I think it was St James?s. It was a good night , they had a comedian and a singer and there was dancing too.
I met a very pretty girl from Aintree and promised to take her out on Valentines night (I was off to spend a few days in Llandudno first)

I caught the boat to Llandudno, I think it was the St. Tudno , it was something I had always wanted to do ,considering the time of year the passage was very smooth. I got a great welcome from Great Aunty Dolly, Uncle Owen had gone on to the happy hunting ground now, and the girls were now ladies ,Elizabeth was married but Eleanor was still at home. Willy was at work when I arrived and so I had to wait for him to get home ,get fed and get changed before we ventured out. Gordon and Hughie were at home ,Mike was in the Army ,and so the four of us went out and hit the pubs. It was lovely being together with these lads, they were the ones who had been there for me those many years before when I had had the accident and here we were now laughing our way round town. Youthful friendship is a precious thing ,too feel at ease amongst your peers and to make each other happy is a wonderful thing. Life moves you on and you look back at those times and rejoice that you had them. Soon our little group would get broken up, Willy would be marrying in the summer, but we still had some time to go.
As we were sauntering back home to Willys? we saw a caf? that was still open and went in for a coffee; there were two young ladies in there ,one of whom had the most glorious head of strawberry blonde hair. I sat down beside her and immediately told her that she was the most beautiful girl I had seen that night. She blushed and giggled into her friends shoulder, she was very ,very Welsh. She looked as though she had stepped out of a Rossetti painting ,with her gorgeous coils of hair atop her perfect little head. Willy got up and said ?Brian ,I?ve work in the morning , here?s me key .you let yourself in and don?t wake me when you get in ? and with that I was left alone with the two young ladies.
Gwyneth was her name ,she was from Mid Wales but was living with her aunty in Llandudno. We were now holding hands and her friend decided to go home too. Gwyn had the greenest of green eyes and I just sat drowning in them ;we finished our drinks and went for a walk along the promenade ,shivering cold we huddled together in the bus shelter, and the huddle became a cuddle as our lips found each others.
We strolled slowly back to her auntys? where we stood having a long goodnight kiss, who knows what might have happened had she not accidentally banged the great big door knocker with her shoulder ,and brought her aunt to the door ,giving me hell for keeping her niece out so late.
With Willy working ,I cut my trip short and got the train back to Liverpool next day, I went down to Eddys and spent a boozy night with him. I had a memento from Llandudno though, Gwyn had given me a supersize lovebite just above the collar line on my neck ,I put a boil plaster on it.

I got in touch with Norma , the girl from Aintree and told her I was back early and asked if she would like to got to the movies. She was happy to and I met her in town and we went off to the Futurist, I think we saw the world of Suzie Wong , did?nt look at the screen much , I was a smoker then too. I remember stubbing a cigarette out in what I thought was the ashtray in front of me ,I was looking at Norma when I did it, watching the screen I saw smoking curling up in front of me and saw the guy in the seat beneath me had a little blaze going on his sleeve. I never moved so fast in my life ,Norma never knew why we had to change seats then, most probably never knew later.
Our next date was the St Valentines dance at the Locarno, I had?nt sent her a card because I did?nt know her address ,but I did buy her a box of chocolates. When we met at the bus stop she kissed me and thanked me for my card, which I let pass ,she gave me her card and I gave her the chocs and in we went to the dance. It was a mistake taking her there , I felt that I was?nt ready for a steady relationship, I was still Joe Butterfly and she seemed ready for a ring. When she told me her Mum and Dad wanted to me I felt that that was a step too far, there was no way I was packing the sea in.
Two things happened that night that brought this relationship to an end, the first was when the boil plaster peeled off with the perspiration ,the love bite was revealed in all its gory glory, I had a hell of a job explaining of how it was?nt what it appeared . Later when I was seeing her home , I kissed her goodnight and called her Gwyn by mistake, well ,you can guess the rest. It was time I shipped out anyway.
The 18th of February saw me signing on the Catanian for a trip down to the Med, or so I thought.

