Thursday, 12 March 2015

My First Revealed Truth

As today is an anniversary of sorts, it’s about time I wrote about this matter. I’ve had a number of revealed truths over the years, decades; this is not only the first one I remember, but the first one, period. I was bullied unmercifully at school. Although that is a cliché, it is true in my case. I can still remember my very first day at junior school, and the kids who tried to force my head down the toilet in the outside “bogs”, and how a friend helped me, a neighbour who lived downstairs in the same block of flats. I alluded to his mother in a previous rant, but to stay on track, when I decided to chuck in school after one year of sixth form, one of my chief tormentors - who was, ironically, the reason I first took a real interest in chess - alluded to my tenure at Barnhill Secondary Modern as “Six years of unhappiness”. He thought that was a real laugh.

It was a year or two before that though, my first revealed truth. I was, I think, fourteen, and used to hang around in a small gang. One of this three strong gang - Biscuit (don’t ask) - lived near a drop-out named Roger, on the opposite side of the road and a few doors down. He was, I suppose, a nasty piece of work. Although he was perhaps seventeen his teeth were already rotten. One day when I came out of school. probably later, after the crowds had gone, he and another, younger boy whose name I don’t think I ever knew, tormented and hit me. Although I’ve always been tall, I was too a bit of a wimp, and never used to hit back. On this occasion though I did, and it made matters worse. I was rescued by a girl. I’m not sure if she was older than me but I have a feeling she wasn’t in my year. She didn’t physically pull them off, of course, but she did chastise them, and in 1970, boys would generally not hit girls.

I don’t think she got more involved than that, I think probably I had a bloody nose or something. Anyway, fast forward a week or two, and as I was coming out of school, late again, there was a mangy cur a few feet away from me. There were a few stray dogs that used to hang around the school. I don’t know why, but for some reason this dog annoyed me, I picked up a stick, or perhaps a stone, and threw it at the animal. I think I took a swipe at it too, a wild kick that missed. And would you believe who came along? Yes, it was the very same girl, and after berating my conduct, she said something like “I’m glad those boys hit you now”.

What is the moral of this? Well, how often do you hear the claim, usually in a court case, that X was abused as a child, which is why he dragged this woman into the bushes and raped her, or Y was sexually abused by her wicked uncle, which is why she falsely accused her ex-boyfriend of raping her? And so on. Abuse does affect us, so do many things, but does it either help us or really make us feel better by subjecting someone else to pain and misery because we have suffered? And is it really an excuse?

I wish I’d learned that lesson, but four decades and more on, I can’t say I have. On top of that, Roger, the same youth with the rotten teeth who abused me on that occasion, well, he started hanging around with us, or we with him. As I said, he was a nasty piece of work for sure, but I suppose it was cool to hang out with him, although I never used that word at the time. There must be another moral there about abusive relationships, but here I will simply put it down to the follies of youth.

March 13, 2015