Midnight at the last and found.

Hello, hello, we are the City boys… 你好

Sat in the passenger seat across from my Dad, the warm fans blasted heat into my legs and the windows were wound down. The cool Lancashire air drifted in. We were returning from Morecambe to Manchester. It was probably a Sunday night. Dad had been playing heavy metal from Iron Maiden, the early stuff with drums plentiful.

“You see you’re losing, yet you still try The game just a’watches your life go by You’re playin’ well, Oh you’re playin’ the game.” – Meat Loaf’s song Razor’s Edge

Now, in he popped a new cassette, and on played Meat Loaf. The smooth tracks mixed with electric and melodic blues rock took me beyond the car journey. I’d suddenly been transported beyond my pre-teenage self into a world of words sang at just the right tempo to catch my ear. Razor’s Edge is my favourite track on the often-ridiculed album. It has a frantic feel but is such a short song in terms of lyrical content. That’s considering it’s just over 4 minutes long.

“I can tell by the look in your tear-filled eyes;
You need somebody you can hold onto; If you really want to, I’d love to hold you;
If you really want to, then I’d love to be the body that you hold onto.” – Meat Loaf’s song If You Really Want To

I still remember looking at my Dad at the wheel. As a small kid, I looked up to my Dad. He was a colossus of a man with shoulders like bridges and arms like tree trunks. His chest stuck out like a rugby forward. His hands were like two shovels. He smoked casually at the wheel, eyes forward into the traffic and we talked a little. City this. City that. I gained my passion for Manchester City from my Dad. Stories of the ballet on ice, Kippax crowds, Uncle George and Grandad at the games. King Colin Bell, the floral named Summerbee, Franny One-Pen (took me years to understand that name), Tony Book, Trevor Francis, John Bond, Asa Hartford, Paul Powers, Gerry Gow and so on. Many other names were mentioned but times eroding effect on a kid’s memories can be harsh.

We talked lego, steam trains and finally Dad introduced me to Meat Loaf. With the finale of the Midnight at The Lost and Found album, Dad ejected the cassette and popped in Bat Out of Hell. The first Meat Loaf album I’d heard had been like a warm up act. Now I was spellbound by the range of vocals, the ferocity and energy, the theatrical length of several tracks and the tracks within tracks. The lyrics of Jim Steinman were sensational and to this day are poetry in musical form. A few weekends later Dad played me Dead Ringer on vinyl. Fond memories. I can’t wait to talk with my Dad again on a video call soon. If only the VPN would work with Messenger, Skype or something to make it. easy. Here’s hoping. Until then writing helps homesickness.

Goodnight from China. 晚安

J6: 2005 – Granddad Ernie

On the 10th of April 2005, following a lengthy period in Fairclough Hospital, in Bury, Ernie died.  A few weeks before his death he had married my Granny.  The wedding was held within the hospital owing to his ill health.  The hospital provided a ring and the cake.  Mum found out on the phone later that night.  I had visited Ernie only a week before his death.  He looked very ill, very underweight and was incoherent.  He still knew who I was and gave welcome to me by his bedside.  Granny and I walked him to the toilet, but this seemed to strain him of any strengths he had left.  Granny and Ernie had looked after me when my sister was taken to hospital after she was knocked down.  On the day we went to the local station and watched as the trains passed by.  That night I stayed my Granny’s house.  There were many of the times during the difficult week that followed that merited a waterfall of tears.



On a Tuesday, some days later, myself, Paul, Paul junior, and Astrid set off to Granny’s house.  Granny had lived in north Manchester, in Moston for over 16 years.  In 1989 Granny had met Ernie.  They became very close friends and eventually moved in together.  Ernie would always look after my Granny.  Granny and Ernie would always visit us in south Manchester.  We would sometimes visit markets together.  Ernie would look out for many collectable goods, e.g. steam memorabilia.  We would sometimes visit museums and places where we could see working steam engines and many other engineering pieces.  Ernie was a steam enthusiast.  One Christmas when I was young and still at primary school Ernie and Granny treated me to a working steam engine model.  I was very proud to be given such a gift.  The gift had clearly cost my Granny and Ernie a large amount of money, but it would always be of sentimental value. I plan to power it up this February.

We arrived at Granny’s house for noon.  Paul junior and Astrid went to the shop to buy some fizzy drinks.  Myself and Paul had a cup of tea with Granny.  Aunty Carolyn and her husband Phil arrived with my cousin Kelly soon after, as well as my Great Uncle Eric and Great Aunty Mary.   A few friends of the family also attended.  Many well wishers passed by and offered my Granny their deepest sympathies.

The procession set out and arrived later on at the cemetery.  A procession passed through Blakeley and most of Moston.  We passed some kids and in my mind, I had judged them to be no good kids but one of them removed his cap to reveal that he was paying huge respect to the passing procession.  This was a touching moment.  We arrived at the cemetery close to half two in the afternoon.  The coffin was carried into a large room, within this large room stood the priest of the front.  The priest recited some sermons and read aloud some psalms.  He then paid tribute to Ernie Freeman.  The final piece of music before we left the room was that of a steam engine puffing up and sounding its horn.  Outside the priest thanked us and offered us his blessing.  Flowers were lay on the ground outside as a tribute to the man we were paying respect to that day.

I sat in the funeral car, and the door blew in the breeze.  The door creaked.  Ernie would have oiled the car door, or taken it apart just to fix the problem.  This thought made me cry.  I will always miss him and will always wish that I’d got to know him better.  He was a very interesting man who I admired greatly.  He was honest, caring and considerate.  He was witty and a true gentleman.  Even though he was not my real biological grandfather I will always call him my granddad.

Our procession then went to a public house in Fallowfield, of the name of The Willow.  Here we ate sandwiches and had a few drinks in the final way of paying tribute to Ernie.

My Granddad George was admitted to hospital once again in March 2005, and the next month did not look so bright for family matters. Dad’s friend Bert died on the day his wife was buried in early April 2005. It seemed to be a cursed year. It made me feel helpless.

My Granddad, George Acton passed away. I won’t write about this now. I want to write far more about each grandparent soon.


再见/ Zài jiàn / Bài bài / Ta’ra / Goodbye