Friday, 22 August 2014

Meeting up again on the Mersey. Ian Stewart

Back in the seventies, I met a friend of my friend Malcolm’s, called Jon. I called on him one day as Malcolm had told me he was leaving for a town in the north to take up a job running a hostel or something similar. I had only known him for a short time but found him a likeable character with a sense of humour that was very upbeat, and I wished him well in his new job and thought that we probably wouldn’t meet again.

Over the years, however, Malcolm kept in touch with him and recently asked if I remembered him. I did; he was the sort of person you wouldn’t forget as he was full of enthusiasm for life. Malcolm explained that Jon had been diagnosed with MS and was now living in Liverpool, a city I had only a distant recollection of en route to RAF Jurby on the Isle of Man as a school cadet. Malcolm asked me if I would like to join him on a trip to Liverpool to see Jon and I was delighted, as he had crossed my mind over the years and I wondered how he was coping with his illness.

We took the train to Liverpool on a Day Return ticket and as soon as we arrived at Lime Street, Jon was there to meet us. Malcolm had warned me that Jon was not as mobile as he was, but thankfully Jon was still able to walk and we promptly set off on a boat trip across the Mersey to see the Royal Liver building from the river. Jon was still the likeable character I remembered with his distinctive sense of humour and we all three got on well together, stopping off at a cafĂ© where I was able to taste a bowl of “scouse” – like an irish stew – from where Liverpudleans get their slang name.
Jon had recently moved into a wardened flat with a lovely view down on the garden in a quiet suburb and he seemed content. We talked about times present and times past and he introduced me to a German music group I had never encountered, Tangerine Dream, and afterwards he showed us to the station where we could get back to Lime Street and return to London.

I’m glad that Malcolm suggested the trip and it was good to see Jon again and know he has not let his illness get him down. I am still in touch with him and have re-established a friend who at a point years ago I thought I would never see again.

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