My nan Eileen Roper 100 today (Well not quite)

The date has been stuck in my head for a bit now so I thought of no better way to celebrate it than to bang a blog out. Today, November 19th back in 1915 my nan was born in Liverpool. My nan has always had a special place in my heart ever since I was a child. She was always the one I was closest to. A combination of she was the one who lasted longest (My other 3 grandparents were dead by about 1984) and also the fact that she was my mums mum gave that little bit of an extra bond. Little did I know that when I was turning 19 in the September of 1992 that I would move in with her as my mum and dad can now looking back on be what can only be described as abandoning me. I say abandoned but the moved to Clitheroe as my dad was working up in the area and the big plan was to bladder the job up there for a few years and retire back to Liverpool. Sadly my mum never made it near to retirement and what retirement my dad did see wasn’t the best. But enough of the sob story this is a celebration of what would today have been my nan’s 100th birthday. If truth be told me moving in with my nan was one of the best thing that ever happened to me. I had the freedom of my own life free from parents who in their guilt subsidised me well. When nan asked “Why aren’t you at university” after I had woken up at 3pm after a weekend in the 051. I would reply “Another reading week nan or its half term !” But along with the freedom come the comforts of home and knowing that the bank of nan would always be there and I could rob her biscuits. I ended up at my nan’s for just under 10 years entering a young man (Boy really) and leaving a man ready to move in with my future wife and the next paragraph of my life story. I remember going to Leo’s supermarket when I first moved in and asking her what toothpaste she liked. She just smiled and then forced both her upper and lower false teeth out at me ! Eventually after having a bedsit for a few years she let me have the front living room to live in. You know the type of room saved for best that nobody ever went in and looked like a time machine from the 1970’s I think ‘Parlour” was the description used. It was a council house and having lived there for so long she could buy it at a massive discount. Now the hypocrite in me jumps straight out here as I think the policy to sell off council houses is a bad one. But who am I to turn down in my mid 20’s the chance to effectively set myself up for life and so I turned to the dark side of the force and embraced a little bit of Thacherism which still makes me feel guilty to this day. She always moaned when my mates phoned or knocked but we knew really she thrived on the interaction with them and they all used to have a laugh and joke with her. A story I have repeated but one day after I had been going out with my future wife for a bit I asked my mum if she could stay overnight and if she could square it with my nan after all I was in my late 20’s and starting to settle down. Ask your nan on Sunday when we are down said my mum. So sunday came and nervously I asked my nan “Well me and Claire have been gong out of a whilst so errr cough cough can she stay over” the reply was brutal and to the point “Of course she can it will save her sneaking out in the morning” No kidding a late 80 year old woman then eh !  So having moved out nan was invited around once a week to the new house but as she got older she became even more set in her ways and couldn’t be bothered coming down. Come the summer of 2011 and she was still living at home but going downhill quite fast. One August morning I got a phone call of a distressed neighbour Karen (Who done lots for my nan and we can never thank her enough) saying my nan had fallen in the kitchen. I got there before the ambulance and comforted my nan until she was rushed to hospital. A few hours later and she didn’t seem too bad and I was talking to her. The nurse pulled me aside and said she had pneumonia and will most probably only live a couple of days. How could that be she seemed fine but as the doctors have no doubt seen many many times they were in fact correct. The next day she was more confused when I visited her and early in the morning on August 24th I got the call from the hospital with the bad news. My sister (who also done loads for my nan) was away and in a way I was glad it was me who had had to deal with everything at the end. Despite as you can imagine not being the best thing to have to deal with at the time I can now look back on it and think I was there for the last portion of her life. The least I could do after spending ten years with her eating all her penguin biscuits she has hidden from me. On looking back on the pictures below it reminded me that for a period in the 1980’s nan used to come on our family holidays. A cunning plan from my mum and dad as all I can remember is marathon games of card with my nan as she babysat me and she was most probably getting bladdered on home measure whisky’s. No wonder I always won and here was me thinking I was boss at cards. That would be after she had her traditional fall on holiday from being pissed. I remember one year we were in the same room and her snoring was horrendous. That coupled with me being about 12 every time she stopped snoring I thought she had dropped dead !! I was moved into the living room of the apartment ha ha. I also remember helping out at the local playscheme in the early 1980’s. In her late 60’s she was playing rounders and slipped on what was being used for a base. She done her ankle in but sat on a chair in the field to catch. That would have been a few grand claim now and possibly the end of the playscheme.

