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.

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.

I need a plan.

pexels-photo-38136.jpegPregnant, Id took a sample of urine down to the chemist at the bottom shops. I waited as pensioners came in with prescriptions chatted with each other about the weather and the new pebble dashing the council were putting on the houses. What a bloody mess little pebbles everywhere.

I picked up some nail varnish, it was in the sale fifty pence jet black I put it on the counter and stood rattling the change in my hand.

The assistant came through from the back I reached out with the nail varnish and the change. ‘Positive’ she smiled taking the fifty pence. ‘Do you want it in a bag?’

‘No I stuttered it can go in my pocket’ the huge old cash register rang out. As she dropped the change into the drawer.   Signifying the massive change in my life.

I had to go home and pack. ‘Positive’ she said didn’t she?

I have to pack and find somewhere to live. I’m going to be a Mammy.

This time it will be different.

I walked slowly up the hill and through the woods home. It was March it wasn’t cold but I shivered. The woods were just coming alive again trees and bushes squirrels I sat on a log by the stream.

A million thoughts racing through my head.

I cant let Dad find out

Who should I tell?

Should I tell anyone?

I’d tell Mike we were best mates he’d know what to say.

I walked over towards his house he was half way down his street walking towards me I stood and waited for him to get to me.

“Where you going?” he smiled

“I’m just on my way over to yours to pick up my washing.”

Mikes Mam had died a few years ago and my mam had started doing his washing he was working in Fine fare supermarket instore carpet shop and she made sure his shirts were ironed he had to look the part.

We walked back towards the woods. ‘Come and sit by the big oak for a bit.’ I asked.

‘You okay?’ I didn’t answer and we walked along the path towards the big oak tree,

It was like my huge big forever friend, always there I’d climb up sit in the branches with a book hanging from the branch was the rope swing id fell of more times than I can remember.

Mike grabbed the rope and swung out over the bomb hole.

Jet black hair blowing in the breeze whoo whoo he shouted ‘come on jump on as he swung back towards me.

I grabbed the rope and straddled across his legs holding the rope and tilting my head back to feel the breeze. Closing my eyes. The rope creaked.

Birds song distant sound of a lawn mower I loved it here in the woods I lifted my head looked at Mikes smiling face he didn’t look old enough to have a job such a baby face we’d been friends for years we shared a paper round.

He bought me a gold fish for the pond in mams back garden Dad had joked and said we were now engaged as he’d given me a goldfish.

But Mike had more girl friends than any other lad I knew he was so handsome but he was my friend. Best friend.

‘I’m pregnant’ I heard myself say.

Shit it was out there I’d said it.

I jumped off the swing and he jumped off landing awkwardly beside me.

‘Fuck Boo” He yelled.

I looked at him as he sat on the old log at the top of the bank. I watched the rope swing still sway in the breeze.

‘My bloody ankle’

‘What did you just say, pregnant’?

‘SHHHHH!’

‘There’s only us bloody here fucking hell Boo Your Dad is going to kill you!’

I sat beside him, I felt numb. He was right he’d go spare.

Especially if he knew I’d told someone.

‘Can I feel he looked at me and I felt myself smile as he gently put his hand on my belly.

I laughed ‘nothing to feel yet I think I’m about four months’ ‘But it’s still in there he didn’t move his hand’

I stood up

‘Well what are you going to do?’

‘Have a baby Dad can fuck right off, I’m leaving home so don’t say anything yet.’

‘I’m saying nothing!’ he said with an exaggerated scared look on his face

‘Does anyone else know?

‘No and No I don’t have a plan!’

I need a plan’

“You need a fucking plane ticket he joked”

We walked back to the house and through the back gate Dad was in the back garden sawing wood with a band saw, ‘Alright Mr H?’ Dad grunted and carried on sawing Mike looked at me and did that face again running his finger across his neck. I kicked him as he opened the back door.

Mam was in the living room knitting I put the kettle on and Mam came in fussing around Mike and folding up his washing for him and asking him about his job, I sat by the coal fire waiting for the kettle to boil listening to Mike sweet talk my Mam.

Fuck I really do need a plan now!

Is this rain ever going to stop?

Is this rain ever going to stop?

Its 7,45am the bus is packed making a groaning noise as it climbs up the steep hill into town like a giant dragon spitting out passengers when it stops and taking on more before moving on jerking as I stand holding onto a overhead strap I’m focusing on a pair of pointy black heels wrinkled feet squashed into them. The bus stops by the church the pointy heels are also getting off here I shuffle myself carefully past people staring into space, reading news papers and telling off small children the doors of the bus swing open and the cold December air hits me stinging my face. I’m so glad I had bus fare today it would have been awful walking in this weather. I thank the driver and a small pang of pain niggles at my back as I step onto the wet pavement.

