Bernie Davis 1945 - 2021
Rod remembers his little brother…..
For the Davis family, as a child Bernie was always “our Bern” or “our Bernard”, he didn’t become Bernie until much later. I remember April 23,1945, when Bernie was born at home in the front bedroom of our house in Woolton. I was taken in to see him by my Dad. This day was also memorable because it actually snowed! However I don’t remember much about him when he was a baby except that he was very chubby. It wasn’t long before he became an entertainer, whether singing “I had a little pony” on the St. Peter’s Sunday School concerts or reciting “Snitch and Snatch” with all the facial distortions. We were sent to the Vernon Johnson School of Dance, which no doubt explains our wonderful sense of rhythm and later we were taught the piano by gaslight by Miss Mabel Pilkington in Church Road. We eventually graduated to duets, which proved our musical downfall. Bernie played the bass end of the piano and we were forever arguing about who played a bum note. In despair, Mum sold the piano to restore some peace to her house. As kids we enjoyed our garden, playing hockey with our sister Rosemary, building aeroplanes out of planks and old tin cans and speeding round on our bikes. On one terrible day Bernie accused me of buckling the wheel of his bike, and when I turned his bike upside down and asked him to show me where the buckle was. I spun the pedals and he stuck his finger into the chainwheel and chopped off the end! Other diversions were electric trains, billiards, darts and swimming. We both were given flippers face masks and snorkels which we used on holiday. In 1956, under the influence of Lonnie Donegan, we acquired a banjo which we both learned to play. We both became members of skiffle groups with friends at Quarry Bank, which we both attended. In 1957 the electric trains were sold to finance a guitar, which was equipped with a carbon mike from a headset, sellotaped to the body and played through a wireless set in lieu of an amplifier. We roped in Rosemary into our music sessions, playing Burl Ives and Carter Family music, as well as the odd rock ‘n’ roll number. While I was away at university and abroad in Germany, Bernie taught Rosemary how to play banjo and guitar, and even taught her how to ride a horse, using the arm of the settee as a saddle. Bernie spent much of his free time at Jim Blundell’s stables in Gateacre, carrying on the tradition of his grandfather Davis who had been an accomplished horseman, jockey and polo player. I moved south in 1968 and Rosemary followed a year or two later. Bernie, who had studied to become a teacher at St. Lukes’s College in Exeter where he had developed into a very useful cross-country runner, was by then working in Knowsley. He continued toi live at home until his marriage to Vera in 1977. They moved to their new home in Aigburth but Bernie frequently called in to visit Mum and Dad on his way home from school. Over the years we would come together to make music at family parties and weddings, one notable occasion was when Bernie sat in on double bass when Rosemary and I were appearing at the Cavern with our band from London, the Armadillos. Bernie had for many years promised me a trip on his boat on the River Dee, and when it eventually took place I was at the helm when the rudder snapped off in the middle of the river. However everything was dealt with calmly and there was no panic and no argument and we came ashore safely! The last thing we did together before Bernie’s stroke was a Podcast for his daughter, Laura, for the Liverpool Daily Post & Echo, during which we strolled around Woolton and reminisced about the old days. I am full of admiration for Bernie’s great determination and courage during the two years when he was recovering from his stroke, backed up of course by the selfless devotion of Vera, Laura and Anna and their families. Every time I pick up my guitar my fingers seem to start playing “All along the water tank…..” …….and I remember my dear little brother Bernie ….. and his fabulous moustache.