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Dreams on the green.

Byline: The Bard of Birkenhead David Charters

ON his long travels, usually in Wirral, where the pulse is quickened by memories, your perambulating pensioner has often noticed the difference between dreams and reality. You reach in vain for one, but you touch the other.

I prefer dreams, but without the chilly pinch of reality they could not be. So both have their place.

Perhaps the most vivid dream is of the perfect village green on a sunny day. It's the postcard we address to ourselves on lonely nights. Close your eyes and the picture always returns.

In his song, When You Were Sweet Sixteen, the Irish American James Thornton writes of how he loves his sweetheart now, just as he loved her when first they met on the village green.

Two generations later, in his masterwork, The Village Green Preservation Society, the Kinks' Ray Davies embraced us all with his images of childhood friendship, bike-shed cigarettes, teenage love, a girl called Daisy, virginity, custard, the church, the clock and steeple, Sunday school, strawberry jam, antique tables, draught beer, Tudor houses, a witch.

A few Saturdays ago, I talked about this with Ray's biographer Johnny Rogan on Spencer Leigh's top-notch Radio Merseyside culture and music show, On the Beat. If it is a dream, let's track it. And Thornton Hough's green comes close to that dream, as does the much smaller one at Willaston - where baby Jesus is always praised with gusto after the WI has decorated the birch tree for carols.

The closest we come to that in our crusty old pie of a town, is the green in Bidston Village. So I set off to see if I could grip the dream, while rooted in reality.

It's a tiny green, about the spread of 10 picnic rugs. But it is haunted by beauty, skirted by Yew Tree Farm and overlooked by the sandstone tower of St Oswald's Church.

In the middle is a tall memorial on a six-tier plinth to 21 local men killed in the Great War. Behind that, the evergreen leaves of ancient trees are drawn close. Daisies and dandelions cluster on the lawn by beds of flowers and pruned bushes.

Fading words carved on the entrance stone request us "earnestly" to guard the memorial.

Perhaps a May pole stood there once - when the old ground felt the fun of eager steps and the dewy grass was young.

Dreams and reality are one on the village green. Dream - and it's there.


Bidston Village Green in Wirral |

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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Apr 24, 2015
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