brian daley
01-06-2009, 09:49 PM
Springtime in Portugal

The Catanian was an Ellerman cargo vessel ,known as a market boat because it brought back produce from the Iberian Peninsular and the Spanish ports on the Med. Such ships were usually hard to get on because of the shortness of the trips and the potential to earn a lot of overtime. I did?nt join her for the overtime , she was going to Portugal and Spain, two countries that I had not yet visited and had long wanted to do so.
She was a trim little craft and at just over 1400 gross tonnage was the smallest ship I had set foot on. It seemed to be a happy ship ,one of the old firemen had been on her since her maiden voyage and another one had been on her for 15 years. The older man always called him the ?new feller?
There was an old A.B. who looked like the original old man of the sea , his face had more lines on it than Crewe junction and his walrus moustache heightened his salty appearance. The were not many deck crew, just three men per watch ,and only two watches ;you worked four hours on and four hours off. You were expected to work on deck during the daytime off watch.
You were lucky if you got four hours sleep a day! I did?nt fully understand the ramifications of what ?watch and watch meant? I was soon to learn the hard way what the reality was.
My two watch mates were about four or five years older than me, I seem to remember that they were married ,or about to be married. Sitting in the mess room during smokoe just before we sailed ,the conversation turned to women and doing what comes natural when in their company. The old man of the sea sat at the back of the mess listening to the chat. These guys were describing their feats of amazing sexual athleticism,? 9 times without stopping? one said, ?only 9 times? riposted the other ?11 times ,mate and without unshackling !!? The O.M of the sea puffed away through his whiskers. ? Eh Wally? wisecracked the younger one ?D?you still use a condom?? laughing as he said it. The O.M. pulled out his fag and answered ?Yuss, an? yer should smell the burnin? rubber? We all cracked up then.
So ,I knew I was going to like it here, laughter is a great bonding agent and it was here aplenty. We were sailing soon and our new bosun came into the mess to give us the gen, We three would be on watch as we left, there were three day workers ,of which the O.M. was one, so, including the bosun ,there were just ten of us on deck, the smallest ship and the smallest crowd.
It was all new stuff to me.

The weather was foul as we headed down the Irish Sea and this little boat had moves that I had never experienced, when you were in your bunk (which was?nt often) you were tossed about as though you were in a spin dryer. Sleep was hard to come by, if you were on the 4 to 8 in the morning watch you stayed up to work on deck until noon and then you were on the 12 to 4 watch after which you could have dinner (at 5.00p.m) get some sleep and then be ready for the 8 til midnight watch. Your diurnal clock broke it?s spring. Within two days I was reduced to a zombie like state ,to eat or to sleep ? Be tired or be hungry? My days became a muddled mess , but the bosun , well his was an altogether worse story??????????.

He was a nice looking guy, Irish to look at with his curly black hair ,roguish smile and twinkling eyes, that was ,when he was sober. The man was the biggest lush I had sailed with so far ,made Nick and Jock on the Kenuta look like members of the Temperance Society.
From the moment we dropped the pilot the man was permanently kalied.

It was during my first 8 to 12 watch that I first noticed how bad he was, I was making my watchmates supper just before midnight ,we were way down the St Georges Channel and he comes into the mess and asks me to call him a cab. ?A whaaat !!??
?A cab lad ,youse know whut a cab is fer jeezis sake,call me a cab!!?
?Bose, we?re in the middle of the sea? I said .
? I?ve got to get back to me mammy? he said ?Jis? call a bleddy cab?
The 12 til 4 watch lads came in the and the bosun got up and stumbled out.

When my watchmates came in for their supper the wheelman said the bosun had been climbing up the funnel screaming for a taxi. He was wrestled back to his cabin before we turned in.

About 24 hours before we got to Lisbon my body was giving up on me, I had never treated it so badly and it was rebelling, ?feed me or rest me? it seemed to be saying. I was literally staggering about like a drunk. The master ,Captain Whittle ,a big beefy guy said that I would harden up , the mate would?nt allow me to have my free time off. ?Ye?ll get used to it lad? was all he said.
I was on the helm as we were being piloted into Lisbon, I could?nt see properly ,I kept on losing focus , I could?nt make out what the pilot was saying and I had this big red angry face in front of me telling me to shape up and I was shivering ,I was boiling ???.and then the lights when out and all was darkness.

I was awakened by a prod in my stomach, I was hurting everywhere and had no idea where I was, in the glow of my bunklight I could see a huge fat
man with a cigar in his mouth ,his head covered with a homburg and he was wearing a huge overcoat with an astrakhan collar. He was holding a glove in one gloved hand and ,with his bare hand, he was prodding my stomach.
The pain was tremendous and he uttered something which I did not understand and then I saw a little man beside him, a notebook in his hand, writing whatever it was that the big man was saying. I did?nt know if I were dreaming this , I was dizzy and fading in and out of consciousness. For a moment I thought that I was in the Maltese Falcon and that Sydney Greenstreet and Elisha J. Cooke were at my bedside..

