Y NOT? The other side of Liverpool

Ringo's Childhood Friend Marie Maguire Talks about The Dingle

David Bedford talks to Ringo’s Childhood Friend, Marie Maguire

This interview is from the book, "Liddypool: Birthplace of The Beatles" by David Bedford. BUY LIDDYPOOL NOW

David Bedford lived in the Dingle from 1969 - 1989, living by the bottom

of Madryn Street where Ringo was born. He also attended St. Silas School, which was the primary school that Ringo had attended some 25 years earlier.

The Dingle often comes in for stereo-typing as a dark, miserable, rough area. This isn't a true reflection of the character and nature of a community that, although was poor, was a good place to grow up. Was the Dingle as bad as Ringo has tried to reflect in his Liverpool 8 album, and now, on his new album "Y Not", with the song "The Other Side of Liverpool".

I therefore tracked down Marie Maguire, Ringo's childhood friend who knew him, and the area, better than anyone.

David BedfordBELOW: RINGO'S DINGLE: The Empress Pub at the top of Admiral Grove, where Ringo grew up; Madryn Street where Ringo was born

Born in The Dingle, Marie Crawford, nee Maguire, remembers the young Ritchie Starkey well. Her family moved into 10, Madryn Street (right) in June 1943, immediately opposite Elsie and Ritchie’s house.

Recently interviewed by David Bedford, she was asked:

What do you remember about The Dingle?

“It was a lovely place to grow up: not the squalid slums that some writers portray it as, especially when they’ve never been near the place. I remember that you could walk in and out of each other’s houses, with your door being open all the time. Everyone knew everybody else. You knew who your neighbours were and we helped each other out. That was what it was like, and why I was happy to help out. Ritchie’s dad had moved out when Ritchie was only three, and so Elsie had to work to pay the rent.

“When our family moved to Madryn Street, we lived opposite the Starkeys who lived at number 9 (left). Mum became good friends with Elsie Starkey, and I was regularly called in, and trusted, to baby-sit young Ritchie. This would often entail going to Ritchie’s grandparents’ house at the bottom of Madryn Street where I would collect him—often fast asleep. I would carry him home and put him to bed.

“Mum and Elsie became good friends and I spent a lot of time with young Ritchie. When he was near his seventh birthday, his appendix burst and he contracted peritonitis and was very ill. On 7 July 1947, Elsie was called into the hospital, as they weren’t sure if he was going to make it. I remember that day, because it was the day my father died. But mum still went with Elsie and sat with her through the night, even though she had lost her husband that same day: she wanted to stay with her in her time of need”.

If you want to know what growing up in a community like The Dingle was like, then this selfless act sums it up. For those who don’t know the area, then it is hard to describe. Those who do understand Liverpool will not be surprised. Ritchie went to St. Silas School but Marie went to Mount Carmel, the local Roman Catholic School. However, this brought up an interesting point about the clash of religion.

“I was brought up a Catholic by my mum, and Elsie was a member of the Orange Lodge—staunch Protestants who normally hate the Catholics. However, mum and Elsie celebrated the 12 July (Orange

Lodge celebration) and 17 March (St. Patrick’s Day for the Irish Catholics). They would sing the songs together and enjoy the day, and proved that not all Protestants and Catholics had to hate each other”.

Ritchie became ill again and most books say it was pleurisy. Marie disputes that long-held belief.

“Ritchie contracted tuberculosis (TB) which of course was serious. At the time, there was a terrible stigma attached to having TB, and so the family said it was pleurisy. He was at the convalescent home in Heswall on the Wirral. That is when I took him Eric Delaney’s record, ‘Bedtime for Drums’, which he loved”.

While convalescing, children with TB would spend a lot of time in bed, often outside in the sunshine and fresh air. Part of the therapy to relieve boredom was to give the boys some ‘noise time’. This consisted of giving them a toy drum or tambourine to bang and crash while sitting on their beds. It was here that Ritchie developed his love for drumming, helped along by Marie’s simple but memorable gift.

The other Beatles moved their parents out of Liverpool when they became famous. John moved Mimi to Poole in Dorset; Paul moved Jim to Heswall and George moved Harry and Louise to Appleton near Warrington. Elsie didn’t want to move too far, so Marie helped Ringo

to find a house for his mum and stepfather.

“Elsie wanted to be close enough to come back to see her friends. Admiral Grove was surrounded by fans twenty-four hours a day, which was awkward, particularly as the toilet was still in the yard. So I went and found three houses which I thought could be acceptable. She and Harry chose the bungalow in Heath Hey in Woolton, which was a lovely house”.

Marie and Ritchie moved on in their adult lives. Marie has been a leading tour guide in Liverpool for many years. She has fond memories of the young boy who went on to become one of the most famous men on this planet. Her viewpoint is refreshing: no dirt, no scandal, just great memories of a special area that produced a famous son—a lad who grew up to become Ringo Starr. But to Marie he will always be Ritchie.

Copyright David Bedford, Liddypool 2009


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