Sunday, 31 August 2008

Page 85

A couple of weeks later I got a letter from them saying everything had been checked and a weekly allowance would be sent to my Mum and Dad under the guise of benefits , with no mention of Marie Curie. They were amazing people. I told my Dad and he said it would help a lot.

He rang me a week later saying they had received an extra £5 per week which he assumed was from the cancer fund and that with the £10 a week I was sending made them so much better off. I also bought my Mum a couple of dresses and some nighties, as even though she wasn’t well enough to go out she still liked to dress well. With the extra money my Dad had arranged for a mobile hairdresser to come once a fortnight to set her hair, she was over the moon.

Mike was doing really well, he was true to his word and was putting the money in my account he was also much more patient with the kids, I was apprehensive as I didn’t think leopards changed their spots and I was waiting for the temper and the money not appearing in my account….ever the pessimist, life had taught me to expect the worst.

Time passed and everything seemed to be going well. My Mum had improved slightly still not able to go out shopping just able to potter about the house. My Dad had heard about some o.a.p. bungalows that had just been built just down the road and thought this would be much better for them, as my mum was now having difficulty going up the stairs to the toilet and bedrooms, in fact my cousin Tony was going to help my Dad take a bed downstairs.

My Dad got in touch with the council housing dept. about the bungalows but was told because they were 60 and 56yrs respectively they were too young, they had to be, for my Mum 60yrs. He tried to explain the health situation but to no avail. He later found out that a couple of people who had been given the bungalows were actually really well off and had sold large houses. Bearing in mind they were council you would think preference would be on a health basis. My Dad was livid as he was really struggling with my Mum.

He went to what they call a surgery to speak to the local MP. He explained the situation and was told by the MP that he would make enquiries and be in touch within the next 10 days.

Three weeks passed and nothing was heard from the MP so back my dad went and was told the same as before they were both too young. My Dad was banging his head against the brick wall they wouldn’t budge. I thought maybe my Dad didn’t really push very hard as he is a very proud man and wouldn’t beg. So I decided to write a letter to the then Prime minister I knew it wouldn’t get to him but maybe someone might understand the situation and make an exception.

I really went to town I said my Dad was an epileptic my Mother was dying from inoperable ovarian cancer, my dad really needed someone to look after him as my Mum had done for 24 yrs suddenly the roles had been reversed. They also at the moment lived in a big house that was too much for my Dad to keep clean and also my Mum had a bed downstairs with no access to the bathroom and toilet as she couldn’t manage the stairs. She was virtually bedridden. She was receiving help from the M arie Curie Foundation , this wasn’t given lightly you had to be really ill to receive it.

I wrote about 4 foolscap pages with the facts and what I thought they ought to do for my Mum and Dad. We had no idea how long my Mum would be with us therefore it seemed imperative to me to make what ever time she had as comfortable as possible and one of these bungalows seemed ideal. I explained about the other people selling their houses and being given a bungalow when they were in a position to purchase one not take council properties that surely should be made available for the really needy people. I sent this off with out telling anyone but I didn’t hold out hope too much, red tape and jobsworth to change the rules even with mitigating circumstances. At least I felt better for venting my anger.

Time passed I forgot about the letter. Then my Dad phoned so excited I couldn’t understand what he was on about. I finally got him to calm down and he said he had received a letter from the Houses of Parliament with the crest and everything apologising for the distress he and my Mum had suffered due to inflexibility. It said that I had written and made a case he couldn’t ignore and that a letter should arrive in the next couple of days offering them one of the bungalows. I couldn’t believe it. Me and my Dad were screeching down the phone with excitement. He said I was the best daughter anyone could have.

Now we would have to wait for the letter from the council. Not to long, my Dad rang again the next day saying he had received the letter and they were even going to move them at the councils expense as instructed by the MP. They said that the removal men would pack everything and they wouldn’t have to do a thing just get themselves to the bungalow.

I said I would drive down on Friday night, it was now Wednesday and take them to see the bungalow. I would have to arrange something for the children if I couldn’t I would take them with me. Luckily Mike said he had the weekend off ,so no problem. The children were not to keen to be with him but needs must.

I finished work at 5pm Friday evening went home got changed packed a few things and set off for Rotherham. I got to their house about10pm and we jumped around the room me and my Dad and my Mums face was beaming she was so pleased. We arranged to take my Mum to see it the next morning my Dad had already been and looked. He had also managed to get the keys.

We managed to get my Mum in the car with a struggle , She really was in a bad way but she was really excited. The bungalow was beautiful it was really big with a large kitchen/diner and a really goodsize front room and two double bedrooms, my Mum had tears in her eyes. She said she would have to get carpet for the front room and the bedrooms . I asked her if she felt up to going now as my Dad had already measured it and if we didn’t go today it would have to wait until I could get there when they moved. She said she would like to go now and then it could hopefully be down by the time of moving.

We went to a shop in Thurcroft and my Mum found a really nice carpet for the front room and some for each bedroom she decided she would wait to get the hall and bathroom as this could be done at a later date.

My Mum was exhausted but happy as we had achieved a lot today. The carpet was being delivered and fitted. on the following Monday. As soon as that was done a moving date would be arranged. I must admit the council were really being very flexible and understanding.

Me and my Dad did quite a lot of packing of glasses and china with my Mum, of course supervising from her bed. She did keep complaining that after all that time since her operation she should be feeling a lot better now but said she seemed to be getting worse, I wished that we could tell her the reason but I agreed with my Dad that she would give in, so at all costs we had to shield her… was very hard to see her suffering , we had no idea how long she would be with us

It soon came round to Sunday time for me to go home as I had to go to work Monday morning. I was working at B.S.I. then and they were being unbelievably understanding. I cooked Sunday dinner for us before I left. This part I hated because I didn’t know if I would see my Mum alive again. I would have loved to stay and see them in the bungalow but it just wasn’t possible.

It was an uneventful journey home approx. 132miles but I was getting used to it as I was going most weekends. I felt sorry for my kids but I didn’t think I had a choice. I tooted when I got home and out they came running I think they were pleased to see me as I was them. They said Dad had been ok with them and that they understood about there Nan. They loved her very much and were doing well coping. I had taken a lot of time explaining to them about there Nan`s illness.

The twins were 7 yrs old and Lesley 10yrs., it was a lot to take in but I thought it better to tell them, then when the time came they would be sort of prepared. Thank goodness they had had their baths and I just had to iron their school clothes for the morning. The house was surprisingly tidy , they said their Dad had each given them jobs to do and of course if he said it, it would be done, if I asked it wouldn’t but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Life went on as normal ,the kids at school , me at work. Mike was on late shift this week so me and the kids had the evenings to ourselves. Although Mike was being quite reasonable and keeping his temper in check, we had to think before we spoke, it was a bit like walking on eggs.

My boss called me into his office when I got to work and said if I ever needed to just down tools and go to see my Mum for whatever, reason it was ok by him, as if it was his parent he would expect that to happen. I told him it was very tiring going there Friday night and coming home Sunday evening but that my Dad needed a break. He then said that when they were due to move I could have a weeks compassionate leave to get them sorted. This was too much and the tears just rolled down my face. I thanked him and left his office I couldn’t speak, his kindness and understanding just overwhelmed me.

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Page 84

I bought my Mum a couple of nice nighties, as when you are in hospital you like new things and I thought it might cheer her up. Tony took me straight to the hospital. My Mum was surprised to see me, my Dad hadn’t told her I was coming.

She said she was feeling much better now that she had finished the course of radiotherapy. She also said the Doctor had said she could go home next week providing everything was ok when she had her stitches removed. That was scheduled for Monday, so all being well she could be home on Wednesday. That would please my Dad as he was finding it a bit much all the travelling to the hospital.

I stayed about an hour and said I would be back for the morning visiting. Tony took me to my Dads and then went home. He offered to take me to the hospital in the morning but I said I would find my own way as he had already done too much. My Dad was really pleased about my Mum coming home but was worried that she would realise something was wrong because she was expecting to feel so much better whereas in reality she would be getting worse. It was going to be very difficult. It was going to be hard work for my Dad too. That house they had was lovely but too big for them now.

I said I would help my Dad with getting the house spotless before my Mum came home or she would not be very happy. There was nothing wrong with the house just needed a bit of polish here and there. I cooked a meal for me and my Dad and we sat and talked for ages. My Dad was worried about money as they only had unemployment benefit which only just covered the bills and frugal food. My Mum had been told she needed loads of fresh fruit and vegetables and also low fat food which was all more expensive than ordinary. My Dad wanted to do the best by my Mum and it was going to be difficult. I would help where I could but I only just managed , being a single working Mum.

I decided when I got home to do some research and find out if there was any help out there, I thought there might be a charity or something. I had heard of the Marie Curie Foundation but didn’t really know what they did. I would make that my first job when I got home.

My Dad and I both went to visit my Mum the next day and she was much perkier, I think that was because she would soon be home. She was so much better she was giving my dad orders. Me and my Dad looked at each other and burst out laughing she was certainly on the mend . My Mum was puzzled as to why we were laughing we explained that the ‘nagging’ had already started and she couldn’t help laughing either.

We stayed for the visiting hour and then went home. I said I would be back that evening as it would be my last visit for a while as I was going home the next day and it would do my Dad good to have a rest. He was really looking tired and drawn and what worried me was I could see it getting worse with the progression of the cancer.

I had to do something but I had no idea what at this time. Although I had enjoyed being with my Mum and Dad I really missed the children and worried about them after all Linda was only a kid herself but I trusted her. Needs must I had no other choice. If my husband had been a proper Dad he would have had them but when I told him about my going to Yorkshire and leaving the kids with Linda he never said a thing.

The children were fine when I got home , the house was tidy and they all said they had a great time. Linda went home she was by now very pregnant and not well at all. The next thing I heard from her was that she had had the baby a boy and was staying with her Mum. She said Dennis, although still in prison was going to sign the flat over to her as she said she would never live with him again. ( He had got sentenced to two years ) I cant say I blame her as the drugs meant more to him than anything or anyone. In the short time they had lived together he had sold most of the baby things that had been bought and according to Linda he had withheld her antibiotic from her and she nearly lost the baby. So all in all they were best apart.

