Category Archives: domestic abuse

Dr Gilbert & counting bricks.

shoes

 

Monday morning and I’m up early Mam has gone to Mrs. Cooks cleaning and Dad is making toast I can smell it burning and hear him swearing.

I remember sitting at the table kicking my legs on the chair and Dad telling me to hurry up because we’re going to see a doctor today.

I feel sick. But don’t argue there was no use arguing he wont listen.

 

We stand at the bus stop in the rain Dads wearing his best jacket its brown like a teachers jacket but he still smells of tobacco and beer and carbolic soap.

We don’t speak.

We get off the bus in town Dad goes into the tobacconists I leaf my forehead on the shop window looking at rows of pipes and lighters then we get onto another bus I go upstairs sit right at the front Dad follows me.

Eventually we get off by Victoria Park as we walked through the park Dad asks me if I’m okay?

I shrug and I don’t know why but I want to cry.

‘You’ll be okay don’t worry’.

He bends down level with me I’m concentrating on the fine spiders webs on the rhododendron bushes the dew still sitting on them. Dad is saying nothing bad will happen to me if I just tell the truth.

‘Are you bloody listening to me?’

I nodded my head.

‘That’s my princess.’

 

’Tell the truth now no lies no Walter Mitty and they won’t take you away.’

TAKE ME AWAY?

’Take me were Dad? I don’t know who Walter Mitty is and I don’t want to go away.

Were will they take me.’

I’m crying now still staring at the spider’s web arms around his neck.

 

‘Hey now stop it do you hear me I’m your Dad I will be with you I promise’.

‘You just tell them that you don’t like that house that’s why you do daft things school and it will be okay we have to do this the school have arranged it. Have you got that do you understand?’

I nodded my head.

‘I think so Dad. Remember no bloody lies.’

 

‘I know you’re always making things up.

You’re like Walter bloody Mitty you are but if you tell them any stories in here they will take you away.’

 

‘Or they might take me away then they will send you to a naughty girl’s home now do you want that?’

‘Or your Dad to go to jail?’

‘Because that will be it then you wont see Pam or the kids again or your nanny or me and your Mam.’

I am absolutely terrified ‘Why cant I see my Nan again Dad?’ ‘Stop that now blow your nose and wipe your face and remember what I’ve said think about your Nan. ‘ He hands me a big old handkerchief I do as he says then shove in into my duffle coat pocket.

 

We walked on further through some huge green gates ‘child guidance’ it said in huge letters. We walk along a driveway past a school children my age are in the play ground the building is next to the school.

Through a red door and a smiling lady sits at a low counter it is like a doctor’s waiting room with toys and lots of books.

She smiled at me as we stand at the glass.

’What’s your name?’

I looked at Dad?

’It’s Joolz’ he said ‘We’ve got an appointment with Dr Gilbert.’

He passes her an appointment card.

‘Take a seat he won’t be long.’ Dad sits down I pick up a book sit next to him. My naughty little sister it is called I stare at it not really reading.

There was a boy sat on the floor playing with a train. ‘Do you want to play?’

he asked I shake my head.

’She’s shy.’ Dad says. I hate it when he says that.

I picked up another book. Its called the Pearl.

As I open it the smiling lady calls my name.

It is hurting me to breath.

Dad hold my hand and squeezed it three times his secret code that means

I love you.

He squeezed it as he said each word.

‘Come on the doctors waiting.’

 

Dr Gilbert’s office is brown bare brick behind his desk.

Green blinds. Huge cheese plant like the one in my old school hall.

 

Dr Gilbert is as old as Dad I think big with a suit on like Dad wore at weddings.

With a smart dark brown tie.

 

A white clock on the wall like a school clock.

He had blotting paper on his big desk like they had in the bank in town and a posh silver pen.

‘Hello Joolz’, he looked at me through his thick gold glasses.

‘Sit down’. Dad sit on a chair I push against him. I wonder how may children he has taken away?

’Can you come and sit here?’

He said pointing at the chair in front of his desk.

 

‘She’s really shy’ Dad says again.

She doesn’t speak much.

 

’I’m sure you will be okay’ he said smiling

I walked forward and sat on the chair.

‘Now then said Dr Gilbert. Do you know why your here?’

I shake my head concentrating on the big leaves that look like hands on the big cheese plant.

I have a lump in my throat and I can hear my heart its in my head.

 

‘Well shall I explain?’  Dr Gilbert continued.

 

’Your school, and your Mam and Dad are concerned about some of your behavior.’

’And I’m here to listen to you and help you to sort things out if I can but you have to help me.is that okay?’

I nod again.

 

I can’t see Dad he is sitting behind me but I can hear him breathing and his rasping cough occasionally and the smell of old Holborn.

 

Dr Gilbert asked me about the fire.

I can’t answer him I really can’t speak not like when I’m in school and I just don’t want too. this time I really can’t.

And how could he fix things anyway?

 

I can’t tell him because they will take Dad away.

 

He won;t believe me if I told him about my dog, about falling downstairs with Debbie.

That Dad told me wanted to shoot me when I was born because the cot was rattling. That he thought I was a Mongol.

That he hit me more time than I know That I was scared of the dark because of the monster. That there was something at the side of my bed that even if I kept my eyes tight shut it was still there. that Wendy came at night to help me.

 

How could I tell him any of it he wouldn’t believe me he was a nice man he wore a suit and tie.

He didn’t smell of tobacco he smelt like clean, like Pam’s washing after the launderette.

And so I said nothing. I didn’t want to loose my little Nanny.

 

Dad was saying ‘Come on now Joolz.

Answer the Doctor.

