One of the last days of ordinary life for me in Liverpool had me taking random photos of things around me. I’d also discovered after nearly five years of working there, that parking at the back of Syndey Jones Library worked out better than walking back across campus to my car behind Computing Services and struggling with traffic up Brownlow Hill.
On this day in 2006 as I was getting into my car, I noticed a beautiful rainbow, a sign perhaps, that a new stage of life was about to begin or maybe just how sun light refracts off raindrops as it does regularly.
Back at the turn of the century, Mrs Gnomepants V1.0 landed a sweet gig working as part of a millenium fund funded project to do with artistic green spaces. The culmination of which was a topiary garden known as The Peace Garden. Her job was to show people around the garden and tell them the purpose of the project. (See https://www.landscapeprojects.co.uk/copy-of-hulme-park for how it should look)
The garden is topiaried yew bushes laid out to spell the names of wild flowers. The main idea is that the bushes would grow out and tall, forming a maze. At the time, like the economy, it looked promising and sustainable, however, as this photo doesn’t show clearly enough, time and people are the enemies of all things green.
When I took this photo, nearly 14 years had passed since the garden was first planted up and you can almost see how some of the bushes have been removed or damage irrepairably. What you can’t see is there was also a lot of litter and discarded bottles around and behind me someone had damaged the board describing what the garden was and its purpose.
Much like the Millenium Waste Paper Baskets, the Millenium Benches and the Millenium Dome, the Calderstones Park Peace Garden shows how when governments give people money to spend on “what they like” without proper scrutiny, sustainability plans and forward thinking, things can seem a little wasteful nearly twenty years later.
Todays picture is another desk of hidden objects (not too disimilar to the one posted last month). This time the picture is of my desk in the new build house in Liverpool. I probably took this for a meme that was popular on Livejournal. It’s interesting to see many of the items on display and especially those just out of shot that I know what they are but it would be doubtful if you knew.
Can you spot:-
Spent concert ticket for Yes
Photograph of me pretending to be old
A badger on a hat
A dragon finger puppet
An original Windows OS mobile phone
The bottom of a gobstopper machine
The speakers and base unit of a really good stereo
As a youth living in South Liverpool, I spent a fair bit of time in Bishop Eton Parish. Not only did I have a bar job there, but in my younger, informative years, I spent a good while singing in the church choir. The redemptorist priests had a house there within the grounds, the gate house and boundary wall you can see in this picture which was taken today in 2011.
The band was Dressed to Kill and so was I. Tribute acts were and are still a surprisingly popular thing. Indeed, I have a fondness for acts like the Kiss tribute act Dressed to Kill such as Polka Floyd, Beatallica, Iron Horse and Hayseed Dixie. In fact Zoe and I recently went to see Yes tribute act Yes Please in the centre of cultural excellence that is Witney.
Of course photos don’t really do the band’s talents justice and you don’t tend to go and see a band just for the visuals (Roger Waters aside). However, in 2006, camera phones were still a little bit of a novelty and, as much as I hate to be THAT PERSON these days, I stand guilty of taking terrible photographs of the band during their performance using my camera phone.
Why I couldn’t just stand there and enjoy the show without using my phone to spoil the view of those behind me I have no idea.
Some years ago I was given a collection of photographs from my Aunt Joyce who died when I was about 11 or 12. They had come to me after her husband, my Uncle Harry, had died.
I must have scanned some of them into my photo library today in 2012 for some reason. One of the pictures was a large format picture of Aigburth Station taken sometime in what seems to be the 1960s. I’ve no idea why Aunt Joyce had a picture of Aigburth Station or why it was passed on to me.
In my youth I regularly visited the gentleperson’s establishment of Bishop Eton Parish Centre, known locally as Birch House, a church club. At the time, it seemed like the centre of the universe. Cheap beer, cheap cigarettes, quirky vending machine in the entrance and two hi-reward fruit machines. It also boasted a friendly hostess and a bloody handy lock in.
Lock-ins, for those not in the know, are when an establishment continues to entertain selected patrons after the doors have closed and alcohol sales are required by law to cease due to the time of day or night. Of course, once the doors are closed and the curtains are drawn, there’s no telling what goes on in there. Drinking mostly. Occasionally until 4am.
As well as a patron, I was also a member of staff and frequently had to facilitate the lock-in despite having a job to go to in the morning. However, in those days the clock was weird and 4am was just a time on the clock while sleep was something that happened for six hours between eyes shut and 7am in the morning. Being a member of staff I was also fortunate enough to be able to monitor the usage of the fruit machines and determine when it would pay out, which it often did, in my favour.
The club was owned by the local parish church and used for functions and meetings of local groups including a group of professional males who followed a sinister type of catholic free-masonry, a Women’s Institute knock-off, a couple of local self-build groups, the youth club (complete with a local weirdo who liked to stare at the girls) and a weird and secretive “invite only” quiz league. It really was a happening place.
Sadly, land values around the area rose and the thought of a quick cash injection for the church became too much for the clergy. As a result, in the early noughties, the club closed its doors for the last time. The building, a graded listed building, was earmarked for “redevelopment to luxury accommodation”, which meant falling into disrepair, catching fire and it and the ground eventually being bulldozed and turned into a gated community of several houses.
Thankfully, the name, if not the memories, lives on in the street name – Birch House Close. Bless.
Taken 14 years ago to the day, a photograph of this unknown bridge in an unknown location. Where is it? What was I doing there? Why did I take the photograph? I know I took it with my Sony Ericsson K750i but there is no geodata or further information other than the date stamp in the corner of the photograph.
