By Stanley Collymore
You came into the world on this date in 1958; an inauspicious birth among one of three to a perennial drunken father and a similarly inebriate mother who would subsequently tragically die of cirrhosis of the liver. School, or more importantly your attendance there, was consequently and unsurprisingly given the particular family circumstances that from your earliest childhood existence you found yourself habitually growing up in, was never ever going to be a requisite necessity much less so a crucial priority either for your parents or you to give any acknowledgement to, so apparently and rather predictably, you were neither encouraged by your parents nor from your own perspective, assuming of course you even knew what that word meant, saw any pressing need to attend; so naturally you happily grasped that consensual opinion to heart and evidently you rarely went.
Predictably from the very start of your puberty the seemingly enticing sexual world of adulthood, initially and curiously exposed by you then soon afterwards keenly accommodated on your part, rapidly ensnared your passions and at sixteen and with parental permission – clearly from their point of view one less mouth to feed and from yours the desperate aspiration of finally escaping a controlling and still consistently inebriated woman as a mother and an often drunk himself but even so submissive husband of hers as your biological father, and when one added to this you going absolutely nowhere either in social developmental or even protected employment terms while ongoingly as you saw it and possibly forever so entrenched in a working class area terraced council house and what moreover was a demonstrably dysfunctional and also noticeably a debilitatingly oppressive home – my reflection on the situation not your own – you simply got married! For having queried the uncertain wisdom of politely putting up with more of the same that you already had or actually leaving home altogether your responsive decision was basically to earnestly choose the latter of these two options.
An alternative arrived at more from the impulse triggered by the desperation of your personal situation rather than any motivation of real love for the man who you married, since as you well knew when you decided to get involved with him that like your father and mother, even though he had the skilled knack of readily turning the charm on at any time that it suited him, he also was a heavy drinker and quite discernible to someone like you who had grown up in a household of drunkards an unmistakably in denial alcoholic; yet quite bizarrely you carried on your relationship with your then lover, married him and astonishingly and of your own free volition sedulously protected him by maintaining your firm silence concerning his intensive and financially crippling drinking habits.
But worse was to come for as with your mother drink only brought out the worst in your husband and with his obsessive jealousy that any man who spoke to you no matter where or however trivially so, or even glanced admiringly at you either fancied you or you him and therefore beating the hell out of you when you got home was an appropriate solution and additionally a necessary deterrent to stopping you being attractive, if not physically at least then psychologically, to any man, your specific experiment of leaving the family home for one of your own clearly wasn’t paying off as you’d hoped and had even become more of a terrible problem for you. For in the interim you had become a mother thrice over: giving birth to two girls: Cathy and Tracey and the boy child that rather fixatedly your husband always wanted. But even the significance of being a mother couldn’t or didn’t alleviate your parlous situation; for your son tragically died as a baby – a random cot death incident; however with his passing blamed firmly on you by his enraged father your husband’s hedonistic binge drinking and periodic beatings of you suddenly became nastier and a lot more unpleasant in their cruelty.
About this time you finally saw sense and considered having a divorce, itself made easier by the fact that your husband John seemingly wanted to get out of your marriage too. He’d in the meantime got himself a mistress who evidently craved much more than just being his bit on the side and in addition to that for him the irksome problem of all the accumulated HP debts that you and he had jointly run up coupled with child support for his two daughters and maintenance for you who wasn’t working didn’t the least bit rank favourably with what he generally considered to be a worthwhile or profitable way for him to be living, so he willingly consented to your starting divorce proceedings against him, knowing full well that by the time they in essence got underway he and his girlfriend, who apparently came from the north of England, would long and quite permanently have departed from the area of your marital residence that consisted of the absolutely charming and rather pleasant Berkshire town of Reading; making it quite unfeasible with his whereabouts distinctly unknown for him to be logically pursued by the courts in any resolute fashion for either for child support God forbid his ex wife’s maintenance that he had no intention at all of ever of paying.
