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Redwall Wiki | Brian Jacques and Redwall Information
Redwall Wiki | Brian Jacques and Redwall Information
Contributed by LordTBT at 6:52PM GMT, 1 April 2010


Dockers, front cover

Brian Jacques is often referenced as a Liverpool docker in the standard biography that is printed in most of the jacket flaps for his books.

After the Liverpool Echo 's announcement of a new 'book' featuring an 'interview' with our man Brian Jacques, I quickly ordered this limited edition souvenir from the online MerseyShop, considering there are probably limited quantities available and the value will only increase over time.

While the publication is a very nice tribute to Liverpudlian docker history, and indeed contains some excellent photographs and interesting recollections, as you can tell by the photograph below, this is more of a well-polished magazine than a book.

Unfortunately, the 'interview' isn't really an interview, it's more of a quick blurb, and contains a whopping 2 quotes from Brian.

Brian's article appears on the top half of page 55 as part of a section entitled "Dock Stars: Star Stories from the River." Brown Bitter, Wet Nellies and Scouse is mentioned, as are some other works with very little context given. I'll provide what I can now.

The Dockers Lament is heralded in the article as a "brilliant piece of modern day storytelling." This poem/song appears in Jakestown: My Liverpool and Yennoworrameanlike; the chorus is as follows:

It's oily and greasy and chockful of ships
And blue with the curses of a thousand dock lips
Where a man can get hurt by a bale or a case
And the working conditions are a bloody disgrace

In regards to this work, Brian stated the following in Yennoworrameanlike:

I wrote this song at the time when the Liverpool Docks system was still in the bad old era and no-one had ever heard of Lord Devlin (God Bless him). Throughout the Decasualisation period he done more to give the Docker a proper living wage and good working conditions which is the basic right of every working man...I wrote these words to a tune about mining and it's hazards entitled "Dark as a dungeon"...'

Further context: "Dark as a Dungeon" was a song written by American Merle Travis, and the song was famously recorded by Johnny Cash. You can listen to a version of it here.

Brian also references some verses from Swallow the Anchor, a poem which appears in Yennoworrameanlike.

Finally, a work called Frozen Shoulder is mentioned as a celebration of dockers inspired by the life of Brian. This does not appear in any of the older works of Brian Jacques that I know of, so I did some research and even contacted the lead editor of Dockers, Peter Grant. Mr. Grant told me that the feature was "from [Brian's] own file" at the Liverpool Post and Echo, and that the archival material "ceases" after the reference to Frozen Shoulder. Mr. Grant went on to suggest that Frozen Shoulder was probably a work in progress at the time, and this is my own personal conclusion as well after digging very deep. I found that as of 1972, Frozen Shoulder was a "forthcoming" publication from Brian. Now, the question is, what happened to it?

As you can see, a very short feature became very interesting very quickly, after a bit more information was revealed. While it doesn't really highlight Brian Jacques, Dockers is a great collectors item for anyone interested in Liverpool history and Merseyside figures.

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