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Lazing on a sunny, Wirral afternoon...

Byline: The Bard of Birkenhead David Charters

"AH, I remember it so well," as we say when gripped by the sentimental mood.

The cocoa is warm, the neck swells a little and then tightens; and you blink quickly, so no-one else can see how vivid the memory is in the damp of your eyes.

And your perambulating pensioner sees again young chaps and girls leaving the old Birkenhead News offices on Hamilton Street in our crusty old pie of a town.

Some link arms and practise silly dance steps on the pavement, always laughing, as they glimpse at the Free Library pub. There, the undertakers told stories to chill the night - their black jackets clinging to shoulders swollen by hard days of pall-bearing.

Behind the pub was the big-windowed dealership for Reliant three-wheelers, where lightly-scented salesmen wore sharp suits with arrow-head hankies in the breast pockets. And the first round in the old pub on Friday nights fell to the one who had sold most cars that week.

But on this day of the memory, the sun is high. Our gang dances towards Hamilton Square. Couples from banks and the offices of solicitors and accountants are lounging on the lawns or picnicking on the benches.

Bowlers hats hang in the Kitchen Cafe. Tartare sauce adds refinement to plaice. But we are entering the Lucky Chinese restaurant, where steady fellows choose a mixed grill. The bold go for chicken curry and the crazily bohemian try chop-suey rolls. We all enjoy the jam roly-poly and custard.

"Memory is strange," I said to my wise friend the whisky-fancier, perched on his stool at the bar of a pub by the haunted river.

"Yes," he replied. "With the passing years, you dab on some colour and a few more shadows. In that way, the picture changes a little each time you look."

The picture I see today is from 1966. Our weekends started on Friday. But my friend Brian worked at the Trustee Savings Bank over the water on Scottie Road. It was open on Saturday mornings.

So he'd join us at the north Wales camp-site in the evening. On arrival one Saturday, he switched on a radio. Out came the Kinks' Sunny Afternoon.

"That'll be a number one," we both said. Time moves on. Brian has just celebrated his 40th wedding anniversary.

Now people take pictures ceaselessly on mobile phones. But our summer days roll into the memory to be repainted when the mood is ripe.


Hamilton Square came alive at lunchtimes, as office workers made their way to enjoy a sandwich in the sunshine

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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jul 17, 2015
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