Thursday, 10 July 2014

Why I'm Writing It and...Cheque This Out!!

Evening all - what a beautiful day to waste in front of a computer. Shame on this bunny...

So, why write a book about your early life when you're not famous? Whether or not that's a valid question depends entirely on whether or not you feel one has to 'earn' the right to give some sort of account of their experiences, then if so, by what criteria. I've read many a dull autobiography by some 'famous person' or another, closing the book and deeming that to be a waste of several hours which could have been spent doing something altogether more useful.

Look at the average footballer's tales of triumph if the point needs illuminating in any way. Endless repetition of games and goals that were already known to us, precious little insight and a sense that the truly revelatory stuff is being held back for fear of embarrassment to themselves, team-mates or whoever else might be capable of ordering a super-injunction. Then there are the pathetic, score-settling accounts of former Z-listers, written under the misapprehension that their star has not faded in some significant way, that the world has not moved on from their fallout with XYZ some 125 years ago. Yawn. Epic fucking yawn.

So..what if I wrote a book that is nothing like that?

I seem to have spent forever being judged by fucking idiots. Fucking idiots who have dealt in, at best, ignorance and, at worst, downright misinformation. There's no point lying about it or pretending to be stronger than I am. It pisses me off, really gets my goat and always has. It's an appalling weakness of mine. I sincerely wish I had a tremendous capacity to shout “Fuck You!!” across the room and just ignore the negativity. Some of those who knew me as a teenager will be astonished to hear this, but I don't and never really have. I'm quite a sensitive and almost fragile person. I care what others think of me, probably more than I should or is healthy.

Nastiness and negativity strike a nerve. Criticism chastens. Bitchiness bites. Actions aggravate. Words wound. Some of this shouldn't be the case, but hey, it is. I'm weak and deeply flawed – just like you...

Because of this character flaw, I've never been someone who's able to simply move on from something that does not have a logical ending or point of release. It's not like I haven't tried to, I'm simply hardwired a different way. Writing all of this down will provide a sense of catharsis, closure, an ending and an opportunity for anyone interested in a very, very real life to have a look and draw their own. Some will do so and conclude I'm an utter waste of time. Others will not bother having reached that that conclusion beforehand. Of course that's entirely their choice, but then I can move on and draw a line under some things, lose that baggage.

Historical inaccuracy is a pet hate of mine, 'the Vini Reilly factor' and what have you. Just as Vini should have been properly accredited with his role in the making of Viva Hate, I'm looking forward to a slice of wholly theraputic establishment of the facts, a bit of cathartic truth-telling. Labouring under a black cloud is difficult enough when it really belongs to you and has a sound basis in something that actually happened. When myth becomes enshrined in historical record, truth is the ultimate loser and bullshitter becomes King or Queen for a day. One more than he or she deserves, surely?

All of this is of course an opportunity to speak to and help anyone else who is going through some of the serious issues that will be addressed in the book – chronic depression, nervous illness, limerent episodes, parental neglect, self-destructive behaviour as a coping mechanism, and a few others. As they say at the end of television programmes “if you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this book”. Anyway, a generic e-mail address is at the top of the page and feel free to get in touch. I'll handle all contact quickly and as sensitively as I can.

At the very least, I'll try and be the person I never had...

It's past midnight so we're into Monday morning now. I was never the best sleeper and have always tended to need a drink to help me nod off, but this is shortly before the insomnia got really bad and the bags started to appear under the eyes. I remember a period of walking around like a zombie, looking like shit that hadn't slept in days. It was usually because I hadn't. So I'm wide awake when I hear the shout.

“All three of you – get your fucking arses down here, now”.

Genuinely perplexed as to what this is about, but frightened and fearing some sort of emergency, I scramble off the top bunk, down the ladder and make my way into what turns out to be the courtroom wearing nothing but my underwear (apologies for the haunting mental image). It becomes clear pretty much immediately that this is neither a fire nor a fire drill. Bob is even more pissed off than usual and he's about to tell us exactly why. Something about a cheque for three hundred and forty five pounds that he insists he left in his jacket, and therefore, since it is no longer with him, could only have been stolen.