Mike rang and asked how my Mum was. He said he was coming to see the kids that weekend if it was ok with me. I said yes it was fine. He didn’t come as evidently he had got drunk and June his sister had locked him out as she was fed up with his drinking, also it was a shop and she couldn’t keep leaving it unlocked for him to come home drunk and forget to lock the door after him. On this night she had waited up for him until 2am and then went to bed and locked the shop up, thinking he would knock on the door when he did get home. But no what he did in his drunken stupor was attempt to climb up the drainpipe to the first floor but he fell and landed on the dustbins in the backyard. The cleaner found him the next morning around 7a.m she thought he was dead but he was fast asleep. She called June and she could see he was really badly hurt and called an ambulance. It turned out he had broken both legs and had numerous cuts and bruises. He was actually very lucky to fall on the bins otherwise it would have been a concrete yard. He also had concussion.

He was in hospital for about 3 weeks and in that time June had told him he couldn’t go back to her house, she had had enough. The only place left was his Mums and she really didn’t want him there but he had to have somewhere to go when he was discharged from hospital. She only had a one bedroomed flat and she would have to wait on him hand and foot as he was immobile.(pardon the pun).

Time passed and Mike’s mum was tearing her hair out with his frustration at being confined he took it out on her. One more week and he would be having the plaster removed from his legs and his Mum said he would have to get a flat as she couldn’t cope any more.

Even he must have had enough as she said he was ringing all the flats to let in the paper. He found one in Notting Hill Gate that was before it became for the rich and famous. He went to look at the flat when his plasters were off and took it. Evidently it was only a bedsit. His Mum told me she jumped for joy having got rid of him. He was also able to go back to work on the buses.

He had never lived on his own so this was going to be a challenge for him. He rang and said he would be over to see the kids the next weekend . He came and the visit went quite well. The kids did talk to him and him to them. He did seem to have changed somewhat but maybe it was a ploy to get back in our good books….time will tell. He liked the new house.

Mike phoned us sometimes twice a week for a chat . He did seem a changed man. I began to form an idea in my head to be able to help my Mum and Dad more, I thought that if I had Mike back with certain proviso’s I would be able to send more money to help my Mum have a better life for the time she had left.

I would insist he put his money in to the household not a one sided thing,. me paying everything . I would lay my cards on the table and be straight with him that I was only having him back if he would agree to my terms which were as follows; No violence, at the first sign he would be out , paying his way , supporting his family as he should do, try to be a better father also to be prepared to help me help. my Mum and Dad. If he would agree to this then maybe we could try again. This time the house was in my name so I would call the shots. I wasn’t the timid person who had been worn down by him. I knew I was doing the wrong thing but my Mum needed help.

The next time he rang he actually asked if he could come back to us, he missed family life he said, huh!. I told him that I had been thinking about this also but that it was a means to an end and I spelled out my conditions. I couldn’t believe my ears he said he intended things to be better this time and wholeheartedly agreed with everything I said and that we could have a three month trial. It sounds like a new job.

He had to finish the lease on the flat he had which had another month to run so after that he would move back in with us. He would still work at the Edgware Bus Garage he would have to commute. The kids were surprisingly happy about it if a little apprehensive, I assured them that it was going to be different this time.

When I told my Dad he said I was out of my mind, I tried to explain that I would be able to help them more but he said I must not compromise myself to help them. He said me and the kids happiness was much more important. He said they would manage and I must think again. I had made my mind up their welfare was more important than my well being and I was going to make my Mums last days happy and worry free if it killed me.

We should be well off with two of us working hopefully. The month soon passed and Mike moved back in with us and things seemed fine. He was good with the kids and he had also arranged a standing order from his bank account to mine for most of his wages he just kept a few pounds back for his expenses. I was shocked when he asked for my bank details to arrange it.

I would be in charge of the outgoings ie rent etc.. this time , he said he would prefer it this way as he was hopeless with money as we found out previously. I also set up a standing order for money to be sent to my Mum and Dads bank account.

The other thing I found out about was the Marie Curie Foundation they helped cancer sufferers out with a little extra money to help them buy fruit etc that could help their illness. It was someone at work who told me about it.

I wrote a long letter explaining their circumstances. Also that if they could help could they please come through me as my Mum didn’t know about the cancer. I received a reply about a week later . They said they would very much like to help and would need some more details as they had to check that what I had told them was true. I gave them all they needed ie Doctors name etc. at Weston Park Hospital and their GP I fully understood their need for caution as anyone could say they needed help.

Friday, 29 August 2008

Page 83

The next morning I was getting the kids ready for school when there was a knock at the door. I answered it and could not believe my eyes there stood my Dad and my Uncle George. They said they were at a loose end and thought it would be nice if they fetched us and gave my Mum a surprise visit to cheer her up , as she was still in hospital. My Dad said the sooner we could leave the better due to visiting times . He said pack a few clothes for us all and stay for a couple of days, as I was on holiday.

The kids were thrilled to bits and so was I. One minute they were going to school the next we were off to Yorkshire for a mini holiday.
I was so looking forward to seeing my Mum , I knew she would love the surprise of seeing her grandchildren. I couldn’t wait.

It took us only about 2 hours and we were at the hospital. I tidied the kids up and up to the ward we went. My Dad first of all asked Lesley, Sheila and Steve to walk in and we peered through the door. The look of surprise on my Mums face was priceless. You could see she was puzzled, then my Dad and I walked in and soon we were all in tears. She said she was so happy and berated my Dad for not telling her we were coming but like he said it wouldn’t have been such a lovely surprise, she soon forgave him. We weren’t able to stay very long as visiting time was over. I said I would come that evening to see her.

When we got home to my Mum and Dads house my Dad said to go in the front room with him as he wanted to talk to me without the kids. I was worried what he was about to say but nothing prepared me for what he told me. He said he didn’t quite know now how to tell me what he had to say. I said please just tell me. He said your Mum has cancer and it is inoperable. Evidently they had opened her up for the hysterectomy and found the ovarian cancer but could do nothing it had reached her other organs. I was dumbstruck I couldn’t say a word and just clung to my Dad. We both cried our eyes out. We were such a close family,I had no idea how my Dad would cope. He said he had decided not to tell my Mum as he didn’t think she could handle it and I agreed with him. My Mum thought she had had the hysterectomy and that she had to have radiotherapy to make sure everything was ok.

I said I would do whatever I could to help, it was so awkward being so far away. I said I would tell the kids later as I didn’t want to put them under pressure of keeping it from my Mum. I was still in shock, I just couldn’t get my head around it and my poor dad had kept this to himself for nearly a week. Like he said it wasn’t something he felt he could tell me over the phone, we needed to be face to face. I said I would visit Dennis in prison he was in Wormwood Scrubs, Shepherds Bush.and tell him. The prison was just around the corner from June’s, Mike’s sister so I could take the kids and leave them at June’s.

I went to visit my Mum that evening, my Dad had a night off, he looked after the kids. It was hard trying to be normal and joke around when I wanted to give her a big hug and say I would make everything ok.

She said it was matter of course now to give Radiotherapy after an Hysterectomy and she was starting the treatment on the following Monday. They had told her to expect to feel nauseous for a couple of days. She seemed quite chirpy, then she said as soon as she was out of hospital she couldn’t wait to do her own shopping and housework and go visiting. It tore me apart as I knew nothing would have changed. She could only expect to get worse. She may get a little respite if they could get it in remission but they didn’t expect much as it had really got a hold.

It had been the most difficult day in my life so far. Not being able to tell the truth was awful.

I had made an appointment to see my Mums consultant for the next day as I wanted to ask him to put everything through me concerning my Mum. My Dad being told so callously that my Mum had cancer and it was too far gone to be cured, just about finished my Dad off . I explained my Dad had previously had an operation to remove a brain tumour and although it was about 24 yrs ago he was still suffering and any upset or stress brought on epileptic fits ,this had happened in the hospital toilets when he had been told about my Mums health. The consultant apologised but in his defence he said he had no idea there was a problem. He also agreed that all progress reports and any problems would go through me. He did point out that I lived 130 miles away. I said that was true but I could be there in max 3hours.Also I could telephone and so could the hospital, then if I thought my Dad could take it I would tell him. He agreed and apologised again.

When I got home I told my Dad what I had done and he said he was relieved as he couldn’t face it coming from them, he would find it better coming from me. I made us all a lovely meal but it was strange without my Mum there. The kids had loved being with there grandad, he was such a funny man, a real joker. The next horrible thing was going to be me going to the prison and telling Dennis, he wouldn’t take it well. I thought I might ask the prison if I could speak to Dennis in private as it really would be awful telling him in a crowded room. I didn’t hold out much hope as they are not known for having any compassion

We were going home the following day as I had to go to work and the kids to school. We were going to visit my Mum on the way. My cousin Tony was driving us home and my Dad was coming to. The hospital had said it was ok to see my Mum for a few minutes as it wasn’t visiting time but because we lived so far away allowances were made. My Mum was so pleased to see us . She hugged the kids and said she would soon be able to come and visit us. I really hoped she would be able to.

When we got home to our house my Dad got upset and said he didn’t know how he would cope with everything. I understood but there was nothing I could do. I did say that if I could get some time off work I would stay with him and help with the visiting etc…Linda would stay with the children.

I was back at work and things were back to normal. I rang my Dad most nights to see how things were and he rang me most days. My Mum was having a real difficult time with the radiotherapy, sickness and diarrhoea. My Dad said she looked awful and when he went to visit he had to sit behind lead screens because of the rays .

A couple of days later my cousin Tony rang to ask if I would like him to pick me up Friday night and bring me back Sunday afternoon, I said that would be great and I would try to find somewhere for the kids to stay and ring him back. Linda came to the rescue and I rang Tony and arranged times. My Auntie Betty, Uncle George and Tony had been amazing both to me and my Dad. They were taking him to the hospital and making him meals, they were great.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Page 82

When I got home the next night (Tuesday) there wasn’t anyone in. I guessed where they were and walked round, sure enough there they were talking over the fence to the next door neighbours. My Dad had done loads of painting and general DIY. I could see my Mum had been washing out cupboards and worktops. It fair gleamed. The kids were nowhere to be seen. Evidently Kim had come over and they had gone to play in the woods.

My Mum really wasn’t very well but she wouldn’t stop doing things in spite of my Dad and myself telling her to leave things. She was waiting for a date to go in hospital to have a hysterectomy, hopefully after having that done she would feel better.

Saturday came and everyone from work who offered to help us move arrived. Things soon started moving they were not hanging about. We got my Mum and Dad to stay at the new house to supervise. Steve seemed to like Mr Whitlock he was helping with the garden tools, lawnmower etc. Mr Whitlock promised to just move the small things as he was getting on a bit. Although he made a big point of saying he had been for a check up yesterday and got a clean bill of health. I said I didn’t care he promised. He was such a nice man, he had to do his bit.

