Category Archives: Memories
I love this
It has my heart reeling
There is no inappropriate touch
He would never think to put a hand on my crutch
Imagine, he loves me that much!
At first his tenderness mystified my mind
His mannerism always kind
Holds my hand while we walk
Looks into my eyes as we talk
Never will he disrespect me
We laughed and I felt somewhat free
Years before faded and seemed somewhat insignificant
But sadly I wonder…
If this is true love, is it meant for me?
Is this how love is meant to be,
Displayed in such a way like golden daffodils
And a sea of Lilies in an untouched valley
No… this is not right
I question these new waves in hindsight
Surly there is something wrong
This relationship is lasting far too long.
Dookie Dooks you’ve grown used to the other kind
Sour filth that clothed your mind
Incense of sex and betrayal inhaled clouds your thoughts
This new experience has caused you to come of the familiar trail…
Pain so intense
You couldn’t scream out
Dogs on heat and you are caught in their fence
Spiritually you put up a wall of defence
Dookie girl its not been a kind world
Can you not accept that there is another side where true love resides?
Presented with bouquets of roses
Kissed gently on the lips
No tongue exposed
Buttons on your blouse stays closed
Oh if I could of let you see
That reliving ugliness was because of me
I couldn’t let go of all we learnt
Life now was too lazy
Going out with friends
Naaa that’s crazy
Pretending we exchanged wedding bands
This kind of love suffocated your inner self…
The abused me,
Cast out hidden behind the vase of flowers on the shelf
No thank you
I can’t do this
I want intensity
Wake up the inner me
Am I dead?
No longer do I feel the slanderous touch
This kindness shown is too much
I need to break free
I’ve been inactive sexually
And I don’t know how this could be
Is this love
Is this love
Is this love
Is this love that I’m feelin?
Like Bob, I wanna Know now.
Although part of me was willing
I was just not able
Poor soiled tainted me
Blinded by the past,
I grab hold of my other half
No longer hidden on the shelf
The flowers have died
The vase put aside
No matter how I tried I just couldn’t hide.
Was this love?
When I grow old and look back
Hopefully I will let you all know.
The new term began and with that came new changes. no longer were we based at Kilburn, but in an old building called Dollis Hill House situated on Dollis Hill. Nowhere near to Kilburn Poly for a quick trek between classes for a round of Black Jack. This indeed was going to be a very difficult year.
Dollis Hill House, the name was fitting as the house was literally on a hill! surrounded by houses, no shops, no fast food joints… we were stuck, I was stuck. This was a year that truly was about getting serious. Our tutorial kitchen was huge with many workstations with individual cookers, cupboards with pots, pans and utensils. It was very professional and I can’t lie, it made me feel very prestigious like I was on my way to becoming a big time chef. I was on my way to being somebody, not just anybody, somebody.
Our year group settled down in our new surroundings quickly and got our heads down as we were taught more technical skills in culinary art. All the basic cooking skills in year 1 had equipped us for this next stage, things were about to get interesting.
To my surprise Bernells mother worked in the students cafeteria and she made the best food, from Jamaican patties, English pies to Cornish pasties, it was all so tasty. She was so funny too with her unique sarcasm and had a hearty laugh that cheered you up on dull days.
Our timetable allowed for long periods of free-time which I didn’t expect and was very grateful for. Bernell took me to her old high school where some of her best friends were studying in sixth form. I had lost touch with all mines except one Jane Wilcock.
Bernells friends were super cool, there was the twin brothers Saul & Patrick Clackston and her best friends Toni Jacobs & Kacee Rogers. It didn’t take long for me to be part of the group, after all I was kinda the outside girl coming in. The jokes the laughter, I fell in love with them all. I got on especially well with Saul, we kinda clicked and our eyes always caught each other that made us blush. Berns not being no fool, saw the connection and one day pulled me aside for a little iddy biddy chat. She knew my track record and Saul was like her brother, no way in hell did she want him to be hurt/used by me. I reassured her that I liked him and I wouldn’t do anything bad (not intentionally)! Anyway, me and Saul talked but nothing was really going on.
There were two days that we had had classes at Kilburn Poly. I was upstairs when Bernell entered the room and said Saul was downstairs in the lobby to see me.. Me, not Bernell, wow my heart started to skip. I felt good, I felt special, he wasn’t like the other guys I had been with, he seemed ‘genuine’ kind, respectful, interested in me and not necessarily my body. I loved being in his company, I smiled at everything he said even if it wasn’t meant to be funny.
I went down to the lobby and there he was with the sweetest smile. He asked if we can talk outside, not sure what to expect I agreed and went outside with him. Standing at the side of the stairs he looked at me for what seemed like ages then he said it… “I’ve come to ask if you’d go out with me, if you’d be my girl?” In my imagination my legs turned to jelly it was swaying like I was a wave on the shores of the Caribbean Sea! I tried my hardest to look cool, holding… no sucking in my extended grin, I managed a decent enough smile as I said yes.
