Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Waters of the Mersey

Liverpool from Ferry postcard posted 1908

View of Liverpool from the Ferry in a postcard posted 1908

Liverpool ferry postcard posted 1916

Another view of the ferry a few years later, in a postcard posted 1916 -- the Liver Building and the Dock Board Offices have been built.

Compare these two old views of the Pier Head to a dramatic modern view of the Liverpool waterfront by Kev Keegan available by clicking on the title of this blog posting.

Donna and I will be in Liverpool on Saturday, October 8 to board the Ferry Across the Mersey at 12 noon, as arranged by my friend Liverpool photographer Gerard Fleming who happens to have an exhibition opening on October 13 which we will unfortunately miss. We will be there to spread my late mother's ashes in mid-river as allowed by Mersey Travel -- the ferry will stop for such ceremonies. Such family events are, I am told, popular. . . you have to book ahead, which we have done. I hope it will be good weather for this emotional occasion. I am trying to contact some of my cousins to attend the ceremony which will be a non-religious occasion. I do know some friends will be in attendance.

My mother Yoria C. George (September 27, 1920 to August 24, 2010) was the daughter of George Thompson Matchett and Sarah Elizabeth Matchett. Her uncle, George's brother, was the Liverpool comedian Billy Matchett, born William Charles Matchett (1889-1974). From a bookseller in the Midlands, I have just bought the following tuppenny theatre program from February 1944 that lists Billy Matchett "The Mirthquake" among the performers at the Pavilion Theatre, Lodge Lane -- a theatre where as a lad I saw Uncle Bill perform in the Fifties (he was the red-nose comedian between some scenes of scantily clad girls). In case of an attack by the German Luftwaffe, the program notes, the audience is free to leave but the show will go on. What resilience! The old British fighting spirit! Billy was a World War I veteran who served with distinction in the Liverpool Scottish Regiment in France.

Pavilion Theatre, Lodge Lane, Liverpool, Program, February 1944

Journey to the Mersey

It's my mother's 91st birthday
and her ashes wait patiently
to make her final journey

by the front door
in a cloth sack with
the green logo "Dignity"

-- the funeral home chain's logo
offers a modicum of respect. . .
she will journey in my suitcase

through airport security as I
get ready to slide her ashes into
the peaceful Mersey waters.

Journey onward, Mother
journey forward in time
although you've left us,
you are always in our hearts.

Christopher T. George

Gordon and Yoria Feb 22 1945 bigger

My mother and father on their wedding day, St. Anne's Church, Aigburth, Liverpool, February 22, 1945

St. Anne's Church, Aigburth Road, Liverpool, May 2007

St. Anne's Church, Aigburth, Liverpool, photographed by me, May 2007

Yoria's Ashes

After a year of death,
we have an appointment

on the Mersey ferry
at 12 noon; Yoria's ashes

repose now in the closet
in their plastic urn,

ready for the final
journey across the ocean.

Age just shy of ninety,
she looked so small

when I identified her,
a personality shriveled,

rendered nut-size -- my
heart shrank in turn.

Now I will carry her
to the muddy Mersey,

ready to accept Yoria's
ashes -- the same river

that bore us to America
almost my lifetime ago.

Christopher T. George

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