Its okay I’m here.’ I thought for a minute about screaming he had told me to keep quiet now he was telling me to talk.

The lump in my throat got bigger AND BIGGER.

Dad was telling the Dr I hated the new school I got picked on.

The Dr asked it that was true.

 

Before I tried to answer Dad said ‘Tell the truth now Joolz and it will be okay.’

’Why do you keep telling her to tell the truth asked the Doctor?

 

Does she often tell lies?’

’Oh yes Doctor. Dad was saying she’s a penny liar’

Now I wanted to scream, cry.

 

But I betrayed myself I really couldn’t talk.

’I DONT TELL LIES SCREAMED THE VOICE IN MY HEAD HE DOES!’

 

I looked over at the Doctor. He was writing something down.’’

 

Why couldn’t he here my shouting inside? ‘He was a psychiatrist Dad said. So why didn’t he know.

‘Do you want to go wait out side Joolz while I have a chat with your Dad?’ Said the Doctor.

I got up Dad winked at me I pulled open the big door and went to sit out side in the passageway it was bare bricks I sat there swinging my legs counting the bricks.

It seemed ages I was up to one hundred and seventy seven.

 

Dr Gilbert called me back in. I hadn’t heard him open the door.

He made me jump bending down in front of me. ‘Joolz can you hear me?’

I nodded. I looked down at his shoes they weren’t boots like Dad wore they were shoes brown shoes with buckles on.

‘Would you mind coming back next week to see me?’ he asked.

His voice was really big but his face was kind. I nodded.

Dad was stood behind him he reached out and took my hand.

We walked back through the big room with the toys and the smiling lady behind the desk.

‘Bye Joolz see you next week.’ she smiled again and waved.

The doors swung open into the big garden rain dripped from the huge oak trees surrounding the building.

 

I pulled my hood up the rain felt cold on my face and I’d felt so hot in the office.

Dad didn’t notice the tears as we walked they ran down my face with the rain.

 

The lump in my throat was getting smaller I could talk again but I didn’t just walked with my Dad in the rain.

We got off the bus in town and walked into Woolworth’s.

‘Here Dad said pushing fifty pence into my hand go get some toffees.’

I stood the wet from the rain looking up at him ‘Go on!  Coz you’ve been a good girl.’

As I scooped up pick and mix Dad said I think you’re big enough now to have spend!

I looked up at him again.

He laughed.

‘Got your tongue back yet?’

‘Yes’

It was the first time id spoken since going into the doctors.

 

He ruffled my hair as we paid for the toffees.

As we walked to the bus he said ‘don’t tell anyone at school were we’ve been okay?’

I nodded again mouth full of sweet peanuts.

‘Do I have to go back to school now I’ve been to the doctors today?’

‘No your wringing wet look at you!

Your Mam’s going to Auntie Eliza’s today after she finished cleaning at Mrs Cooks house.

‘We’ll go home get you dried and watch some telly okay?’

‘We got home and Dad put the kettle on cup of tea eh?’

 

Dad made two cups of steaming milky tea. I put the telly on played about with the dial behind the curtain only Payton Place was on Mam liked that bet she was watching it with auntie Eliza.

I sat down with Dad.

I played with his buttons he laughed. ‘Tinker, Taylor, soldier, sailor, rich man. Poor man, beggar man, thief!’

When he laughed his belly jigged up and down. I liked making him laugh I liked it when he was happy.

‘Come here lie down with Dad.’

As quick as a flash Wendy was beside me.

‘What’s up? Come here give your Dad a cuddle.’

Wendy lay down next to him he lifted her over his big belly so she was lying with her back against the sofa.

Dad lay perched on the end I thought he might fall off but he didn’t.

I stood and watched Payton place there was a woman crying

I could here Dad telling Wendy what a good girl she was I knew she wouldn’t be long now then we could go out and play.

Dad got up fixed his shirt and told me to go wash my face.

 

‘Can I go out Dad?’ For an hour because you’ve been so brave today at the doctors.

‘ I told you it would be okay didn’t I.’

’I’ll always look after you.’

Go on now sort your self out I’m going over the club for a pint.’

 

Here and he pushed another fifty pence into my hand.

’Thanks Dad.’

’He laughed you keep being good no more acting the goat and there’s plenty more were that came from!’

I smiled and ran out of the front door.

 

We went back to Dr Gilbert the week after then every two weeks after that.

I’m not sure for how long.

 

But I remember when we started to see him it was the very beginning of spring. Then going back it was almost christmas

.

I have often wondered what was his conclusion as to why I was referred in the beginning.

Why our communication consisted of nodding and the occasional one word.

It was a long time ago and things thankfully have changed for the better.

 

I wonder if I had been seen alone without the presence of my father would I have managed to confided in someone how desperately unhappy I was.

But I wasn’t and I didn’t!

 

And eventually I remember thinking if they see that I’m happy then I wont have to come again.

The out of the blue Dad told me that we were moving house again. Back to be near my sister.

He said Dr Gilbert had written a letter to the council and they were re housing us. Dad said he knew now that my bad behaviour was down to him taking me away from my old school and our other house. ‘So we can have our old house back then I thought I was going to burst!’

I was over the moon. ‘No Dad said it would be near our other house on the same estate but not the same one. We would live near the Dam again, see thunderbolt the horse I loved but the house would be different. And I could go back to my old school.

 

‘What about Toby our new dog can he come too?’ Was my first question?

 

‘That mangy flea bitten dog?’ said Dad! Then he laughed. Course he can.’

I was so happy that day It wouldn’t happen straight away but we were defiantly going and I didn’t have to go back to that school! Horay!

