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Tim Sloman's Eerie Liverpool: The Cat of Confusion

Our psychic investigates the White House pub, mysteriously pulled from auction on Friday

Published on November 25th 2010.


Tim Sloman's Eerie Liverpool: The Cat of Confusion

I STARED, transfixed as her fingers danced up the seam of my dress looking for my hole.

Ah, Gypsy Rose Mary - an expert seamstress who had been mending my little red cocktail dress. I had been wearing it as part of my drag act at the Swinging Handbag in Widnes. I’d ripped it climbing into her window after being chased by some thugs from Kirkby (I’m not going through the whole thing again, just read last week's “Eerie”.)

I watched her finish her handiwork, aghast at the story she had just imparted.

In my hands she had placed a letter, given to her by her father as he lay dying in his caravan many years ago.

Her eyes had misted: “He was crushed flat by a runaway steam roller as he was laying a drive in Bassetts Pole,” she said flatly. Her voice cracking, as gravelly as the gravel her father had been cracking.

I looked at the envelope: it was as stiff as the day it had been pulled from his steam-ironed trouser pocket. I gingerly opened it and cast my eyes on the spidery scrawl.

“Whoever doth receive this note
And cast their eyes on the words I’ve wrote
Will one day listen to the dead
And tell their tales left un-said

The stories told they may sound silly
But they are guaranteed to give the willy
Be not afraid to take a look
You never know they might make a book

At very least these tales so solemn
May one day result in an Echo column
So when it comes your darkest delusion
Shall come the Cat that cause’th confusion”

I read the riddle over and over, what could it mean?

“Rest easy Tim, one day it shall all make sense,” Rose Mary winked. “Now put on your dress for me so I can check your split.....”

*******

20101122Story-Millersignsman

THE next thing I knew I was being jolted: “Do you want me to put a sausage in with your eggs?”

It was my dear mother shouting from downstairs. I realised I had been daydreaming.Was it the envelope that I now held in my hand which had made those scenes so vivd? Or was it the cheesy Quaver butties I’d had for my tea the night before?

I opened this modern new letter, and scanned its printed contents. I had known it was coming since I’d switched on Radio Roger a few days before.

He’d been talking about a famous pub that was being auctioned off on the corner of Duke Street and Berry Street. I’d only half listened as he chatted to Maureen from Childwall.

“It’s a cat Roger, we’ve discussed it over and over, and all of the ladies I play bridge with agree as well, it is definitely a cat”

“I’m certain you will find, if you look closely, it’s a rat”

“No Roger you are wrong.”

“I’m sorry Maureen, but you are getting confused...”

“Look you beardy gett! I telling you it’s a fuc...”

“We seem to have lost Maureen there, moving swiftly on to Ted from Walton.”

“Hello Roger, it’s about these bins....”

I’d quickly switched off. Could it be Maureen was my deluded messenger? “Cats,” “confusion”? I quickly grabbed my coat and ran to the front door,“Tim! Where are you going? I’ve got your muffins.”

“I’ve no time for muffin now Mother! I need to look at a cat!

“A what? A rat?

“No Mother, a cat...a pussy.”

“Ooh, thank god, your father would be so relieved.”

*******

AN hour later I found myself in Berry Street, searching for this pub. Suddenly I stopped, aghast. For hiding behind the posters and falling plywood boards of a crumbling building, stood what could only be....the Cat Of Confusion.

It stared back at me, its long slender tail pointing to the sign nailed on the corner. “For Auction”. I noted the telephone number. I needed to see inside the building.

“I’m afraid you can’t right now sir, it’s a bit of a bomb site,” said the voice on the line. “You’ll have to wait until we have an arranged viewing. Give me your details and I’ll send you a letter to confirm.”

It was that letter I now held.

20101122Story-Picture016
When I arrived at the White House pub there were a few others present along with the estate agent. He led us inside and I quickly broke away from the group and hid in the cellar. My plan was to wait until dark whereupon I would commune with the spirits to discuss my destiny. It wasn’t long until I heard the locks being snapped into place.

I climbed the long flight of stairs and sat in what had once been the living quarters, as the winter’s sun descended and night crept in through the gaps in the plywood boards.

*******

I MUST have fallen asleep because I was awoken by the scuttling of feet. I opened my eyes and pulled out my torch. Then I saw him: The Cat Of Confusion. Tall as a man, his black fur shimmered as he walked towards me.

“I am glad you have come Tim, I have an important message for you, I must be quick, we are in great danger, for there is one who would do me great harm.”

“Oh dearest Cat, please tell me your tale.”

“Excuse me?”

“I said, Oh dearest Cat, please tell me your tale.”

“Are you taking the piss?”

“I’m sorry...”

“What’s with this “Cat” malarkey?”

“I, erm....”

“I’m a rat dickhead, are you blind?”

“You look like a cat.”

“I look like a cat? When did you ever see a cat with a tail like this?”

“But you are sitting up like a cat, on the front of the building!”

“I’m on my hind legs! The council painted over them in Capital of Culture year. When will you people realise? I’m a rat! Jesus.”

Suddenly, there was a terrible crash: we both spun just in time to see the door smashed open. In the frame stood a faceless man in a pair of blue overalls.

“No, no! He’s here! He’s managed to climb down at last!”

“Who is he?”

