While visiting cemeteries in Liverpool I drove to Cretan Road in Wavertree to find the childhood home of Leonard. I'd just come from Sefton Park so Wavertree seemed a little threadbare - lots of tired building with weeds being the only snatches of green. Even the rats walked round in pairs for safety.
Leonard was born above what was a barbers shop at number 19. I found it by walked passed it as a brutal-looking woman with a brutal-looking dog were watching me. I thought I'd wait for them to pass by. I returned to the car and pretended to check something and walked back up the road. Brutal-looking woman had done a U-turn and was coming down the road again. She didn't take her eyes off me. Getting closer I nodded with a cheesy smile.
"Do you know where you're going?" she asked rather brusquely.
Use honesty to disarm her I thought and said, "I heard the actor Leonard Rossiter was born there at number 19?"
She looked aghast...because she was.
"I've lived here for donkeys years and you're the first person who's ever mentioned that. Where did you find out that?"
She could faintly remember Leonard and was the only person left on the road who could. Her mum knew the Rossiter family well in the thirties. She said number 19 had been butchered to make four bedsits for university students.
I gave her one of my cards with my internet address on it but she "didn't do anything modern - Pot Noodles are as modern as I get." She entered the door of a house that emitted a whiff of mushrooms. A young man with an impatient Staffordshire Bull Terrier shouted across the street, "Are you a landlord, mate? I'm looking for somewhere to live. It's okay the dog's potty trained, mate" Blimey, a dog that goes in a potty - that's pretty good.
While having a coffee from the flask in the car I wondered when the last time Leonard had walked down this road. As his dad had been bombed in an air raid while driving an ambulance he probably wanted to get away from Liverpool and never come back. I'll come back though. If I'm passing by in fifty years looking for yet another grave I'll drive down here. I doubt will have changed much. I drove slowly passed up to the main road, did a salute at number 19 and left.
You just have to salute don't you?