Dolly F*****g Daydream!

Hospitality

I had first started staying with Sylvie and her family around mid-to late 1966. My adoption was handled as a private one, and although dealt with through the courts, it did require a social services report.  After I had been living with Sylvie for about ten months, a social worker visited on a few occasions, and a report was duly produced for the court, giving its recommendations  in regard to my future.

Sylvie resented this social services input, the visits to her home and the fact that she had to toe the line. With her greasy hair, baggy clothes and Jesus sandals, the social worker Jane was something of Hippie type. Sylvie always described Jane as “Dolly f*****g daydream! I never saw such a scruffy looking f****r in all my life!”

For the visits Sylvie had obviously schemed and worked her magic, displaying  great hospitality and creating the right impression.  The house was scrubbed and polished from top to bottom, the best china tea set making a rare appearance, and the home made cakes offered. Stan had been made to have a bath and to shave, ordered into a clean shirt and a tie, the kids into their Sundays best, with their hairs brushed and gleaming. All of them had been given stern warnings about what to say and how to behave.

Having been bathed and dressed in my finest, I was placed in the garden in the Silver Cross pram, to get some healthy fresh air, as was considered best at that time. However, this was the one time that Sylvie’s treasured pram was not to serve her as well as she had planned.

Jane had arrived, this time to finalise the report, and after offers of tea and cake and polite chat, she had requested to see me. Sylvie happily led her through the kitchen, but looking through the window to the pram at the bottom of the garden, she let out a scream, “Oh my god, where is she?” and flew out of the door and down the garden.

On reaching the pram she was able to see me plonked down in the bottom of the deep well of the pram, playing with my feet. “You little git!” she uttered. Whilst the social worker and Sylvie’s daughters had hesitated, surprised by Sylvie’s sudden flight down the garden, it took them a few moments to follow her.

By the time they had caught up with Sylvie and came into earshot, the words ‘you little git’ had magically transformed into a sweet “Oh you little angel, you gave me such a fright.”

The carriage body of the pram had a deep well, with boards that slotted over the cavity, to provide a base for the mattress. I somehow had been able to get my fingers under the boards and remove them, meaning that I dropped down into the well and out of sight. Along with the blankets, sheets and pillows, the boards were strewn on the lawn where I had discarded them, ruining the image that Sylvie had wanted to present of me beautifully bedecked in the lovely pram.

Jane had picked up the boards and questioned the safety of the pram. Reassuring Jane that she would get Stan to fix it, Sylvie turned her back to her and said through gritted teeth to the girls, “Could you please ask your father to look at the pram for me,” in the sweetest voice she was able to manage.

Quickly realising she needed to rescue the situation, Sylvie turned on the charm. Leading Jane back into the house she commented, “Jane you do look lovely today, is that a new skirt you’re wearing?”  whilst secretly grimacing at the bright orange, frayed hem and ankle length hippie type garment.

Jane had apparently lapped up this, and several other compliments, that Sylvie bestowed upon her. Sylvie found this hilarious and would often declare, “The dozy mare, she lapped it up. Nice skirt my arse! F**k me! I’ve seen better dressed scarecrows,” Or another favourite was, “I wouldn’t have used that bleeding skirt to wipe my arse!”

Advertisements

‘A kick in the Goolies twice over!’

Temporary

My time in the Care System was temporary.

During my time in the homes and foster care, I felt wonderfully lucky to be allowed what I thought to be great privileges; pocket money, sweets, time to be a child, to play and the freedom to speak and say what I thought. Not having to spend my days working away in the house, grooming dogs, fearing verbal and physical lashings. This time had given me a glimpse of ‘normality’ and a little bit of what life should be like.

When Sylvie and Larry did eventually arrive to take me home, I think that in my naive, young mind I imagined that life was going to continue in the way it had the past few months, that this is how life was now. It just seemed normal to me that my family would have missed me and would be glad to have me home.

There was no ceremony to my return home, it was a though I’d never been away. There was no indication that I’d been missed or that they were happy to see me. Within days the old regime was restored and it was sinking in that I had returned to exactly the same situation I had left several months before. I wasn’t given any explanation why I had been kept away for so long and it wasn’t spoken about. Given the way anything and everything else was always brought up, I suspect that there could possibly some feelings of guilt on Sylvie and Larry’s part.

In recent times I have had reason to recall my feelings after my return home.  A few years ago, when we moved to the country, my husband and I were invited by our new neighbours to a dinner party.

Another set of neighbours, a couple who were foster parents, also came along.  They had talked about their latest foster children, a brother and sister, and although they didn’t go into detail, they spoke, in derogatory manner, of them coming from a poor housing area and living in a family with ‘difficult circumstances.’ They seemed quite pompous and spoke with an air of smugness at it being so satisfying for them, glad to be able to ‘take the children away from it all for a while’.

The host of the dinner party was quite an opinionated, straight talking man and immediately exclaimed, “Well it’s all well and good for you, but as I see it, it’s like getting a kick in the goolies twice over!  You get the first kick from living a shit life, then you get taken away to a big house in the country, with horses, big four wheel drive cars and going to the nice little village school. Then just when you’ve been given a taste of the nicer things in life, you have to go back to your old life and things must seem worse than ever. Like I said, like getting kicked in the goolies twice over!”

Everyone else present had seemed stunned by his opinion but it was to strike a chord deep within me.

It perfectly summed up my feelings soon after my return home. Having gone from the hard work, physical and mental abuse, I had been shown a different side of life, kindness and freedom and privileges. Then to have it all taken away again and be returned to my previous life.

I could agree entirely, ‘It was like being kicked in the goolies twice over!’