So thanks to my nan’s children Jean and Ken for helping me with the next bit. I thought I would document a bit about my nan so its here to see for future generations of Roper’s and Fay’s. So Eileen Tierney was born on 19/11/1915. She was one of five kids Mary (Peg), Ron, Bob and William. Great Uncle Ron is one of the soldiers in the famous picture in World War II in Arnhem. Her father James Tierney was killed in France in World War I. She grew up around lodge lane and ended up living there. She got married to George (Harry) Roper in 1942 and first born was Jean in 1943. She had other children Lilian (my mum) and Ken and Eric. During the war whilst everyone was out the house was bombed. She returned to the front of the house and opened the door but there was nothing left of the house when she opened the front door just the front of the house remained and nothing behind the door ! She then lived in Sutherland Street. With four kids and just a two up two down and great uncle Ron living with them the family ended up housed in two separate houses. During the war my nan and her sister Peg moved to Llandudno making aeroplane parts in the Hotpoint factory. Peg ended up staying in Llandudno and I have fond memories of visiting her there as a child. Eventually in 1957/58 my nan was re-housed to a council house in Wingate Road Aigburth. Originally just after World War I the construction company building the new terraced houses in Aigburth Vale ran out of money. The council stepped in and paid for the last few houses to be built and thus the anomaly of council houses in Aigburth Vale. When my nan and grandad (gaga) drove up to to their new house my nan looked at what would have been a luxurious 3 bedroom terraced with indoor toilet and insisted that my gaga had got the wrong road. They drove around Aigburth before realising this was indeed the house that was on offer and the rest as they say is history and nearly 60 years later I am living there. Holidays back in the day were staying in a house in New Brighton for a week which was owned by the owner of the corner shop my nan worked in at the time. Later on it was a chalet in Rhyl, North Wales. December 1973 seen my nan’s mum die on christmas eve. She was known as “Nain” or as we thought “Nein” which I think is welsh for nan. So when my nan became a great grandma we used the term “Nein” So one day maybe my missus will become a great grandma and claim to the the third person to be called “Nein”  So as her kids grew up and flew the nest I can remember my nan working in the Liver laundrette in Aigburth Vale and that is still open to this day. Into retirement and my gaga died early in the 1980’s and it was at this point due to cost my nan decided to give up smoking in her early 60’s. As she grew older most of her social clubs stopped because everybody had died !! She was young in mind though often donating stuff for the “old ones” even though she was in her 80’s and deciding even though the pavements were icy she would go down the shop for her morning paper in some slip on shoes ! I think it was her secret to live so long to keep young in the mind. We arranged for her to have a thing around her neck that she could pull or press if she had a fall and it was linked to the phone. Everytime we went to hers it was wrapped up neatly next to the TV “I’m not wearing that, its for old people” said the 90 year old Eileen. From a quick guesstimate she had at least 12 grandchildren and several great grandchildren all who’s name were on her birthday calendar in the front room so she never forgot. Looking back she had a tough old life and lived life in reverse. In the late 40’s and 50’s not having much money and 4 mouths to feed over two properties and then towards the end of her life having too much money in state benefits and retirement pension and spending the spare change on scratch cards and cable TV so she could sit and watch endless repeats of The Bill on UK Gold.

