Out Now!

Saturday, 13 October 2007


‘I announce the devil and all his works and pomps his Irish godmother said at his christening. I remember him making an Errol Flynn leap from the Power - station (read the Sheriff of Nottingham’s castle) on to an asbestos-roofed shed ten feet below, crashing through that another ten feet, and being caught and cuffed by the haulier whose yard it was.

Did my brother want to look like this?

Or perhaps this?

The picture above is my brother, now a pioneer in stress engineering and carbon fibre technology. Forty odd years ago he was in the front room (we called it the parlour) practising his scales on a black piano. Me and my mum and dad were in the backroom. It was just before lunch and both parents were content, enjoying the music and proud of their son. The next minute the door burst open and Tony rushed through carrying a cardboard box. A second later he’d hurtled through the kitchen and was in the backyard, when there was a knock on the front door. It was the police.

They caught Tony trying to flush twelve jars of brylcreem down the outside toilet. Panic is a wondrous thing.

So were the Liverpool police, at least Detective Ruddock. He knew it for what it was, a piece of schoolboy bravado, one step up from scrunching apples off a neighbour’s tree. But twelve jars of brylcreem? Luckily this was at a time when police, most anybody, had leeway to make commonsense judgements (more about that later) My brother was given a good talking to and told to report to the police-station every Saturday at 1 pm for a month. Nothing was written down, no record made and the incident was done.

Not for our mum and dad however. Apples…brylcreem…where would it end? Tony was in with a bad lot. Something would have to be done. It was a courageous decision I never ever appreciated until I had children of my own. Let me explain.

Tony had passed the 11+ and was at a Grammar School, the less than prestigious Everard Avenue - but Grammar school never the less - gateway to opportunity and who knows - University - those places of duffle-coats and long stripy scarves. To withdraw him from school and so save him from a life of crime…They pondered long and hard, and eventually the letter was sent. A few weeks later Tony started work as an apprentice at Howsons ship-yards….and so began an erratic career that led to the top. Life is strange and full of accidents, decisions leading on to consequences never expected. It was the 1960’s a time of opportunity and blue skies. (Grey in Liverpool)

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