Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas

I may have written about some of these things before, but nevertheless, I'm writing about them again because they are fresh in my memory one more time.

This is from the early 1970's era when I was fast approaching teenagerdom and thoughts were veering away from such concepts as father Christmas and sweet baby Jesus. This time of year was not quite as special as it was when I was younger, now that I was "so much older" at about a dozen years under my belt, Christmas was becoming about other things.

I could not wait until that Thursday a few weeks before Christmas, my granddad would bring home the TV Times and (BBC) Radio Times holiday specials, two weeks of extra special programming, great articles and the expectation of great stuff on those British TV channels.

All three of them.

So, how did we change from excitement about what was on with three channels with today's total apathy about what is on in the universe of three hundred? - beats me, but at twelve years old I could not wait for some of that holiday faire, maybe because it was all so fresh back then.

Morecambe and Wise Christmas special, the Two Ronnies, the fantastic Variety shows on ITV and the BBC and of course, the Christmas films.

No Christmas could have been right without at least one of the Bob Hope and Bing Crosby "road" movies, Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin and at least two Carry on Movies. Of course, the less used Alistair Sim in the Charles Dickens masterpiece "A Christmas Carol" was always welcome.

The season was not all about the telly, mum would be in full swing with the two fake trees we had in the house, one sat on top of the telly, the other would be in the front room or "the best room" or the "lounge" whatever it was being called at that moment. In the lounge mum would have her stash of Cherry Brandy, Malibu and other tempting Christmas tipples, dad's would be nearby. I know he liked the occasional whiskey but it seemed like it was his way not to drink in front of the kids.

No such rules for mum!

And what else?, satsumas, dates, turkish delight, crystalized ginger (or ginger in syrup), Thorntons Special Toffee and lots of other Christmas goodies. The nutcrackers would resurface and dangerous shards of brazil nut casings would fly like shrapnel about the house.

And the Christmas Cake.

In those days, Mum would always buy her cake from Marks and Spencers, but would buy the marzipan separate and make her own icing. It would always harden if it was left too long, however, in a house full of boys and men, Christmas Cake was an endangered species.

In true traditional TV style, I'll call this "end of part one"

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Record and Play

Do you remember a time when you would sit and watch a TV show and when it ended, that was it?

A good pair of examples, for the Bwitish amongst us,  would be the weekly "Top of the Pops" or the late night "Old Grey Whistle Test" hosted by the late, great, John Peel.

The show would start, and if you were late to the late show, no-one would wait and there would be no rewinding the tape to review what had already transpired. That was if you were lucky enough to have one of the first Titanic sized VCRs from the wayback years and also if you had the immense wad of cash for a spare tape that did not have your mothers "Rumpold of the Bailey" recorded.

If there was no VCR, the transient show would pass and could not be accessed on some mysterious interweb type arrangement, in the late 1970s, when a music show was gone, it was gone and all that would be left would be discussion or a scant review of the events in the next copy of the Melody Maker or the New Musical Express.

Yet, here we are many moons later, drowning in excess nostalgia (often at a price) and of course, for those who have long lost their videotapes, buying opportunities and repackaged versions of the stuff that we missed abound.

I listened to UmmaGumma for the last time a week or so ago. I say that because I believe that I don't think I can take those four sides of undirected noise once again, funny really as I never experienced the album in my formative years as I was one of the Dark Side of the Moon generation and never had the excess cash to back fill my library with previous offerings from the flavor of the day.

Luckily.

I digress, let me return to the original topic and that man John Peel.

In 1975, late in the night, John Peel instructed me over the airwaves to press "record and play" and it was not on the yet to be affordable VCR, it was on my Philips radio cassette unit. This late night radio show jockey had the pleasing habit of playing entire albums, and that night when he kindly told me he was about to put the needle down, the record he was playing was Ommadawn and forty-five minutes later my compact cassette was filled to the brim with Mike Oldfields latest creation that I played a hundred times in the following months.

They said that home taping would kill music.

I think not.



Saturday, February 25, 2012

A wall of memories

The photo below shows a fractional portion of memory items, I will quickly run through a few and maybe we will talk about them more at some later date.
Right at the top, Clogs we bought mum in Amsterdam, some clippers and a pair of mum's hairdressing scissors, Matchbox Models of Yesteryear No.Y9-1-11A Fowler Showman's Engine and the Beware of the Dog sign from the garden gate of "Korner" the house in Rhyl, next row down, the guy who jumped off the diving board from my childhood mouse trap game, a watch key and a Test + badge from my Switzerland trip when I was fourteen, a huge nappy pin and some loose change, my mum's brass stepladder that used to adorn part of the fireplace mantlepiece along with a lot of other brass, a padlock, a bottle opener and one of my dad's many AA (Automobile Association) keys.

All have some specific, good memories for the Taxi driver's son.

Next row down, a centre disc from our modern portable record player from 1967, with a 45 rpm disc push in piece, three cubes from a game of "Instant Insanity" bought during a holiday in Wales. A gillette razor from dad's bathroom cabinet, a Liverpool Silver Blades Ice skating rink and a Blacklers Grotto badge. A Raleigh Chopper, Toffee hammer, coins and an enameled pendant I made in Metalwork forty years ago. At the end, a Dinky Traffic Light from the Meccano company and a Youth Hostel YHA pin.

I could write a book on some of these things, such is the vastness of a series of memories.

The last row, real tiddley winks and dice bucket that probably slept in our clubhouse above the shop fifty years ago, a tiny spirit level and a small collection of Butlin's badges. Mum on her wedding day, the cocktail set that she would let me play with when I was four years old and waiting for my eye exam at St.Pauls eye hospital in Liverpool, a bunch of keys to long lost locks.

The last two items, a Lancashire Watch Company watch, the Weldon's and Prescot watch companies had quite the relationship and there to close it all, a Churchill Crown that my grandfather bought me in 1965.

About two square feet of a fraction of it all.

Monday, February 13, 2012

White Star Line

It's been a while since my last post on this blog, but I have been active on the others.

The web is indeed world wide as I recently heard from a reader from the UK and on the family tree blog, a reader from Indonesia, in fact, the latter was actually a second cousin of mine.

