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.
Growing into teenage years
the past is set behind me
longing for life to be kind to me
longing to not be lonely
Lots of friends on my street
now we play a kinder child friendly hide & seek
innocence is mines again
a target I seem to have become
‘Touch her, caress her, she won’t say a word
A voice like hers is seldom heard.
Lets learn how to big boys
And there, innocence lost again
I’m really beginning to hate men
out of all the girls playing hopscotch and double dutch
Its me, its me, always me they illegally touch
Sad thing is it wasn’t just strangers
maybe that’s why it hurt so much
I loved you, looked up to you, adored you
Obviously you I never knew
Dear Dookie Dooks…
I’m sorry that whilst your insides were broken hearted and you cried internally, I made you pretend and suppress your feelings and it just rooted and grew with you. I’m sorry I didn’t protect you Dookie but you were and still are loved very much. Please forgive me.
It is because of this I guess why you froze and pretended when you went on holiday and and that person invited you to come and lay down in his bed for cuddles you thought…yes somebody likes me.
So you were happy to feel love and affection from your them whilst on holiday. They treated you like a real kid sister and I know you felt loved and accepted. There was a huge smile on your face to cuddle with him… 9years old you were I remember it like yesterday.
You thought nothing of it.
Again I silenced you, froze you as still as a Door-mouse, as his body started to move underneath you. At first you thought he was just repositioning himself to get comfortable I know, I was there. But his circular movement and the pressing against your body… not just any part of your body but down there, in the private area no one was allowed to see or touch. I know you felt uncomfortable and you were so happy being loved and accepted that I froze you, I sealed your lips and made you pretend you didn’t feel he was doing something rude. His movements reminded you of what you may have glimpsed on telly from time to time by accident… what married people do to have babies. Your innocence wondered if this meant that he loved you as a wife. Babygirl you were 9 years old and not old enough to be anyone’s wife.
So so sorry that I didn’t open your mouth so you could say ‘no thanks I like my own bed! Or speak out loud with your cheeky self and say ‘why do you keep moving it feels funny’… that would of alerted others that slept in the same room..
Sorry Dookie I should of given you your voice when it mattered most.
Now all I have done is make you think people show they really like you by touching you inappropriately, It wasn’t your fault, you didn’t know, you just wanted to be liked and loved and to be accepted.
Please forgive me,
You whisper gently by my ear
You tell me calmly, your touch I should not fear
But I cringe when you come so near
Being alone with you I will refrain
For I am much too young to have such stains
How can you, being older than me, not know what you do?
Yet you insist to bring spiritual pain
What does it profit; tell me what will you gain?
It’s a demonic sickness within your brain
Corrupting your innermost
Driven by an un-heavenly host
Whose plan for us all is utterly insane.
God also has a plan
If anyone can break this chain
I know in my heart He can
It’s decreed in His word and His word never fails
Jeremiah 29:11 I shall hold on to for it allows me to prevail
Whisper no more your egocentric lies
Pretending to love
And corrupt my innocence in an unlawful soul tie
My God my Father sees and has built a blood hedge to cover me
Yes I am His daughter
I did not know it back then
I choose to remember know more
You are defeated
For as I write this
I shut the door
Between the ages of 9-10 years old I saw quite a few ‘first times’ in my short life.
After Cam gave birth to my niece, my parents and I traveled to America the following year for a summer holiday. I took Chrissy with me and my hand luggage was all my nieces clothes aged 6 months. They were now Chrissys’ clothes and she would never grow out of them.
My first time…
It was strange, as I pictured the U.S to be in the same technicolor as what I saw in the movies! I didn’t expect it to look and feel like England, people like me etc.
The shops were different, everywhere there was a Deli. Singing accents flowing with upbeat excited conversations – everyone was always in a rush.
So much relatives and friends, there was no need to stay in a hotel, we just stayed here and there. Everyone took to my English accent and was told constantly ‘ Oh my garrsssh, she’s too cute’ so of course I felt great, I felt liked and nobody thought I was annoying!
Such a good feeling being accepted and liked, that I thought nothing of it when one night I complained that I couldn’t sleep and someone said “come and lay with me I’ll keep you company.” Well of course I got up from where I was and went in there bed.