I stand still for a minute close my eyes leaning on the wall of St James Church. Women rush past with small children on their way to school. Snippets of conversations I push my long hair out of my eyes the milk man is pulling crates of school milk of the back of the co op float and pushing open the playground gate leaving the milk by the infants door.

I look at my watch 8.30am don’t want to be late make my way to the playground gate.

‘Alright?’ says the milk man ‘good weather for ducks.’ He laughs rain dripping from his glasses I smile and rush past him pick up the first crate, little bottles blue foil caps and packet of straws clicking of heels behind me and Mrs Smeltser the reception teacher pulls the door open and hold it whilst I carry the crates in.

‘Awful accident on the east lancs road lorry and a motor bike oh I do hope no one was killed, so close to Christmas. ‘She says.

‘Put the kettle on I’m parched and she rushes into the staff room to hang her coat fix her hair and apply her pink lipstick as she does every morning.

I put the kettle on in the small kitchen take out four cups and a jar of Nescafe. There is a hole in one of my shoes my left foot is soaking. I look into the mirror above the sink.

A shy sixteen year old girl damp mousy lank hair scraped back into a pony tail red cheeks, split shoe head full of dreams looks back at me.

Voice behind me makes me jump.

‘Oh you look really flushed are you feeling okay? Half my class were off last week with a bug I hope you haven’t got it?’ Its Mrs Jackson she’s always got a kind word for me dresses in marks and spencer skirts and jumpers large glasses hid her tiny round face I hand her a cup of coffee.

Half my class were off last week with a bug I hope you haven’t got it?’ Its Mrs Jackson she’s always got a kind word for me dresses in marks and spencer skirts and jumpers large glasses hid her tiny round face I hand her a cup of coffee.

‘I okay’ I reassure her. ‘Just cold’ I follow her into the staff room she chats about her weekend and asks about mine. I like her I’m working with her today. She tells me again how she thinks I’m going to make a wonderful nursery nurse and how the two years at college will fly by.

She tells me again how she thinks I’m going to make a wonderful nursery nurse and how the two years at college will fly by.

She loves my art work I smile I wish she could be right but I know she’s not.

I find it so very hard to fit in the weeks that I’m in college but the six weeks blocks that I’m here at St James church school are so different.

It’s a different world but one I know I can only dream of being a part of.

Women who work have a career a car nice clothes more than one pair of shoes. Friends they meet up with out side of work. Its like a parallels universe `completely different world

Its like a parallels universe `completely different world to mine.

I’ve not been here long I’m shy awkward and quiet but they always include me. I wish I knew what to say how to be more like them confidant and funny.

Iris year three teacher asked me to her party last week. Pre Christmas party she laughed it was at her home on a canal bank in Warrington huge house three floors brightly coloured tiles in the kitchen hot mulled wine and nibbles music and a huge garden.

I wish I knew what to say how to be more like them confidant and funny.

Iris year three teacher asked me to her party last week. Pre Christmas party she laughed it was at her home on a canal bank in Warrington huge house three floors brightly coloured tiles in the kitchen hot mulled wine and nibbles music and a huge garden.

Id wished I knew how to ‘be’ but I’m a fish out of water so different from the sprawling council estate drunken violent father and his home brew bottles that lived in every room of our house. But dispite feeling like this I was glad to be there. In their world away from the chaos of mine for just a little while.

But dispite feeling like this I was glad to be there. In their world away from the chaos of mine for just a little while.

I was trying hard day by day to be more like the joolz I imagined could fit could be a nursery nurse have a life like Iris and her hippy dresses with friends and hot mulled wine people laughing no one fighting or arguing I wished really hard, maybe one day.

Dad had took some persuading to let me start college. Id begged he was furious. ‘Bloody college who do you think you bloody are? Walter bloody mitty gunner do this want to do that.’ He had ranted pouring another bottle of home brew into a cracked pint glass. Id wished it had cut of his tongue.

‘Get a job and pay your bloody way.’

Careers office had told me I could go to college to do my NNEB, as part of a government scheme twenty three pounds and fifty pence a week. To cover bus fares and the rest I would have to give to Dad for my ‘keep’.

I promised Dad I would take a bar job too to bring in more money and eventually he had agreed but only until a better job came up.’ No one in this bloody family goes to bloody college.’ he had said.

So I had took a bar job at weekends in the cross hotel so that I would have bus fare and money for dinner but some weeks Dad took that too. So I would set my alarm for six and I walk for two hours in all weathers I was determined to keep this job I loved it. The kids the way I was treated but most of all I loved the escape.

It gave me hope.

I was like a sponge in work I would do anything they asked. I loved art work I helped the children to paint we made a huge tree from printed painted tiny hands, decorated Easter eggs, painted with potato’s, made pape Mache pigs, cut out Christmas decorations with plastic scissors, made coffee for staff who were now friends read stories to wide eyed children supervised playtimes, put plasters on knees I was blossoming relaxing I was genuinely happy and I was begging to ‘fit’.