The news from Indonesia came after a week of sadness and reflection in January, my dad's sister. Margaret, died at the ripe old age of ninety-nine and three-quarters, amazing that she was born eleven days after the Titanic sank, an event that probably reverberated around her home town of Liverpool, the Titanic of course was registered in Liverpool along with several other White Star line ships.

In the week in 2004 when we cleared out mum and dad's house in Rhyl we found a couple of wooden coat hangers from Butlin's, one from my mum's childhood, with her maiden name written on it and a White Star Line emblazoned hanger. Arthur probably acquired it during his wood polishing days on the Cunard ships, although Dorothy also had her time associated with cruise ships, hey, I can make up a lot of stories about a coat hanger.

The family tree blog brought several new family members together, at a time when my interest has been raised once again, hopefully over the next few months, new stories from distant branches of the family will be included here and on the sister site.

weldonweb.blogspot.com

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Same Place, different Time

Llanrwst 2010.

The same tea shop car park, 52 years later and the pub is still there.


Five Decades

This picture, taken in early 1958, is the author at a little tea shop across the river Conwy from the Pen-Y-Bont pub on Bridge Street, Llanrwst in Wales.

We were on holiday, either staying in Llanrwst or down the road in one of mum and dads favourite places at Betws-y-Coed.

I wasn’t impressed back then, but I am now, of the coachwork of these old prams.  The front part is hinged and I believe one of my earliest memories of this life was looking out through that portal when the hood was up.  In the picture I’m holding a star shaped rattle. What can’t be seen is the two point leather harness that was often used to hold seven month old babies captive in these tanks.

This was my best Winston Churchill impersonation.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Decade

June 2010 passed without fanfare and sometime in July I realised that the tenth anniversary of my father's death had slipped by without a thought.

I wasn't so shocked that I had not celebrated or mourned the event, moreover a slight chill at ten years of my life passing by, along with everyone else on the planet, ten years, wow.

I had chipped a tooth on my short visit to the UK when dad died, a daily reminder of a week that was full of emotion and nostalgia, a house trapped in aspic in North Wales with thousands of the tiny things that made up who my mum and dad had been, a house full of memories with, sadly, no-one to share besides the two brothers who sorted through the bricks to arrange the funeral.

Mum was still alive though, yet she was trapped in her own world of disjointed and fabricated memories, something that during that week of mourning provided a silver lining as her partner of over fifty years was laid to rest.

This may seem like a sad entry to the blog, but it is not, I run my tongue across my chipped tooth and memories flood back of that week, the kindness and cooperation of people who were involved in the funeral preparations and a commitment from two taxi driver's sons to "keep more in touch" which was a promise, on ten years reflection, that has been kept very well.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Practical Jokes

The Magnet Toys and Fancy goods store, at 179 Wavertree Road in Liverpool, sold an amazing array of stuff. In this post I'll just list off some of the jokes they had for sale.

As you entered the shop, to the left, was a display cabinet, on top of the counter, in there the numerous jokes were stored, some benign and some downright trouble.

The most trouble, were the stink bombs, a packet of three in a little cardboard box, these thin glass vials usually smelled like rotten eggs when broken and were very popular amongst young lads. The occasional bomb would "go off" in the front of the shop and usually it didn't take much reasoning to work out who did it.

I liked the fake things, which were many, there were fake rubber/latex fried eggs which seemed almost real, something to place on your grandads plate and giggle, fake food items like bacon, sausage and seagull poo. The latter not being a food item of course could be placed on a car windscreen, other car jokes included bullet holes that could be applied.

The list was amazing, cigarettes that glowed and puffed out smoke, which was fine talc, little, round cardboard containers of sneezing or itching powder (which was usually finely chopped hair) and of course, the exploding snake in a can.

I think a lot of these can still be bought today, such is the longevity of a good prank, although some, like the rubber pencil, would be difficult to fool someone with, or the little camera that squirted water. I think kids might see through stuff like the fortune telling fish that curled in your hand due to heat and I would expect that schools have long since banned the whoopee cushion.

The more distasteful items, such as the fake dog poo, that actually looked very realistic, fake boils and spots that could be stuck on your face, and I believed, as a kid, that the nail through the finger item, especially with the bloody bandage, was one of the more horrific items.

The list could go on, of course, there were more expensive items that I never had, but could play with in the shop, like the laughing bag or the hand buzzer, and then there were items that I would have liked to use, black face soap, red face soap, floating sugar cubes and melting teaspoons, but, pocket money would only stretch so far.

And I only, really needed those stinkbomben...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Ice Cream


The Ice Cream van was a daytime distraction for my dad, taxi work was always busy in the evenings and he was looking for something to make money with during the day.

In Whiston, mum and dad had a shop on Milton Avenue and mum would look after that during the day while dad was out on the Ice Cream round. Occasionally I would help out in both places, although the van was far more exciting than the shop.

The van was equipped with a soft serve machine, so it had to be loaded periodically with industrial sized portions of the mix, that was subsequently cooled and then extruded through the taps. I think the machine had the ability to do two colours but it was never loaded that way, so ice cream would be made more exotic with crushed nuts and raspberry or chocolate syrup.

The options were cone or cup, and of course, in addition to those toppings the deluxe version would include a Cadbury's Chocolate flake, called a ninety-nine for some reason, the occasional mega deluxe version would include two flakes, not sure what they were called (besides expensive).

The end of the shift would be marked with the extraction of what was left in the soft serve machine into a big stainless steel bowl, and, what the family did not want was always a treat for our alsation dog, Sooty.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Unproductive Nostalgia

While I was growing up in the house, there was a drawer in the kitchen that was filled with stuff, all sorts of articles that could not find their own place on the planet, besides a drawer full of similar lost and unused orphans.

In there, medals, an eyeglass, an old pocket knife, a cigarette case, an ammeter, ronson lighters with no flints, emery boards, a map of Liverpool, an AA key or two, a magnifying glass, an assorted medley of Yale keys, a padlock without a key, chains and old broken watches, knobs and buttons, lost years and dreams, secret wishes and dashed hopes, smiles tears and heartache, love.

I always found those medals, I think they were my dads, he was in the war you know, well, when I was my age they all were.

