The other day, Chimpton and I were chatting away – as we do on the odd evening – when the subject of local nutters came up. The other week Andrea told us about Liverpool Nutters and this started us chatting about Birkenhead Nutters we have encountered over the years. Many of them are not really nutters but more like eccentrics or local characters and are quite harmless. Others should really be mental patients but unfortunately we have a thing these days known as care in the community which usually involves the community looking and running the other way.
One of the earliest characters I remember was a guy in the old Birkenhead Market before it was burnt down. I believe his name was Eli. This guy was like an older version of Del Boy, he could sell sand to the Arabs. He would start by pulling some items out of a box; crockery, teapots, clothing, rugs, anything and then he would name a price. With a constant stream of patter he would bring the price down and down until up would go the cry from someone, ’ere yar Eli.
Eli could keep up this constant patter for hours.
I can only just about remember Eli because I was really young but I do remember Harry who moved over to the new market around the 1980s. I think he was a relation of Eli’s or at least he was trained by him because he had the exact same line in patter. I remember Harry selling a woollen jumper and bringing the price down and down when eventually a woman shouted out, ’ere yar Harry. She took the jumper, held it in the air to inspect it and noticed it only had one arm. The woman started kicking off so Harry offered her a further reduction and she was as pleased as punch about her purchase.
I remember thinking at the time that she must have had someone at home who only had one arm. It is only now that I am older and a wiser owl that I realise she was probably going to unpick the wool to knit something else.
I also remember an old dear who used to play the accordion in Grange Road and the precinct. She always reminded me of the Ralph McTell song; The Streets of London.
Her clothes were always in rags and she was rotten. Her playing of the accordion had to be heard to be believed. She would play for hours but she never played a tune that anyone ever recognised.
These people were harmless and where always good entertainment. I remember Harry well and can still picture his face to this day. The following Local Characters I have only heard tell of their legend…
There was an old guy who used to ride the 51 bus. Local folklore has it that he used to be a boxer and won some quite big fights in his time but had gone off the rails when his wife had died of cancer. He would ride from Woodside to New Ferry all day on the bus and when the conductor rang the bell he would jump out of his seat wanting to fight anyone in his vicinity. He thought it was the bell sounding the start of the next round.
Mad Mick in Claughton village used to walk up the road talking to himself and he was followed by a black Labrador dog. Every so often Mad Mick would turn around and tell the dog to fukk off and stop following him – even though it was his dog.
There was an old tramp by the name of George Peacock who had bad eye sight and smelt bad. He would always have crusty sores around his mouth – a bit like Lestly’s eyes – and his personal hygiene left a great deal to be desired. He had a habit of picking the wrong pint up on the bar, having a large drink from it and then saying to its owner, “Oh, sorry son was that yours?” There was no way you wanted it back so you said to him, “No it’s okay, it’s yours now, George.” Funny thing was it never happened again until he was down to his last pint again. He was said to be a semi-professional comedian and used to pack out clubs. His main problem was that he would never turn up to gigs and then he would be found down the road in another pub on a bender, entertaining a pub for free!
Chimpton told me about a guy who used to come into the shop she worked in when she was young. His name was Davey HaHa and local legend has it that he was driven round in a car and force-fed hallucinogens while riding in the boot. He has been a bit funny ever since.
Then there was the Hell’s Angel who lived in New Ferry who didn’t have a bike. His name appears to have been Chopper and he walked everywhere wearing a big German War Helmet but there wasn’t a sign of a bike anywhere.
Mr Odd Shoes used to wonder around the Wirral with the cleanest, highly polished shoes you ever saw. Local legend has it that he used to wander up and down Grange Road helping himself to shoes which were on display outside shoe shops. There may well have been some truth in this because if you looked closely his shoes were always odd and sometimes they were both left shoes.
There was also a bus conductor on Wirral who used to announce the stops in rhyming couplets? Here are two examples of his;
Probably the most famous Birkenhead Nutter is our very own “Tranny On A Bike”. I believe she goes by the name of Stephanie but is not exactly the most graceful or convincing tranny you are likely to encounter.
Steph rides to work in Heswall from New Brighton on a moped and gets nothing but abuse from everyone along the way. Rather cruel you may say, I tend to agree except for one thing. Steph is very masculine in appearance and makes no apology for just planting a blonde wig on her head and putting on a dress. She makes no other change to her appearance other than some makeup that looks like it has been put on by a five year old and – although it is his right – he just looks like a docker wearing a dress.
However, I really can’t help but like our Steph. She volunteers in a charity shop in Heswall and you can always see her doing the Easter Egg Run with Wirral Bikers every year taking Easter eggs to sick kids in hospital.
I just wish she would make just a little more effort to look feminine.
If you’re reading this and know of any “Local Nutters” where you live – especially if you have picture evidence – then send us the details and maybe we can post some more nutter stories.