At My Mother's Knee...: and other low joints
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Paul O'Grady is one of Britain's very best-loved entertainers. He is known and adored by millions, whether as the creator of the acid-tongued Blonde Bombsite, Lily Savage, or the presenter of the fantastically successful, award-winning Paul O'Grady Show on Channel 4.
Now, in his own unique voice, Paul O'Grady tells story of his early life in Irish Catholic Birkenhead that started him on the long and winding road from mischievous altar boy to national treasure. It is a brilliantly evoked, hilarious and often moving tale of gossip in the back yard, bragging in the corner shop and slanging matches on the front doorstep, populated by larger-than-life characters with hearts of gold and tongues as sharp as razors.
At My Mother's Knee features an unforgettable cast of rogues, rascals, lovers, fighters, saints and sinners - and one iconic bus conductress. It's a book which really does have something for everyone and which reminds us that, when all's said and done, there's a bit of savage in all of us...
harmless old queen really, just don’t let him get you into his flat.’ Here we go again. What was it with these old fruits? And why did they single me out? What am I going to do if he tries his hand? I’ve only just got this job and I don’t want to lose it, and if I don’t oblige then he might not only sack me but Aunty Anne and my mother as well. All these questions ran through my mind as we drove through the Mersey Tunnel in Lenny’s E-type, with me keeping a careful check on Lenny out of the
adoption. The traumatized girls were left to a lifetime of slavery under a brutal regime in the laundry as a penance for their sins. Being a Catholic, however lapsed, meant an abortion was out of the question; besides, Aunty Chris had heard too many horror stories about desperate young women who had visited Fat Pat Murphy, a backstreet abortionist in Rock Ferry, and ended up bleeding to death in agony, to even consider termination. No, she intended to have her child and bring him up as a single
older sister, had an auburn beehive that defied gravity. She was never seen without her best mate Maeve, whose name I was to borrow years later for Lily’s confirmation name. Tricia – I’m sure she’d deny it today but I could swear that I saw her doing it – used to practise her jiving technique, in the absence of a partner, by tying a stocking to the doorknob. The eldest, Mickey, had that heady something that could only be described as a whiff of Hollywood glamour. He was a merchant sailor, tall,
he wasn’t a gangster after all. He owned a boutique. My gentle dad wasn’t too keen on the idea of me bashing ten bells of shite out of someone every Tuesday night. He thought it was making me aggressive. He was right – it was. I didn’t have a boxer’s discipline; at the slightest sign of confrontation I’d punch first and ask questions later. In the end I gave up the boxing, but I stayed in the marine cadets. I really did love it. We went on night exercises to remote parts of North Wales and
played war games and survival skills. It was pure Avengers, crawling through the undergrowth with a rifle strapped to my back, creeping up on the enemy and immobilizing him. In fact when I eventually did leave the captain visited my parents, much to my mother’s surprise (and amusement), and asked them if they could persuade me to stay, as he thought that I might have a career in the marines. But it was too late. I’d moved on to other things, discovered other pleasures. My brother Brendan was a