 

When we went back to see him Dr Gilbert asked how I felt about moving I remember telling him I was really happy one of the few occasions I actually spoke in front of him.

In my heart I knew without him we wouldn’t have the new house.

 

Most of his questions had been directed to my Dad.

I remember him ruffling my hair and saying it was nice to see me smile. He was wearing a red tie that day and the same brown shoes.

 

Dad told him I was much better now at home, and much happier now we were moving house and I knew I would be going back to my old school.

 

He asked me to wait out in the waiting room

Gave me a drawing pad and some colored pens while he chatted to Dad.

I sat at the kid’s table drawing a picture.

They both came out of his office together, Dad in his donkey jacket Dr Gilbert in his smart suit and his buckled shoes

.

I carried on drawing and colouring.

That’s a beautiful drawing I like the colours said Dr Gilbert he perched himself beside me on a child’s chair.  He looked silly and way too big.

 

‘Who is the picture of?’

‘It’s my dog Toby and me.’ I whispered to him. ‘In our new house and the sunshine.’

He smiled at me again.

 

‘Well I’ve just been talking to your Dad and I think things are much better now at home things will be better when you get back to your old school. This is the last time you have to come to see me.’

‘Is that good to hear?’ I nodded.

 

‘Could I keep the picture he asked?’

 

’You could write your name on it and we could put it up on the wall with the others?’

I picked up the red felt pen and wrote on the back in my best writing.

To Dr Gilbert from Wendy and Joolz thank you for our new house.

He ruffles my hair and smiled.

‘Joolz be good for your Dad now’.

I nod again.

Dad squeezed my hand three times.

He want going to jail.

We turned and left that was the last I ever saw of Dr Gilbert I often thought of him and his shiny buckled shoes.

The wrong side of town.

I was ten years old when Dad said we were moving house.

Tea time were sitting at the kitchen table eating bacon and potatoes when it was first mentioned. ‘What do you think then would you like to move house?’

‘We’d be living near your nanny, and there is a school right across the road from the house!’

‘My school is across from this house’ I reply.

I carried on pushing my bacon round my plate, without speaking, there’s a family that I know they want a house swap with us but if you don’t want to go we won’t go’

Yeah right i thought. ‘But my school is across the road here Dad’ I say again.

I like my school, and our Pam and the kids live here’

‘Well it’s only a bus ride away.

They can sleep over.’

What he forgot to mention is it was across the road from the labor club he drank in.

I put my fork down and stood up. ‘Come here and give your Dad a love.’

He held his arms out and pulled me onto his knee ‘Come on smile for your Dad’. I smiled weakly and so it was we were moving away from everything I knew.

On the day of the move Mam was still packing boxes old yea chests with sharp metal edges I sat in the back garden with my dog lady listening to Dad and his brother Frank laughing in the kitchen. I don’t remember a van there but must have been one.

I remember uncle Frank’s Mk 1 pale blue scruffy escort stuffed with bags the bird’s cage on the back seat with all the old cushions of the sofa. The yellow topped Formica kitchen table tied upside down on top of the roof rack. I remember staring at the paint stained legs of the table as the rain started to fall.

We must have looked a sight! Nesbits bloody flitting my Dad said laughing his booming laugh as he stood at the front door drinking his last pint in our lovely old house.
Then after our dinner of spam and piccalilli butties Mam hurried my dog lady and me into the back of the car with the last of our belongings. uncle Frank was always running out of petrol and prayed he would run out today but sods law he wouldn’t. I held onto Lady she shook and shivered she hated being in a car I talked softly to her promising her we would be alright but from the moment I stepped out of the car I knew I was wrong.
Everywhere looked dull and grey.

Our old house was across from the woods, ponds with tadpole’s.

Fields with horses and the pig farm and apple orchards everywhere there was green.

I couldn’t believe the difference.

We were just behind the main road on what I was soon to find out was the rough side of town. Industrial, grey and bleak.
The house was at the very end of the terraced street on the edge of a huge council estate.
Greyhound track on the gable end of the house, school field in front leading to canal at the side of a massive ugly gas meter. From the back door was the busy main road I stood in the rain and cried.

‘Dad I want to go home’.

’Don’t be so bloody daft we are home’ he said taking my dog from me.

She pulled on the lead and looked back at me she wanted to go home too I knew it.

Then with a slam of the door he locked her in the outside brick shed!

I screamed I was near hysterical ‘Please Dad please don’t lock lady in there she’ll be scared.’ I pulled at his jacket but he pushed me off and snapped the lock shut on the bolt! I could heat lady scratching to get out and she start to whine. I hung onto his coat.’I’ll look after her Dad’ I continued to plead ‘She doesn’t know were she is!’ He grabbed my arm.

‘STOP IT NOW! he road back handing me with a slap knocking me onto the wet soggy grass.

‘She’s bloody staying in there until I get back all the doors are open in the house and your Mam is sorting out she’ll get out and run off.

‘Now go help your mammy unpack and I’ll let her out when I get back from the club. I’m going for a pint with our Frank.’

That’s when I realized why we’d moved. The labor club were Mam and Dad drank was across the main road. I could see it from the back door. I sat against the shed door sobbing in the rain watched him walk away over the club to get drunk again.

Lady cried inside and I cried outside. Mam opened the back door ‘Get in here and help me unpack.’

‘No!’ I screamed I’m staying out here! Until Dad comes back.’

‘Well bloody stay there’ she muttered.
I lay against the door pushing my fingers underneath to feel lady’s wet nose.
It was freezing lying on the flags but I couldn’t leave her there she was scared. Itwent dark and Dad still wasn’t back. Still I didn’t move.
I hated him now.
Mam was shouting at me to come inside, ‘Get in now or I’ll bloody belt you look at the bloody state of you,’
‘No! I’m not leaving lady!’
‘The next thing I know Mam’s dragging me kicking and screaming through the back door. ‘Get up the stairs now and into bed!’

