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  1. #421
    Senior Member kevin's Avatar
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    Brian,
    I've got a photo somewhere of me dressed as Shirley Bassey for a fancy dress night on a ship. My dress was a roll of mutton cloth. The Chief Steward's wife (he was later made redundant and joined Bibby's as a second steward and went down on the Derbyshire) did my hair with her Carmen rollers. I'll see if I can find the photo and I'll scan it.

  2. #422
    Senior Member brian daley's Avatar
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    Hi Kevin, Were you beautiful and did you get in touch with your feminine side?Did any of the sailors try to get fresh with you ? We must be told. I await your reply and pictures agog with excitement,
    BrianD

  3. #423
    Senior Member kevin's Avatar
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    The eye shadow Anne applied was gorgeous. I've never been able to find that shade again.

    My false boobs were blown up marigolds - each boob looked like an udder!

  4. #424
    Senior Member brian daley's Avatar
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    Fremantle

    We were in for a long stay and that suited most of us, we wanted to get back to “Normal”. The first weekends debauchery was over and we now looked forward to seeing where we where.
    Fremantle itself had barely changed since 1959 ,there were still no skyscrapers or vast condominiums, it had a Victorian flavour, and was none the worse for that. Not far from the docks was the Flying Angel ,the seamen’s mission. It was a cosy place, you could get a cake and a cuppa and read the old magazines, on Saturday’s ,the padre would organize a dance at which there were female members of the local Anglican church. They were lovely girl’s, they would dance with you and ,usually , asked you all about your home and your ship. My memory’s of those girls are nice, they were not out for anything but your company. The padre made sure that no one gave any trouble and I never saw any all the time I went there.. There were games ,like dart’s ,snooker and table tennis, a young man could enjoy himself without getting drunk.

    Boffin was besotted with the girl I had brought aboard, he even took her to the Flying Angel dance on the second weekend . Trouble was she never had any suitable clothes and wore one of the Boffins sea jerseys. Now she would’nt have looked out of place in a Soho club, but in a mission dance hall she was way out . She was’nt wearing any knickers and the hem of the jersey barely covered her crotch. The padre hustled them both out ,holding his coat over her backside so that none of the lads could get an eyeful.

    One night the 4th engineer and I took a trip up to Perth, the train service was excellent , and we got there early in the evening. It was quite spectacular, they call it the City of Light and it is easy to see why. The street and road lighting was very bright, they had seemed to conquer darkness. All the street's were bright and airy and the whole place seemed brand new. . The place was also very English, this was a town favoured by the immigrants from the UK.
    Geordie and I had a good stroll around the town centre to get a feel of the place, it was spotless, no litter or graffiti, it was almost like a film set. We had a couple of beers and got talking to a man who had come down in the early fifties. He said it had been hard to start with , but the Government had made things easier as time went on and he now had his own house and all of his family were here with him. He impressed me ,and I gave thought to the idea of doing the same…………but life has a way making you miss a turn.
    We found out from some guy’s that the best place to go for a good time was a club quite near to where we were. You had to take your own drinks ,which you had to put behind the bar,your bottle was labelled with your name ,and you went to the bar and asked for your drinks as ,and when, you needed them. They sold soft drinks and mixers so it seemed like an ordinary pub.
    The place was packed and you could hardly move at the bar,it was about six deep around it and ,as I was making way ,slowly, to the counter, I had to give way to a man coming from the bar with an armful of glasses. We looked at each other and shook our heads in disbelief. This was a man I had shared a drink with in Dakar last November. He had been in one of the native bars that we had resorted to after the snotty reception we had got in one of the swish town centre bars.
    Lloyd Warrilow was his name ,he invited Geordie and me to come to his table when we were served. The night turned out to be golden. There was Beatles tribute band on stage and they were quite good, one of the men at our table was their manager, a young Greek guy, he had a beautiful young English girlfriend who was from Dagenham. She was very chatty and came and sat by Geordie and me. We were someone from “home” and she was so full of questions. Her parent’s had brought her here just 10 months ago and she was more than homesick. She had’nt settled down here. She was a beauty, as was her sister, and Geordie and I felt so awkward ,because her conversation was all about her boy friend back in Dagenham; his name was Brian too. It was hard to engage her Greek boyfriend in conversation because he was forever getting up to greet people, he seemed a very popular guy. Conversation with Lloyd was useless because of the noise, a good noise, but bad for general conversation. Soon it was time to head back to Fremantle and the girls said that they would like to see our ship, the boyfriend had to see to the band and said he would run us down there if we could wait while he wrapped things up. He had a nice big car, American of course, but he seemed as though he had a tad too much to drink.
    He got us back to the Demeterton without any mishaps, but the girls were a bit tiddly. We went up to Geordies cabin because he had some cold beers in his fridge. Geordie took them up to the bow’s and into the engine room and then came back to his cabin . We were sitting around supping some beer when the Greeks girl whispered to me that she would like to see my cabin. We slipped away at the first opportunity and went to my lonely room. When we got there she pulled me to her and gave me a deep and lingering kiss ,and then burst out crying. I was’nt her Brian, he was 12 thousand miles away in Dagenham. She was inconsolable and very,very drunk. She wanted to stay in my cabin and I was beginning to get concerned for her. I was trying to get her on to her feet when her sister arrived. With her help ,I managed to get her walking towards the gangway;her boysfriend was standing at the top of the gangway with Geordie ,when we hove into view he made his way down to the car. Very unsteadily. When the sister and I managed to get the homesick one near the gangway ,she threw herself down on the deck and started screaming “ I want my Brian”, not me ,the guy in Dagenham. She was threshing about so much that she had almost uncovered herself and it was all we could do to preserve what modesty she had left. Her sister spoke softly to her and she gradually calmed down enough for us to take her to the quay. Her Greek boyfriend was looking none too happy with life when they drove off.

    Now ,the guy who jumped overboard in Nauru,was another Geordie, he could pull the girls,well not really,they flocked to him. He asked me if I fancied a double date, his girl had a car and wanted to go to a drive in movie; she had a mate and wanted me to make up a foursome. I told him to book me in.
    Next night we arrived at our rendezvous and were picked up……the girls were in a Riley Elf, a sort of tarted up Mini. I had to sit in the back with this huge farmers daughter. She had frizzy ginger hair and a mass of freckles. Her hands were like great big hams and her arms were very muscular. She had a very nice voice and was very attentive to my needs. We got to the drive in ,got speakered up and tried to watch the movie. I say tried ,but ,as soon as the film rolled ,big ginger got me in a Boston Crab and proceeded to suck the mouth off me . She had opened her blouse and got my arms around her back ,which was lumpy and had the texture of weathered leather. I was very grateful that we were in a mini car, gawd knows what might have happened if she had had an ordinary saloon.
    I did meet a lovely girl there before we sailed, she was a nurse and had a very pleasant nature. She would have made an ideal girl friend but time was not on our side ,we were bound for South Africa and pastures new.

    Below is Terry ,the Nurse from Fremantle
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  5. #425
    Senior Member brian daley's Avatar
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    Goodbye and Hello
    Just before we took our leave of Fremantle we did a little bit of mailing, besides letters to the family and pen friends. Knowing we were going to Durban, I sent a postcard to Peter Hurley in Durban to let him know I would be calling there and to tell the rest of the men I drank with when I was there on the King Alexander. I used one of the cards that I had bought in Red China; it was showing Chairman Mao's birthplace. I wrote a very tongue in cheek note , telling him that this photo was of the Glorious Leader’s house as well as the new’s of my impending arrival. The second thing I did ,was to send a request to the Perth FM station requesting a record for our new made friends (the girls who came aboard with the Greek lad)
    I said it was from Scouse and Geordie. They p[ayed it O.K. but the DJ mispronounced our nicknames; he called us Skoyuse and Gerrydee.

    It was a lazy run across to Durban, the weather was fine for most of the way ,but as we neared the African continent the seas started get more active, there was a swell ,which got heavier with each passing day. We were driving into the waves and the decks were constantly awash with green ‘uns. Just a few days out of Durban the seas got heavier and ,as we forged ahead, the bows were hitting the oncoming waves with such force that it felt like we were hitting a brick wall. There would be a Whumpf! as our bow slammed in the wave and then we shook as she struggled to recover. When you were in your bunk you could feel every movement ,the rise and fall of the pitching meant that you would be forced down into your bunk as the stern came up and then you were almost weightless as the stern plummeted back down. I preferred the pitching to the rolling, when she rolled you could get flung from your bunk. The night before we got into Durban we encountered some really rough weather, we were getting thrown all over the place. When we entered calmer waters the carpenter and the bosun were doing an assessment of damages and found that the windlass on the foc’sle head had been forced backwards by about 3 inches.
    It was great to get out of that lot for awhile, and Durban was a nice place to be if you could over look the rigours of apartheid.