It was a single bed and proved difficult to lay side by side so it was suggested I lay on top of them. He said to just stay quiet and sleep will come, so I did, the talking stopped. I could not sleep for a while though as he kept moving slowly all the time. I just thought he was trying to get comfortable but I started to feel uneasy by the feeling of where the movement was touching me and soft groans was coming from him. I decided to pretend I did not notice and began to move and go back to the other bed where I was, but he held me and whispered ‘shhhhhhhhhhhhhsh’ close to my ears. I froze, eyes wide shut and froze. I don’t remember anything else.
That was the first time…
I never thought much about what happened, only to think to myself ‘you made me feel safe then you used me.’
Inside I felt sick and angry, it was not a rage but a coldness that curdled on the inside but masked itself on the outside to the sweet cute smile they all adored. I trusted no one. I hated the way that person acted like it was nothing, he chatted and laughed and went on with his days as normal, was a child as small as me able to imagine this? was it all a dream? Hell no, it was real, it was nasty and I hated feeling that people were just pretending to like me so they can get close enough to hurt me. Did anyone like me? Anyone?
Lots of new found cousins seemed to. I met my Great Uncle who had 11 sons, they were so lovely. I met my dads sister and family in Washington D.C, we toured the Monument and The White House, we went to Connecticut, Baltimore, Queens, Brooklyn… just all over and it was great.
Lots of pleasant memorable first times.
So we’re out visiting again, have no idea who or where until I heard the word ‘sister!’
I got a sister? where? when? Then I get this crash course story that my dad had two daughters before he met my mum… I HAVE TWO EXTRA SISTERS!! A barrage of thoughts entered my mind, where have they been all my life? why was I not told about them before? why were they some big secret? but dad lived in England with us, he has not been on holiday to America, so has he not even seen them? how could he not look after them? Really?? I felt so sad for my new found sisters and bad as well because I felt it was our fault (my other sister and brothers) why dad may have not been there for them.
Wait, I have a niece?, not Cam’s daughter but there was another one, an older one from my eldest sister. I felt robbed! all this time I thought I was an aunt for the first time last year, when in fact I was an auntie a few years before and didn’t even know.
The first time I met my sister I kept staring , I guess still in shock and I had so many questions that I could not ask but desperately wanted to. My niece was hooked on Sesame Street and I remember my sister took us to the cinema to see the Muppet Movie. My niece called me’Aunt Ali’ and loved playing with me and my doll Chrissy, I had so much fun with her that I forgot about the other stuff that made me feel upset and weird. Now I felt the love I wanted, untarnished, unconditional, childlike love.
That was my first time…
I started to feel negatively about my dad, a layer of respect peeled away… For the first time.
So a beloved part of my childhood was definitely spent in our home in Greenford. Days of joy and innocence ( except from the episode with the two little boys in the park bushes!)
Memories of aunties, uncles and cousins coming over (majority not blood related) but nevertheless were family to us. Sounds of laughter and excited chatter from the sitting room and children playing or just hanging out in the dining room. No cares or fears, we went out to play with freedom.
I actually cannot remember winter months in this time of my life. I remember thick fog, I used to think it was the clouds that fell down from the sky as it was so thick and fluffy.
I remember Christmas Eve sleeping with one eye open waiting for that fat white bearded man to come and nibble on the mince pie and juice left out for him and wonder what he’d bring me. Well I was five years old and considered to be a good girl even though I was told I was cheeky!
My eyes were failing me, sleep beckoned, but just then at the corner of a half closed eye I saw a shadow.
I jumped sitting up on my bed rubbing my eyes so I could see properly. My feet felt something hard and I followed the gaze, there she was, the most beautiful black doll you could imagine. She was the size of a 6-8 month old baby with short black hair but in the middle of her head was a pony tail you could extend by pulling and retrieve by pulling on the string on her back. I was in glee as I remembered the shadow and ran out my room and downstairs, no one. I ran in my parents room panting “mum mum dad Father Christmas came I saw his shadow he gave me a doll a real baby seeee” as I held up the doll in excitement.
Mum rubbed her eyes trying hard to play dumb and half asleep (it worked!) she replied “oh that’s real nice, now go to sleep.” Sleep… sleep how could I sleep? I was overwhelmed, Father Christmas found me and brought me the best doll ever and I named her Chrissy. I was convinced at 5 years old; there IS a Father Christmas and he loved me enough to come all the way to my house to give me a present.