‘I hate you I hate you both I shout.

I hated her, hated Dad!

But most of all I hated this house. I stood at the window looking over at the club all lit up by spot lights around the car park.

I stand staring at the big blue door. People go in different people come out.
Accept Dad!
I lie on the bed determined not to sleep.

But eventually I do.

Daylight comes through the window and I jump up still wearing damp clothes from the day before looked out of my window to the back garden, the shed door swinging to and fro in the wind. I run downstairs Mam stands stiring tea in the tiny kitchen.

’Where’s lady?’

’Ask your bloody Dad!’

I run into the living room were he is lying on the sofa propped up from the night before. ‘Well tell her then!’ says Mam from the kitchen.

I feel suddenly sick.

And I want to cry.
‘Dads were is she?’

’She’ll be back’ he said with a false smile and a tear spilled from my eye. ‘Where?’

I asked again

‘He let her out last night pissed bastard, and she ran off.’

I’m sobbing now. ‘Lets go find her now!

She might get run over on that big road,’

‘Dad please, please get up she doesn’t know were she is!’

‘I’ve looked’ he is saying. But he’s lying he is still drunk.

I pulled on my shoes and run out of the house. I’m crying so hard I can’t see.

For hours I call her name, walked up and down the big main road, over to Nanny goat park then up and down the back streets every corner I turned I expected to see her. She isn’t just my dog shes my best friend

The lady from the flying horse pub comes out and asks if I’m okay?

‘Have you seen my dog her name is Lady she’s a whippet, we just moved here she doesn’t know her way home, my Dad let her out last night and I cant find her’ I looked up at her still sobbing.

‘No my darling were do you live?’

And I realized I dont even know my address.

‘Does your mammy know your out, where’s your coat?’

I cant answer her.

‘Poor doll’ I hear her say as I walked away. Eventually it goes dark and I walk back to see if she has found her way to the house. She hasn’t.

Every day for a week I refuse to eat or go to look at my new school I want lady back and I wanted to go home.

Everyone else carry’s on as normal.

Then one afternoon Dad comes in with a letter he sits me on the stairs and gives it to me to read he tells me it is from the vet.

I can’t see to read it through my tears he said lady had been knocked down on the main road, they had operated on her leg but she had died. I cried so much my whole body hurt. I hate you I managed to sob as I slammed the bedroom door behind me.
I wished it wad been him instead of lady it was his fault. I loved her more than anything, she’d been with me since I was born she slept by my bed.
All the times I had been hurt, or woke in the night when the monster came it was her that calmed me.
Sneaking into my bedroom to lick away my tears.

Who would look after me now?

Years later in one of their many arguments Mam shouted out that Dad had some girl from the labor club type that vets letter out to stop me from looking for her.

The night of the move Dad had come back drunk he’d opened the door of the shed lady had run from him and in front of a car on the main road. She hadn’t been killed

with no money for a vet he had taken her to his brothers then the next day whilst I was out looking for her he had shot her and buried her at the dam by our old house in the fields id loved to play in.
He’d let me walk the streets calling her for a week Always hoping someone had found her and was looking after her.
Not only was he a drunk he was a liar as well. Oh how I hated him.

The last goodbye

It was a Monday morning, I’m standing outside the village post office there is a middle-aged woman in front of me, in front of her, an old man smoking a roll up cig. The doors open and the queue slowly move’s inside.

The old man leans on the window ledge as he waits his turn. He is wearing old blue jeans, and jacket, and a denim hat. Not your typical pensioner outfit.

The lines and scares on his face tell a million stories. Stories of a hard man a fighter in his time

Stories of horror, sadness, hard times, joy and laughter.

I try to concentrate on the posters on the wall. Television licence. First class stamps. Car tax. Premium bonds.

I focus on very brightly coloured poster.

St Hayden school Jumble Sale this Saturday 1.PM.

But still my eyes are drawn to him.

Half of me would like him to see me.

Half of me would like to run.

He’s holding what’s left of a roll up fag he was smoking outside. Staring ahead of him, brown eyes the same as mine milky now with age.

Wisps of silver grey hair peep from under his denim cap. Tattoos on his knuckle’s scar on his face.

He’s standing at the counter now, next to me I can smell that familiar smell of old Holborn.

I hand the woman my family allowance book, she’s smiling and saying something about the weather. I wish she would shut up as I’m straining to hear his voice.

Deep and rasping, so familiar, yet he’s become a stranger to me.

His own doing, he doesn’t know me. He never really did.not the real me.

My chest tightens, I feel my eyes prick with tears, but I won’t let them come.

Something inside of me still desperately wants him to know me.

What I’ve achieved and who I am.

He doesn’t know what I like if I take milk in my tea, what makes me happy or sad.

What issues I feel passionately about.

That despite everything I’m a good Mam.

He used to tell me I’d amount to nothing.

Nothing more than a whore.

Those words are etched into my soul.

That is how I always felt insignificant, ugly, worthless, nothing.

You’ve probably guessed by now the old man in front of me is my Dad.

The same old man who still walks in my dreams.

The man who struck terror into the heart of a small child.

Oh Dad I so desperately wanted to please you.

I wanted you to like me.

Sadly I still do.

I find myself fighting to suppress the pity I find myself feeling for him.

My heart beating in my head reminding myself of the holocaust he made my life.

There is a tiny piece of him I loved and adored the sober piece I always will.

