Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Countdown 9...a false and cruel mouth

Gordon Brown resigns and David Cameron in our newest P.M. A dignified exit for Gordon I think.  I feel quite positive about the future even though the devil may be in the detail.

Speaking of devils...aged nine I could possibly have been mistaken for him in some quarters. I'd been in care for over a year and had just been brought back into care after a spell with foster parents.

Mr & Mrs Bell were my only experience of what parents should or could be. Mrs Bell was a jovial woman who made fresh bread to perfection. Mr Bell seemed considerably older and is best remembered for winding the various clocks around the house...including a grandfather clock in the hall. Their only gift to me-other than seemingly genuine love-was my very first wrist watch...a timex. It was a treasure which often sent me to sleep pressed against my ear. Those tick-tocks were the most comforting consistent and reassuring sounds I'd ever experienced in life. They had a son who became my friend and I have many fond memories of their nuclear and extended family life.

A TV programme I remember and loved was 'Danger Man' starring Patrick Mcgoohan.

On the way to school one day, I walked along the top of a high wall on the pavement side but a short wall to the grass side. The sight of a large black box on the grass side stopped me in my tracks and I investigated . Inside was a concertina and a smaller squeeze box covered in moth-balls. I hid it and returned after school to take it home. They never believed my story and returned me the next day into care. I felt abandoned, alone and very hurt. I never saw them again but would have liked to thank them for at least trying to make a half decent start in life for me.

A short time passed and I vividly remember sitting at a dinner table of about a dozen. On the plate was swede. Had I been starving I could not have eaten the stuff. The 'Aunty' in charge of the home insisted I eat it but I refused. Long after everyone had left the table and the food was cold, she continued with her insistence before trying to force it into my mouth. I was heaving and continued to resist. I never ate it but received a violent slap across the face as retribution for her failure and possibly my stubbornness.  As I look back, I think it was a slap in the face of encouragement, love and understanding.

That very evening she kindly smiled at me as she broke the news that I would be given the opportunity to attend a very special school. It was to be-for me at least- the only truth uttered from that false and cruel mouth.


  1. I would never have imagined that someone who is obviously such a nice, warm-hearted, witty and talented family guy had had such a rotten time as a child. How did you come out the other end so normal?

    Do I have to wait for the next installment?

    I can sense your excitement about France. We will be a week behind you.

  2. Very moving & inspiring Ken "As I look back, I think it was a slap in the face of encouragement, love and understanding" we are the most resilient species & figure out our sources of "encouragement, love and understanding" Thanks for sharing

  3. Ken, you had me all teary-eyed reading this. Like Jean, I too was astounded that you had such a harsh childhood. And look at you now--obviously a loving parent and a talented individual. How does it go so differently for other people? Some people take those harsh beginnings and perpetuate them, inflicting pain on others. And others grow up resolving never to hurt another human being in the way they have been hurt. Bless you, Ken, for choosing the better way.

  4. Hi Jean
    I didn't know it was a rotten time until I experienced something better.

    France...less than a week away. Oh boy!

    Hi Raj
    And thanks for reading and contributing.

    Hi Randi
    It certainly made me appreciate the better times but I have to say that I was troubled for quite a number of years. Some would go so far as to say I'm still troubled...but at least I'm happily troubled;)

    How did the move go? I was thinking of you.

  5. It is so admirable to see what a fine man you have become considering those truly difficult times for you as a child. My mother's heart broke for you as I read this.

  6. Hi Kelly
    They weren't that bad. The sun still shone in summer and I had friends. Besides, don't you need the rough to appreciate the smooth? Sounds like you had a better start. Say hello to your mum for me. She sounds like a good sort.

  7. Oh Ken, no matter how many times I may encounter it, but every time the baseness of human nature astounds me. You have been through some awful times, and I'm sure you must indeed know the difference between good, bad and ugly.

    Forgive me for the comparison but it read a bit like a Charles Dickens story, moving one to the brink of strong emotions.....Thanks for sharing Ken.

  8. Hi Khushi
    Charles Dickens eh? I guess you'd like more of this gruelling stuff!