In Palestine, my dad probably never thought that one day he would have a medal for driving his half track around the Middle East, a force of British Men far from home and their loved ones, shocked by the hardships and horrors of the preceding seven years of war and the ongoing bombings at hotels full of civilians.

The King David Hotel. July 22nd, 1946.

Those medals, I believe, meant nothing to my dad, he threw them in that drawer, after keeping them in another drawer, in our previous house in Liverpool, a long time after the Ministry sent him his wartime parting gifts along with an ill fiiting demob suit and a cardboard suitcase.

Thanks.

Medals in drawers through time.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Rain Dance

The weather tonight was perfect for our walk, it had been raining all day and it decided to stop, well almost, for our half hour walk. It was like being back in Britain, back to those miserable days when the light rain would eventually soak you to the skin, grey skies and the exotic scent of dampness, bronchitis and dysentry.

The memories of youth with wet Crosville buses full of drenched smokers with steaming anoraks and parkas, the happy feeling of finally being in a mostly dry vehicle with that warming second hand smoke filtering through your nostrils and the thought of mum cooking liver and onions for tea and perhaps a slice of apple pie and a cuppa to wash it all down.

The rain became such a part of my early life that I enjoy the stuff, I stroll through the car park while other people run, I love mornings when it has rained overnight, the feeling of life and the freshness of the air, a long way from those smoke filled Crosvilles.

There is no real negative to rain, and a lot of very good memories can be had in those bygone rainy days.

The early trips to Butlins when the weather wouldn't always cooperate and we'd all have to go indoors for plan B and maybe stuff matchboxes or watch the redcoats performing or presenting our fathers with their trousers rolled up for the knobbly knees competition.

The afternoons spent sat in the back of the Vauxhall Victor estate with our I-Spy books or magnetic disguise kits, the rain pattering on the roof while thermos flasks of hot tea filled the car with steam and spoilt our view of the seaside.

In my teens, I cycled with my brothers road club on a Sunday, and it probably rained, we'd cycle across the bridges of the Mersey and end up at Two Mills for a pint cup of tea and the best beans on toast on the planet. Then on to Colwyn bay and more rain, more tea, probably more beans and then a long cycle back. The exhausted, soaked David being helped along on the way home by his older brothers mates (seldom by his older brother who was always at the front of the pack).

Happy times.

Match Box Stuffing

It's been a while since I blogged about Butlins, the British holiday camp that my mum and dad took us to every one of our formative years, well, it seemed like it at the time and we didn't complain.

How could a kid complain about endless days, massive swimming pools, different nosh and pirates.

Yep, that pesky pirate that the redcoats finally captured at some point and made walk the plank (high dive board) and take his come-uppance in the pool. Hurrah!

It must have been a break for mum and dad as well, most of the time me and my brother Rob were being baby sat by those same redcoats, lots of activities to tire the kids out during the day, games, treasure hunts (pirate stuff again), rambles and of course the all rides are free amusement park. in the evening there was the chalet patrol, a mobile babysitting service, while mum and dad enjoyed time in such exotic locations as the Gaiety Ballroom, the Continental or Blinkin' Owl bar.

If you corner me, and get me started about it all, my eyes will glaze over talking about the fountains, late night donuts, a famous childrens entertainer called Mr Pastry and long soaks in the Olympic size pool with my multicolored rubber ring stuck underneath my armpits and fingers and toes that were pickled by water.

There's a website called Butlins Memories and the old memories indeed come flooding back. I'd forgotten about Radio Butlins, the local propaganda station, the so called "social cycles" that had four wheels, Puffing Billy, the train that puttered around the streets delivering happy campers to glamorous granny competitions, afternoon variety performances and beautiful baby contests.

How did I forget about match box cramming?, where the eager Butlins Beavers would rush off and find as many things in half an hour to cram into a matchbox, the winner being the one with the most unique items in theirs.

It was a great time, it may all seem pretty naff to todays kids, with their internet, Nintendo, minivan dvd systems and big screen five point one everything. It certainly wasn't back then, it was magical and it was core family fun that will stay in my happy memory storage files until the hard drive gets busted.

God bless you Billy Butlin.

God Bless and thank you mum and dad.

Best Birthday Ever

October 13th, 1969.

As an eleven year old boy with a great need, my mum and dad had played on my emotions in the weeks before my birthday. There seemed to be many “off camera” conversations relating to the facts “they could not get one anywhere” or that “even the wholesalers have no stock” and “nobody knows when they will get one in”.

It seemed like it was the only thing I’d ever wanted, well, besides football boots with screw in studs that is, and here in the eleventh hour, with my parents, networked, ex-toy shop owners with connections, giving it their best shot, it was all falling apart.

No it wasn’t.

They were having me on, the rascals.

The psychological process was complete, my mother and father had worked their mind games on me and I was primed for the event.

October 14th, 1969.

I came down the stairs and it was there.


The Raleigh Chopper.

It was the best bike I ever had.

It was cool, trendy and a joy to ride and show off with.

Three speed stick shift gears, brilliant orange paint, big handlebars and a comfy seat. It was destined to be customized with mirrors and multicolored tassles and for a couple of years there it was the focus of my young life.

Thanks Mum and Dad for the best birthday present ever.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Sweet Spot


It was back in 1971, I was thirteen and a bit, had a brand new orange Raleigh Chopper bike, complete with handlebar tassles and an air horn, had a best mate called Joe Haines and I was in love with a lovely young thing called Yvonne Blakemore. The summer was long and my older brother, Rob, was off with the Prescot road club, cycling time trials around Ormskirk and Kirkby track, cycling across the Mersey every Sunday, breakfasting at two mills, supping beer at the Liverpool arms near Conway Castle and still making it home for Sunday night tea and toast.

My younger brother, Paul, affectionately nicknamed "totty limejuice" by mum (or was it Auntie Alda?) was tracking around the house, most of the time on his potty, dragging his stuffed dog around and making trouble, destroying my Dinky toys and Action men and generally being a regular little toddler.

Mum was working up at the shop on Milton Avenue during the day, making crab apple wine and apple pies at night and enjoying being a mum again, the garden was huge and time consuming, the kids were home and life was good.