“He’s the Miller Signs man from the ladder a couple of doors down! He has been sent here by evil spirits to stop me speaking to you. He means to do me great harm.”

Miller Man shuffled forward. I could see his legs were stiff after so many years stuck on the ladder.

I rushed between them.

“Get back!” I cried. “You will not hurt this cat!”

“I’m a rat, moron.”

(Click here to add text)
Miller Man shuffled forward, he knocked the torch from my hand and threw me to the floor. Fighting to regain my senses I shook my head clear just in time to see the pair crash through the upstairs window out onto the empty street. There, some 15 feet below, they lay, motionless.

I ran downstairs, the silent street offering no witness to the death struggle that had played out in its kebab strewn gutters. I pulled the dummy from the rat and threw him aside, his broken torso coming apart in my hands.


“Oh dear Rat, don’t die!” I cried as he I lifted his head and rested it in my lap. His eyes half opened and I heard a deathly rattle deep inside his chest.

“Oh Tim,” he whispered “this is the end for me, but the beginning for you. You have unlocked the portal, now is your time to listen many ghostly stories on this astral plane and to tell people of them.”

The rat blinked slowly, and for a moment I thought he was gone, then his eyes opened again. I lowered my ear to his lips and heard his final squeaky words.

“I wish I was a fucking cat. I’d have another eight lives left.”

“You have,” suddenly spluttered Miller Man. “You'll be standing there empty now till you fall down.”

As told to Tony Schumacher

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14 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Felix PurrkinsNovember 23rd 2010.

It's a cat.

Look at the mouth.

No protruding rodent teeth.

Perhaps this 'Betsy' was trying to draw a rat but if this is the best she could do she needs to go back to evening classes and finish her drawing course.

Sign of AscentNovember 23rd 2010.

Has the man on the ladder at Miller Signs fallen off? I first saw him up there in 1969 and as far as I know he's never had so much as a toilet break.

EditorialNovember 23rd 2010.

Yes, he has fallen down, Sign of Ascent. A few weeks ago he was spotted in a heap in the street, and this is a real snap taken of the event. Apparently he was quickly nicked by students and is probably sitting among the traffic cones in someone's bedroom as we speak, wondering what went wrong.

If anyone has got him, we would love to hear from you. There's an all-you-can-eat from Tokyou in it...

Cat EringcollegeNovember 23rd 2010.

I suppose Miller Signs can get a new man from 'Salesflo Equipment' in Colquitt Street in time for his annual Father Christmas outfit up the ladder.

Elbow-RaiserNovember 23rd 2010.

So is the White House going for auction AGAIN?

RatsoNovember 23rd 2010.

It was up for auction for the second time in a year last Friday, but the lot was withdrawn at the last minute.

Apparently the owners are wanting to repair and then maybe resell in the new year, although a lot of bits have fallen off it lately so I hope they have got deep pockets.

steve14598November 23rd 2010.

Too much Kensington's Old Dick for my liking, if you want to syndicate Old Dick then Angie you just have to ask,the latest Old Dick is "I was Hitler's Lodger,or the true story of how Adolf got his moustache" in the December VOICE, you'll be having restaurant reviewer with dodgey name a la Mystery Scoffer.

EditorialNovember 23rd 2010.

No need Steve. As we have been running Eerie Liverpool since we started four long years ago (although many have vanished into the ether), we respectfully suggest that you hold on to your Old Dick. We do however thank you for your kind offer of some, but will decline at this time.

Jenny TillsNovember 23rd 2010.

May I offer you Crystal Balls from a cold corner of Crosby. This week there is a nasty chill up the back passage. But if you think readers would be more interested in stories that leave them with a smile on their faces, you could do far worse than take a look at the syndicated series of happy French stories Belle Endes.

Professor ChucklebuttyNovember 23rd 2010.

I used to like Banksy when he was on The Clothes Show but he got above himself when he got a proper job in Sainsbury's flogging underpants. Although I heard him and Jamie Oliver fought like cat and dog over the veg display. Or was it cat and rat.

Wasn't Selina's Catt on the Clothes show as well or am I thinking of The Antiques Clothes Show with Arthur Neguspusspuss?

And another thing, you know damned well that I proved this was a cat. You only have to look at the litter in the street.

FatsoNovember 24th 2010.

Who is Old Dick from Kensington?

I can let you have Old Cock from Birkenhead.

PusDecember 3rd 2011.

So has the man from Miller Signs returned or been replaced by another on his ladder? This time of year he was usually dressed as Father Christmas.

AnonymousDecember 3rd 2011.

Berry Street is poorer without him

Sandra SwiftJuly 22nd 2013.

I have recently moved back to my beloved Liverpool. I love it as much now as I did when I was younger. The many changes to the city are wonderful. Just one comment ..... I know the streets are swept each night BUT the pavements still remain badly stained..... Considering in the future many large cruise liners (52) next year will visit our city could/would it be possible to work on the many stained streets. Thank you

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Sandra Swift

I have recently moved back to my beloved Liverpool. I love it as much now as I did when I was…

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Anonymous

Berry Street is poorer without him

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Pus

So has the man from Miller Signs returned or been replaced by another on his ladder? This time of…

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Fatso

Who is Old Dick from Kensington? I can let you have Old Cock from Birkenhead.

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