Early December 2002
The morning after the night we arrived back in Scotland I stepped outside what was to be my new home and I could have cried. We were in ther middle of the worst council estate that time ever remembered. Actually I shouldn't say that because there are far worse places in the world but that morning I was heartbroken. Row upon row of miserable grey houses made even bleaker by the dismal scottish sky above. Eliza would have been nearing her third birthday at this point. I put her coat on and walked to the local shops. My face was familiar. I was born in this hellish place. The thought always saddened me. The evening before we had looked out over the meadow in front of our cottage and waved goodbye to the woolly sheep and this morning there was only cars and buses and houses everywhere you looked. Eliza skipped along singing in her pretty little english twang and I knew before long she'd be as scottish as anyone else round here. Upon returning from the shops I was greeted by a familiar face in the garden next door to my own. It was a girl I'd gone to school with called Michelle. She had been pregnant at the same time I was carrying Eliza and here she was pregnant again, 'Hello stranger, long time no see! Is it you thats moving in?'
'It is so', I replied, approaching the small brick wall that seperated our gardens. 'How long have you left to go?', I asked gesturing at her bump.
'Only a couple of weeks thank god' she said stretching her back out to relieve the cramp in her spine. I pulled up my fleece to reveal a still quite petite little six month bump, 'Three months yet for me.'
'Oh my', laughed michelle, 'what are the odds of that?'
'Fancy a coffee?' I said.
'Yeah go on then', and Michelle heaved her leg up high enough to mount the wall before dropping down on my side with a substantial 'ooof!'
By the time she had gone home I had satisfied myself that whilst it wasn't a beautiful place, it really wasn't that bad. Decent neighbours is a good start I thought. I remember specifically saying to her, 'So no junkies on the doorstep then?'
'Em oh no', she had half hesitated in responding but if I'm honest I wasn't that concerned. She was a nice girl in school. Good grades, popular and well behaved. It emerged only weeks later that her partner who I shall call 'Psycho Steve' was infact a heroin addict who was known in the area for a variety of crimes, ranging in seriousness. He had just been released from prison where he had been serving time for armed robbery. Psycho Steve and I didn't always see eye to eye over the following few months. I wasn't frightened of him you see. Well actually I was bloody terrified but I wasn't about to let him see that and I do believe in the end that my time there was good for me in retrospect. After a long three months Little Jake made his appearance in the world. I gave birth to my beautiful boy in the same hospital that his sister was born. He weighed 7lb 10 oz and this time they handed me a miniature me. My little red headed boy. I didn't have an easy birth with Jake and failed to deliver my placenta naturally. It was all quite horrific in the end and I hemmoraged losing a few pints of blood. We finally returned to the house after a week and life continued. Physcho steve enjoyed facing me out. He liked to shock me. He threatened me on one occasion because my mongrol pup was trying to shag his boxer pup which incidently had jumped into my garden to have a shit.. He shouted some random bullshit about my 'gay' dog and then threatened to assault me with a kids trampoline. Ha ha what a total prick. I can see him with it raised above his head, a look of pure fury in his eyes and me stood there in the back garden in my nightie with a new baby on my hip, 'Go on, fuckin throw it,' I jeered at him, 'go on. I'd fuckin love it if they locked you up again!' I know. Terribly crude but when in Rome... He stood there in front of me mustering every ounce of patience or self control he had to contain that fury. I was laughing. I looked inside my kitchen door and there stood my man. My protector and lover supposedly. He stood there and allowed me to fend for myself. Michelle came in at that point and talked psycho Steve down. She came into apologise afterwards but I was getting angrier by the day. Some days Steve needed someone to vent his spleen at, and other days he needed someone to listen. Sometimes he wanted to confess about something or some one that he'd done in. There were times that I thought I might even be able to help him get off the smack. Times when he'd cry and tell me what his little family meant to him. I would listen and offer support and then the very next day he'd be threatening to petrol bomb my house with all of us in it. One night he came to the door and asked if I could call him a taxi for around eleven o'clock that night. He said he had some shit in the house that he wanted to get rid of, you know weaponry and drugs and the like. I said yes I could do that for him. The minute he left my door I called CID and left an anonymous message saying that whatever it was they were hoping to find in Psycho Steve's address, that they would be lucky to find it after tonight. An hour later there was a lot of banging and shouting next door. They had surrounded the place with officers and dogs. Psycho Steve was found in possession of a bike chain that was allegedly used in a recent Gbh incident and also a machetti that may have been used in another. He was arrested that night and sent back to prison. A few weeks later there was talk that Psycho Steve might get off due to insuficient evidence. Billy and I decided to head back to Dorset just to be on the safe side. What did I learn from that time of my life? I was brave. I stood up to psycho Steve when my 'man' didn't have the bottle. Somehow though I think this made my 'man' Billy feel a little inferior because the episodes between myself and him got worse. He started hitting me a slap now and then across the mouth if he felt I'd spoken out of turn. A slap quickly turned into a slap that was strong enough to get me on the floor. This then led to being grabbed by the hair or clothes and dragged around like a rag doll. I always ended up crouched in a corner by an outer door though. I think he was trying to drag me out of the house. I learned to play dead. This made me heavier for him, and not screaming seemed to diffuse the situation a lot quicker. I think in the start my screaming was misconstrued as answering back or maybe he just got a sick kick out of hearing me cry out in pain. I have many memories of that house in Scotland of being huddled in the corner while he rained down blows on my head and shouted vile names at me, all the while spitting froth from his mouth. Perhaps I didn't learn anything at all but I think it was around this point that I started to wonder. Why was I so fearless with psycho Steve who was a big dangerous man known amongst thiefs and criminals all over town and yet I allowed this scrawny little man to throw me around and treat me like a punchbag.
I am having a bit of a weird one today. Im asking questions of my current relationship that I haven't asked yet. Is he my man? Not when it matters most he's not.