Dad was being dad, had fingers in every pie available, taxi cabs, wedding cars and the famous ice cream van. It was the moment when his social life was changing, with Freddy and the Masons, selling tomatoes to the customers and of course, fresh, free range eggs from the chickens at the bottom of the estate.

And grand-dad was also busy in that garden, planting carrots, potatoes, raspberries, building chicken pens, sheds, composters and generally making himself useful in his retirement.

Even our dog, Sooty, the black alsation with the patch of white on his throat was there, his back legs were good, he was getting his "Shapes" every day and his "Pal" mixed with "Spillers" and he was lapping up whatever was left from Mister Whippy’s drip tray every night.

Nobody realised at the time, but coincidently it was the best moment of all our lives.

The Magnet

My mum never gave away any of my Dinky toys, there was no need to as nobody would have wanted them anyway after us three boys had finished with them, I took a long look at the ravaged box of diecast a few years back when I was visiting my dad when he was sick and decided that it must have been my younger brother Paul that was the guilty party, after all, I always took good care of them, didn’t I?

However, there was no trace of my Action Men. They were missing in action, absent without leave, taken by aliens, or the binmen...

I'm repeating myself, but in the 1950s my dad, Arthur, was employed at the Meccano factory on Binns Road in Liverpool. His job of paint tester was basically quality control for the many enamel paints that were used on the Meccano construction kit parts, toy trains and Dinky cars. He’d spray paint onto glass and then monitor the drying time, consistancy and colour against existing charts.

It was around this time that during lunch and tea breaks, he would sell shirts and ties to the many female employees. It was an inbuilt trait of my dad, to sell things, to make money from next to nothing, and to work hard.

He used to cycle from Botanic Road in Liverpool 7 to Binns Road via Edge Lane on his old boneshaker, which would usually take 30 minutes or so, and was warned about his timekeeping, I also suspect that his bosses looked down on his barrow boy antics. After a bout of what he called dysentry, he was late one more time and was sacked.

They did that back then.

I think it was the best thing that ever happened to him and the family, in the short term the supply of Meccano and Bayko kits in the household dwindled, but my dad found his true calling and progressed from a paint testing barrow boy to a full fledged shop owner. In the early 1960s the "Magnet, Toys and Fancy Goods" shop opened at 179 Wavertree Road in Liverpool and if you could put a name to it, he probably sold it.

I’ll try to list what the shop sold in a later blog, but, two of the most important toy lines that he started selling, much to the joy of his two sons, were, you guessed it, Meccano’s own Dinky toys and after a trip to a toy show in Bell Vue, Manchester, Palitoy’s Action Man.

And so the first collection began.

Without that first collection, how could there possibly have been a second?

Thanks Mum, thanks Dad.

xx

Monday, August 31, 2009

Chips and Water

Living in Botanic Road, Liverpool 7 in the early sixties, my brother and I would make the journey to Picton Road baths, the nearest swimming pool. Mum would give us enough bus fair and entrance money, but we knew that if we walked there, or walked home a few stops, we could stop off at the chippy and grab sixpence worth of chips. I recall that a cup of hot bovril or hot chocolate was also affordable at the baths café.

Simple days and simple pleasures, probably cost a couple of shillings (or two bob) for almost a day free of the kids.

The baths had changing rooms either side of the actual pool, with swing doors and gaps under the bottom. The usual kit was a rolled up towel and a pair of swimming trunks, but often a valued set of full face goggles or flippers would be available, we could dive under the water and view the lower regions of some of the women, however, I think they always knew what we were up to!

As kids we would spend hours in that water, well over the prune soak time, the subsequent showering and drying and dressing would be exhausting and the reward of a hot drink, a bag of crisps or a bag of chips would rejuvenate us all for the walk home, sometimes there were a few pennies left, these could be used to hop on a bus at a later stop or buy some blackjacks or fruit salad. They were eight for an old penny back then!

Pwllheli


There he is, top left is the Taxi driver, a few years before he was one that is, I would think this was proably around 1960.

The Butlins adult scene included some responsibilities of sorts, Arthur volunteered or was coerced into various activities, here he is a member of Edinburgh House at the Pwllheli camp, mother is notably absent...

At each end and centre there are the "redcoats" who looked after all of us at the Butlins camps, arranged activities and became minders for the kids during the day and kept the parents sanity intact at night.

Butlins

The family holiday in the 1960s would be to one of the so called "Holiday Camps" from Mister Billy Butlin, a very special place for kids and somewhat of an oasis for parents.

The Peter Pan railroad, Puffing Billy, huge water fountains and constant activities for the children, great adventure, games....and Pirates!!


The yearly trip would be remembered with some 8mm movies and a couple of badges, usually a Butlins Beaver membership card and badge and the yearly camp site pin. The above picture shows Filey camp at night, something that was magical about the place because it was always well lit.

I can remember sitting under and to one side of a Butlins swimming pool, the area that ran along the length of the pool, but about five or six foot below the water. There were big glass windows that allowed you to see under the water, and of course the water always appeared to be sky blue.

Sitting there, with mum, dad and Rob, mum would change us under our towels and I'd end up with dry pants and usually a matching shirt on, tired from what seemed like hours bobbing about in the water in my inflatable rubber ring. A glass of Milk or Tizer or some other wondrous substance in front of me and the prospect of a Mars bar, Milky Way or bag of Salt n'Shake crisps.

It was an age of innocence, times when at night, the kids could be parked in chalets and looked after by the chalet patrol while mum and dad grabbed an hour of freedom down at the club.

Septuagenarian

I'm going to start cutting and pasting from a lost blog of mine "The Fool on the Hill" which since changing my email address, and subsequently retiring the old email, has become inaccessible.


Something I wrote for my dad when he was 70.

Some say that A Mason is a Craftsman that Builds,
And in 1926 a great Craftsman was born,
Who, with time, built an Empire for himself,
This refers to, of course, the Septuagenarian, Arthur Weldon.
(Hey, sorry but this just isn’t going to rhyme!)

Look at this man’s life, A tapestry, an Epic,
Starting from the time he took a wife, young Dorothy Edwards.
to this fine Day in September 1996.
He has truly made his mark.