So there is a brief bit about my relationship with my nan and some of her history. A special woman in my life who would have been 100 today and if she had been alive we would have been celebrating with some chips from Steve’s chippy in Aigburth Vale and a chocolate cake. She might of even had a whisky (Her fave tipple) but when asking for some water to put in it she would quickly pull us up and say “Not too much water” A woman born in 1915 when things were tough. Losing her dad at a very young age. Seeing her house bombed in the war and her husband going off to fight in it but thankfully making it back. Just some unimaginable things that people of my age cant even begin to get our head around. I mean if the wifi in the house goes off that is a major drama. I can’t underestimate the effect seeing my mum be ill for nearly 10 years and dying had on her. As ever she carried it all off with a stone like impression of must get on with things but deep down underneath I knew that must have affected her. You don’t expect to bury your children even at a later age. So thanks for everything nan and I will raise a glass to you tonight and buy a special pack of Blue Ribband and rob them off myself. You never got to know about my wife being pregnant with our youngest Holly. Well she has a middle name of Eileen (Poor girl) and she can read this when she is older and learn all about her “Nein” Actually shed a small tear proof reading this today. They years might whizz by but it still sneaks up and gets you sometime !

Some pics below of my nan (Click for larger version)


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Eileen Roper 1940's
Nan in 1940’s
Gaga Nan Jean
Gaga, Nan, Jim & Jean
Gaga (Bottom row 2nd in from wall)
Lil Eric Jean
Mum (Lil) Eric & Jean
Nan & Adam
Nan and Adam
Nan & Aunty Peg
Nan & Aunty Peg
Nan & Gaga Llandudno
Nan & Gaga at Llandudno
Nan & Sue Otterspool
Sue & Nan down Otterspool early 1980’s
Nan &Aunty Peg Wingate
Nan & Aunty Peg in what is now our house
Nan in Salou
Nan as Miss Salou mid 1980’s
Nan Otterspool
Nan down Otterspool
Nan Ruby Wedding
Gaga & Nan at their Ruby wedding anniversary
Roper Family
The Roper clan from L-R Jean, Nan, Aunty Peg, Eric, Nein (Nan’s mum) and Lil (My mum) Ken front row


Nan’s 88th Birthday
Nan with my eldest Elizabeth
Nan with my second daughter Charlotte

Nasher and A Ray Of Charles.

So Friday night and an attempt to make two gigs in one night. On knocking for my mate at 5.45 he answered the door in his shorts as he was cooking tea for the family. Now retired he is seemingly losing his marbles and unable to read 24 hour clock times in text messages. Anyway we had time to spare as I was gonna splash out and go mad and get a Saveaway but a train only ticket was the better option. So we headed over to the other side of the water and to New Brighton for a gig at The Floral Pavilion where we met my other mate. Sadly there were a lot more people for a Billy Fury play than to see our first artist Nasher. Now for those of you who don’t know Nasher is Brian Nash who was guitarist in the short lived mega group of the 1980’s Frankie Goes To Hollywood and co writer of all the big hits we all know. I had managed to get us tickets on the front table and sadly the turnout wasn’t great for the gig. I am sure a Liverpool gig would have had a better turnout as New Brighton is a pain in the arse place to get to and back from after a gig. Not like your gonna spend the rest of the night after the gig in New Brighton is it ? So Nasher came on stage armed with a guitar and effects. First up was a Frankie Song “Maximum Joy” which he was playing for the first time and the hypnotic backing track with great guitar and vocal had me at that point. Post Frankie Nasher has released three albums “Ripe” “Le Grand Fromage” and “A Lo Minimo” and the rest of the first part was songs from these albums and some new ones. Nasher held the stage well and was conformable having a ramble in between songs which is something I like and I don’t even mind the odd rant and he was trying his best to keep the profanities down as there were a few kids in the crowd but that didn’t last too fucking long. It was time for a break and a chance to restock on the Desperados. The second part was more of the same with some interesting and very poignant descriptions and tales of the songs being played. The second Frankie track of the night was “The Power Of Love” which was ended in Tom Jones style as some red underwear was thrown Nashers way (No it wasn’t me) Proudly hung up on his microphone a song with a serious back story was played with the aforementioned red panties on full view. Keen not to finish the gig on such a serious note it was time for a cover of “Tainted Love” and that was that finished nice and handy. I bought some “Merch” the latest CD “A Lo Minimo” which has the cracking track “May your god go with you” and the even more stunning opening line “I’m sick of news of Arabs and Jews kicking off” We grabbed Brian to say a quick thank you after the gig though resisted any new trend to get a photograph and stalk him as having The Christians in my house on Friday is the peak of super fan stalking (Blog on this here) So below are a few pictures from the gig. I was kindly given permission from Colin Armstrong Photography to use a few pictures. Please do check Nasher out on and Babylonpink on Facebook and Twitter and hopefully that 4th album will be with us as soon as Nasher gets his arse into gear.

