I stir my coffee with a spoon watching the milk swirl round the cup. I think again back to my childhood. Darcee my British Shorthair Cat settles on the table in front of me watching me purposely.
I am now taken back to the 1960’s, London post war. In April, 1965 I enter the world to parents Eva Hollon and Edwin Jaclman. Born at Perivale Hospital; a Hospital built to cater for single mothers. My mother was 17 and already had my sister, Delia, who had a different father to me. I was to discover later in life, some 30 years later that my mother had a turbulent upbringing. She was one of 4 the other siblings being brothers. My grandfather had poor mobility and worked as a waiter in hotels. However, he had suffered from Polio and this had affected his stability particularly his legs. One day my mother informed me that my grandmother locked all the children in one room and then without hesitation jumped out of the upstairs window with the intent to kill herself. She, survived but with serious injuries and ended her life bedridden and at the end dying of cancer. You can not imagine the depths of despair she must have felt but that despair was then transferred onto innocent children some of who never were the same again.
My mother met my father on a night out in London. She was impressed by my dad who was an articulate and handsome young man who had come from Barbados as a teenager with the promise of a golden ticket . He came over alone without his parents and to the big city of London where he managed to find work as a panel beater. Difficult as times were he also found and eventually bought a house which he used to rent out to his friends. Friends who found it difficult to find digs at that particular time due to the fact that racism was very much prevalent and some lodgings would actually preclude coloured people.
My dad had a large number of lady friends and will admit to this day that he probably didn’t treat my mother well. My mother did live with him for a short while but it didn’t work out and she left before I was born. My mother wanted to take me to her family house after I was born but my grandfather would not agree to this given the climate at the time around mixed relationships and prejudice. I was therefore handed over to Barnet Social Services in London for fostering. I was first placed with a couple who were not able to have children and wanted a baby. I don’t have much memory of my time there but I do carry the scars of the treatment I received. I was to find out when I was older that my time there was not happy and I was regularly burnt with cigarettes and have the scars on my lower body to prove this. I was also neglected and left in a cot and not encouraged to walk or interact/talk and subsequently became very withdrawn. When I found out about this treatment it was like the event belonged to a different person.
I was to be removed from the foster home and then went to a childrens home. The lady who ran the home was very kind and loving and this was the first time I had found somewhere to belong and someone who did not abuse me and loved me. I went onto meet her in later life and she informed me that when I arrived at the home all I did was sit and stare into space as I had not developed or learned any social skills. I did however have an immense liking for icecream. I didn’t even know how to smile. I sometimes have visions of this and wonder how I survived and carried on but all I can think is at such a young age as there is little comprehension of events then this acts as a buffer but there is nonetheless desensitisation to feelings and detachment to reality which will never leave me.