9th September 2016:
Bit convoluted this!
Working on a project for the Co-Op at present. I noticed in the script I was given that there was a place called Angel Square mentioned and a picture was needed of said place. Sounds a bit poncey methinks so I googled it. Turns out that it’s the fab new Co-Op building opposite the old CIS in town. The penny dropped! It’s built in a place called Angel Meadow where there was once a cemetery for children and was an extremely poor neighbourhood.
This now leads onto a TV programme from the 80s and some local and family folklore.
In the early 80s there was an excellent drama on BBC called The Gathering Seed. It was set in and around Collyhurst just after the second world war and starred David Threlfall. It was about how the folks of Collyhurst and Angel Meadow lived; which was generally with grinding poverty, drunkenness, domestic violence and incest. Uplifting!?!
Anyway, in one episode David Threlfall’s mother relates a story to him about his dad during the depression in the ’30s. One Sunday afternoon his dad and some mates are having a tincture in the pub. One of his boozing pals is a Belgian immigrant named Johnny Verryt. He invites the boys back to his gaff after the pub (old licensing laws y’see) as he says he’s got a got big pan of stew on simmer.
Being a bit short of cash and in need of a good feed the lads all get to Johnny’s and tuck in. Having eaten and being full of ale, one of the chaps has to pay a visit and heads out the ‘cludgy’ in the backyard. It’s here he spots the remains of several dead cats and twigs that’s what they’ve been chowing down on. At which point Johnny is dragged out into the back entry and given a pasting. I may not have batted an eyelid. After a few jars and if I was hungry enough i’d eat anyone’s cat.
Which brings me on to the end of my story.
When I was a child my Grandma’s sister was married to a man whose family lived in Angel Meadow. My dad tells me that they were almost piss poor, but he liked to visit with his aunt Heather because they were welcoming and more to the point had an old Martini rifle from the Boer war that they used to let my day play with (!!!). Heather’s suitor (as he was at the time) was called Johnny Verryt and his dad ‘Old Johnny’ was the cat murdering/eating Belgian.