“I am a good girl.”
1976 The hottest summer recorded and I was 6 years old, dressed in a swimming costume, I played in the fountains of Trafalgar Square with my brothers. I do not recall my big sister there or my brother Angus, but they must’ve been there too.
In my mind I see myself running, giggling, laughing and wet.
“I sense happiness.”
1977 The Queens Silver Jubilee. There was red, white and blue everywhere, all over my school. I remember having to dress up like British kings & queens with large hats and having a garden party at school. Watching the parade on telly and thinking how lovely the world was with so many happy people. No one said anything about my hair or color, no one has ever answered my question, “why are we not called ‘Brown’ people and white people cream or colored??” Anyway it was a great year and I didn’t feel different outside of my home…
“I felt accepted.”
My big sister Cam use to take me with her to visit her friends. I really don’t know if she did it out of kindness or made to do it as she may have been in charge of looking after me. Regardless, I loved my outings with her. Her friends were always so nice to me and I loved the attention of being the ‘baby sister.’
I don’t even know when he came on the scene, but my sister had this boyfriend, then I remember mum not being happy about something. Later in years I realized it was because my sister got pregnant.
In all of this we moved house and next thing I know mum is busy sewing and my cousin and I have pretty dresses to wear. My other cousins are over from abroad and there’s pure excitement. Why? because there is a wedding, my sisters wedding and she was hugely pregnant. There was lots of people, the sun shone and there was loads of food at the reception. The one thing that stood out to me was the huge bread loaf shaped like ducks.
A lot of work and money went into this wedding, a lot of stress I imagine, but my mother (especially) did not want the ’embarrassment’ of a pregnancy outside of wedlock.
Anyway, I got to be a bridesmaid for the first time ever.
For my sister, it wasn’t the case of ‘I Do’ but rather ‘I have to’!
“I decided I wanted to get married for love.”
The wedding was June 1978 and it was the beginning of a wonderful summer. I became an auntie to a beautiful baby girl. I was 9 years old and automatically felt very grown up. I remember my mum came rushing in the house like a whirlwind to grab a dressing gown and slippers for my sister and rushed back out to head to the hospital. Somewhere between all that excitement was the information that Cam was in labor.
I sat on the stairs trying to imagine what that really meant, was the baby really going to come out down there and if so HOW??
‘I smile,’ “I want to be a mother.”
“Show me show me, go on yuh know me!
Don’t freeze, don’t hide, don’t run
Take my hand and let me feel how God created you different from me.
I want to see if you look the same as what I saw in my dads’ magazine!”
“Get away from me, I will remain clean
I thought you were my friend,
But so yuh so mean
Run me go run far from this crime scene”
Forever my life has been mentally playing that game
Hide and seek, hiding the pain, hiding the shame
Continually seeking identity… What’s my name?
Hiding from men seeking to make me insane
Seeking restoration, time to take off the mask
She shouts ‘HALLELUJAH’ …Hallelujah! What’s that? You ask…
(Sssssh!… I let you into a secret, no more hiding from the past)
For I Seeked and found the Saviour, now I’m free at last
Thank God Almighty I am free from the past.
How on earth did I get to the Police station you wonder…
Well we lived in Fulham, (my first home), a man saw me walking by myself and asked me where I was going and I told him the park.. He said he will take me and took me straight to Hammersmith police station!! I actually remember sitting on the table with my legs swinging eating a biscuit I believe to be a digestive and drinking a glass of milk wearing a bobbys’ hat and mum coming through the door…
In that same house around the same age I took change from my mums purse and got told off… dad went to spank me and I cried blue murder running out the living room, then turned back opened back the door and peeped my head around the door and quipped “ didn’t hurt” and ran up the stairs. Cheeky me at 4yrs old. Did my dad chase me? no… as usual I got away with it and it was laughed off and called cheeky… Something like this my siblings would not of gotten away with so they were never impressed.
I was troubled in that house by spirits, used to see ghost ALL the time, seriously!… saw things and one time heard footsteps coming up the stairs, when I ran to look, it was a pair of black shoes all by themselves!!! No lie. Shadows that shouldn’t be there, noises that shouldn’t be heard.. My siblings and I named it the most haunted house we ever lived in.