I had a pep in my step, I smiled all the time. Saul was so mature and spoke about stuff that was interesting. My mum was a seamstress and literally made all my clothes. Saul was my greatest fan, he loved fashion and was very particular in how we dressed and every time we went out we would be ‘thee couple’ best dressed in our own fashion. It wasn’t until Bernell made a joke about me still going good with Saul, that I realised we had been going out with each other for over four weeks.. four! and the biggest shock was we hadn’t even had sex. Everything about this relationship was strange, different, special. It was real, I was a grown up teenager. Not abused, not used, I knew he liked me a lot however I’m not sure if it was love. I mean what was love? after all the boys/men that I’d been with or had me, wasn’t that love? and if that was what love was then why didn’t Saul do to me what they did? yet he treated me like I would imagined REAL love to be. I was confused
College was going good, I engaged in most of the lessons. I always struggled with the theory but I was better at it than I was at school. Our weeks and months were much of the same, studies, hanging out, chilling with friends. I had a bestie outside of the group my cousin Shantel. Shantel lived in East London and nearly every weekend we would be in each others houses, mostly me at hers.
Our parents, well our mums, allowed us to go out on a Friday/Saturday night but at a price! no matter what time we got in we were either awoken early in the morning to either clean on Saturdays or cook Sunday dinner.
There were times we joined together with Bernel, Toni, Kacee, Patrick and Saul. Going out as a group was a blast but overtime I began to resent it all. Why? well it was the only time Saul & I went out!
Months turned to a year…can you believe it? one year, same guy, not swayed by another. I was in love… wasn’t I? I had a great relationship with his parents and brother and extended family, I just became part of their family and I think that’s mostly what I loved. I belonged.
I went to his house often and stayed for dinner. Saul loved cooking and often started off the cooking whilst his mum travelled home from work. There were times he came over to mines…along with the rest of the troops! to be honest there was no way I would feel comfortable if it was just me and him at my house. Mum really liked Saul and his parents and they were invited to my mum and dads random house parties all the time. If there was one thing my parents could do, was hold the best of the best house parties. My dad was neither here nor there when it came to Saul. I had grown to dislike my dad anyway, our relationship was made up of two words, ‘morning’ and ‘night!’
Seriously though, as much as it annoyed me, it made no sense anyone of my friends let alone a boyfriend come over to mines as we weren’t allowed to be in my bedroom. Our house had a through lounge so there was no privacy to just chill, share jokes and just be ourselves. At Sauls we were allowed to chill in his bedroom. It was so much fun and we talked for ages about anything and everything, and that I guess was where the glitch was. It was like we were just best friends, the only thing that made us seem different from the rest was that we held hands, he put his arm around me when we walked and we kissed on the lips… literally! no intimacy, no tongue in cheek, just an extended long peck on the lips. Which however felt awesome, I felt special and warm but in the past, that was just the starters, now it was the three course meal in one! I hated the way men/boys treated me in the pass but I shamefully missed it, I missed their touch as it meant I was desired, attractive. This new kind of love I just didn’t understand. But I was getting fed up, bored, my last couple of boyfriends (if I can call them that) had cars, at least we went out ON OUR OWN… you know, parties, clubs, wine bars. All under cover hiding from my mum. I was in a safe place with Saul, too safe. Was this what married life was going to be all about???
Little arguments started to happen between Saul and I, silly things but I was starting to get resentful. Deep down I liked the parties I went to with my older brothers and sister. I started going out with them as I had gotten to 18, they allowed me to tag along. Mixing with their friends was so much more cooler. I realised what my problem was…. immaturity! hanging with guys my own age was not cutting it with me, they were not mature enough and most of them were not driving…Lord how I missed not riding in a car to go out on a date or be picked up or dropped off. Oh and I smoked, Saul didn’t and I always felt bad about that. Truth be known, it was weird not having more intimacy, I was grateful I guessed that I was left alone but yet my body seemed to cry to be touched. I became angry within myself for this to be even confusing me. Why?
So it was Saturday and once again there was bad feelings between Saul & I. Heaven knows what the difference of opinion was this time, I just remember us being snappy and sarcastic and leaving his house VEX. I felt so trapped, to break up with him was like breaking up with his whole family and I hated the fact everyone would see me at fault. I mean, what was the matter with me? why could I not be satisfied with ‘simple, routine, pecks on the lips?’ after all we were only eighteen.
I could feel the hot tears falling from my eyes as I walked the long winding road towards the bus stop. WHYYY was I feeling like this? I couldn’t put a finger on just one thing as it was a multiple of small things that was making the HUGE thing. I was tired, I wasn’t Sauls girlfriend, I was his best friend!
I was in no mood to go home and mum to be demanding housework. Being on my own was not an option, I would only sit and cry. There was no point going to Bernell, Saul was one of her best friends and her voice rang in my ears all the time from the very beginning.. ‘don’t hurt him’ No point talking to Toni or Kacee as even though we grew to be close, I still saw them as Bernells friends first and foremost. How could I possibly say I was falling out of love with our golden boy? Great.
Just then my sister Cam called, she heard how fed up I sounded and her upbeat conversation was just not cutting it. She didn’t give up, in the end she talked me into going out with her and her best friend Pearl that evening to some club. Awwww music to my ears, I needed to dance this off with a straight rum & ice.
Cam called mum to let her know she was taking me out and that I was fine ( no mobile phones back then). So I re routed and off to my sisters I headed for a night out. Little did I know that this night would be life changing in more ways that I could ever understand.