Nasher live at New Brighton Floral Pavilion

Nasher liver at New Brighton Floral Pavilion

So as mentioned the Nasher gig had finished handy about 10pm so it was an Anneka Rice style Treasure Hunt race back over to Liverpool to try and catch out second gig of the night and the second part of the set by A Ray Of Charles. This time it was at Constellations in the Baltic triangle are of Liverpool. An area I love to have a drink in if you can get past the beards. Yes I know I had a beard last year but it was an ironic Grizzly Adams beard to mock all these hipsters with beards and putting “Product” in them. The only product in my beard were flakes of sausage rolls and crumbs of Penguin biscuits. So a Ray Of Charles is a band fronted by Russell Christian from another scouse band The Christians and a tribute to Ray Charles. Now this wasn’t a gig of their own but they were more an act on for a night being held in Constellations. So we entered Constellations and it looked more like a warehouse rave than a Ray Charles tribute gig. How were the crowd going to change from the deep beats of house music to sax and piano of ray Charles. Don’t fear once the band were on even more people were dancing. I think the Ray Charles bit was scaled back for more generic Motown/Soul hits etc but would have to see the band again to confirm this ? E.G songs you could have a good old sing and dance to and did the crowd dance and sing. With a couple of encores that was that and I will deffo be looking to see A Ray Of Charles again and hopefully in a venue dedicated to music for a better sound and also this venue had gone a bit mad on the fog machine and not so much the lights so we had to go right up the front to be able to see the band (just) Russell was vocally great and a mean keyboard player. Straight after the band a Frankie Knuckles classic “Your Love” was played and the mini warehouse rave started. That was the peak dance music wise we headed towards the giant courtyard and into the mild November air for one last Desperados and then a cab home.

Constellations Liverpool

So we did the two gigs in one night. Funny to think that both artists were part of great Liverpool bands who have sold millions of records yet years later they are playing to much smaller crowds. Funny thing the music business though I am sure both artists are thoroughly enjoying themselves with what they are doing now.


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Dear Jim can you fix it for me to meet @thechristians

Dear Jim can you fix it for me to meet one of my favourite bands The Christians might have wrote a 13 year old me back in 1987. Thankfully I didn’t thus escaping the clutches of Mr Savile but not meeting the band who’s posters were now on my wall after all my Frankie Goes To Hollywood ones had been replaced. Such a fickle art gallery is a young teenagers bedroom wall. Anyway fast forward 28 years and my Jim’ll fix it moment might arrive and with the added bonus of no Jim. A quick glance on Facebook and one of Liverpool’s finest bands were after somebody to play their new album on vinyl as they did not own a record player. The new album by The Christians called “We” was released a few weeks back and very good it is to. I got a download copy as I had pledged to buy the vinyl once it was released. So I replied and said that I had a record player and was local in Aigburth. As I was first in locally and the lead singer Garry arranged to come around to ours. Fuck me Jim has fixed it ! Quick clean the house from top to bottom and give it a lick of paint some scouse musical royalty is coming around. So the nerves set in then. I had stood next to Garry in the chippy on Allerton Road when I was sneaking out of school at lunch time and said nowt. I have had chances at several gigs to introduce myself but have never done so and now he was coming into my office AKA The Wingate Arms. Mrs Fay tried desperately to hang on to see this bit of scouse musical royalty come to ours but had to go out in the end and just a moment later there was a knock at the door. Not only was it Garry but two of the band with him as well Joey and Neil. I assume Garry wanted some back up going into the strange house of some superfan nerd of near 30 years. Lets face it there are some weirdo’s about.

