When I first started writing this blog around two months ago I had no idea where it was going to take me. I didn’t think I was still be writing about my childhood at this stage of the game.
It’s true what they say when you start to open old doors the memories start to come flooding back. Now that can be a double-edged weapon but I believe that anything that I may have buried needs to come out now.
Not only that when you only tell half the story then the audience without realizing it can then form an opinion which unknown to them will be biased.
So before I continue my story I feel it important to talk about the rest of the family on my dad’s side as later on many of them play very little part in my journey.
I promise you this isn’t me being shitty or having a dig at anyone its mealy the facts. If I do not include them now it will be really hard to introduce them down the road.
My dad’s side of the family all lived in Skelmersdale. I speak about this in earlier blogs.
They were originally from Scotland Road in the heart of Liverpool but moved to new subsidized housing on the outskirts of Liverpool with at the time plenty of job opportunities.
I have very little memories of Jack and Betty who were my dad’s parents. I remember they both battered their bodies until their dying days with alcohol and cigarettes.
To be fair to them everyone smoked like this from their generation which was the lesser evil most people were carrying from the horrors of World War 2.
Betty died of cancer when I was about 3. I remember all of us going into her bedroom to see her.
Obviously, I didn’t totally understand what was going on but suddenly she wasn’t there anymore which was sad.
For their faults, Jack and Betty were always lovely to me and the other grandkids. There would always be plenty of food and her and Jack would come and play in the garden with us with the dogs and my toys.
Jack suffered the same fate with cancer years later although when he died I had not seen him for years due to the family split and the power struggle between my parents.
The week before he died I went to see him in the hospice with my dad and he was functional but heavily dosed up on some powerful pain killers.
As sad as I was to see him go I hadn’t seen him for years but it was good that I got to say goodbye.
The main reason we all didn’t keep in touch was technology. Back in 1983, there was no Facebook and the internet didn’t even exist yet.
I suppose if I was looking for an axe to grind I could blame this on my father. However, this serves absolutely no purpose as the past is in the past.
The only thing you can change is what your going to do tomorrow and every passing moment is a chance to turn it all around.
I remember when I was around 26 and John Bailey was trying to sell me the Skelmersdale dream.
Come on son lets go down and see all your cousins they will be so happy to see you.
Maybe they would but I’m not really interested, John. What do you mean your not interested son, you can’t say that about your family?
Ok ill rephrase it then sorry, it’s not that I’m not interested I haven’t seen or heard from any of them in over twenty years.
I know so think of what a reunion it will be it will be amazing.
Maybe it will dad but your not hearing me. I have absolutely no relationship with them.
Now don’t get me wrong I have no bad feelings towards them at all but I’m in no hurry to drive all the way to Skem for a huge reunion.
He would then keep pushing and pushing to which I replied well whose fault is it that we have no relationship?
He would then react in one of two ways he would either shut up or play its all your mother’s fault card.
Now another 16 years on me my cousins or uncles still haven’t seen each other.
Luckily with the invention of Facebook, we do keep in touch and it’s nice to see family pictures but that’s pretty much as far as it goes.
It would be great if we did meet up at some point but that really remains to be seen.
In regards to my uncles, George was the oldest out of my dad’s brothers.
The last time I saw him I was about 12 and he lived in Scotland. I know he and John Bailey had not spoken for years but I have no idea why.
I know my dad called him a snake in the grass but there are always two sides to a story.
When I was in Kosovo in 1999 I got a letter off George wishing me well and telling me if I needed anything to let him know. To this day I’ve no idea how he got the address as he did not contact the rest of the family.
I’m assuming he saw me being interviewed on the news or he saw me in Liverpool Echo but they would not have access to my address so its one of life’s mysteries.
I wrote him back but he never replied. If he’s still alive he must be 80 by now. I hope he’s well as he never did me any harm and bad blood will only fester.
Next, there was Eddie who was hilarious but crazy. He was the absolute life and soul of the party.
Everyone who knows him says the same thing that he could have easily become a millionaire about ten times over. His mind was always racing in so many different directions.
If you imagine the most random story in your mind you could probably get a feel for Eddie. If he was born 50 years later he would easily have his own reality show.
He was an entertainer and played in many bands going up and down the country. There would always be a hilarious story which unless you knew him you would never believe it.
It would be something along the lines of Eddie riding through Skem on a horse and meeting Lenny Kravitz outside the shopping center then turning up at Betty’s house for a cup of tea.
Ok, that didn’t happen but I will get some hilarious Eddie stories for future blogs. I think if I went down the Eddie Bailey blog route I can have at least 2 months of material.
Unfortunately for Eddie this was all very short-lived and fate had other ideas. His son Jason died and it destroyed him. He always still had a smile on his face but he was never the same.
He was always signing himself into secure units in the hospital as a lot of the time he couldn’t cope. He couldn’t make sense of his son’s death no matter what he did so he spent many years heavily medicated in and out of the asylum.
The last time I saw him he was in the hospital and I was about 9.
Everyone in the unit was heavily medicated and it was like watching the walking dead.
Poor Eddie died in 2013 he is missed by many and even though I hadn’t seen him for years I know I will always miss him.