I became aware of some movement and surfaced to see myself being stretchered into an ambulance after which the darkness fell again. I was hallucinating, I was gripping on to the sides of a slippery pit ,my hands were greasy and I could not hold on, below I could feel that there was void and that I must not fall into it. My grip was loosening as the weight of my body was pulling me downwards , I was screaming for my mother ,for my sister Jess, I did?nt want to go down to that dark, dark pit. And then shafts of white light filtered through my eyelids; blinking ,I saw the kindest face I had ever seen. ?Brian ? it said ? Brian ,look at me , I am your doctor? the man was foreign, his head was as covered in white and there was a mask hanging from his ear ? you have been very ill and we are going to help you? I moved my head and saw other white clothed people ,their eyes the only visible features. ?please breathe into this ? he said placing a mask over my nose and mouth. Total darkness enfolded me .

Sometime later I awoke ,fully conscious, my bladder screaming for relief; I was in a bed,lovely crisp linen sheets,but which bed and where?
I tried to sit up to go to have a pee and the effort sent my abdomen in a raging fit of hot searing pain. I must have yelped for out of the darkness came a womans voice, a beautiful southern Irish accent, ?Lay down now man or ye?ll tear the stitches out? Her cool hands took my shoulders and gently lowered me back down. ?I?m desperate for a pee ? I pleaded,
?and ye?ll have one ? she answered .Doing it for me as I lay there. She was just one of many angels who ministered to my every need in the next few days. She moistened my mouth with some cold water and hushed me off to sleep.

Next morning I was awakened by a nurse who had the deepest brown eyes ever,her generous mouth was graced by the loveliest lips and her smile was electrifying .This was Nurse O?hara, known by all and sundry as Scarlett.

She stood over me holding a little glass tube in which there seemed to an enormous fleshy caterpillar, my face must have been a question mark for ,unasked ,she said ?This is your appendix, it?s healthy, you can take it home with you? I was amazed ,?Why ,did you take it out ?? I pondered.
? Language difficulties ? she laughed and hurried off.

I learned that I was now a patient in the ?Hospidale Britannico? the British Hospital. An establishment that had been founded in the 19th century to look after the needs of British subjects, all the nurses were from the British Isles or the Irish Republic ,the Surgeons and Doctors were all Portugese ,as were the maids and the catering staff. This was to be my home for longer than I could have realised.
I would see the Spring come to Portugal.

01-07-2009, 08:50 AM
Work to be done but Daley finds a cushy berth.

01-07-2009, 10:44 AM
The expression Kalied is one I heard as a lad in Liverpool, do you know anything of it's history. You never hear it now. When you have new barrels of ale you put in Sturgeons bladder as a preservative I sometimes wonder if the term bladdered comes out of that.

brian daley
01-07-2009, 10:37 PM
Hi Paddy,according to the dictionary of slang Kalied is of an unknown origin and first appeared in common usage about 1922. The lexicographers attribute it to being a Scouse expression which was given official recognition in the huge Oxford complete dictionary in 1966,quite simply it means DRUNK!!

brian daley
01-10-2009, 03:53 PM

In the afternoon of my first day on the ward I was able to take stock of my fellow patients, in the bed to my right was an Irishman, about 45 years old, he had been there for about a week. To my left was a Dane, who looked like a Viking, face was cut out of granite, high cheek bones and deep set grey eyes; his broken nose bore testament to the many scrapes he had been in in his long life. Opposite me was a young Egyptian ,a couple of years older than me, looked like a young Omar Sharif and was a member of the Nasser family. Together ,we were all merchant seamen. The Irishman was an engineer who had been sailing on German ships and was domiciled in Germany (I was always afraid to ask what he did in the war, he often spoke about how things were in Germany during the war and it was only15 years ago ), the Dane was a bosun and was off a Maersk boat, young Gamal was a third officer off an Egyptian ship and like the rest of them had been there a week or more.
The Dane had a big Hohner accordian and would sometimes entertain us to a medley of tunes, I loved those moments, the Nurses and maids, who could spare the time, would come on to the ward while big Erik played
Paddy was ,like most Irishmen it has been my pleasure to meet, a great storyteller; he told brilliant jokes too, only trouble was ,it hurt like hell to laugh..