    I made the Pirates Cove my first call, that was where Peter ,Dick and the rest of the crowd went. It was crowded as usual but I did’nt see any of the lads I knew. Most of our deck crowd were here and we were having a good old time. I spotted one the blokes who drank with me at the Hilton Hotel when I was here last time. I went and shook hands and asked about the rest of that crowd. Dick had moved back to Pietermaritzburg and Peter was confined to house arrest under the 90 day law . He had received mail that came within the list of subversive materials, my Chinese postcard !!! I felt dreadful about it but kept my mouth shut.
    Durban was a nice place to be, if you were the right colour. There are beautiful beaches and lot’s of lovely ladies. This was a major holiday resort for whitefolk from Rhodesia and the rest of the Southern African continent. There were some great tourist attractions ,the Slang Park, or Snake Park , was a very popular place. They have most known species of snake there, the attendants were all black,their job was to go into the enclosures and handle the snakes, bring them out of nooks and cranny’s so that the visitors might see them. The attendants were all in uniform and had calf length leather gaiters to protect them from snake bites. The most venomous snakes were kept in glass fronted enclosures, floor to ceiling height. My abiding memory of that part of the park ,is of standing behind a boy of about ten, an enormous cobra was uncoiled and was level with the boy’s face. It’s hood was displayed and it leaned back and then struck the glass ,the poison fron it’s fangs running down the glass. It did this about three times and the hairs on the back of the boy’s head were bristling. I could not help feeling a primitive fear as I looked on.
    Next door to the Snake Park is a wonderful aquarium. It looks like a smaller version of the Rotunda in Birmingham. It has an external staircase which winds itself up to the top of the building. You can see all sorts of species there, it is not a place you can view in a rush ,there is so much to see . A diver goes in and feeds them and it is fascinating to watch. Adjacent the tower is a huge pool ,this is where the shark’s are kept. There were great bottom feeding sharks so smooth and sleek ,and there were some mako sharks. These were fed in the most unusual way, there was a catenary across the pool ,and hanging from it was a bosun’s chair. There was a horizontal pulley for pulling it across the pool and an attendant sat in this and threw portions of fish to the sharks below. I can think of better jobs than that one.

    Most of the crew made the Pirate’s Cove their drinking hole, it always had lot’s of nice girls there and the music and beer was good too. One night I ended up with an unusual trio. There was a middle aged man, silvery haired an mahogany skin, he was very expensively dressed, at his side sat a beautiful red haired lady .She was wearing an emerald green evening dress which was very low cut. Sat on the other side of him was a small blonde girl, she wore a chiffon dress and looked very like Twiggy. I sauntered over to their table and complimented the gent on his female companions. He was very nice,and told me the red head was his lady and that the blonde was his daughter. I asked him if minded if I asked his daughter for a dance ; he smiled and said “Certainly, I thought nobody would ever ask. When we were dancing the young lady told me that the redhead was her father’s lover,her mother was back home on the farm. I spent the rest of the night there with them and saw them off in their car in the wee small hours.

    Twice though I picked the wrong lady when I was there. One was in her 30’s ,freshly divorced from her professional footballer husband. The evening was going well and I was invited back to her apartment for some “supper “. When we were there ,she poured some drinks and started to tell me of what her likes and dislikes where. The list was long and predictable, it amounted to a paranoid hatred of anything that was’nt pure Aryan. She asked me if I had ever made love to a black woman and I answered in the affirmative. She shrieked and said I was unclean, I gave her the sailors farewell.
    The other wrong ‘un was a really beautiful girl, she was sitting on her own in a bar on Water Street , I was sitting with a couple of the lads and our Captain joined us. He remarked on this young lady, expressing surprise that no one had attempted to pull her. The truth was ,we were broke. I asked the skipper if he had any spare cash so that I could attempt to pull her. He pulled a roll of notes out and peeled a few off. “There yar Daley, go and do yer stuff” I went and asked if she would like to meet some of our crew, she looked over at them and nodded yes.
    I took her back to the table and introduced her to the skipper and the rest of the crowd, She looked even more beautiful close up and I really fancied her. It was not long before we went back to her flat. Once we entered her living room her whole personality seemed to change. She was worried that people might think she was a black. And in that living room light I could discern that she had some features that looked faintly Negroid; but she worked in a white job ,had been brought up as white ,and looked very white. I spent one exhausting night ,constantly telling her that she was beautiful. In the dawning light, I gave in
    Apartheid mucked up an awful lot of lives, when I got back on board the skipper asked how it went ,I could’nt tell him.
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  6. #426
    Senior Member brian daley's Avatar
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    Home is the Sailor……..

    Orders came through to us to head for Boulogne,where we would be paying off; god willing we would get there at the height of summer. I could’nt go home …..yet.
    My thoughts turned to London, maybe this time I could do it different ,with a bit more poke in my pocket ,I could spend a very relaxing ,and educational, time there. Sometimes I would talk of the times ,and the places, that I had been to when I worked on the river. One of the engineers ,a slim built Geordie, always seemed to be present when I was expounding on the delights of riverine London,the wonderful restaurants and dance halls ,the theatre’s,art galleries and museums. London was food for the mind , body and soul. The Geordie engineer,Arthur by name,was always asking interesting questions,Where ,When,Why, and How? I had never thought anyone would find my view of life interesting.

    Just before we sailed from Durban I had a letter from Roger, the man from Oswestry ,who I sailed with on the Kypros ,12 months ago . He asked if I would be his best man at his wedding in September. My first thought was “ He must be hard up” and then I thought “What a nice thing to be asked” I replied in the affirmative .Now I had something to look forward to.
    Our trip home was most unmemorable, the days merged one into the other,the only break in our routine was the passage through Suez ,time seems suspended as you watch the fellayaheen go about their ancient labours. Once through the canal the weather has a fresher breeze and autums cooling breeze presage winters ice and snow.. Soon we are passing Gibraltar and heading north ,up through the great Atlantic, me not knowing that it will be the last time I will pass this way as a sailor.
    I have no memories of Boulogne, this is most probably due to the fact that I had drank rather more than was good for me.. I had received a lovely letter from home, Mum had told me that the group my youngest sister was in ,The Swindlefolk, had signed a record deal with Decca and were making lots of appearances at big venues, they were going to Germany ………………..Nearly everyone aboard had a drink to their success.
    It was a fairly subdued crowd that sailed on the Dover ferry that day, friendships forged over a six month period were now being torn asunder. I was old enough to know that I would most probably never see these guys again , that was part of the job , you kid yourself it did’nt mean much ,but it did ,oh it did. I suppose that is one of the many reasons I wrote this tale, maybe one of them will read it and say “I know him, I was on the……..”

    When we got to Waterloo Station, H.M. Customs had a few trestle tables set up to inspect our kit ,they knew we had been away for 6 months and just ticked our cases ,smiling as they nodded us through. We got our cases loaded aboard and were driving to the gate when a very young customs man stood in the middle of the exit and called for the driver to halt. We were furious, we were stillin sight of the customs tables and the officers there were looking shocked.
    This was Young Jobsworth and he had tickled my angry bone, I got out of my seat and asked what he was playing at. He had a brand new uniform ,no stripes on the sleeve. I pointed out the £ ringer at the trestle tables “He has just cleared us , are you questioning his ability?” His expression remained blank “ I never cleared you” he squeaked
    “So are you saying you are senior to the man over there?” “As an HM Customs officer I can do what I like” The lads started to shout at me to shut up ,and now I am sober I can’t blame them, but this git had to be taken down a peg or two. “ How long have you been at this lad?” I asked . He went crimson . “A Year, six months , a fortnight..?” He went on the offensive, “ I want to see your case …now” The driver and I pulled my case out and I opened it ,on the top were a bundle of letters from Harold Wilson, 8 in total. I flourished them at the boy wonder and told him that I would be contacting my personal friend Harold( He was in No 10 at the time). I never saw a customs man back off so fast. We got my case back aboard and made our way into the Great Wen




