Margaret Jones: The tale of a poor Birkenhead household

“Nowhere to Turn” from author Margaret Elizabeth Jones is a poignant story about the trials and tribulations of a woman born and raised in a poor Birkenhead household.

Birkenhead-born Margaret now lives in the USA in Tennessee. “Nowhere to Turn,” follows the story of her mother, “an unfortunate woman struggling to live every day of her life.” spoke to Margaret about growing up in Birkenhead, the story which is the inspiration for her book.

Elizabeth grew up in a street called Old Priory, near Birkenhead Town Hall. The street is now totally subsumed into a plumbers’ merchant showroom located near the Queensway tunnel entrance and no trace of the street now exists. “It was a two up two down, 4 rooms total and an outside toilet.”, Margaret said.

“We had no bathroom and no hot water.”, Margaret continued. “I was the youngest of 15 children, but by the time I could remember there were 6 left including me.” On her schooling, Margaret said, “I went to Pilgrim Street Primary School and then onto Conway Street Secondary School.”

She worked at Birkenhead market on Wednesday and Friday after school and all day Saturday. “This money helped my mum out.”, Margaret explained. “When I left school I went to work for Fibreglass Ltd in the North End. My wage was £20 per month, I would give my mother £15 and the £5 left would last me all week.”

Margaret then went to work as a clerk in the offices at Joseph Rank Flour Mills. “Times were difficult then, but we always had clean clothes, a house, and food on the table.”

Margaret moved to the USA in February 2008 after meeting a man from the US online. At first, she visited Budd in the states a few times and then decided to move there permanently in 2008.

“The hardest part for me was leaving my family and my granddaughter.”, Margaret continued. “Unfortunately, Budd died of cancer in 2013.” Margaret is now married to David; “He is a wonderful husband.”, she said.

Margaret’s book is about her mothers life, “She would tell me things that had happened to her and it was so bad, I knew I had to write it all down.”

“The book is about the beatings she got, the other women my dad had been involved with, the gambling, and everything else that went with it. There was not a day that went by when my mother didn’t have a bruise somewhere.”, Margaret said. asked Margaret to retell a tale from her childhood and what she came up with is a story of a troubled life: “The kids were playing; Richard, Joseph, and Teresa. I gave them their tea and got them ready for bed. Bob came home from work in a bad mood and I thought ‘Oh no!’ His tea was on the table good and hot, it was liver and onions, it was nice too … we all had some.

“Bob looked at it and said, ‘I am not eating that shit!’ and then he threw it at the back of the fire. He got washed and shaved and went out to the pub … he always caused a row when he wanted to go out drinking and seeing women. I just sat and was looking at the newspaper tears tripping me up. He never gave me any thanks for anything I did, it was usually a black eye or a punch somewhere.”

Margaret wrote the book as a tribute to her mother, who had read it and hoped one day it would be published. Sadly, Margaret’s mother died in 2001, without ever seeing the book in print. The book sat in a draw until last year when it was eventually published.

“Nowhere to Turn” by Margaret Elizabeth Jones is available as an e-book and as a paperback, published by Newman Springs ISBN: 978-1648018077.

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