Ok, I'm only thirteen here but I'm smart enough to understand that stealing a cheque payable to someone else is pretty fucking stupid. Shithead that he is, Bob rambles on about how he's “willing to let it go” if one of us thought we'd won the lottery and wanted to give the cheque back now. That he doesn't approach this angle, namely that there was no financial gain for any potential thief, indicates either monumental stupidity (of which he was capable with alarming frequency) or something altogether more sinister. Try paying a cheque made payable to a private company into your own bank account – I'm sure you get the point I'm making...

Two hours this goes on for, Bob playing judge jury and executioner, chain-smoking, blowing poisonous shit into our faces, wittering on about how 'whoever has done this' will be going to Lancaster Farms (like he gets to decide the sentence) and can expect to be arse-raped in the showers on a daily basis. There's bollocks about getting the filth involved and then, quite brilliantly, he announces that he's going to have us POLYGRAPHED. Now, I wasn't aware of the legal situation back in 1995, namely that the results of lie detector tests are inadmissable in a British court, but I knew this wasn't just something you could ring up and order over the phone like Chinese food.

“Hi, is this the poly bureau?”
“Hey Bob, usual is it – what have they done this time?”
“Not altogether sure, but I've got a strange feeling one of them is lying to me about, er, something”
“No problem sir – would you like prawn crackers with that?”

I'm in a difficult position here, wrestling between the utter ridiculousness of this man who (frighteningly) represents 49% of my genes, keeping a serious face due to the very real and lingering threat of violence and a tiny bit of my brain that is now playing tricks on me, telling me that I actually stole this thing and had just forgotten it. This will always stay in my mind when people defend and argue for the use of torture to interrogate people accused of crimes. A person under physical or psychological torture will admit to ANYTHING, just to make it fucking stop. Evidence gained by torture has been demonstrated time and again to be totally and utterly unreliable.

Anyway – the punchline is, the dozy fucker had left the cheque on the coach he was driving. It had never made its way into his jacket at all. For reasons unknown, we're not allowed to hit the hay until he gets back, at which point he tells us to fuck off upstairs. No apology, no sheepishness or embarrassed expression, nothing.

This was probably the point at which the unconditional love that a child has for his father disappeared from me forever. I recognised that I was living with a thoroughly nasty piece of work whose worldview ended at the tip of his own nose, a fucking idiot who I would have nothing to do with were we not (somehow) related. I mutter a few things to my kid brother about how I've just lost all respect for the guy. Then we're summoned downstairs the following morning and Irene is dishing it out this time. I'm struggling to get my head around how this works, but apparently, we were in the wrong.

Somehow, he has managed to play a trick in his head and convince himself that he is the victim in all this shit, and she's backing him up, trying to fuck with our heads and convince us that (somehow) this is our fault. He even announces that, unless we drop any sense of upset or grievance over the whole thing he will refuse to work ever again. Quite what the DSS would have made of that I have no idea, but the serious point is this manchild just needed to grow the fuck up, leave us all the fuck alone for a few days and let it blow over. Unfortunately, such an act of decency and humility was deemed to be somewhat beneath him.

Irene tried to contact me yesterday and, as far as I'm concerned, she can fuck off and go to hell. Whenever she had the chance to distance herself from Bob's lunacy, she made an active and conscious choice to prop it up instead. Though I kept giving her the benefit of the doubt for years afterwards, that morning should have been the telltale sign that, to paraphrase, they were 'in this together'. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, two cheeks of the same arse, so to speak. It's true that she was on the receiving end of his vicious streak herself, but when it was anyone else then she never had a problem with it. None whatsoever.

Despite interrogating three frightened, shivering kids for more than two hours over nothing, threatening them with gang-rape and lie detector tests amongst other mishaps, somehow, he came out of this as poor and hard done to and us kids as the villains. Only in the warped and fucked up minds of Bob and Irene could this happen, but when the content of those minds happens to be the law, that's the way you're forced to live.

I mean, the bastard probably knew all along where it was and did this whole thing just for kicks. That's the sort of person he was.

I'm just getting warmed up - take care and I'll catch you soon.

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