OLD STUFF

Dad didn't get the promotion he needed. My mother, isolated in a crumbling, dark, inconvenient farmhouse set back from a B road by a pigfield, was hit smack in the face by this realness: this was it. Five kids, no social status, kept short of money and no prospect of good times or fortunes to sustain her present drudgery. No reward for her, the Golden Girl, the radical feminist Sociology graduate, moreover I, her eldest daughter, was growing breasts, as if I was shoving her aside. She hated me violently for that and my two younger sisters were getting bigger and nearer their turn to do the same, she brought us up in a seething fury, used blame and guilt freely, and thrust attributions of malevolence, sly craftiness and deceit into our heads for innocent actions.

She told me I'd had sparrow-bright brains that were rotting early because I deliberately flaunted her advice and discipline. I wrapped string round the latch of my bedroom door to keep her out. She insisted nothing in life meant anything: hopes of good things happening boiled down to nothingness, they were imaginary (in its nastiest sense).

I was so terrified of nothingness and death I pretended I had a sort of kind “auntie” voice in my head, comforting me when I wept in terror.

Friendless, girls at school thought and said I was weird, I dared go in the Whisky-a-Go-Go coffee bar, and got off with a lad 10 years older than me – I was 14. “Let me have sex or I'll dump you” was his line, so I did. Later I dumped him, and was able to get out of having sex with other boyfriends – I needed a boyfriend to pay for coffees because I had no money – because they were too polite and courteous to blackmail or force me. There was enough of my bitch mother in me to make me a survivor.