Author Topic: Guinness and Coca Cola  (Read 303 times)


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Guinness and Coca Cola
« on: October 08, 2019, 02:10:36 PM »
 [font=]Guinness and Coca Cola[/font]
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[font=]I was in P6 at Saint Matthew’s Primary School, Seaforde Street, Short Strand in 1972-73 and my teacher was Mr Frank McKeever.  [/font]I always found McKeever to be a gentle man for whom teaching was a real vocation.  Mr McKeever had a lot of time for his pupils but at the same time you didn’t mess about in his class because he did not stand that.  He was there to teach and you were there to learn, simple as that.  I was sad to learn that Mr McKeever passed away in January 1993. [/s]
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[font=]Walking home from school, we had to pass Lavery’s Bottling Plant in Seaforde Street.  [/font]The various smells coming out of the plant were incredible and ranged from beer to coca cola.  On warm days the smell of Guinness filled the air as wooden barrels were offloaded from the backs of lorries and placed on the street.  The plug holes were open and Guinness had seeped into the sides of the barrels which released that most familiar of smells, stout.  Hundreds of crates filled with empty bottles were also placed outside the plant on the street, waiting to be cleaned and re-used.   
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[font=]I got my first ever bottle of Coca Cola there in late June 1973.  [/font]We got out of school and started to walk down Seaforde Street until we came to Lavery’s Bottling Plant.  There was a man on a forklift truck moving crates of coca cola and beer from the yard at the plant on to a delivery lorry.  We decided to sit down and watch him and listen to the songs coming out of his radio which he had hanging above his head.  We sat in awe as we watched him transfer palette after palette with accuracy and precision.  “Can The Can” by Suzi Quatro, her first No.1 single, followed by 10cc’s “Rubber Bullets” (I used to think they wrote this song to describe the rubber bullets the Brits fired at rioters), which was also their first No.1 single, were being played on Radio 1 at the time. 
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[font=]Suddenly, one of the crates sitting on top of the palette came crashing to the ground and there were broken Coca Cola bottles lying all over the road as their contents spilt out.  [/font]The man got out of his forklift to stop the unbroken bottles rolling down the street, and we helped him clean the broken glass off the road.  In return for our help he gave each one of us one of the unbroken bottles of Coca Cola and told us to wait 10 minutes before opening it as the coke needed to settle after being shaken.  We sat staring at these bottles for the full 10 minutes and you should have seen us trying to get the lid open using our teeth, that was sore, but worth it in the end.  Lavery’s was constantly raided during riots in the district, but not for refreshment purposes.  Crates of bottles appeared on the streets at the feet of rioters, with the coca cola bottle the preferred choice as it had a long neck which was easy to grip.  But they were useless bottles for petrol bombs because their hard glass sometimes didn’t smash upon impact.      [/s]
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[font=]The beer lorries were a popular past time for a lot of kids in the Short Strand.  [/font]When they drove through the area they did so slowly because at times they were laden down with as many as 50 barrels or kegs of beer plus numerous crates of bottled beers and soft drinks.  My brother, David, was fond of hopping on them and then jumping off just as they were about to exit the district.  One day David hopped on to the back of the beer lorry and instead of it stopping at the traffic lights at the top of the Short Strand, the driver sped on through the lights and down the Ravenhill Road.  When the lorry came to a halt at a pedestrian crossing about 100 yards down the Ravenhill Road, David jumped off.  However, he was now in Protestant territory and stood out like a sore thumb.  A gang of boys of around his own age, 12, chased him and when they caught him they took him to a nearby playground.  He was badly beaten that day and one of the gang drove his Chopper bike over my brother’s head.  He learnt a valuable lesson that day and never hopped on another lorry again. 
[font=]Just one of the memories I have written about in “Kicking Through The Troubles- How Manchester United Helped To Heal A Divided Community.”[/font][font=][/font]
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