I was on a high, I was so happy that I could at least make my mum relax to know that I had made the right decision in leaving sixth form to go to college. A grade like ‘distinction’ and ‘good pass’ would definitely have her overlook the terrible letter of a ‘U’ on my CSE maths paper.
I turned up at my high school well dressed and my first year certificate in my hand. There were a few essential subject teachers I had to see… RE, Maths, History (as Miss Harper always was nice to me), Home Economics and Mr Pratt, more so to show him I DID do well and also to apologise and admit he was right, I did need maths.
I ended up giving the class a sort of lecture letting them know that by trying to fit in and hang with the cool crowd, was actually what caused me to fail maths. I explained what I thought about maths and the real world, that I thought being a chef was just about cooking and had no idea how much maths was a key part. They listened attentively as I continued and afterwards advised them that the only way forward was to just get on with it, learn well, listen and do their best in exams as its a rough world out there. I felt so good. Mr Pratt smiled and said “I new you were a good girl at heart, well done and keep up the good work.”
No longer did I hear their negative voices telling me what I would be, instead I felt rather important, grown up, I was asked to speak to a class, wow me, and I really think I made a difference, well I hope I did.
Seeing Mr Pratt made me feel even more confident to go see the other teachers. My R.E teacher had no hope for me, I just had to find her. There she was in the staff room, I called over to her and she was shocked to see me. Miss got up and came over with such a smug look on her face that I was about to wipe off. “Maria, what brings you here today? needing a reference for work?” This was It, the door way was open for me to score a knockout… ‘No actually, I go to fulltime college and got a distinction and ‘good pass’ in my first year. I came to let Miss Gardner know as I’m studying City & Guilds 706 1/2 Cooking for the Catering Industry.’ Oh the grin that automatically grew on my face was immeasurable, “Well imagine that, who would’ve thought ay, good for you, I secretly knew you had it in you, you just needed to dig deep and find it for yourself. I hope this means you have chosen your friends much more wisely than you did in school. I must say I am proud of your success, keep it up.” ‘Thank you Miss.’ and with that I said goodbye and walked away with my eyes popped open in disbelief… did I just hear right?
My goodness, the two teachers I was cheeky to the most, the two that told me if I’d continued in my path I would amount to nothing… their words back then stung and I guess its what pushed me not to be who they said I’d be, but be who I know I am. I am bright, creative, polite, kind and eager to learn and do well. They knew all along, wow, they really did believe in me, maybe it was I that needed to believe in me, that without trying to fit in with ‘the crowd’ I can be anything I wanted to be.
Oh my goodness
Can it be?
I am the queen of Black Jack
And it sets me free.
Drowning out the voices of past
Voices that said in education I would not last
Telling me my life is a waste with an empty head
So what was the point then?
Why was I born? I should be dead.
Teachers had no idea
Neither did I, in some ways I didn’t care…
Yes I did
I wanted to prove I could be loved
But these guys I was with made me…
And made me see
That real love just seemed not to be attached to me
Keep them keen but treat them mean
That way I give them no time to affect me
Voices of high school that followed me
Stalking me like the grim reaper
Waiting for me to fail my exam paper
Literacy, language barriers and numeracy
I needed to attend classes consistently.
Focus and psychologically tell myself I have a purpose
And there you have it…
I did it…
Passed with a distinction
Amount to nothing they said
Now I can dig a whole and put those dead voices to rest
Look ahead my soul tells my head
Yes I am walking in the right direction.
The teachers that first caused negative affliction
Smile as they see a less rebellious me
They pat me on the back and say they’re proud of my results
In a moment, I forgot all their past insults
The plan now is to study hard against all possible contingencies
Which means I must behave and attend classes with consistency
So I can receive all that’s in my ordained destiny.
I got in! I was now a college student and not with the weirdos in 6th Form.
Our first day was super cool. we sat in pairs and listened to the introductions, what to expect and what the lectures… not teachers but lectures expected of us. I couldn’t contain my excitement it was so surreal. I sat next to this other black girl, we shared a joke and that was it, I knew we would be friends.
Practical lessons were a breeze, I felt at times I could teach them a thing or two!
I looked forward to our breaks as we always headed down to the cafeteria. It buzzed with an atmosphere of fun and all the stresses of theory lessons were discarded there. Over to the side was a table that was surrounded by some guys shouting and laughing, myself and my new friend Bernel were intrigued and peaked over, and to my delight they were playing a card game, yes my beloved Black Jack. Anyone could join in after someone was knocked out. I couldn’t resist, the addiction to this game was real. Bernel was a real goody two shoes, she was mad but not as mad as me, she knew when to quit and head to lessons when our breaks were over.
Our college was a short bus ride away from Brent Cross Shopping Centre, so when the cafeteria wasn’t buzzing, Bernel and I took a trip for one thing only… an Armandine! A sort of Danish pastry. It was simply out of this world delicious, especially when the attendants warmed it for us. Our lunchbreak was an hour, it took us 20mins each way to travel to Brent Cross, so we literally had to run in and run out to get back for afternoon lectures or practical’s.
