Do you ever think about how the roads you walked as a child change the doors that open in your future?
In 1951, seven-year-old Peter Stockley's life was set down a dark path after losing his mother. Her legacy to him was an optimism and spirit that even a vile step-mother could not break, and after an explosive confrontation, Peter set off on a new journey, via an orphanage, to his aunt and uncle's home in a tenement block by the North Liverpool docks: The Billogs.
It was here he became one of 'The Scallywags', a group of streetwise young rascals who knew every inch of the canals, docklands and railway lines. With a turbulent home life, intense family tragedy and a chronic heart murmur, Peter had ground to make up in a golden age when children would play in the streets from dusk until dawn.
But with the Scallywags, he had the run of the city. Peter embarked on a youth of picaresque adventures; clinging to the backs of speeding lorries, treading the boards of bombed houses for firewood, head-spinning climbs up fivestorey block of flats – nothing was out of bounds for the Scallywags. But their adventures also gave him an iron-clad sense of morality, honesty and respect which would go on to shape the rest of his life.
This nostalgic, deeply moving – and often extremely funny – memoir of youth and young manhood in the Liverpool of the fifties and sixties recalls the exuberant joy every child feels at being 'one of the gang', and explores how the future can play out in very unexpected ways.