Walkways in The Sky

Walkways in the sky.

Buurrr buurrr lips pursed, Harry blew out the trumpet sound of the last post. The wail of his voice was in mockery, not respect. The funeral was real, the death was real in Allerton cemetery grounds, the trumpet and tears were real. In the act of grieving for one of their own, uniformed boys became men. In the act of grieving their own, parents and siblings became less.

Buuur Burrr he trumpeted to his wife’s tears. 

“How can you be so cruel?” Karen asked. But she knew the answer. Surrounded by uniformed youth in the company of real men, Harry was diminished. He knew it and she knew it. His bravado and cruelty were in place of strength. 

“It’s not fair,” said Carl watching as his sister cried. He feared what was coming but didn’t know how to stop it. 

“Those fucking bastards, they are nothing. Did you see them strutting around in their uniforms? I could have had any of them one to one. The hardest in Halewood I was, no one messed with our family.” 

They were not in Halewood where he was from. They were not in Speke where Karen was from. They were in Netherley where back then people lived, but no one was from. Built on the Eastern edge of the city, that was how they lived, on the edge. A planner’s paradise and a tenant’s nightmare. Prefabricated concrete panels in a new system of construction. Living by design, thousands of people moved out of the city centre in slum clearances, now trapped in damp ridden, vermin-infested concrete boxes, four or five storeys high. High-level walkways and connecting bridges between blocks.

When the first slap hit Karen she stifled her cries. Carl knew she was trying to hide her pain and fear,  Nothing could hide the anger and cruelty in Harry. 

“Leave her alone,” Carl pleaded, too scared to shout or demand. 

“Shut up, or you’ll get it as well.”

“Go in the bedroom, look after Sharon,” said Karen. 

Sharon was Carl’s niece, barely walking, and sleeping now. Carl knew Karen was sending him away to protect him.

Harry stood and crossed the room, he leaned over Karen who curled into a ball. Carl knew what was coming. Karen cried in fear. 

Harry boomed in anger, “All of them, I could have had all of them.”

Carl said,. “Karen I’m going to phone mum.”

 Karen looked up and shouted, “No.”

Harry punched. Carl saw it hit. He felt the blow on his sister’s face. The tears poured from his eyes. Tears of anger and frustration. I’m phoning. He choked, and fled the flat. 

He ran through the concrete walkways, his feet pounding out his hatred. A phone, a phone. Through the tunnelled high-level connecting bridges, down the rancid urine-stained staircase, across the shit covered grass. He found a phone, he had no money to phone, his mum had no phone to answer. He stood and cried as he waited, how long do we wait till we know it’s over? When do we admit we have made mistakes

Built in 1968, demolished fifteen years later, the flats were turned to rubble and dust. The planners awarded and moved on. Karen and Harry divorced, Carl and Sharon grown, everyone battered and bruised by walkways in the sky.    

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5 responses to “Walkways in The Sky”

  1. Really enjoyed that slice of life Jack. I lived in Belle Vale when the notorious ‘Spine’ block was built. Had lots of family and friends in the shit-hole living conditions there and in Netherley.

  2. I lived in these flats for eight years as a child it was the best loved it

  3. kids make the best of everything

  4. Lived in Netherley before it was fully completed. We moved from Childwall Heights, to a house in 1968/69. For our parents it was total modernity. 3 large bedrooms , 2 toilets, large kitchen with units, central heating. For us kids ,this new estate was paradise. Gardens, clean spaces, adventures. I loved it. The flats however, were scary ,smelly things. Had friends live in them and the stairwells were often rammed with teens from the Comp sagging lessons, during the daytime, and teens with nothing better to do of a night, besides daubing the walls with their spray painted autographs , smoking, peeing on the stairs, and running round the flats’, rat run of walkways and bridges. That’s even before they turned into the damp hell holes that became their demise . Ugly – like prison wings. Ironically, it was still kind of sad to see them pulled down. As by then Netherley had a newer generation of people come and live on the estate . It was all remodelled. It may have looked prettier without the flats and with the new layout, but it was nowhere near the same, exciting new, community it once was. 80s , unemployment, apathy ,neglect and people who simply didn’t care, all contributed to it not being what it originally started off as. The flats were gone, but a lot of good things disappeared then too. Sad times but good memories from my childhood . Bought a house on the woodlands estate, in 1989 when I got married. It was the private housing extention to the Netherley council estate . Which sadly over time also acrrued many bad issues of its own. By 2007 I couldn’t stand it any longer and ,sold up and I moved to Garston with my kids.

  5. […] The same local factory one of my older brothers worked in, and became a shop steward for. He was a union militant and eventually joined the International Socialists. He was later sacked and remained unemployed for years. So at around thirteen, I was reading Catherine Cookson and the Communist Manifesto. The Communist Manifesto won out.Around this time two of my older sisters were pregnant when married- one of them went on to be severely beaten by her bastard of a husband. (See walkways in the sky ) https://jackbyrne.home.blog/2020/01/31/walkways-in-the-sky/ […]

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About Me

Thanks for visiting my page. The aim of this page is to let you know what I am working on and allow you to tell me what you think.

I was born and raised in Speke Liverpool, although my parents first lived ‘Under The Bridge’ in Garston, and all my family goes back to Wicklow in Ireland.

The Liverpool Mystery series will be four novels, three books; Under The Bridge, The Morning After, and Fire Next Time are finished. Under The Bridge will be published in Feb 2021 and I hope at least one more will follow later in the year. I am writing The Wicklow Boys now, and I hope to finish it next year.

My writing like my blog is about the lives of working people and how they relate to society as a whole.

My collection of short stories The One Road is available below click to see details.

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