Monday, 3 December 2007

Operation move out

So there we were locked in the neighbours house drinking tea, deciding what to do. Our options were limited, no house keys, no shoes, crying, but this time through both fear and upset. 'I can get in' I announced. Our front door, the one that was always locked, had a single mortise lock in the handle and a double mortise lock above it, the door was wooden with 2 glass panels, the keys were on one keyring and always hung in the double mortise lock. I had and still have the thinnest hands, wrists and fingers, the hubby calls me skeletor, I believe this to be a skeleton character from the He-man programme! I could try and reach the keys through the letter box, it was worth a try. I tried but couldn't reach in far enough, what could I use, we ended up with a 'big fork' the one used for carving turkey. I couldn't drop the keys, my mum stood beside me 'careful, careful' my neighbour took her away. 'I did it, we're in' I shouted. We got in, I got shoes and we grabbed some essentials, we left the keys in the front door and I took my back door keys, we left quickly just in case he decided to come back, although we doubted it. He knew we had no keys and yet he didn't care. We went back into our neighbours house as our friends across the road, who we knew would put us up overnight, were not in.

Mum decided we should go and see Gran, see if she would take him in, she thought if he had somewhere to go, he might just do that, stay with Gran for a few weeks until we sorted everything out. Until now we had always left, but now mum seemed to know this would be a permanent separation and why should we have to stay with Granny in a one bedroom flat when he could stay with his mother and father in their 2 bedroom flat, I could continue with my life. I refused to go, I think mum just wanted me with her, perhaps Gran would realise the upset dad was causing if she saw me in a state or perhaps her motherly instinct just needed me with her, knowing I was safe. I stayed with the neighbour and had a good cry. And Gran, she said it would affect her rent rebate if dad went to stay, that sums the woman up! The next day dad went to work and it was the start of 'operation move out' we were going to stay with Granny. We packed bags with clothes and essentials and left them hidden in my room, we stayed another night at our friends, he expected us to be at Granny's and called to speak to me, but Granny told him the truth that we weren't there. Papa suggested we go and stay with him for a while, but mum had to go to work and I had my boyfriend and my friends. The next day mums cousins, who we saw little of, came with a van and we officially moved out, taking my single bed, my pre-emptied wardrobe, a set of drawers and the bags we had packed and of course the hamster. Dad worked for our neighbour and his son, our neighbour came home for lunch and this put the wind up us a bit, he might tell dad, querying the goings on at our house, we went as quickly as we could.

We were now, all 3 of us, shacked up in a one bedroom flat again, as we had been so many times before, only this time we had an extra bed a slightly more storage space. Mum wasted no time in going to a lawyer, as I was at college, mum was told we had the right to be in the house as I was still in full time education, the problem was going to be getting him out. My job was to keep him sweet. I was now working in the Holiday Inn as part of my college placement, but I still did Avon with the neighbours, I would go to the house and do my Avon round and then stay for a visit, he would make soup. I never stayed overnight, I usually made an excuse to collect something from my room and try to sneak a few things out for my mum, her wardrobe was limited with the quick departure. This was a no no, in his mind if she wanted something, she should come and get it. We both had to attend the lawyers as I was old enough to give evidence and examples of his behaviour, the lawyer told us my mother had the biggest divorce file she had ever dealt with. We were granted by the courts the house to live in until it was decided through the divorce lawyers what should happen to the house, dad was not allowed within so many feet of the house. We moved back home. A Yale lock was added to the back door and a snip added to the front door, we felt better, safer. Life carried on as normal, in fact it was great, we were happy living in a peaceful environment. This was short lived as the house was to be sold, we would officially be homeless. Mum and I walked the streets looking at empty council houses that we might be offered. The house was sold and the entry date was March 1990, it was 2 weeks before we were due to move out before the council offered us a flat, in the next town!! This was my worst nightmare, I cried. However, the night we got the letter, mum, our friend across the road who had put us up and me, took the bus and went to find this flat, it looked ok, we didn't have keys but through the letter box it appeared fine. Our curiosity settled we went home and decided it wasn't as bad as it seemed, we accepted the flat.