There are all sorts of mysterious reasons that baffle questioning minds as to why completely out of the blue things suddenly happen, and your accidentally meeting at a local bus stop Pauline, on account of a late bus that on its ultimate arrival would then take both of you into Reading’s town centre where somewhat coincidentally the two of you were independently heading, an unfamiliar man that as it happened lived just one hundred yards distance from where your home was but who previously you hadn’t met, were unknown to each other and accordingly were what you would call archetypal strangers but all the same following that chance meeting between the two of you would fatefully, spectacularly and markedly constructively in every possible way change for the infinite better not only your patently muddled life Pauline and your gloomy outlook on it but equally the lives, potential and expectations of both your daughters: eight and four years old then, and which providentially for all three of you would turn out to be unquestionably one of life’s truly amazing and unsurprisingly so unfathomable and distinctly mystifying omens!
Happily too for you the man you met that day Pauline and whom you got talking to afterwards on that late bus on your shared and reciprocally pleasurable journey towards Reading’s town centre was by any criterion which you could possibly have devised a very exceptional person. Clearly a local himself he was deeply involved in a local community and communal extracurricular education programme that he’d altruistically, voluntarily and solely devised and besides was himself the coordinator of and that was expressly tailored for and perceptibly directed at educationally deprived members of all ages over eleven years within Reading’s broader community devoid of the benefit of any significant education or else if they were still of lawful school age had found themselves discriminatorily and immediately kicked out of their learning establishment on the basis of rather specious reasons for not having them there, and as assuredly as hell in those very prescriptive circumstances never ever likely to get any sort of education much less so minus a determined and committed try a practical one!
However, with amorous intentions noticeably on your part Pauline and quite obviously resulting from this chance encounter that you had with this stranger focusing intently in your head while simultaneously and calculatedly encouraged by your similarly actively cultivated, and themselves even having a degree of urgency all their own about them, expectations that quite rapidly and unimpeded coursed through your highly stimulated veins; a passionate assignation, more so than any uplifting educational agenda operating as the principal motivation behind your eager desire for pursuing this brand new and exploratory relationship, became your superseding focus and single-minded remit.
A promising association, as you very much saw it, quite manifestly in the physical mode and itself largely uninhibitedly complemented by – and as you plainly and grievously felt in your ambitious and overtly outlined personal circumstances an exceptionally cruel and wholly gratuitous sex-starved, emotionally unsatisfied and, as well, a marital, sexually-constrained and completely insufferable situation –full-blooded, extravagantly indulged in and consummately unrestrained acts of truly licentious coitus. And having as agreed met up later on in Reading’s town centre after your personal business there was out of the way you amicably had coffee together in one of the local restaurants – you said you weren’t hungry so no need then for you to be fed – freely swapped phone numbers with each other and amidst the cheerful chatter expectantly waited while the stage was set for the next chapter of this evidently unforeseen but, all the same, gripping and fascinating saga.
Later that night you phoned your new friend, explained that the children were soundly tucked up in bed and therefore you were all alone; thus categorically through what you intentionally said during that specific conversation coupled with the explicit and accompanying well-rehearsed and quite purposeful, coquettishly enticed invitation that you proffered and which was instantly and likewise decidedly taken up and satisfactorily signalling that both of you were fervently conducive to the impending chance of fucking each other, decisively conferred the green light on the 1 July 1984 for the first sexual encounter ever within the confines of your marital home between you and the man you’d intentionally and somewhat deviously as pivotal events would later show assigned to be your latest lover.
And in contrast and most profound in every way Pauline was the positive contribution that this new man you’d taken into your life brought not only into your own but also and distinctly so the separate and joint lives of your two children. Taking both girls, after careful consideration for their future, out of the sink school close to their home that they were unsurprisingly expectedly in, he constructively spoke to the then incumbent Headmaster and an ingenious acquaintance of his and had them both transferred from where they were being “schooled” for their envisaged devalued function in life to the absolutely first-rate English Martyrs Catholic Primary School with its truly exceptional teaching background, and from where Cathy: the senior of the two girls, would subsequently by virtue of adept preparation at English Martyrs and her passing the requisite entrance exams be promptly registered at and become a highly gifted pupil of the all girl, well-renowned and justifiably esteemed Kendrick School in Reading. A very apparent improbable prospect had she and Tracey been obliged to remain at the primary school where previous to them relocating to English Martyrs they had formerly been.