I was getting distracted, Bernel tried her best to get me to not skive of classes but I was getting attention, the boys in the cafeteria liked my company and I liked theirs. A couple of times my eyes would meet with this guy Garys. I had a feeling he wanted to ask me out. I liked that feeling,somebody wanted me to be their girl, who would want to go to class??
I attended enough to know and understand the topics. The voices of my teachers haunted me in my head, ‘You won’t amount to nothing,’… I had to beat the feeling that they might be right. For crying out loud, I chose to do German at school as French seemed to have too much rules on how to speak to whom. German to me was like broken English, the translation was easier. Why didn’t someone tell me that in the catering industry French is what is widely used. I also told my maths teacher his lesson was a waste of time as I wouldn’t go into a shop and ask for two squared root of apples please! So I played black jack instead…. Huge mistake, weighing, measuring, conversion tables, degrees in Celsius and Fahrenheits, portion control, costing, altering ingredients for different sizes and numbers… maths maths maths. It was a painful realisation, so knowing I had a stress release via the cafeteria was a welcome. It seemed this was all a punishment for playing Black Jack in maths lessons, it haunted me. Now it seemed it was my comfort zone in college but I had no idea how to break it.
Gary asked me out, we were an item but we didn’t actually go anywhere except to his house when no one was home, to his bedroom, well that’s where he hung out with his friends so he said. Then we’d snuggle up, talk, giggle then the kiss… the kiss that spoke a thousand words, nice words and I was slipping into my fantasy world blocking out the voices that shouted NO, that’s dirty, don’t let him touch you, its wrong. Well I just wanted it to be right for once, to be clean and ok. I struggled, Gary’s’ mouth over mine. The inside of me shook in panic as flashbacks of similar touches done by the wrong people at a wrong age lit in my mind.
“Stop Gary I heard something, someone’s downstairs” He shot up to check and as he did I jumped up and fixed my clothes. By the time he turned around I was dressed properly with shoes on. Well that relationship lasted two weeks, I let him get intimate, then I’d hate myself and freeze. What can I say? we drifted, I stopped being like a ‘girlfriend’ and just played friend! he got the message.
A few weeks later I went to a house party with my sister. There I was dancing to some Rare-Groove and Studio One music, the vibes was nice. late hours into the morning the DJ start to play Lovers Rock and this guy touches my arm to dance. off course I felt sweet, my sister being ten years older than me, had friends that were more mature. I started to prefer older guys. Rodney was his name, we slow danced till the pace looked like we weren’t moving. A dance that told me ‘he’s gonna ask for my number.’ So said so done. Yes off course I gave it to him.
Rodney and I dated for a couple weeks, well going with a guy to me was called dating, we didn’t go anywhere on dates, it was always a case of sneaking him into my house when everyone was out. It was over three weeks and I was getting board, I was with him far too long.
It came time for me to ditch him but he wasn’t like the others, he wouldn’t take no for an answer. I tried everything, said mean things to put him off me but he was hooked and became like a stalker. Couldn’t go for help as he was a secret. I mean how could I tell my friends I was going out and sleeping with some guy eight years older than me, It just wasn’t the look. He came around my house. I looked through the spy hole and refused to let him in but he started to create a scene outside and wouldn’t go away, I had no choice but to open my door.
He looked distressed, pleading with me not to break up with him, the more he pleaded the more he disgusted me, this big grown man whimpering like a wounded dog. He then went too far, he said he’d kill himself and he would refuse to leave by the time my mum got home from work… My Mum… Him… no way in hell. I was fuming, threaten me in my own house? Time was ticking and I needed him out. Told him straight, he lost me for good with this little stunt and if my mum came home and saw him there I would swear he forced his way in and held me hostage. I also told him if he felt he needed to kill himself, go right ahead as I couldn’t care less, all he did by coming to my house was make me lose respect and hate him. It actually worked, he left. I shut the door hard behind him and breathed. Never again was I to let anyone know where I lived. First year exams were approaching and I couldn’t let men or black jack stop me from proving my teachers wrong. I was going to do this… This was war.
Maths and boring irrelevant stories
Why must I know the exact date
Whatever happened happened I can’t change it it’s too late!
Don’t tell me that
treating me like I’m inadequate
I know I played when I should of paid attention
But I just couldn’t see how maths came into the equation
As you taught the class, my counterparts in turn whispered ‘pass’
And so it was, I became the maths class champion of a pack of 52
refusing to adhere to school rules
Closing my ears so not to listen to you
Teachers screaming down the corridors
Children being a nuisance and slamming doors
Smoking in the toilets
Escaping the un-revised class tests
Wondering, do we have to really do our best
For the teachers already decided which set we’ll be in
School sucks I thought and was like the rubbish in the rubbish bin
Supposed to be the best years of our life
But the playground always had a fight
the class rooms a battle with teachers strife
I sit and wonder ‘what the hell’
And wait patiently for the bell
I realised a little too late
When I for the last time walked out the school gate
That the teachers I thought were full of hate
Were the ones that were right, It was me that couldn’t relate
Now its the end of year five
My exam results just made me want to hide
I wish I stuck to being teachers pet
To be a good girl and have the world on my plate
If only I could turn back time
Do good in maths and not step out of line
Why did I feel the need to fit in so?
Where are those friends now that its time to go?
