We left Leeds and stopped quite quickly on the M62 for breakfast, we had time as we were driving to Liverpool/Wirral which is less than two hours away. I asked the girl who served us where we were, she said equidistant (my word) to Leeds, Halifax, Huddersfield, and Cleckheaton. I’d never heard of Cleckheaton but the 16,000 people that live there have. I’ve never been to Halifax and I’m not even sure if I’ve been to Huddersfield, maybe once with AAE. It seems that although I grew up in the northwest, I didn’t ever really venture further north in England although my grandmother on my father’s side lived in Blackpool. There’s more chance I’d go to Scotland than Newcastle and apart from some vague memories of trips to the Lake District, oddly, I know other parts of the world better.
But as soon as we hit the Wirral everything became familiar, my old stomping ground. We passed The Yacht Inn on the Chester road heading to Heswall. My dad always used to point it out on trips back from Wales by humorously trying to pronounce it phonetically. We saw the signs for Parkgate, Neston, and Bebington and I remember riding my motorbike up and down this road so I get up a bit of speed. We drove through Heswall and I pointed out where Din’s used to be, the shop where I would buy records if I wasn’t in Liverpool. We turned right at the traffic light and headed towards Pensby past where I used to live in a flat and where sis Shelagh’s road is located. The chippie was still down on the right in Pensby but The Pensby Hotel where we used to meet as teenagers was long gone. It made me think of my good mate and mega music lover Spanter who had to miss the gig because he’s in hospital, get well soon, Spant, you and your bro Phil.
Next, we were at the corner that led into Thingwall and the block of flats I lived in as a teenager. They seemed so small because they were. We’d moved from a pub, The Grouse Hotel in Birch Vale between Hayfield and New Mills. Beautiful countryside, big rooms, lots of space and suddenly all changed and into a modern flat which was a step down for my freedom even if it was a step up for my dad’s work. He became Merseyside’s road safety officer, probably the reason I don’t drive, he was always arriving home with safety campaign pics, young girls who had gone through windscreens with stitches in their faces, exposing what can happen if you don’t wear a seat belt.
We showed Boydie where I used to live, where Sparks Lane was, where Dare used to live and then we wound our way through country lanes to Thornton Hough, a beautiful village of Tudor-style houses, posh, close to where I grew up (not as posh). We went to the pub next door where the landlord recognised me and we loaded into the Village Club next door for soundcheck. Lisa and Mark arrived (we’re staying with them in Liverpool), sis She and John and an old mate, Gazzer, I haven’t seen for decades who I was in a band with in 1975. He told me we played the upper sixth party at Park High School (with Dare too), I vaguely remember it, mostly because I had to wear my Woodchurch Sec school uniform, a secondary modern bloke playing at a grammar school. The power of music to break down borders apparent.
I’m not sure how many posh people turned up at the show, just music lovers, but even the posh like music I heard, haha. Great show tonight, a charming audience with amazing accents. Paul the promoter was there, Neil did the sound, he basically runs the place himself. We left with Lisa and Mark back to Liverpool and were soon in bed.
Music today has been The Teardrop Explodes – Kilimanjaro (1980), keyboardist Dave Balfe lived behind me, I saw him on the way to school most mornings, guitarist Alan Gill I saw frequently, he was a year older but we got the same school bus every day.