Furthermore, this thoroughly engaging man in your life Pauline had at the voluntary and consistent request of both your daughters, since their biological father had long ceased to play any role either meaningfully or financially in their two young lives, been asked to become their Dad and following detailed discussions that were had individually with them and collectively with all three of you Pauline in favour of this particular outcome willingly acceded to do so. A terrifically gratifying realization for him since in his now constant dealings with Cathy and Tracey, a direct consequence of his steady and developing relationship with you their mother, his feelings for and his every day reactions with them had ever more taken on a purposely and very much appreciated and embraced by the girls fatherly aspect; so in the inclusive scheme of things he fully understood the girls’ filial sentiments to which he fittingly and accordingly conferred the maximum respect.
A situation none the less that long before this collective decision, which relative to them formally assuming their new dad’s name for themselves had either been consensually arrived at or agreed upon, both girls had outmanoeuvred and also pre-empted as was acknowledged by yourself Pauline. For Cathy and Tracey had of their own free volition unilaterally and determinedly taken their new dad’s surname anyway, which they then routinely applied to all their schoolwork that in turn prompted their teachers and the school’s admin – as the surname they were using didn’t match the official one in their class register or the school’s records – to politely request individually of the girls, you Pauline and their new father too what really was going on? Then fully satisfied after their detailed investigation that it was all initially the children’s very own idea and purposive wish to be so named and that no coercion or unwarranted dominance of them was involved at any time in Cathy or Tracey’s independent decision, uninterruptedly and officially this time, let this definitive action by their pupils’ own assertion to jubilantly carry on.
However, there was an unseen fly in the ointment. The children’s new dad had with their explicit blessing, that of their biological father, who he’d earnestly, secretly and successfully tracked down but only for this one specific purpose alone as no one within the family honestly wanted anything further to do with him, and your express authorization too Pauline as your new man’s locally accepted and generally acknowledged involved relationship partner, faithfully wanted to legally adopt the girls, drastically assuage and finally heal the sense of estrangement that they were agonizingly experiencing at being in limbo over the constancy of having a biological father who’d callously abandoned them and didn’t care, and a surrogate one: immensely responsible, marvellously understanding and always there for them but whose personal rights regarding them as a father weren’t just an unspecified matter but lawfully as well were disturbingly unclear; and thus in what through this altruistic measure he was assiduously trying to do was genuinely and amiably balance the progressive state of the link, which apparently existed between him as your decided on loving companion Pauline and you.
For everyone who knew of it, including the outstanding and tremendously conscientious, local Labour Party councillor for your area, Jo Lovelock to whom not only your family but also its circumstances were especially well known, and who I see is now in 2016 not only the leader of her party locally but also that of Reading Borough Council while continuing unsurprisingly to serve the electorate she represents and the general public too in the selfsame committed and conscionable manner she has always done and in that regard alone causes me to truly believe that she is intensely blessed to have been fashioned in the same unparalleled mould as her national Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn, all readily and with sound justification Pauline congenially concluded and encouragingly commented on the genuine attachment which they’d perceptibly and equally receptively discerned and that intuitively was transparently present between your daughters, their dad, and your partner.
Life being what it is in Britain it seldom means that what’s being sensibly desired or even necessarily required will always be allowed to happen. So conscientiously and responsibly as was his nature and in the given situation that you were all in relative to the prospective and important realization of your daughters’ adoption by him, your partner with a studied conviction that was pragmatically conceived undertook to fully discuss the issue in hand of your daughters hopeful adoption with a highly recommended and, as it conveniently happened, local firm of solicitors whose particular specialization was family matters with them ended up leaving him in no doubt whatsoever and also devastated that his ambition to adopt Cathy and Tracey would be vigorously thwarted by the court system that was further compounded by a general, profoundly entrenched and a distinctly racially motivated mindset held by the magistrates and judges within the exclusively white run courts operation that having non-white and especially Black fathers, or even mothers of colour, adopting white children wasn’t for them an ideal prospect in any circumstance, however emotionally or suitably attached these children and their likely substitute parents were to each other, and bearing in mind also the marked negative connotations in relation to the social fabric and constructive cohesion of the United Kingdom. So rather than fighting a battle that in all possibility couldn’t absolutely be won, if at all, it would instead be much more rational and to circumvent all distressing or unwarranted anguish on the part of your daughters and yourself Pauline to knock that precise aspiration of adopting your children decisively on the head; that after key talks with Cathy, Tracey and you, your partner quite plausibly, regrettably, but thoughtfully did.
