Aigburth and Sefton Park, Liverpool. The park of my childhood, we lived in Ampthill Road, just a short walk away. I flew my first kite, caught my first stickleback and spent many happy hours climbing the trees in this park. My Uncle had a house in Livingstone Drive and the vans for our family business, S & R Smyth Removals, were stored in Lark Lane. The area has played a large part in my life.
Last Monday another chapter was added to my Sefton Park story. I enjoyed an hour in the sun, watching Deaf School perform at the Liverpool International Music Festival.
I first saw Deaf School in 1974 at O’Connors, but who I went to that gig with is a mystery. All lost in the misseds (sic) of time. I can’t recall who first introduced us to the band, it was definitely a work colleague though. I worked in Hendersons, with my kid sister and I have this niggling feeling that whoever it was was connected to the band. Anyway, we followed them for several years, our kid reckons we saw them eight or nine times, I am inclined to think more like ten or twelve. Let’s not argue.
O’Connors was a favourite venue for us, must have seen the band three or four times there. O’Halligans and Matthew Street for the Jung Festival and Erics. Metro and the Uni all at least once. In the early days, before the band had a big following, we would sometimes have a drink and chat with the band after the gig. On one occasion a group of us were invited back to a post gig party, no idea whos place or where, think it was up by the Peter Kavanagh. Great night.
The band split and I and many others mourned their passing. Played the albums and reminisced.
I had seen adverts for reunion gigs, but sadly could never get to them, too far away or no money.
That is until last Monday.
Since the gig was announced I had planned on going, the news the week before though made it look very unlikey. My wonderful partner was diagnosed with bowel cancer. We had a turbulent week, but she was very insistent that I go.
So there I was, standing in a field, feeling excited, happy, sad, somewhat jaded (me and an old friend had drunk all the gin in Peter Kavanagh’s the night before). The band came on and played with all of the enthusiasm and energy that I rememberd. The warmth and humour was still there, in abundance. My tears flowed and I sang along (very badly), memories came flooding back. People, places, past times. Sadness that Sally wasn’t with me. Hapiness that I was twenty again and in my hometown.
That Monday will go down as one of the most memorable gigs of my life, for many reasons. Great to see the band and be recognised (cheers Steve), lovely to chat to Ian, nice to rub shoulders with Enrico and Bette (Steve and Anne, you still have that magic)
Wonder where and when I will see them play again?
For an hour in the August sun, this middle aged man was twenty again and very, very happy.