Monday, 29 September 2014


This photograph is a gentle everyday scene of my aunt giving the budgie a kiss in my gran's house in Toxteth.
Bluey, (for that was his name), was only allowed out of his cage under the strictest control, for it stood in the front room of the house very close to where the vestibule, front door and therefore possible 'budgie freedom' were located. Nevertheless, to all intents and purposes he was a happy soul - sitting on his perch chirruping away through the day, until - in the late evening - someone would throw a tea-towel over his cage in an attempt to urge him to shut up and go to sleep at night. There were a few versions of Bluey who lived in Hughson Street over that time, and each of them loved just as much as this particular little tyke was. Exactly why there were so many budgerigars processing through the house at that time I was never told, although the fact that the family also had cats living in the house might have had something to do with it!

Auntie Bet and 'Bluey' the budgie....

Anyway, I digress. All this idle chatting about budgerigars is just an aside really, for what I really wanted to talk about was nail clippers - more specifically, my auntie's silver-plated nail clippers with the hole in them. The hole? Yes, you read that correctly. A hole which had been perfectly formed and cut right through the blade. But how was this possible?

It's easy...

You know the score. When you're three years old you'll pretty much play with anything, and at times most of these things you really shouldn't go anywhere near. Of course you don't know this until later however, when a grown up - possibly your Mum or Dad - catches you out, gives you a smack behind the knees and yells 'Now that's naughty!' at you in a loud stern voice. The tears flow, you stop whatever you're doing, (permanently, if you know what's good for you), and life carries on. The majority of us will then grow up to be perfectly rounded individual's who will learn a valuable lesson from the event, and forever resist the urge to be scarred for life in the future, through being subjected to the occasional bout of corporal punishment. And so it was with me and the nail clippers.

I'd obviously picked them up from somewhere, and although I can't actually remember doing so, I must have thought to myself just how much like my Dad's wire cutters they looked, as he'd worked on the radio in the corner of the room earlier that day. You can clearly see the radio in the photograph. Also note the mains cable, that twisty brown cloth-covered stuff which was forever getting itself into knots, which snaked out from the shelf to disappear into the plug on the wall behind the budgie cage. Talk about a tempting sight!

Of course the difference was as follows:
a) Dad's wire cutters had rubber insulation on the handles, the nail clippers didn't.
b) Dad knew that above all else you should always respect electricity, and of this, I hadn't a clue.
c) Finally, Dad had carefully switched off the power at the socket and pulled out the plug before he went anywhere near the radio....
....and I'd done precisely zip!

The outcome therefore was somewhat inevitable.

With no adults in the room to stop me, I decided to follow my Dad's lead and have a go at rewiring the radio. As the blade of the nail clippers cut into the live mains cable there was an almighty bang and a very bright flash of light. The adults all came running into the room at once from the kitchen, and at first were somewhat confused because I was nowhere to be seen. According to what my Dad told me years afterward, they didn't quite know what was going on as there was a strong smell of burning insulation in the room and I'd apparently disappeared without a trace. It was only after they heard my groaning coming from underneath the sideboard, and spotted the nail clippers on the carpet with a perfectly round hole cut through the two blades, that they finally put two and two together and worked out what had happened. They picked me up and started consoling both themselves and me at the same time.

My saviour... Clarks shoes...

Somehow, incredibly, I'd survived. It could have been the insulating power of the thick soles of my Clarks shoes which saved me, but the force of the blast had blown me right off my feet and flung me at least eight feet across the room to land beneath the sideboard. According to family legend I started crying almost at once as I was extricated from under the furniture. I might even have cried a bit more after my Dad had screamed "Now that's naughty!" at me.

But the important thing is that I'm still here...and so are the clippers, now put away safely in the loft inside a keepsake box, away from the prying little fingers of my grand-daughter Paige. The budgie and the Clarks Shoes however, sadly, are no more.



Palm HouseSefton Park (1957) - Mum Joan pictured standing outside the main entrance, with me in the pram just a few months old. I walked in through those doors 56 years later with a guitar slung over my back, to attend a photoshoot celebrating Tony Bolland's book launch about the famous music shop Hessy's in Liverpool. Must go back and see if that statue is still there! :-)

#Liverpool #SeftonPark #PalmHouse #FamilyHistory #Genealogy #Hessy's #FrankHessy #musicshop

Friday, 26 September 2014


To repair or not to repair….that is the question. Sometimes you just have to ignore everybody else and do things your own way - do what you feel is right. This is a photograph of my grandmother, Elizabeth Welsh, sitting in her front room in Toxteth, Liverpool, reading her newspaper.

I posted this photograph a little while ago on Facebook, and one of the comments made on it was that I should have it repaired as the person felt that this would improve the photo, and as it was such a precious keepsake, it deserved to be seen at its best. I considered the idea for a good while, and although I thought that this was indeed potentially a good idea, I eventually decided against it for a couple of reasons:

1) The original photograph is tiny - being only around 3 centimetres square in size - and this copy has been scanned at the highest resolution possible. The damage obscures part of my grandmothers face, and no matter how much time I might invest to work on it, I doubt that I would be able to make a totally invisible mend.
2) This is the photograph that I know well - even with all its imperfections - and to have it digitally repaired, remastered, trimmed and tucked, will not improve it in any way for me. I came to the conclusion that its probably best to leave it alone.
My Gran - reading the paper

And that is the point of course.

