I had Ferried across the Mersey and I was living in Willaston Mill, a 80 ft Windmill in South Wirral for a while.
A lady with her daughter stopped me to ask some information about the historic Grade II listed structure. It was a rainy day and I asked if they would like to come in and have a look inside.
The young lady was doing a project at school and she had chosen my property, to write about, so I was of course quite honoured. “Hang on” I said “Let me get you some more of the history”. They told me that they lived across the meadow in Mill Lane. I went and got her a folder and asked if she could return it when she had taken all the information that they needed.
I carried on my merry way and almost forgot about it. I had been restoring the Mill for some time and there seemed to be people there everyday. Man, it was tough going, but I had a good team of lads who knew what they were doing.
It took a lot of concentration.
This day was no exception there were six guys on site. The double entrance doors to the conicle shaped brick structure were open and I saw a couple walk in and I went to greet them as there was machinery and tools everywhere. I hardly recognised the lady who told me she had brought me the documents back and thanked me. The gentleman stood there awestruck at the twenty five foot high circular room with its new staircases that I had built. I was proud of my work. Fitting a spiral staircase in a circular and tapering room had proved one of the hardest challenges I had undertaken.
“Come in” I said and they both stood there staring open mouthed. Which was the usual for any visitors. My guys working there were use to me showing people round.
Then the bloke caught the sight of my Wurlitzer Lyric Jukebox and he was over like a shot staring at the case at the titles of the records contained within.
Next thing Tommy Hicky the joiner who I had served my apprenticeship with, and hated me reminding him of the fact, walked over, with his saw still in hand.
Tommy was the worst timekeeper in the world as he was a DJ by night doing many wedding events that went on all night. We both loved music which is why we got on so well. I had sacked him at least five times for his bad time keeping. But I always had him back.
If I added up the amount of pay I docked from him it would be a small fortune.
This was the time when you had to record records from the deck, to put them on a cassette for the car, and I often went through his collections and 'put a tape together' in those prehistoric days. “Listen to this he would say”.
"Yes I will have that"
He use to like the fact that I was telling him about newer music, Bowie and Kraftwerk and the new groups coming along, Music was changing when I worked with him.
He was Beatles mad and I once said to him “Oh you like all that old fashioned stuff then” which seems a mistake now.
So he hovered on this blokes shoulder staring at him. He noticed Hicky out of the corner of his eye and as he slowly turned Tommy' the Joiners eyes followed him as he peered back into the juke box slightly perturbed.
“I know you from somewhere” Hicky said, hanging on his shoulder.
“Oh yeah” the man said with his pearly white grin and raised eyebrow
“I am trying to think, hang on it will come to me in a minute” which seemed like an hour, as the man stood there with his one eyebrow raised.
The rest of the guys had stopped work and began to gather around wondering whats going on.
“No I definitely know you”......waving his saw around. Then after some time his mind seemed to click.
“Where you a joiner for George Wimpey on the Okell Drive site” he asked out loud.
His wife laughed, as did the man and calmly and he paused, he said “I am Gerry Marsden”.
Tommy's mouth opened wide in shock.
“Oh Gerry.....I've got all your records”
A howl of laughter went up and poor old Tommy stood there nearly pulling Gerrys hand off, shaking it in shock at the mistake he had made.
Gerry laughed his head off.
“No I didn't work on that site.
It was hilarious. Gerry Marsden hanging doors and putting partitions up on a building site?
All the lads were shaking their heads with laughter after his 'Tom foolery' but finally it all calmed down and he thanked me for helping his daughter. Still smiling as he left.
I only met him a few times after that. He was always a gentleman.
Now, I remember bunking into the Anfield Kop over the railings, from the Boys Pen and standing there with my scarf raised singing You'll Never Walk Alone. The atmosphere was always electric. I was there when Liverpool won the League and Shankly took his jacket off to proudly proclaim he was wearing a red shirt. It was he, who, in 1963 instructed a little known song from the film Carousel, to be be played before every match.
How many times in defeat the deafening chorus would lift the spirits. How many times it helped the team play, and win in the final whistle blow. Even more in defeat the song was as important. When You Walk Through A Storm Hold Your Head Up High. Meant, it was alright, we will still follow you. We all lose sometime. But there is always hope.
I wrote the whole song out and sent it as a card to my ex girlfriend who lived in Willaston in the shadow of the Mill, when she was diagnosed with cancer.
I thought it would make her better.
Some people think this is just a song. It's not. It's a feeling, its a spirit. It lifts you when you are down. Gives you hope to carry on, through that storm. And no matter how bad it is, there will always be a golden sky and the sweet silver sound of a lark.
I have watched grown men crying, sobbing like babies when singing it on the terraces.
One of them may have been me.
The song has been sung by many. The Frank Sinatra version is slow, but Gerry skipped it up. It was one of his three consecutive no 1's. It also sums up the whole 1960's Merseybeat scene when Liverpool was the centre of the Universe, and the aspirations of a whole city were shaken by its decline. It was hope.
It means something, to everyone, be you a Liverpool supporter or an Evertonian. Its about life. And death.
Bill Shankly who once said “Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I can assure you its much more important than that” knew what he was doing.
So every time we got knocked down as a city, when the tide of unemployment turned for the worse. When the Hillsborough fight that lasted decades, the fight for justice was fought. This was the anthem of hope. At Istanbul his song inspired us to pluck victory out of defeat.
We all know that. We Will Never Walk Alone. In Liverpool.
And Gerry Marsden is part of all our lives.
When I began to learn to play a Clarinet. One of the first songs I learnt was this great song. Then Ferry 'Cross The Mersey.
So now in this time of International pandemic, with football matches without a crowd to sing, the lyrics of this song, that Gerry sung, the words have never seemed more pertinent.
Gerry will be remembered not just at every home match. And if his songs are in other peoples hearts like they are in mine. Then he will never be forgotten.
So..........Don't let The Sun Catch You Crying........Lets be glad and not sad.
That Gerry Marsden a lad from Toxteth walked along our path, and touched our lives with such inspiration.
I wont forget him. But I have often wondered what he would have been like with a hammer in his hand?