That big man that carried me on his shoulders. Held my hand and walked me to school. Held my bike seat and smiled from ear to ear cheering his little girl as I peddled off on my own.

He taught me to play cards, draughts, let me help him when he’d wallpaper.

Gave me my love for books and the outdoors, taught me to write my name then later shared with me his talent for writing poetry.

He taught me to love nature and the countryside.

As I watched in awe as he’d whispered to horses.

Rescued a blackbird from a hawthorn bush.

Talked of make-believe, fairies and magic castles.

Oh how I loved that tiny piece of him, I still do,

I always will.

I desperately wanted then and now for that piece of him to become his whole.

For god the universe or some miracle to take away the bad piece. I want him to turn my way look at me and tell me he’s sorry.

I want him to hold me tell me everything’s going to be okay.

I want a family.

I want my children to have him as their granddad.

I want them to be safe.

He’s walking out of the door now.

I walk out behind him all of these thoughts buzzing in my head.

I get in my car sit in silence and watch him walk out of the post office and away and then the tears start to fall.

For the life I can’t have, and the wishes I can’t make come true.

I know I can’t change him from who he is.

To whom I would desperately like him to be.

But I’ll never stop wanting and wishing.

That day in the post office was the very last time I saw him.

Goodbye Dad.

He died a few years later. I didn’t get a sorry.

I didn’t go to his funeral.

Now I’m allowed to break our silence.sadness, hard times, joy and laughter.

I try to concentrate on the posters on the wall. Television licence. First class stamps. Car tax. Premium bonds.

I focus on very brightly coloured poster.

St Hayden school Jumble Sale this Saturday 1.PM.

But still my eyes are drawn to him.

Half of me would like him to see me.

Half of me would like to run.

He’s holding what’s left of a roll up fag he was smoking outside. Staring ahead of him, brown eyes the same as mine milky now with age.

Wisps of silver grey hair peep from under his denim cap.

He’s standing at the counter now, next to me I can smell that familiar smell of old Holborn.

I hand the woman my family allowance book, she’s smiling and saying something about the weather.

But I’m straining to hear his voice.

Deep and rasping, so familiar, yet he’s become a stranger to me.

His own doing, he doesn’t know me. He never really did.

My chest tightens, I feel my eyes prick with tears, but I won’t let them come.

Something inside of me desperately wants him to know me.

What Iv’e achieved and who I am.

He doesn’t know what I like, what makes me happy or sad.

What issues I feel passionately about.

That. despite everything I’m a good Mam.

He used to tell me I’d amount to nothing.

Nothing. More than a whore.

Those words are etched into my soul.

That is how I always felt insignificant, ugly, worthless, nothing.

You’ve probably guessed by now the old man in front of me is my Dad.

The same old man who still walks in my dreams.

The man who struck blind terror into the heart of a small child.

Oh Dad I so desperately wanted to please you.

I wanted you to like me.

Sadly I still do.

I find myself fighting to suppress the pity I find myself feeling for him.

My heart beating in my head reminding myself of the holocaust he made my life.

There was a tiny piece of him I loved and adored the sober piece. I always will.

That big man that carried me on his shoulders. Held my hand and walked me to school. Held my bike seat and smiled from ear to ear cheering his little girl as I peddled off on my own.

He taught me to play cards, draughts, let me help him when he’d wallpaper.

Gave me my love for books and the outdoors, taught me to write my name then later shared with me his talent for writing poetry.

He taught me to love nature and the countryside.

As I watched in awe as he’d whispered to horses.

Rescued a blackbird from a hawthorn bush.

Talked of make-believe, fairies and magic castles.

Oh how I loved that tiny piece of him, I still do,

I always will.

I desperately wanted then and now for that piece of him to become his whole.

For god the universe or some miracle to take away the bad piece. I want him to turn my way look at me and tell me he’s sorry.

I want him to hold me tell me everything’s going to be okay.

I want a family.

I want my children to have him as their granddad.

I want them to be safe.

He’s walking out of the door now.

I walk out behind him all of these thoughts buzzing in my head.

I get in my car sit in silence and watch him walk away, and then the tears start to fall.

For the life I can’t have, and the wishes I can’t make come true.

I know I can’t change him from who he is.

To whom I would desperately like him to be.

But I’ll never stop wanting and wishing.

That day in the post office was the very last time I saw him.

Goodbye Dad.

He died a few years later. I didn’t get a sorry..

I didn’t go to his funeral.

Now I’m allowed to break our silence.Monday morning, I’m standing outside the village post office. There’s a middle-aged woman in front of me, in front of her, an old man smoking a rolly. The doors open and the queue move’s inside.

The old man leans on the window ledge as he waits in the Que., he is wearing old blue jeans, and jacket, and a jeans hat.

The lines and scares on his face tell a million stories. Stories of a hard man,, a fighter in his time. Stories of horror,, sadness, hard times, joy and laughter.

I try to concentrate on the posters on the wall. Television licence. First class stamps. Car tax. Premium bonds.

I focus on very brightly coloured poster.

St Hayden school Jumble Sale this Saturday 1.PM.

But still my eyes are drawn to him.

Half of me would like him to see me.

Half of me would like to run.

He’s holding what’s left of a roll up fag he was smoking outside. Staring ahead of him, brown eyes the same as mine milky now with age.

Wisps of silver grey hair peep from under his denim cap.

He’s standing at the counter now, next to me I can smell that familiar smell of old Holborn.

I hand the woman my family allowance book, she’s smiling and saying something about the weather.

But I’m straining to hear his voice.

Deep and rasping, so familiar, yet he’s become a stranger to me.

