They say that as you get older you look back to the past more often. We all have them of course, memories, but they are often neglected whilst we are giving our attention to the more pressing issues of the day. It is when we find ourselves at rest or having nothing much to do that we begin to recollect memories. This is probably why older folk in particular recall memories more often, they have more time on their hands. I have found in my own life that this is true and the more so now as I am breaking the ties of formal work as an electrician. I am slowly getting used to it though a better phrase might be making adjustments. The adjustments I am making is finding things to occupy my time, walking, gardening, little projects, dining out, playing around on my guitar and other things all help me to do that. It was while out walking a few days ago that I passed two girls selling fairy cakes at the gate leading to their house. They were around fifteen or sixteen years of age and evidently had baked the cakes themselves, selling them in aid of a local charity. Unfortunately I had no money with me as I invariably don’t carry cash when simply going out for a walk. I most probably would have given them my support had I been carrying some money, not least of all because the cakes looked so delicious! It reminded me of my past when I was young and the things I used to get up to raise some pocket-money, though we, my siblings and I, were given pocket money by our parents.
It also reminded me that I have more time now in which to bake more cakes of my own, especially when the weather restricts other activities. The weather has never prevented me from going for a run or nowadays going for a walk but it does prevent me doing much in the gardens or getting on with a project of which I have a couple pending at this time. One of those projects is to erect a gate at one side of the house in the rear garden but I have to build a brick pillar first of all. I will then be able to construct the gate itself from timber I have stored. It has to be bespoke because it will be wider than the average size that could be purchased. Anyway making my own will give me something to do and be far less expensive in the process. So unrelated events and incidences help to trigger my thoughts and memories and also remind me that I’ve things to do.
The first yesterday was of course yesterday. It was also my eldest son’s birthday.He reached the ripe old age of 33 and it only seems like yesterday that I held him in my arms for the first time. I couldn’t do that now! Sometimes I look back and wonder where all the intervening years went. It was only a little over two and a half years later his younger brother arrived on the scene. He will be 31 years old next March. I was out in the garden on Sunday afternoon just looking at things and how much just the garden has changed since we moved here in the summer of 1988. I remember the boys learning how to ride a bicycle on and around what then passed as a lawn and my father-in-law bemoaning the fact that they were cutting a pathway through the grass with the bikes. At that time more of the family lived with us in the house but now there are but two of us living here. The house holds all sorts of memories, some good and some bad but mostly good. What started me thinking about the past was when I was watering the plants. It hadn’t rained for a day or so and some of the newly planted ones were beginning to suffer. These are the shrubs I planted in the mound and their roots have yet to grow down to where most of the water will be most of the time. The top soil dries out too quickly during the warmer weather. I began as I usually do when watering the garden, to water the plants at the opposite end of the garden to where the patio is and some of the plants there seem to have grown very little over the years even though they are perfectly healthy. They are naturally slow-growing but some have noticeably grown over the years and have needed pruning back. A few weeks ago I had to cut back some of those plants which had begun to grow over the path around the lawn making it difficult to walk along without having to swerve to avoid them. In the same border there is a variegated holly tree one of two in fact. The other one is intermingled with other trees and has not grown to any great height because of that but I plan to do some pruning in the area to get rid of unwanted side-shoots and such like. The holly I mention that has grown well started life as a very small plant back in the days when the boys lived here but is now over three metres in height. If you click on the above picture a couple of times you should be able to see this holly, it is the last tree on the left of those in the centre of the shot. Immediately to its left you can see the washing line post against the wall. It is difficult to see the holly as when the photo was taken a few years ago it hadn’t filled out. It isn’t the largest holly as there is one which stands next to the large greenhouse which is well over five metres and is shown in the top picture. It is a different variety of holly, dark green leaves and red berries. Where it stands the ground used to be a kind of garden waste dump but it has changed dramatically since those days. Many things have changed over the years and much work has been done but there is always scope for more. Yesterdays are full of reminders of things past and how I got to where I am and they are all inside my head, I don’t need heaps of photographs to remind me, though I have some, no, the greatest thing is to be able to sit there and look at how things have changed and all for the better. Yesterdays have gone and will never return, tomorrows are what counts.
