We can now get back to my story. We came a little off-topic with the rest of the family but like mentioned in previous blogs once you start writing this you have no idea where it’s going to take you.
Me and my mum had left my dad when he had been locked up again.
I was very young so I didn’t fully grasp what was going on and to be fair to mum she played it down well so well, in fact, I just thought it was all normal.
I think what helped and didn’t raise any red flags was that I was so used to my dad John not being around. he was locked up a lot or he would be going out of the city to do some sort of job or to make some money and not by working for it either.
There would always be a guy down south who needed a load of weed or something stronger and he and one of his mates would go down there. Then he would disappear for a couple of days on a bender as he had just been paid.
This as well as the prolonged absence when locked up and the constant drug-taking then it was time for us to go.
We ended up in this nice flat on Parkfield Road which is in the Aigburth area of Liverpool.
The flat was really warm and I remember that so well because the house in Isaac street was always freezing.
The house in Isaac street reminded me of the movie The money pit.
This is a comedy from the 80s starring Tom Hanks who moves into an old house and everything that can go wrong does go wrong.
Now if the hit comedy had drugs, domestic violence, drugs, addiction, incarceration we probably could have got a few quid from Hollywood for the rights of the story.
We were on the third floor of this block of flats and had central heating. Being high up hot air rises so it was a welcome change to not walk around the flat with my coat on.
It was also a welcome change being able to take a dump indoors.
People take that for granted but the plumbing was so bad in Isaac street that more often than not the house stunk of shit.
I can’t stress enough my mum kept the place spotless but she isn’t a plumber so frequently even in winter we would shit in the outside toilet.
It’s amazing what you get used to and by today’s standards that sounds like something from the Victorian age.
So we are unpacking all our stuff in our new home and I was pretty pleased with my new bedroom.
It had a lot of natural light and it was a lot bigger than back in Toxteth.
It also felt strange to sleep under a single duvet instead of a mountain of bedclothes.
It would also take a bit of getting used to not being able to see my breath in the morning as well.
I’m a firm believer that starting my life in that house as well as being in some of the coldest most miserable places is probably why I hardly feel the cold to this day.
If its raining ill obviously wear a coat but back in Liverpool especially when I got older I spent a lot of time in my car. So a lot of the time I would just have a t-shirt on or on an exceptionally cold day I would be wearing a hoodie.
I would be getting proper strange looks off what looked like mummy Eskimo with her Eskimo kids. What the fuck is wrong with that guy? Then they would shuffle past with there multiple layers of clothing.
So I’m unpacking all my toys and my favorites were He-man and the transformers. and everything seems so normal.
Next thing my mum went sick and is paralyzed with fear. She hears this voice what she can only describe as that sounded like the devil.
The voice is growling saying you will die, your dead than more growling.
She is terrified thinking there is a demon in the house and literally frozen to the same spot in her bedroom.
This demonic voice continues for another three minutes ha hahaha. You’re a dead man. I will get you haha hahaha. Then she hears something totally out of place He-man your no match for me and then she gets the courage to look in my room.
I’m sat playing with snake mountain totally oblivious to mums fear and having the time of my life and then she breaks down laughing which I think was more out of relief.
Ok for those who don’t know the He-man story he is the good guy and he lives in a place called Castle Grayskull. His enemy Skeletor lives in a place called snake mountain.
Just before we moved she bought me the Snake Mountain toy and unknown to both her and me it came with a microphone which slightly distorts your voice and now it all made sense.
It was me playing He-man and not the devil so she kicked off.
What the hell are you doing?
I honestly had no idea and when she explained it to me I thought it was the funniest thing in the world.
I really shouldn’t have laughed as hard as I did but you could see the sheer genuine terror in her face when she was explaining to me.
I’m laughing more now retelling the story because I can’t imagine of scared I would be. You’re going to die, I will kill you slowly, haha hahaha. I will kill you when you are sleeping all sounding like Linda Blair from the exorcist.
So slowly but surely we started to settle in at first Mum had to cook everything on two stoves but she always managed to make really nice meals. We then after a couple of weeks had a cooker delivered so normality was returning to our lives.
I had settled right in and now I had a routine. One thing kids need from an early age is a routine and order.