    >

  7. #427
    Senior Member brian daley's Avatar
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    A late summer leave
    I had a letter from my mother awaiting me in London, she warned me that the police had been to her house requesting my whereabouts ,it was something to do with an outstanding summons. As much as she wanted me home ,she did’nt want me to get nicked. So I would be staying in London until things sorted them selves ,or until I got another ship. I had dropped my cases in the left luggage at Kings Cross ,saw most of the lads off there ,and then sorted out a hotel.
    I opted for a newish sailors hotel in Canning Town, the Stellar Maris. It was run by the Catholic church and was very upmarket ,all the rooms were en-suite and they were reputed to have a good kitchen. I did all this by phone in Kings Cross. I retrieved my cases and was about to get into a taxi when I heard someone calling my name,well he was shouting “ Brian” and then “Scouse” so there was no doubt it was me they were calling. Through the crowd I could make out the figure of one of our engineers,Arthur;he was a Geordie and he was almost running toward me. I told the driver to hang on a moment and waited while Arthur hurried toward me. He was breathless and so I waited until he got his breath back. Just then ,Robbie ,a chubby little engineer cadet appeared beside Athur ,” Wot’s ‘e say ? Will ‘e do it?” he asked Arthur.”do what I asked?” Arthur gave an embarrassed cough and seemed to struggle for words. The gist of it was they wanted me to show them the good parts of the Smoke. I told Arthur that I would love to but was a bit short of the readies. “Don’t worry Bri,” said Arthur “ I have just been sent a cheque by my aunts solicitor, she ‘s left me ten grand” I was non plussed. That was a lot of money.
    “I’ll put to you straight Brian, Robbies train is in the wee small hours, he’s got to get that. I’m not going ,I’ve listened to your yarns all trip. Show us a good time tonight and you won’t have to put your hands in your pocket”
    That seemed a reasonable proposition to me ,so I nodded my assent.
    We dropped Bobby’s gear off at Kings Cross and drove off to the Stella Maris we we both,Arthur and I ,went and stowed our gear. I showered and shaved and put on some fresh gear and went down to the lobby where I found the two of them having . Arthur had kept the taxi waiting and we headed off for the bright lights of the West End
    We decided to eat first ,just to put a bit of something to soak the ale up. Back then there was a little restaurant just by Leicester Square,it was called the Guinea and the Piggy. I’d eaten there before and it was always packed,the food was good and the surroundings seemed very upmarket. It was a buffet,not like todays pub buffets ,this was the real Mc Coy. They had a proper doorman, dressed like a Spanish Admiral, and all of the waiters were tail coated . When you entered the main dining area ,just beyond the seating area there were two large banqueting tables. One was a hot table and the other cold. Behind each one were about 4 chefs in crisp white linen.There was every kind of meat, poultry, and fish, all laid out as at a banquet. The name told you what you were in for; for one pound and a shilling,you could eat yourself dead.
    Arthur and I filled our plates with a hefty portion each. Robbie had built a replica of Snowdon on his plate ,he had multiples of everything.All that was missing was a Union Jack at the peak. He certainly caught the attention of the waiters and diners. He was oblivious of the stares and soon the three of us were working like trenchermen. When Arthur and I were halfway through our maincourse Robbie was making the rounds of the buffet again. He certainly set the tables talking. Talk about hollow legs. He finished his seconds before Arthur and finished our first’s.
    When the dessert trolley was brought to our table ,the dining room went quiet all eyes were on Robbie as he directed the waiter as to the size of each portion he wanted,he had a bit of everything and, if his main course was a bit like Snowdon ,his dessert was more like Mount Everest. As he was sucking the morsels from his plate a round of applause broke as waiters ,chef’s and customer’s clapped his magnificent achievement. When I was in London a little while later in the year I saw that the restaurant was no longer there. I did wonder whether Robbie had paid them another visit . We strolled around to the London Casino after leaving the restaurant, it was full of lounge lizards and hookers,we did’nt stop long. Robbie wanted to see a strip show, I never told them that I had never been to one in London, they seemed so seedy. Well, that night we went to one of the big ones,and it confirmed my assumption,it was seedy; full of spotty kids, old perves and stag parties. The girls were lovely but were totally naked acting out sado-masochistic fantasies. There was an air of embarrassment as the girls toiled at there trade. I’ve never been to another one since, I felt like having a shower when we came out.
    We got Robbie aboard his train and then made our way back to Canning Town.
    Before getting ourselves off to our room ,Arthur asked me if I would mind him spending a week with me, same conditions would apply. I had found him to be a very shy man. He wanted to be like James Bond, well tailored and have his teeth fixed and hair style changed. . Could I show him where to get things done?
    The answer was yes,and a girl friend too? Yes again. We were in for a busy six days.

  8. #428
    Senior Member brian daley's Avatar
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    We got a nice early start next morning, first stop was a gentlemens hairdresser in Leadenhall Street. Arthur wanted a hairstyle similar to Paul Newmans. I had used this barber a few times and entrusted Arthur to his tonsorial expertise. Whilst the barber was busy with his barnet ,a manicurist set to work on his hands;he was a job and a half. .By the time they were finished with him I had read the Guardian and nearly completed the crossword. The result was remarkable;now we had to sort his mouth out. His teeth were quite bad,years of neglect had left him with a smile like a row of broken tomb stones, The barber recommended a dental practise in Argyle Street,he was supposed to be fast ,but he was expansive. Arthur gave us the nod and we went there immediately. The place was small but very upmarket, the nursing assistants looked like they had stepped from the pages of Vogue. The dentist said he would need to lose three teeth, have a load of fillings and he would have a denture ready for at around tea time.. With a mouth full of fillings ,and minus three teeth, we set off for the Kings Road, that was where he was going to get his new wardrobe.We had a whirl of a time looking at all the latest in menswear, I cautioned him not to buy anything that would look out of place in Gateshead.
    We came back to the West End ,where we each bought ourselves new footwear and I treated my self to a summer outfit at Simpsons. We then went to the Newsreel cinema on the corner by Piccadilly and then went back to the dentists for Arthurs new denture. They were a perfect fit and the transformation was complete, that old adage was proved true “ Clothes maketh the man” new teeth and a haircut help too. That night we went off to the Lyceum Ballroom to give his new image a run out. We hit the bulls eye first time. A couple of women from Plaistow were up in the west end on a girls night out, they worked in a typing pool and were game for a good time. I explained that we had a weeks leave and intended to tick all the “tourist must do boxes" they were game to spend each night with us. We gave them no pressure ,we just wanted female company and would enjoy whatever happened. Our days settled in to a routine, Arthur and I would do the sightseeing bit of a daytime, we would have pub lunches in the likes of the Cheshire cheese , or the Blind Beggar . We were aware that time was finite. Everynight we would meet the girls and go for a meal ,and a show,or a dance never the same restaurant, or ballroom twice.
    Arthur was picking up the tabs and money was no object. But these girls were not gold diggers,like us ,they were enjoying while it lasted. .Six days later, I was up in Kings Cross ,saying good bye to Arthur. As I shook hands and said good bye, I wondered what his family would say when the new Arthur turned up on their doorstep.
    I spent another three days down there, I kept my dancing partners works telephone number and had another night out with her before my leave was up.
    The next ship I got was really brand new, she was still in the shipyard in Goole and was still being fitted out. Acclivity was her name and she was just a bit bigger than a pressure cooker.

    Above are some of the places we ticked off on must do boxes, that is my summer outfit from Simpsons.

  9. #429
    Senior Member kevin's Avatar
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    Great story, as ever.

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    Well Brian what a memory you have,you also have a talent in the way you write about them i have realy enjoyed reading them,i see that you are a ''Sandy Back'' now... i dont think so once a ''Scouse'' always a scouse

    Mossy......Brummie
    You Can Lead a Horse To Water But You Cant Make Him Drink

  11. #431
    Senior Member brian daley's Avatar
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    I count myself very lucky to have been the first seaman to be signed aboard this tiny little ship. She had power on, the cabins were finished but ,she still had quite a bit of equipment to be fitted and she had non stick-tanks in which there were heating coils. Everyone but me was a dockyard employee. The galley had all mod cons but there was no food in the fridges nor milk tea sugar or coffee.
    I made way ashore to find the local supermarket and got a few days stores in; surely they would be sending more crew up soon ?
    I was not a cook, oh, I’d cooked meat when I was at the butchers back in the ‘50’s but I’d never tackled proper meals ,meat and three veg etc. Well the one thing I had was time. There was absolutely nothing I could do in the way of deck work. The shore boss told me to keep well out of the way, expressing surprise that they had sent me up from London. I’d never been this far up the river before ,and found Goole to be a very busy little port ,Selby was quite near and so I spent a bit of time getting to know the places. The main thing I remember ,is how friendly everyone was.I never met a disagreeable person the whole time I was there. There was one sad occasion ,just opposite the shipyard was a coal shute where the colliers where loaded. It was a real Heath Robinson affair, the coal trucks were lifted off the rails by an antique affair, it enclosed the truck and lifted it into the air ,where it turned it upside down so that its contents were dropped into the hatch below. On this day ,one of the dockers was still on truck when the operation took place. He fell and was crushed by the trucks load, I kept hearing his scream for months afterward.
    At the end of my first week in Goole I thought I would go and see if I could get a date with someone, it was’nt like home . There was a very macho atmosphere, there were no single girls to be seen, and I never found a dance hall. I’d put my summer outfit on, it looked a bit out of place in Goole, a lovely cotton jacket with a cream background to a two tone window pane pattern ,Sea Island cotton pants and a peach coloured shirt with a matching silk tie and hankie. I felt a bit overdressed at the bar of the docker’s club but, they served a very decent pint. As I was supping this chap came up to me ,he was about my age and was very soberly dressed. “ Ey mate, my mates think you look luvverly” I sprayed beer all over the bar. It really touched my funny bone. He asked where I was from and I told him. “we’re off to Selby now” he said “ would ya like to join us?” I accepted with alacrity .His two mates asked where I had got my clobber, they actually liked the outfit .They had an old Morris Oxford and ,as I squeezed in ,I realised that perhaps I should’nt have got in. They were all 3 sheets to the wind ,especially the driver. After a few miles I wished that I had been drunk too .

