Now you all have an idea of the history of the area and the state of Liverpool at the time I can now begin to tell my story. When I say my story I mean the beginning and each day things seem to get a little stranger.
I honestly think I have a form of a second sight and I will explain. Since quitting drugs many years ago you start to see what the world is really like. Even the most functional addict will not be firing on all cylinders when under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
In regards to the second sight, Even years of being drug-free I can spot someone who is doing drugs a mile away. I also seem to be able to pick up on things a lot quicker than everyone like a change in atmosphere and mood.
Another change i’ve noticed is when something or someone is really negative it literally drains all of the energy out of me. I was aware of this before but it didn’t affect me like this not even close.
I think everyone is capable of this, but with everyone each weekend on a mission to escape their reality and not knowing how to make that change then drugs and alcohol provide this escape.
When you are in this loop everything is always so blurry and just to function like a normal human can be challenging on the best of days.
Then you add smartphones into the mix and you have your own ready-made zombie. When you get clean of everything and when I went to rehab I didn’t drink for almost three years you start to see things a lot differently and I’m way more perceptive overall.
My only weakness is when I do decide to drink I now get hangovers from hell. It honestly feels like I’ve been filled in big time.I’m not even talking being drunk but you can see how many people are so reliant on these things.
My trick was to replace it with another obsession which was the gym.
Alcohol to me is a bit of a minefield. I still love to drink once in a while but when I drink I don’t mess about. It’s more than likely if I get myself into drama there will be alcohol involved.
I know with my past drug use that I should not be drinking at all but as I tell many people Rome wasn’t built in a day.
A girl I know once said to me you don’t need alcohol to have a good time. I replied with well you don’t need running shoes to run but it fucking help. She laughed and realized it was pointless to play this game with me.
I remember in the summer before I started school my mum and dad had both got jobs in the Liverpool International garden festival.This was one of the initiatives the government gave Liverpool after the riots in a bid to bring in more tourism and give the local population some much-needed employment.
This was a big deal for Liverpool at the time and the queen even came to Liverpool to open the site and there was a huge celebration which was all over the television and radio.
The government had spent an absolute fortune on this project. There was everything from authentic Japanese gardens to a huge play dome for the children.
Unfortunately as quickly as the festival made money it was also hemorrhaging money. After a few years, it fell into a state of disrepair and it was closed down as it was no longer financially viable.
It later went on to become Pleasure Island which I used to climb over the fence and hang out as a teenager and now its a wasteland in the middle of a beautiful area which is a shame.
The council bought the land a few years ago with the view to built a lot of homes but it is was more expensive than they thought and a much bigger job than anyone anticipated.
Now in true council style, everyone will sit around holding their dicks until they can figure something out in the next few years all being well. Having said that I’m not holding my breath.
The benefit of having my mum and dad work at the festival is that I got to go to work with them every day in the summer holidays. To go here as a kid every day with your parents as a customer would have cost an absolute fortune.
The government quite rightly wanted a return on its money but didn’t really plan what to do next which was one of the contributing factors to its downfall.
My dad had a job on security and my mum was a stewardess. We would get to work and I would be taken to the huge dome which was full of climbing frames, kids toys, indoor plastic tube mazes, and most importantly a really shit version of legoland.
To be fair it wasn’t shit for a 4-year-old but when you see legoland videos online it’s the equivalent of comparing Blackpool to Las Vegas. Some genius in the Blackpool council had that idea a few years ago about making Blackpool exactly like Vegas.
Yeah, it didn’t turn out too well that one. It was likely the same joker who had the idea of bringing trams to Liverpool and decide to abandon the project after all of the roads had been dug up.
So I would be left to my own devices with a mountain of lego and enough toys to sink a battleship. There were always other kids there who I could play with and both my mum and dad at regular intervals could come back and check on me.
Obviously, it’s a parent’s instinct to check on their kids but at the same time, it was not needed. CCTV hadn’t been invented yet and everyone seemed to know everyone in the dome.
Another contributing factor to the kids’ safety was the fact there was no internet either.
When I was young there was always a house where some weirdo would live and all the kids knew to stay away from that house. He may have a mate who came over once in a while just like him. They both knew they were weird and kept to themselves.
Unfortunately in modern times, these people all talk to each other online and this in their minds makes their behavior a lot more rational. I’m a firm believer this is the reason people have to watch their kids like hawks in modern times.
Even with all the cameras, you hear of new sick bastards every day. It’s worrying that it’s got to this level.
My father’s job was to patrol the grounds and to check backstage for people trying to steal equipment and anything which could be hazardous for the performers.
Security was not regulated whatsoever back then so he was easily able to get a job even with an extensive criminal record.
He and a group of his mates were all on the job together and instead of taking advantage of this, they abused it. They were always sneaking off to get fucked up whether it be a few spliffs or even at times much harder drugs.
