We pulled into our new street in Woolton village and began to unload Johns van.
Mums friends Abdullah and his brother Ibraham had also come to lend a hand.
I probably should have introduced these earlier in the story but with so much that has happened so far, I will occasionally miss things and have to introduce them later on.
When we lived in Parkfield road my mum was friends with a woman called Christine Burke.
Christine was always really nice to me when I was a kid and had a daughter who was two years older than me called Maryam.
When mum was working I would likely be in Christine’s house and Maryam was glad of the company as she had no siblings to play with.
Anyway, Maryam’s dad was a guy called Majid, and Abdullah and Ibrham were his mates so we were all in the same circle together.
It should be noted Majid had gone back to Iran and I never met him and neither did Carol.
Abdullah was a really lovely guy who always took an interest in me. He used to buy me a nice present on my birthday and he was always smiling and grateful for everything.
He was in Liverpool and a student in Riversdale college which is now part of LJMU university.
He was an officer in the UAE navy and at the time many students were in Liverpool getting their nautical qualifications from an outside governing body.
I’m not entirely sure why Liverpool was the chosen place but it’s probably regarding the docks and the huge part they used to play in Liverpool for many years.
Many of the amazing buildings of Liverpool were made from the revenue that the docks brought into the city over hundreds of years.
Liverpool did business all over the world and unfortunately, a lot of that came from the slave trade.
Although Liverpool was late to enter this trade by 1740 they had surpassed both Bristol and London in revenue and business being done and became the slave-trading capital of Britain.
In the 1980s when the Thatcher government used European structural funds to close shipyards, and docks rather than funding investment that would have allowed Britain to compete in the global marketplace for shipbuilding orders against other countries.
Liverpool relied heavily on its docks and the conditions and pay were getting much worse which caused the dockers to strike.
It was after Margaret Thatcher had ended the strike when we started laying people off and outsourcing so many local jobs which sent the city into further decline.
Before this was set in motion there were many people exactly like Abdullah and Ibraham here to work because of the rich history of the city and the money due to the sprawling docks.
We remained close with Abdullah and his brother for years and I think the last time I saw him I was 13
Abdullah got married and had a daughter called Hannah who I met once when she was very little.
He disappeared back into the UAE and god only knows what happened to Ibraham.
I asked mum why she hadn’t looked him up and she told me she had tried but looking for someone called Abdullah on Facebook is on par when you tried to find your school friend Carl Johnson.
OK, mum point taken it’s a needle in a haystack. Wherever they both are now I hope they are well as they are good people.
Christine retired a few years ago and still lives in Liverpool. She is on my Facebook and is doing well.
She and Carol lost touch there was no falling out but it sometimes happens like that with friends.
My buddy described it perfectly to me he said it’s like waiters in a restaurant are always coming and going. Some will be with you forever some a few years and others are just passing through.
Maryam became a hairdresser and has a very successful shop on Aigburth road called Icon.
She has had it for years and is doing ok. We speak occasionally on Facebook she has two kids and is happy.
We don’t talk as much as id like but it’s understandable as life gets in the way sometimes. I have been away for years and she is busy being a mum and a businesswoman so it’s not the end of the world.
So we moved in in August and the landlord was not joking the kitchen was two cupboards and a sink.
There was 1970s style lino everywhere and it was freezing. Luckily for me, I was an expert at being cold from my time living in Toxteth so it didn’t take long for me to adapt and become an Eskimo again.
It was about a year before we got any stair carpet and if I remember rightly about 4 years before we got central heating.
We got by like many did with a tiny gas fire in the Living room which is still there to this day but very seldom gets used.
We also like many people of the 80s had a Calor gas heater.
Even as a kid I realised how dangerous these things were.
Health and safety regulations were non-existent in 1987 and it was always on the news about someone burning their house down with one of these death traps.
They are still in business to this day but now there are multiple safeguards in place which make it a lot harder to set yourself on fire.
Back then it was a very wait and see approach.
We like many other families had two choices of either freezing to death or take your chances with Calor gas. We took our chances and luckily came out fine.
Now, mum had got herself a job in a local pub which she had for a few months before deciding to quit but the pub was in Gateacre village which was close to where Nan lived.
We had been in Woolton a few months and things had started to calm down a lot.
I had gone into the final year of infants and I had made new friends quickly.