If their timings for everything are all over the place you find that they have a hard time in later life being organized.
We can always reprogram ourselves with the right tools and thinking but like mentioned in previous blogs not everyone knows how to use these tools. Luckily I managed to teach myself but many are not so fortunate.
Money was tight as we had just moved and my mum had some terrible jobs just to pay the bills.
The worst job she had was delivering dry cleaning for a pound an hour Granted this was the 80s but that still didn’t go far.
She was not scared of work though and she was determined to give me and her a new beginning away from the toxic wasteland that we had just escaped.
Then one day we had a huge win. I was sat watching TV and there was a big ring on the doorbell.
We were not expecting anyone so my mum opened the door to see a delivery man stood there.
Hiya Love so where do you want it?
Want what my mum asked?
Your new cooker it’s here. I ran over to the front door and mum put her hand over my mouth.
I was about to be really helpful and tell the nice man that we had a cooker delivered 3 days ago.
Luckily my mum knew and shut me right up. She managed to convince him to put the cooker in the garage as a family friend would take care of it later that night.
The delivery men were so happy as they didn’t have to carry a cooker up three flights of stairs so they dropped off the cooker and left.
This really was a gift from God as mum was broke and she ended up getting two hundred quid for it. Two hundred quid went a lot further back then and it could not have come at a better time.
We lived very close to Lark Lane which at the time was a really nice place. Don’t get me wrong it’s still nice and the prices for rent of both businesses and accommodation are very high.
Unfortunately, now it is full of bars and as a result full of cocaine.
In most major cities especially Liverpool with its access to the docks bars and cocaine go together like peas and carrots.
Cocaine was always in the city center but as the problem got worse it slowly crept into the residential areas leaving scores of casualties in its path.
There were so many independent little shops on the lane and had a lovely atmosphere as well. It was very multicultural which was not so common back then and it seemed to be a more relaxed group of people than in Toxteth.
People seemed to take pride in the area as well and used to do crazy stuff like put litter in the bin. They also used to plant flowers and have hanging baskets.
When you have come from a place with so much poverty and many people really struggling to survive it absolutely blew my mind to see how different things were less than a mile away.
As much as any kid hates to move away I think this helped me a lot in later life.
Even if you don’t factor in all the horrible stuff if I had stayed in Toxteth I would have grown up to think all this was normal.
Toxteth now is a very vibrant community. A lot of money was put into its regeneration when Liverpool won the capital of culture.
A lot of people bought houses here as a result of this and because this was a poor area in the past its helped so many working-class people get on the property ladder.
It’s amazing how quickly an area can change when fresh blood comes in. Also when people have jobs and enough money to enjoy themselves they soon quickly get out of the criminal mindset.
Like many areas, Toxteth still has its rough element but luckily there are far more opportunities and people will still go down a bad path but at least now there are more choices.
I met some really great people in the Aigburth area and at the weekend we would usually go to Keith’s wine bar for food.
Keiths is still going strong to this day and I’m convinced he still has the same furniture in there from when I was a kid.
Keith is a really nice guy and he should be a millionaire ten times over but he could not stay out of the bookies. I saw him a few years ago and had a drink with him and he’s still exactly the same. He’s really cool and we all have our vices so I don’t judge.
I met a friend of my mums called Derrick. He had a fireplace shop and when I saw him for the first time I felt compelled to tell him my story.
Derrick, you’re black
Yes that’s right Arlo
Then I told him about the black kid in my old school and I said to him don’t worry I know there is more than one black person in the world as I saw it in the library.
Derrick thought this was hilarious and we always used to call into the shop to say hello.
I’m not sure what he’s doing these days but I’ve heard he’s still about and he’s doing ok.
Then there was Gordon who used to be married to my mum’s best mate Jill. He had an antique shop and was always wheeling and dealing.
He was always lovely to me as a kid and he still has the same shop 35 years later.
Before I left for Vietnam if I was around that area I would call in and say hello to him. He is a really nice guy who genuinely would do anything for you.
One day Carol my mum was in the bath and she came out and saw me playing with this Star Wars walker toy.
Where did you get that asked Carol?
Gordon gave it to me mum.
But Arlo Gordon hasn’t been here?