The Meccano Man who made wood shine,
Market Stall, “Barrow Boy” to Wavertree Road Fancy Goods Magnate,
And not forgetting Our favourite Ice Cream Man.
And of course Grand Chief Buffalo of the Ovaltinee’s.

Huyton to Liverpool and almost Australia,
From Botanic Road, Pottery Lane and Kimnel Bay,
With thousands of miles as that “Taxi Guy”,
This man has driven to the moon and back.

Vauxhall Victor, delivery Van, Wedding cars or Taxi,
All those times he took the time, to deliver all of us safely,
To Ainsdale or Butlins or just “down the M6 to Romford”,
Occasionally taking the Scenic Route, He always got us there.

And along with Dot, his lifelong mate, like two swans in the pond of life,
They’ve seen and done more in their time, than most of us could wish for,
But one great wish from all of us, is that both of them will continue.
(And now that the house is insulated we can visit when its Cold...)

A Great Big “Thank You Dad” from all of us,
We love you wherever we are, near or far, Earth or Star,
And lets cheer for whats gone and whatever will be,
Happy Birthday!!


September 1996.

The Hairdresser

Mum and Dad moved to North Wales around 1978 and settled in to a coastal life, with an attempt at another shop, this time a little grocery store, however, as with a lot of small shopkeepers of that time they struggled against the introduction of the big supermarkets. In the case of Arthur and Dorothy, they had little chance of profit from the cash and carry "wholesalers" who were undercut by a newly built Asda superstore.

Mum started cutting hair again, it was an ideal opportunity to get to know people in the new community. Just to show that you can't keep a good hairdresser down, Dorothy returned to her "roots", bought a moped with a carrier box and set off around Kinmel bay to quaff "doos". She was born in 1930 and was buzzing around Rhyl in 1982 (at the ripe old age of 52) to sort out blue rinses and split ends.

Mum used to drink a lot of Malibu back then, but I don't think it's related to the following :

It was exactly this time that, after an afternoon of cutting hair, she parked her moped in the front garden at the house (which was called Korner because it was on the corner) in Kinmel bay and uncontrollably dropped to her knees. Arthur found her passed out in the garden and rushed her over to Glan Clwyd hospital, St Asaph.

I was informed by my boss at the time, Bob Morris of APPH, Speke that there was an urgent phone call. I rushed down to Wales to the Hospital where I found mum in bad shape, basically paralysed and unable to coherently speak. It was the nightmare situation and it was happening to my mum, it looked like she had a major stroke.

There was some discussion and for some reason, the Doctors, who seemed clueless at that point, decided to do a spinal tap as they suspected viral meningitis (not normally done with supposed 'stroke' victims) - they did this and almost instantaneously Dorothy's power of speach returned, they rationalised that the spinal tap process actually released pressure on the brain. I tend to think that mum found the whole process so unbearable that she decided to not go through it again.

In a miraculous fashion, A few days later she was shaken but fine.

She never used the moped again...

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Distant Baths

Late night memories…

Unable to sleep, I am up at 4.30 am and typing while the kettle starts to hiss in the kitchen.

I was soaking in the bath on Monday, off sick with some sort of flu, and I floated back to days when I was a very young boy, sharing a bath with my older brother, Rob. There’s a strange thing about memories because as time passes, things meld and become composite memories and sometimes when they’re analysed the component parts can be broken out. I had this memory of mum rinsing my hair, I was a fussy little boy and to calm me down she’d always lean my head back and pour the water over me head with a plastic jug, carefully avoiding splashing any in my eyes. This wasn’t good enough for me as I’d always be scared that some water would drip down, so I’d hold a flannel over my eyes.

As I lay in the bath with the water drizzling down the overflow, I was transported back to a specific Sunday evening bath time, I was probably 13 years old and wallowing in an almost overflowing tub with “Top of the Pops” on the radio, there are two number one songs that stick in my mind, specifically listened to while my toes and fingers crinkled. “Without You” by Nillson and “American Pie” by Don Mclean. From those two songs I could find out the exact nights these memories relate to.

Returning to the composite memories, I pictured me and Rob, in the bath and I was playing with the multicolored plastic plane, it had detachable floats. We also had a solid rubber ring (quoit?) that was a bath toy. Of course, it then occurred to me that this wasn’t the same bath tub, although the memory appeared to play out in the Pottery Lane tub, this wasn’t so. I was around 11 years old when we moved to Whiston and I don’t think the pair of us ever shared a bath there.

So the bath was in Botanic Road, but I have no clear picture in my mind what that bathroom was like. The house was three stories tall and our bedroom was on the first floor, I suppose the bathroom was on the same floor. I have particular earlier memories of bathing in front of the fire, downstairs, in a tin tub I believe. Mum would put our pajamas in the cubby holes of the cast iron fireplace to warm, she’d have pans of water on the gas stove in the kitchen and would fill the “Creda” electric boiler. This was a wall mounted glass appliance that was to the left of the kitchen sink, it was filled using a rubber hose that connected to the tap and had it’s own chromed pipe and tap to empty it after it boiled.

We’d actually both be sitting in this tin tub, facing each other and the last of the water would be poured in between us, often the backwash would almost “burn our willies” so to avoid this we’d cover our “teapots” with our hands. The water would be very hot to start and would quickly cool, then one at a time we’d be whisked out of the bath into a big towel and rubbed. With a swish of talc we’d be in our little warmed pajama’s and red dressing gowns (with the tassles) and be ready for some Ovaltine and toast.

The pair of us would sometimes sing “We are siamese, if you please” the cat song from the Walt Disney movie Lady and the Tramp, both parading naked in front of the fire much to the delight of mum, I would have been around three years old, Rob six.

So, back to the flannel, in the upstairs bathroom in Botanic road, mum would wash my hair, probably with baby shampoo but possibly with fairy liquid, then rinse my head carefully holding my head back at an angle. This would then signal the end of bathtime and the Rob and I would go through the motions of emptying out all the toys which had filled with water, the plug would then be pulled but I’d always want to stay in the bath until it was drained. Mum had a method where she’d say “You’ll go down the plughole!” which I partially believed, so I’d wait until the last few pints of water were gurgling out before having my panic and into the big towel, (most towels are big when you’re only three foot tall).

