A Fading Impression.

Impression

Physically, the wounds of that day remained for weeks but the psychological impact,  the deep impression it left, has always remained and can never be erased. I had already lost respect for Larry, my step father, but this beating bought about something deeper. It changed something within me, and whilst beaten down in one respect, it triggered something, sowed the seeds of survival. There came a realization,  that this was how my life was, but I needed to live it and get through it all.

My head was heavy and ached for weeks, my scalp tender to touch and brushing my hair made me wince and yelp. I had bruises everywhere, especially my forearms, that had taken many of the blows intended for my head and body.  As it was the start of the summer holidays there wasn’t a need to keep me away from school until the bruising disappeared.

The bruises would eventually fade and the aches and pains would resolve, but I continued to shake inside, always nervous, with an anxiety that simmered within me for many years to come.

I would feel sick at the sight of Larry,  but would have to carry out his orders and instructions without question. It became preferable to retreat to the ‘dog room’ and help with grooming the dogs, or to the old back room and tackle a pile of ironing, than have to suffer the sight of him and the wave of nausea that would come over me with it.

Looking back, I can see that with my loss of any respect for Larry, there came something else. I still feared him and had to toe the line, but most of the time, in my head, I had almost disregarded him.

It was still necessary to carry out the numerous tasks and chores, and to suffer the usual physical and verbal punishments, often for little or no reason. However, my overriding memories or this times are of laughter and funny moments, spent with my siblings and, whenever possible, with friends, making the most of every chance to do something I wanted to do.

Even Sylvie’s rages and harsh treatments could often be overshadowed by her hilarious story telling, the mimicking of people, peppering her language with frequent swear words. She would have a saying for everything, commonly known terms, but she would put her own spin on them to apply them to her tales. To this day, I will often smile and chuckle to myself whenever I hear any of these terms, recalling her own unique ways of expressing them.

Larry’s impression on my life has always remained, but thankfully, at that time it was fading, other things were becoming more important, he was increasingly of little consequence, I could suffer whatever he wanted to throw at me.

I just got on with it all and enjoyed the good wherever I could.

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Adrift and Alone.

Adrift

The importance of time with my friends cannot be underestimated. Meeting up with school mates after school or at weekends and holidays was not allowed for me. The journeys to school, time with my friends, during break and lunchtimes, was my only chance of any kind of social life, a time to mix with my peers.

Friends would often ask me to their houses, to meet up after school, go to the park, go swimming or into town, but I would always have to make up an excuse. To a few close friends I was able to admit the truth, telling them that I wasn’t allowed, but I would still feel embarrassed, feeling that it was somehow my own fault,  and I could see that they struggled to understand. Some of them even suggested that I just did what I wanted, “What can they do about it?” they would innocently ask, having no idea of the repercussions I would suffer if Sylvie or Larry knew I’d even thought about it.

Academically I was very able, I liked learning and could grasp subjects well, but chances to excel would be scuppered time and again and in several ways. The sheer amount of time absent from school resulted in a constant catch-up.  Any time I would be doing well at one or two subjects, and there were several times when this was the case, I would suddenly be kept away from school for days at a time.

I don’t think there was ever any deliberate intention to hinder my progress; it was just that my services were needed at home, to be roped into grooming dogs or caring for the ones we bred or boarded, or the mountain of household chores. I would return to school having missed several days lessons and would have to scramble to catch up.

Participating in after school activities was something I would have loved to have been able to do, particularly the sports clubs and being part of the sports teams. Athletics and netball, long jump, high jump, hockey and swimming were all things I loved.  I would look forward to PE lessons and would often being asked to join the athletics clubs, the netball team and such, to represent the school.  If these clubs ran at lunchtime it was OK , (as soon as I stayed for free school lunches), but anything after school or on weekends was out of the question.

Despite loving the sports and the games lessons,  they were always marred by the fact that no matter how well I did at any sport, I wouldn’t be able to represent the school at any level, and I couldn’t be part of the netball or hockey teams.  Watching the teams go off to compete with another school, and the match reports read in assembly the next day, with praise for the star players, would leave me feeling frustrated, angry that I hadn’t had the opportunity, that my chance to shine had been dulled once again.

More than that was the sense of it setting me apart from the people around me, the people I desperately wanted to be like, to fit in and not feel that I was always separate and alone.

And so, again, that cloak of isolation would repeatedly engulf me, leaving me totally adrift and alone.

“Work wonders and S**t cucumbers!”