At last all the big stuff had been moved, they really were a nice bunch of people to have as workmates. All that was left for me to do now was tidy the old house. Lesley came running into the old house saying her Nan said I must go to the new house straight away as Mr Whitlock had been taken ill. I dropped everything and ran round there to find the funeral directors just coming out with a coffin. I had to wait until they had gone then my mum said Mr Whitlock had just brought his last load with Steve and went in the house and said to my mum he didn’t feel well. My Dad had just put up my bed albeit not made and Mr Whitlock laid down .

About 10 minutes later my Dad went to see how he was and found him dead. A doctor was called straight away and he came and pronounced him dead from a suspected heart attack. I could not believe it , I felt responsible even though I tried to dissuade him from helping.

His daughter lived in Gadebridge I didn’t know where but I had her phone number . I asked the Doctor if he would ring her and explain because I was too distraught. I didn’t want to live their now. I couldn’t even bring myself to go in . I most certainly would not be able to sleep in that bed or bedroom . Lyndsay, Mr Whitlock’s daughter arrived and she was apologising I said that wasn’t right it was my fault I shouldn’t have let him help. She said he was thrilled to bits to be helping me and if I had refused his help he would have been devastated. She said she felt a little jealous as he was always talking about us, he admired the way I coped with whatever was thrown at me. She also said it was a good job he got to the house as he had Steve in the car with him.

She said she insisted she buy me a new bed, as if this had happened to her she wouldn’t have been able to sleep in it even though it was her Dad. I said I had thought about it. I said it wasn’t necessary for her to buy one but she insisted.

I couldn’t go in that bedroom so my mum decided that Lesley and Sheila would sleep in that room and I would have the smaller back room. I said ok but couldn’t go to bed I stayed up sorting things out. My Mum and Dad slept in my old bed.

What a good start , I had been so excited about our new home, now the furniture was going in and a body coming out. If I could have moved back to my old house I would have been happy.

Lindsay was true to her word a top of the range double bed was delivered the next day. I had never had such an amazing bed. She also sent me a really nice letter saying that I shouldn’t blame myself for what happened to her father as she new he had been so pleased that I had let him help us. He had told her that not many young people would befriend an old man and I had. He said he thought I was doing an amazing job with everything and that my children were a credit to me, so well mannered and a pleasure to be with. He also said I was a good cook, that was because I had invited him to a Sunday dinner with me and the kids a few weeks ago.

I went to Mr Whitlocks funeral it was the first one I had been to. It was a very sad occasion. His daughter introduced me to the rest of the family and said I had been a real friend to him. I had to somehow get the memory of seeing that bodybag coming out of my house out of my mind. I consciously made an effort to settle in the house.

My Mum and Dad had gone home they had done an amazing job, I do not know what I would have done without them. They were the best Mum and Dad you could have. They meant everything to me especially my Dad.

I did manage to get that memory out of my head and me and the kids settled in. When my Mum got home there was a letter from Weston Park Hospital with a date for her hysterectomy which was only four days away. The letter must have arrived as they left to help me. My Mum said it was better this way as she had no time to worry about the operation.

I sent her a really nice nightie and a dressing gown, my way of saying thankyou for helping me and also it is nice to have new things to go to the hospital with. They were on such a tight budget that there was nothing left for extras, so I would send her a new dress or something every now and again. I had bought my Dad a small greenhouse as he loved gardening and growing his moneymaker tomatoes.

Things were going really well , the children were coping with being on their own for an hour and a half between school and me getting home from work. Lesley was 9 yrs old going on 19yrs she was so grown up and really kept the twins in check. They knew they had to do as she said.

My Mum had her operation and from what my Dad said all went well. I had got a weeks holiday from work so was able to ring my Dad quite often.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Page 81

Linda’s Mum was not very happy and said I need have no more involvement now they would deal with Linda, I was so angry I asked where she had been all these weeks, why hadn’t she even been to see their flat and check on her daughter. Her answer was she should have had an abortion, she had made her bed therefore, it was not her problem.

Dennis did try to visit Linda in hospital when she was out of danger but the staff were under instructions not to let him in. I could understand why and I am sure Linda had enough to contend with, with her Mother taking over. Linda would not be pleased.

Dennis came round and said he had to go to court the following morning for shoplifting and stealing a Doctors bag from his car and my electric meter.. He said he was sure he would get bail but just in case had brought a few of his things (address books ,birth certificate and a few photo’s etc..) for me to look after. He said he would be pleading Not Guilty so that it would have to be adjourned to Crown Court and go before a jury. This was purely a ploy to play for time. The trouble is it backfires if you don’t get bail, as then you have to be remanded in prison until a court date is set which can take weeks even months. I hoped he didn’t get bail, at least he would be away from the drug scene, get board and lodgings and three meals a day. I wished him luck but didn’t mean it , he said whatever happened he would get word to me. This would be his first time in prison if it came to that, a wake up call hopefully.

Guess what , he was remanded in custody. Of course it was then left to me to tell everybody. Dr Jones and of course Linda’s family so they could sort out the flat. Dr Jones said he wasn’t surprised as it was his bag that Dennis stole. Talk about bite the hand that feeds your drug habit. He also said that he and his family were moving to Devon he had got his own practice there. I was sorry to see him go but I think he had been in trouble with the home Office because of the over-prescribing.

It was quite nice Dennis being in prison, I didn’t have to make sure there was nothing lying around that he could steal. My Mum and Dad were upset but relieved at the same time. Hoping he would get off the drugs while he was there. My Mum was still waiting to go and see the consultant.

The next morning I got a letter from Mrs Smith the Housing Officer saying she was offering me a three bedroomed house as promised in Long Chaulden. The idea of the house thrilled me to bits but where it was I wasn’t too happy about as the children would have to change schools and I felt they had too much change in their short lives already. Still, we would go and have a look at it. I couldn’t get there until Saturday as I was working. Saturday came I got the kids ready and we went to have a look at the house.

I wasn’t to impressed, it was a very steep incline from the pavement to the front door not suitable for children. I decided with it being a distance from their school I was going to turn it down. I hoped Mrs Smith would understand. I would ring her from work on Monday.

Monday came and I rang Mrs Smith and explained about the changing schools and she agreed it wouldn’t be fair to give them yet another change. She said another house had just become available and she thought I would love it. She was such a lovely lady. The house was just across the road from us it was called Hetchleys and it was where Lesley’s friend Kim lived. I couldn’t wait to see the house as in that road there were about three different types of houses. Mrs Smith said she couldn’t give me the keys yet as the people hadn’t yet moved out but she said it was number 23 so we could look from outside .

I couldnt wait to get home from work and tell the kids and go and have a look. The children were so excited we got ready and went to look. It was a lovely house one of a terrace of six with a green in front. At the back was the woods which led to the walk to Potton end. We were all sold on it and the kids wanted to know when we could move in. I then had to explain that the people had to move out first, then we had to pack everything in our house into boxes which would be a mammoth task. They all said they would start straight away. I said we could call at the supermarket and see if they had some boxes. Our luck was in they had just three one each for the kids and they said they would keep tomorrows boxes for us.

I now had a problem in trying to move our stuff, Dennis couldn’t help he was in prison. I didn’t really want to ask Mike. I knew my Mum and Dad were coming to help but none of us could drive. I really had to do some serious thinking.

When we got home I gave the kids a box each and asked them to sort their toys first as it was no good taking things they didn’t want anymore. They said ok but I knew I would have to keep an eye on them. I said I would help them after I had prepared dinner.

The next day at work I was talking to Mr Whitlock who I worked with and got on really well with about the house we had been offered and he said he would like to help us move. He said he couldn’t do any heavy work but was sure their was plenty of small things he could fill his car with. I said that would be great but was also a little concerned as he was in his late sixties but he insisted. Then a couple of others, one who had a trailer said they would help and not to hire a van as she had two strapping sons who would do the heavy stuff. My worries seemed to be over in the moving aspect. I would make sure everything was packed and labelled.

I had decided that I was going to buy a new suite as the one I had would be too big for the house as the living room was half the size of the one we had now. I could only afford a cheap one and that would have to be on HP something I didn’t like but didn’t seem to have a choice.

The kids and I went to look in the Co-Op at suites and found a really nice one, we all liked that was black leather(plastic) and orange upholstery which was the right size and in the sale at half price. I arranged for it to be delivered to our new house. At least we wouldn’t have to move it.

I rang my Mum and Dad and told them about the house. They were thrilled to bits for us and said they would come here at the weekend and help to get things packed and ready for moving. I was so pleased my Mum was an amazing organiser.

We had a whole week to get things sorted as the moving day was a week Saturday. The children were amazing they helped so much and not a moan. The only moaning was about getting rid of old toys, even though they knew they had outgrown them and storage was going to be much less than we had at the moment.

My Mum and Dad arrived safely on Saturday the journey hadn’t been so bad as I sent them the train fare so it only took a couple of hours as opposed to about eight on the coach. My Mum couldn’t wait to get cracking. We had lunch then got stuck in. She was giving us all jobs to do.

Sunday I decided was going to be a restful day, I was doing a nice full roast and had even baked a cake. It was going to be a family day and it was, we all had such a good time. After dinner we all played Newmarket the card game. It reminded me of the Sundays we used to have with my Gran and Grandad that was a ritual, after dinner we all played cards.

I finally got the keys to our new house today and I couldn’t wait to get home that evening so that we could all go and look inside properly. The kids could decide which bedroom they could have. Steve could have his own bedroom but Lesley and Sheila would have to share. We all went to the house, my Mum and Dad hadn’t seen inside nor the children, only me. That was because I had to view it while the old tenants were still in and I couldn’t take three kids with me, so I went myself

Everyone was impressed, they decided that Lesley and Sheila was going to have the middle size bedroom at the back and I would have the largest which was at the front. Steve had to have the single room which was still a good size. They were all pleased anyway. There was a fair sized lounge much smaller than our present one but ok. It was a kitchen diner which was surprisingly big and a room I knew we would spend a lot of time in. There was also a sort of outhouse that was attached to the house and led out to the garden. It would be great for storage. There was also a good sized garden that backed on to the woods. It was great my Mum and Dad thought so too.

The house had been left really clean and was in a fair decorative order. It needed a little tlc but it was only cosmetic. My Dad saw a couple of things that needed a coat of paint and said he would get it all done before Saturday ,our moving in day.