His own doing, he doesn’t know me. He never really did.

My chest tightens, I feel my eyes prick with tears, but I won’t let them come.

Something inside of me desperately wants him to know me.

What Iv’e achieved and who I am.

He doesn’t know what I like, what makes me happy or sad.

What issues I feel passionately about.

That. despite everything I’m a good Mam.

He used to tell me I’d amount to nothing.

Nothing. More than a whore.

Those words are etched into my soul.

That is how I always felt insignificant, ugly, worthless, nothing.

You’ve probably guessed by now the old man in front of me is my Dad.

The same old man who still walks in my dreams.

The man who struck blind terror into the heart of a small child.

Oh Dad I so desperately wanted to please you.

I wanted you to like me.

Sadly I still do.

I find myself fighting to suppress the pity I find myself feeling for him.

My heart beating in my head reminding myself of the holocaust he made my life.

There was a tiny piece of him I loved and adored the sober piece. I always will.

That big man that carried me on his shoulders. Held my hand and walked me to school. Held my bike seat and smiled from ear to ear cheering his little girl as I peddled off on my own.

He taught me to play cards, draughts, let me help him when he’d wallpaper.

Gave me my love for books and the outdoors, taught me to write my name then later shared with me his talent for writing poetry.

He taught me to love nature and the countryside.

As I watched in awe as he’d whispered to horses.

Rescued a blackbird from a hawthorn bush.

Talked of make-believe, fairies and magic castles.

Oh how I loved that tiny piece of him, I still do,

I always will.

I desperately wanted then and now for that piece of him to become his whole.

For god the universe or some miracle to take away the bad piece. I want him to turn my way look at me and tell me he’s sorry.

I want him to hold me tell me everything’s going to be okay.

I want a family.

I want my children to have him as their granddad.

I want them to be safe.

He’s walking out of the door now.

I walk out behind him all of these thoughts buzzing in my head.

I get in my car sit in silence and watch him walk away, and then the tears start to fall.

For the life I can’t have, and the wishes I can’t make come true.

I know I can’t change him from who he is.

To whom I would desperately like him to be.

But I’ll never stop wanting and wishing.

That day in the post office was the very last time I saw him.

Goodbye Dad.

He died a few years later. I didn’t get a sorry..

I didn’t go to his funeral.

Now I’m allowed to break our silence.Monday morning, I’m standing outside the village post office. There’s a middle-aged woman in front of me, in front of her, an old man smoking a rolly. The doors open and the queue move’s inside.

The old man leans on the window ledge as he waits in the Que., he is wearing old blue jeans, and jacket, and a jeans hat.

The lines and scares on his face tell a million stories. Stories of a hard man,, a fighter in his time. Stories of horror,, sadness, hard times, joy and laughter.

I try to concentrate on the posters on the wall. Television licence. First class stamps. Car tax. Premium bonds.

I focus on very brightly coloured poster.

St Hayden school Jumble Sale this Saturday 1.PM.

But still my eyes are drawn to him.

Half of me would like him to see me.

Half of me would like to run.

He’s holding what’s left of a roll up fag he was smoking outside. Staring ahead of him, brown eyes the same as mine milky now with age.

Wisps of silver grey hair peep from under his denim cap.

He’s standing at the counter now, next to me I can smell that familiar smell of old Holborn.

I hand the woman my family allowance book, she’s smiling and saying something about the weather.

But I’m straining to hear his voice.

Deep and rasping, so familiar, yet he’s become a stranger to me.

His own doing, he doesn’t know me. He never really did.

My chest tightens, I feel my eyes prick with tears, but I won’t let them come.

Something inside of me desperately wants him to know me.

What Iv’e achieved and who I am.

He doesn’t know what I like, what makes me happy or sad.

What issues I feel passionately about.

That. despite everything I’m a good Mam.

He used to tell me I’d amount to nothing.

Nothing. More than a whore.

Those words are etched into my soul.

That is how I always felt insignificant, ugly, worthless, nothing.

You’ve probably guessed by now the old man in front of me is my Dad.

The same old man who still walks in my dreams.

The man who struck blind terror into the heart of a small child.

Oh Dad I so desperately wanted to please you.

I wanted you to like me.

Sadly I still do.

I find myself fighting to suppress the pity I find myself feeling for him.

My heart beating in my head reminding myself of the holocaust he made my life.

There was a tiny piece of him I loved and adored the sober piece. I always will.

That big man that carried me on his shoulders. Held my hand and walked me to school. Held my bike seat and smiled from ear to ear cheering his little girl as I peddled off on my own.

He taught me to play cards, draughts, let me help him when he’d wallpaper.

Gave me my love for books and the outdoors, taught me to write my name then later shared with me his talent for writing poetry.

He taught me to love nature and the countryside.

As I watched in awe as he’d whispered to horses.

Rescued a blackbird from a hawthorn bush.

Talked of make-believe, fairies and magic castles.

Oh how I loved that tiny piece of him, I still do,

I always will.

I desperately wanted then and now for that piece of him to become his whole.

For god the universe or some miracle to take away the bad piece. I want him to turn my way look at me and tell me he’s sorry.

I want him to hold me tell me everything’s going to be okay.

I want a family.

I want my children to have him as their granddad.

I want them to be safe.

He’s walking out of the door now.

I walk out behind him all of these thoughts buzzing in my head.

I get in my car sit in silence and watch him walk away, and then the tears start to fall.

For the life I can’t have, and the wishes I can’t make come true.

I know I can’t change him from who he is.

To whom I would desperately like him to be.

But I’ll never stop wanting and wishing.

That day in the post office was the very last time I saw him.