Later in the evening of that first day ,Nurse Scarlet came to my bed with a length of rubber hose ,a syringe of huge proportions ,a bedpan and a look of malicious glee on her face. I had?nt the foggiest of what was going on as she silently pulled the curtains about my bed. She seemed about to break out into laughter and I was wondering what the source of her mirth was .
?Come up? she said as she helped lift me on to the bed pan ? The earth is about to move for you? After she had she had administered the enema, more than the earth moved, I had a total out of body experience. She was a very funny and mischievous lady. Tickling things she should?nt and sending a young mans hormones rocketing up the Richter scale.
I was able to have a solid meal for dinner after that, my first taste of proper Portugese food, a bit strange at first because it was cooked in olive oil, something that was rare to a young scouser in those days. It did?nt take long to get used to it and I soon came to enjoy it..

Although this was a British hospital it was also used by middle class Portugese and other nationalities, the Portugese hospitals being at that time abysmal places, where the patients families were responsible for providing their food ,laundry and bathing. A bit like the NHS has become now. Back then the NHS were paying for my treatment and I was a ward of the British consul. That night ,the other three patients had visitors, Pat had an Irish priest visit him, Erik had the Danish consul at his bedside and Gamal had the Egyptian consul at his. I felt a little homesick then.
I learned to love the mornings in that little ward, the sun used to come shafting through the sash windows and the temperature was just right, warmish; we were on the third floor and the street below was called the Rua Saraivia Du Carvalho. A beautiful name to speak. About half past seven every morning the sounds of the street sellers would begin to fill the air , they would come one at a time ,regular as clockwork, their cries almost a song as they called attention to their presence. The streets of our towns must have resounded to similar sounds in bygone ages. The milkman was first and then the baker, the produce seller and all the tradesmen men that made life so much easier for the maids and housewives. The most musical cries were those of the tinker , he would push his little cart on which he either sharpened knives or mended pots, this was before the throwaway age. I can still hear the sound of his grinding wheel as he used to sharpen the blades, a sort of raspy shriek as he pedalled at the flywheel.

On the second night of my confinement there was a commotion on the ward some time after midnight. We were awakened out of our slumbers by the rattle of gurneys and the hushed voices of nurses. Two of the beds had screens around them and we could see the shadows moving on them. Tiredness took
us back to sleep and we awakened next morning to find two new patients on the ward.
They were Royal Navy personnel off the H.M.S. Ajax, she was on a courtesy visit to our oldest ally and Bob and Robin had urgent need of good medical facilities. Bob was a Petty officer and had suffered a badly broken jaw ,the result of disagreement and Robin ,like me ,had had his appendix extracted. Robin was put alongside me and he proved to be a very agreeable fellow,a Kentish lad ,he looked like a scrapper but was very shy with the nurses. Bob had his jaws wired up and could?nt manage a conversation at all ,he was a smiler though. Pat , our Irishman told some ripsnorting jokes and poor old Bob was in agony trying not to laugh.. That afternoon the commander of the Ajax came to visit his men.He was an archetypal Royal Naval officer, square jawed, ramrod straight and ruddy faced ,he exuded power and strength. He had a real hearty laugh and Robin must have told him that I was an English seaman for after sitting with them he came and chatted to me ,well I say chatted ,he bellowed!! ?Ya had any visitors yet Lad!!? he roared. I shook my head in reply.
?Lisbon has the biggest British population outside of the U.K. and yer haven?t had a visitor yet!!!? I looked up at his beefy red face, he was angry.
?Well ,we?ll soon put that right Lad!? he bellowed and, saluting his men ,spun around to the door with a cheery wave as he made his exit.
After dinner that evening a horde of people thronged through the ward doors,
men and women in very expensive clothing and wafting aromas of exotic perfumes and colognes came toward my bed .I felt like a zoo object, they were visitors ,not to comfort me but to LOOK at me. A little Scouse seaman .My accent was still pretty thick in those days ,not that I was ashamed of it , my accent was part of me ,and still is to this day. No ,they were here for entertainment. The men were those indolent foppy types ,pale faced and soft hands with accents that were right out of a 30?s British movie ,and their ladies were the kind that peopled our empire and kept the houseboys in full employment.
I don?t know if it was pre arranged ,but within a very short while I was left with just the men around my bed. One of them leaned forward and asked ,lispingly ? Are yeow a weal sailor?? I answered yes .
?Well , could yeow say some swearwords for us?? I felt a surge of anger.
?Yiss ,now feck off? I shouted. They tittered merrily ? Awfy good what? one giggled. ? I mean it mate, Feck off, I?m not a fecking peepshow?
My blood was roaring and the matron came and swept them away.
One young lady stayed behind , dressed in a two piece outfit that would have cost a fortune ,cool in an elegant Grace Kelly way, this was Patricia, the daughter of the resident Anglican vicar of Lisbon.
She came to me after the boors had gone and apologised on their behalf ,she said that they were so dissolute that they had forgotten what good manners were like. Apparently I had just met the members of the Port wine families ,Britains oldest exiled families.
Patricia was in her early twenties and was working as an announcer on Portugese television , she was to become my regular visitor for the rest of my stay.
I had another visitor that evening ,the British Consul ,he brought my kitbag ,discharge book and the news that I was now a Distressed British Seaman. I had a grand total of four days pay due and would not be in receipt of funds from anywhere. How wrong would that man be?

