Thursday, 24 March 2011

East. Grinstead 1966/67.

The annexe at Coopers Wood consisted of a living room, one bedroom and a long kitchen with a bath in it that had a work surface on top. I had my own bed but my brothers shared a bed with my Mother, as there was so little room. i don't know what rent we paid, but my Mother looked after my brothers during the day and then in the evening she went to St. hill to do cleaning and also courses. It meant we spent little time together.In the evenings it was my job to look after my brothers. I was on my own a lot and so was allowed to go next door to the big house where all the scientology boarders lived.

When we first moved there, my Dad collected me in a taxi to go to school but after a short while it was too expensive and I had to walk to school which was approximately 2 miles. I did not understand why my Dad did not live with us, and it was something my Mother was reluctant to talk about.

There was a huge man who boarded at Coopers Wood called Uncle Bob, and after Uncle Ernie disappeared I latched onto Uncle Bob, I missed my Dad a great deal and I suppose on reflection Uncle Bob became a substitute. I remember curling up on his knee and falling asleep many times. It was comforting. I used to check on my brothers frequently and fortunately they were good sleepers and did not wake too often.

The night I stayed at home and was told not to move the carasene oil fire, I got bored, the fire was in the way and I wanted to do cartwheels, so I moved it. The next thing I knew the rug was alight and I was terrified, knowing my brothers were both asleep in the next room. Fortunately I had my wits about me and was able to put the fire out quickly, I felt terrible for my Mother had said "Do not move the fire" and I had, puttting my brothers lives at risk.

When my little sister Theresa Marie was born, she was so beautiful and so tiny and one could be forgiven for thinking we were the perfect family, but we didn't have a Dad. It was some time before I realized my Dad was living with another woman, I did not understand this, I saw less and less of him.

The Christmas of 66 was when I was taken to visit him with his new wife, I did not know at the time how hard this must have been for my Mother, sitting there drinking tea and eating cake and playing at being nice, like it was the most natural thing in the world. Years later finding myself in a similar situation, it hit me hard. There I was that day in my lovely glittery dress that I had for Christmas with my very grown up glittery tights feeling like I was on top of the world because I was with my Dad and yet there was my Mother, heavily pregnant, doing right by me and the boys, playing nice and my Dad was messing around with another woman.

Messing, is probably not the right word, he actually married her, which is more than he did for my Mother. I found out only a few years ago, 2006, he was never married to my 1st step Mother. This is just another one of those things that really gets to you, because I remember when my Dad and Mother had told me they had gotten married, I was only about 5 years old, I was upset because I had not been invited, I wanted to be a bridesmaid, but at the time, the way it was put to me, I was just happy that we were a family.

Theresa Marie only lived for about 3 months, she had breathing difficulties and died. I was at school and walking home, Auntie Betty came by in a taxi and broke the news to me, I was very upset and my Mother was not there when I got home. It was a very difficult time, my Mother was devastated by this and for some time after was different. Grieving.

The funeral was held at St. Hill in the Chappel. I remember this tiny little white coffin with a gold plaque with her name on it, it was hard to imagine that beautiful little baby inside that box, up on a plinth. The Chappel was packed with people but I can not tell who was there other than my Mother, Father, Auntie Betty and Auntie Mary. I was more concerned with whose body Theresa would find to inhabit.It bothered me a great deal, the only person I could have talked to about it was my Dad but he was rarely around. So I was left wondering just what growing baby she would latch on to.

On my tenth birthday, my Mother was home for the evening and let me have a half of a beer shandy. We sat and chatted, like never before and it was a wonderful evening. For the first time in a long time, she laughed and I was happy. It had been a rough year so far.

It was difficult because I missed my Dad so much, after an arguement with my Mother about I don't know what, I decided to run away and go to my Dad. The stupid thing is I didn't even know where he lived, I had only been there once but thought I could find it.

That afternoon, I had been out with a friend, we had gone down to the woods near where I had previously lived and wondered down by the stream. I loved that stream, it had a life force all of it's own and meandered down way deep into the wood. I almost felt like I could live there if needed be, until I found my Dad.

I had some money that I was supposed to get some shopping with for my Mother, but instead chose to buy things I thought I needed to survive until I found my way to my Dad's. I hid the shopping bags down the track that led to a lake down by the side of the entrance to Coopers Wood. When I went to collect them later, someone had stolen them. Undeterred, I packed a suitcase and only telling a boy that lived at Coopers Wood what my plans were, I set off in the dead of night before my Mothers return from St. Hill, and into the woods beyond the house.

The suitcase was heavier than I had imagined, and I struggled along for quite a while, eventually probably only a mile from the house, and settled down for the night on the leafy, wood floor.

I was awakened by a tracker dog licking my face. The Policeman was calling my name and telling me to wake up. I was determined I was not going to wake up. I feined being asleep for ages.When you are ony 10, and you've had enough, you can convince yourself that you will not wake up. For some stupid reason I actually thought that if I appeared to not wake up, he would go away. He didn't.

He said "I know you can hear me", but I did not want to hear him. It was some time before I finally had to admit defeat and was coaxed to go back to Coopers Wood.
To be continued.............

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