Part Two, February 2021
I remember driving up with my Dad on the first day of what was to become the rest, and the best, of my life, Sunday 23rd September 1989. Although I was nervous as to what was to come, my feelings were actually of excitement and anticipation. We left Winchester at the crack of dawn as Dad wanted to do the 460 mile round trip in a day. The journey took around five hours, including an hour stop off in a motorway service station. Halls were easy to locate, especially as I had photocopied a map from the library the week before. When we arrived I was shown to my room by the ‘caretaker’. It was the biggest room in the place and had a lowered sink. The bathroom facilities had been newly adapted to accommodate people with mobility issues. It dawned upon me that my letter of explanation must have led them to believe that I needed a place in halls because of a physical disability. It was slightly embarrassing at the time but looking back this was a good thing because these aids were there for future students who needed them.
After we had unloaded the car, I basically dumped my bags in my room. We then went for a pint and meal at the Albert Dock. Immediately after our goodbyes, I thought it was time to take a wander and find some people to hang out with. It did not take long before I heard some voices, so I popped my head round the door. There were two lads, one from Burnley and one from Oldham, who invited me in. It was quite funny because we were listening to a Roy Chubby Brown tape when a knock and some female voices were heard. Quickly, Roy was taken off the stereo, we did not want the ladies to think we were sexist pigs! That evening we explored some of the local pubs around Mossley Hill and I ended up having my first of many chippy meals – gravy and chips – that year, sitting in one the kitchens in halls. Not quite sure whether the ale added to the taste, but this ‘meal’ was good on the palate.
Every night, when I did not have a pressing project to complete, I went out on the lash in town. At first, it was with people from halls but as time progressed I also went out with people on my course (both could be mutually inclusive). One night in January, I met up with a few lads from the course, none were from halls. Usually there would be someone at the end of the night I could share a taxi back to my own bed (well, not literally speaking). However, on this occasion there was no-one. Fortunately, one of the lads invited me back to his house across the Mersey, on the Wirral, in a place called Oxton. I had never heard of it before, but Oxton would become my spiritual home for the next ten years and beyond. When I woke up the following morning the sun was streaming through the net curtains. This felt like home!
I knew that at the end of the first year we had to move out of halls as only one year was allowed. For many, house sharing was straightforward, as most students had quickly formed into small groups. However, I got on with everyone and used to table hop at mealtimes. This meant I did not have a natural house-sharing option. I wanted to get a room in a house in Oxton, but this was not the most sensible idea due to the location, across the Mersey, from where I studied. However, as usual, I went with my heart. On the last day before I went back to Winchester for the summer vacation, I secured a massive ground floor room. I had no idea who my housemates would be, but this did not faze me as my self-confidence was growing fast. I ended up sharing with a graphics student from Coventry and a business student, and her two cats, from Reading. The landlord was very laid back, which, in later years, some (not me) who I shared with would take gross advantage of.
Over the ten years living in Oxton, I would house share with different and interesting creative people, some would end up having a massive positive influence on my life. Oxton was very Bohemian, which I loved. I began to ‘find’ myself and realised that what I hated about myself was, in fact, the very thing that made me – my obsessive nature.
Over the next few blogs, I will share with you some of these experiences, and the soundtracks etc., that acted as the backdrop to my life during these times.