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.
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.
Having a weekend in Liverpool. It’s nice to catch up with peeps. Chew the fat. Make plans all parties know will never be fulfilled.
Smithdown Road has changed. Fast food shops everywhere. It is a shade of the place it was when I lived there above the fishing tackle shop. The vibrancy has gone. The cosmopolitanity eroded. I get the idea of how it should be. I can imagine how it could be. Fine dining. Interesting mix of food choices. But no. It’s kebab, burger or pizza? How about some nice fried “chicken”? Maybe you’d like some suspicious meats in sauces? Cheap, mass produced junk. Street food.
Sure, at the other end of Smithdown, along Allerton Road, the nouveux riche pretend that the teaspoon of over priced nouvelle cuisine they are nibbling at will burst their belts or somehow cause them to become unattractive to the casually smart shaven meat heads that they hope to drag, cavewoman like, back to their rabbit hutches. The longer I am away the more I notice changes for the worse. Progress, I’m told.
And yet the underlying theme this weekend is middle class job insecurities. The lack of work and prospects. The realisation that society thinks that late thirties is past it. It seems that my friends and I have all realised, we are not where we should be. We’ve found that Ten years have got behind us. No one told us when to run. We’ve missed the starting gun. Exactly as Uncle Roger told warned us.
Last night I was in the pub. This you already know.
What I didn’t tell you is about the little darling with the football. Awww bless. NOT.
There I was sat enjoying the sounds of nature in the deserted enclosed beer garden reading my newspaper and drinking my beer. Eventually a family of undesirables arrived and sat at the table by the door to the beer garden. The Not-Waltons arrived