Posts Tagged ‘Liverpool Docks’

Jack has turned out to be my bezzy mate in loads of ways (well, not forgetting Regal of course!) You wouldn’t believe he was only five. He’s dead funny, and makes me laugh even when I’m feeling sad.  I hate it when me ma doesn’t come home from the boozer, or there’s nothing for Jack to eat in the cupboard, ’cause I’m terrified that social services will come and take him into care and leave me on my own.   Or even worse than that, I’m afraid they’ll put me into care instead, and leave Jack with Binny and me ma – who’d take care of him then?

It’s my job to look after him.. and if that means getting out of this shit hole of a house and away from Binny and me ma… that’s what we’ll do.

I'll see you all right, Jack.

I’ll see you all right, Jack

Photo by Jilly Gardiner

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Half Cormorant - half mythical bird!

Half Cormorant – half mythical bird! Photo by Jilly Gardiner

I never did hand Jack into the cop shop!  How could I be the one who put him in foster care?  The poor kid would probably end up like me – I don’t want to be responsible for that!  So we had an agreement; me and me ma….   She’d be around for him in the daytime while I was at school, and I’d look after him at night while she went the boozer.    Binny was around sometimes, but was always slagging off Jack’s ma for being put in the slammer for robbing frozen chickens from Iceland (the shop, not the country!).   Me ma told me that Jack’s ma was caught with a chicken in each bra cup, and only got found out because one of the frozen chickens dropped out as she left the shop and broke three of her toes (so she couldn’t leg it from security!).   All I could think about was how big her knockers must have been to have a full chicken in each bra cup! Wish I’d been there!

Anyway, It turned out that Jack’s ma was on probation for when she got caught robbing wallets off her punters while they slept.. so they sent her straight back to the slammer after the frozen chicken incident.  Binny was well pissed off that it meant HE had to be responsible for Jack, so he did hardly nothing for him – that’s where I come in.

Me and Jack, we’ve got dead close in the past few months.. he’s like my brother.  Now the weather’s getting better I take him fishing down the dock, and we share pie and chips at our chippy.   Every Saturday I still work on The Butty Van with Pete at Greaty Market… Jack comes too.  Pete’s dead sound and lets Jack use his mobile phone to play games on while I’m serving hot dogs with extra onions and cups of tea.  Then Pete gives me and Jack some top scran which we stuff in until our bellies nearly burst.

Jack keeps asking me about the Liverbirds on top of the Liverbuildings, and why they don’t fly away… so I make up  loads of stories about them.    They say that Liverpool would fall into the sea if the Liverbirds flew away…. so I tell Jack stories about the time when the Liverbirds flew away and the city collapsed into the Mersey.   He cried for hours when I told him about how everyone in Liverpool nearly drowned.  I felt so guilty that I told him that the Liverbirds had flown to every country and city around the world, but had come home to Liverpool because they couldn’t find anywhere better.   So everybody in Liverpool was saved, and didn’t drown – and they all lived happily ever after.    That made Jack dry his tears and smile again.

Yep…. everything’s going good! That might be ’cause I turned fifteen the other day – and my luck’s changing… no prezzies though.    Penny Salerno has started looking at me again, even smiling sometimes! She’s still not letting me walk her home from school yet though, but I’m working on it.   Anthony and Susan still have me round for my tea twice a week, and they let Jack come too!   And me and Jack go to Ray’s house every Sunday and take my dog Regal for a dead long walk.  Ray says Regal crashes out for about 24 hours after I’ve walked him on Sundays…. He’s a card that dog!

And today the sun was shining (a bit)… A good feeling! I’m happy….. me and Jack and the people of Liverpool are happy, ’cause the Liverbirds are sitting pretty on top of the Liverbuildings, watching over us all!

The Wheel - Liverpool

The Wheel – Liverpool

Me ma did come home… eventually.  She was half cut and had a job to climb the stairs to bed.  I’d been listening out for her most of the night, so eased myself off the floor with my bad ribs when I heard the door go.   It was nearly five in the morning, but that was nothing new for me ma.  Jack (the kid) was sleeping like a log so I caught me ma on the landing as she staggered to her bedroom.

‘Who’s the kid?’ I said.  She just stood there swaying from side to side.