    The only woman I met up there who was “ available “ was a young married woman who was getting her own back on her husband , as much as I wanted female company I was’nt in the market for complications. The Young lady who acted as a companion while I was in London succeeded in writing to me.I did’nt know her surname up until I got that letter, it was incredible. Her forename was very old fashioned, her surname sounded like it was out of a Goon show script. I am not going to divulge it because she was a nice girl, but whenever anyone saw one of her letters they thought it was a joke. However we wrote to each other while I was on the Acclivity and I promised her that should I ever find myself on the Thames again, we would have another night out.

    Monday morning ,an engineer came aboard, he was going to be the chief engineer. By now I was quite accomplished with the the cooking and ,the newbie asked if I would cook for him too. Next aboard was a Scots A.B. ;
    he, likewise he asked to be catered for too. The Mate and the skipper came aboard ,but no cook. The skipper offered to pay me double if I took the cooks job too, I said there was no chance of that happening, they could’nt complain when I was doing it voluntarily, it would be a different story if I was a paid hand.

    At the start of the third week we were ready for sea, our destination was Holland where we would pick up a full load of liquid cooking fat for Van Den Berghs in London.
    She was the smallest vessel I had ever sailed on 248 GRT. I’d been on ships ith bigger lifeboats. And, for a new vessel ,she looked curiously old fashioned. She was robust and had a traditional bridge/wheelhouse. She would be watch on watch off and the watches would be shared by the mate and skipper. We would be getting buckets of overtime .
    We worked long and exhausting hours ,but there were no overly long runs,Holland and Belgium were the furthest foreign ports and London and the East Coast would be our main U.K destinations
    Because we were carrying foodstuff the inspections we had to undergo were quite rigorous, chemist’s used to examine every inch of the tanks before they would clear them for loading. And the heat coils kept the fat simmering all the way across the North Sea. Our first unloading point was up the Pool of London at a place called Galleon’s Reach, what a super name ,not far from the famous Prospect of Whitby pub. We got there spot on the appointed hour, only trouble ,the wharf was closed. We could’nt go any where else because all the adjacent wharfs were closed too. We could see people in the street through the wharf gates but none of them heeded our call. The skipper got on the VHF and tried to raise someone ,to no avail. The tide was on the ebb and we were having to sail at slow speed just to stay in position near the wharf. A police launch noticed our predicament and came along side. The skipper explained our plight and the river police took hold of the situation and climbed up the wharf and took our ropes. When the bobbies found out we had just come from the contintent they asked if we had any American cigarettes. They offered to taxi us ashore ,and make sure we got back( the wharf was locked and we could 'nt leave)We struck a deal, 20 cigarettes I way ,and no less than two men at a time . That suited us down to the ground. When I was being taxied ashore ,the police pilot picked up on my Liverpool accent.” You’ve gotta meet our super’ mate’ eeze from your neck of the woods” Like me ,he lived in Kirkby.I left my oppo and told him I’d see him in the Prospect of Whitby later. On arriving at Wapping Police HQ I was taken through to meet the super’ . He was nearing retirement and gave me a great welcome. He gave me a little tour of the station and then took me through to the police side of the reception desk. The first thing I noticed was the beer pump handles beneath the counter ,there was mild ,bitter and lager. He asked me if I would like something to wet my whistle so I had a pint of bitter. He was very interested in our ship, wanted to know where we would be sailing and if we would be regulars up in the Pool . I answered as best as I could and I had another pint and a large whisky chaser. One of the full length lockers had a row of optics in it and it was all good stuff. By this time we were quite chummy and he asked me if I would be interested in doing a little “errand” for him. He said it would pay well and I would’nt have any problems with the customs.. My brain was going like a train,was it drugs? He told me not to worry, it would be a nice little earner and there would be no complications. I said that we often got the customs aboard when we down in the lower reaches. He assured me that he would know when we where in the Estuary and he could have a launch to meet us be fore we entered the river. I shook his hand and,in the time honoured expression of the New’s of the World reporters ,made my excuses and left. I never took up his offer of wealth and riches,it seemed to much like a “sting”

  12. #432
    Senior Member brian daley's Avatar
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    Woolwich

    Working on a liquid lard carrier is about as far removed from the romantic image of life at sea as it is possible to be. Having to do such long hours meant that we suffered badly from sleep deprivation. When discharging our cargo we could spend up to 36 hours working non stop. The lard was liquid and had to be kept very hot,as soon as discharging began the fat against the side of the tank would begin to harden as the level dropped. To prevent this happening we had to put a hose on the discharging manifold and run it back into the tank.There would be a nozzle on the end of the hose,just like a fire hose,and the unlucky man on watch would have to go down in the tank. There ,he would stand on a platform above the hot bubbling fat and play the hose on to the sides of the tank to melt off the hardening fat. This was a long and exhausting process, you become soaked in hot fat ,and , you would be naked excepting for a pair of boxer shorts. You had to spend the whole of the discharging time in that tank,to do otherwise would mean the lard solidifying and that would be disastrous. When we were berthed near Swanage ,I actually spent a day and a half down the tank ,non stop, playing the hot fat on the tanksides and bottom. Food and drink was lowered to me and I ate and drank as I played the hose on the sides. When we were finished discharging ,I had a hot shower to clean every last bit of lard off me and went and crashed out in my bunk. I immediately sank into much needed slumber. I was awakened by the new Mate who told me to get up on deck to start work. I looked at my watch and saw that it was just 30 minutes since I had crashed out. I went to attack him ,calling him a silly young bastid. He fled my cabin and left me well alone.
    We did manage some time off while we were down there and I went to Woolwich and caught the ferry to the north side. I arranged to meet the lady from Plaistow. I cannot remember what we did ,I was too tired for dancing ,that much I do remember. It was after midnight that I left her in Plaistow. I did’nt have enough for a taxi to Swanage and the buses had stopped running,so I had to walk the journey to the ferry. As I was strolling along I heard the sound of a bus coming. It slowed down as it neared me and I hopped aboard the platform. I got seated near the stairway and noticed two things,the bus was in total darkness, and it was full of busmen.They were all in uniform ,discernable only by their outline,pealed capped heads atop mackintoshed bodies.And they were silent.
    I asked if the bus went near Woolwich ferry and was answered with a low growl “ this is a feckin service bus ,git orrff !”
    It was a bizarre scene, scripted by a madman.
    It took forever to reach the ferry ,and it was closed !. Luckily there is a foot tunnel and I decended into it . It was a spooky experience,early hours of the morning and alone,not the best time to be making the crossing. I don’t know how far I descended, I do know that I could hear a conversation that sounded very close, as though people were just feet away. The tunnel arcs in a gent curve giving you a foreshortened view. The sound of my own footsteps echoed around the walls and the two man conversation seemed loud and clear, quite close. I never saw them the entire way under the Thames . I was so glad to get back to the surface on the south side , there were a couple of taxis parked nearby and I had just enough change to get me back to the ship.

    We did one run up to Selby,it was a weekend and I decided to get the train across the Pennines to Liverpool ,it had been a long time since I had seen my folks and I could’nt be so close and not go home. Mum did’nt have a telephone so could’nt warn her of my arrival. I got a very early train which had me at home for lunch. It was a wonderful homecoming , Jess and her family were up for a visit and that meant I had all of my immediate family together for a joyful reunion. The children had shot up since I last saw them. Jess now had three offspring and Bette had a little boy. My young sister Chris was now very much the young lady, her puppy fat had now melted and she was a sylph like young maiden. I felt so old at seeing them all so changed.
    Mum had some wonderful news,I was now a free man. The divorce had been undertaken in my absence but I was free at last.
    I had to get a train back to Selby, there was one train scheduled to leave Lime Street about 9.00pm. I left my family with a firm promise that I would be back soon and set off for the station.
    The train was at the platform when I arrived, I boarded in plenty of time and sat with the Sunday paper, reading yesterdays happening whilst I awaited the whistle signalling our departure. It never came, instead we were informed that there would be a delay whilst they exchanged locomotives, The new departure would be 10.30pm. I was allowed to leave the train and went to the Golden Egg café in Lime Street. My cousin Dot worked there and the hour whizzed by as we caught up with each other At ten thirty I was seated back aboard the train but she still was’nt moving . I was allowed to disembark and made it back to the Golden Egg. It was 2.15 am before we left Lime Street, I made the crossing in a half conscious state. I got back near the wharf where the Acclivity was discharging and found that there was a flurry of activity around her, she had broken away from her moorings ,the discharge manifold was broken and hot fat was spilling everywhere. I was dressed in my best gear. I did’nt think twice………I walked away from the docks until I found somewhere I could get a bit of shut eye. When I returned three hours later all was cleaned up and shipshape. I never told them that I knew what had happened. That company never paid you for ruining your gear.
    My opposite number on that ship was a great guy, he was 20 years older than me and was a Scot. He had fought in Korea and was captured by the Chinese who held him for two years. He told me of the brainwashing classes that the UN prisoners were forced to attend . You never hear tales of the brutality meted out to the Allies by the Chinese ;according to Jock it was a daily occurrence.
    He had suffered at their hands ,he developed appendicitis and they would not treat him. A fellow prisoner ,who had been a first aid man, operated on him with some scissors and a razor blade. . It was successful but he was left with the most horrendous scars. His swollen lower abdomen looked like the top of a cottage loaf. The crossed scar was deep and jagged ,and this was 15 years later.
    He was an enjoyable companion and held no bitterness for his former foes.