Descend

It seems that Sylvie and Larry had always had a somewhat tempestuous relationship. They had always argued, shouted and swore at each other. Then eventually, they would make up, they would go off on holiday together and then things would seem OK for a while.

Gradually, it seemed to worsen and they appeared resentful of each other, they argued more, wouldn’t speak to each other, and tension constantly hung in the air. Sylvie would talk disparagingly about Larry, openly using terms such as, “He’s a fat, lazy B*****d!”, often when he was within earshot.

For a long time Larry didn’t work due to his arthritis and his sickness benefit didn’t amount to much. This obviously impacted on the upkeep of the home. “He’s about as much use as a chocolate f*****g teapot, ” would commonly be heard whenever Sylvie was annoyed or had a another bill to pay.

Larry would occasionally attempt some sort of DIY,  but invariably, it didn’t get completed or would even make things worse. Time and time again I can recall Sylvie’s shouting and swearing, adding “F*****g typical of him, going to ‘work wonders and shit bleeding cucumbers’, he reckoned. Look at the bleeding mess he’s left again; worse that when he f*****g well started!

As tense as things were at these times, Sylvie’s many phrases and the way they just spilled out of her, would always have us all laughing. However angry Sylvie was, she would delight in our amused responses, continuing to swear and come out with more of her sayings, laughing to herself along the way.

Over time, and so slowly I didn’t notice it then, things were changing. Looking back, it seems that things were slowly winding down within the house. Sylvie’s son Christian and his friend, the lodger, were long gone, and Lily, who was now in her mid to late twenties, was living her own life more and more. Her life working in the nightclubs, her social life and her many love affairs were gradually taking over.  The monopoly that Sylvie seemed to have had on her previously was evaporating.

The dog grooming was still going on but on a much lesser scale, and the dog breeding and boarding had all but ceased. The financial impact was obvious in many ways, but none of it occurred to me at the time.

Over the years, slowly and gradually, everything started to descend.  The house started to become jaded; the investment put into it ten years previously was worn away with time. The carpets became faded and worn, the decor dated and aged, cupboards falling apart and windows old and rotting.

The house was permeated with the smell of dogs.  Years of grooming, breeding and caring for them, had caused the odour to become ingrained into the wallpaper, the furniture and the carpets. As well as the dog aroma,  was the ever present whiff in air of the Larry’s cigarettes and pipe tobacco, which had also caused yellow staining to the walls and ceilings of the main living rooms.

Any jobs that needed tackling were immense in labour or finance. It seems that there simply wasn’t the money, the capability or the inclination any more.

Notorious – ‘A Meat Market.’

Notorious

Among the women who traveled to RAF Alconbury regularly each week, for some time in the early to mid-sixties, was my adopted mother, Sylvie.  Seeking some excitement and glamour away from her typical working –class lifestyle, she would often travel with her long-time friend, Josie, who lived close to Sylvie on a large council estate.

During the early 1960’s, The Airman’s Club at  RAF Alconbury became known as the ‘Aquarius Club’ , and  was said to be one of the best nightclubs in the UK. Every week on Friday and Saturday evenings, two to three coach loads of women, mainly from Huntingdon, but also from the outlying areas, would make the trip to the airbase to socialise with the airmen.

They were able to make this journey for the affordable sum of fifty pence for the round bus trip. Doubtless many had romantic notions of handsome American Air Force men, who would whisk them off their feet, marry them and take them away to the USA.

Some regulars made the trip every weekend,  but most weeks would see several new faces appear, enticed by their friends with promises of romance and excitement. This was despite the fact that the ratio of women to men was two to one at weekends. For this reason the club became notorious, as many saw this as a ‘meat market’ with women freely available, and making them ‘easy pickings.’

The Aquarius Club became extremely popular, and every weekend there was standing room only.  Most of the people there were in their twenties but there were some groups of slightly older members in their early and mid-thirties.

They went along to enjoy the atmosphere, music and dancing, to indulge in cocktails and pizza, and to play the slot machines. Undoubtedly, the biggest attraction would have been the chance to enjoy the company of the opposite sex.

Many did go on to meet their future spouses and make the move to the USA and some US airmen married and remained in the UK.

For many though, the attraction dwindled over time, and for many there were illicit affairs, on either side, leading frequently to heartache. The result for some women was to be abandoned with an illegitimate child, the father long gone back to the USA , and no chance of tracing him, the repercussions of this extending for generations.

One Lovely Blog Award.

 

One Lovely Blogger Award.

