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"Thick as two short planks" (A Jessie Paisley story)

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43 years ago (1962 for those who failed their maths exams) this writer was running around Garston (South Liverpool) with no arse in his trousers and was as "thick as two short planks." The current rate for pocket money was a tanner 6d (2.5 p).

Living in Garston in these years was great. We lived in Calthorpe Street and I went to Victoria School by the park. We had to go to the public baths for a bath and showers didn't exist. As this was a pretty expensive way of keeping clean, most of us used to get in the portable tin bath at home, which yer Mam made up on the living room floor in front of the fire.

School kecks (grey short trousers) were the fashion cos most of us only had one pair, which was kept up with the latest "Snake Buckle Elasticated Belt." This was yellow and green from memory which matched the yellow and green striped shirt bought new that year (no second hand clobber in our house).

Me arl felleh had just started a new job and he wore a suit! This was very impressive in those days and as he left for work in the morning I used to stand in the street and point out to the kids that "that was my Dad." My Dad had told me that from this August me pocket money was going up to "Two Bob" 2/- (10p). I was going to be the richest kid on the block.

All this generosity had come about because guess what? Liverpool Football Club were going to play in the 1st Division for the first time in my life and hence my Dad's great mood. Me hero Liddell had retired and I always felt sad that he didn't play for us after all those years in the 2nd Division, but we had a "new look" Liverpool side that included:

The pocket dynamo Ian St. John
The prolific Roger Hunt
The enormous Ron "Rowdy" Yeats

I was looking forward to seeing Rowdy play for Liverpool, cos I'd seen him loads of times on "Rawhide"! August passed by but still I was left at home every Saturday while me Dad and Uncle Gerry used to drive off in a Ford Popular (Dad's new car for his new job).

It's all very well having extra pocket money, but what can you do with it apart from buying Jublees, Lucky Bags and Gob Stoppers. I had saved 5 shilling now and it was burning a massive hole in me pocket.

September had arrived, it was my birthday this month, surely something special was going to happen soon. I had worked hard all week in school, "thick as two short planks" I might have been, but I had been good this week.

Me school headmistress at Victoria School was a certain Mrs Jessie Paisley and although I didn't like her much, I knew she was married to someone from Liverpool FC. I set out to impress her by offering to hand out books and hand out the milk to the kids at break (a new idea, but it'd never last, the milk snatcher wasn't far away). I crept and I crawled for a week and on Friday, I asked her to write me Mam and Dad a note to tell them how good I'd been.

She just gave me that look that all headmistresses were good at and sent me home with nowt but a glare. I was gutted, all that creepin for nowt. She was not a favourite of mine in 1962. I got home Friday and offered to help me Mam in the kitchen, another area where I was as "thick as two short planks."

Me Mam always knew when I wanted something and she always had a smile for me when things where gloomy. I gave her the whole down eyes look, which I had perfected over the last 5 years, and with a little tear in my eye told her about the "witch" in our school - sorry Jessie, but to a young kid with money to burn, you did me no favours.

Me Mam promised to speak to me Dad - they used to do loads of talkin like that when I wasn't around. Then came the day ...

Saturday, 12/09/1962
I got up early and made me Mam and Dad, probably the worst cup of tea they had ever had, but it was my best effort! The morning dragged and nothing happened. I kept looking at me Mam, but no eye contact was happening, I had failed. I kept looking at me Dad, but nowt was happenin there either, I was gutted.

What could a young lad as "thick as two short planks" do to win favour ?

Me dad started getting his things together as he did every Saturday matchday. Uncle Gerry had arrived and as always he slipped me a shilling while no one was looking. My Uncle Gerry was a very special man, perhaps he could help.

"When I grow older Uncle Gerry, I'm gonna go all the Liverpool Games."

He smiled, I further offered:

"Do you think I'm old enough to go to games with you and Dad?"

"When you're 10" he said, "yer Dad might take yer."

TEN ! TEN !! thats another lifetime to a 5 year old !! I was gutted again. I was near tears and me Mam had disappeared into the kitchen, obviously to avoid her only son with floods of tears running down his face.

Me Dad and Uncle Gerry left and closed the door, just as it was about to shut, me Dad's head popped around the door.......

"Are yer coming or wot?"

I looked at the kitchen door and there was me Mam with me coat, she had known all along, but had kept very quiet all day. I let out the biggest whoopee ever heard in that little house by the park. Anfield here I come.

The Fortress Anfield was a massive red brick jobbie, it was even bigger than Dickie Lewis's in town. I stood outside the gate of the Kop and me Dad said,
"Have you got the money you've saved?"
I went grey; I had never felt so sick in me life. Apart from the shilling Gerry had given me I had nothing, all my money was at home in me bedroom. Then came my finest bit of "doing a deal" for a lad as "thick as two short planks". It was pure genius.

"If you pay for me to get in, I'll buy you and Uncle Gerry a programme."

The deal was struck! Two programmes at 6d each = 1 shilling and I was at last in the home of my beloved Liverpool, the start of a love affair that has currently lasted over 40 years.

The game that day:

Liverpool v West Ham United
Stadium: Anfield
Attendance : 39261 (the 1 was me)
Competition: Division 1

Liverpool team:
Furnell, Jim
Byrne, Gerry
Moran, Ronnie
Milne, Gordon
Yeats, Ron
Leishman, Thomas
Callaghan, Ian
Hunt, Roger
St. John, Ian
Melia, Jimmy
A Court, Alan

Score: 2 (1) - 1 (0)
Liverpool Scorers:
Ian St. John (1st half)
Ian St. John (2nd half)

Many great games and many great players have come and gone since that first game, but there is never a feeling greater than your first time.

Jessie Paisley won't remember the little rag arse from Garston, she taught so many kids like meself, but I will always remember the look on her face on the Monday morning on the school playground when I told her about my special day.

Victoria School has long since disappeared now and I last saw Jessie with Bob at the shops on Hunts Cross Avenue, Woolton, where me Dad still buys his morning papers. Jessie, I still remember the smiles and those scowls will live with me forever.

Love and best wishes,

Karl William Brodrick
"Thick as Two Short Planks"
Victoria Pupil 1962/3

Wooltonian 2005

6d for a proey!! they were 4d in my time you whippersnapper !! :)

feck it was real magic then

Good stuff which evoked some memories. My debut in Anfield was also that same year (I think). We were leading Chelsea 3-nil and hung on as they pulled 2 back. The memory's a bit vague but like you it was the start of a long time love affair which continues to this day despite being 3000 miles away. Nice going, mate.


nostalgia, aint it great. ;)


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