Goodbye Dad.

He died a few years after this diary entry was written.

In a flash – I’m back

Sometimes I’m still there.

Suddenly.

Unexpectedly

Without warning.

A smell, a taste, a song.

Catapulted at the speed of light.

Flick of a switch.

A blink of an eye

A tactile cine film begins.

It’s running inside my head in high definition

I’m suspended in time.

Back in time.

A prism of light of dark of terror.

A different dimension a parallel world.

It will always be there never very far away.

Operating on a different frequency

Like an old valve radio slightly out of tune.

Then that something, anything turns the knob,

Adjusts that channel pulls the two dimensions together

Past and present become one

Jolting me back into the nightmare

Silently I’m screaming but I know that no one can hear me.

What makes us?

I will show you tiny pieces of myself.
If you are patient and kind I may trust you.
I will open up boxes, take of lids that I often choose to keep closed.
There are places, memories
Where I began this journey.
Of people and things, Sounds and smells.
Pieces that make up my memories.

Make me.
I have had loves, and sadness.
Hopes and fears.
Pieces of a jumbled old jigsaw puzzle.
Time and trust will show a clear picture.
Five decades that are my colourful life.
Of me.
Still moving forward, growing, changing, always eagly learning.
Happy, sad, Hopeful joyous sometimes scared.

Running, skipping, walking slowly making

More memories to treasure.
Carved out. what you see before you
Multi-faceted many things

Altogether they are I.
Please do not judge a small piece.
For without the tiniest splinter
Who I have become would be incomplete
I would not be standing before you in this place here and now.

Home brew Shenanigans

home brew

Everyone on Dad’s side of the family drank heavily raced grey hounds and bet on horses. Even the women!

So to us kids that was just the norm.

My Dads youngest brother (our Peter) was no exception.

He was married to Auntie Aggie they were real characters. Aggie never wore her false teeth although she had been known to cut the edge of a pastry crust with them when baking and she did look a lot older than her years.

The creases on her face always reminded me of yesterdays screwed up chip shop paper. She wore odd sized plastic sponge rollers under a head scarf tied in a neat knot in the middle of her forehead. She swore a lot mostly at Peter. She always had a ciggie in the corner of her mouth which when was finished she would use to light another one from. She always wore her pinny and faded pink slippers the ones with that you slipped over your toes with a fluffy bobbly thing stuck on the front, well I say fluffy maybe when they were new which Aggies weren’t so it was anything but fluffy sort of knotted in need of going in the bin.

Uncle Peter could be found in one of three places. In Rain hill psychiatric hospital drying out from the booze. At home brewing home brew in the kitchen. (Or drinking it!) Or out with my Dad down the club.

I really liked him he was like a younger funny nice version of my dad, he smiled a lot and when he wasn’t smiling he was laughing mostly at Aggie.

Auntie Aggie reckoned if we looked in all three places and didn’t find him he then he definitely was dead! We always managed to find him.

He would get out of bed light a cig and pour a pint. His hair sticking up like a mad professor holes in his jumper from fag burns

The kitchen pantry, under the stairs and the spare bedroom was full of home brew.

Lines of sterilised milk bottles with plastic snap on caps.

I remember him running out of bottles in the middle of a barley wine brew and flagging down the Alpine pop man outside the shop.

Getting him to drop off two crates of bottles in exchange for some of his famous home brew!

He and Dad were well known for their beer. Mam swore they only brewed their own as they had been banned from most of the alehouses in town.

As well as their beer the other thing that was famous was Aggie and Peter’s fights.

I remember vividly walking up the grove were they lived early Saturday morning and being able to hear them three houses away!

I cautiously  pushed open the back door to hear Uncle Peter shouting at Aggie to move all the rubbish from under the bloody sink so he can fit his new batch of brew in.

‘RUBBISH! RUBBISH!’ she yells back. ‘That’s me best pots and pans!’

She is in full swing now and I just manage to duck out of the way as a handle less pan, which finds its target catching uncle Peter with a loud thud on his head!

‘You bloody madwoman! Luna-bloody tic!

‘You want locking up you do your pots for bloody rags!’ he’s standing there rubbing the side of his head!

‘Oh its me that’s pots for rags is it!’

She’s nearer now and she belts him on the other side with another pan!

I manage to duck under her raised arm into the living room were Colin and Phil sit obliviously in front of the telly.

‘Who do you think you are Greenall’s bloody brewery?’

‘Get out of this house and take all those bottles with you your nothing but a piss artist!’

The back door opens again and there is the sound of glass smashing!

‘Are you coming out?’ I ask? Colin

He raises his eyes to the ceiling and stretches. ‘Aye I may as well they are at it AGAIN!’

‘Well at least they talk to each other’ I hear myself say feebly.

‘My Mam and Dad won’t even speak to each other’

He laughs ‘I wish they wouldn’t maybe we could all have some bloody Peace.’ He sits up takes one of Aggies fags and lights it. ‘Want a drag?’

‘No! it stinks!’ I say pulling my face he laughs ‘Come on soft arse.’

The back door bangs and we watch Aggie scurrying down the front path still chunnering as she goes. Uncle Peter sticks his head down round the living room door. ‘Here you two get in here and help me finish these bottles afore she gets back. She’s gone down the shop for fags.’

‘Good laughs Colin I smoked the last one!’

Phil goes reluctantly into the kitchen I follow perching myself on a stool in

The corner.

Uncle Peter had made a massive vat of barley wine and is siphoning it into sterilised bottles. Taking great care not to screw on the tops too tight so that the gas had room to escape as the wine continued to ferment in the bottle

He is shouting at Phil to hurry up and make some space at the back of the pantry so that Aggie won’t realise there was more brew in there.