We went back home and had dinner and talked and talked about our new house. I told my Mum and Dad I would leave the keys for them the next day but they were not to wear themselves out, just potter about as there was 4 days to do it in. They agreed but I knew they would be working their socks off.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Page 80

I had another 3 weeks to go then my 8 weeks were up, the time had flown. It was strange I was thinking about this,because at about 11.00am my boss called me into his office and said how pleased they were with my work and would like me to stay on as a permanent member of staff after the 8 weeks. They didn’t as yet know which job I would be offered but thought it would be in statistics as I was so good with figures. The reason they were mentioning it now was to make sure I did want to stay there. I said I did.

When I went home that evening and told them all they were so pleased. After I had paid the rent arrears I could start with a clean slate. I would be getting more money, I didn’t know how much more but our standard of living would drastically improve. Also if Mrs Smith kept her word about giving us a house, which I knew she would then the rent would be a lot cheaper. My Mum and Dennis were so pleased.

Mum said when I got the house her and my Dad would come and help us move. I hadn’t even thought about that. Mum had cooked us a lovely dinner it was beef stew with dumplings, it was delicious. The house looked different already, it had a tidy look. I told my Mum not to go mad with the housework or makeover whatever you wanted to call it.

The kids loved my Mum being there, she spoilt them rotten. They could twist her round there little fingers .I loved it because I could relax at work not worry about the kids. My Mum really wasn’t very well you could tell she wasn’t her usual self. I kept asking if she was ok and she said that she was. The doctor had told her he was sure she would need a hysterectomy and would find out for sure when she got to see the consultant. She hadn’t received an appointment yet.

I was called into the office at work and was told the permanent job would be in the statistics dept. under a Miss Lemon who I hadn’t met yet. I was told it was only a small office but very important stats were done there and it needed staff who were meticulous. The figures I and the others compiled of course, would be sent to the government central office for them to assess from our figures what new roads would need building. Also which would need upgrading and which downgrading.

I had another two weeks of the temporary job then I could start my proper job. I had made an appointment to see Mrs Smith the housing officer, in my lunch-break to see how much more I owed and just give her a progress report . I was pleasantly surprised I only owed £14 so I could pay that in two weeks. Mrs Smith said well done and she had better start looking for a house for us. While I was in with her another lady came in and she said is this the lady who has paid her arrears up in record time. Mrs Smith said it was and that two weeks and it would be settled,so she had better pay up. I looked puzzled and she explained that the other lady had bet her 50p that I would not manage it in the time I said I could. It was nice to know that someone had faith in you.

When I got home I told my Mum about it ,she said she knew I would do it because once I had made up my mind about something nothing or no-one could deter me. Dennis still hadn’t got a job but he was behaving himself sort of, maybe because my Mum was there. He hadn’t asked the Doctor for any extra ampoules so if he was selling some, it was from his allocation and I was sure he was because he always had cigarettes and I hadn’t been funding him.

My Mum was going home this Saturday she said she had really enjoyed her time with us and while she was able she would come over every school holiday even the 6 week summer. This was a big relief to me the kids holidays had been a worry . I could relax now. Also my house was spotless every thing was put away. I couldn’t find anything but that was a small price to pay.

It was only about five weeks to Christmas and with a bit of luck my debt will be paid and I should have enough for us to have a really lovely Christmas.

At last my arrears were paid,

Mrs Smith said it would be after Christmas when I would have a house as this close to Christmas no one moved but I didn’t mind as long as I got one. I had started my new job and loved it even more than the last one. The people I worked with were really nice The man a Mr Whitlock who was showing me my job was an ex Max Factor top salesman. He really took me under his wing, he was about 60’ish and evidently his daughter lived in Gadebridge.

Dennis and Linda were sat in the front room talking I was getting tea ready when they called me in the room and said they wanted to speak to me about something. I went in and Dennis said we want to get married. I almost fell off my chair this was madness. I said I didn’t think either of them were in a position to make that kind of commitment , Dennis with his drug addiction and Linda with her hang-ups. I asked what had brought this about and Dennis said Linda’s Dad had been following her around and offering money to her for sex. Dennis had been to the police station and they said they couldn’t do anything unless Linda made an official complaint. Even then it would only be a caution unless Linda and her sisters accused him of sexual abuse going back years. They told Dennis if they were married and her Dad still stalked her then Dennis could take him to court, hence the marriage idea.

I tried my best to put them off but they were adamant. I just couldn’t take it in. I knew they had been out together a couple of times but had no idea they would end up getting married. It was doomed before it started. I asked them where they were going to live and was told with me of course until they could get a flat. I told Dennis he had to get a job for one thing, to pay for the wedding and another if they were after a flat it would take money.

I said they had better go and tell Linda’s Mum and Dad as Linda was not quite eighteen and would need their consent. Hopefully her Dad would say no. This was going to be a nightmare I just could not see it lasting a month. Linda knew about Dennis’s drug situation she new he couldn’t hold down a job. I was sure they didn’t even like each other that much let alone love each other.

They came back full of it ,her Dad had refused to give his consent but her Mother agreed and evidently that was ok. They were going to get married at Berkhamsted Registry Office on December 17th. Her Dad refused to attend thank goodness. He said he had a business meeting he couldn’t get out of.

There would only be myself and a friend Maureen and my kids and on Linda’s side just her Mum and brother Greg. We went back to Linda’s house for a piece of cake and cup of tea. It was really very sad. Her Mum and Dad were supposed to have pots of money ,their own business yet this was all they could come up with. I have no idea why her Mum despised her so. Maybe because she was the one that told the police, way back what her Dad was up to.

We got back to my house and Dennis and Linda sat on the sofa with a gap of about 3’ between them, this was the couple who had just got married. I know Dennis only did it to get her away from her Dad, he thought that if they were married he would leave her alone but I was not so sure.

It didn’t get any better they behaved like strangers, Linda was at Dennis all the time. I think she thought if she kept on about him giving up the drugs he would stop but it wasn’t that easy. She kept on about him getting a job, I was with her on this but equally why didn’t she get a job. I was the only one working. They would have to contribute quickly as I couldn’t afford to keep me and the kids let alone those two.

Things were going from bad to worse Dennis couldn’t get extra heroin from the Doctor like he did before, as the Doctor had been warned by the medical board to stop over -prescribing. His drug habit was getting much worse so he was back shoplifting then going to Piccadilly to buy drugs off the street. The risks attached to this were enormous. Getting caught by the police for shoplifting and buying drugs. Also running the risk of buying contaminated drugs some of the heroin was cut with talcum powder and some by rat poison and all sorts of things.

In spite of everything we had a nice Christmas, the kids all had nice presents my Mum and Dad helped me out. Dennis got some money from somewhere, I didn’t ask where, what I didn’t know I couldn’t fret about.

Mike came a couple of days before Christmas and bought three really ropey bikes for the kids. They looked as though he had got them from a skip and hand painted them badly. They tried to look pleased but it was hard for them. Then of course Mike insisted on teaching them to ride them. He really hadn’t a clue he told Steve to sit on it and he would hold him, then did no more than push him and then let go .Of course Steve fell off into a bush and wouldn’t get on again. Mike was furious told him he was useless. I stepped in and told him to leave him alone he was nothing more than a bully and had no clue how to treat children. Guess what , he got his coat and once more said it would be the last time he came. The kids and myself all looked at each other and hoped he meant it.
Dennis was getting really bad if things weren’t nailed down then he would steal them and sell them for drugs. This included Lesley’s bike my watch, money out of my purse even my clothes. The arguments were bad I would accuse him and he would flatly deny it. In the middle of all this Linda dropped another bombshell she was pregnant. I couldn’t believe how irresponsible they both were. They couldn’t look after themselves at the moment.

Later that evening I went to put some money in the electric meter and noticed that as the coin dropped it sounded empty, I asked Linda if they had been to empty it but she said no. I went and got another coin and asked Linda to come and listen and she agreed with me that the meter was empty. I dont know why but I felt around the meter and cut my hand on something sharp. Guess what ,there was a gaping hole in the back of the meter....Dennis came to mind, it looked as though he had somehow cut a hole in the back of the meter and as soon as I was putting in coins he was taking them out again. Well actually it was usually one of the children who put the money in the meter , hence how I hadnt noticed it before. Linda said do you remember last night Dennis came in the front room with scratches on the back of his hand and when we asked what had happened he said a cat had scratched him when he went to stroke it.......haha we fell for it but no more. We decided to not say anything , wait till he came in and see if he went to the meter, then we could catch him red handed. A short while later we heard the front door open and Dennis went into the cupboard where we hung our coats and where also were the meters. He was taking too long to just be hanging his coat up. I opened the door and there was Dennis with his hand in the back of the meter,` a fair cop wouldnt you say.`

I told Dennis I had no choice but to inform the police as if I didnt I would be held responsible and there was no wayI was going to let that happen. I did this and they came round and arrested him and took him to the police station. He didnt hold it against me as he knew I had no choice. He was bailed to appear in court at a later date and was back home.

Things were going from bad to worse I was supporting us all, now and again Dennis came home with a bit of money but not very often. Linda and Dennis were arguing all the time I was getting to the end of my tether. To top all that Linda wouldn’t eat and of course, being pregnant she needed good food.

I went to see the Doctor about there situation and he said that Dennis had said it was a difficult situation and that he had set things in motion and they should be offered somewhere to live in the very near future. I was furious with Dennis he hadn’t said a thing about it. He said when I challenged him that he was waiting for an offer. I think and told him so that he was scared. Just him and Linda it would be a disaster. His drug situation was getting worse. I couldn’t believe that there was a baby on the way .It didn’t stand a chance.

In spite of feeling that way I knitted loads of clothes for it. I helped Linda where I could but she was a very difficult and stubborn person. We were rowing now as I couldn’t believe she could jeopardise her babies life by not eating.

A letter arrived from the council for Dennis and it was an offer of a one bedroomed flat in Adeyfield. They had to arrange a visit to look it over and if it was acceptable they could move in the following week. They were excited and worried as they had no furniture or any thing. I suggested Linda spoke to her Mum to see if she could help out.

We all went to look at the flat , it was a really nice place all newly decorated and clean. They agreed to take it. I got in touch with an organisation called Help that helped people on DHSS with furniture, cookers and most other things. They were all donated by people. Help delivered a cooker a three piece suite ,old fashioned but better than nothing also a double bed and some baby items. All in all they did very well.

It was lovely when they moved out but it gave me a problem with the children after school. There would’nt be any one to look after them. Linda said she would come over each day if I paid her bus fares and stay at my house until I got home. She would start on Monday. Monday came I went to work I was really enjoying my new job and new what I was doing now. When I got home that evening the children were sat in the hallway. I couldn’t believe it Linda hadn’t been near and they couldn’t get indoors and had sat there for 2 hours.