‘Kid?’ She goes.

‘Yeh, the kid you left here when you f&cked off down the boozer!’

Her eyes couldn’t focus on me properly, but she opened them wider as if she suddenly knew what I was on about, ‘Oh, the kid!’  She pushed passed me to her bedroom, slurring back to me… ‘Binny’s…. it’s Binny’s’.

‘Binny’s!’ I shouted, but she’d disappeared into her bedroom.  ‘Where the f&ck’s Binny then!’

This tiny kid, fast asleep on my bed… How could he be Binny’s kid? I was so mad with me ma and Binny that I didn’t go back to sleep.. I just sat there watching Jack sleeping.

Next morning me and Jack were up and out by nine o’clock… I had it in my head that I’d take him down the cop shop and hand him in; I can’t let the poor little get be dragged up by a piss head like Binny!  But Jack was so excited when he saw the wheel again by the Echo Arena, I just had to give him a go.

As we went round and round on the Wheel looking over the city (three times), I watched his dirty little face light up as we looked down at the tiny people on the ground.  I suddenly felt sick and sad all at the same time…. It was me I could see in this kid; this kid was ME when I was his age… And I’d never wish that on anyone.

The cop shop would have to wait…

Liverpool DockAfter the scran I took the kid for a walk down by the dock.  He’d started talking, and he’d said his name was Jack and he was five.  He didn’t look five, so I don’t know if he was telling the truth, or whether he was too young to know how old he was.

We sat by the Mersey and looked out at the lights.  I made sure Jack sat further back so he wouldn’t fall in.   I’d forgotten how much I loved the docks, especially at night.   I used to come here every day but hadn’t been here for months.   I love this city as much as I love Penny Salerno… and I felt I was losing both.

Jack seemed much happier now, in fact he wouldn’t shut up about the lights and the reflections in the water.   But I knew exactly where he was coming from… I felt the same way about it.  No matter how much shite this world throws at you, just sitting on that dock staring out over the River Mersey makes you forget about it…. I can’t explain why, but it does.

I bought Jack an ice cream on the way back to the house with my stash.  He’d stopped asking about his dad by the time we’d ate the pie and chips, and he just kept asking if we could go on the big wheel by the Echo Arena that I’d shown him earlier.

The house was still cold and dark when we got back at nine o’clock, so I let Jack look at the pics in my National Geographic mags.  He fell asleep on the bed about five minutes later.     I put a blanket over him and then took some painkillers the hozzy had given me before lying on my back on the floor (couldn’t lie any other way ’cause of my ribs… they were in bulk).

I spent the night listening out for me ma getting back from the boozer… hopefully she could tell me why the kid was here.  If she hasn’t turned up in the morning I’ll take Jack on the big wheel by the Echo Arena – I haven’t even been on it myself.

Night Jack….

Tell me this, right? If you were walking passed someone who was getting beaten to a pulp by two Italian mafiosos, one with a knife… what would you do?? Would you stop and jump in there to help, or would you pretend that you didn’t see it, and walk on by? I ask the question ’cause I’m lying in this hospital bed with a broken nose and five broken ribs wondering how the f&ck can people walk straight passed something like that in broad daylight, and pretend nothing’s happening. Life and the people in it surprise me everyday…

You should have seen the state of my face! I’d have looked better if a tractor had run over it, and then reversed back over it with a plough attached!  I look a lot better now… as long as I don’t open my gob.    It’s dead hard to talk without showing my teeth!

I went to school for the first time today since it happened.   Didn’t want to miss too much, and was fed up with sitting on the dock and not talking to no one.   I didn’t even go and walk Regal on Sunday ’cause I didn’t want Ray to see my face… and Regal always makes me laugh, so it would have been a dead giveaway.

I don’t smile much at school, so I knew I’d be able to get away with it.   And Penny Salerno is off with the flu, so at least I won’t have to smile at her, and she won’t see what a state the inside of my mouth is in.