So it was quite cosy in The Wingate Arms as I took lunch at work. Garry noticed my “The Christians” album canvas I had done when I set up my “boys” room and I bet he was thinking that the back up of the band was a good idea. Anyways the white label was out and we listened to a few tracks and all sounded good and I had a quick chat with the lads. Kindly Garry left me a test pressing of the vinyl album and they all signed it and I had to take a picture of The Christians in The Wingate Arms (See below) As quick as they had come in they left happy with what they had heard. 5 mins later and there was another knock at the door. Ahh they need the white label back they were unsure if they could give out or not. Luckily enough Joey had just left his bag in the kitchen. I promptly listened to the album in work and it was all OK and in correct order etc so I let Garry know via Facebook like the superfan must !! The rest of the afternoon in work flew as I listened to the rest of my Christians Vinyl. Perhaps I could of dragged my daughters guitars down from upstairs and I could have bootlegged an album “Live in the Wingate Arms” by The Christians. I don’t think I will ever have a lunch break in work like that again in my lifetime. Just waiting for my Jim’ll fix it badge now but on second thoughts I will swerve that.

The Christians in the Wingate Arms

Funny how things work out. Back in 1987 I would never had envisaged The Christians coming around to my house. Or meeting Henry Priestman for a pint in The Fullwood Arms and not to mention blagging in by mistake to a Deacon Blue after party in Kings Cross after a gig and getting free ale and meeting the band. This makes me sound like some kind of Avid Merrion stalker but those of you who know me know how reserved I can be at times. I was once in a lift with John Barnes and said nothing to him and it was only because I was bevvied at a sportsmans dinner I had the courage to get a picture with Jan Molby. Anyway just off to list this exclusive signed test pressing of “We” by The Christians on E-Bay. As if I would it goes in pride of position in my vinyl collection. Do listen to the new album and catch the band who are sounding as good as ever.

"We" The Christians Test Pressing


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One Directions farewell concert.

So Saturday team Fay minus the smallest Holly (3) headed up to Sheffield as middle sprog Charlotte (7) was finally getting her chrimbo present and to see her beloved One Direction. Now when the tickets were bought all was good in camp 1D well they were down to 4 after Malik jibbed it but a new album and tour were announced. By the time we got around to October 31st the Sheffield gig was the final gig and a self imposed hiatus was on the cards. Driving up to Sheffield was a trip back to the 1980’s and listening to Chelsea vs Liverpool on the radio. We got to Sheffield in good time thanks to the iPhone but then it was sending us up a bus and taxi lane. 30 mins later and having done a tour of Sheffield’s one way and no way due to a tram system and at the fourth time of asking I could take no more and went down the bus lane. Two mins later we were at the hotel. I am awaiting a letter from Sheffield in the post with a nice fine in and then time for a begging letter from myself. This mini tour of Sheffield caused a near divorce between me and Mrs Fay in the car as her help would have been good if she had given one direction but she gave no direction. So how we laughed about it in the hotel and we got ready and headed of to the Meadowhall shopping centre courtesy of one of Sheffield’s brilliant trams. A quick tour of some shops, all of which I stood outside (Yep girl shops !! ) and we have a nice scran and then headed off to the Motorpoint Arena in Sheffield. Now all you 1D fans who are here to get a review and footage of 1D’s final gig I am sad to announce that me and the eldest daughter did not go to the gig. There is no way on earth I could sit through a One Direction gig, well maybe if I was divorced and was on a MILF hunt even then at £50 a ticket I think it would be better to go to Flares or Pop World (More on this later) So me and Elizabeth went for a game of 10 pin bowling which I duly took the championship. We then headed down to the Ice Arena Sheffield to take in an ice hockey match and the Sheffield Steeldogs versus the Hull Pirates. I had never been to an ice hockey match and most probably never will again. We took our seats and found we had sat in with the voiciferous away fans AKA The Pirates. I was amazed at how much you could actually see the puck. There was the odd barge into the side and the odd scrap as I expected but with the clock stopping for breaks in play and 15 mins gap in-between each third of play it was a long old night. It was finely balanced at 3-3 at the second break when me and Elizabeth had gone to get a scran when we noticed a second ice rink. Two in one place when Liverpool doesn’t even have one ! We decided we had seen enough puck action for one night and we donned our skates and I turned into Robin Cousins. On leaving the rink we heard a big cheer, my god it was 10pm and the ice hockey match had started at 7:30. Apparently with 8 seconds to go the Steeldogs had got a penalty with the scores at 4-4 and it had been slotted. 5-4 to the Steeldogs. Time to get out before the Hull massive kicked off after they had already been chanting towards the dodgy Sheffield goalie when I was there with the quirky but straight to the point “You a sieve, your a sieve” which no goalkeeper wants to hear. Into the cold Sheffield night and Elizabeth found it highly amusing that as I was hot from one hours skating my bald head was steaming away in the chilled northern night time air.