I was so angry I couldn’t believe she would do this but I was wrong. Dennis came round later and he didn’t even know she was supposed to come round, he was livid too. He said he would make sure she came tomorrow. Just in case I gave Lesley a door-key with strict instructions to not cook anything. They could get sandwiches and cold drinks but nothing else. She was so mature for her age she said she would look after the twins. I also told them that they had to do as Lesley told them. I was sure Linda would come but just in case the kids were prepared.

I worried about the children all day and couldn’t wait to get home. When I did, no Linda, the children were fine and said they didn’t need any-one to be there .It was only an hour and a half and all they did was watch TV. I said in future I would make them a plate of sandwiches and leave them in the fridge. All they had to do was get their drinks. This was just in case she didn’t turn up. I was very annoyed after everything I had done for them they left my children on their own. I know it was my responsibility but I thought I had arranged everything.

Dennis came round again and said Linda had forgotten to come over. I went mad and said I didn’t need them, I had made other arrangements and that if they wanted anything. Dennis and Linda, that is, then to ask someone who cares as I couldn’t believe they had left my kids. All they had to do was say no and I would have made other arrangements.

It worked out really well the children seemed to appreciate being trusted and they were as good as gold I knew it wasn’t right but I didn’t have a choice I had to go to work. They got a treat each at the weekend for being so good. I didn’t see Dennis or Linda for several weeks .I needed to cool down.

It was a lovely evening so the kids and I set off to walk to Dennis’s flat in Adeyfield it was quite a hike but we made it fun. When we got there no one answered the door I knocked and knocked I could hear someone inside but they didn’t answer ,so off we went back home. We did this trip several times over the next couple of weeks and I was getting very worried.

On the following Saturday there was a knock at our door and who should be stood there but Dennis’s friend Roy from London. I told him Dennis had got married and now lived in a flat not far away I suggested we went to see them, thinking this might be a way of getting in the flat to make sure everything was ok. Roy agreed so off we went. Again no answer so Roy shouted through the letterbox that it was him and Dennis came to the door and I quickly dashed in . I found Linda in a terrible state just skin and bone she looked close to death. She said Dennis was really messed up on the drugs and hadn’t fetched her medicine from the chemist and she had had no food only coke. I said I would call the Doctor bearing in mind she was about 5 or 6 months pregnant she looked as if she weighed about 4 stones.

I went to see Dennis in the front room but could see it wasn’t even worth talking to him as he was as high as a kite. He asked me what lies she had been telling me. Roy was disgusted and said he would like to go. The place was an absolute tip not fit for pigs. At the first telephone box we came to I phoned Doctor Jones and gave him my version of events and he said he would go straight round there and call in to see me afterwards.

Roy said he didn’t think he would bother coming to see Dennis again as he could see he was in a shocking state it was only a matter of time before he would either be dead or in prison. I said I fully understood but to drop me a line every now and again just to keep in touch, he said he would.

About 4 hours later Dr Jones came and said Linda was in hospital that I was right she was at deaths door, he didn’t really know what had been going on Dennis said she wouldn’t take the medicine or eat(she had done this before) she said Dennis withheld medicine and food. Dennis was so far gone you couldn’t reason with him. Dr Jones said he was pretty sure she would lose the baby and her own life was in danger.

I said I would telephone her Mum and she could take it from there. I knew when they saw the state of Linda I wouldn’t be welcome.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Page 79

Monday soon came round and I was so busy getting breakfast and the kids ready for school I didn’t have time to be nervous. At last I got them on their way to school I could catch the bus now and be on my way. Why did it feel like I was going in the lions den it was only a temporary job but I was a nervous wreck. I didn’t feel dressed right .

I found my way to the office I had been told to go to and a lady introduced herself and she explained a little about the work I would be doing and where I would be working. She also showed me the canteen and cloakroom. The work I was doing was transferring data from the sheets the researchers had compiled onto special ledgers. Another department would use a formula to see how much tonnage was carried by the lorries on our roads and motorways. I thoroughly enjoyed it and soon got the hang of it.

Before I knew it it was time for a tea break, I couldn’t believe it was 11.00am already. The lady who had showed me the work had a look at what I had done and said she would have to check it but I had done amazingly well. I went to the canteen with two other girls who seemed to be very nice. We chatted and got to know a bit about each other. When I got back I was told my work was all correct and that she was impressed.

I really did enjoy being in a work environment again being with other people also was nice. They did seem a good crowd. I suppose there were about 10 people doing the same as me they had been there anything from 3weeks to a couple of days and of course me on my first day. They were all hoping to be taken on permanantly I said I wasn’t sure as I had to see how things went with my children.

When I got home everything was fine both Dennis and Linda were there and dinner was cooking. I was really pleased about this as I was shattered. Everyone was fussing around me questions coming thick and fast “did I enjoy it” “were the other people nice” “would I like a nice cup of tea” I said I thought they would never ask. The kids said they didn’t like the school dinner much and hoped it would be better the next day. I didn’t think it would be for them as the twins especially were fussy eaters. It didn’t matter to me if they didn’t eat it as I always would be cooking a proper meal at night.

My second day and I enjoyed it just as much as the previous day. At lunch time I went to the court and collected as arranged the £7 Mike paid to them for the childrens maintenance and then went straight to the rent office and paid it off the arrears. Usually when you started a new job you had to work a week in hand which means you work a week without getting any money but thankfully this wasn’t the case or I would have been in a real mess. This didn’t happen because it was a temporary job.

The third day I went to Lloyds Bank at lunch time and opened a bank account the first one I had ever had of my own. I fully intended to try and put money in every week even if it was only a couple of pounds.

The kids were doing fine they had adapted really well. I had now been at work a whole week. The problem would occur during school holidays. I really couldn’t rely on Dennis. Then I thought I would ask my Mum if she would come over for a week as it would soon be half term and she would love to clean my house and take care of the kids on her own. I asked the question when I rang her and she jumped at the chance. I knew she wasn’t very well but she said it would be nice to have other things to think about. My kids wouldn’t know what hit them. She was a stickler for tidiness something that wasn’t in our vocabulary

Dennis wasn’t to happy about my Mum coming . He knew he was going to be nagged from morning til night about the drug situation. I couldn’t help thinking the Doctor had helped him get addicted as bad as he was by more or less prescribing what Dennis asked for. I began to wonder just how much he knew about drug addicts ,their lies and deceit and manipulative behaviour.

Before the Doctor suggested he became a registered addict he could only get drugs when he had the money to buy it on the street , since then, he had as much as he wanted and more because he was selling the excess in Piccadilly.

Dennis had gone to the Doctors for his regular counselling and came home very dejected he said the Doctor had been cautioned about over-prescribing heroin to him. It had to be stopped instantly or else he wouldn’t be licensed to prescribe class ‘A’ drugs anymore. I said no more pretending to break the ampoules or he would be back scoring on the streets, with all the risks of being arrested.

I still liked my job it was very interesting, the kids were doing great and I was paying off my arrears as I promised Mrs Smith. I received a letter from Mike saying he would like to come over on Sunday, this would be his second visit and he had been gone 8 months . When I told the kids they said ok and carried on playing. I had a feeling it would be very fraught. Dennis said he would be out all day. Sunday came and also Mike at about 2.00pm . the children were out playing. Mike said they had just said hello to him and carried on. I asked him what he expected as he hadn’t kept regular contact not even a letter to them. I once again said’ you reap what you sow’ I had said it many times since the children were born but it was just too much effort. I would say he would end up a lonely old man but it didn’t make any difference then he got angry when they ignored him and said I must have brain washed them.

I told him I had a job albeit only temporary and thought he might be interested enough to hear how it was all fitting in with the kids but no, he went off about his own job. Totally ignoring what I had just said. There was only one person in his life and that was him.

I did begin to feel a bit sorry for him with the children not coming to see him, so I called them in. They all came in and sat down and I thought Mike would ask them at least what was going on in there lives but no he just carried on talking about his job driving buses and totally ignored them. Lesley asked if they could go back out to play I said yes and off they went. Mike made no comment just said it would be the last visit he would make as it was pointless, the kids couldn’t care less. Sadly he was right.

He hadn’t even brought them any sweets, nothing. He said not only were the kids not interested but he felt an idiot having to knock on his own door and wait to be let in. I promptly replied’ whose door’ last time I looked it was my door. He was livid and turned and strode off , not even a goodbye to the children.

The weeks were flying by, my Mum was coming next week, I was really looking forward to seeing her. Dennis wasn’t he was quite scared. He was also skint as he couldn’t get any extra drugs to sell. At least he was on an even keel at the moment, I knew it couldn’t last I was sure he was missing the excitement of scoring drugs . That meant he had a reason for getting up in a morning and that need had been removed so he was feeling lost. I did suggest he try and get a job, then he said and who would look after the children ,he was right I really did need him at home at the moment.

My Mum arrived on the Saturday we all met her at Victoria Coach Station, well me and the kids. She was very tired but looked really well. The kids were thrilled to bits to see her. We went and had a cup of tea before we caught the next bus home. Dennis had got the dinner on when we got home, I think he was after scoring brownie points with my Mum.

We had a really nice evening we had a good laugh and my Mum was nice and relaxed. She said she was looking forward to cleaning out my cupboards and although there wasn’t any washing only todays there was loads of ironing that needed doing. By the time she went home I wouldn’t know where anything was as she would have re-organised me. I didn’t mind I was just grateful she had come.

Sunday was a nice day we went for a short walk, as my Mum found it difficult walking far but it was nice. When we got back I started the dinner my Mum got up to help but I said no she had a week ahead of cooking so it was my treat today. We had a lovely roast dinner with all the trimmings my Mum said it was like Christmas. I said I didn’t get many opportunities to spoil her and thank her for saving my life looking after the kids.

Mum insisted she and the kids wash up. With her washing and the kids drying I was just waiting for the sound of breaking dishes but it didn’t happen. I could hear them all talking at once and my Mum saying one at a time please. It was really nice. Dennis had gone upstairs to take his heroin while my Mum was otherwise engaged. He was funny, he knew she knew what he was doing but it was as if it wasn’t spoken about it didn’t happen.