College, Uni, in good jobs
You see the bad crowd were loud for all to see
But behind close doors they studied and learn’t well
They made out it was cool to be dumb
And all the time they were competing to be number one
Looking at them I could not tell
Lower and lower my grades fell
This did not stop me from reaching high
I got up and tried my hardest
Finally taking responsibility and exploring the depths of my capabilities
Stretching my brain cells to the farthest
It IS in you and it IS in me
God made us intelligent
Don’t follow the crowd
Just be you, and you’ll see how much can be achieved.
Stay lose to your teachers, trust and believe
They’ll help and guide you so exams will be stress free
And your grades will be worth something by the time you leave.
A few years passed and things settled down, I still had hot baths, still went for long walks. High school was okay I guess. I had friends but I wasn’t with the ‘in crowd’ so I felt unnoticed. Which was a good thing I guess as I got my work done and had good reports. Back then our school system was year 1 – year 5 then 6th form, by the time I reached year 4 I started to break out my shell a bit. I was tired of being overlooked. My friends smoked in the toilets and I was the ‘look out’ person in case the dinner ladies or teachers on patrol came around. Until one of the girls had a barney and insisted I took a puff as she thought if I didn’t I’d snitch on them. So I reluctantly started smoking at age 14… sad but true.
Nearly everyone had a boyfriend or girlfriend, I wasn’t sure I wanted one too. I thought maybe it was a chance to cover the past having someone to like me like I wanted to be liked. My friends giggled and teased that Shaun Tate fancied me and wanted to ask me out. Shaun was nice looking and quiet but he was part of the ‘In Crowd’ it was my golden ticket to be noticed. Well Shaun Tate did ask me out. Don’t be alarmed, back in my day ‘going out’ meant you hung around together at break-times and walked home together with him hugging you around your shoulders. The odd cinema if you lied to your parents that you were going out with Suzi down the road! No one ever went out, with what money? with whose permission? Shaun walked me to the bus stop a few stops down from my usual stop so we could talk a while together. There was a day we walked through the park and it was a bit chilly, in-fact very chilly. We stopped by a bench further into the park and sat down. There was this awkward silence and then he leaned over to kiss me, Shaun Tate kissed ME. He put his hand on my shoulders and kissed me again. He was very gentle yet I could tell he was nervous as hell, maybe his first time as it became sloppy. We kissed again this time with our mouths open and our tongues out.. Huge Yuk! Oh my goodness, I felt his saliva run down the side of my mouth. My first real kiss and it was DISGUSTING. That was the first and last time we kissed, we broke up soon after that.
I started to bunk classes and wrote notes forging my mums signature. I never left the school grounds I just spent loads of time smoking in the girls toilets. My character was changing and the teachers started to notice I was getting a little cheeky. One time I went too far, I was walking down the corridor with my chain hanging out my shirt, My R.E teacher saw me and said to put my chain inside my shirt. I cheekily and disrespectfully answered ‘ whats your problem its got a cross on it hasn’t it. Well who told me to say that?? Mum was called for a meeting down the school, dad never came. Lord have mercy on my soul! A lot of my friends parents charged down the school like a bull in a china shop to have a go at the teachers or the kids themselves that troubled their little angels. Not my Grenadian/Trinidadian ole school strict mum that believed wholeheartedly in ‘Don’t spare the rod’, my mum would not think twice about beating me in front of the whole school.
The day came and I was told to go fetch my mum from the reception. She was breathing with flared nostrils. Out of five children I was the only one she had to be called down the school for. She had to miss work to come for this appointment which made her even more furious. I walked 5 steps in front all the way to Sirs office. We sit down and trying to find all the excuses to talk all the problems I created away. Sir was really nice though, he just said they noticed a change in my behaviour and was just concerned that I changed my friends for the worse and my attitude was becoming like them. Sir emptied out a envelope with all these documents, my documents. They kept all those little notes, what the heck, I thought they read it and threw them away. I glimpsed the signatures and for the first time I realised how majorly fake they looked. I sat there praying My mum wouldn’t notice. ‘He’ really does love me as she noticed not one. Never again was I cheeky, no way could I do anything for my mum to come down to the school unless it was for Parents Evening.
Fifth year, the last year of high school unless you was a geek and stayed on to sixth form. There were a few subjects that I liked, Social Studies, English, German and Home Economics. R.E was annoying as we studied every other religion in depth other than Christianity.
Now miss know it all as I was, I had my heart set on becoming a top chef, all I needed was to know how to cook and my my mum was teaching me well. R.E was no use, Social Studies no use and as for maths, like was I really going to go into a shop and ask for two square root of bananas??
Dear Mr Pratt was our maths teacher. looking back I realised he was young but so obese that he was such an easy target to take the mick out of and stress him out in class.
I was hopeless at any times tables that didn’t have a pattern for easy learning. Long division was truly long and equations and fractions and those silly symbols and using letters for numbers made no sense. What did make sense though was sitting at the back of the class and spending the lesson with rounds of Black Jack. I roped in a couple players at a time taking it in turns to play one on one, due to the lay out of the desks we couldn’t have more players.