I remember dancing with my brother in that house. It was my birthday and a girl from the street was there helping me find my shoe, I was very happy and chatty beyond my years.
I remember my 5th birthday in my next house in Greenford. I wore black corduroy trousers and a white vest top with embroidery and my hair was in an afro. Lots of friends around the birthday table and I stood on a chair to blow out the candles.
Our house backed onto a big open park just separated by an alley way. The neighbours on the other side of the alley way were two elderly sisters who had an apple tree. Any apples that fell in the alley we took.
My older brothers cut out a piece of fence so we didn’t have to walk all the way around to get in the park, we could go straight from our back garden!
Two little white boys one time came in the bushes with me, we used to play hide and seek. Well on this day they were seeking something else, they turned around and said ‘we’ll show you ours and you show us yours’…. Well I just said yeah as I had no idea what they were on about!, I think, they started lifting up their top and as soon as I saw their hands head towards their trouser button I turned and ran for my life in a sweat… sure I was about 6/7yrs old and they were around the same age.
Frightened the life outta me…
Have you seen her?
Small, brown, always smiling, never with a frown…
Have you seen her?
Very chatty, thinks aloud, gets her into trouble,
But I guess at her age it’s allowed
Have you seen her?
Such a happy child, the last of five
Her siblings thinks she’s spoilt…
Is that her fault?
At four years old what does she know?!
Did she asked to be cute, to get all the birthday loot
Did she ask for all the boxes under the Christmas tree each tag with her name?
Did you not think she’d want to be included in your game?
You left her out because?…
A spoilt brat you say, because?…
So she tried to entertain herself, because?… because…
Her brothers and sister busy doing chores,
Lil cute brownie had a job to do too…
Sweep down the stairs and tear the toilet rollin two’s…
(Papa say we use too much when we go to the loo!)
“Can I help?” she’d say.. “No go away”
“Can I play in your game?”… “No yuh too young, go away”
So can yuh blame de chile for going astray.. all she wanted to do was play!
Have you seen her?
“Yes Yes madam, come this way.
She’s safe and sound and chatting away”
The door opens…
“Awwww there you are”…
Next time DON’T VENTURE PASS YUH FARDA’S CAR…
30 odd years later…
Have you seen her?
That lil brown girl full of smiles,
Carefree in spirit, loves love and shares all she owns..
If you see her, greet her with a kiss and tell her she’s missed
Life is too short to stay lost, it’s time to be found!
Well I have been avoiding this but I thought I’d give it a shot….So many memories…
1st memory is when I was 3yrs old, a holiday to Trinidad with my parents. I remember it well I guess it is because we have lots of photos. My dads’ brother uncle Dave had a monkey. I remember thinking how nice and strange to have a pet monkey. I remember family members taking me for strolls down the road and my mum having dressed me in different outfits. She is a seamstress and made all my clothes except underwear!
This is my first memory of my grandparents on my father’s side. They reminded me of traditional looking grandparents! old and grey with lovely smiles and loving. Fell in love with them immediately.
I remember my God parents and their children were there too on holiday, Auntie Gem, Uncle and their daughters Gabs and Sammy. Uncle ( my only white uncle) climbed a curved coconut tree sam and gabs played in the sea. Uncle Dave sat me on the car bonnet as I was extremely frightened of the sea… not a toe would go in without me screaming blue murder! Uncle Dave kept me company as he had a badly cut finger and couldn’t swim. Auntie Gem teased me for being so scared… memories J
Around 4yrs old I asked my mum in the kitchen if I could go to the park, she said “go ask yuh dad”… dad was outside working on a car and I asked “can I go to the park”? Yep, he said “go ask yuh mother”!!! I said “I did an she said to ask u… well I can go by myself”, and Dad said jokingly, “well go nuh”… So I did!
Wasn’t till mum was calling for dinner that they realised I was missing. Apparently I had a habit of knocking on neighbours doors and going in for chats so they started searching the street- the whole street were looking for me, police was eventually called and to my parents relief were told I was at the police station.
How did I get there?…We lived in Fulham, my first home, a man saw me walking by myself and asked me where I was going and I told him the park.. He said he will take me and took me straight to Hammersmith police station!! I actually remember sitting on the table with my legs swinging eating a biscuit I believe to be a digestive and drinking a glass of milk wearing a bobbys’ hat and mum coming through the door…