Many thanks to https://bookmeetsgirlblog.com  and to https://smellthecoffeeweb.blog  for nominating me!

Do check out both blogs; they are both wonderful to read and are great inspirations, both as writers and as the people who write them!

Thank both for your comments and tremendous support. xxx

Rules:

Each nominee must thank the person who nominated them and link their blog in their post.
They must include the rules and add the blog award badge as an image.
Must add 7 facts about themselves.
Nominate  (up to) 15 people to do the award!
7 Facts About Me:

1). I am remaining anonymous to protect some of the people involved in my story.

2). I live in the countryside with my husband, three children, a large dog, a cat and chickens.

3). I am an Advanced Nurse Practitioner and have worked in nursing since the age of 17.

4). I have never been able to afford not to work and,  although I love my work, my ambition is to be a housewife!

5). I love my garden and gardening, home making and cooking.

6). I only started blogging a few months ago as a away of telling my story; the laughter, the tears, the memories and the legacies I have been left with.

7). I met my real father for the first time the age of thirty. We have been in close contact ever since.

Blogs I would like to nominate are:

1). https://arousedblog.wordpress.com

2). https://dreamdesireachieve.com

3). https://www.mumsthewordblog.com

4). https://writtenbyresh.com

5). https://carolyndenniswillingham.com

6).https://beadoersite.wordpress.com

7).https://beadoersite.wordpress.com

8).https://notestowomen.wordpress.com

 

Many thanks to you all! xxx

The Coal Man had Called In!

Qualm

My natural mother’s sister, Bessie, was very much like Sylvie in that she liked to talk, and so the conversation flowed once they started chatting.

Having become friends, Bessie sometimes visited Sylvie at home. It was on one of these visits that Sylvie was wearing a white skirt. As she turned around to put the kettle on, Bessie noticed black hand marks on each buttock of the skirt.

“Sylvie, what on earth have you done to your skirt?” she said. Sylvie looked down and without a hint of a qualm, just laughed, saying, “Oh nothing, that was Nutty Slack, the coal man, he just called in!”

Bessie had told me this story as one of her memories of Sylvie and I was unsure if it was completely accurate. When I repeated it to Sylvie’s older daughters they burst out laughing and straight away confirmed it.  On seeing my face, they added,  in between fits of laughter, that it had always been well known, gossiped about, and absolutely typical of Sylvie.

Not that she had any qualms!

A Collaboration of Personalities.

Collaboration

When I look back and think about life in Sylvie’s house up until shortly after my adoption, it could almost be considered normal in comparison to the way life changed in the years following.

Prior to this time, the household had been running fairly ‘normally.’ Stan (Sylvie’s first husband) went to work, the kids went to school, Sylvie kept a clean house and nice garden. Even the rumors regarding Sylvie’s involvement with other men were brazened out by Sylvie.  The kids had always been used to hearing stuff , it didn’t really phase them, even gave them cause to giggle about it at times.

Added to that,  Sylvie’s eldest daughter, Gina,  was as strong headed and acid tongued as her mother and woe betide anyone that dared to say anything disparaging within her earshot.

When the trips to RAF Alconbury and other nights out had started, the older kids looked after the younger ones,  and although they were made to help keep the house spick and span, they lived life pretty much as all the other kids on the estate.

The state of their parent’s marriage was something they had lived with for years and it had become the norm. This was not unheard of at that time among many of their friends and families, divorce often not being an option, husbands and wives forced to continue in unhappy marriages and stay living together.

True, there were some stories of Sylvie’s frequent tongue lashings; it wasn’t unusual for them to receive the odd ‘walloping,’ including the time when Sylvie chased her eleven year old son along the street, banging him about the head with a frying pan and screaming, “Come here you little b*****d, I’ll knock your bleeding brains out when I get hold of you!”

For the most part, life just trundled on, but things were to change when Sylvie got together with new love, Larry. By the time my adoption was finalized, Sylvie was already pregnant with his child.

I’ve no idea how they met, which is strange considering the details of so many other things I know about. He had been married with two sons, the youngest not much older than me, and so it is possible that he was still with his wife at the time he met Sylvie.

Larry’s presence meant that certain changes had to take place, and whilst I do not blame him solely for the impact this had on the family, many events were triggered directly due to his appearance in our lives.

The collaboration of Sylvie’s complex personality, Larry’s selfish dominance and their handling of situations proved to be the start of immense disruption and changes;

Changes that caused ripples and knock on effects, extending outwards and cascading endlessly, over many years.