Well as the saying goes the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.
Hopefully, in order to understand me better and understand what made me into the person, I am today it’s probably best to go back to the beginning.
I can promise you as time goes on I will start adding photos to the blog and especially when I get to around 2004 then I have so many memories as I always had a camera in my hand.
If you take anything from this post then take this advice. Take pictures of everything. It is much easier now we all carry around phones everywhere.
When I was younger my saving grace was that I didn’t smoke. So many of my friends did and as a result, they always had a big bulky box in their pocket. Then they had their wallet in the other pocket which left no room for anything else. Even later on this got worse when everyone started to carry phones this meant even less space for personal items such as cameras.
We had not reached the metrosexual stage yet with guys carrying man bags and wearing skinny jeans so as a result many of my friends don’t have any pictures. There will be a few from holidays and special occasions but hardly any from nights out.
Having said that my pal big Ben was seeing this girl years ago. I knew her from being a young lad on the club scene going out for the first time and having a lot of mutual friends.
One day he was helping her have a clearout and he found an old photo album she had put together from back in the day.
He’s flipping through the pictures of all the old nights out and next thing he’s screaming laughing. There was a picture with me and another lad, I’ve got my arm around his shoulder as he’s my mates and I’m pointing down. When you look down I’ve got my knob out. To this day I’ve no recollection of this photo being taken and I figured I must be around eighteen. That’s how he found out me and his girl knew each other. Well, its a small……….. world hahaha.
They were together for years and unfortunately fell apart later on. Big ben will feature a lot in my later posts as he is one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. If your lucky enough to have a night out with him I can guarantee no two nights will ever be the same.
Having said that he’s settled down with a kid and happy with a boss bird so fair play to him he’s calmed down a lot. To be fair it was that or some heavy jail or even death. There were no limits with this guy back in the day.
Anyway sorry to go off topic but yeah I have a huge box full of pictures from the army and back in the day. A lot of them I put on the computer but until I get back to the UK I will just have to tell the stories as graphically as possible so you all know what’s up.
Anyway, this is where it all began on November 19th, 1979 My mum Carol power gave birth to the legend that is Arlo Bailey. I was born in Oxford street hospital in Liverpool city centre.
The hospital is long gone now and is most likely student accommodation as there is a huge shortage of this in Liverpool.
I first lived in Toxteth with my Dad John Bailey and my mum Carol power.
There is an area within Toxteth called the holy land. It is a collection of streets Issac, David, Moses street.
We lived in Issac street in a huge old house that was falling to pieces but at first, everything was very happy although I remember the house was always freezing.
Unfortunately, like many old buildings, it was impossible to heat and by all accounts, the landlord was a bit of a dickhead. He was about 90 and friends with my grandma Helen.
To be honest I think he had a thing for her but I guess now we will never know. The place was older than time and even had an outside toilet. This served its purpose and the drains always seemed to be blocked and I learned at a young age that a house that stinks of shit is never a good thing.
This was back in the ancient days when children used to play in the street and not have to worry about pedophiles and dirty bastards and there was a real sense of community. It was a poor area even back then but attitudes were very different.
The kids would all play in the street and the mums would watch out the window and sometimes sit on the step. Everyone was in and out of each other’s houses and even though there was not a lot happening in Liverpool at the time people seemed a lot happier. It is probably a lot to do with not staring at a smartphone all day and playing stupid games just trying to distract themselves from what they really need to do.
One bad memory I remember from Living in Toxteth at the time is the Toxteth riots. This happened in 1981 and I was only two years old.
A lot of the fighting and tension were right at the end of the holy land where we all lived. I can remember very clearly as a kid my mum and dad trying to pretend everything was ok but both being very nervous.
I can also remember the noise and it sounded exactly what hundreds of people fighting with police would sound like. I didn’t really understand what was going on but I knew it was nothing good.
I also remember the aftermath of the riots there was burnt out shops everywhere and the place looked like a bomb had gone off.
Years later I met one of my closest friends Andy Mawe. We met in Iraq and he before coming to Iraq was a police officer for 20 years. The riots got so bad they started to bring in other forces to help deal with the violence which had escalated way out of control.
As crazy as things got according to Andy he hardly had any issues when in Liverpool. The blacks who were rioting were furious with the treatment from the police in Merseyside. Every force in the UK has a slightly different police badge.
Andy told me he would be stood at a checkpoint with a group of his colleagues from Yorkshire and a gang of lads would come around the corner. They were ready for anything as the news coverage was terrifying to watch. As soon as the lads got close and saw they were not Merseyside police their whole demeanor changed.
Look we don’t want any of that with you lot. We’ve got no problem with you. then they would nod and walk past. Andy and his colleagues were made up as their shift would be paperwork free and relatively chilled. Ok on your way lads be safe and for the most part that’s the way it stayed.
Coincidently years later when I was working the doors I worked at a late night club called the magnet. This was right on the edge of Liverpool city center and many people from Toxteth would drink here.
There were loads of regulars who would always come in and one of them called Leroy used to always buy me a Redbull and come over and chat with me.
I honestly had no idea who he was until one day it came out that he was Leeroy Cooper. It was Leeroy’s unjust arrest which was the melting point to which the entire black community had rioted.
For the next few weeks, we talked so much about this and it was so nice to see that he was no bitter about what happened. He was a very intelligent and perceptive guy and speaking to him first hand I learned so much that would never ever make it to the newspapers. He has been an artist and a photographer for years and he still lives in the Toxteth area and is very well respected.
There was so much poverty in the area like mentioned earlier but so many people did their best to help out in the community.
One of my earliest memories was of a lovely lady called Maya. She set up her own nursery in the area. My mum used to pay twelve pence for me to go and there were loads of kids there. Maya could have been making hardly anything but she just wanted to give something back.
All of us kids used to call her Auntie Maya and she used to give us chocolate buttons. There were toys to play with and she read us stories and gave us milk. We would come home really happy. The parents were happy because back then when there were government-funded nurseries they wouldn’t be in an area like Toxteth so it would have been a case of just go without. Liverpool was pretty much left to rot under Thatcher’s government and this only got worse later on.
Another early memory I have is walking down the road and seeing a dirty syringe in the gutter. I pointed and said mummy what’s that? She dragged me away telling me it was dirty.
Unfortunately, when there is poverty there is a huge spike in drug-taking. Without opportunity or jobs and drugs not having the same services that are available to this day Toxteth was close to being on its knees and the riots where a long time coming.
When you grow up in an area like this you think that it is the same everywhere else. Its only when you move away you realise life can be very different even a few miles away.