Feature

BACK TO THE FORTIES

You know you’re middle-aged when your daughter wants to borrow your old outfit for a fancy dress party, laughed Mrs Jones in the kitchen of her Huyton home. 

Her nearby 19-year-old daughter Alison had asked her mum if she could lend the dress to wear at a fancy dress party to be held on Sunday, 18 March, 1973, on the clubship ‘Landfall’ an old decommissioned D-Day tank landing craft now berthed at Collingwood Dock. 

The ship was a popular venue for dances and parties, and Alison and her best friend Jane (also aged 19) had decided to attend the fancy dress ball as 1940s-styled women. 

The fancy dress party was being held to raise funds for the South West Lancashire Autistic Children’s Society, and over 200 guests were expected to attend. 

Jane and Alison met up in town on the day before the party, Alison dressed in her mum’s 1940s attire and Jane dressed in a vintage outfit her aunt had given her. 

The teenagers really stood out, and at one point in a certain pub near the Whitechapel area of the city centre, the girls were befriended by smartly-dressed bald man in his fifties with thick pebble-lensed glasses. 

He said his name was Evelyn, and that he worked as a research chemist for a well-known British chemical company. 

He bought the girls drinks and Jane went the toilet with Alison and told her she thought Evelyn looked loaded, but Alison said he was too old to date. 

The girls returned, had a drink with Evelyn, and then he left the pub. Two young men came over to the girls and claimed that Evelyn had spiked their drinks while they were in the toilet with a powder. 

The girls went outside to look for Evelyn but he was nowhere to be seen, and slowly, Jane and Alison realised they had been drugged with some sort of hallucinogenic substance. Everything was giving off bright vivid colours, and the buildings kept changing from modern styles to old blackened structures. 

Jane panicked and went to go and call for an ambulance but as she reached the telephone call box, it faded away. The Liverpool of 1973 had gone, and the girls stood on the corner of Whitechapel and Church Street watching trams go past. 

The men walking about were dressed in gabardine raincoats, single-breasted jackets, trilbies, and the ones without hats had glossy Brylcreemed hair. 

The women wore wiggle-skirts, turbans, buckle-belted siren suits, blouses with puffed-up sleeves, berets, tam hats, skimmer hats, pompadour hats and quirky fedoras with veils and feathers. 

Everything screamed the 1940s, and then the girls saw the policeman approaching them with a khaki strap running from his shoulder to the gas mask bag at his side.

“Are you lost, miss?” he asked Alison, looking her up and down. She was unsteady now, and she clung onto Jane. 

“We were drinking, and some man slipped us a mickey finn!” she replied.

“Why are you all dressed like this?” a disoriented Jane asked the policeman, referring to all of the people in what seemed to be vintage clothes.

“You’d better get to your homes if you’re drunk, young ladies”, said the man, and he held the hand of Alison with a firm grip.

“This isn’t 1973,” said Alison, and a strange paranoia took hold of her mind. She pulled her hand from the policeman and said, “Are you a ghost?”’

Jane smiled at the policeman and apologised for her friend’s behaviour. She was afraid the copper would arrest them.

“You’d better come with me before you get into trouble, lasses,” said the policeman, and he seized Alison’s wrist and led her across the road to an alleyway with a worried Jane following close behind.

“I know where you two have come from,” the policeman said in a low voice, close to Alison’s ear, “and you don’t belong here. Others have come here. Keep moving!”

“You’re hurting me;” Alison complained, and to Jane she said, “shout for help, Jane!”

“You do that Jane,” said the policeman, “and you’ll regret it.” And he had a sinister, menacing look in his eyes. 

He led the drugged teens to a green door in the alleyway and knocked on it. The door opened and a familiar man answered - it was the bald man in the thick-lensed glasses who had drugged the girls in the pub. 

Alison screamed and ran off with Jane, and the policeman swore at the girls as he gave chase. Alison and Jane just missed being knocked down by a tram, and they kept running, but both felt very dizzy. 

Minutes later they found themselves in the Williamson Square of 1973, but it was night-time, and there wasn’t a soul about. The girls got a hackney cab to Alison’s home on Kingsway, Huyton. 

Alison’s furious father had to pay the cabby, and the girls discovered it was a Monday morning. They had been missing for over 36 hours and the police were out searching for them. 

The story the girls told about the spiked drinks, the apparent shift back in time to the 1940s and the menacing policeman was not believed. 

The police said the girls’ drinks had probably been spiked with LSD, and that’s possible, but to this day, Alison and Jane believe that somehow, some drug sent them back to days of World War Two. 

Perhaps someone used them as human guinea pigs in some bizarre experiment - we may know more one day.

• All Tom Slemen’s books are on Amazon

 

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on March 31st, 2021



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