Colin hands the bottles to Phil who put the bottles into the back of the pantry. He winked at me and nodded at the bottle as he tightened the cap as he moved them.

I laughed nervously!

‘She’ll never know!’ laughs Uncle Peter rubbing his head were the pan had hit him earlier.

He had just moved the last of the bottles as Aggie walked in the back door.

‘Hiya Mam’ piped up our Colin. ‘Brought us any toffee’s?’

‘Never mind bloody toffees where’s me cig packet you little thief.’ she clipped

him before he can answer.

Phil laughs

‘And what have you done with all that ale you pissing alcoholic!’ she carried on where she had left off before the trip to the shop.

Peter is standing there grinning like a Cheshire cat!

‘I’ve poured it down the sink my bloody Queen!’

‘Your right my love no more ale.

I’m brewing no more.

When we’ve drunk what we’ve got my love that’s it!’

‘You awful bloody liar!’

‘You pour ale down the sink bloody never!’

‘I know your lying I can smell it now where is it!’

Peter is belly laughing now I  try not to giggle. ‘You can smell what?’ he says theatrically.

‘It must be your top lip rotting my love!

That’s what you get for not wearing your bloody teeth!’

Its no good I heard myself laugh.

Aggie flies at him hitting him with anything that’s handy.

We stand in the doorway shaking laughing.

Before I know what had hit me she had spun round and clipped us too!

We are down the path and out of the street like a shot!

Id rather fight next doors bull terrier than have a slap of me Mam says our Phil as we collapse on the grass laughing and I have to agree.

Wake up call.

pexels-photo-673862.jpegI’m beyond fed up.

I’m married.

I’m just eighteen, I have a beautiful baby and a vicious bully of a husband.

So far I’ve had broken nose, collar bone, arm and so many bruises I’ve lost count.

I don’t argue anymore.

I keep quiet.

But he’s pissed.

I’ve walked around the block three times to get the baby to sleep.

She’s finally dropped off.

I open the front door gently lift her from her pram almost run as quickly as I can upstairs gently put her in her cot and pull door shut behind me..

Listen

Quiet.

Tip toe down…

Then breathe.

He shouts. I jump. Heart thumping scared look around he hits me hard. My ear rings head bangs on the door frame. I scramble to my feet.

‘Where the fuck have you been?’ he says through gritted teeth smell of whisky wafting in my face splatters me with drunken spit.

I try to turn away. But he’s holding my jaw.

I’m 5’2 his 6, 7 frame towers over me.

‘Shush I plead the baby I stammer. I’ve been walking she’s teething … Needed to get her to sleep.’

I’m almost pleading I’m tired of this.

‘Not now please. Let’s not fight.’

‘Please’ I say again ‘I’ll make you tea.’

He pushes me down I get up again and pull the tansad pram up the front steps and though the front door.

Shutting it to keep the neighbours from witnessing my shame.

I push pram into the lounge he roars everything goes into slow motion he picks it up and throws it. Through the living room window.

Has someone pressed a button?

Glass splinters.

Slowly, shattering.

Pram hood up lands on upside down it’s bends and lands on its side.

I’m holding my breath.

Empty pram.

But he hadn’t checked.

He could have killed my baby.

The horror of the situation hits me.

Was that the wake up button?

He hits me again. And again. I’m numb

And I fall in the glass.

Blood everywhere.

A voice in my head. ‘Get up, get out of here.’

I keep crawling.

‘You lying bitch’ he’s saying as he alks into the kitchen

There’s blood dripping from my nose.

There’s a bang it’s the front door hitting the stair post.

The man who lives in the house opposite

Is standing there. Like a big shadow.

It’s all surreal. I feel sick.

He hold out his hand to me and pulls me up.

Jeff is back with glass of whisky.

‘What the fuck do you want?’

He is furious.

‘You’d better go I stammer to the man.’

He ignores me I’m really scared now.

‘Is this how you keep your women in line in St Helens he says?’

‘Beat the fuck out of them.’

He looks at me. ‘Where is your baby?’

‘Upstairs sleeping’ I manage.

‘What the fuck has it got to do with you?’ Jeff shouts dropping the whiskey and striding towards him.

It all happened so fast.

‘Call an ambulance says the man.’

‘ No I’ll be fine’ I say.

‘Not for you for this dick head’ and he hits Jeff. Knocking him into the lounge onto the broken glass I stand there frozen.

Jeff gets up and he hits him again and again

‘Come on he’s saying or can you only hit girls?’

Then he picks him up and throws him down the path.

‘I’m phoning the police’ Jeff says looking like he’s done a ten round boxing match.

‘No need says the stranger I rang them before I came.’

‘Now take yourself anywhere else but here.’

Just as a police car pulls up outside.

My dress is covered in blood from my broken nose. My face hurts but my baby is okay.

The police are pushing Jeff into the car.

The man is saying Jeff attacked him outside the house.

Police woman asks ‘Is that right?’

‘Yes’ I nod. ‘Did he do this to you?’

‘Yes’ I say.

My dad arrives from up the street. Looks at me with distain.

‘You’ve made your bloody bed lady lie in it.’

The man shakes his head.

‘Bloody idiots lot of them.’ he says.

‘You need to get away from this place’ he says. I smile ‘thank you.’

‘Hospital’ asks the police woman

‘No I’ll be fine I can’t leave my baby. I’ll go later.’

‘Are you sure’. ‘Yes’ I say.

I won’t go too many questions.

I close the door and start to pick up glass.

Look out into the garden at the pram on its hood.

My baby cries from her room.

I have to leave.