Potter’s tales- Feb 2013
So there I was, a wet Friday night just after chrimbo, enjoying a wee drink with a posse of inner city relatives and a gaggle of delirious students.... venue The Vernon Arms, Dale Street, Liverpool city centre ..... Northside….I say northside simply because the un-official north / south divide of the city, not the country (listen up fools) did tend to manifest itself in the boozers you would frequent…,confused ? Me too. . Now a fella a few years older than me from Park rd. Dingletown regaled me with tales of early seventies scuffles between the massed ranks of feather cuts and penny rounds. Roughly L8 V Liverpool(s) 3&5 over who was the first to wear clogs or afghan coats.. y’know important stuff. He would never dream of a brown bitter frenzy Dale street way, "corkfender country " the old sage mused.
Picture the scene, it’s the 1980’s.. coal not dole stickers, badges proclaiming support for the Liverpool Labour council and industrial clothing worn, it has to said, with a sense of style. Would anyone dream these days or even before those days of supporting anything remotely political? This friends, was The Vernon arms.... the politburo 80,s style were more decisions got thrashed out than twenty fuckin council meetings. In those dark days the archaic licensing laws prevented the consumption of alcohol between the hours of three o clock and five o clock (afternoon that is ) unless a baldrick-esque cunning plan was activated i.e get yourself settled 2.30ish the doors would be locked curtains drawn…. welcome to the world of the stay behind.
The letter of the law didn’t always apply in the Vernon which was the same for many Liverpool boozers i hear you say but friends remember, das Vernon’s geography. Facing the (pretend ) council chambers on one of Liverpool’s main city center roads, around the corner from Cheapside (the city’s main lock up plod central. (the Bastille with blankets). Sooo not the most isolated of hostelries and chocker block full of north end and south end comrades all the massed ranks of the revolutionary stay behind tendency. One day my good self arrived Friday avvy for that was THE day , ye gods 5minutes to 3pm and all doors closed!? .I gave a girly knock on the door, the genial host, Stan, refused me entry. Just at that moment my Knight in shining armour appeared, more to the point, a bearded fellow chancer wearing a crushed red velvet trackie. Step forward head of finance councilor Tony Byrne (more left wing than a coach load of Trotskyites strictly staying in the inside lane on the motorway)."We’re alright aren’t we? " Lenin exclaimed and .,the inn keeper nodded. Instantly. The welcoming bosom of the Vernons back room, that throbbing mass of donkey jackets, docker parkas the odd muzzied loon gals from the housing not going back, poets no one listened to, fellas on their toes, students too scared to sell Socialist Worke,r some one takin bets, queueing to use the phone, the bog, the bar... not long now until 5 0 clock. HAPPY DAYS.
Footnote. The Ends legal dept has been forced to ackowledge the hardy branch of friday regulars at The Vernon neither north or south, but from the outskirts as me ol, nin (don’t put the windows, only a wee jape) so, here’s to the crocky, norris green, canny farm, Birkenhead, Bootle, Kenny, kirkby, Huyton (with roby of course) Speke up to skem… if I missed you out, sorry. You’re right it was fuckin chocker .
On one sad lonely day the customs and excise raided the Vernon it remained closed for a while….If you are ever in town have a swift one its got history that Vernon has.