But life has to go on and this harshly impeded expectation cruelly suffered by the children, disappointing though it was for them, only served to reinforce the already intense bond which freely and unreservedly existed between your partner and daughters that largely owing to their sterling and impressive resilience quickly and admirably bounced back from their own enforced disappointment and courageously embarked on the challenging but resourceful task of optimistically and confidently moving on in the interim with their youthful lives under the comprehensively guiding, and correspondingly subliminal, influential motivation, in relation to their mutual and daily interactions, inspired in them by your partner, their obvious mentor, and the person they joyfully prized and absolutely cheerfully declared as their
Motivated both by their father and also from within this twin-pronged assertive stance taken by Cathy and Tracey also began to reap other constructive dividends and not least so as regards their mother Pauline. Previously not having throughout her life, and it was the same for the girls too, set foot outside her hometown Reading far less so the county of Berkshire that Reading is located within, now and thanks solely to her partner foreign paid for and additionally lengthy vacations spent in previously unaffordable and not used to holiday destinations in far away places cloaked in all year round tropical sunshine routinely in virtually every way for Pauline and her children, and very much so through the courtesy and generosity of her partner and the girls’ new father, became the order of the day.
And it was the same from Pauline’s educational perspective. For having initially and resolutely declined her partner’s casual but all the same purposeful suggestion that she might care to get involved in the extra-curricular educational project he had locally initiated, vigorously championed throughout its continuation and was transparently efficiently running, and besides with both Cathy and Tracey progressing by leaps and bounds educationally and in other respects to boot at their new school, Pauline not at all desirous of being left behind began to think there might be some valuable benefit after all in her acquiring a bona fide education too; and having for the first time and of her own volition raised the matter of improving her education with her partner’s assistance, as a result of her deciding that was what she actually wanted to do keenly revised her earlier decision and, by doing so, also changed her own mind.
Thrilled, very impressed and immensely encouraged all the more by her straightforward decision relative her positively upgrading her education, which in the interim her partner had propitiously but also guardedly out of his genuine concern not to inadvertently give her the distinctly mistaken notion that he was craftily putting any coercion on her to get the requisite decision which he wanted and consequently to preclude that, even after her previous and resolute refusal to be educationally implicated in what he was doing had secretly got in touch with a number of progressive and standard universities on her behalf, rather eloquently outlined to them her particular circumstances and considerable potential, the project he was involved in, and confidently outlined too that he could create a worthy student of her if any of them had a mind to have her; and in response delightedly had received from all of them their explicit agreement that were he in turn to deliver on what he’d promised, all of them would be ready to accept you Pauline on to an honours degree element as an adult student.
A year of devoted, intensive and comprehensive tutoring of you then Pauline by your partner coupled with a reciprocal appreciation of and your own commitment to what he was conscientiously doing gainfully saw you through this demanding but all the same commendable endeavour you had willingly embarked upon, and following the conclusion of the formal UCAS clearing house procedure that all prospective university students must officially go through the aforesaid universities which your partner had formerly contacted plus a couple more of them had individually and officially proffered you a place at their establishment to begin the instigation of your undeniably life transforming undergraduate university training.
But this social and quite promising upliftment on your part Pauline wasn’t without its unwarranted and deprecatory impediments, with your father for one openly damning what you’d done and making it absolutely clear that no way should you be going to university; since as far as he was concerned a woman’s place was in the home permanently caring for her husband and children, and with your pie in the sky and attendant irresponsible notions about achieving an education it was hardly surprising then that your former husband – your divorce by then had officially gone through – had left you for another woman. While in the meantime your neighbours on the council estate where you lived quite cruelly ridiculed your university aspirations, considering them from their own constrained and a discernible lack of their self-progression aspirations as you vainly essaying to be socially above your particular station.
Even the bailiff who thankfully it did appear hadn’t a clue regarding your impending university commencement else in all probability he would have got those who were employing him to sequester what meagre assets you had together with your university student’s grant – this by the way was the epoch long before students’ loans were ever conceived let alone inaugurated – to pay off some at least of the enormous HP debts that you and your former husband had quite improvidently run up, sporadically kept on calling at your house as was his stipulated remit no doubt although realistically expecting nowt financially from you, as he evidently and rather injudiciously still thought that you were still on DHS remittances as your solitary redoubt following your husband’s abandonment of you and the children; and which was something that neither you Pauline nor your partner were the least predisposed to apprise him about!
