Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The years 13 to 17

These were probably the lowest of my life. Arriving in Europe the change of climate was not good to me, my already damaged joints didn't take to the damp ,cold conditions. My bleeding episodes from Haemophilia were becoming more frequent, nose bleeds almost constant. I think if diagnosed, I would have been declared clinically depressed  until I was in my 20s. I learned to hate school, become introverted and not form friendships. Two reasons one I was foreign and confusing to the British kids,(South African whites were the whipping boys for the xenophobia of the radical activist movements of the 60s and 70's.) and I was tall, large framed and bruised and bled easily. My parents never accepted my haemophilia or my youngest brothers. Gangs of children , eager to show how tough they were would call me out to fight, I never had a fight until I lived in Bristol, but I soon learned. Win or loose I always suffered because of bleeds and there was competition from the so called tough guys to give me the most spectacular facial bruising. A gang of boys would come to our door and call me out, my parents would send me out to fight as they reckoned I must stand up for myself. I used to have the snot knocked out of me but I always went for the instigator, the leader of the group and usually hurt them a good deal before numbers got on top of me. Over the years I learned how to defend myself, ways of most efficiently causing the most damage for an economy of effort and I became hard and heartless. I used my anger and fear and adrenaline to use and do what ever I could to kill the object of my anger. I came close on many occasions , but luck and a cold reasoning separateness stopped me from actually doing the deed. I'm old, overweight and ill nowadays but still will give a good showing of myself if put into a corner . To show from those years are broken fingers,some several times, broken hands, stab wounds, broken nose and cheek bones( the nose fixed after my cheek was broken and repaired) and my jaw broken 3 time in 5 different places.
Our family were poor, no disgrace in that, but you become the butt of ridicule with the children in your area. My clothes were always second hand, no school uniforms , a change of clothing not available, usually only 3 of anything , one on, one to be washed and one washed. Shoes were almost luxury items ,one pair worn completely out and stuffed with cardboard and paper when the soles wore through. To help out I got little jobs, paper boy morning and evening, gardening helper and as a  bakers boy. I eventually earned the same as an adult working in the bakery, every evening for 3 hours ,from 5 until 3 on Saturdays and from 8 until 1 on Sundays. I was allowed to keep £2 by my father , which eventually I used to cloth myself , the rest went to the house hold. There was no free time ,if I wasn't working I had to shop, look after my brothers, cook and clean and when needed labour for my father when he was building. Tough , but I learned self reliance, how to cook and bake. I still use what I learned about building from those days today.

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