brian daley
01-14-2009, 09:46 PM
The Ward

A day after the Navy lads booked in we had another patient come in ,a young man from Liverpool. He was unconscious when he arrived on the ward ;under his coverings he looked quite large. The screens were quickly pulled round as the nurses ministered to his needs. He came to around tea time and everyone was on their best behaviour because we had been informed that he was a Roman catholic priest. Soon after his awakening ,a portly ,older man came in to visit him ,this was Father Boyle ,his mentor. The young man was?nt yet a priest but was at a seminary on the north eastern side of Lisbon; Father Boyle was from Birkenhead and he had a lovely soft Liverpudlian accent. He was a round man, thinning sandy hair topped a kindly ,ruddy face in which were set a pair cornflower blue eyes. He exuded happiness , not a practising christian, I could sense his innate goodness, his hearty laugh rippled round the ward as he spoke with his young charge. I seem to recall that the ?apprentice? was called John. He was moved to the bed beside me because the nurses thought he would enjoy being with someone from his home town. I had no objection to that.
Heretofore I had only had dealings with sky pilots at a remove ,they in their pulpits and I under duress in a pew. John was very different, he was from Aigburth and was a grammar school graduate ,very down to earth and not at all unctuous. I was able to relax in his company , he never remarked on the odd gentle oath but we did not push things further. The older men were happy to have him there too. Our little Portugese maids were so attentive to his every need ,they worshipped him. The nurses however worshipped Gamal.

Scarlett was very open with me when I asked her why she was working in Portugal, surely the wages were better in England?
?No? she replied ?we did?nt come out here for a wage, we came out to nail a bloody doctor ?
? What d?you mean ? I asked.
?We are the girls who never got a doctor on the National Health so we?ve come out here for one. There?s a big American airbase nearby and we might get one there ,if not we?ll settle for a local here?
My mouth must have been agape.
?Hey kiddo ,I?ve got an Airforce surgeon that far away from the hook? she laughed ,holding her thumb and forefinger a smidgin apart.
I loved , Scarlett ,warm and earthy,I was much too young for her,but she treated me like a young confidant. One of the other Nurses ,Bobbie, was absolutely beautiful,but like an ice maiden, not unpleasant, but cool and very gracious. Gamal loved her but she had eyes only for the senior surgeon. The Little Sparrow , a spotty ,but very shy young nurse from the Home Counties had a crush on Gamal; I knew because Scarlett told me. In a moment weakness I told Gamal.
He did the unexpected , that night as the Little Sparrow came around the beds with her thermometer, when she came to Gamals bed , he clasped her hand as she held the thermometer to his mouth ,and said sofltly in his coffee and cream voice ? Oh my Little Sparrow, if only you knew how much comfort your presence brings me?
She nearly fainted, from across the ward I could see the blood rush up the nape of her neck and she turned away with crimsoned cheeks,her eyes like glittering sapphires.
We stifled our giggles ,but Gamal was sincere, he knew it would lead to nothing ,he just wanted her to feel good about herself.

And the there was Paddy, my nurse. She was from the North of Ireland ,a Donegal woman, good plain features, built for the job, she was the earthiest of the lot. She would give me bed baths and linger overlong beneath the sheets, her hands doing things that I could no more stop her doing than drawing breath. She would lean into to me as she washed my top. ? I?m going to have you boyo, an? yer?ll know about when I do!!? laughing as she said so.
She was a tease.

Paddy the Irish sailor told me to go and see the consul when I was mobile ,he reckoned I could get hardship money, it gave me something to think about. It would be a few days yet before I would be fit for walking and by now I was really ready to see