I had enrolled in Woolton Country Primary school and here I would stay until I went to secondary school.
The school, system has changed now so ill explain how it used to work.
You would start in infants when you were 5 and spend three years there.
You then went onto Juniors which was for 4 years and then you went onto secondary school or as the Americans call it high school.
You stay here until you are 16 and then you could leave or you could stay on and do A levels which would be the obvious choice if you were going to university. That path was not an option for me for many years which I will explain further in later blogs.
Carol had bumped into Helen in the village unexpectedly one day and they hadn’t spoken for over a year.
I need to make it clear that none of this hostility was coming from Carol it was Helen and Helen was only interested in herself.
A normal grandmother would think wow I have not seen my grandson for over a year but in Helen’s mind, it was all Carol’s fault and that was keeping her away from her darling grandson.
They arranged to meet the next day for a coffee and a chat and at the very least reach some common ground.
Helen loved this as she could still play the victim card and make out she was being the benevolent mother by granting carol an audience.
They chatted and had coffee and Helen was listening but no accepting any responsibility.
Carol asked her how she could turn her back on us when we needed her most.
Helen didn’t really have an answer as she knew no matter what answer she gave it would destroy the illusion of perfection she had created in her own mind of herself.
Carol realised she was asking the wrong questions and decided to simplify things a little
Look I understand you were angry with me mum but you couldn’t even put a tenner through the door?
Oh, I didn’t bother as I didn’t think it would be enough.
Even typing this all these years later I’m blown away by the attitude Helen had.
Many times in these early days it was a real struggle to have food on the table. There was literally no money and at times I don’t know how Carol held it together.
This was soul-destroying for Carol as it brought back many bad memories between her and her mother.
It should be noted before we move on whenever Carol has ever borrowed money from anyone it didn’t matter if they were family or not she has always paid it back without any issue which is what makes stuff like this hurt even more.
Only a few years ago when we were getting ready to leave Isaac street things were a lot worse in fact things were desperate.
Carol was leaving my dad John and doing it while he was still in prison and every penny counted.
We had electricity which was about to get cut off the next day and there was no food in the fridge.
She rang up Helen one day and told her the situation and right away Helen used this to her advantage.
She went into the whole I can’t believe you’re leaving your husband and what kind of person are you routine when deep down all of this hatred past to Carol was about herself and what happened which is spoken about in earlier blogs.
It should be noted as well when Tom Helen’s husband had died he made sure through his will and various insurance policies that Helen was very well taken care of financially.
She was mortgage-free in a lovely home full of new furniture and the only thing she really had to buy was food.
So Carol calls her and asks her for a short term loan of one hundred pounds. Helen answers
Ok, then I suppose I can struggle by this week and tighten my belt.
What do you mean struggle by Helen I don’t understand?
Oh, it’s ok dear ill go to the post office for you and get my little bit of money and ill give it to you. Don’t worry ill be fine.
If you cant do it just say so instead of all this
No, it’s OK I cant see my daughter go without I’ve spent my whole life sacrificing everything for you so why stop now.
She then hung up the phone and refused to answer when Carol tried to call back.
It was a lot easier to do this back then as it was all landline phones so you could easily go into the other room and ignore it or better yet unplug the phone.
Thirty minutes later carol got another call
Don’t hello me what the hell do you think your playing at?
OK, who is this?
This is auntie Dot (Helen’s sister) you have got some nerve young lady?
I don’t understand dot and besides whats, it got to do with you?
How dare you speak to me like that and how dare you harass your mum for money what the hell is wrong with you?
Are you serious right now I’m asking to loan some money or me and Arlo will have no food or electricity?
How is that Helen’s problem can’t you just sell something
Sell something? OK Dot what should I sell?
Well last time I came to see you
18 months ago Carol interrupted
The last time I came to see you there was a lovely next of tables in your living room you could sell them first.
Carol was blown away that her own family was treated so badly especially in her greatest hour of need.
Ok, Dot, you want me to sell a nest of tables and whatever else I can manage in the next 24 hours just so Helen does not have to dip into her savings for 2 weeks is that right yeah?
Don’t talk back to me young lady and lose your attitude this is your problem not your mother’s so work it out and don’t let me hear of you harassing my sister for money again.
Dot slammed the phone all pleased with herself and Carol and Helen had no contact with each other for almost two years.
Like always though Carol somehow managed to get the money together and we didn’t go without food or electricity.