Later on when the kids were in bed Mum and I went to the phone box to ring my Dad see how he was getting on on his own. I’m sure he was enjoying it no-one to nag him. He was fine said it was very quiet. He had been to my Uncle Dougs for dinner. My Mum started to give him his orders do this, do that, don’t forget this, don’t forget that. What a pair they were.
It was really nice Monday morning ,no kids to get ready as it was half term and my Mum was in charge. Off I went feeling very relaxed for the first time since I started work. I worried in case Dennis was out when the kids came out of school but no need now. I had another excellent day at work, they were very impressed with my work and couldn’t believe how fast I worked with 100% accuracy. The thought did cross my mind that if they were so impressed I might be offered a permanent job after the 8 week contract. I think I could manage it ,the kids were coping really well and my Mum said she would come and stay with us for all the school holidays. Still I may not be offered it.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Page 78

He started saying that when he was loading his syringe the ampoules were breaking, so he was only getting about a third of the amount he should be getting. I was a bit dubious about this, I knew he was as crafty as a cart load of monkeys but Dr Jones believed him and said it must be a bad batch of amoules, so he prescribed him the extra to cover the ones he said had broken.

I knew it was a con but of course couldn’t prove it. To me it was confirmed when he said he was going job hunting complete with a rucksack and asked to borrow £2. I did say to him that I knew he was off to London but he was adamant he wasn’t and said he would be back in a couple of hours. Guess what we didn’t see Dennis until the next morning very dissheveled again and with money. He gave me my £2 back and a further £5 I asked where he got it from and he said he had been shoplifting but not made much. I said I didn’t want dirty money but he said well its here now I cant give it back so you might as well keep it. He was right and it would come in handy.

I asked him if he had got a job knowing full well he hadn’t and he admitted he had been to the Dilly and sold some drugs. I said oh right, the drugs you said you had broken,he laughed and said he couldn’t get away with anything with me. I said I also knew he would be back early this morning so that he could collect his Heroin. I also told him not to say any more ampoules were broken or else I would tell Dr Jones what he was doing with the extra. He agreed but again I knew how he worked , he was on to a good thing and wouldn’t stop until he had to.

I received a letter from Mrs Smith the Housing Officer who had been so nice to me and I couldn’t believe what it said. She said she was very surprised to see that I owed nearly £200 in rent, nothing had been paid since March. I immediately went to see her as it was only across the road. She said it had got this far because she thought I was getting benefit and that they usually settled it every 6 months or so. I said that I was getting benefit and had been told it was being paid direct, she suggested I contact DHSS and find out what had gone wrong. I apologised and said I would go down there now.

I went straight to DHSS and asked to speak to someone and explained the situation saying there must have been a mistake somewhere. She was gone ages and came back with another person who said the rent had not been paid direct it was included in the money I received each week from my payment book. I was shocked because I only received £9.95 a week and the rent was £5.50. I told the lady that when I originally had the visit from a guy back in February when my husband first left, I specifically asked if the rent would be paid direct as the Housing Officer Mrs Smith had suggested. I was told by him that it was, what I received in my payment book would be for food and utilities but not rent. The lady said that couldn’t be proved now. I also said he had been so nasty to me that it wouldn’t surprise me if he had done this on purpose. I told her that he had asked if my husband had left me any money, I said he had left £5, his reply was I can double that then. I also told her he had asked, if he looked round my house right then would he find any mens clothing and bits. I said he would as my husband had only walked out a few days ago and only took a few things that he could carry in a couple of suitcases. I also told her I was so incensed that I immediately sat down and wrote down what he had said for no reason other than I was upset and couldn’t believe he could be so nasty. The lady said could she take me home and look at the letter I had written, I said yes, that way she would see that it had been written then. I gave her the letter after looking everywhere for it as I couldn’t remember where I put it but found it. She read it and said that this man had not conducted himself very well and what she read threw a completely different light on things.

She said she would have to speak to him and then I would hear from them. In the meantime my money would be assessed again and my rent would be sent direct to the council as she thought that I wasn’t even getting the right amount of money.

I rang Mrs Smith and explained what was happening and she said she would await the outcome and in the meantime not to worry. Such a nice lady. About a month later I received a new payment book, the payments had been increased from £9.95 to £11.95 this worried me as It was more money and I was assured that my rent would be paid direct so I rang them up and they said a mistake had been made when I first asked for benefit, it had now been corrected and my rent was being paid.

A few days later I answered the door and there stood the lady who had checked the letter and a man, I asked them in and they proceeded to tell me that after talking to the guy who initially assessed me they had realised that I had been mislead by him and he had now left. They apologised but said unfortunately I would have to repay to the council a third of the rent arrears and DHSS would pay the remainder. I said that I thought this was unfair as they had proved it was this guys fault. She said she had really fought for me and the very best she had achieved was the two thirds.

She felt that if she pushed any more I may have to repay the money I had received towards my rent previously even though that was wrong. I said ok and thank you but I had no idea how I was going to repay this.

The next day I went to see the Housing Officer Mrs Smith to try and sort out a way to repay the arrears which my part was £67 which was a fortune to me. She was very helpful but didn’t think I should have to repay anything but there you go. It was agreed that I would pay whatever I could afford even if it was only £1 and she made me a promise that when it was paid off I would be given a three bedroomed house which would be less rent than the maisonette and much better for the kids. I said I would try and get a job as the children were now at school. I thanked her and she said she would like it if I could pay the arrears at the office but to go and see her as she would like to be sure we were managing ok.

The next morning I went to the job centre to see if any jobs were suitable for my circumstances and there was one that was a temporary job for 8 weeks it was full-time and was at the Ministry of Transport down town. The wages were £20 per week. I had also found out that if I was not claiming benefit I would be able to collect the £7 a week Mike paid to the court for the childrens maintenance, whereas at the moment it was going to the benefits office. That would mean I would be getting £27 per week which would be £10 more than I was getting now. I would be able to pay off the rent arrears in no time ,hopefully.

I hadn’t even gone to see about the job yet but here was me working out how much I would get. I thought to myself, go in now and ask about the job, I was scared I hadn’t worked since Lesley was born 8 yrs ago.

I went in and asked about the job , she went through my previous jobs with me and said I sounded just right for the job and could I go for an interview right now. Panic set in, I said I wasn’t dressed for an interview I had only been shopping and noticed this advert. She said I looked fine and it was only upstairs from where we were . I said ok.
She made a phone call then took me upstairs.

The lady who interviewed me was very nice and told me the job was in the statistics department of the Ministry of Transport and would involve figures most of the time as a large survey had been done to assess how many lorries were travelling on the roads and motorways. I said I loved working with figures. Also that my working life had been figure orientated first the General Post Office and Post Office Savings Bank she said she was very impressed and would like to offer me the job. There was also the possibility that if things worked out I could be offered a permanent job. I was so pleased and quickly accepted it. I would worry about fitting it in with the kids etc…later.

I was to start the following Monday at 9.15am at least this would give me time to get the children to school. They were going to have school dinners so my only problem was when they came out of school at 3.30pm. My dilemma was could I trust Dennis to be in for them. They now came home with Lesley and Kim so didn’t need collecting. The kids were really pleased I had a job they new how tight the money situation had been. I explained to them that I owed some money to the housing office as a mistake had been made ,so for a while the money would still be tight, hopefully not for long. I hoped to have the arrears cleared by Christmas so we could start the new year with a clean slate and extra money, because if I wasn’t taken on permanantly at this job I would get another one. I estimated paying the £7 from the court direct to the rent office each week , if I could manage to do this it would be cleared two weeks before Christmas. I was so determined and a little peeved as this had been proven to have not been any fault of mine.

Dennis still hadn’t got a job, with his drug addiction it was virtually impossible for him to work. Dr Jones seemed to be part of the problem. He was over -prescribing him heroin in spite of me telling him he was duping him for the extra amps. I even told him he was selling them in London. He had convinced himself he could get Dennis off , he didn’t know him like I did.

Dennis said he would look after the kids after school and would not let me or them down. I wished I could have been certain. Linda was coming over later as Dennis and her were going out to the pictures. It was looking as if they were getting back together. A partnership made in hell.

Linda said she would take time off from work to look after the kids during the holidays and would help out when she could.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Page 77

Sunday morning the kids were up bright and early we all had breakfast then Dennis suggested we all went out for a walk. The kids got changed into there old clothes as we knew from previous experience that they would come back caked in mud and grime. If they had old clothes then it didn’t matter and they could relax and have fun.

We walked miles across the fields to Potten End and on and on we went. They climbed trees looking for birds eggs . We came across old farm buildings that Dennis managed to turn into an adventure. The kids loved it. They paddled in the river a very shallow one, then of course had to walk home with wet feet. There wasn’t a single moan, not even from Sheila who was the proverbial moaning Minnie.

We had no idea of the time or how long we had been out and were shocked to find we had been out for around 4 hours. The kids got changed out of there muddy clothes and they went straight into the washing machine. I made us all a sandwich and drink. We were all absolutely shattered but very happy.

Monday morning Dennis was true to his word and went down to the job centre to try and find a job. He was gone about an hour then he was back said he had an interview that afternoon in Piccotts End at a company called Choakes Agricultural ,evidently they maintained ditches and general things on the land. Dennis said it sounded just the kind of job he fancied. It was outdoors just working with one other guy and Dennis would be his labourer. We all decided to go with him as it was a lovely walk there and we could meander about while Dennis had his interview.

Dennis came out of the yard all smiles, it was obvious he had got the job. He was so thrilled and said he had met the guy he would be working with, he was polish or Hungarian and he said they hit it off straight away. The work could be anything from digging ditches to clearing manure heaps. Even repairing fences and dry stone walls. He really was looking forward to the work. He was to start on Wednesday . The wages were not all that brilliant but it would be enough for him to help me out a bit and keep him in cigarettes.

Wednesday came and Dennis was up nice and early he had to leave the house by 6.00am to meet this polish guy at Piccots End. I had made him sandwiches and a flask of Coffee because they would be working probably miles from a shop. He was really excited couldn’t wait to go, he had no idea what he would be doing or what time they finished work.

The kids were still on holiday so I went back to bed for a while, at least until they pestered me to get up. I made them breakfast then they sat around for a while watching TV then their friends started knocking at the door to see if they were going out to play. Of course they were off and I probably wouldn’t see them for a couple of hours.

I wondered how Dennis was getting on at least it was a lovely warm sunny day.
The kids were in and out like yoyo’s first a drink then a sandwich it was like Piccadilly circus.

Dennis got home about 4.30pm and said he had had a smashing day. He really liked the guy he was working with he had loads of stories to tell. They had been diggng out trenches ready for some other people to lay pipes. He was shattered but looking forward to tomorrow.