Fay at Ice Sheffield.

So Sunday morning and I went for a walk and a pilgrimage to the home of a certain sport. Soon I was there at the mighty crucible theatre. I had spent many hours watching snooker on the BBC as a child coming live from this venue. Whispering Ted Lowe commentating the excellent David Vine as host and who would have thought that actually one day I would be well on my way to becoming big Bill Werbeniuk’s stunt double. To be honest it just looked the the side of St Johns Market with The Crucible on instead. Ahh but what magic went on in there unlike St John’s market were the only magic was if you escaped the smell of all the butchers without throwing up. I was checking the pubs that were closed in Sheffield and it dawned on my how much every city centre is similar (Yate’s, Walkabout, Wetherspoons, Pop World and Flares) were five places I walked past. Such a shame that the nightlife has gone much the way of the high street (Or what is left of the high street) and is the same old shite in almost every place you go to now.

The Crucible Sheffield

It was a lovely sunny morning and warm for the start of November and a perfect day to head to Buxton on the way home. Having memories of for some reason going to Buxton when I was a kid I last went 10 years ago with the missus and a then very little Elizabeth. On arrival the parking machine promptly had me off for a fiver with no ticket before then taking another fiver off me and giving me a ticket. First up and we headed up to Poole’s cavern and the geography nerd in me was in my element as we entered the underground cave system. With an extremely animated tour guide it was very interesting and I even answered one of his questions which was “How do you remember the difference between stalactites and stalagmites” here my first class scouse comprehensive education from Calderstones School kicked in and I always remember my chemistry teacher saying “Just remember tights come down” and giving a carry on style laugh. How could you ever forget that bit of teaching. So I answered the tour guide with “Tights come down” to which he replied “That is one way of remembering” before giving his proper answer and moving quickly onto the next bit of his talk. I still maintain that the “Tights come down” is the best way to remember the way stalactites and stalagmites form. Walking on the way up to the cavern a local said we must walk up to Solomon’s Temple as it was such a lovely day the view would be well worth it so the kids were dragged up a hill for 20 mins before we reached the temple. What a cracking view it was on the lovely clear blue sky sunny day and you could see for miles around the local Derbyshire scenery. So a walk back into Buxton town centre and a walk around it was time to head home after a lovely weekend with the family (Minus Holly) and it was time to compare pictures of when Elizabeth was last in Buxton. In much the same spot she is far too cool to sit on her dads knee this time (See picture below) and I vow to take her back to this speck when she is 18 for the next photo. Well worth a little trip out to Buxton from Liverpool if you can as ever nail the weather and all I can round this blog off is with a farewell and good luck to One Direction.

Peppy in Buxton

Solomons Temple Buxton

Poole's Cavern Buxton


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