Life trundled on, I enjoyed secondary school and at the age of 14 I had a new best friend. My best friend's parents treated me like a 4th daughter they took me on holiday, our first holiday was in their travel caravan, we went to Great Yarmouth, another to their time share apartment in the Trossachs and then abroad to Portugal. I had a steady boyfriend, he was French, we met at school, I spent a lot of time at his house. My best friend had a steady boyfriend who is now her husband and we remain best friends to this day, 21 years on.
At the age of 16 my mum had decided it was time I got a job so she sent me to the local village and told me to go round all the shops and see if anyone needed a Saturday girl. I started with the nearest shop, which was a card shop, they had nothing. I then went to the coffee shop it was called 'The Little Treat' the owner asked me to come back and see her in an hour, I headed home as there was nothing to do for an hour. I must have been gone from the house for a total of 20 minutes, you should have seen my mothers face when I returned, she told me I should have continued with my asking, but I was confident. I returned to 'The Little Treat' for my chat with Mrs Knox she gave me the job. I worked 2 days after school for 2 hours and a Saturday, I got £13. In that same week a lady came to the door to see if anyone was interested in being an Avon rep, my granny said I would and we signed up there and then, my neighbour then complained about her ironing and I said I enjoyed ironing, she jokingly offered me a job, I accepted. I went from no jobs to 3 within a few weeks.
The arguments in our house continued, mainly at midnight when dad came home from the pub! There used to be good times in between, but these times were long gone. I started to resent my dad and started to get lippy, he no longer hid arguments from me, no longer holding his tongue until I was out of the room. I no longer respected him as a parent. He made things up, thought the world and us were against him, we know now it was the alcohol affecting his brain but then we just thought he was an awkward pain in the arse. One evening we heard the back gate opening and expected to hear the key in the back door, but nothing. I looked out the living room window and could see nothing, checked the kitchen window and nothing, the gate was shut, so carried on watching the tele, a few hours later the back door opened and in he stoated shouting 'ya shower a' bastards, leaving me oot there tae die' I couldn't believe what I was hearing, my mum hardly had to say anything now, I was not prepared to listen to this 'What are you talking about?' I demanded. Could we get any sense, we got repeated abuse about being bastards and leaving him to die. Eventually he told us he had slipped coming down the path and banged his head, he had a huge lump on the back of his head and must've been unconscious, lying on the cold icy path for the last few hours, how we tried to stifle the laugh, I made him a cup of tea. I specifically remember one time, he was lying in his bed going on and on, talking and shouting, my Papa had come to visit and was downstairs sleeping on the couch, he was shouting drunken abuse about my Papa, I went charging into the room and shouted 'Will you just shut up!' turned on my heels and left. I had no fear. He said nothing else, I think he was in shock. My mum had no fight left. As for my Papa he got up and left in the middle of the night to drive the 2 hour drive home, another humiliation for us both. During my exams I went to stay with my Granny, I could study at home in peace but I was getting interrupted sleep. I remember having a key and I know I stayed there, but I don't remember being there if that makes sense. I was now at a stage where being at home bothered me. I stayed at Granny's during the week and went home on a Friday, mainly because I went to the local pub with my friends on a Friday and my mum was fine with it, only because I was sensible and I think she had too much else going on just trying to survive the stress, but it was too late to go home and disturb Granny. My boyfriend would walk me home and we would sit at the bottom of the street stairs and chat, one night we were sat there when Dad came stoating up the road, luckily my boyfriend was aware of the situation. I introduced them to each other and Dad went to shake his hand and missed, I was mortified. I gained 5 o'grades and 3 highers despite the goings on at home.
