Of course I had times of being quite happy. When my sister brought home measles and chicken pox I had days of playing without any shouting or crying.
Then my sister brought home little visitors in her hair. We both had long plaits. Hers were dark and nearly reached her waist. Mine were blonde and not quite so long. Anyway when she infected me mother decided it was enough and went off to the hairdresser where my sister’s plaits were cut off and she had a modern “Bob”.
I was quite taken by the short hair without having to stand to be plaited so I found a pair of scissors and proceeded to cut my own locks. Mother’s scream stopped me and after a good smacking I was whipped down to the hairdresser to be trimmed up. No more plaits.
One day after a huge fight between my mother and father, as was usual, we visited Minnie, my mother’s port in a storm. Her father, taking pity on me asked if I would like to go down to his allotment with him to pick beans for dinner. In those days any spare land was cultivated by local people for their own food. Of course I jumped at the chance. Off we went and once there I could fossick about on my own. I found a jam jar and fished in a nearby stream for sticklebacks or tiddlers. Then I saw an old piece of sacking lying over some pots. Nosy as ever I fished under the sacking and wow! A mother mouse was hanging on my finger. Then I saw four little pink naked baby mice and started to scream. Minnie’s father pulled the mouse off and it disappeared. I wanted to keep the babies but I was told their mummy wanted them. I was lucky no serious germs developed.
I must have been a horrible child. Like clipping one of my mother’s prize Pekinese dogs. Trixie and Ginger were both being groomed for “Crufts”, the dog show. Hearing my mother say Ginger needed trimming and leaving the clippers on the table, I decided to help. Having run the clippers from head to tail and preparing to cut off the long hair from the tail I heard my mother scream. Scared me silly. Next I knew I was swung by one arm and was being whacked like mad. Trixie won “best in class” anyway.
Then there was the revolver episode. My father produced a gun that he had, he said, taken from a German officer and brought home from the war. He sighted along the barrel and then put it down. Of course nosy had to pick it up and try to sight down it as my father had. Somehow I clicked the hammer and there it was, hanging from my eyelid. Mother screamed and tried to pull it off but father pushed her aside and released my lid. For the one and only time I heard my mother shout at my father without him shouting or hitting her back. Guilt or shock.
I suppose my mother did all the usual mothering things but there was no feeling there. I could not remember kisses and cuddles or being tucked up in bed.
With all her lack of emotion and lack of protecting me from that monster I suppose she did her best. After all she was my mother.
There was always plenty of food, good clothes and enough money. My father did not drink which was a blessing. He was only cruel. I wonder why. Perhaps it was disappointment over loss of his car business through the war. Cars were expensive and hard to find. He must have been frustrated.
Years later his attitude must have changed because when he was dying he sent a message to me. Unfortunately the message didn’t reach me before he died. I like to feel perhaps he regretted not caring for me. I’m sorry not to have seen him then.
I have since queried the cause of his cruelty and have thought of reasons but I will never know. Even wondered if he was my real father. With the men away in the war it happened all the time. Well I would like a reason why. My mother said he wanted a son but I spoilt the wishes.
He lost a small business he had when he was called up and resented it. Perhaps I reminded him.