This carried on for about 3 months and Dennis had put on weight and looked really healthy and as far as I knew he hadn’t taken any drugs. My Mum and Dad were so pleased and really hoped it would last.

Saturday morning there was a knock at the door and it was Dennis’s mate Roy who helped us move from London to Hemel. Dennis was real pleased to see him a blast from the past. Roy said he had suddenly decided to drive over and see if I could give him Dennis address in Rotherham so he could arrange to visit him.

He was really surprised at how fit and strong Dennis looked. He asked him if he wanted to go for a drink and of course Dennis said yes. I was a little worried because he hadn’t been out drinking since he came to our house but I trusted Roy he had never taken drugs.

Time went by I bathed the kids ready for school in the morning it was the twins first day at proper school. I was sure they would find it hard staying a full day. They would come home at dinnertime and I fully expected they wouldn’t want to go back. I could be wrong, I usually was, they never ceased to surprise me.

It was 11pm and Dennis and Roy were not back yet, I was getting worried as Dennis had to be at work for 6.00am. I had a bad feeling. I waited up another hour then went to bed.

The next morning I looked in Dennis’s bedroom and his bed had not been slept in which meant he hadn’t come home. His work clothes were still there. I got the children up and ready, the twins were really excited. I took them to school then went to the phone box and phoned Roy’s home. He answered and said Dennis had gone back to London with him as he wanted to see some of his old mates I went mad at Roy and told him that all his old mates were druggies. I knew it wasn’t Roy’s fault but I was so angry at Dennis. Roy visiting had reminded him of his past. I wasn’t even sure he would be back. It would be a waiting game . The kids would be so upset.

A whole week went by and no sign of him . I phoned my Mum and Dad they were really upset they thought he had changed but I think we expected too much too soon.
I said I would let them know if I heard from him. I was so worried he could be laying dead some where because he hadn’t had drugs for a while it is easy to overdose.

Linda came round I hadn’t seen her for a while and she was surprised Dennis was living with us and seemed quite pleased about it until I told her what had happened. She did have a soft spot for him. We went and picked the kids up from school and when we got back there was Dennis looking very dishevelled and dirty and sheepish. I asked where he had been and he said looking up old mates I asked him about taking any drugs he said no but I knew he was lying. His whole demeanour was drug induced .

I asked him if he was going to phone his job and try and smooth things over but he said he was too tired and would do it in the morning. He said hello to Linda and said it was nice to see her again. I made him a sandwich and cup of tea then he went to bed. No explanations at all , it was as if he had just come in from the shops. I said to Linda that Ill bet he didn’t know how long he had been gone.

I picked up his coat and out fell a piece of paper and of course I picked it up and read it. It was a charge sheet from West End Central police station he had been charged with shop lifting and bailed to go to court at the end of October. My suspicions had been right the only time he shop lifted was when he needed money for drugs. Poor Marks and Spencers that was the easiest shop to steal from. All the junkies who needed to score went to M&S they would steal, for instance, a duvet or two then take them back to get cash back as M&S had a policy that anything you returned with or without a receipt you got your money back, of course this was so easy for the shoplifters.

Linda stayed and was going to have dinner with us, I think she was hoping Dennis would get up. He did to, I was very surprised . I challenged him about the charge sheet and he did own up and said he was out of practice that’s how he got caught but he had previously stolen a load of items and got the money back he thought approx £100. He really was the odd one out of the family everyone else wouldn’t dream of stealing or for that matter take drugs.

We all had dinner and as usual it was great fun, Dennis really was a fun person to be around when drug free. The next morning he rang his job but of course they didn’t want to know he had been awol for over a week and they had set someone else on. He was really upset but accepted that it was his own fault and promised to get another job. They were going to post his wages to him.

The next morning he said he was going to see Dr Jones, our family doctor who knew Dennis’s problems as he was still taking heroin. He hadn’t admitted this before he always denied it. He said while he had been in London he had taken it every day and really needed help. I thought this was a step in the right direction , at least it was out in the open. He saw the Doctor and came home and said the Doctor would only help if he could speak to me, as getting him off the heroin would take every-ones co-operation. Dr Jones was going to come to our house to talk it through.

I got the kids to bed and waited for the Doctor. He finally came almost an hour late offered his apologies, he had been called out. He said the only way to get Dennis off the heroin in the long run and permanantly, was to register him as an addict and then he could prescribe controlled doses of it and gradually reduce it over quite a long period of time. He would also have to be counselled by him twice a week. He said he had done loads of research and if Dennis and I agreed he would like to put his theories into practise.
He collected a certain number of ampoules each day and injected himself and for a while it seemed to be working, he no longer needed to go shoplifting in order to score the heroin, which meant a daily trip to London and avoiding the police. He also went for the counselling and I was getting really optimistic for the future. Of course I should have known it was too good to be true.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Page 76

I told the kids their Dad was coming on Sunday and they just said ok and carried on playing. I gave the house an extra clean . Got the kids up nice and early, as I had no idea what time he was coming.

Suddenly there was a knock at the door the kids visibly stiffened they were not looking forward to this at all. It was Mike he said hello to the kids not a kiss or a hug. He just said the house looked different, well it would wouldn’t it after being newly decorated. He said it doesn’t look as though I’ve been missed and I said no you haven’t.

He hadn’t even brought the children any sweets absolutely nothing. You could tell he wasn’t very comfortable being there. I was not going to make it easy for him. Then I couldn’t believe it the kids asked if they could go out and play, not at all bothered about there Dad. Then again he hadn’t shown them any affection since he arrived.

I made a cup of tea to try and relax the situation a bit but it didn’t work , you could cut the atmosphere with a knife. Then Mike said I don’t think there’s any point in me coming again if the kids don’t want to know. I said it was his choice but that it works both ways all he had said to them was hello and then ignored them, what did he expect. He said he expected a bit of respect. I said you have to earn that right and that his behaviour over the last few months hadn’t earned any respect. Then he said I must have poisoned them against him, I said I hadn’t said a word other than explaining that he had left us because of money troubles. That was the extent of my poisoning. He certainly didn’t need my help in alienating himself from them. I asked about birthday presents he said he had no money. I said was that after the drink and he got up and once again walked out.

I looked out of the window and he stomped up the hill walked straight past the kids and ignored them. They came running in and said was Dad in a temper. I said I had said something he didn’t like and that was that. Off they went out to play again.

I guessed we wouldn’t see him for a while. He obviously wanted everyone to be pleased to see him and fall at his feet and ask him to come back. Well that would never happen the way I felt right then. He just proved to me that we were definitely better off without him.

I rang June that night and she said she couldn’t believe he was back so soon. When she asked him why, he said I had made it so uncomfortable for him and told the children to ignore him. I told her what really happened and she said she thought it was something like that as she knew me well enough to know I wouldn’t tell the kids to do that . I had brought them up to have minds o f their own even at that young age.

The kids started there summer holidays next week and on the Saturday we were going to my Mum and Dads. We were all looking forward to it. A break away from here would be nice. The next week went really fast loads of washing and ironing to do. Linda came over on the Wednesday it was her half day, she brought loads of fruit and veg from the green grocers she worked at . I told her we were going away on Saturday for two weeks .She said she would miss us all.

Saturday came we were up bright and early and off, it was a real struggle I had two suitcases and really could have done with another one but knew I wouldn’t manage it.

At last we were on the coach to Sheffield we could relax for about 3 hours. I had brought drinks, sandwiches and snacks to keep us going. The children had there I-Spy books which they had already. The coach driver said we would be stopping in about an hour and a half for a cup of tea or whatever, then after about another hour he would stop for a toilet break. Of course the kids asked if we could have something to eat in the services , I said yes, a cake or something they were happy with that.

Soon we were on our way . After about half an hour Stephen and Sheila were asleep and before too long so was Lesley. I wished I could fall asleep like them but no I found it impossible.

They were asleep for a good hour and I had to wake them up as we were at the services if I hadn’t they would not have been very happy. So off we went, the kids had a bun and a soft drink and I had cake and a cup of tea.

Within half an hour we were back on the way to Sheffield.

It didn’t take too long before they were asleep again. This time for the toilet break I didn’t wake them up. We had about an hour to go before we arrived in Sheffield so I woke them up and told them we were almost there .They couldn’t believe it as they had slept ¾ of the way.

At last we arrived, so we gathered everything up and got off and there was my Uncle Doug and my Dad waiting for us. What a lovely feeling seeing my Dad after such a long time. We all bundled into Dougs car and off we went it was only about a 20minute drive to Rotherham and I couldn’t wait to see my Mum and Dennis.

Although we hadn’t been to there new house we had been to Doug’s loads of times and that was identical.

We pulled into the driveway and the kids couldn’t wait to get to my Mum, they loved her so much. There were tears streaming down our faces it was very emotional. So much had happened and I had missed my Mum not being near. I think I had kept myself strong for the children but now seeing my Mum and Dad just opened the flood gates. I felt that after all that I had had to cope with I could now forget it for two weeks and relax safe with my children and my Mum,Dad and Dennis.

Dennis was out at work but my Mum said he was back onto drugs he wouldn’t tell her which. Maybe he would tell me. I could tell it was really getting them down. My Dad looked pale and drawn, he didn’t cope very well with upset like this and I had or my situation had caused it also.

For the next two weeks at least we were going to have a laugh and a good old chat. Dennis would have to keep off the drugs or go and stay somewhere else for the 2 weeks.

My Mum was not well either she was waiting for an appointment to see a consultant. We had a good time though lots of visiting and everyone made a fuss of the kids. They lapped it up.

Dennis promised to not take drugs while we were there. We did have a good chat and he said at the moment he wasn’t addicted he could control it. I am sure most addicts say that at the beginning. He also asked me if he could go back with us and live with us for a while. I said yes he could but no drugs, any sign of drug taking and he was out.

He agreed to that but I wasn’t convinced , I knew from the research I had done that it wasn’t that easy. I said he would have to get a job and I was sure we would get on fine. He then asked if he could tell my Mum and Dad and the kids. The look of relief on my Mum and Dads face said it all, I knew they were not coping well with him , they had there own problems at the moment. The kids were ecstatic they loved there uncle Dennis. I just knew we were going to have some fun.

The two weeks were quickly coming to an end my Mum asked if I would think about moving to Rotherham , I said I would at least think about it .She then gave Dennis a lecture, she said he must toe the line as he couldn’t go back to there house as they couldn’t cope.

We booked another seat for Dennis to go to Hemel at least I wouldn’t have to struggle on my own with the kids and luggage.

I was wondering what I had let myself in for. I hoped he meant what he said. I would like to think he wouldn’t let me down but time will tell. In the meantime it was going to be a laugh.

