About the Author
Born in Lancashire, England, to a stevedore and a homemaker, Kevin E. Buckley was brought up in the working-class suburbs of Liverpool where he played with the other kids on the vacant bomb-sites still left over from the German air assault of the Second World War. Although well before his time, Kevin and most of his contemporaries were regaled with, and deeply influenced by, their parents’, aunts’, uncles’ and grandparents’ stories about “the war”.
After being educated within the English school system, as a teenager he taught himself to play the guitar and dreamed of becoming a rock star. Having played in several rock and blues outfits over the years, he eventually realized that a big part of that dream heavily relied upon the element of luck and his connection to music became much more of a leisurely pursuit than a way of life.
Interested in philosophy, he studied logic, physics and chemistry at the University of London, subjects that were a prerequisite for the philosophy degree course at the time. But as he readily admitted later, the prospect of another four years of being a dirt-poor student was not a thought that he greatly relished and — to his regret — he never followed up on the degree.
A creative person at heart and an avid reader all his life, it was a natural step for Kevin to find some measure of fulfilment in the world of writing. Squeezing in time before going to work, his first two books were written entirely in longhand between the hours of 3:30 and 6:30 in the morning by the light of a slow-burning woodstove, a quiet and cloistered activity that he shared only with his canine pal Tucker. He now writes at any hour of the day or night, addicted to the act of putting pen to paper; and what was at first a hobby has now become a full-blown passion.
The making of a Type 20 C working-class north-western Englishman . . . .
2 cups of the Queen™
3 tablespoons of the Attenboroughs™
2 barrels of the BBC™
11000+/- pots of Mantunna Tea™
6 cloves of Pink Floyd™
300 scoops of Mr. Whippy ice cream™
Garnish with finely-chopped stories of 'the war'™
Instructions: mix well and let sit for eighteen years outside on the streets of a rough and tough, industrial English city.
Iam not a royalist; in fact, I am anything but. Queen Elizabeth II - 'the Queen', not just any old queen - however, is far more than just a mere royal, she is a ginormous institution in her own right that has always been there in my life. She is special, if for nothing else, her sheer longevity. She is also an impeccable royal. You can say what you like about her, but unlike most of the rest of the Windsors, there are no scandals, no ill-chosen words, no suspected or borderline criminal behaviour in her past; just the near perfection of her queenliness. I say 'near' because she has been accused of being somewhat cold and insular, but perhaps they are the necessary attributes of being a successful English monarch. Interestingly, in all of my time as a student within the English school system, I never once remember swearing allegiance to the monarch or even seeing a picture of her around the schools. And yet, the engenderment of English patriotism is a sneaky and subtle process, a very strong force to be reckoned with indeed.
Amongst a variety of other roles, Richard Attenborough starred in many World War Two movies and was oftentimes the absolute epitome of the unflappable English gentleman officer. His brother David, of course, has influenced and inspired several generations of English school children with his ground-breaking and magnificent documentaries about the natural world and the creatures contained therein. Both brothers - in their life reality and in their big and little screen roles - have made a considerable impression upon myself and my contemporaries and they represent on an almost subconscious level, the gentler aspirations of the post-war English child.
The BBC, love it or hate it, is a gigantic force to be reckoned with. When I was growing up, there were no commercials on the BBC's two channels, Beeb one and two. Perhaps there still isn't. Back then, they were funded by the British government and television licences. There were actually detector vans running around the country checking to see if you were watching TV and then checking to see if you'd paid your TV licence fee. If they caught you, you could be charged and fined. Looking back, that all seems kind of crazy, but it's true. They were like the Television Gestapo. The BBC are probably responsible for my absolute hatred of TV commercials and have also served to shape the English national persona in countless different ways. You will notice that in this particular article, I identify with being English as opposed to being British. This national designation has been arrived at by a simple process of elimination. I am not Scottish. I am not Welsh. And I am not Irish. That only leaves English if you happen to hail from the British Isles. So I regard myself as an Englishman. I'm not necessarily proud of that fact, but by the same token, there are a lot worse things to be in this universe.
My step-mother drank a lot of tea. Tetley's™, Typhoo™ and Kardomah™ are/were all fine brands and well-liked in Merseyside where I was brought up, but Mantunna™ was her preference. I drank a lot of tea as well. So did everybody I knew. In fact, tea time is one of the most civilized events devised by human beings and it is my sincere contention that the world would probably be a far, far better place if more people drank more tea. And of course, it doesn't have to be Mantunna Tea™. But it helps.
Pink Floyd. A massive influence on the young KEB. For me, 'Floyd' is one of the ultimate English bands. I can remember taking my girlfriend Janet to the cinema to see 'Live at Pompeii' on a Saturday afternoon matinee. I seem to remember that she was not very impressed and thought it was all just a little bit weird. I thought it was all just a little bit weird too, but I was impressed, as I am to this day. I can remember my friend Paul buying 'Wish You Were Here' while we were still in secondary school and the both of us listening to the vinyl album for the very first time on his record player upstairs in his bedroom and us being blown away by the melancholy, doom-laden music, the lyrics, the sound effects and the magnificent album cover.
The tinkling chimes of the ice-cream man's vehicle would bring all of us kids running in a perfect Pavlovian response. I didn't know who Pavlov was and nor did I care. But I did know that I liked the soft vanilla ice-cream in the sugary cone with a Cadbury's Flake Bar™ protruding from the top and strawberry and chocolate syrup sprinkled generously over the whole thing. Still do, as a matter of fact!
The war was a constant theme throughout my upbringing. In my parents' age group, the 'Germans' retained their title as the world's evil bogeymen for many years after the conflict had ended. All was by no means forgiven, no matter what the politicians might have said. Too many really bad things had happened to let it go that easily. A friend of mine's father could not bear to listen to a German accent without getting angry and my grandmother was very fond of saying, with a mischievous smile, "The Germans will follow a brass band through the gates of Hell." I often heard the adults express the ironic sentiment: that while the so-called 'losers' of the war - the axis powers and specifically Germany and Japan - were now doing fine, thank you very much, the North of England seemed to be in a permanent state of recession. 'The war' had shaped the previous generation's national persona and they were determined to pass along the unfortunate and terrible lessons of that conflict to my peer group partly in an effort to not let us make the same mistakes as they did and partly to get some of their unbelievably tragic stories off their collective chests. And who can blame them? The Second World War is almost beyond belief. It staggers the imagination and the best fiction writers in the world could not come up with a fraction of the devastating and diabolical events that actually took place. It was not my generation's war, but we inherited some small part of it anyway.
For better or worse, this is the sort of stuff that makes up a Type 20C working-class north-western Englishman. I shudder to think what makes up a Type 21C working-class north-western Englishman, when it's probably politically incorrect to even think the words 'English' or 'man' or even 'Type', never mind say them. I'm pretty sure, however, it's still quite acceptable to refer to the unwashed ranks of the English under-privileged cannon-fodder caste (from which I was once synthesised) as the working-class. Some things never change. There'll always be an England . . . won't there?