Later that evening I went to the phone box to let my Mum know what the council had said, I knew she would be thrilled to bits. Being so far away she felt helpless. I also felt isolated. I told her and immediately heard her call my Dad and tell him. I said I was coping very well I had one more hurdle the Social Security tomorrow. The kids were clamouring to talk to them so I let them talk one at a time. Sheila said “guess what Nan I have stopped stuttering and Lesley thinks its because Dads gone. They each had a little chat and then back to me. Mum said Dennis was still working and as far as she knew no drugs.
She said she thought we would be better off on our own, especially if the kids were more relaxed. I said I thought so too, especially now I was getting things sorted out. We arranged that she would ring me on Friday at 6pm to see how I had got on with the Social.
We went home and there was Linda sat on the doorstep waiting for us. She didn’t know Mike had gone as I hadn’t seen her for a couple of weeks. She was shocked at the way he had gone and left behind all the mess but she knew more than most what he was like and thought we would be better off. She had brought a load of fruit and vegetables as she was now working in a green-grocers. The only person who would eat fruit was Lesley so she got stuck in. The twins would not even try it.
Linda stayed for a couple of hours and caught up with what was happening and said she would come over at the weekend. Off she went on her little scooter. She was a girl with many problems. They were a real odd family there was Mum, Dad and a sister and two brothers. The Dad was supposed to own a factory in Berkhamsted and be quite well off but there was something about him I didn’t like. One of these days I would get Linda to open up and try to get rid of some of her demons.
The next morning got the kids off to school did some housework and waited for the person from Social Security to arrive. I was quite nervous I had never had any dealings with these people I had no idea what things they would want to know about.
At last there was a knock at the door. It was a man from Social. I asked him in and he sat at the table put a load of papers and folders on the table and said lets get started. I took an instant dislike to him and he hadn’t said two words.
The first thing he said was if I had a look round right now would I find any mens clothing. I looked at him and said yes you would, my husband only left on Saturday and took just what he could carry. I asked why would he want to know that and he said some women try to claim when there husband is still with them. I told him that was not the case here.
He wanted to know everything I felt I was being stripped of my dignity if I had had a choice I would have told him to get out. I asked him if the rent would be paid direct to the council. His reply was do you want it to come to you so you can spend it. I said I didn’t like his inference and that I thought he had a bad attitude. I told him I wanted to know as it would be one less thing to think about. He said yes it would be paid direct. Also he said I should apply for a legal separation in the not to distant future. He then asked me where Mike was and I said I had no idea. I really didn’t like this man. I felt like I was being treated like something he would scrape off a shoe. So I was not prepared to tell him anymore than I had to.
He said if I heard from him I should let them know. Then he asked me if he left me any money I said yes £5 his answer was I can double that then. I said no it was £5 and that I thought he was overstepping the mark and should leave. He said he had finished anyway and walked out. Disgusting little man I felt like phoning and complaining but thought better of it or I might have been penalised.
I was so angry what right had he to treat me like that. Well I knew why, he just didn’t believe me. Still it was over now I had just to wait for a letter informing me of what I would get. Thank goodness Mike’s Mum had sent me that £20 at least we could eat. As I thought that to myself I realised I should probably have told that guy about it. Tough!
I made myself a cup of tea lit a cigarette and thought such is life. We might be skint but we were happy in spite of what had been thrown at us. It was time to get the lunch ready and go and collect the twins .The snow was still hanging around but it was quite slushy now.
It would soon be Lesley and the twins birthdays I had put £10 to one side out of the £20 Mikes Mum had sent and hoped I would receive some money from the social pretty soon then I could buy some birthday prezzies. It wouldn’t be much this year. I hoped Mike would either send them something or bring something but I wouldn’t hold my breath.
All I could do was wait now. I had done everything as far as I knew, unless something else crawled out of the woodwork.
The next morning I received a letter from June saying she thought I wasn’t being fair telling everyone Mikes new address, he was being bombarded with demands to pay up or else. I couldn’t believe what she was saying, what was I supposed to do allow him to get away with everything. Did she not realise the situation he had left me and his three children in. I was livid I got out the pen and paper and wrote her a stinking letter spelling out just what devious tricks he had been up to to hide all this debt, buying another car when he was still paying for the one that was written off. Leaving us with out the decency to tell us. Oh yes, she was right, fairness didn’t come into it, protection and survival of myself and my kids was my concern and if it meant not being fair to Mike then so be it. I said in fact I quite enjoyed doing it . Could she also remind him its his childrens birthday in 3 weeks.
I posted the letter when I picked up the twins and fully expected a nasty one back by return .But it didn’t happen. Maybe I had made a point she was only looking at it from his point of view and I don’t suppose he told her the full extent of the debt. The rent arrears alone were nearly £500 on top of that was the cost of redecoration of the house which is done when anybody leaves. The cost of two cars about £800 in total and utility bills which were not that much, I cant remember how much.
June had told me in the letter that he had got a job as a bus driver at Shepherds Bush Depot. He had resigned from the tankers. Well he had better do loads of overtime to pay us maintenance and pay his debts.