That was the only thing that made us look forward to maths. The odd times we would get caught by Pratt and my cocky answer was ‘ Its numbers ennit!’ He advised once he advised twice then told me one day I would amount to nothing then never bothered me again. Who cared, I didn’t, chefs don’t need maths! Oh boy…
The final weeks of the end of school was approaching and excitement was building of the annual Fifth year disco. Then they hit us one morning in assembly, ‘You are by far the worst year group we have taught and undeserving of an end of year disco.’
No disco… no disco… no way. So a few of us banded together to plan our own party in the sixth form common room during a lunch hour.
Everyone in was to buy or bring a bottle from home. I covered my back to a point, I told mum that we were having an end of year party ( obviously run by the school!) and I needed to bring a drink, I explained the teachers said we were allowed Babycham as it was a special occasion. My mum fell for it as Babycham was considered a light drink suitable for children, I was always allowed it at our family parties.
During morning break we took off our blazers and school tie and went down to the Triangle Off License. Looking back I have no idea how we thought we looked old enough to buy alcohol or even how the shop attendant served us.
At the end of our lesson I advised, ( like I’m a big time drinker), ‘don’t drink on an empty stomach. Make sure and eat something and drink milk to line the stomach so not to get sick’… Well that’s what I thought to be correct.
The sixth form common room was buzzin, Black jack in one corner and drinks and laughter in the next. Noone had an idea how to handle themselves, they just drank for drinking sake. There was Thunderbird, Babycham, Captain Morgan, Tenents and Special Brew.
Against my advie they just drank from each.. a cocktail was brewing in their bellies. Next thing I know they were legless. by the time we went to our next lesson we were as they said back then ‘cark.’
I was in maths sitting at the back of class, no black jack, just trying to keep a clear head. All of a sudden the door barged open and our head of year stormed in, no explanation. He stood and pierced his eyes around scanning the room, his eyes and finger pointed to me and Len ‘YOU…YOU.. OUTSIDE MY OFFICE NOW,’ The task was to stand up and walk in a straight line which was real shaky but I had to keep steady so I could play this down.
I managed to walk passed him still standing talking sternly to the rest of the class asking who else was involved in the binge.. O my God how did he know? as soon as I walked passed him I skidaddled down to his office, I had to get a clean distance so he couldn’t see me swagger.
To get to sirs office I had to pass the medical room, and there was the reason… Jenna and Waverley sitting there with their heads in buckets bringing up cocktails! I was so mad… ‘man I told them to line their stomachs and take it easy not to get drunk.’ I sobered up immediately.
I was questioned intensely but I kept it together. I told sir we just wanted to celebrate and ONLY had Babycham!!! I explained even my mum said a little Babycham was okay but didn’t realise you could get tipsy on it. He bought it! He then hit me with a bomb shell… He already rang my mum and she was on her way to pick me up as I wasn’t allowed in school under the influence of alcohol.
There was just one more problem… I told Sir that we only had Babycham, yet a flashback reminded me of the bottles and cans of alcohol we stuffed down the toilets. Yes, I ran down to the common room, grabbed a plastic bag from the bin and picked out those damn bottles and cans out the toilets. ( wasn’t so funny now!). I carried them off the school grounds before my mum got there and put them in a public street bin. That was a close call.
My mum drove up, nostrils flared, eyes protruding and I was like where and how can I run? Praise God my darling uncle Ken was with her and he kept saying ‘Eli leave de chile alone nuh,’ in his soft trini accent, ‘She dun get boof up by she teacher and sent home, she’ll not do this again.’ Mum sighed and told me sharply to get in the car. I jumped in so fast just in case she changed her mind last minute to beat me in public.
Waverley and Jen were off school for a good few days. After it all blew over we laughed about it and still do to this present day.
Exams were excruciating. The only date in history I could remember was the Battle of Hastings 1066. I got okay’ish grades but the worst was maths… are you surprised?! I remember on the exam day I had written my name, form and date on the front page, turned over the page and stared at gobbledegook… I turned back over the page and sat there in silence until everyone had finished. Black Jack got me a C.S.E grade of a ‘U’ the lowest possible mark meaning ‘ungraded.’
My best grades were in Home Economics of course.
That was it for me, no more high school.
Hush lil grandchild
Don’t say a word
You found grandpa
but no sounds could be heard
Images flooded your eyes and mind
Surly this was not what you expected to find
Silent questions with answers that made no sense
You stand in the church, nausea grows intense
There’s a sweet aroma of an unusual incense
The one you least expected has again broken your innocence.
Who is friend, who is foe?
Baby girl back then not even I did know
Being frozen has become habitual
You lock off to reality
To shut off the brutality
Of the obscene works of profanity
Questioning your virginity
Hush my lil dookie
For I am to blame
Again I didn’t protect you
I’m so sorry I feel ashamed
I am you and you are me
Trying so hard to not induce in you fear
That freezes you so all you can do is cry out with flowing tears
You are loved I promise
A love that is pure and real
In years to come you will realise its Jesus Christ
Until then dry your eyes
block out their illegal touch
Hush now most beautiful Dookie as its all too much.
Please forgive me.
I was told we were going to Trinidad, dad, mum and I. The excitement I felt was that I was going to see my grandparents who I loved dearly. They were the typical looking grandparents, granddad had the whitest hair and the longest beard, grandma was a cute small framed woman, both very loving.
