Although I was born there I remember very little of Liverpool. My immediate family came from there, or rather a generation or two spent time there as incomers from somewhere else. Tinners, who had come from Cornwall, first raised children and then grandchildren in the Isle of Man. They in turn headed for new horizons via the city. And of course, the Irish contingent fleeing a famine in one place only to die of typhus in the infamous courts in the cesspit that was Liverpool in the 19th Century.

My Great Aunt Emily and her sister Lily, my grandmother, were just two of the devout Catholic girls who had arrived from the Isle of Man. Both of them enjoyed the high life and had generous boyfriends. Their cuckolded husbands led a more mundane existence. Emily's ran a sweet and tobacconists, and Grandad worked on the Empress boats of Canadian Pacific, sailing mainly between Liverpool and Canada. Emily was a midwife and a good one, too. Her married lover was a doctor, and together they ran a nursing home. In fact I was delivered there by Emily in 1948. Nana was matron of the home. She was a small woman with great presence and not a little hauteur. When she took tea at the Adelphi, waiters would trip over themselves to serve her.

They ran a successful business bringing the sons and daughters of well-heeled Liverpudlians into the world in the days prior to the establishment of the NHS.

There was a darker side to their business. They were illegal abortionists. Theirs was no back street operation with gin and knitting needles. They were discreet professionals, with an endless supply of local girls who'd got into trouble, and those who came over from Ireland assisted by the church.

My Mum told me that a legendary footballer of the era used to visit the home when his children were born there. On one occasion his wife was being delivered of a child and his girlfriend was in another room following an abortion. These were the original WAGS whose stories never made the likes of the 'News of The World' or 'OK Magazine'. They paid top dollar and were guaranteed total discretion.

Sadly, Aunty Emily, who in fairness loved babies and had delivered and saved so many of them, could never have children of her own. In a cruel twist of fate she conceived during her menopause at the age of 52 and had to have her own pregnancy terminated. Just deserts! Some would say.

A further sadness came when Nana's youngest daughter died of kidney failure in the early 50's. She was only 34 and had four children including twins. Mum and Dad took me along to the nursing home because Molly wanted to see me. I was about 4 years old. In reality she was on her deathbed and wanted to say her goodbyes. I remember the love in the room and the sunlight flooding in and beautiful Aunty Molly propped on pillows. Then we were outside on the landing and Daddy was leaning against the wall, his head on his forearm sobbing silently in his grief.

That's my earliest and saddest memory of Liverpool.
(from the Of Time and the City website community)



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This story was added on 17th September 2010

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