He told me later on that they would all do coke together in the portacabins. This could well be true but cocaine hadn’t exploded in the UK yet so it was harder to get. Also, I know that his drug of choice was Heroin.
He and his friends were able to do this as it was such a huge site and there were so many places you could easily go missing. This is also before the use of mobile phones and not everyone had access to a radio.
The ones who did had radios most of the time could not reach people due to the size of the site due to the poor technology of the day.
Everyone would cover for each other and after a while, it just became a party. When people get away with things for so long they stop hiding it and that’s how they get caught.
As well this was a brand new site so there were no fixed systems in place so, in turn, it was like they had been dealt with all best the cards.
A funny story before it all came to an end is one day my dad was doing his normal patrols and he is backstage doing his checks. The entertainer Bobby Davro was on stage doing a stand-up comedy set.
There were about 200 hundred people in the audience and he started doing his specialty which was impressions.
He started doing his Basil Fawlty impression when the Germans come to the hotel. Just to give some background to the story my father is the absolute ringer of John Cleese, the actor who plays Basil Fawlty in the show Fawlty Towers.
Bobby Davro is right in the middle of the set everyone’s laughing and he does a double-take and sees my dad who is also named John. He drags him onto the stage and the whole audience is screaming laughing.
Bobby carries on his set as normal. John Bailey told me about this years later and in his words, there was nothing I could do. I just went bright red and stood there with my head down. In a situation like that, you have to be a good sport.
It was easily a mile to get back from dome to the car park to go home because the site was so huge everything was spread out. So on the way out I would always on play in the big yellow submarine.
It was a tribute to The Beatles and for a kid it was amazing. There was also this huge slide in the shape of a dragon that took the edge off the mile to the car. When your 5 a mile feels like ten miles.
I went back to the festival years later when it had become Pleasure Island and the slide was tiny it was so disappointing.
The slide is still in one piece to this day. God only knows what they made it out of because the rest of the site has been decimated and is full of rot.
Another interesting day at the festival is the day I decided I was hungry and couldn’t find either my mum or dad. Normally you would ask someone with a radio and within five minutes they would talk to you or tell you there were coming back so just wait a little while.
This was the one day where nobody had a radio. Also, it must have been fuckwitt day as nobody had any idea who my parents were but then to be fair there were hundreds who worked on the site.
I walked all around the dome and outside and couldn’t find anyone. Then asked a few more people and they also didn’t have radios.
I got back to the dome and shit myself as none of the kids were there. It was like something out of a movie. My mum and dad had come back and were panicking as they couldn’t find me and yes it was fuckwitt day which didnt help.
They were checking under every rock and stone shitting themselves thinking I had been kidnapped. Obviously, there were no phones so basic communication was almost impossible.
They were just about to give up and call the police when my dad had the idea to check the car park and they found me next to the car. I was given a massive bollocking by both my mum and dad.
My mum stopped to ask me hang on how did you find your way to the car? It’s not exactly a straight run and its also a huge car park.
Did anyone help you? No, I just figured it out because I was hungry. What do you mean you were hungry? Why didn’t you just sit and wait for us to come back? Mum, why would I sit there hungry when I can just go and find my own food?
This is the same attitude I have to this day if you want something you go out and get it. If it’s not that simple make a plan and get after it.
There is always another job and you can always negotiate yourself a better deal. Most importantly if your good at something don’t ever do it for free.
My mum calmed down and explained the dangers of me going off by myself and how not everyone is nice and friendly. I apologized and definitely learned my lesson.
Just at the end of the summer, the inevitable happened and my father was fired. Due to it being a sensitive drug issue with multiple staff members involved it was a case of just go and we will sweep it under the carpet.
Unfortunately, because it was so serious my mum ended up getting fired as well even though it had nothing to do with her.
The tabloids especially The Sun would have had an absolute field day if this had got out. Bear in mind most of the country was very anti-Liverpool.
This would be all over the papers especially with the Queen visiting Liverpool especially and the site being so high profile at the time.
It definitely didn’t help that Liverpool football club was winning all of the time. It raised the spirits of the locals and fans but many other fans from other parts of the country would hate us with a passion.
A lot of this was absolutely nothing to do with football but the bad press that the city had got for years and years.
I’ve included a thread from Reddit in the link which will explain this in more detail at the bottom. So the Liverpool International Garden Festival had to be seen as this beacon of hope and positivity and not to be dragged through the mud.
It was close to school starting at luckily my primary school was just across the road from where we lived in Isaac Street. My dad saw an opportunity and opened a shop on the corner of Isaac street next to our house.
This is where he got the name John the butcher. That didn’t stop the rumor mill going into overdrive but he had a butcher shop for a while that was it absolutely nothing sinister about the origin of his name.
I was sad because I had to stop going to see Maya at nursery but was really interested and curious about this new thing I had heard about called school.