So Carol was trying her utmost to mend fences with her mum and seemed to be failing miserably.
Carol invited her to my eighth birthday which was the next day and she reluctantly agreed which is understandable as she probably had a full day of feeling sorry for herself all planned out.
So the fence was mended for the moment and Carol could concentrate on getting my party-ready.
She asked me what type of cake I wanted and without thinking, I said Thomas the tank engine and she said OK no problem.
She managed to get me a Thomas the Tank engine cake made.
In the days of the internet that would be pretty simple but back in 1987 that took some doing and I was so happy with this.
Anyway, the day of my birthday comes and Carol goes to collect me from school to find out I’ve already gone.
In today’s modern age there are safeguards against this happening but back then they were nonexistent.
So as you can imagine Carol was panicking.
The school let her come in and use the phone and whoever was home and answered the phone had not seen me.
Remember this is the days before mobile phones so things like this could prove a serious problem.
Everyone was looking for me around Woolton Village and she was terrified that I had been Kidnapped again.
This fun game went on for about half an hour when she started to walk home to contact the police and try to trace my last steps.
Carol is in tears because with everything that has happened it would be hard for her not to assume the worst.
She walks up the road and I’m sat on the doorstep with Helen next to me
What the fuck are you doing?
What do you mean what’s wrong?
I’ve been out of my mind with worry why the fuck didn’t you tell me you were going to pick Arlo up from school?
Oh I didn’t want to bother you
You didn’t want to bother me are you fucking serious how can you not see the issue here are you stupid?
Stupid for trying to help you?
Stupid because you have never picked him up from school before and now do with without telling me. What am I supposed to think?
Then just like that Helen stormed off up the road in a flood of crocodile tears
Carol ran after her and tried to calm her down
I’m so sorry mum I just got a horrible fright
Oh, my goodness that’s no way to speak to your mother. I’ve never ever been spoken to like that.
Mum, you know everything that has happened in the past few years surely you can see why I reacted like this.
I don’t care I’m so upset I can do this anymore
Just like that, she disappeared up the road with both of us having no idea when we would see her again.
Give Carol her due she composed herself quickly and made me forget all about Helen very quickly and got me all excited for my party.
Helen would be spinning in her grave reading this as she was counting and making it all about her and me and mum having our day ruined.
I had invited about forty kids to my party and they turned up with cards and presents and there was a mountain of food and drink.
We had the best party ever and soon this turned into a water fight then a food fight and then we ate more candy and ran around like 8 years old do when loaded with sugar.
It was then I told everyone about my pet snake and nobody believed me.
So we marched upstairs so I could show them my king cobra.
I went upstairs with Danny Meers, Andy, Edgar, and Trevor Steel.
I told everyone they had to be quiet and we crept upstairs like a team of ninjas.
It was getting dark and there were no bulbs upstairs. So it was pretty dark but we could just about see what we were doing.
We got to the top floor and told the boys to be quiet as the snake sometimes gets out of his tank and I have forgotten to feed him that day.
All the lads are looking at me shitting themselves thinking what the fuck am I doing here and why did I agree to this?
We get into the upstairs living room which was a junk room at the time and my heart sank the old fish tank was empty.
Everyone keep still and don’t make a sound I whispered harshly.
All you could hear was the serious heavy breathing out of the lads on the suicide mission.
All of them trying to slowly back out of the junk room before it was too late
Then I noticed some movement out the corner of my eye.
THERE IS IT I shouted and dived on the coach and started wrestling.
STAY STILL STAY STILL DONT MOVE OH SHIT
Then a threw an old leather jacket at Danny Meers he caught it instinctively and screamed all of the lads ran downstairs screaming.
About halfway down they realised I have fucked them over and they were furious but a little relieved that I had not thrown a live snake at them.
With that mum appeared
What’s going on with you boys?
The poor lads looked like they had been raped
Nothing nothing at all
Ok well stay downstairs
Ok no problem we don’t want to go upstairs anymore
They all went downstairs without a second word and I spent the next ten minutes in hysterics.
They came around about half an hour later and laughed and Danny Meers still tells that story with fear in his eyes to this day.
Finally, it was time to go and all of the kids left it had been the best birthday party ever and Helen was not given a second thought.
It just goes to show how important it is to make the best of things whenever you can and not to let anyone else steal your sunshine.