I’m in touch with Maxine one of his daughters on Facebook. She is currently living and working in Torquay. She’s doing well and has a good life there. It’s nice to chat with her once in a while even if it’s only online.
Chris went down a similar path as my dad although not with addiction. He had his fingers in a few pies and he was always looking for ways to make a few quid.
I remember Chris playing with me as a little kid and he was always nice to me.
Like John Bailey, He ended up getting locked up a few times over the years but he always bounced back and was always planning something new.
He also was into his music and played in a few bands over the years and loved being an entertainer.
Unfortunately, he and John had not spoken for years and as much as I hate to say it John Bailey loved to bear a grudge. Just like with his brother George I have no idea why they had fallen out but I knew they were both as stubborn as each other.
Its also difficult to say what went down as a lot of people refused to work with John after it revealed that Mo was a police informer. Not only that his drug-taking was out of control.
The last time I saw Chris was at John Bailey’s funeral. He was sobbing and devastated that they had not made things right with each other. Seeing him broken over his brother’s death taught me a huge lesson.
I try my best to not have bad blood with anyone. I understand I can’t be friends with everyone but to have that hatred and resentment inside you just poisons everything around you.
It may only be a little at first but this will grow and fester. This then will creep into other areas of your life and sooner or later it will consume you.
I didn’t get to this level of understanding overnight.
Unfortunately, it really consumed me and resentment played a huge part in my addiction.
I am not alone in this as most addicts are in such a toxic wasteland as they are tortured by ghosts of the past.
Some of those ghosts will take years of therapy or self-reflection but they can be dealt with. It’s just a case of how long do you want to hate yourself?
Chris currently lives in Torquay and works as a Chef. He and Maxine see each other a few times a week and I speak to him regularly on Facebook.
My cousin James I was really close to when we were kids. We used to play together a lot and he really looked out for me. He was a few years older than me and I remember being in a pub in Skem in the day time.
This older kid was trying to be a bully to me and James wasn’t having any of that. I remember James dived on him and properly filled him in and the kid was in tears.
This taught me an important lesson at a young age to not back down to anyone and to always stand up to bullies.
I was really scared of this lad and a few minutes later the kid was wailing. To be fair to the kid he had just had the beating of his life.
Seeing him wailing made me realize the bully was human as well and even though James had done all the heavy lifting it stuck with me that nobody is invincible.
James went on to box when he was older but unfortunately never pursued it. This is a shame as he really could have a scrap.
I’ve encountered many people who know him over the years and they all said the same thing that he wasn’t shy when it came down to it.
I haven’t seen James since we were kids which is almost 35 years but he’s on my Facebook and he’s doing ok by the looks of it. He lived in Torquay for a short time but now he’s back living in Skelmersdale.
Unfortunately, his son also called James was locked up in 2019 for nine years. Granted he had done wrong but he got a much more severe sentence as it was a county lines drug case.
There has been a lot of pressure by the public for thee penalties as there have been numerous cases of children being exploited or vulnerable people being bullied into letting their homes get used by drug gangs.
Either way, he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and he’s really paying for it now. I would not wish this on my worst enemy but as the saying goes if you play stupid games you win stupid prizes.
With so many Scousers getting caught taking drugs up to places like Scotland they brought in this new law. This makes the penalties much more severe if you are caught.
Unfortunately with the profits involved this does not act as much of a deterrent for dealers and it has done little to stem the flow of drugs. I’ve put a link to the newspaper article below.
As Liverpool has access to docks this makes it a lot easier for smugglers to bring in their drugs. This is mentioned in earlier blogs on how the drug market exploded in Liverpool in the 80s.
The problem is making something illegal doesn’t make it go away and I think the war on drugs is the most ill-fitting title ever because wars end.
As a result of this and widespread poverty in the history of Liverpool, this is why there are so many drug gangs operating all over the united kingdom whose origin is Merseyside.
The youngest of my uncles is Keith. He was always really nice to me as a kid. He’s very quiet and has played in a band called the worriers for years.
He’s still in Skem and once in a while, I get a text off him asking if I’m ok.
I always reply and ask how he is then I don’t hear from him again for a while.
He came to Liverpool not long after my dad’s funeral and we had dinner together. He still loves his music like when he was a young man and I think he’s doing ok.
You would never know with Keith he was always very quiet and not exactly outspoken. If he’s reading this which is very unlikely I really hope he’s doing as well as can be.
Writing this has put a lot of things in perspective time is so precious. If I was in the UK now I would make time to see everyone. We always find an excuse to do this but when time runs out then it’s too late.
I’ve seen this so many times in my family and through working in hostile environments over the years.
Im so thankful for social media though. I know it isn’t perfect but its a lot better than them being complete strangers to me. If all this had happened twenty years later then I’m sure we would have all kept in touch.
Im from the era where you could leave your wife and move twenty miles up the road and start a whole new life. More than likely nobody would find you.
Now I can face to face with my mother from Vietnam and send picture messages instantly to my pal in Australia it’s crazy.
I will write the family history for my mum’s side of the family and my dad’s new family after my mum in later blogs but for tonight that’s is all I’ve got.
Thanks for sticking with me on this journey so far.