Thursday, June 12, 2008

Early on my journey.

Children can be naughty. I was as a child,was it intentional?Yes some times.Was it done to cause harm?I don't think that it was, but it wasn't right, now or then. Confession time.

I was at the age of 14 a very successful shop lifter,I was never caught and only the feeling of guilt stopped me from doing it till I was caught. Why did I do it? The first time was because of a dare, I ripped off about 5 Girlie magazines from a news agents, it was dead easy and I never even kept them ,but gave them away. Too a certain group of friends I became a hero of sorts, liberating what ever was desired, often by very risky means. But more often by just walking into a place and then just simply walking directly out. I can't remember keeping any of it except for a pair of shoes once and I really needed shoes. When you are walking around in a pair of shoes ,which basically had cardboard boxes for soles , were 2 sizes too small and no toes  left you didn't feel bad by taking them. I make no excuses , it was wrong, it didn't last long, about 3-4 months and I really deserved to be caught and punished.

Poverty in the late 60's and early 70's was very real. It isn't much different today, maybe only the description has changed. I can only have a guess of how it was with others , but will attempt to describe how it was with me. In a lot of respects my father was not a great planner and was very impulsive. At the ripe old age of 15 , he and a friend stole a milk van and took it for a joy ride, crashed it and got nicked for doing so. Given a choice by the magistrate of detention or joining the armed forces , he chose too become a junior seaman. I think it was a great adventure for him, but it didn't prepare him for a life after the navy, Maybe it didn't matter and eventually when it did was very hard to get right. I was 13 when my life was altered completely and the hard times occurred.Mum, who came from a semi affluent family, was to really take the hard times very badly, appearances mattered to her. It is hard to explain and will  I maybe do it later, I must think on it a bit. I've already discussed how I ended up in  the UK earlier on in this blog. So I shall get on with things.

It was early in the winter of 67 when the family crash landed in Bristol. Not having a job or any real source of income after the navy, also no savings, dad had to start from scratch. Managing to get a grant to become a qualified mason, also finding out that although he had been registered for a council house since the age of 21 he was low down on the waiting list. There was few choices back then, options were that us kids could go into temporary foster homes and my parents could then afford to find a place on welfare. Not an option mum was willing to take. Pride also prevented her from returning too South Africa and using our extensive family and family connections to get on with life.

No place to stay, no real income and no savings. With some manipulation and fiddling dad managed to get a semi derelict house in one of the older parts of Bristol. December 67. we moved in, as such as moving in rather than squatting you can call it. Our worldly goods consisted of  light weight tropical clothes. No house hold goods, no bedding just nothing. There was a bit of junk left by the previous occupiers. A tatty, pissed on mattress, a couple of damp and broken sofas , a couple of thread bare filthy curtains and that was it. It was the kindness of people that we didn't know that got us through the first few days.I've already mentioned them. For the first week we slept on the mattress , with most of our clothes on, curtains for bed clothes. One second hand pot and no stove to cook on. The wiring was shot and the gas was disconnected so that wasn't available. Financially all that could be bought was, soaps and cleaning gear, a very few food groceries and a small bag of coal. Everything for months was done in one room. Wood from the floorboards and the junk in the back garden , cooked the food and kept us warm. Some days there was no food at all, we drank tea, no milk and a very small amount of sugar. By going to college by day, working by night, mum getting a low paid job  a small income came in. Eventually  after a few months , child allowances and some other monies owed by the navy also arrived , so we got through that first winter.

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