A brief glance at my diary notes from around that time reveals I was in the Runcorn area doing some legal house moving stuff. So I can only assume that the truck we can see had something on the front but I was too slow to get my camera phone ready. Either way, as the bridge is mostly concrete I must assume that it was taken in Runcorn which, being a New Town, is mostly made of concrete. Don’t believe me? Ask Eileen Bilton….
When I was a kid and I walked to and from school (paedophilaphobia hadn’t been invented then and so it was perfectly safe to allow children to walk to school) I would pass a lovely little newsagents called Doreen Pownells. Mrs Pownells shop had a lovely smell of calor gas heaters, damp newspapers and icing sugar. The walls were lined on two sides with huge jars of sweets, the other with a small selection of magazines and household essentials. The window display consisted of little pocket money toys and advertisements for popular beverages of the time. The window of the door was bedecked with little adverts one might find in a small shop from people advertising tutoring, cars and cleaning services.
Ah. Mrs Pownells. I can still smell the foisty shop. I can still picture the little yellow tray within which she would vend penny sweets and chews to passing children. I can still picture the beautifully grand cash register. I can still recall the glee at finding half a penny on the floor and rushing in to buy an aniseed ball.
If I was lucky I might have 10p to spend on my way home. Remember that 10p back then was a lot of money. It would buy you a bag of ten penny sweets or twenty half penny sweets. Penny sweets usually consisted of jazzies, fizzy cola bottles and jellies, Two pence sweets where a bit more adventurous and would mainly comprise of flumps, mojos and blackjacks. If one were lucky enough to have 20p to spend a whole world of luxury was open to you. For there were 5p sweets there too. 5p sweets usually consisted of Bazooka Jo chewing gums and the like. Further more, should one be fortuitous to manage to rustle up a whole pound coin for your sweet indulgences one would find themselves able to afford the 10p beheamoths that were Jawbreakers; a packet of 3 of the hardest gobstoppers you can imagine that actually changed flavour as you sucked them. Ah it is no wonder I have fillings. The amount of money I must have spent in passing would these day probably have fed a family of 6 a couple of soggy chips from the back of the deep fryer.
Sadly now Pownells has long closed. I believe it now sells hot tubs or is a poodle manicurists or something daft. I fear that this is mostly because children no longer walk home from school and no longer spend their hard begged pennies on rubbish like sweets. Woolton village had, at that time, a total of seven newsagents/sweetshops. This, I am sure you agree, is a phenomonal amount to have in such a small location, but all did a very good trade until the coming of the supermarkets and the arrival of paedophilaphobia. This once great selection has diminished to a poxy 2 sweet shops, one of which, Browns, is situated near a high school bus stop so will always do well, the other near the village chippy, a favorite haunt of lunchtime school evaders. Indeed, the village fete magazine which used be issued annually to all villagers for the princely sum of £1, did, in previous times, bulge with small advertisements from the local businesses. Sadly most of these shops, as I say, have gone. The Village Fete is a closed affair if it happens at all, and the village is now just a series of streets with estate agents selling luxury apartments linking the two major supermarkets that have sucked the soul out of the place.
The rich diversity. The colourfulness, the SWEETS. All gone. I fear generations will rise not knowing what a jazzie is. I shudder at the thought of children completing highschool without ever tasting a fizzy cola bottle from a penny mix. Though, my fear may be misguided. I know there are online sweet shops that still stock gems like jazzies and cola bottles. I am well aware that you can nip down to Costco and get a box of WHAM bars. The difference is, buying them from a faceless cash and carry or online shop is no substitute for buying them from a crappy little dodgy newsagent using the 5p you’ve managed to forage from gutters and pavements and then running home clutching a grubby looking paper bag. Nor do you have to explain to your mum why you have no appetite for your dinner.
Kids today eh? They don’t know what they’re missing (Probably because they are allergic).
This post first appeared in 2009 on my Livejournal.
Picture if you will a pub in Liverpool about 4 weeks ago.
**wibbly visual effect used to signify reflection on past events**
Stegzy:- You’re on holiday next month. I’m on holiday next month…let’s go camping!
Nick:- Yes that sounds like fun.
Stegzy:- Look I’ve put it in my shiny new HTC FLYER on the CALENDAR. AUGUST. 20th
Nick:- Ace! Can’t wait.
**Cue calendar flipping sequence signifying moving forward through time**
So I’m set. Set for a walking and camping trip to North Wales. At the end of August.
**Calendar flipping sequence ceases 24th July**
Stegzy:- Bloody hell. Nick’s a bit keen. He’s been texting me all week asking about what we will be doing during our holiday in August.
Zoefruitcake:- Maybe he is excited.
Stegzy:- Hmm…this text is worrying. It seems to hint that there may be an issue with the month…..
Oh cocking hell!
So I called him. Was he winding me up? No. He wasn’t. While talking I made up a list of items to chuck into the car for an impromptu camping trip. Problem was…I didn’t have a tent anymore. Well I did. Just it was in Yorkshire. With the wife. Fortunately everything else, the table, the chair, the stoves, pans and ancillary camping equipment were safely in a pre-packed crate in Zoe’s Craft Hut. The tent….that was in Yorkshire.
As you can see from the screenshots, this was about half past six on the Sunday evening. A call to Clair received the thumbs up for a tent collection while Nick booked the camp site and prepared for a late night visit from me.
I sped up the M69 and M1 to Yorkshire and collected the tent then after a quick bite to eat and a catch-up, I sped along the M62 to Crosby near Liverpool arriving at an ungodly hour of 1am.