    Below are a view of the bridge with the Skipper looking out at the sea and,secondly yours truly ,with Jock coming up behind me as we wash the old girl down,
    BrianD
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  13. #433
    Senior Member brian daley's Avatar
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    Acclivity 2

    The cabins on the Acclivity were rather cramped, every available inch was utilised and in the crew cabins the space was at a premium. I had brought the whole of my gear, which included some curios that I had purchased at the Friendship store in Dairen . When we left that far off port I had a huge amount of cork carvings ,decorated eggs, paintings and other artefacts. When we were in Fremantle I was persuaded to sell some items to a couple of wharfies . They paid far more than I did for them. And in Durban I sold a few more. Now, on the Acclivity, I still had a case full. I had some out on display and the skipper, Brian Lamkin , had never been beyond the Channel ports and was mightily impressed by the exquisite workmanship of the cork carvings. The carvings were traditional Chinese Willow Pattern type scenes, enclosed in glass cases about 8 by 6 by 4. I had fallen in love with them and used to buy them whenever I went ashore in Dairen ,apart from the curios and gifts and the restaurant, there was nought that you could do ,except play a game of table tennis.
    I let Brian have a few ,for a price ,and I sold some to other crew members too ,remembering to save some for Mum.

    As with other Everard boats, the cook's position was the job that had the shortest tenure. I suppose working in such cramped conditions helped speed each cooks exit.
    One day a Scouser turned up to replace the latest departure. He looked ,at first sight, like a bohemian art student. He had an Afro (he was white) which had a bald spot on the top. His beard was like the hair on his head, wild and electric. Looked face on ,he had the appearance of a hamster looking out of a bundle of straw . His clothes were more suited to a navvy ,fraying sleeves on his cuffs, and his trousers had the crotch frayed!.
    He was a mess, but he could cook. Kenny was his name and today he would be a tv chef such was his gastronomic skill. But ,he is more likely to be in Jail. I went ashore with him when we were in Felixstowe. He was dressed in the same outfit, most probably his only outfit. He was as unkempt as ever ,but was so self assured that he could have been in a white tie and tails, such was his demeanour.
    We caught a bus to Great Yarmouth ,this was the height of the holiday season and Ken wanted to pull a holidaymaker. We stopped on the prom at Yarmouth and dived into the nearest pub to have a swift half and assess the lay of the Land. It was the beginning of the Newcastle holiday fortnight and the place was full of lads and lasses ,all out for a good time. It was one of those balmy summer eves, a warming wind was blowing in from the sea and the girls were looking lovely. Kenny had been a few times and knew where the best places to “click” were situated.
    As we were sipping our ale, we were sat on high stools at the bar, I noticed one of Kenny’s “plums” hanging out of his very frayed crotch. I leaned forward and told him. “Dat’s okay Bri’ ” he said “ Dat’s ‘ow I pull der class judies” What the hell had I come ashore with ?
    He drank up and said we should go to the dance hall on the prom.
    He was right ,the place was heaving and the girls seemed to outnumber the boys. We pulled as soon as we sat down. The two Geordie lasses in the seats next us responded to Kenny’s overtures and came and sat between us ,we were on the front row adjacent the dance floor .Soon we were up and dancing and the young lady and I were chatting ten to the dozen . I told her I was a deckhand on a little coaster and she told me she worked in a factory as typist.When we finished dancing ,we returned to our seats and the girls excused themselves and went to the loo. Kenny leaned over from his seat and said “Bri’ I’ve told ‘er that you’re the captain an’ I’m de mate on a cargo boat,we’ll be on der pal” We never saw the again.
    There were so many girls there that it was’nt long before we pulled again. Kenny had chatted up a petite young blonde girl from Newcastle ,her mate looked like Peggy Mount ,but protocol demanded that I was obligated to partner her ,buying her drinks and dancing with her. Ugly as he was ,Kenny soon had the petite young thing getting all romantic on him. This time I went along with his fiction, we were skipper and mate. After the last dance ,we all went to the beach ,sitting at the waters edge ,we listened to the waves crunching on the shore. There was a candy striped marquee close by and Kenny trailed over there with his girl. I was pulled up by her mate and she lay down just around the corner from Kenny and Co. Laying there we could here everything ,Kenny cozening ,she ooohing and aahing ,and then Kenny said “hold tight luv, I’m just gonna shove your kidneys to one side” I just fell apart, the big one had to shove her scarf into her mouth to stop herself guffawing. Kenny was a master of the romantic word.
    I left the Acclivity shortly after that, autumn was upon us and it would soon be time for Roger and Pearls wedding in Oswestry. His parents had invited me down for the week and I was really looking forward to it.

    Below is a shot of the bridge ,as seen from the foredeck ,and Tower Bridge as seen from the dock by Galleons Reach.

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  14. #434
    Senior Member jacky gunnion's Avatar
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    love your writing...

  15. #435
    Keeping It Real !!!!!!!!! ItsaZappathing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jacky gunnion View Post
    love your writing...
    Same here. But what's happened to you Jacky ? Where the devil are you?