In July 1989 my best friend and I set off for a fortnight in Portugal with her mum and dad, it was a fantastic holiday, I had never been abroad with my parents, only the school. Not a care in the world, sunshine, sea, a pool and slightly more freedom because we were after all 17 and 16. I phoned home and my Papa answered the phone, a bit unusual but nothing to be concerned about, I had a little chat and was told my mum was out but would I like to speak to my Granny, my stomach lurched, now I knew there was something wrong, my Papa and Granny in the same house at the same time and when my Papa passed the phone over to Granny she responded with civility. "What's wrong?" I immediately blurted. Granny was not going to palm me off, she had helped bring me up, she knew me to well. "Your Dad's not been behaving himself" she said. I took this to mean he was being his usual pain in the arse, shouting and arguing and threatening. She assured me that her and my Papa would stay until I came back and my mum would be fine, I knew they would, it was their daughter. My mind was eased.
Although my dad shouted and threatened he had not been violent, his speciality was mental torture, but now with his mind and body saturated with alcohol, while I was safe in Portugal, he had pushed my mum out of bed and tried to strangle her, who knows the reason on this occasion. Mum had phoned Granny because she didn't know what else to do, Granny in turn had phoned Gran to tell her she better get her son under control, Gran had papa with her and he seemed to be the only person who could get through to dad, Gran told Granny it was not her problem and that my mum had driven him to drink! Granny feeling she needed help to cope with the situation called Papa, he came immediately. They had to put their differences aside and deal with the issue in hand. My dads brother-in-law, the arsehole that was married to his sister, that never got on with any of my dad's family, then phoned Granny at home to tell her not to bother his mother-in-law again with their problems. ARSEHOLE! And after all this, the morning after, my father doesn't even remember, he thought it was made up, the world against him! Paranoia.
I returned from Portugal, putting my enjoyment straight to the side, practically running from the car to the back door, desperate to see my mum, make sure she was ok. There was no sign of her down stairs, "Mum" I shouted, trying to hide the desperation in my voice. "I'll be down in a minute" she shouted. She entered the living room her face red and blotchy, she was greeted with me, my best friend and her parents. I could see my best friends mum making eyes at her to see she was ok, please leave, I was thinking, we all knew she wasn't fine, don't prolong it. They perhaps didn't want to leave knowing she wasn't fine, should you leave someone who's not fine. But mum was used to masking her feelings, they left after an agonising few minutes. Mum was straight with me, she told me the goings on of the last few weeks. "I don't know if I can cope with this" I told her. Dad came home, I was in my room with my mum, unpacking. I am unclear on the next few minutes but Dad had come upstairs, I don't even remember if he came into my room. He shouted from his room on my mum, shouting in a tone I didn't like, I felt uneasy, my mum went and there was an exchange of words but it was quiet, tense, was he hurting her? I heard her flee the room, shouting "come with me, now!" there was a no nonsense tone. I followed "where are we going?" I said "just come on" I followed her down the stairs, we had never left in a hurry before, we had always planned leaving, were we just going downstairs? I followed her right through the back door, even then I didn't think we would go out of the house. She did not slow down in her pace, she did not look back. "I've got no shoes on" I exclaimed walking quickly beside her in my shorts and t-shirt with my golden tan. "It doesn't matter" she said. I still kick myself that I didn't pick up my keys, which were lying at the back door, but she gave me no indication that we were going out of the house, if she had given a glimmer of a hint I would have thought fast on my feet, she was in no fit state to think, her instinct was propelling her, her mind following her body. We went out our side gate and right round and door next doors path, she entered without knocking. I remember her words clearly to our neighbour "I'm so sorry to do this to you, but could you lock your doors, Billy will be round here any minute" they did, people know instinctively when to do something without question. They had 3 boys under 7, luckily both husband and wife were at home. The doors were locked and the blinds closed. BANG BANG BANG "open the fuckin' door, I know you're in there" As my mum sobbed she apologised over and over for involving my neighbour. The husband offered to go out and speak to him, but my mum refused, she didn't want them getting involved nor did she want my dad getting in. He tried the front, but we stayed silent., the boys thought it was a game. He went back into the house and we watched from the bedroom as he left the house and trotted off to the pub, he wouldn't be back til closing time.
The words from her daughter had given her the strength to go, until now, it had been what was best for me and now that I was not happy, she could finally do it. We didn't need clothes, shoes or keys we had each other and that was all the strength we needed.