Being a mechanic, dad had loads of tools, these were stored in the garden shed. It was arranged through the lawyer that he should come and collect anything he wanted before the move. When dad had been put out of the house, he stuck to his side of the agreement and never did come near the house or call. I had not seen him for 4-5 months, didn't know where he was staying, I took nothing to do with Gran after her refusal to put him up, she did sent me £10 that Christmas and I was going to take it back and tell her to 'shove it' but that would have involved a visit so I kept it! Later than arranged a young man came to the back door. 'I'm here to collect tools for Billy' I looked at him, disappointed that dad was not with him. 'Is my dad not with you?' I asked. He was in the car, waiting in the street, was he afraid to come in. I went out to see him. I could have died with shock, the first thing that struck me was the hat he was wearing, it was navy, a fishing hat I think, as he looked up to see me, his eyes were dull and small and lacking in emotion, he would himself have described them as 'piss holes in the snow' and the bags, I will never forget the bags, not dark circle bags but bags hanging below his cheek bones and fully wrinkled. He had aged about 20 years. 'You should come in and see what you want' I told him. 'I'm not allowed' was his sheepish reply. 'Oh for God sake, don't be ridiculous' all of a sudden I was the 17 year old adult dealing with the 44 year old child. They both went into the shed, I don't think he could have cared less what tools were there. 'I passed my driving test' I told him eagerly, he had come home with 'L' plates on my 17th birthday, 2 months before the split and he had taken me to Fine Fare car park, in my papa's Lada and I had driven round for about an hour in 1st gear. He seemed pleased. They gathered the tools and off they went, there were no arrangement to meet or no concern about where we were going to live, he just left.

The move went well, we moved on to our new life on 26th March 1990, our flat was great. Mum promised she would buy a car once we moved, I wouldn't feel so stranded then. In May of that year she bought a D registration white MG metro, it was a cracker, white bumpers and wing mirrors, grey interior with red trim and matching red seat belts. One day on my way to work at the Holiday Inn, I was passing through our old town and some edjit ran right across the road in front of me, I slammed on the breaks and realised the edjit was none other than my dad. I pulled in swiftly, tooted and got a mouthful of abuse. I got out 'dad, dad, it's me' he trotted off muttering to himself 'DAD' he turned and looked at me, gave a dismissive wave and kept walking. I was in disbelief, I ran after him, did he not recognise me, did he not want to speak to me, I was not letting him go, he had not seen me for 2-3 months and he thought he could wave and carry on, I don't think so! 'Where are you going?' I said when I caught up. 'Oh hello' he said as if he had just realised it was me. He was going to book a 'wee bus trip to Blackpool' I took him to Glasgow, he looked no worse than he had done the day he came to collect the tools. I bombarded him with questions, he responded but asked none about me, he was a car fanatic, he didn't mention the car. I dropped him at the bus station and he thanked me for the lift. That was the last conversation we ever had.

I carried on to work happy I had seen him, he was going on holiday, he was ok, I had heard through the grapevine that he was shacked up with a fellow woman drinker, she would be happy he had just secured £15,000 from the sale of the house, they could buy plenty drink with that and even go a wee holiday.


dgibbs said...

How sad that was the last conversation you had with your dad. Sounds like he was just heading to rock bottom and was so wrapped up in his own woes that he couldn't be bothered.

And that Gran of your's, how rediculous is that worrying about a rent rebate!

Self employed mum said...

Hi dgibbs, I think you have hit the nail on the head. And Gran I have never spoken to her since.

Manic Mother Of Five said...

Fuck! You certainly make me hold my breath. I read your posts and end up letting out gasps of shock or disbelief. As dgibbs said, don't think your dad had room in his head for anything or anyone. My (real) dad is a bit of a twat - drank alot, worked away from home and had his own independent life, never spent time with me etc, etc - the usual but at least I can pick up a phone and tell him he's useless and he has the grace to feel something....

On a different note, your timeline makes things so real for me - around the time you were going through such upheaval, so was I - March 1990 I moved from my lovely Norfolk to Northern Ireland - away from all my family and friends to be with my husband who was in the forces. I was pregnant too. Must have been something in the air that year........

As ever honey, much love xxx

Self employed mum said...

Hi MMOF, firstly thank you for your love it much appreciated to know I am not travelling this journey alone.

Drink obviously took over completely. Apparently when someone drinks so much they start to lose brain cells and it's a bit like having dementia, although we didn't know that then. Nearly everyone I know has been affected by drink in some shape or form.

It's funny how we remember dates from years back, but I couldn't tell you what I had for my dinner last night. You must have felt very alone back then, pregnant and away from your family.


Anonymous said...

I agree with MMOF! I am reading with baited breath (though I don't often comment because I am too stunned to say anything that I think sounds remotely appropriate!)

I find the process that people go through to get to where they are truly fascinating - particularly when they overcome adversity and turn out to be such splendidly well-rounded individuals, as you seem to be!

Self employed mum said...

Thanks Driving, I appreciate your comments and I think I've turned out quite well too, my mum would also agree!!

Anonymous said...

I have so many mixed feelings about your dad. One minute I don't like the man then the next I feel sorry for him and the next I feel he is just a man who has taken the wrong path in life. It really isn't surprising he was like he was having to live with the coldness from his own mother. Your dad has issues which go way back and he was in no position to have kids.

Your sentence, a 17 yr old adult helping a 44 yr old child is so very true.

Crystal xx

Self employed mum said...

Hi CJ, your feelings are right I had the same feelings, I loved my dad, but I disliked him too and I hated what he put my mum through, I loved the dad that was, before the drink took a real hold, he had become a dependent on not only drink, but other people.