In many respects my childhood could so easily have robbed me of hope and I have entitled this blog post a childhood lost because in many respects my childhood was different from many other childhoods and it felt to me that it wasn’t a childhood. However what we have to remember is that we all came into the world with very different situations and very different families and very different family dynamics but I will endeavour to explain my family relationships and difficulties.
I was born on July the 24th 1964, my mother and father were both young and lived with my maternal grandparents in a small town near Manchester in the United Kingdom in a 2 up 2 down cottage on a main road, quite close to a bank, newsagents, local supermarket and a fish and chip shop so all was good in the world.
I am the eldest of 10 children from the relationships of both my mother and father, although in doing some family history research, someone with my dad’s name had a boy 15 months older than I was with a woman who I had never heard of, however as I was growing up everyone said that my dad was a ladies man.
Anyway getting back to me and my birth and the naming, my dad wanted me to be named after him, my grandfather wanted me to be named Paul the compromise was that I would be named Paul Derek, Derek being my dad’s forename. Shortly after my birth my mum and dad moved and left me with my grandparents, they split my care between themselves and my maternal aunt and uncle until I was a little bit older and became more independent, this is when my life really turned around and not for the better, my contact with my mother almost came to a complete standstill and I spent time with my maternal grandparents and my aunt and uncle.
The difficulty with being around older people is that you often act in an older way and bearing in mind my Grandfather was 69 years of age when I was born and was not in the best of health, infact from being 5 years of age I practically became his primary caregiver, a role which I took very seriously and if I had to do it again then I would do, I dressed in suits, I was privately educated at home and never felt really comfortable around other children, after all I stood out like a sore thumb, with suits, shirts and ties, pocket squares and I was interested in Politics and Business.
I developed I think a keen sense of duty and felt responsible for my Granddad’s health and well-being.
My life was quite unconventional but I felt blessed, I went to church, my granddad worked as a gardener and he would often take me with him until he had to give up because of ill health, then suddenly my mum decided that I should spend Sunday night with her, I always felt that it was because she claimed family allowance which was a government payout and she could prove that she had me at the time of my birth, I was hit really hard by this because by then my mum had 3 other children and they were very jealous of me, this was because my allowances where really immense for a child of my age and yet my brother was left with 50 pence a day to get his own tea for example.
I really resented this part of my life because it was really messy and caused a lot of disturbance to my balance and the feeling that I was being interfered with, not in a sexual way but in a psychologically and emotionally damaging way and even now I bear the scars.
When in your life do you grow up??
I think that in my case it was throughout my childhood although the respite that I had was to spend weekends and some holidays away with my aunt and uncle, although for the first few years my mum insisted that my sister went or else I didn’t go but this stopped after a few years because my sister became home sick.
A CHRISTMAS MEMORY.
I used to have a lot of water infections especially at Christmas time especially when I was younger and again my mum would insist upon me being with the family on Christmas Eve, even though on Christmas day, I used to go back with my aunt and uncle, this particular year they were bringing my Grandparents and I had been got a little red fire engine with a moving ladder and a water pump and sirens and firemen and my brother kept asking me if he could play with it and I wouldn’t let him, when my Granddad came in he got down on his knees and started pushing the fire engine back and forth to me, everyone but me had dinner and I was wrapped in a blanket and put on the back seat of the car with my gran and aunt supporting me, it was at these times that I felt at my happiest and safest.
February 1975, 5 months before my 11th birthday and my Granddad was taken into hospital and I said goodbye to him as he was driven away in an ambulance, I never saw him again, he died in hospital and suddenly my mum cared and said that could not see him because he was on tubes etc, he died on a Saturday night and we were that is my gran and I were at my aunt and uncle’s house because my gran didn’t have a phone.
I was sat in the living room and suddenly felt very lonely, heavy hearted and very sad, I knew that something had happened and that the man I loved and who had taught me so much and whose knee I sat on watching Dad’s Army and Dixon of Dock Green had left me.
In reality the vultures start circling straight after, I wasn’t then allowed to see my Granddad in the chapel of rest because again I was too young and I might get upset, my mum even wanted me to miss the funeral again because I was too young and I manipulated my way into going because I ended up walking alone to the church but that was okay by me, I had to say my goodbyes.
The will reading was absolutely hilarious in many respects with everyone with my Granddads solicitor, it was then discovered that a provision was made in the will for me and everyone seemed surprised especially at the amount which was nearly a thousand pounds UK sterling in 1975 which was a heap of money.
Some of it I used to get away from my Gran and my mum and I will explain that later.
I then had to go to a mainstream school which I had many problems with because I would spend more time with the Head Master or the teachers, I really never bothered much with the other children and I still wore suits even though we had a uniform policy and it would have got me into trouble without my Headmaster giving me permission, he also gave me permission to miss Games and Physical Education and spend time in the library. My favourite subjects were History, Religious Education, English and English Literature my worst were the sciences and I was okay at Mathematics.
3 months after my Granddad’s death I came home from school and there was another man at the dining table who my gran introduced to me, the first words that came out of his mouth were I am …. and you can call me granddad, I admit much to my shame that I lashed out and hit him on the nose, I was angry, confused, my aunt and uncle had stopped picking me up for some reason and I really struggled to know what I had done wrong.
My Gran was as bad has anyone else when it came to money and one of the first things that she said to me after my Granddad’s death was that she would make me a very wealthy man if I stayed with her, I did but not really for the money I don’t think maybe it was safer than many other options.
In the meantime my mum had started manipulating my gran into giving her money or saying that she would take me away and my gran would never see me again and my gran always gave in even though I told her that would never happen.
At one point my mum threatened to put me into care and I actually said that I would make the call.
Anything seemed better than the life that I was experiencing and I saw nothing changing imminently but I had plans that would destroy lives and give me a feeling of freedom.
One thing that I learnt about life was that if you wanted something badly enough you had to move hell and high water to get the end result and all was fair in love and war.