All this in a bathroom I can’t remember!.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Derek Hennin

Derek Hennin, who was born on the 28th December 1931 in Prescot and died in January 1989, was an English professional footballer who played as a wing half. He was part of the Bolton Wanderers side that won the 1958 FA Cup Final against Manchester United.

Hennin was a product of the St Helens Combination league, having left hometown club Prescot Cables for Bolton Wanderers in June 1949. He had to wait almost five years for his league debut against Tottenham Hotspur. He went on to make 164 league appearances for the club, with his first of his eight goals arriving against Blackpool in January 1957.

The following season saw him help Bolton reach the FA Cup final, where he was selected for the 2–0 win over Manchester United.

In February 1961 Hennin joined Chester, making his debut in a 2–1 derby win at Wrexham. He was installed as captain the following season but left the club at the end of the season after they again finished bottom of the The Football League. This marked the end of Hennin’s professional career, as he joined non-league side Wigan Athletic.

Prescot cables by the way, was where my grandfather, Arthur Sandiland Weldon, worked as a splicer.

Maid of Honour

The lady who was a witness at my mum and dads wedding was Mary Wright, I'm assuming that she was a good friend of my mum, Dorothy, and I'm certain that she was a member of the extended Weldon family in Huyton Quarry.

She was born in Tarbock, and later, still as a baby, the family moved to Huyton, which is when the family association began. The Wright family initially lived on Hall lane in a flat over a shop that was opposite our family Fish and Chip shop.

In addition, when she was about two years old (around 1935) the family moved to St. Gabriels Avenue in Huyton, the same Avenue that my Grandparents, Arthur and Margaret, lived on.

In 1954, a year or so after my mum and dad's wedding, Mary married a footballer called Derek Hennin.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Birthday

Exactly ten years before I was born a brave young test pilot named Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier for the very first time, something that was thought to be impossible.

Just three years before that, to the day, another brave man, German Military Commander, Field Marshall Erwin Rommel - nicknamed 'the Desert Fox' - comitted suicide by taking a cynanide tablet shortly before being arrested on suspicion of being involved in the failed attempt to assassinate the German leader Adolf Hitler.

It was coincidently, eight hundred and seventy eight years before that, to the day, that another brave man, William, who was later to be called the conqueror, was proclaimed King of England.

And, it is Cliff Richards birthday.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Colomenditz

Calamity week continues on the blog:

Since 1939 generations of Liverpool schoolkids have stayed at Colomendy, Liverpool City Council's outdoor pursuit camp in North Wales.

Robert, my brother went and I didn't and for a few years, I didn't and then, one year, young David finally had his chance to go to the camp.



This was the dormitory, and well, it wasn't bad at all to a bunch of ten year olds back in 1967, I remember reading a book under the covers with my ladybird torch, snuggled in for sleep after late night milk and cookies in another hut while watching thousands of flies bounce off lights all over the camp.

The calamity happened about two days into my weeks stay, I was running with three or four pop bottles when I slipped and fell, one major shard of glass punctured my right hand at the base of my thumb, very deep and I was rushed to hospital for stitches.

This was typical of my early life, another great adventure was truncated by a foolish moment, for the rest of my "active" time there I had my hand bandaged up and in a sling, regardless the week at the camp remains a great memory.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Jumper

Stricken with flu at the moment, reminds me of a time when my older brother, Robert, jumped down from a high place in the grotto in Sefton Park, Liverpool and bit into his own knee.

A simple kid thing, jumping, lots of elastic and damping working for you, and in this case, he just over extended and his teeth impacted his knee, no big deal.

What was to be a big deal happened next as we went to the big pond and wet a hanky and cleaned the wound for him, doing the right thing in a very wrong way, a pond where old men spat, little kids widdled and gosh knows what else.

I recall Rob, a few days later, with a bottle of pink stuff from Doctor Forshaw, laid out on the couch, almost at deaths door with a hugely inflamed and swollen leg, waiting for that new fangled penicillin to take effect, of course, as kids always did back then, he survived to jump another day.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Players

Introducing some of the people discussed or to be discussed in this blog:




Front and centre, the Hairdresser and the Taxi Driver. Dorothy (Edwards) and Arthur Weldon. Their wedding day, March 29th, 1952

The tall guy at the back, left hand side is my Grandfather on my mums side, "Jack" Edwards, his wife is far left "Betsey". The chap peaking over my dads shoulder is my other Grandfather, the old mother Riley one, and his wife, dressed like a grizzly Bear, Margaret is standing proudly in front.

There are three more people in the photo, peeking out of the church is my Auntie Alda and the best man, Stanley Weldon is at the top right and the maid of honour, Mary Wright is front left, next to my mum.

Old Mother Riley

I have few memories of my grandparents, my grandfather on the Weldon side was another Arthur, Arthur Sandiland Weldon.

It seemed that back in the 1950s, everyone had a "party piece" that they would roll out during an occasion, and this is one of those things that I remember about him.

One of Arthurs party pieces was to dress up as 'Old Mother Riley' who was an old Irish washerwoman made famous on stage and screen by Arthur Lucan (Born, Arthur Towle, in Boston, Lincolnshire in 1887).

This is my grandfather in all his Old Mother Riley glory:


Wales

In these days of almost 24 hour shopping, the following is quite funny in the life of the hairdresser and the taxi driver.

Stanley Weldon, who was Arthurs lifetime friend, tells the story of the move from Whiston to Wales as being a nightmare as the volume of stuff was underestimated, especially in the garage, plus there was the wrapping (in newspaper) of all the frozen goods in the 17 cubic foot chest freezer.

Dorothy was a member of a frozen food club, and that freezer was always full.

They emptied the huge freezer, loaded it into the van, wrapped all the food and packed it all back in. Then a 90 minute journey to Rhyl and the reverse process, unpack, unload, unwrap and repack.

The big problem down in Wales occured when it was realised that the power cord from the freezer wasn't long enough to reach the socket in the new garage, and of course, it was either after five o'clock or half day closing and the only available extension cord was hidden in a packing crate somewhere.

