George Porter was born on the fault-line, that perilous place where he lived neither in material comfort nor in abject poverty. To one side of his family’s cramped home in Waterloo, were the terrors of the Liverpool slums, where they would surely end up if his father continued to bet on losers; to the other were the well-to-do who lived in council houses and had manners and ways of life that were completely alien to ‘little Georgie.’ His boyhood heroes were Flash Gordon, Zorro and - best of all - Popeye, and though he’d never heard of philosophy, he came to realise that Popeye’s cry of ‘I am what I am’ was a good enough guide to getting through life. Written off by the education system for failing the eleven-plus, George spent his time kicking toe-enders against the wall of the pub and dreaming of playing alongside the great Billy Liddell, while his brother went to Grammar School to learn Latin and rugby, subjects that it was assumed that George would have no possible use for. His life changed when he joined the Boy Scouts, acquired an armful of badges, bought the militaristic propaganda wholesale, and signed up at the age of 14 to join the Army. In this witty memoir full of fascinating characters, George Porter perfectly captures the spirit of Liverpool in the aftermath of war; what it was like to be told you had your ‘brains in your boots’ because you couldn’t recite your twelve times table; and how just one fortuitous meeting changed his life.
Keywords: Liverpool, Waterloo Liverpool, Mersey, Southport, Scouse, Scouser, memoir