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    Senior Member brian daley's Avatar
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    The Wedding
    I left the Acclivity on the 4th of September 1968, I still had the bulk of my pay off from the Demeterton, plus my pay off from the lard boat, so I was going home like jolly jack ,a kit bag full of presents and a pocketful of tin.
    I spent a couple of days at home with the folks and got to see most of my relatives in the short time I spent there. I could’nt wait to get down to Oswestry, Roger, the guy I sailed with just 12 months ago, had asked me to be his best man and I wanted to find out just what was expected of me.
    I took the train from Central Station ,it was pulled by a diesel engine, dirty and smelly ,you felt you were really travelling on them. I had to change at Birkenhead, and then it was off down through Cheshire and parts of Wales. I was fascinated by how little the countryside had changed ,it was harvest time and we could see the combine harvesters reaping the corn ,leaving the fields looking like carpets of gold.
    I forget how long the journey took ,but it was relaxing just watching the different
    fields and the hive of activity taking place within them.
    Roger met me at the station in Oswestry and we walked to his house .
    I was situated in Park Avenue ,which was full of tall ,three storey houses. They were late Victorian and seemed very spacious. It was one of the last roads in the town and the road we walked from the town on, led on past the avenue up into the countryside.
    Rogers family were all at home when we arrived and I was given a very warm welcome. His dad seemed a lot older than his mum and his younger sister ,who was about 15 was very pleasant. I was shown to my room ,up on the third floor and I had a good wash and unpacked before going down to join the family for dinner.
    The meal was most agreeable, we were sat at a large old fashioned table with plenty of room. The napery was perfect and the whole room was filled with gifts that had been brought home by the sailor son, the dining room window faced west ,and it was very soothing to watch the sky change from blue to gold as the sun got lower in the western horizon.
    After dinner ,Roger, his dad ,and I strolled down to the town to visit their favourite watering holes where I was introduced to lots of different people. There was a warmth amongst those people for strangers and it made for a lovely night.
    Closing time found us being tipped out at 10.30pm and we made our way back to Park Avenue beneath the light of a Harvest Moon.
    Rogers mum had a fine spread ready for when we got in ,and Roger had a surprise for me too. As we sat eating our supper, he handed me a little booklet. It’s cover bore the legend ,”The Duties of a Best Man”. He pointed out my duties, the best man paid for the wedding service, the hire of the morning suits for the groom ,father and ushers and the wedding limousines. At first I thought it was a joke, how wrong could I be. Roger had me scheduled to go to the hire shop and organise the suits , and then to the wedding car place to hire three big Humber Super Snipes, and then, finally, to the little church in Gobowen were I paid for the service. Thank god I’d had a good pay off.
    Apart from the expenses, I was having a great time down there ,Roger had left the Merchant Navy and had trained up as a refrigeration engineer with Prestcold. He now had a van and was doing servicing on the commercial side ,shops and factories , he said he was making a fortune on the side because he quite often condemned fridges and sold the owner a new one, he would take the old one away, no charge, he would take it to a lock up garage ,where he would fix it and then sell it on to another shop for a good price.
    His parents were ignorant of that little racket ,but he was putting his ill gotten gains to good use, he was buying a beautiful little house in Shrewsbury on a new estate right by the River Severn.
    As the days passed by I got to like Oswestry and the surrounding areas ,Roger would borrow his dads little Austin A40 and chauffeur me around the hills and dales of Shropshire. The farm roads were nowhere as busy as they are today and we could stop almost where we liked to get out and enjoy the scenery.
    We had a wedding rehearsal in the middle of the week and I met Pearl and her maid of honour for the first time. The church was ancient,11th century I think . It had ,originally, a thatched roof ,but now had large lichen covered grey tiles. Inside there were whitewashed walls and a few wall mounted tablets honouring the dead of both world wars. The altar was a very simple affair ,a brass crucifix and two large brass candlesticks gleamed in the light from the side windows.
    The rehearsal went off fine and we all retired to a pub nearby. This little inn was a curiosity, it lay across the border of England and Wales, and on a Sunday the door on the Welsh side had to remain locked and the bar that side could not serve anything ,needless to say the bar on the English side would be filled to bursting with locals, and tourist’s.
    Saturday soon dawned and then it was a case of getting all the strings drawn together, suits to be collected from hire shop, check that the limo’s were all o.k., make sure that I had the ring, and, finally, to see that Roger was turned out immaculately.
    The whole thing went with the precision of a finely made Swiss watch, I felt ripped off about the limo’s though, they were Humber Super Snipes,but they had seen much better days. The only thing that held the body’s together was the paint. The upholstery was tattered and torn and the springs in the seats were knackered.. They were at least 30 years old and were showing signs of rust on the bonnet and mud guards. The wedding ceremony passed without a hitch and,after the photographer had taken all the usual shots, it was off to the barracks at Oswestry Depot for the wedding feast. Pearls father had done the catering, he was a caterer to the Army and the spread was excellent. The drink flowed steadily and soon it was time for the speeches, I was a bit short of material on Roger, he had’nt told me much about himself when we sailed together and had been busily occupied with getting his new house ready to move into in the run up to the big day,so I hoofed it ,made it seem like he was an old buddy;it went down well.
    The meal was over and the pubs were just opening, most people had come some miles to be at this “do” and it seemed a shame to split up just when things were warming up. I suggested that we retire to a pub in the centre of Oswestry to have a few drinks before setting off home. Most of the guests were family but there some who had come up from Warwickshire, Birmingham and Swindon ,as well as other places. We filled the pub to overflowing and I had had a tarpaulin muster of all the guests that were there, £2-10.s. for the men and £1-00p for the ladies, it was more than enough and by the time the clock struck 8 pm someone suggested we go back to Rogers house for a bite to eat. There was a lot of money left in the kitty, enough to buy more than 3 crates of ale and a case Babycham . I was still dressed in my hire suit and felt terribly old fashioned, if we went to Roger’s I could at least get changed.
    There were three reception rooms on the ground floor at Rogers, and there were ,roughly speaking ,three sets of age groups. We parked the Mums and dads and grandparents in the front room , the over thirties in the middle room ,and then the singles took control of the back room . There were so many girls there that I felt like a kid in a candy shop. I was acting as DJ and Roger (who was by now heading off with his new wife to their honeymoon hotel) had a fairly decent collection of records. You could feel the evening start to swing and I could see that there were more than a few beauties that I could chance my arm with, first of all I had to get changed. I put on Billy Rose’ “The Stripper” and started getting my kit off to the music, there was a blonde girl at the back of the room who showed her distaste by giving me a scathing look, the other girls were egging me on. One of the married women had joined us and she made it quite plain that she liked what she saw, that blonde though, she was like ice. I got out of the room with just my boxer shorts on and then went and put some jeans on. As time passed by more and more people had to leave to catch their trains home, soon there was just me and one of the ushers, guy called Barry ,and half a dozen girls. I was feeling well mellow and wanted to see if I could tempt any of the ladies. The night was warm and the sky velvet black so I suggested that we walk to the racecourse and see the stars at night. We were all squiffy and some of the girls were quite happy to be kissed ,if I kissed one then another would want a kiss too. When we got to the racecourse ,we had a game of hide and seek, I would get hidden with one of the girls and we would start cuddling , only for another girl to find us and say that it was her turn now. They loved it but it was a bit too wearing for me. Besides, that blonde girl was there and she was disgusted at our shenanigans. Realising that I was on a hiding to nothing, I threw the towel in and suggested that we go and have a nice cup of cocoa before going to bed.

    Next morning I was up with the lark and had a shower before going down to breakfast. When I arrived in the kitchen , that blonde was there, turned out she was Rogers cousin ,and very nice too. Her mum and dad were with her and she told me that she lived in Birmingam and had come back from her Spanish holiday just yesterday morning ,they would be leaving for home just after breakfast and she made it plain that she would be quite happy to see the back of me ,ah well, you can’t win them all. I travelled back on Monday and Rogers mum and dad made me promise that I would come and see them again when I was next at home. Barry the usher asked if I could show him some of the night life in Liverpool and we made a date for the following Friday. I would have a few days to recover from my sojourn, and then I must think in terms of getting another berth.

  17. #437
    Senior Member brian daley's Avatar
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    The Arcadian

    I touched lucky when I got back to Liverpool, when I reported to the Pool there was a spare man wanted on an Ellerman boat running up to the Great Lakes. It was just on a year ago when I ran up there on the Kypros/Aurania,it would be good to see the Fall again on the Lakes. She was’nt signing for a few days so I got in touch with Barry,the usher, and invited him to an evening of pub crawling around the town. I also asked him if he could get the address of Rogers blonde cousin in Birmingham ,that girl intrigued me.
    I met Barry in Central Station and we kicked off at Ma Egertons and then progressed up to Lime Street and had drinks in the Big house ,the Crown and the Yankee Bar,stopping off at Yates for a couple of Whites.We then meandered to the Philharmonic and the Crack and ended up in a very pseudy club which was full poets and actors. Barry was an actor and he pulled very quickly, I got lumbered with the girls friend,who had an unforgettable name ,Belle Star. She too was of the arty set and I got involved in a deep discussion about existentialism. It’s wonderful how a few glasses of White can send the tongue to heights of eloquence. We saw the girls back to their flat and then made sure that Barry caught his train back to Oswestry. The address of that little blonde was safe inside my wallet and when I got home I sat up until the wee small hours writing her a letter.

    Ever since I left the Crosbian back in 62’ , whenever I sailed with a Liverpool crowd I always checked the crew list to see if B. the bully was on board. I had grown lax now ,6 years had passed and I had only glimpsed him once.
    Just after I had appended my signature to the articles ,I saw ,with shock, his signature just above mine. My cowards heart went into overdrive “Run, leave this ship,go!!” I had been reminded of the bad blood just a few weeks before, one of my mates had sailed with him and B.was telling all and sundry that I was dead meat. With a panicky heart I set off for the sailors alleyway to find my new cabin. I had a single berth and it was’nt too bad. I slung my gear on the bunk and went along to the messroom. It was quite crowded and there was laughter in the air……would he be in there?
    The whole deck crowd were there and sat in the middle of them was B.
    The room fell silent as I entered, there was one empty seat so I parked myself there, right opposite the man himself. He looked at me.his eyes abrim with laughter, “So, you’re the new feller” He said to the mess “ I know this man, we were at the sea school together ,and we sailed on the Crosbian” He stuck his hand out, “put it there Brian” he said shaking my hand like an old friend well met. It certainly took the wind out of my sails..
    It was a really mixed crew, there were a couple of young O.S.s ,B. seemed to be the senior man then there was a chubby A.B. ,an excellent model maker, and then a man of great age,Fred, I never did find out how old he was,but the sea was the only life he had.There were a couple of new EDH’s and they had spent the summer aboard her. All in all ,she seemed a very happy ship, she was only away for 5 weeks or so and she went to a lot of nice ports. After the solid graft of watch and watch on the Acclivity this would be like a holiday.

    Our outward journey ran smoothly, the atmosphere seemed a little unreal, B. was deferential and I was uneasy about that, would he seek his revenge?
    There was one incident that could have acted as a trigger, one of the junior rating was taking issue with some statement I had made and all eyes were on B., looking to see what he had to say on the matter. He looked at the JOS. And said “ You listen to what Brian tells you , he’s been around a bit and knows his onions !” I felt distinctly embarrassed by such fulsome praise..
    Later that evening I was sitting in my cabin doing a few repairs on my working jeans,when one of the young EDH’s knocked on my door.I called him in and he sat on my daybed. I asked him what he wanted and he asked if he could borrow my short raincoat to go ashore in Montreal. I nodded OK and he lingered a while. I asked him if there was something else . He looked a little embarrassed. “ You and B., what’s goin’ on there? I asked him what he meant and he said that B. had been the top man in the deck crowd and used to dominate the lads. He practically lorded it over everyone and even the bosun deferred to him. “ you come aboard and the he’s as nice as pie. What’s the story?” I just said the B. was an old mate from way back and that’s the story.
    I never let on about what had occurred on the Crosbian,let sleeping dogs lie !