That old stone wall around the school and church yard was my fortress I felt safe and different there.

Today was going to be busy the children were attending the church service, the church and the playground were separated by a small iron gate. I was going to stay behind to finish putting up the nativity scene we had been working on.

Mary Joseph and the three kings. Five six year olds had been drawn around carefully cut out then with the help of lots of PVA glue cut up material and tissue paper we had the main characters ready to staple on the main wall of the assembly hall along with a manger made from the used milk straws and some borrowed straw from the guinea pigs cage! I stood holding the big foil star that would lead the wise men to Jesus as the children lined up in pairs holding hands ready to leave for the church.

The radio played Christmas songs and I hummed along balancing on a small ladder positioning each character carefully before stapling onto the wall. Star up there Mary and Joseph two shepherds and a wise man.

Ouch the pain came again it had been niggling me all morning but it was worse now both my sides hurt I felt hot and dizzy.

I went over to the kitchen got a glass of water another pain.

It’s raining again I can hear the cars splashing through the puddles outside the kitchen window it’s starting to go dark.

Water runs down my leg like the rain down the windows but it’s warm.

I grip my belly and water runs down my cheeks. ‘No I beg please no not here.’

A hundred thoughts run through my head what ifs? I’m so scared the pain is so much worse I can’t stop it my body feels out of control I push open the stock room door there is a pile of cut up clothes and shelves of paper pens PVA glue boxes of staples.

I take off my wet knickers and crouch it was all over so quickly much quicker than last time.

Tiny not much bigger than my hand eyes fused shut, skin almost translucent. Smaller than the rabbits dad makes me skin when he’s been shooting. Hand the size of the tip of my little finger. Lifeless and still. Perfect baby boy I kiss his tiny head.’ I am sorry I whisper’’

I sit on the tiled floor take off my cardigan and wrap him in it, Noah I whisper because of the rain. I place him gently in a box placenta still attached. My legs are shaking smeared with blood. I take some of the cut up fabric and wipe up the floor. Push the box gently under the bottom shelf in the stock room.

No crib for a bed.

I place him gently in a box placenta still attached. My legs are shaking smeared with blood. I take some of the cut up fabric and wipe up the floor. Push the box gently under the bottom shelf in the stock room.

No crib for a bed.

I pick up my wet knickers look for a tea towel in the kitchen to use as a sanitary towel.

I wash my face brush my hair, children will be back soon. Im convinced there is some kind of sign above my head and everyone will know.

Dad will kill me if they find out. I’m beyond scared things like this don’t happen in their world.

The door swings open gust of cold air and the chatter of exited children.

‘You did it, it looks lovely miss you’re so clever’ a little boy with huge blue eyes bright blonde hair chatters. I smile and wonder what colour Noahs would have been if he had lived.

‘You look terrible I’m betting you’re getting that bug’ Mrs Jackson fusses into the staff room now she says no arguing sit down have nice hot cup of tea.

I’ve got the last two kings to go onto the wall. I protest.

Well the kings can wait she smiles clicking the kettle on and squeezing my hand. A tear runs down my cheek I catch it as she chatters on making tea.

You’ll feel much better after tea and a rest she says handing me a mug.

Somehow I don’t think I will.

Where do you live Mrs Smeltzer is asking? I wince not wanting to tell her.

Im sure I go past your estate on my way home she continues I’ll give you a lift the weather is awful and Mrs Smeltzer is insistent you’re not going home on two buses so you can tell me on the way home.

Before I know it every one is ready to leave, Mrs Jackson hand me my coat and we walk to the door I pick up my bag panicking. ‘My cardigan.’ I say as she turns off the light to close the door.

‘I’ve left it in the stock room’. I take my bag with me pull-out the box and gently pick up my tiny baby and place him in my bag. ‘I’m sorry’ I say again ‘but we have to go home to Dad’

I sit in the car next to mrs smeltzer clutching my bag. She’s chatting about visiting her father in Dorset and her husband’s new car, she asks where to turn as we approach the traffic lights near the estate.

I direct her past the shops my old primary school and the pub here my Dad drinks it’s still raining we get to the church at the top of our avenue and I ask her to stop.

‘Which one is it?’ she asks I point at the nice house with the roses painted on a name plate which reads mardale house in the garden with a black painted gate.

‘See you tomorrow’ she says ‘early night hope you feel better if not ring tomorrow day off won’t hurt.’

‘We don’t have a phone’ I want to say but I thank her and nod.

Her little red car drives away and I walk away from the nice house with the door plaque.

Slowly walk further down to our house the lights are out I walk around the back and into the kitchen Dad is sat by the fire I start to cry hand him my bag.

He looks at me and I see the temper flash why didn’t you come home he barks at me. I don’t get a chance to answer. The slap hits hard.

Get to bed.

Is this rain ever going to stop?

Please make it stop..

Raven Wordsmith 🖤