I know I could be accused of being selfish at this point, but the fact is I have grown up with this tiny piece of paper looking exactly the way it looks here. If I had it digitally repaired, even professionally, this work wouldn’t add anything else to the photograph for me. The damage shows that the image has been around a bit; careworn it might be, but now that I’ve scanned it and put it ‘out there’, the photo will potentially survive and outlast us all.
And this is where I’m being selfish. After all, this is my memory I’m sharing; no-one else’s.

So. This is my Gran - sitting quietly reading her broadsheet newspaper while my Grandad, (its more than likely to be him, although I have no real proof of that), takes her picture.

She’s wearing her round glasses and old pinny - the pinafore dress with the red and purple flowers on it which she wore around the house to protect her clothes underneath. The only times I remember seeing her not wearing this garment, would be on the odd occasion when she would get dressed up and go out somewhere - perhaps down to the pub at the end of the road with my Grandad, or out to a family ‘do’ somewhere in the vicinity.

The photo features the old range they had in the front room with several flatirons placed on its top. The range has a beaten copper fender around its base and a set of companion tools standing on the hearth. These were used to clean out the grate. It would be icy cold to the touch in the mornings and would be cleaned with black-lead; the graphite paste being first applied with a brush and then polished in with a cloth.

The folding dining table to her right - covered by a dark tablecloth - had two wings which could be brought upwards and supported from beneath when being used. I inherited this table many years later from my aunt, when my wife and I bought our first home. Sadly, it fell apart long ago and was beyond repair.
And then there is the television. This small monochrome TV which can be seen standing on the table in the corner, holds two special memories for me that I recall.

It was on that screen in 1966 that a nine-year-old boy called Graham watched the Beatles performing a live concert from Shea Stadium in New York. I followed every song avidly, singing along enthusiastically with as many of the lyrics as I knew at that time, and drummed along with Richie on a toy drum-set which had been erected in front of the settee.

And three years earlier, on my father's birthday in 1963, the whole family sat together and watched in shock and disbelief when it was announced that President Kennedy had been assassinated in Dallas, Texas. I was only six years old at the time, but I remember the emotion of the moment clearly; the adults in the room growing suddenly quiet to listen to the solemnity of the newsreaders voice as he made the announcement. And it was then that I also saw my Grandfather cry real tears for the very first time, and I couldn't quite understand why.

This is why I’m leaving the photograph in the condition its in.

Damaged as it is, it still represents all these things to me and will continue to do so into the future, and that fact is never going to change.

Hopefully, now that you have heard the full story behind it, you also might begin to see beyond the folds and ripped paper as I do.


I found this video on Pinterest while I had my first cup of tea in the morning and it reminded me of some of the stories which came from my wife's family, the D'Annunzio's, as we started going out together and commenced growing up.

The family were descended from first generation Italians; and were street musicians who came over to Liverpool from Atina in Italy to live and work in the city. They too had the large families which feature in the film, and their Liverpool descendents had adopted the practice of gathering on a Sunday to visit Mum - her children and grandchildren gathering together for a visit before dinner, even though she herself was more Irish than Italian. But this didn't matter... for the visit itself was the important thing.

It is also true that families now lead more separate lives in this busy world we all exist in. Most of us have lost the art of using Sunday as a day of relaxation - we can't afford to, there are so many jobs we need to do, so many shops we have to visit before work-work starts all over again on Monday morning. Our friends and family also have their own stuff to do - they don't want us turning up out of the blue and taking up their precious time. Better to do whatever shopping we need to do in the morning and then go to the carvery in the afternoon... no cooking or dishes to clean up then!

This is why this film is so important. It brought back memories to me, even though I only married into that Italian way of life which is now only a memory. The film is a window through to our recent past, a world which is changing by the minute and not necessarily for the better either. Occasionally its good to stop what you are doing for a moment and just remember the world as it was.

And if she isn't here any more, take a moment to remember Mum. As long as someone remembers them, they'll always be here.

#familymemories #familyhistory #D'Annunzio #Liverpool


Below is the birth certificate of my grandfather, Joseph Seaman, from 1903. The occupation of my great grandfather Joseph Frederick was listed as a horse cook on the certificate.

Joseph was born in 3 Bagnall Street, Everton, Liverpool, a property which has now been demolished to make way for new housing. The photograph below shows the house in 2013 before the demolition crews moved in.


This is a copy of the 1901 census record for 56 Wendell Street in Toxteth. Wendell Street is situated near Toxteth Park cemetary,  just off Smithdown Road. At that time it was the home of my great grandfather, Joseph Frederick Seaman and his wife Sarah Ann. At the time of the census the couple were both 23 years of age and were living with their daughter, Mary Cecily, who was said to be 1 month old.

Joseph's profession at the time of the census was listed as being a carter.

The following photograph shows Joseph and Sarah in their later years during a day out to the seaside.


This is the census record for Mill Street in 1901, showing my great-great uncle, Charles Seaman, living with his wife Mary Alice in her mother's property. Her mother was a widow and was named Jane Edwards. At the time they were living here in Mill Street Charles was said to be 33 years of age and his wife was 32. They do not appear to have any children listed at this time at the address.


The census record from 1901 showing the family of Joseph Seaman, living at 46 Webb Street, Liverpool. At the time Joseph was a widower and was 63 years of age. He was living with his two daughters - Mary (aged 30) and Annie (aged 26). Also resident was his grand-daughter, Ada Lloyd who was aged 7 years old.

Joseph was my great-great grandfather.

Friday, 19 September 2014


The marriage certificate of Laurence D'Annunzio and Agnes Saunderson, the grandparents of my wife Sandra.

The marriage took place at St Bridget's Church, Liverpool on 20 May 1934.

The photograph below is Laurence and Agnes when they were in their late teens....