It's another one of those stories where you would have to be there to see the funny side of it all, another reason for my mum to break out a bottle of Malibu.

If only she could find it.....

The Hairdresser

Dorothy used to tell stories of the local actors and actresses who frequented the salon she worked for around St. Georges Place in Liverpool Town centre. They were from the Empire Theatre, New Shakespeare Theatre and often gawdy, sometimes openly homosexual which was very much a taboo back in the early 1950s. They did have money though, and tipped well. She told stories of the Adelphi Hotel and wild parties that stretched into the night although she never witnessed these first hand.

She used to buy her cigarettes from a small tobacconists at number 16, in between the Imperial and Washington Hotels at St. Georges Place. Probably unfiltered Woodbines.

In the very early 1950s she was offered at job to work on a cruise ship, as a hairdresser, but declined as she had met the young cheeky Arthur Herbert Weldon. This became a "standard" of stories in the Weldon household, often preceded with "I should have", "I could have", "I wish you had have" etc.

The Taxi driver

In the middle of the 1950s, my dad the taxi driver, was employed at the Meccano toy factory, Binns Road, Liverpool. The job of paint tester was basically quality control for the enamel paints that were used on the Meccano construction kit parts, toy trains and Dinky cars. Paint would be sprayed onto glass and the drying time, consistancy and colour checked.




It was around this time that Arthur, during lunch and tea breaks, would sell shirts and ties to the many female employees. This was a practice that was looked down on by the bosses and may also have affected his timekeeping.

He used to cycle from Botanic Road to Binns Road via Edge Lane on his old boneshaker, which would usually take 30 minutes or so, and was warned about his timekeeping. After a bout of what Arthur called dysentry, he was late one more time and was sacked.

This was a transitional point in his life and the last time that he would work for an employer, in the process of eventually becoming a taxi driver, dad would be a barrow boy market trader, shop keeper, prawn and seafood salesman and do anything he could to "earn a note" and keep the family machine running.

Name calling

Five minute moment, just one a day, but already, here in February, I'm slacking and falling behind, I mean, it's only five minutes and I am retired, so what's the deal?

I would say I've been sick, but really, that's just another excuse, five minutes.

The concept of a diary, the luxury of a notepad on past life, just five minutes per day to assemble the life to date, the life and opinions of another Tristram Shandy or David Weldon, a possible but impossible task.

A name like David is quite useful, because it can be used in many ways, David, Dave or even little Davey, as in Davey Jones the most annoying little fake British member of the Monkeys.

In the stories of my younger naughty life, it would always be David and that has stuck with me throughout life, whenever anyone calls me David, I remember my mums tone in those uncomfortable moments. However, she would also call me to dinner with a higher pitched, drawn out David, so it wasn't all bad.

Stolen Goods

I was writing to my son today, and I recalled this :

I don't know what it was about Liverpool, growing up there, a certain level of "scally" gets infused into a person, when we moved "up" to Whiston, Lancashire at the age of 14, my mum and dad shelled out for a Switzerland trip which was a chance in a lifetime for me.

The little village we stayed at had a supermarket, full of lovely swiss chocolate and sunglasses and you guessed it, quite a few of our group of about 25 started shoplifting and I actually bought several items, bargain prices of course, off a couple of my "mates".

It seemed to legitimise the process, I wasn't stealing, just buying.

What an idiot.

Anyway, as with all schemes, it came tumbling down as the shop owners noticed the enormous amount of stuff going missing, so they talked to our teachers and there was an inquisition where the group was isolated on the top floor of the hotel and all the names came out, divide and conquer as they say.

A night of shame.

It all seem to fade away and happiness returned in my young life until mum and dad were called to the school for another night of the long knives a month after we returned.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Free range Eggs

I'll have to motor on this one to type it out in five minutes.

I was trusted, at the great age of nine, or thereabouts, to stroll up to the farm shop at the top of the road, to buy some free range eggs.

Money in hand, I walked up and had to pass the newsagents, they sold eggs too, and they were cheaper, so I bought some, plus, with the change, bought five bubblies, penny bubble gums.

Two went in to the face and they were chewed rapidly in the slow walk home, then I realised that I had the evidence on me, so the other three were pushed under the back gate of some neighbours house, panic was setting in.

The unblinking eyes gazed up at mother and swore that the eggs, complete with little stamped lion, had been bought at the farm shop. The reasoning didn't work and I was frogmarched up to the aforementioned shop where the lady insisted that she hadn't sold them, they sold real eggs, farm eggs, not that lion stamped stuff.

Then, logic was applied and mother frogmarched me, still protesting my innocence, down to the newsagent, where, that lady insisted that she had sold me the eggs, and with some amazing memory technique told my mum that I'd bought five bubblies as well.

I still unblinkingly insisted on my innocence, that it was all a set up, and there was no evidence of bubble gum on me, I was framed in a sinister plot.

It didn't go down well, and this at a time when mothers were not controlled against beating the bejeebers out of their precious offspring.

Interogation Techniques

There was no need for waterboarding in the Weldon household, because as little six year old David was honing his lying skills, my mother instigated a cunning plan.

It was pure parenting brilliance.

Mum told me, that it was obvious that when I was telling a fib, I would blink a lot and she could immediately tell.

So, I formed a cunning plan of my own, I would combat this blinking habit by making sure that when I was lying to her about anything, I would not blink, no blinking, eyes wide open, the unblinking truth.

It didn't work though, she always knew I was lying after that, I didn't know why, she was just good at those things you know.

I'll have to type fast on my next elaborate lying story.

Chipperfield Circus

The hoodwinking of parents is a very complex process, especially when the circumstances and evidence all point away from the obvious explanation of a bizarre moment in a youngsters life.

I think it must have been a discussion point as to the validity of allowing the six or seven year old David to take his Corgi Chipperfield Circus truck into school that day, however, it was allowed and a docket prepared for the variance in toy policy against the status quo.




The documentary evidence, at lunchtime, was that the truck no longer existed in this universe, and mother, trained to observe this type of phenomenon, noticed this immediately.

The explanation was simple, it was lost, or someone must have pinched it, stolen from my grubby little mitts, end of story.

