I had reached the grand old age of 13 the first time my world ended. It was 1979. I last felt love 3 years earlier when my Granddad died. It was good I got death out of the way early. I cope with death far easier than rejection, loss and isolation as as adult. I had just been scooped out of my safe and modern universe in the Capital and relocated to the soon to be shut down Mining Valleys of South Wales. I can’t name it. I can’t even cross the Bridge unless someone dies. The strikes and violence had already started. The winter of Discontent turned into a 3 year battle between the Miners and Thatcher. And all she stood for. Dark days in our history. Even at that age I could tell no one there had a pot to piss in. I know now they saw it (as they do today), as a war against the English. It’s still shut down. I wish it would fall into the Abyss. It was like I had been taken from 1978 to 1958. At least they had Elvis back then. We had Shakin’ Stevens. You may as well have put me on Mars.
She was Welsh, my ‘Father’ (Patrick) Irish, having come to London after being adopted from Dublin aged 10. My granddad was the kindest man I ever met. Good enough to take in that orphan of doom. If only we were related I might have got some of his good, normal genes, instead of this mess. She had to leave the Valleys in shame as the unwed mother of my soon to born half-brother in the early 60s. He is Welsh too.
I didn’t know then but she had just caught that Benzo-addicted, lazy, dole-blagging waste of space cheating on her again. She had enough of it after 15 years, and was going back to the bosom of her clan. I don’t blame her for that. I never got those genes. I got the rest thou.
I’d gone from having 2 part-time jobs, friends, a community and a sense of belonging to Neath Farm Secured Boys Facility. Borstal in 6 months. This was where they put the very bad boys. Boys who had killed other boys. Was there a mistake somewhere? I just went on holiday with my Mum.
‘Mother’ (Rita) had run off with another ‘Uncle’ long before then and Uncle was clearly less than pleased at the thought of actually having to be a Male figure in anything more than name. She chose him and I got a new Mummy and Daddy called The Mid Glamorgan County Council. Neither of them were at court when I was made an ward of the State and my social worker drove me to Bridgend afterwards. 18 months later I was still there in that locked room waiting to see if anyone remembered I was still alive. Getting sick of having a cricket bat handle shoved up my rectum by those very rough Welsh boys.
‘Dad’ wouldn’t rescue me because it would let her off the hook. He wanted to guilt her into taking me back by leaving me there, knowing she would have to leave her fancy man to do so. Then he could get her back. That was the only deal he was interested in. He had it all worked out. She was still choosing ‘Uncle’. Eventually I wrote to the Home Secretary myself. But that’s another post. My only reason to exist as a bargaining chip, a pawn in a game, the dispensable piece you willingly sacrifice in the pursuit of a bigger goal.
Before I got to the Farm with the Locks and the Barbed Wires, there were a number of money-grabbing Foster Parents and lots of less secure units where money wasn’t the only thing they were grabbing. I ran away from all of them. That’s what got me to the ‘Farm’. At least the boys at the Farm didn’t pretend to love me like my ‘aunts’ and ‘uncles’ did. Uncle Jerry in particular. I will never forget him.
I had done pretty well with that issue, until 25 years later two Welsh policeman knocked on my door in Birmingham out of the blue. Could I please help them with ‘Operation Too Late Now’ or whatever it was called, into the mass child abuse in care homes in the late 70’s and early 80’s in South Wales? That was a hard chat to have in front of my partner at the time.
Doubtless all my aunties and uncles are already out and off the register and ruining innocence again as I write.
I hope every last one of you found your bat, and your garden shed in the Farm they sent you to. Not much else to say about that right now. Apart from that afternoon in Birmingham this is the only time I’ve ever mentioned it in my life.
I need to rest for a bit. It’s Dawn again. That was not what I would call a flowing post. Either that or not going to bed since Monday. It’s waited 37 years. A few more hours won’t hurt.