I remembered them from my holidays when I was little and remembered granddad had a church in his garden and he was a preacher. I had a great idea when we were told in woodwork at school to think of something and make it… I was going to make a granddad a book rack to rest his bible on.
It was great being back, the smell of the humidity when the plane doors opened was just intoxicating. The drive was always early evening so the air was always filled with cooking from the doubles stalls, restaurants and homes.
The capital is Port of Spain, and that’s where we stayed, well where we were based as we had lots of family and friends to visit. The day came for us to travel down south deep in the countryside to visit my grandparents. They were just as I remembered. I proudly presented the varnished book rack to granddad and he loved it. It was the first thing I ever made in woodwork.
At the back of the house was land as far as my eyes could see, filled with coffee bean and cocoa trees and it all belonged to our family. There was also chicken and duck pens (I thought they were pets!) It was quite humorous brushing my teeth and rinsing my mouth out the window and watching the ducks and chickens quickly ran to gobble up the minty water…quite disgusting actually, there was no sink! The house was a board house and we washed in the yard surrounded by galvanise. The toilet…well… it was what they called a latrine, a galvanised little space with a boxed seat to sit on. It stunk to high heaven, I’m sure the excretions from my forefathers were in there. In the night time you had to take a flash light. As soon as the light shone in there its like it came alive with movements, cockroaches, lizards moths and other unknown insects scarpered everywhere. That was it for me, as big as I was I used the bed pan to urinate and mum or dad took it outside to empty it in there, for love or for money I wasn’t entering there again. My stomach froze for any bowel movement, I didn’t go for a week.
Sunday, the best day as Sunday dinner was like Christmas dinner and my grandma had the sweetest hand when it came to seasoning and cooking. She asked me what i’d like for dinner and I said ‘chicken.’ Grandma said chicken it is. I was looking forward to going to the supermarket with her as I was hoping to get some rhubarb sweets also.
I waited and waited so went to see what was taking gran so long to get ready. There she was in the chicken pen with a long cutlass in her hand. She grabbed a chicken and put it on the sale, obviously not pleased she let it go and caught another one. Pleased she came out of the pen. I was still clueless to what was about to happen I just thought it all comical. Then the bucket was over the body of the chicken with its head and neck sticking out and before I could think the next thought the cutlass came swiftly down and there was a bloody headless chicken running aimlessly around the yard, Well I screamed with my mouth opened for the longest while catching flies. Grandma why did you do that whyyyy??? She laughed at me as she thought my reaction was quite comical and said ‘ but is you who tell me yuh want chicken,’ Well I didn’t mean for you to kill one of your pets I thought we were going to the shops,’ gran replied still chuckling, ‘so where the chicken come from in the supermarket?!’ What a revelation that was. I watched grandma soak it and pluck it, wash it down with lemon and seasoned it with fresh seasoning of herbs and spices. The smell soon made me forget the trauma for a while. Her cooking smelt so delicious I was so hungry and couldn’t wait.
Dinner was ready and I was told to find granddad and tell him. I looked everywhere, finally I found him in his little church. Something felt so wrong as I saw a woman laying on top of a table on her back…naked! I couldn’t move. He was dressed in a white robe and rubbing her down. He must’ve sensed me there and came from behind the see through curtain which resembled a mosquito net, I mumbled in a low voice ‘grandma says dinner is ready,’ He said thank you, don’t be frightened, i’m just giving this lady a spiritual bath to cleanse her ( well I guess that made sense, she was naked, he’s a preacher, he smelled of fragrant oils)… ‘Come and give granddad a kiss’ his arms held out, I smiled and walked towards him, I just loved my granddad and didn’t question what he said. He leaned towards me and thinking he was going to kiss my cheek, I raised my head up and he went to my mouth and stuck his huge tongue in it and twiddled it around. I near jumped out my skin and ran out the church for dear life. I could hear him calling out ‘it was just a game, grandpa only playin chile.’ Playing!… What the heck… GRANDDAD!!!! MY BELOVED GRANDAD
My world crashed, the feeling has stayed in my mouth even up to this day. I went under the house, sat on the bench and squeezed the tears in and rocked with my hands folded around me squeezing in the sounds of my innermost sobbing. How on earth was I going to tell, who was I going to tell?? Who would believe me? My smile vanished, my happiness left me. Gods eyes didn’t see this little sparrow, He didn’t watch over me. The song in my spirit fell silent. I was alone.
I sat at dinner my appetite gone and I just played with my food. Trouble is mum was a stickler in children must eat all our food up, she hated waste. Darling grandma stuck up for me and said she gave me too much and to leave de chile alone. Granddad approached where we were eating and I quickly asked to be excused. How could I love him again, Thankfully we were to leave the next day I couldn’t face him again.
As we got ready to leave my parents kept prodding me to go give granddad a hug and a kiss goodbye, they couldn’t understand why all of a sudden my countenance changed. reluctantly I gave him the quickest hug and said bye. I explained I just felt unwell, thankfully mum put it down to not opening my bowels for just over a week. Thank God. My grandma joked that she promised to build a proper toilet just for me by the time I came back to visit, that made me smile. But the last thing I wanted was to come back. Life was not good, at 13 years old it was dark, horrid, ugly, filthy and lonely.
