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I attended Liverpool Collegiate grammar school where I studied Latin and Greek (it was all Greek to me) and played that game with the funny shaped ball. All through my school years I was eagerly looking forward to getting called up in the army. To this end I joined the 22nd Liverpool company of the Boys Brigade where we did physical training, drill and I was the solo bugler in the band.

However, the best part of being in the BB was our annual camp to the Isle of Man. We used to stay at a school in St Johns and sleep on palliasses on the classroom floor. One evening one of the villagers told us there was a film on the cinema in Peel which was about Liverpool and so a group of us decided to hitch hike into Peel to see it. The film was 'These Dangerous Years' starring Liverpool born Frankie Vaughan.

These dangerous years of course, were, for lads, between the ages of 15 and 18. Boys would leave school at 15 years and find it hard to get a job as employers would know they would be called up into the forces at age 18. As a result there was a lot of juvenile delinquency in Liverpool in the 1950s.

The film highlighted these particular problems and the message must have struck a chord with the government of the day because conscription was abolished soon after that and Frankie Vaughan was appointed to a Juvenile Panel in the Home Office to look at ways of reducing teenage rebelliousness. My plans for going into the army as a consequence were dashed.

Notwithstanding, when I left school in 1959, I applied to join the Merchant Navy and the following January I reported to Gravesend Sea School in Kent to commence my six weeks basic training as a catering trainee.

On returning to Liverpool, I secured a position on board the mv Essex as the pantry boy and sailed, barely 17 years of age, to New Zealand on the other side of the world.

Jim Finn


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This story was added on 11th May 2011

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