Reading University just three miles distance from where you then lived Pauline readily accepted you for a place there but you politely turned down their offer after clarifying to your partner that you didn’t want to give your detractors further ammunition, as it were, to fire in your direction as an apparent to them social turncoat with affected ideas socially that in their eyes were manifestly above your station and commensurately theirs too as it happened. Since several of them likewise single parent moms from the same council estate or neighbouring ones were longstanding recipients completely on social security benefits of one kind or another that some of them covertly, and often out of necessity, supplemented with black market activities and hence didn’t want you being pointed to by the snoops of the Social Security Department as some kind of a role model which they could all emulate while personally viewing them negatively. And for these basically convoluted reasons and also because you still had to live among these people Pauline you shrewdly steered clear of moving to the university in your hometown Reading and chose in its place to be an undergrad at the City of London University where, on a regular basis, you wouldn’t be so visibly in their faces, as it were, but generally speaking would be diplomatically in the given and worrisome circumstances, be truly and consequently less provocatively, it was clear, in their way!
However it was an agreed decision that meant your partner would now be primarily responsible for looking after the children’s welfare for example: getting them up in the morning, preparing their breakfast – no need for any packed lunches as they had their midday meals at school – meticulously but jovially supervising their preparation for school, after that taking them there and naturally fetching them for their return journey home when their school day was over; and in this overall process fulfilling every other expedient role in between that a loving and caring father instinctively, to the best of his ability, with the utmost sincerity that he’s humanly capable, and also as someone who is always there and as a result intuitively does for every dependent charge that rewardingly for him rests within the ambit of his devoted care.
And in the midst of all this you were neither overlooked nor ever forgotten Pauline; for while making sure that undisturbed you unfailingly had the maximum time possible allotted for your university studies your partner additionally, willingly offered, agreed, and with your receptive backing undertook to assist you in every way that he could academically and supportively, and from then on painstakingly and most diligently efficiently carried on helping out with your studies. Then to amply assist this accommodating strategy and process time-wise and also in terms of any required adjustment contingent on your daily travelling to and from London positively and practically made sure that on your return home, and in the most favourably relaxing circumstances and approving environment manageable, that a suitably cooked, nutritional and appetizing meal was always ready and waiting for you on the table, and appropriately as well that there were no household odd jobs still pending and logically waiting to be done.
A splendid option all round and made possible by your partner’s welcomed innovations: like him for example moving in with you and the children although he’d rather judiciously decided to still keep his own place; a situation which per the Department of Health and Social Security’s rules in situ would not only have specifically forbidden him from cohabiting with you in your home in view of your status as a recipient of social security benefits but also negatively and very significantly too affect your social security payments if these said regulations were knowingly to the DHS contravened. However with your changed social and economic statuses now those of a full-time student at university and furthermore in receipt of a statutory Local Education Authority grant this transformed situation on your part of you no longer a “National State Benefit Recipient Employee” Pauline, that decisively established DHS constraining and besides all-encompassing prohibition predictably, understandably, most welcomingly and now rationally; no longer, neither for you Pauline nor your partner, had any officially permitted or come to that restricted authorization.
But just as leopards never change their spots with some human beings, and you’re sadly one of them Pauline, old habits die hard; and with your partner now living almost full time with you and the children unspecified and vigilantly concealed incidents, shall we say, willing occasioned by you Pauline and that before and understandably didn’t register with your partner because you made absolutely sure they were out of the way, entirely under the radar of his intimate observation or else given that you knew impeccably well that trusting you as he plainly did he wouldn’t be acting in any distrustful fashion by looking out for them, as quite simply he wasn’t the sort of person to do anything like that with no sound reason, none the less gradually and puzzlingly for him and particularly ill-starred for you unanticipated things now began to sink into his consciousness. Which however you wilfully and rather duplicitously in your deftly construed Siren scenario to his conspicuously involuntary Jasonesque situation did everything in your power in these totally unexpected and potentially damaging circumstances for your relationship, to ensure that this likely threat to it, and especially from the viewpoint of the girls you’d extremely bewail, would not attain any real chance to ever prevail.