The journey home was a nightmare first the coach broke down and we were stuck nearly 2 hours waiting for it to be repaired. We eventually got to London Victoria Coach station had to wait another hour as the delay had made us miss the connection to Hemel. At last the coach came, in an hour and we should be home but no the driver got lost. Dennis new London like the back of his hand , he had lived there most of his life so he told the driver the way. Home at last the kids were relieved it had been a long journey, next time we would go by train its so much quicker but twice as expensive.

Poor Lesley she would have to go back in with Sheila and Stephen as Dennis would need her bedroom. She said she didn’t mind. I am afraid it was fish and chips for dinner as we had no food in ,we had been away for two weeks. It was easy too. I had a helper now Dennis went and got them while I got the table ready.

We all sat down for our dinner and the laughter started with Dennis acting the fool. I was really pleased he had come back with us , I would fight to keep him on the straight and narrow.

Dennis and I washed up while the kids played for a while then it would be bath and bed. I am sure they would sleep well.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Page 75

I saw the pain in Linda’s eyes and just wanted to hug her but I knew that would be more than she could handle. I said if ever she needed to talk then I would be there to listen and try to help.

I had noticed many times before if ever I offered to do something for her or if I did something nice she backed off. I mentioned this and she said all her life there had always been a payment expected for any decent thing done.

Linda worked with Dennis at Taylor and McKenna’s toy shop several years ago when he came to stay with us for a while. They went out on a couple of dates but it fizzled out and Dennis went back to London but Linda stayed a friend, the kids loved her.

I had decided to let the kids have a party a joint one, it wouldn’t be a big one but I felt they deserved it, they had coped with so much. I would make some butterfly cakes and chocolate and cornflake buns and some sarnies and drinks. In the end there were about 6 children coming I could cope with that. Then Linda offered to come and help me, of which I was grateful. She had trouble understanding the closeness the kids and I had and she loved to be a part of it.

The names went in the hat again to decide what day we were going to have the party would it be Lesley’s birthday or the twins birthday. Poor Lesley the odds were always stacked against her as Sheila and Stephen had two shots at it. Guess what Lesley won so it was going to be on her birthday. They decided they were going to make the invitations themselves so they all got sat around the table. Then Lesley said Mum I hope Sheila doesn’t get meningitis again blow me the situation was exactly as it was that night all sat around the table colouring. Fancy Lesley remembering that. Sheila looked panic stricken. I said no that couldn’t happen again just to get on and make some lovely invitations for their friends .I tried to play it down but it was a bit of déjà vu.

I was going to do all the baking the night before Lesley’s birthday Linda said she would come and help. I got the kids to bed then Linda and I got started . She said she had never done anything like this before making cakes and bits and bobs it was really sad. We had a good laugh made loads of buns. I only had the sarnies to do just before the party tomorrow after school.

I asked Linda if she would like to spend the night here as she was coming back tomorrow for the party, she said she would, she would have to sleep on the sofa but she didn’t mind. I made some sandwiches and a cup of tea and we sat down the first time tonight for about 4 hours.

The next morning the postman was nice and early there were several cards one from my Mum one from Mikes Mum but I couldn’t see one with Mikes handwriting. I would have to wait for the kids to open them as there were loads.

The reason I didn’t think there was one from Mike was the cards had been written by June it was to all the kids from June,Reg,Paul and Mike. Not even a card from him on his own. Inside was £3 one pound notes each. I was disgusted but not surprised. I thought June would have made him do the right thing. The kids didn’t make any comment so that’s all that mattered.

They decided they were going to open their presents before school which they did and all the oohs and aaahs could be heard, then of course the expected happened they all said in unison “do we have to go to school”. My reply was yes, as Linda and I have to get the party ready, it had been arranged for 4.00pm. They agreed that was more important and went without another murmur.

Linda and I got stuck in, the house started to sparkle. We put up Happy Birthday friezes and balloons. The table looked really nice with party serviettes and paper cups and plates. Mikes Mum had left me the money for a birthday cake and I was able to get a really nice one. Unfortunately it was all pink and girly….poor Steve next time it would be all boyish.

Linda then said she wished she lived here with me and the kids. I said if she wanted to she could stay for a couple of weeks it would be company for me and the kids would like that. Lesley could move into the twins room as there was already an extra bed in there. Linda could have Lesley’s room for a while. She jumped at the idea and said she would go now and get some clothes and bits and would be back in time to help with the sandwiches. What had I done, Oh well it was only temporary.

True to her word she was back in plenty of time. The kids had loads of cards, I was glad everyone in Yorkshire had made the effort, I think that was probably down to my Mum and Dad reminding them. Most of them had money in I think it was about £10 each in total, they were thrilled and couldn’t wait to spend it.

Linda offered to pick up the twins from nursery and I got our lunch ready. I think she couldn’t wait to tell the kids she was staying for a couple of weeks. When the twins came in they were gobsmacked with the dining room all trimmed up and said the table looked lovely.

They played for a while with their new toys then we noticed it had gone real quiet I went into the front room and they were both asleep on the floor. I covered them over and left them.

Linda and I had done all the sandwiches the drinks were all ready. We just needed the kids now. Lesley came in and said it looked really beautiful she said thank you and gave me a big hug. She was eight today and the twins five.

I wondered what Mike was thinking right now. I could not imagine not being with my children on a day to day basis and especially not being with them for their birthdays. The sad thing was I thought it would not bother him.Where were there presents , I knew money would be tight but it was for me also. He was now working on the buses and that was good money but I hadn’t received anything from him since the £5 way back. He could at least have sent them a card explaining the situation .
Still he was the one losing out. His Mum had said he was out every night drinking and June wasn’t to happy with this as she had to wait for him to come home to let him in as it was quite a rough area and if Mike came home drunk he may forget to lock the shop door. There must have been money for drink but that was typical of Mike he was only skint after he had everything he wanted .
All the kids started arriving and they all had presents for their respective hosts. They had a lovely time it didn’t take long for the food to disappear. Good job we made loads because I didn’t think there would be any leftover. Then the games started all the kids seemed to have a game they each liked so it went on for ages. There wasn’t one argument it was a real pleasure.

They all decided to go in the garden and play for a while on the swing etc… After about an hour they came in exhausted. By now it was nearly 7pm and they were being collected at 7.30pm so we just had time to wrap their cake to take home with them. They all said they had had a lovely time.

At last they were all gone…..normality again we were all shattered the children also but all agreed it had been a nice party. At least, when the birthdays are so close you get it over all in one go.

It took us quite a while to tidy up and wash up , then it was bath-time and bed, they would sleep well tonight. They had received some really nice presents and a little money.

The next morning there was a letter from Mike I recognised the handwriting. It was short and sweet never mentioned the birthdays just that he was enclosing £5 which he would try to do each week. He had been gone about 6 weeks and this was the first money and contact from him. He also thanked me for passing on his address to everyone, I somehow don’t think he meant it .

I had been getting pressure from DHSS to apply to the courts for a legal separation to enable them to reclaim some money from Mike as maintenance. I had been putting it off but they were getting a bit insistent, so I thought I had better find out what to do. I was told I had to get a solicitor and he would explain the procedure.

I remembered seeing one up the Old High Street called Smee and Webb so off
I toddled. I didn’t have to make an appointment there was a solicitor free so in I went. I explained what had happened and he said he would apply for legal aid for me so that it wouldn’t cost me anything and get things started. He needed to know everything even how many bedrooms we had. He then said I would hear from him shortly there would be a short court hearing and a separation order would then be granted and Mike would have to pay to DHSS a specified amount towards the money I received from them.

I knew he wouldn’t be very happy as he thought I should let him send money when he felt like it I am sure he didn’t realise it would’nt be coming to me but to them. Still it would keep DHSS off my back.

A few days later I received a letter from the solicitor saying the court hearing was fixed and I may or may not be called it just depended on Mike co-operating which I doubted. The solicitor had written to Mike as well. so we would have to wait for his reaction.

For whatever reason I did have to go to court and of course Mike was there, it was the first time I had seen him since he walked out on us. I knew he would challenge me about the legal separation . Guess what his first words were not how are you and the kids but why go to court . I told him DHSS had forced me, either I did or they stopped benefit which left me no choice, unless he paid for everything and of course it would be a lot more than a fiver now and again. He said it was my fault for telling everyone his address if I hadn’t he could send more. I just said pigs might fly. I told him I also thought he should pay what he owes and he deserved it for leaving us with an eviction notice pending that he kept to himself .

The court hearing was short it awarded custody of the children to me, Mike agreed with this. They awarded me £5 maintenance which Mike had to pay into the court every week on a certain day. Of course I wouldn’t get it it went straight to DHSS.

Linda stayed for about 2 months and then we both decided it was time for her to go home as Lesley really wanted her bedroom back. Linda understood.

My Mum and Dad invited me and the kids to go to them during the summer holidays for a couple of weeks. I told the children and they couldn’t wait especially as we had to go on a coach. They also knew they would be spoiled. My Mum was still under the doctor with some internal problems to do with the womb the doctor was going to refer her to the hospital as he thought she may need a hysterectomy.

It would be nice to see them all again it seemed ages. I was also looking forward to seeing Dennis as well. The other thing the kids liked when we went to Yorkshire was visiting all the relatives, as my Mum was one of 13 surviving children there was a lot of visiting to be done and 11 of them were all within a 5 mile radius.

We were going in about 3 weeks time when the summer holidays started. Sheila and Stephen would be going to full-time school after the summer holidays . I was hoping to get a part-time job then.

I booked the coach tickets the green line went from Gadebridge to London Victoria and then we got another coach to Sheffield, my Mum had arranged for my Uncle Doug to pick us up from Sheffield Coach Station . It was going to be a long tiring day. I had got loads of I-Spy books for the kids to try and keep them occupied. They were good kids very well behaved.

Sheila had now completely stopped stuttering and our house was a much happier place no one seemed to miss Mike in fact, he was never mentioned by the kids. I did think they might get upset about him not either visiting them or contacting them but it didn’t appear too.
I got a letter from Mike very short and sweet saying he was coming to see us on the Sunday would that be ok, if it was could I ring June and let her know. I had no choice I wanted to see the kids reaction to him anyway. I rang June that night and said it would be ok. She asked me how I had managed to put up with him all these years as she couldn’t stand it much longer. He wouldn’t help at all and she had a corner shop to run which was open from 8.00am to 11.00pm 7 days a week. She said she was going to ask him to find somewhere else.