    Quebec was our first port this time, we tied up right beneath the Chateau Frontengnac, a very grand hotel that stood upon the heights above the St. Lawrence. There was no silly stuff with the dockers this trip,the protection money must have been paid and there was no leakage from the cargo
    We were'nt alongside long enough to get ashore and then we headed for Montreal. The Expo site was still there but the national pavilions were all gone, it was now called “A Man and His World” and was just like a big theme park. Gone were the crowds that flooded Expo but there still some good rides there.
    On Saturday night I went to a club that was open during Expo, it was called ”My Fathers Moustache” and was a very popular venue. There was a resident jazz band and they had guest groups too, it was a great place to take a girl to.
    Pity I never had one. But I did get a letter from that blonde from Birmingham.
    She was an excellent writer, her letter was like a narrative essay ,she described her everyday life and was very observant. I could picture the scenes she described. The library,where class A eccentrics seemed to lurk amongst the bookshelves, the market where the hucksters were as entertaining as street theatre. She had a group of girlfriends who were of a similar disposition, they had been at college together,and,indeed,had returned from a camping holiday in Spain the weekend of Rogers wedding. I wanted to know more of this girl and the world that she lived in. I set about replying to her mail ,detailing my foray ashore in Montreal and our journey upriver. I was hungry for more of her words.
    Shown below are the Village designed for Expo by Le Corbousier,the Space and Volcano ride at A man and his world,A town on the Seaway that was split in two to let the ships through,
    Grafitti on the entrance to the seaway, the grim welcome at the entrance to the St. Lawrence
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  18. #438
    Senior Member brian daley's Avatar
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    The Lakes

    There were no riots or dock strikes this time, the captain was able to maintain a very tight schedule and we negotiated our way through the St Lawrence Seaway and four of the Great Lakes.
    Our first port on Lake Ontario was in the US, Rochester. Toronto ,in Canada, followed .We called at Hamilton and then went through the canal to Lake Erie where we docked at Toledo. Windsor ,in Canada, was our next port of call just up from here we were back in the US ,at the port city of Motown , Detroit. .Detroit is in Lake Saint Clair and we crossed it to go through another section of the Seaway ,w2hich took us to Sarnia ,on the Canadian side of Lake Huron
    After Sarnia ,we were able to catch up on some sleep ,because we were going non-stop to Chicago, which is at the southern end of Lake Michigan.
    The “Windy City “ was the end of the line ,there we would discharge the last of our imported goods and then start loading for home.
    All the while on our outward journey, that little blonde, from Birmingham, had been replying to my many letters. That song from the King and I ,"Getting to Know You" She was 5 years younger than me but seemed a lot more mature.
    She had been in a drama group and had done stage management ,as well as painting the sets. Her love of literature was evident in the books she read and her skill with a pencil was such that she could sketch portraits which seemed to catch the essence of the person ,making them more alive.
    On our homeward run ,I raised the possibility of meeting her. I knew what she looked like, her voice was clear and strong and her sense of humour was second to none.
    By the time we got back to Montreal we had arranged to meet up at her aunt’s place in Oswestry, just for the day………………………I was really looking forward to that day, it could’nt come soon enough.

    While we were in Montreal the crew were put to work painting the hull and the accommodation. We started off at the bow and would be painting right down the length of her. I was put on the stage with another guy who was about the same age as me .We were working on the port bow and, facing us were two Sos’s on the starboard bow. Because of the rake of her stem the two of us at the bow end of both stages were visible to each other and could see how we were working. I ,and my stage mate, had learned over the years how to work smart.
    The stages were,in essence ,planks of wood with a cross piece at either end,we called the cross piece “ horns”. We would tie a gantline at the horned ends and then pass the ends of the line through a piece of rope called a lizard .This had a metal eyelet spliced into one end while the other end would be made fast to a rail or stanchion.When the gantline was put through the eyelet it was wound around the end of the stage, this would hold the stage in place. Two turns would hold it tight ,but the more nervous amongst us would put as many turns as they could on the end. So, there we were, me and my stage mate with just two turns on the horns ,and the young ‘uns opposite with about six turns. To lower ourselves down to another “fleet” we would grip the gantline and throw of the turns and lower ourselves simply by loosing our hold on falls. Simply closing your grip would halt the drop and we would put a couple of turns around the horns . The kid opposite me had never seen this done before and told his stagemate what he had seen. They tried copying us ,gripping the gantline,but not tight enough! The stage fell away beneath them and by the time they had gripped them tight enough, they were hanging there ,in mid air. The guy opposite me looked like Wil.e Coyote.There was only one way for them to go….DOWN!!!!
    They hit the water together and were pulled into the punt ,which was being used for painting the boot topping.
    Their misadventure was the source of great merriment amongst the lads,me and my oppo nearly had a stroke we laughed that much.
    The days flew by and soon we were back in Liverpool for the weekend; I spent Friday and Saturday at home and ventured to Oswestry on Sunday.
    It was a fresh autumn day and the countryside was turning brown and gold, Shropshire is a wonderful county, full of hills and dales, ineffably English.
    I made my own way from the station to Park Avenue and the town looked fresh and clean in the sunlight . When I reached Rogers I was welcomed like a long lost son, and sitting in the front room was that little Brummie. I caught my breath when I saw her, her flaxen hair had golden flecks in it and her little black dress with its white cuffs and collar, so simple and elegant made her look enchanting. My eyes were filled with her simple beauty and I hoped that my heart would not betray me because it was thumping within my chest. We had Sunday lunch and then went for a drive in Rogers fathers car. It was all passing in a haze,I only had eyes for her,my little blonde. Time sped by and it was soon time for Blondie to go back to Brum. She had to go to Shrewsbury for the train and her Uncle was driving her. I asked if I could see her off and we all drove to the station. I wanted to be with her so much,to leave her now would be madness. When we got to the station I bought a one way ticket to Birmingham, I was going to see her to her door. She seemed delighted that I had done so and when sat on the train ,oblivious to the world around us, holding hands and devouring each other with our eyes. By the time we reached New Street in Birmingham I knew I was falling for this lady in a big,big way.
    Her parents were quite surprised when they saw the two of us ,they were nice gentle folk and were very shy. She was their only child and I could see that they were worried about me, a sailor ,big and hairy,and their little daughter, so frail and vulnerable.
    It was about 9 in the evening and she took me to see a bit of Birmingham nightlife, it was petty much the same as Liverpool ,small ,smoke filled cellars ,with psychodelic lights and music systems blasting at 128 decibels. She had to work next morning and so we went back to her house about midnight. Her parents were still up, she thought they would have been in bed. Her mum had made me a bed in Blondies room and Blondie was sleeping in the spare room.
    When she showed me my bed, we kissed and near scalded each other, all of my senses were inflamed . We pulled way from each other, knowing we were adrift in dangerous waters. I bade her goodnight and settled in her bed, it smelled of a subtle perfume, gentle like herself. Some of her sketches hung on the walls and I took enjoyment in just looking at them.
    I was awakened next morning with the aroma of bacon and eggs, it was about 7-0clock. The door burst open and in came Blondie she came to me and kissed me fully awake
    .
    I had not been dreaming, she was real and she was kissing me. Oh that morning was so bright, but she was off to work, she was a telephonist at the GPO. She had gone by the time I was up and dressed, he mum cooked me a scrumptious breakfast and I ventured out to have a look at Birmingham town.
    It was a town of great contrasts, lots of beautiful old Victorian building cheek by jowl with terrible post war concrete monstrosities .It was as though some crank had put the city into a faulty time machine and spewed out this dreadful mess.
    But there was so much to see and do that time had slipped by and it was near time for Blondie to finish work. I went to the exchange where she worked and stood on the pavement opposite. Soon enough ,she was there and we enfolded ourselves into each other.
    Her mother had dinner ready for us when arrived, the clock seemed to be working at double speed and it was time for me to make my departure. She came down town with me and we had a drink or two in a pub near the station. She seemed quiet and contemplative s we sat there, I was soon to be off to faraway, she would be here,waiting?
    A teardrop slipped down her cheek and she was gripping my hand. I pulled her to me,” When I come home again ,I will marry you, I want to spend the rest of my life with you.” I could feel her cheeks ,wet against mine and I knew that my heart had found its home.

  19. #439
    Senior Member brian daley's Avatar
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    “Home is the Sailor………….”

