The Winterfood Diaries

The Winterfood Diaries

Sunday, 10 February 1985

Coming to Consciousness

Had an argument with Jack, so I hit him.

Mum didn’t like this at all, so she hit me with a shovel and we had a very savage fight.

[Shovel, black and dirty, crashing clean down onto my 14-year-old skull. Repeated, tweeted, Tweety Pie birds and stars around my head, behind my eyes, and my Mother, wailing and red.

So this goes on, despite disbelief and fighting, falling, collapsing camp bed crawling; clawing we sprawl to the floor: Mother and Son. We repeat the beating, shouting and screeching. And in four months’ time she’ll ask my allegiance and I’ll give it.

Still, here we are, cosily warm, whilst February snow silently falls. Through doors, on stairs and over chairs we go, and, fuck who cares – I’m beating my Mother beating me. My brother’s fault; if he hadn’t spent all afternoon deliberately winding me up… But it was on the cards and in the stars; as a kid, she’d belt me, slipper me, slap me, for one nothing or other.

You’ve been waiting for this, says the lie that holds me back.

In the end, I’m the one falling silently. Down the stairs, shoeless but for fluorescent socks and a porcelain (probably) bowl full of dog-water that soars at my head.


Or something shit like that.

Five hours later and I’ve hitched into Wisbech Bus Station, got a lift to Peterborough, caught a train to Doncaster, arranged a lift to Pontefract and that’s me! Officially kicked out. Officially left home.

But I’ll still be living with her in eight years’ time

– Ritcherd, 3rd June 1998]

She kicked me out at 5.45pm because I fought back! Told me to go back to Yorkshire and live with my Dad. Even though I know she’s having an affair.

All I had was a bag of clothes and a tenner! And it was snowing.

I walked to Wisbech bus station in the cold and dark. There, a man and his family gave me a lift to Peterborough Train Station.

I took a train that should have reached Wakefield, but on the train I got chatting with John, a man from Pontefract. We got off at Doncaster. His sister picked us up and took us to her house, where John collected his car and took me to my Aunty Vi’s at about 10.30pm.

[The shoes I had on were my old white ones. Once very trendy, but now just used for ‘knocking about’, they were splitting down the side. And I’d only got one set of clothes - basically whatever she'd grabbed, stuffed in my schoolbag and thrown at me. I could have gone to my Dad’s like she told me to, but the politics of that would have been huge, and deep, deep down I knew it would make her look bad or feel bad or something like that and I still cared enough not to want to embarrass her, so I stayed with an Aunt (her sister) and some cousins.

‘She kicked me out,’ I tell them. A doorstep, getting on for eleven at night; they don’t believe me, but they let me in, bewildered.

Oh, and the bloke who gave me a lift right to their door might have been a paedophile, yes, as might the occupants of the house he took me to; but they watched Esther Rantzen and gave me coffee and biscuits, so they were probably just the most auspicious and kindly people I’ve ever met. That said, I was prepared to viciously kill them all had they tried anything ...

– Ritcherd, 3rd June 1998]

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