Who Am I? Part Nine


“Picturesque” Swindon

So, here I am with part nine. I wanted to write it sooner but my chronic fatigue has been a bit naughty since I returned from my trip, so it’s been difficult to get going. Just to recap on what I’m trying to achieve with this series of posts. I’m trying to write with the mentality of who I was at the time of each phase, so hopefully, the reader will evolve alongside the writer as the story progresses and we blossom together; something like that anyway. To kick off part nine I just need to rewind slightly..

When me and Sonja split up I was young, free and single again. I’d been spending time in London, but at this stage I’d not moved back there yet. I started going to the various singles clubs in Swindon, which was quite an experience. They were all a bit hit-and-miss, with the exception of one that was held on a Tuesday night in a lovely venue just off the town centre. Ironically, it was this venue that closed within a few months of me “getting into the scene”, which was very disappointing. However, during one of my first visits I met Carol. A bloke called George that I’d been chatting to told me her name and said that the girl with her was her daughter. What happened next was pure cheese in motion. I tapped her on the shoulder, and when she turned around I said, “Hi Carol, would you like to dance”? (it gets cheesier, believe me!). She looked startled but was happy to oblige. As we started to exchange pleasantries I immediately upped the ante, and the cheesometer went into meltdown as I confessed to getting her name from George and with all the cunning of a wily old fox that defied my tender years, said, “Oh, she’s your daughter????? I thought you were sisters”! I know, I know, but hey, I’m not ashamed.

That was it, me and Carol started seeing each other; but if I’d known then what I was letting myself in for I’d have run a mile. Having said that, it was ironically only because of Carol that I got my foot on the first rung of the spiritual ladder. She had grown up in a violent household with two sisters and a brother. Carol’s father was the sort of man who did not need an excuse to dole out beatings and it was quite common for him to take off his belt and use the buckle end to beat them. She had then entered into a violent marriage; her husband, on one occasion hitting her so hard, that he broke her jaw. She told me once that she could take the beatings but she could not tolerate cheating. He only did it once, she found out, and that was that. However, the marriage had already spawned twin girls and a son. She’d then met someone else, remarried and had another son, but it didn’t last. There was a big gap between the twins, the first son and the second son. When I met Carol the girls were 17, her son from her first marriage was 15 and her other son was two. The house was absolute chaos.

Carol’s experiences had made her very hard faced. The Carol I got to know was a far cry from the beautiful woman I’d met at the singles club. The age gap (she was five years older than me) hadn’t made any difference and we got on exceptionally well, but gradually the cracks appeared. The toddler, who was difficult at the best of times, was constantly tormented by his older brother and there was constant screaming and shouting between Carol and one of the girls. Our relationship was off and on to the extent that it was hard to keep up with proceedings. I was backwards and forwards to London but kept the room at Vic’s. Eventually, I gave it up and moved to be with my mum. At this stage I was still with Sun Alliance Services, and after making some enquiries, I was able to transfer to the Whetstone branch in North London just a few miles from Wood Green. It was around the Christmas period and I remember them welcoming me to the branch and presenting me with a bottle of bubbly. I felt like a thief; knowing that I would never bring any business into the office. Eventually, I came clean to the branch manager. He was great about things, and even though he tried his hardest to persuade me to stay, I didn’t go back.

My brother didn’t live that far away, but he rarely phoned or visited. The nice squatters who’d lived in the flat above when my parents first moved in had gone, and some others with a large dog had taken their place. I lived there for six months, but during this time I still made frequent visits to Swindon and also took another insurance job with The Royal Liver Friendly Society. (Liver is pronounced Ly-ver by the way). To say that The Royal Liver was stuck somewhere between the dark ages and Victorian times would be being kind to them. I’m sure things have changed now, but suffice it to say I didn’t last long. However, it was during this period that I had my first prolonged spiritual-type experiences. It was a period that was very difficult for me, but one that I suppose laid the foundations for what was to come.

To be continued…