The early years

Chrissie (far left) with her brothers and mother, after World War 2

Does anyone expect to write something about their lives? I think that many people do. The writers of most of the life stories I have read seem to have been prepared with a genealogical list and tales of family achievements dating back many years. In my background things were very different. All I know is that I was born in 1938 to Frederick and Maureen Lewington, the fifth of six children. What came before I can only guess. Memories of my parents are dominated by my vivid impressions of the sheer pressure they were under while trying to feed six children in wartime Liverpool.

Later I would find out, through whispers, about my father’s previous marriage and about half brothers and sisters whom I have never met. These things, though, were not spoken of in front of the children, and even now I know hardly any family history beyond my own first memories. My older brothers were born at roughly two-year intervals. Don was the eldest, followed by Eddie then Frederick (who we called Toshy) and John. Two years later I was born, to be followed by Michael six years later.

We grew up in Pringle Street, Tuebrook, a poor area of Liverpool. It consisted of crumbling Victorian terraced housing that had been built in a frenzy to house the massive population growth of the city after the Irish potato famine. We had the legacies of Irish Catholicism: a large family and hunger.

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