I finally received a letter from DHSS they said they had awarded me £8.95 per week and had enclosed a book that I had to take each week to be cashed at the post office. It didn’t seem to be much for the four of us, I would have to be really careful.
I looked at the dates of the orders and realised I could go and cash last week and this weeks. I had better put some by in case of emergencies. Of course I qualified for money when Mike left us which was now two weeks ago.
That man who came to assess what I needed worried me, I just didn’t trust him so I sat down and wrote out what he had said and inferred and his mistrust of desserted women. Also his comments when I asked if the rent would be paid direct.
I was going to have a busy weekend, Linda was coming on Saturday and Mikes Mum on Sunday she was going to have dinner with us. I had better have a good spring clean as I had been to tied up in sorting things out than to be too bothered with housework. It was soon sparkling. I had also been shopping and got us a nice piece of beef. I was going to do a roast for Sunday we hadn’t had that for ages.
We were slowly adjusting to just me and the kids. It seemed such a calmer place. I know it couldn’t last but the kids were really being little angels they couldn’t help enough.
My Mum rang the phone box as arranged earlier in the week and I told her how much I had got and also the nastiness of the DHSS man. She said I should report him but I didn’t want to cause any trouble. My Mum said she hadn’t been very well, she thought the womb trouble she had the operation for was returning. My Dad had made her make an appointment to see her Doctor. Like he said it was no good speculating it could be totally unrelated. She said she missed her job at Harrods and that there was nothing comparable there. They were now missing her wages and they were claiming DHSS.
She said Dennis was going off the rails again he had been to the Oval to see his mates a couple of weekends ago and had come back different, she was sure he was back on the drugs although he wouldn’t admit it.
Dad was helping our Doug do some DIY to his kitchen.They really did get on so well, it was good company for my Dad. He hadn’t found any work either, it was so different. There the women just didn’t go out to work after they were married. It was a totally different way of life. My Mum kept asking me to try and get an exchange to Rotherham so that we could be close together but I told her I wouldn’t be able to stand it. Even visiting and talking to different relatives, we were poles apart. Even our Anne and we used to be best mates as well as cousins.
Sunday came and Mikes Mum arrived the children nearly knocked her over they were so pleased to see her. She came loaded with goodies. Sweets for the kids and chocolates for me and several jumpers and cardigans all hand knitted for the children. I never had to buy woollies for them ,never had since they were born. She would do the same colour and style for Lesley and Sheila and usually same style but different colour for Steve.
We had a lovely time and she remarked on how happy and relaxed we were. She said she couldn’t understand Mikes behaviour, he had asked if he could stay with her just before he left but she said no as she didn’t agree with what he was doing and that she was not going to alienate herself from me and the kids. I said I wouldn’t have done that but she said she wasn’t prepared to take the chance and also she really didn’t want him there because of his temper.
We had a lovely dinner then went for a short walk. Then Mikes Mum went home. Everyone agreed it had been a bit special. It was now time for bath and bed ready for school the next morning.
I must admit that when the kids had gone to bed I did find it a bit lonely, not that Mike was much of a talker but just another presence.
It was only two weeks to the childrens birthdays I had decided to go down town today to look for a present each for them. I still had the £10 from Mikes Mum and I could put a bit to that if needed. Mikes Mum had brought their birthday presents and we had spirited them away without them noticing.
I managed to buy quite a few presents for them and was very pleased. My Mum and Dad were going to send them money so they could either save it or buy something of their choice. I really hope Mike would send them something but I had an awful feeling he wouldn’t.
Linda came over that afternoon she was a funny girl I didn’t quite know what her problems were but she didn’t do girlie things like make up and nice clothes. Curiosity was getting to me so I asked her if she had ever played about as a little girl with makeup and dressing up. Her answer really shook me, she said all her time had been taken up by trying to keep out of the house away from her Dad. I asked what she meant, did he hit the children she said no he systematically sexually abused all three girls. I asked why she didn’t tell her Mum she said she knew about it and would bath and get them ready for him to pick one. She said they would be lined up just after their bath with just undies on and he would decide. This happened from a very young age. I think the eldest one took the brunt of it, the next one used it to her advantage and poor Linda tried to protect the others and herself.
On one occasion Linda told the next door neighbour that her Dad was doing things to the middle girl in the garden shed but when challenged her Dad made up some excuse about punishing her. On another occasion she went to the police station and told them but her Mum went and told the police she was always making things up so they didn’t take it any further. The boys were aware of what was going on and at a later date the eldest one and the middle girl committed incest. The youngest boy was powerless and suffered a great deal not being able to help his sisters and it did him irreparable harm, which was to ruin his later life.
I began to understand to a certain extent why Linda was how she was .She had never had a normal childhood it was always filled with self protection and fear. I found it really difficult to understand the enormity of it as my Dad was was the best, he was my best friend, not to be able to trust either your mother or your father was beyond my comprehension. If you couldn’t trust them then who on this earth could you trust.