Thing is…. Teeth don’t grow back do they?  Well not your second lot anyway.    So I need to see a dentist, but I haven’t got one.  One of the teeth that fell out has left a gaping hole the size of the Grand Canyon which has swollen right up like a pig’s foot! And I don’t mind telling you, it’s f&ckin’ killing me.   I can’t eat on one side of my mouth, and I can’t sleep with the pain.  I’ve been swigging on me ma’s whiskey (which she keeps hidden under the settee) just to ease the pain so I can sleep…… and let me tell you – it’s taking a lot of whiskey to knock me out!  But now I’m back at school I don’t want to get up with a hang over, so I’ve tried to cut it out.   I really do need to go to the dentist.

And me ma?   Well… she knows f&ck all about what she did.   And I think I’ve seen her about 3 times since she knocked me against the wall, and that was just to help her to bed when she comes in bladdered from the boozer after hours.  I’ve been helping her to bed and getting her coffee and water, but I can’t look at her in the face.. I still feel so mad.   I love her.. but I hate her.

Now to find a dentist.

 

The River Mersey

One freezing day in December

I spend most of my school day staring out of the window across the school playing field.  What’s beyond that field is what really interests me.   Mister Reynolds, our Geography teacher, is the only one who makes school interesting (apart from footy practice of course!).   Mister Reynolds tells us about people and places all over the world.  And he’s so nice, that I can go and talk to him afterwards.. asking more questions about countries and people that he’s mentioned in the lesson.    He’s dead happy to talk to me about it.

English: Playing field at Cowplain School

Image via Wikipedia

Did you know that it’s rude to show the bottom of your feet in Thailand?  How mad’s that!  And if you stand on a coin, you’re disrespecting their king, because his head’s on it.  There’s just so much out there.. and I’m stuck here in this cold, square, miserable school with Johno Rathbone who gobs on the back of your school jumper, and Jonesy who bangs his head against walls so he looks hard.

Penny Salerno came into school with a load of those National Geographics she got off her ma the other day.  She put them in a plazzy bag so no one would see them.  There was about ten of them!  I was so made up.   I couldn’t wait to read them – so I took the afternoon off and went and sat on the dock.   If I’d have got them out at school, Terry Bennett would have flushed them down the toilet along with my head.

The Ice caps, the tribes of the Amazon, the cocaine villages of Colombia…. there’s just a whole world out there (all right, I’ll stay away from the coke heads in Colombia), why do people stay in the same place all their lives when they’re not happy?  Why do they live on scanky streets, with cold damp houses, and schools where all you learn is how to throw a good punch so you don’t get your head kicked in so badly next time?  If things aren’t good, then what have we got to lose by walking away and trying somewhere else?

It can’t be any worse, I reckon.

Me ma says I think too much.   I say it’s better than not thinking at all.    She says I annoy people with all my thinking.  But she doesn’t think at all.. except to think where the next whiskey’s coming from.

It all starts next week when I go to Strangeways to speak to me dad.  It only took an email and two phone calls.

That’s when I start thinking my way out of here….

I sat on a bench on the dock after school.. it was raining.  Not proper rain, but wet rain.. you know what I mean?  That damp stuff that fools you into thinking it’s not raining until it’s too late!

Liverpool Docks - Photo by Jilly Gardiner

I watched this seagull strutting up and down in front of me.. looking at me with its one eye on the side of its head (it did have two eyes though!).   It must have thought I had food on me…. I didn’t.    I had a ciggy – just one, and even that was damp where I’d had it stuck behind my ear.

I watched the seagull as I tried to light my ciggy, but I felt  dead guilty that I had no food for it.

I thought about when I was dead young, and I went to Seaforth with me ma.  I don’t know how old I was, but I can’t have been more than four… I went into care for the first time when I was nearly five.

This day in Seaforth was when me ma was light and happy.   She had time for me, and she’d laugh loads.    I remember we had these homemade butties with us.  We fed a bit of them to the seagulls on the seafront, and they wolfed the lot.    Me ma giggled, especially when the seagull tried to take the butty right out of her hand!  It made me giggle too.  I remember her throwing her arms around me and giggling.. pretending she was scared of the seagull.

Me ma was someone else then…. I hardly know her now.  She’s not just older and skinnier, but she’s not that same ma I knew then.

God I miss her so much.

a traditional breakfast with egg and toasts

Image via Wikipedia

I was woken up by me ma shouting my name.  It startled me and I sat up quick.  I then heard her shout words I’d never heard her shout in my life before, ‘Tommy wake up! Your breakfast is ready!’.