Moving to Banks Ave was the best. There was no park behind our garden fence, just a maze of alleyways which soon turned into our playground. The adjourning streets joined at different points that made play-times and exploring fun.
There was a vast difference between this area and Greenford, it was like we moved to another country… The Caribbean! From living on a long road where you could count the black people on half a hand, to an area that you could count the white people on one hand, Oh yes talk about culture shock! Our family lived just two minutes walk from the main road with all the shops you could possibly need.
Not just shops but banks, the launderette, buses and friends, oh my goodness so much friends and all my colour, that was so weird. There were more than sixteen families on my street alone with kids my age and we were all friends. No longer did mum have to find people for me to stay by in the summer holidays and half terms. All she had to do was knock on the neighbours door and let them know I was home so keep an eye out. I was thirteen and capable of staying at home on my own. My sister and a couple brothers had left home but came around often.
Mum had strict instructions, play outside after all my chores were finished and stay where neighbours can see me. Everyone used to knock on each others houses asking to play out on the road, we played skipping, athletics, hopscotch, blind mans bluff, roller skating, skate boarding, cycling and playing ‘Had’ running in and out of the alleyways. Life was good.
Mums instructions were strict but the number one rule that was not to be broken was NO BOYS ALLOWED IN THE HOUSE. Mum was such a stick in the mud as that rule stood even if she was home.
The younger children had nothing to worry about as we felt safe having the older boys around and a few older girls, they looked out for us. Myself and my friend use to race around the block. As we approached where the older boys congregated we always slowed down to say hello, they’ll ask how we were and felt great as they remembered our names and knew where we lived. For some reason it felt great to be remembered. Anyway everyone knew where everyone lived to be honest.
There was a forest near to where we lived and a large group of us used to walk there and have loads of fun playing hide and seek, blackberry picking for mum to make blackberry jam. There were some steep hills that we navigated down to a group of trees where we etched our names on. The grassed hills is where we had fun rolling down the hill and sliding down on a piece of board when it snowed heavily. The air was forever filled with laughter. Life was good.
One of the older boys showed me extra attention, I felt special and all gooey inside but I was just a girl of thirteen and thought he was just a flirt as I didn’t think I was pretty enough to be girlfriend material. A day came when there was a knock on my front door whilst my mother was at work, it was the summer holidays and I was looking after Cams daughter. We just came in from playing outside and my niece was tired. It was him. ‘So can I come in? I won’t be long just want to chat.’ He shone a smile that seemed to hypnotise common sense away from me and threw all caution to the wind. My niece said hello and smiled and did the biggest yawn, I said to hang on a minute I’ll just put her to lay down. I took her up stairs and as I took her upstairs He came in the house and quietly shut the door. Coming down the stairs I saw the door shut and thought he went. I walked into the living room and there he was sitting on the sofa smiling beckoning me to come sit down. Inside of me was in a panic, it was late in the day and mum would be home soon, about an hour or so and there’s a BOY in the house. Oh my gosh I felt so clammy.
He told me to relax and that everything was okay. So I went to sit next to him, his smile melted any anxiety I had, he came up close and kissed me, then his arms moved up and down my body. I froze. My mind frantic, screaming inside yet frozen on the inside. Do I like this or not, I was confused… happy for the attention of a boy yet scared of what was taking place. I literally zoned out as still as a mannequin. He continued to touch me whilst reassuring me it was ok. I couldn’t say a word I could just about breathe I had not realised the zipper of his trousers were down and he slipped my panties to one side, he flipped me around and held me down, I got frightened, very frightened but I was pinned…’ssshhhhhhh its okay, you can’t get pregnant and you’ll still be a virgin if I do it like this’…dumb me! Was he really going to do what I thought?? YES he did I felt this pulsating very warm mass going into my back passage. I unfroze in the greatest panic, I fought my way from underneath him and told him through my teeth LEAVE ME ALONE…my niece was upstairs, what on earth would I do if she woke up to see THIS??? He smirked and said I’m just playing with you, it’s just games. He tried to grab me back but I looked up and shouted MY MUMS HERE SHES PARKING…I was lying but he didn’t take the chance, he jumped up fixed his trousers and ran out the back door, over the fence and down through the alley. Fifteen minutes later mum really did come home. I felt sick and dirty, his words lingered in the air, he was playing, and it’s a game, so he didn’t really like me, I wasn’t girlfriend material I thought. Who was I fooling? Someone like me? No he used me to abuse me.
That was the start of my boiling hot baths; I ran hot baths and slowly oozed myself down in the water. I needed to be clean and only scolding water can help cleanse me in my mind. I also walked the four miles to school. The breeze would blow on me and blow away the dirt. My thoughts made no sense but made sense to me.
If the shame and filth wasn’t enough, that day my niece awoke when my mum came home. She was always such a brat with me when mum came home. She turned to look at me and smiled as she said ‘Grandma, I fell asleep when the boy came around’ what was the point trying to explain? What could I say? All I heard was shouting; all I felt was licks; all I could do was cry. The tears were more from the dirty experience I had just only half an hour ago endured. Mum beating me was null and void. Life turned ugly and dirty.