    As the train pulled out of New Street station I knew that my life would change, Sue, she of the blonde hair, was so different from any girl I had known before. I was missing her already, this was no adolescent fancy,it was the real thing. Her parents knew that I was once married ,they had to be uneasy about that . But, I knew in my heart of hearts that Sue was the one that I had wanted,Sue was the one I could spend my life with.
    I had signed on for another trip to the Great Lakes, we would be home for Christmas and I knew that I wanted to spend Christmas with Sue.
    The journey across to Canada was much rougher than last time, it was early November and the sea and the sky were black and grey, the wind screamed through the rigging and the Arctic blasts were freezing cold. We could hardly move on deck to overhaul the running gear, the decks were constantly awash; winter north Atlantic was ever thus.
    Sailing up to Quebec was so different from autumn, the hills to the north were now bereft of their fall coats of gold and were now stark and forbidding.
    Our messroom had a member missing this trip, B. had left and I could sleep easy once more. The lads asked me why he had been so deferential to me and I kept my counsel, the atmosphere was now very relaxed. I planned to keep it that way.
    I felt that something had changed in me, I felt unnatural, this was no life for a married man, living like a monk ,with a crowd of men. I came to realise that the Merchant Navy was a young mans game , see the world and sow the wild oats. Well I had seen an awful lot of this old globe ,and my wild oats were well and truly sown. It was time to live and enjoy life .
    I poured my feelings into the letters I wrote to Sue; her letters to me were just as honest, we wanted to be together.
    That trip to the Lakes was my swan song , I knew that whatever happened I would not join another ship. All of the ports we went to were covered in snow ,we were one of the last ships to clear the Seaway, it closed down in deep winter because everything iced up. Just before we left Canada ,we called in to Saguenay. It was absolutely freezing, the seaward bulkhead (wall) of my cabin had half an inch of ice on the inside.
    We had an elderly deckhand among our lads, he had spent his entire working life at sea. He was well mannered and a good conversationalist ,but he was one of the reasons that confirmed me in my decision to get ashore,he had no one. No family ,no friends, a cabin in the sailors home was where he resided when home. His real life was being aboard ship, a bit like the Flying Dutchman ,I often wonder what became of Old Fred.
    We got back to Liverpool on the 15th of December ,plenty of time to spend with my family and with Sue and her family. Mum was bit disappointed that I would’nt be at home for Christmas dinner, she was used to my flitting about and I had’nt yet told her of my plans . I thought it best to see Sue first ,see what her answer would be. With just a few days to go before the holiday I made my way to Birmingham. I met Sue from work and we caught the bus to Handsworth Wood. Sue’s parents were welcoming, but very shy. I can see that it had been a bit of a shock to their systems. Was this sailor for real?
    After dinner ,Sue and I sat in the front room and I proposed to her.She was silent for a moment, and I explained that I would get a job in Birmingham and then get a flat so that we could be married. I was very aware of the amount of strokes against me; married with a kid that he says is’nt his.
    My divorce had come through although I was still paying maintenance for the child. If anyone married me it would have to be for love,I did’nt have much else.
    Sue came into my arms and put her head on my chest, “Yes, I would like to marry you“ she said, turning her face up to kiss me .
    Late that night I asked Ted ,her father, if he would give me his daughters hand in marriage. He was a quiet man and I could see that he was torn, I told him that I was leaving the Merchant Navy and would look for a job in Birmingham. I asked if I could lodge with them until I found a flat for us to live in. I would pay them rent and housekeeping . His face was a picture of
    bewilderment; we had a cigarette and sat silent while he formed an answer.
    He nodded his assent and I went and told Sue. From then on events speeded up, we had to get our lives sorted and the first thing I did was write to my ex wife’s lawyers to inform them that I was about to marry ,I wanted to make sure that I was not going to pursued for any unpaid bills. Everything was ok in that sector. I went around the letting agency’s looking for furnished flats ,in those days there were hundreds. Sue went and sorted out the wedding date and banns and I started searching for a job. Luck plays a great part in your life ,I’ve learned that from experience, I bought the local evening paper and searched the situations vacant columns for a job that I could do. Most of them require the ownership of a license ,I did’nt have one. But there were plenty of others ;one that caught my eye was for an experienced paint sprayer. I had used a spray gun on an oil tanker ,huge thing ,the spray gun that is. I called the number and found that it was just a walk from the town centre .And this is where luck comes in, I was bearded and had my Merchant Navy tie and blazer on. You would’nt see many of them about in ’68. When I was shown into the MD’s office at the factory ,I found him to be bearded and wearing a Merchant Navy tie. On the wall behind his desk hung about half a dozen pictures of ships. He shot up out of his seat and shook my hand and then we talked ships and far off places. We never spoke of my ability ,he took me out on to the factory floor and introduced me the other sprayer, a little lady from Newcastle. I told her that I was a greenhorn but was packing the sea up to marry a local girl. Ina, for that was her name, told me that she would teach me because she thought it was so romantic, just two dates and getting married. The boss told me that I could start first thing in the NewYear.
    Christmas Day went off beautifully and on Boxing Day we travelled up to Liverpool to tell them of our plans ,everyone fell in love with Sue ,my sisters thought she was great and mum and dad were very happy for us both.
    On December the 26th Sue accompanied me to the Pool where I went through the process of leaving the MN. We went back up to mum and dads to bid them goodbye and took the train to Brum.
    I was feeling so happy ,we would be married on the 8th of February,we had a beautiful apartment and I would be commencing work in the first week of the New Year. That was nearly 42 years ago, we were as poor as churchmice, poor, but very happy. I have had many jobs ,each one better than the last, our two children have provided us with three grandchildren ,with another due in February 2011. Our life together has been like a mosaic ,so many interesting things happened to us, good and bad, but always interesting. But love grows, and love is infinite. This is the end of my tale ,but not my life, I hope you have enjoyed it…………………………………………
    Brian Daley ,23rd November 2010

    Shown below are Sue and I on our wedding day,at the wedding breakfast and outside in the freezing snow.The third picture is of Fred, the old sailorman



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  20. #440
    Martin hmtmaj's Avatar
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    Thought I'd bump this thread for any newby looking for a great read about growing up in Liverpool, you may be here a few hours at least !

    Go to 1st page and enjoy Brian's true story, absolutely fascinating

    Mart
    Started the Old Swan Website:

    http://oldswan.piczo.com/?cr=5

  21. #441
    Senior Member liverpoolkid2's Avatar
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    that was fantastic readindg and I wouldn't have read it if it wasn't from Mart thank you mate to you

  22. #442
    Martin hmtmaj's Avatar
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    Brian hasn't been on for a while but I'm sure he won't mind a few more readers
    Started the Old Swan Website:

    http://oldswan.piczo.com/?cr=5

  23. #443
    Senior Member Marty1's Avatar
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    Christ, I'm not sure I have the time left on the planet, but I'll give it a go, thanks !

  24. #444
    Martin hmtmaj's Avatar
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    You won't regret it Marty

    Mart
    Started the Old Swan Website:

    http://oldswan.piczo.com/?cr=5

  25. #445
    Senior Member Marty1's Avatar
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    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............
    I'm now on page 6 coming into the 50s and yes, it's a great read !

  26. #446
    Senior Member liverpoolkid2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marty1 View Post
    I'm now on page 6 coming into the 50s and yes, it's a great read !
    Hey Marty, Martin said it's a bit long but weel worth the read well I got so engrossed in it I forgot the time and missed 3 hr patrols so at the moment in the last hours instead of 1hrly I'm doing 2 to catch up haha just made me a bowl of INSTANT MASHED ( and I'm not even Drunk )

  27. #447
    Senior Member Marty1's Avatar
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    I first thought it would be to long a read, until I started it, forget the Ptls Mike !

  28. #448
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    Hi Brian and welcome to the site. You were at Tiber Street school at the same time as me,I lived in Lime Grove off Lodge Lane, I remember a boy called John Charlton who lived further up the lane but can't remember any more names,just remembered, a girl called Alysha was run over on Lodge Lane just by Fern Grove,she had a twin sister,do you remember that, she was ok.

  29. #449
    Senior Member brian daley's Avatar
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    Hi Maureen,
    thank you for your nice welcome. I cannot remember a John Charlton at Tiber Street but I do recall seeing a little girl getting run over by a small saloon car. She was a tragic figure,she lost her mother and a sibling in a fire at their house in Handel Street and was getting over the trauma of that when she had her accident.The incident occurred when school was letting out at 4-0 o'clock. There was a policeman who was stationed at the corner of Tiber Street and Lodge Lane,he was there to see the children safely across the lane. The little girl jumped up on his oustretched arm to swing on it and she did'nt get it right,she slipped off his forearm and fell into the road where the saloon car ran over her legs. I was standing next to the policeman when this happened and saw the whole dreadful thing. When the car passed over her ,she lay flat on her back her head turned toward us, a look of disbelief on her face the flesh on her legs squashed flat. 60 years later I still recall the the emotions that wracked my body. We moved from Mozart Street shortly after that sad accident and I never learned what became of that poor girl,


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  30. #450
    Martin hmtmaj's Avatar
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    Nice to see you back on Brian.

    "I'm now on page 6 coming into the 50s and yes, it's a great read ! "

    only a few more pages to go


    Mart.
    Started the Old Swan Website:

    http://oldswan.piczo.com/?cr=5

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