Up at 7am. Corpus Christi. The Little Dog is delighted. The streets of Carmona are strewn with rosemary. There are black and white nuns taking selfies in front of the lavish shrines, there are choir boys with billowing red cassocks and freshly bleached surplice and starched ruffs running to the cathedral. Young men and women carry a ton of Jesus or Mary on raised platforms through the fragrant streets. They crush the herb beneath them. The men wrap long black bandages around their waist to support their backs. Parents and grandparents are dressed in their Sunday finery. The men wear religious medals, dark silk suits, brightly coloured ties and shirts. Incense billows from the thurible. Outside each church magnificent shrines are decorated with candles, brocade and lilies. I acknowledge the tears of the virgin… glass beads on her painted cheeks. I catch myself luxuriating in the ritual, the procession, I am moved by the costumes, the smell of myrrh, the belief. I love religiosity.
This week I took communion for the first time in years.
The corpse is resting. David Roy, my adopted father, died on Friday after months long battle with cancer. I received a short text message from my mother. I called but she was her usual rancorous self. Brexit loving, unhelpful and full of misguided disdain. She said, the last time we spoke, she wanted Brexit to take back her power. Repeating like an autistic child what she reads in The Sun and The Daily Mail rather than THINKING for herself. What power? She never had any power. She has been cheated of power. Now she wants to hand the few (who are still squabbling over the ashes of the dead at Grenfell Tower) more of everything. Including our power.
Get to it Jeremy Corbyn.
Families have been riven over Brexit. Ours included.
David Roy. What of you? All through my childhood I wished you dead.
I am 8 years old. There is a poster on the wall of my Stanley Road bedroom and on the back of the poster I wrote: I wish you were dead. Now he is. For all the abuse, cruelty and misery of our childhood… he suffered a few short weeks of excruciating pain.
My mother was sad because at the end he was so weak and demented. She remembered him strong and active. She said she was, ‘sad’. She chooses not to remember him as the violent, vicious abuser he was. She chooses to forget how he tried to run her down when she attempted to leave their vile marriage. Her boyfriend remembers, surely the beating David Roy delivered leaving him broken and bloody? My friend Ana said, good riddance.
The end of such a potent chapter in my life. I am unusually confused about his death. I am elated and strangely moved. I owe him something… I have waited for this moment my entire life. I remember how he refused to let Billy Childish stay at our house one winters night after he and Rachel missed the last train home to Rochester. I remember, he hated the miners and loved Margaret Thatcher. I wore my Solidarity With The Miners badge. He was furious. He voted Tory. The most vicious, self-serving kind. He took me to watch football every weekend. He took me to the garage where he worked and I snorted petrol fumes to get by. My childhood, in that house… was excruciatingly dull and filled with fear. That family, those people, those limited, strangled ideas.
Now, of course, they embrace Brexit.
My brother Stuart had children his own father was loathed to see. My brother Stuart was also beaten. He said to me once, “He would have gone to prison for doing what he did to us… if he had done that today.” Bloody right he would. And then I remember just how much effort it took to forgive him. And when I went to see him and told him that he had been cruel but I forgave him and he tried to hug me but I stood as stiff as a board. He was working in the arcade on Herne Bay promenade. He was wearing latex surgical gloves. He worked hard to ignore his crimes against us and we in turn colluded with him by not calling the police… like so many families held hostage by men like that.
I told my mother I forgave him, she said, “Why did you do that? You let him off the hook.”
“No”, I replied, “I let ME off the hook.”
I have never forgiven my mother. I have never attempted to forgive her. I have only tried to make things better for her by persuading her to take what was hers. She refused my advice. She left with nothing. I’m sure this blog is just the tip of the iceberg. I will write more tomorrow. Good bye David William Roy. I have your name and the scars you left on me, both physical and emotional. It looks like I am stuck with both.