‘The more I see you, the more I want you’, are the words of a song popular forty or so years ago but it is in my heart every time I visit the city of my birth, Liverpool. The city is becoming more and more different each time I visit, especially the road system in and around town. I had to visit the clinic I have been attending which is located not far from the city centre in one of the oldest residential areas and one which seems to be enjoying a renewed popularity. The merchants of the day who made Liverpool prosper and grow lived just outside of the heart of the city in houses that were considered up-market even by today’s standards and only the rich could afford to live in them. Many have stood there since the eighteenth century and outwardly remain for the most part exactly as they were built. Some have been turned into desirable apartments whilst others remain as they were originally intended as a complete home. They are full of character and it is nice to see them being well maintained and looked after. I took a different route into the city from my previous recent visits and it took me through the suburbs to the north-east passing through the familiar roads and streets where I lived from the age of twelve until I was twenty-seven. I saw many changes which I have to say broke my heart. There are neglected buildings and buildings being put to new use in some places and the whole area looks like it has ‘gone to seed’ as they say. Nothing is as it was when I lived there forty something years ago. There is a building in the Tue Brook area which once housed a popular cinema and I know for a fact that it hasn’t been in use for several years, even though it had been put to another use in more recent times. I know this because I have been past it a few times in the last ten years. As I drove past again on Friday the building was covered in plants growing out of the brickwork and crevasses, not merely small plants but many several feet in length, small bushes or trees in fact! Nobody seems to care. (you can see a picture of it in the article below (‘Liverpool has the most listed buildings outside of London’). As I drove onward, now approaching the outskirts of the city centre itself there is dereliction everywhere intermingled with modern housing that somehow seems to be going to seed too, old buildings partly demolished or barricaded up and graffiti adorning any wall that was in easy reach. At the end of the road I was on everything began to look different. The road turned left along Low Hill, an aptly named road for from that standpoint I could see over the city centre toward the river Mersey a couple of road miles distant though in fact probably less than two miles as the crow flies. A short distance ahead lay the area in which I grew up until I was twelve when the family moved further out from the city centre. Of the streets that remained, their names were easily recognisable but sadly many of the buildings were relatively new and stood over ground now changed beyond all recognition. The old back streets and houses were demolished years ago and nothing resembles what it was when I lived there. During the war many of the older buildings had been bombed and were razed to the ground but there still remained street after street of terraced houses when the war was over. In the mid forties, that is 1946 onward, the authorities erected prefabricated houses in many places though some of the land which had been bombed was left waste for many years and was still that way when we moved house. We lived in one of those ‘prefabs’ up until 1958. Now there are none, now there are Liverpool University buildings standing in their place and the main street on which we lived is no longer anything like it was. Although the city is vastly improved there will always be a sense of loss in my heart for the things that now only remain in memory or local history books. I would dearly like to return and live there and be close to the places where I had been raised but I know that isn’t going to happen. I shall have to be content with the occasional visit and leave the rest to memory. I now live in Southport, some twenty miles north along the coast from Liverpool but I will always be a Liverpudlian, a ‘Scouser‘ at heart.
I wonder if you remember this song from the musical ‘Fiddler on the roof‘ made some years ago now? I was looking out of a front room window at home the other day looking at the sight of a cool Sun hidden behind the thin layer of clouds. It must have been exactly due south as it had reached the highest point in the sky. Directly beneath the sun is the house opposite ours and the sun was exactly positioned above it by a few degrees. It was only a matter of a few weeks ago that we couldn’t see the sun at its highest point in the day because it wasn’t high enough to see over the house. As we approach spring and then Summer the Sun will still be positioned directly above that house at its highest point although much higher in the sky and one hour later by our clocks as they go forward an hour in March. This song sprang to memory whilst I was looking at the cold Sun and it reminded me of days long since passed in my youth when the world seemed a totally different place. I began to think of the things of life, love, marriage, good times and how it used to be. It brought tears to my eyes knowing that all that is passed can never return and the world continues to turn. One day soon turns into the next, years seem to fly by and all we are left with are memories.
Is this the little girl I carried?
Is this the little boy at play?
I don’t remember growing older
When did they?
When did she get to be a beauty?
When did he grow to be so tall?
Wasn’t it yesterday
When they were small?
Swiftly flow the days
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers
Blossoming even as we gaze
Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears
What words of wisdom can I give them?
How can I help to ease their way?
Now they must learn from one another
Day by day
They look so natural together
Just like two newlyweds should be
(Perchik & Hodel)
Is there a canopy in store for me?
Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears