Eddie Bernard's Merchant Navy ID Photo by Chris Bernard
This is my dad's ID card from 1953 (I was born 2 years later). My dad was 26 years old. The photo was taken in Buenos Aires - he was a second cook on the cargo ship M.V. Moraybank.

My reason for posting the pic is that it so evokes the character of a young virile and hardworking man (note the sweat and grime on his face). What incredible and amazing lives these post war seafarers had. My dad could barely read or write (the product of a working class catholic education of the period) and "shipped out" to sea when he was 14 years of age virtually into the convoys in the Battle of the Atlantic. Terence Davies has managed to evoke in his cinema characters that reach out to you, they truly touch the soul - like my fathers character in this picture.

I'm thinking in particular of the tormented character of the father, played with such horror and some poignancy by Pete Postlethwaite in Distant Voices. Tough hardworking men from this period were so opressed and trapped by their lives and their inability to express themselves in a sentimental or emotional way (obviously it was far worse for the women). But I always remember the excitement I felt at being around my father and all of his seafaring comrades, they seemed to be more open and compassionate, friendly and loving.

Hard men, so young, but with an experience of travelling the world and being away at sea for months on end. My entire experience and understanding of the world of men was based on the Liverpool seafaring tradition. These men gone for months, sometimes years and my romantic and exotic ideas about the lives they lived and the places they visited. Then only the women and children left at home. These seafarers (and especially my dad) were always able to show love, kindness and affection though. I always wanted to follow in his footsteps, but life had different things planned for me. Liverpool and the sea - poetry, just like Terry's films.

(from the Of Time and the City website community)

This is a competition winner from October 2008 2008

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This story was added on 16th September 2010

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