So if you’ve been reading my blog you can be forgiven for thinking oh shame poor kid! In many respects that would be accurate, but what one ALSO needs to understand is that despite what I was going through I was making choices.
My life could have been a thousand times easier if those choices had been different. Now one could argue that I didn’t have the facility to make better choices yadda yadda yadda, but believe me when I say this, no matter how stuffed we are, we know the difference between good and bad and once I became a teenager I was quite frankly a bit of a shit!
The house of Storms was a home we bought when I was about 14 or so. I’ve named it that because so many bad memories are from that time.
I still have nightmares about living there and the house being attacked by intruders. The house just grows bigger and bigger and it becomes impossible to secure all the entrances.
Funny thing is, in reality the darkness was inside the house, not coming from the outside.
A combination of my parents horrid relationship, hormones and good old fashioned rebellion was the perfect incubator for the demon child to emerge! I call myself that because my mother used to scream that I was from the devil when I had yet another one of my screaming fits. I was a little thing but by God I had a temper! I had become fearless in dealing with my father and his particular brand of control and ugliness. I had passed the point where I would tolerate him hurting my mother in one way or the other and would attack with whatever I had at my disposal. It’s sad that my crazy started off in an attempt to protect my mother but eventually grew to include her.
The lines eventually became blurred and I was no longer fighting with righteous intent, I was just fighting. My dad’s response to me was to hit, and because he was gigantor compared to me and I knew I didn’t have much of a chance I would devise ways to even the odds and generally piss him off.
I remember one day waiting for him to come home in a rage and knew what was coming, so I decided to hang my hockey stick on the door in anticipation of his arrival. He arrived home and duly banged my door open at which point ……………… BANG!!!!!!! said stick came crashing down on his head! Oh it was Glorius! and truly worth the hiding that night.
I was small in stature but I could run like the wind, and often when he was yelling at my mom and things were looking nasty I would swear like a trooper, which quite frankly was a red flag to a bull, and then run like hell down the passage and out the back door. That worked for a while but then I decided I needed heavier equipment to even the odds, so I asked for a pair of veldskoene. For those of you unfamiliar with these shoes, they are farmer – type shoes, made of suede with very tough soles. I learnt to put them on before he came home and although I couldnt outfight the guy, I had the ammo on my feet to kick like a mule! and by God did I leave a few bruises on him after that – he never did figure out the plan with the shoes!
I had started smoking a while before and couldn’t always sneak out for one, so I used to take towels and rulers and lay the towels over the crack around the door and stick the rulers in to seal off the door to prevent the smoke escaping. My butts went into a long suffering pot plant. The poor plant had become root bound, so I could lift it up by the stem, almost out of the pot, and hide the butts in there. When that got too full I would wait for the folks to go out and bury them under the Christmas bush which grew under my window.
Beware – Christmas bushes aren’t to be trusted!
One day my dad was watering the garden and for some reason the Christmas bushes were looking unhealthy (all the cigarette butts?) so he decided to give them a little extra water…………and slowly but surely these strange things began to float up from the soil……….BETH!!!!!!!!!!!!!! lordy but I was in deep shit!
During this time I had befriended a girl who had the same level of crazy in her home and she used to hang out at what was then called The Fairmead Hotel. She had turned to booze as a comfort and to a pissed off teenager this sounded like heaven…. and so began ‘Operation Bunk Out’. I would often sleep over at her house and because she was left on her own so often it was easy to hang out at the pubs. She had a 50cc motorbike which sounded like a sick mosquito but worked like a horse. We would both jump on and zoom off to the pub. Even after a terrible accident where she broke her leg, we would hop on the bike, her with a full cast on her leg – metal pins and all, we would strap her crutches to the side and off we’d go – nothing could stop us. When I was at home however it was more problematic. My bedroom had large windows – which were barred and two tiny windows about the size of an A4 excercise book, right at the top, without bars………..
If I practised the same determination now that I had then I would truly be a millionaire.
I was small, but the windows were tiny. The drop from the windows to ground level was a few meters. I practised and practised, often bombing head first into the Christmas bushes! Served them right! Eventually I discovered that if I went out head first, wriggled my body around and brought out one leg at a time while clinging onto the sides, I could actually get out.
I had discovered that fighting with the old man was not nearly as much fun as getting mindlessly pissed. I had a guy friend that I had met – about 10 years older than me – and he would park his motorbike down the road and wait for me. I would bunk out and run over the bridge and together we would push the bike further away so that the folks wouldn’t hear the engine starting – it was a huge machine. My friends 50cc shook at the sight of it, and off we’d go. Nowadays if you tried that you’d be in deep trouble. This chap was one in a million. We were never involved, I was always safe with him and miraculously apart from getting shit faced together, nothing bad happened. I was damn lucky. I have never figured out what his story was except perhaps he was also so damn lonely that hanging out with rebellious kids filled his life. Who knows, who cares – we were having a blast!
There was a time when the folks decided to have an overseas trip and they arranged with one of my dad’s aunts to babysit. She was my favourite aunt – kind and gentle and the best baker on the planet. Unfortunately I was already in demon training by then. I behaved myself for almost 3 weeks but then just before the parentals came home I decided it was time to party. I dissappeared for about 2 days without telling her where I’d gone. By the time I came back the poor woman was absolutely beside herself! I was small, but not that small, how can you lose something that big? She blew a gasket when I walked through the door, I was so shocked because never in a million years could I imagine her being vaguely capable of such anger. I was ashamed of myself, and at that stage it was the only time. She was so obviously good, I knew I had gone way over the line.
In later years my dad and I laughed about all of this, well most of it. He had no idea what I was up to at the time until about a year after I started drinking when he was woken up by the sound of a bear snoring on the patio. He crept to the door armed with a flashlight and there was yours truly, drunk as a skunk and passed out on the patio furniture. He had to carry me inside and put me to bed. To this day I don’t remember!
Those were truly some of the best and worst times of my life. My time with my new friends was fun, home was not. My brother the Prof would never get involved in the battles. I remember one day he was living in the house with his door shut, and the next day he had moved to the garage at the back – and never came out!
I don’t blame him.