I just sat there,  staring around my bedroom, checking I was where I should be!   Yes….. there were seven different types and colours of wallpaper on the wall, torn and ripped in places…  going back years and years before I came here.    The stinking green carpet was still there, with God knows what stains all over it (stains from long before I arrived here).   And about eight pairs of boxer shorts on the floor in the corner,  different colours, ages, and of varying stages of dirt infestation!    I can wear one pair of boxers for up to 4 days by wearing them twice one way, and twice  inside out! It saves on the washing, and stops them from getting worn out too quick  (the colours fade really quick when you wash them too much!).  We’ve got a washing machine, but it’s never worked since I moved back in with me ma from foster parents.  So I just wash them in the bathroom sink in cold water when they’re four times dirty!

Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is that this WAS my bedroom, but the woman shouting ‘Breakfast is ready’ downstairs  could NOT be MY ma!  Breakfast for me ma consisted of two ciggies and a double shot of instant coffee in boiling water!

I got up, pulled on my jeans and walked slowly onto the landing… surely that wasn’t hot toast and fried food I could smell coming from downstairs?!  I tiptoed down, and really carefully put my head around the door into the kitchen.

SHiiitt!  It was like something from Invasion of the body snatchers!  There was a woman, who looked very much like me ma, standing once again at the cooker, flipping a fried egg out of the pan onto a piece of hot toast!

When me ma saw me she brought the plate over with the toast and fried egg on it, and placed it on the table.   ‘Sit down Tommy!’.    I did as I was told.  Didn’t know what else I could say.  The knife and fork was already on the table.   I smothered the fried egg on toast with the tomato sauce she’d recently bought, and I tucked in, but didn’t take my eyes off me ma, who was pouring me some fresh orange from a carton.   She wouldn’t even put fresh orange in vodka ‘cause it was too expensive!

That breakfast was even better than the pie and chips I had on Friday!  I put down my knife and fork after I’d scraped the last of the egg yolk off my plate with my finger.   I know I should have been enjoying it for what it was, but I just couldn’t help feeling suspicious of her actions!

She watched me as I knocked back the orange juice, ‘Why haven’t you got  your school uniform on?’ she said.  That’s something she’d never said to me before either.    I polished off my orange juice and stared at her, trying to suss her out.

‘What have you done with me ma?!’  I was half joking, and half serious.    She smiled and ruffled my hair with the palm of her hand.   

‘Go and get your uniform on, you’re going to be late for school’.   I just couldn’t get over it!   She didn’t usually give a shit if I went to school or I went out on the rob!  As long as I wasn’t around her all day, reminding her of her responsibilities.  

I was up those stairs in seconds changing into my uniform; a pair of grey school kecks, a white shirt and blue jumper.   They were a bit creased where they’d been squashed into one of my drawers, but they didn’t look so bad when I stretched them over my body.  

With no Binny around for the last few days, me ma seemed to be making a real effort.  God, I wished and prayed that this was going to last!  Please God.. you don’t give me much.. so please give me this.

I was almost waved off to school! All right, she didn’t actually stand at the door and wave me off, but she shouted ‘bye’ from the kitchen.    It was only when I stepped foot outside the front door that I heard her shout something which brought everything crashing back down to earth…

‘Make sure you get back from school by four!’.

I stopped in my tracks and turned, knowing that this was going to be the motive for her body snatchers behaviour!  ‘Why?’ I shouted through to her.. feeling sick to the stomach as I waited for the answer.

She paused for a second… ‘The social worker’s coming at quarter past to check that everything is going okay’.

I knew it!  I F&CKING KNEW IT!  She was only being nice.. like a proper ma, because she wanted to fool the social worker!  She wanted me to say good things about how she cooks for me and makes sure I go to school and stuff.   I should have known better than to think she’d change!  No wonder I hadn’t seen any of Binny’s stuff around the house in the last few days… they were hiding it until the social worker has gone.

Well how stupid was I to believe it!

I walked out, slamming the door.    Didn’t go to school… just walked to the dock, took my school jumper off and wellied it as far as I could into theMersey….  F&cking school… F&cking Mothers…. Who needs them anyway!!!!!!!!!!!!