A Tough Liverpool Childhood

18 Feb

The next meeting of the Bahrain Writers’ Circle is approaching and I have completed my piece about childhood memories which was this month’s assignment.  In order to test the waters and guage puplic opinion before I embarass myself at the gathering,  I have decided to post it for all, or should I say both of my regular readers, Pat and Fionuala, to scan and hopefully ‘like’. I may add more …

You had to be tough to grow up in 1950’s Liverpool; it wasn’t a place for the sensitive soul. For a start the pavements were very uneven and falling over was an almost daily occurrence, resulting in permanently scabby knees. Then there was the smog, a silent killer which moved in every winter to reside in the bronchioles of the populace, mine in particular.  I had a love hate relationship with the smog, which took me to death’s door, but also guaranteed time off school. During the long recovery periods my mum would trail back and forth to the local library with lists, penned by my fevered hand, of books I wanted to read, most memorably ‘The Borrowers’ series and ‘Tom’s Midnight Garden.’

Toughened by the pavements and smog, I was able to enjoy many of the delights on offer for the Liverpudlian child, namely, playing out.  ‘Out’ was our entertainment and once tea was over that’s what we did.  Playing out involved all the usual childhood pastimes such as skipping, climbing trees, hide and seek or whatever happened to be in mode at the time.

On Saturday mornings we went to the ‘flicks’ or the ‘pictures’, aka the movies.  A  mob of eight to twelve year olds would converge on ‘The Regent’ with everlasting toffee bars and gobstoppers to watch Roy Rodgers, Flash Gordon and have yoyo competitions, from which I would invariably be eliminated in the first round, due to an inability to master any technique beyond up and down.

There were many other seasonal delights such as tadpolling at Calderstones Park and swimming at Dovecote Baths, a highly dangerous pursuit which belongs in the pavement and smog category of  ‘if you can survive that you can survive anything.’  There was standing room only in the pool on Saturday afternoons, but that didn’t stop the wild boys dive bombing amongst us.

Carl Gustav Jung labelled Liverpool the centre of the universe and by the end of the fifties and early sixties, it certainly felt that way. Not only did we have an amazing football team, but we also had The Beatles.  Beatle Mania became a dominant force, and no respectable eight year old girl would be seen at school without her Beatle socks, bag and hat.

The emergence of The Beatles marked the end of an era with regard to childhood memories.  The frilly frocks and quirkiness of the fifties made a swift exit and the landscape of childhood turned into one inescapably dominated by the Fab Four


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