But, of course, never end of story in the adult world when little David was followed back to school in the afternoon by said mother who raised hell with the school teacher, who raised hell with the class and the truth was uncovered.

David had sold the truck to another little boy for sixpence.

Then followed a long drawn out denial process and trouble.

Mettoy

The typing of the word click at the end of each of these five minute blogs is costing me a second or two of valuable input time, so that's going to stop, a simple full stop will be the end from now on.

If I was using my 1962 Mettoy typewriter however, the time saved by not typing click would be considerably more, especially as, after the "C" the little dial would have to rotate all the way to the "L" and then back to the "I" and then back to the "K" and finally all the way around to the full stop, with a press of the big lever after each step.




Even in my young and furtive rotating days, that would have been more like ten or twelve seconds, which again, as a toddler was a significant portion of my life to that point.

In addition, I would expect that the letter "K" was never tested anyway, no need for that letter in early Britain.

So, no more Clik.

Monday, January 21, 2008

An old tune

Thats a good example, some story that your mother used to tell people about what you did when you were little, or when you were bigger, but some story that really did not have a punchline or an ending, a sort of story just about, well, just about life.

You know, when he was a little lad he used to pretend he was Ringo Star and play the drums, he used to play with the hosepipe in the back yard, he used to dress up as a pirate and smoke your fathers Players extra strength in the back yard.

That sort of thing.

The thing is, when your parents are gone, lost in time, it would be nice to sit and listen one more time to all those lovely none stories, hear the music of your mothers voice, laugh at the melody, not the punchline.

A five minute moment would not seem so trite if it was played by the original characters in your life, it would not matter about the outcome or the meanderings of fact, it would be just magic.

Click.

Big Ears

If you grew up at the time and place where I was evolving, your mother, if she was fortunate enough to have a black and white television set and electricity, would have plonked you in front of it daily when "Watch with Mother" was on so she could have a break, tea and a biscuit.

A daily afternoon program, for the development of the young British child, as solid as a Farleys rusk and as entertaining as a finger in a three bar fire.




The delights varied, from Andy Pandy, Bill and Ben (the flowerpot men), Muffin the Mule, which at that time was not a sexual offence and of course other delights which if my memory serves me well, did not include Noddy and Big Ears.

I had a Noddy Tricycle, little three wheeler with a boot (for you American types, thats British for a Trunk, although in my book that's at the front of an elephant, not the back of a bike).

Anyway, one minute left and the story goes that one day, little three year old David cycled with his brother up to a building site and filled the boot with concrete. Thats the way the story evolved, although I have no recollection whatsoever of any amputation of said container, so I have to assume that I filled it up with rocks and sand and that was that.

A sort of none story, a little bit like.....

Click.

Grinding

The internet as an entity is a strange place, log on, type some drivel, read it and believe you can connect to someone, resist the porn and check the stock market, or was it the other way around?.

The blogosphere, a place to record ones life or the daily tedium, to relate to others that probably will never read what's written, a secret diary that's available for all to read.

I started writing my diary around 1975 when things started to get interesting in my life, work, money, alcohol and girlfriend, note the singularity. As Supertramp mentioned, take a look at my girlfriend, she's the only one I got, not much of a girlfriend, never seem to get a lot.

Well, if it wasn't for the knee that insisted on grinding into female crotches during slow dancing I may have actually had one sooner, instead of holding a quarter glass of gin and tonic when my potential partner visited the ladies room, never to return in this short lifetime.

Ah, the early days, KC and the Sunshine Band, Rum and Coke, odd shaped trousers and an easy choice when it came to a lift home from Tiffanies night club or my first shag.

It was the lift home of course.

Click.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Budgies

The taxi drivers sons mother, was of course Dorothy Weldon, and she told the tale of the mad budgie.

The cellar had a front room, that had four big cages where my dad kept budgies, I have very little recollection of that room, or anything to do with the cellar. Well, yes I was scared of the room where the coal was dropped into, called coincidently the coal cellar.

The mad budgie incident happened when a mother of three or four chicks went postal and decided to take it's lifelong frustrations out on it's offspring. Mum said that there was absolute carnage, all of the poor little buggers took it face on, eyes, beaks, heads all mutilated.

A sorry tale, but, they were not killed, that was the unfortunate and heartbreaking aspect of it all for my mum, who had to put the little chicks out of their misery.

It was the early days of gas ovens, before natural gas, which I believe is non lethal, so, mum placed the chicks in a little cake box and gassed them with real gas.

Whenever mum told that story, which was probably only once or twice, she cried and said that she had never felt so much sadness, perhaps remorse about something.

Click.

The Flood

One year, one hot summer in Liverpool, we had a major flood, mainly because it rained solidly for hours and hours on end. I can remember being caught in Botanic Park, in the kids clubhouse at the back of the park, near to the dogs home.

Anyway, we had a flood and the basement, or cellar as we called it back then was awash with about four foot of water. The place was a mess, floating bird cages, damp french polishing equipment and of course, a damp dog.

Sooty was a black Alsation dog, not 100% black as he had a little spot of white below his chin. I think he was my dog, looked after by my dad of course, but my dog as I'd requested an Allerton station, or so my parents told me, when I was younger.




The flood was a shock in my young life, I had to run screaming back across the park, to a neighbours house, the Coldocks, they were flooded too, I think all the homes on Botanic Road had a problem that day.

The cellar was never the same after that.

Click.

Click

The clock is ticking and this is the first blog of the Taxi drivers son, David Weldon, son of Arthur Weldon, who was a taxi driver, an ice cream man, shop owner, breeder of budgies, wedding car driver, landlord, french polisher on the White Star Line and a purveyor of shirts and socks to the ladies who worked at the Meccano factory, Binns Road, Liverpool in the mid 1950s in between checking the paint quality.

Why click, well, this blog is about five minutes of my time, hopefully every day, but we'll see about that. Some days we'll play catch up and some weeks we may be missing, off enjoying the planet. If there are spelling mistakes, well, I apologize, but, hey, five minutes to get thoughts down, that's not very much to proof read as well.

That was my five minutes, this blog will be about snippets of my life, their life and hopefully will connect in some way with your life, hope you enjoy this as much as I expect to.

Talk to you soon, and quickly.

Click.