I explained while she was in the bath he knocked on the door and when I answered he told me I know you like star wars so I found this in an antique fair and handed me this huge walker.
I was so happy with this cool new toy and asked him if he wanted to come in.
Typical Gordon said I have to get back to the shop and just left like that. It was a really nice touch and I played with that walker for years and years.
This is when I also met my mum’s friends Terry Canning and Nicky Jones. They were together for years and they always drank and socialized on the lane.
Terry and Nicky both always had really good well-paid jobs and they lived very well for years.
They both loved to drink but then it was a case of well I work hard so I play hard.
Both of them were always nice to me as a kid and I never forgot that.
Every year they would have grand national parties and there would always be plenty of food and a barbeque laid on.
These parties were always amazing and there was always a load of kids there so it was never boring.
Terry and Nicky finally split up due to Nicky’s drinking and Terry being unhappy with a lot of things.
Nicky is a lovely person but she couldn’t just have one drink and she was constantly getting herself into serious trouble and booze was always the common denominator.
I still see Terry from time to time and he retired from his advertising executive job a few years ago.
He’s doing well and by chance my mum Carol ran into him recently.
I was made up to find out that he had been reading my blog through a third party.
It’s happening more and more now I’m writing a lot of people just drop it on me oh yeah I love your writing.
Obviously, everyone loves to hear this but it’s coming from very unexpected places.
As long as people keep reading it then I’m happy to keep writing.
Nicky unfortunately was not as lucky as Terry.
For years she has not looked after her health and is currently living in an assisted living facility.
I saw her when I worked behind the bar in the Parkfield pub on lark lane and she was telling me that she won’t make it until 70 while downing shots of vodka.
It’s such a shame because Nicky was always so strikingly attractive and used to have men falling at her feet.
To see her keep hitting rock bottom and to lose her looks and her money and see her hanging out with winos and losers just hits home how powerful addiction really is.
People should not be so quick to judge as it can really happen to any of us. I’m so lucky that when I went to rehab I was at a point where I was willing to try anything.
The problem with recovery is that people overcomplicate it and let their ego get in the way.
If they can listen and do the work they will be successful.
I don’t want to talk in detail about this now as I will explain it properly in later blogs and it will fit in better with my own story.
I had also changed schools since moving to Parkfield road I now started to attend St Michaels school.
I really enjoyed it here and my dyslexia had not begun to hold me back so I used to love going to school.
St Michaels had some really weird food policy though. I remember opening my packed lunch and this teacher/sniper was right on my oh no you’re not allowed drinks.
Ok why not I asked and she couldn’t give me a straight answer so no more drinks.
A couple of days later the same sniper came over oh no your not allowed yogurt.
Oh come on this is just silly I said. The sniper was furious and I was sent to the headmaster for my drink and yogurt infractions as well as questioning the Fuhrer.
From that day on I was banned from packed lunch as I couldn’t be trusted to eat the right foods. The school felt like a safer place almost instantly.
When my mum was called and informed I don’t think it had the desired shock effect as she couldn’t see the issue either.
I lost contact with most people from this school but I spoke to Joel Devine for a while.
We haven’t spoken in years but I know he works on the oil rigs and is doing well.
A girl i’ve kept in constant contact with due to mutual friends is called Angie Spear.
I used to see and speak to her regularly before I moved away.
Angie has had a very interesting life she was cabin crew for years and also lived in Dubai.
She had a kid a couple of years ago and is currently just finishing college so she can go to university and do a degree.
It’s great to see her doing so well and I’ve always had a lot of time for Angie.
One night by chance again in the Parkfield pub Angie came in with her mum and then her mum’s fella came in.
It turns out Her mum’s fella is my mate David French’s dad also called David French.
Now, what makes this even more of a small world was a few years before this meeting I was training in Next Generation MMA where I met David junior and we started to hang out.
One day he introduced me to his dad who I knew from when I worked on the door on The Magnet way before I had met David junior.
Things were going a little too great so things can’t stay the same forever. My mum had been in regular contact with John Bailey since he had been locked up.
This was primarily because she wanted me to have a relationship with him. Also, it would have backfired on her years later if she hadn’t given me the choice of seeing him.
He was getting out of prison soon and things were about to become really interesting.