***If you are visiting this page for the first time, please do look at the previous posts in this section. This is my story and it will all make more sense if you begin to read where I began to write***
I was plunged into a state of complete panic. My Sixth Form Tutor came to find me to tell me shed had a message for me and that I needed to go home urgently. My mum had phoned school and asked that I go.
I had no idea what was going on. I was informed that it was just me who needed to go, I didn’t need to collect my younger brother, I just had to make my way home as soon as I could.
It was only a short walk from my secondary school to home, but that day it seemed to take an eternity. What could be so urgent? What could possibly have happened?
As soon as I walked into the house, I knew something was dreadfully wrong. Mum and dad were in the lounge at the back of the house; absolutely unheard of during the daytime. The back room was for evenings, Sundays and Christmas only.
There was a stony silence as I entered the room and I could see that mum’s eyes were ringed red from crying. My immediate thought was that something had happened to my grandma (mum’s mum, and my only surviving grandparent).
What happened next both assured me that grandma was not the issue and shocked me more than I could ever have imagined.
Flinging a packet of condoms in my direction, my mum shouted at my dad,
“Go on, you tell her!’
Dad stood in silence, head bowed, as if he couldn’t, or didn’t want to find the words to say to me. It didn’t take my mum long to find them for him.
“I found these in his pocket! He’s having an affair! Again!” she shouted.
I was speechless. I was just sixteen and here I was, having to deal with something I could never have imagined. I immediately felt way out of my depth. My mind was swirling. Dad was seeing another woman, cheating on my mum. But it wasn’t just that, my mum had said “Again”.
There was a lot more shouting, mostly on the part of my mum before she delivered her ultimatum: he had a decision to make, he could give her up and stay, or pack his things and leave, and she finished by telling him that he’d better make his mind up before the other children arrived home from school.
Dad attempted to defend his actions to me, saying that it wasn’t just a passing affair, he was in love with this woman and she was in love with him and they wanted to be together. He told me that he was going to move out to go and arrange to live with her, but he still wanted to be part of my life and those of my brothers and sister.
My world shattered, but, as was going to be the pattern for my life, there was even more, and worse, to come.
As dad went to pack his bags I asked the question burning through my brain.
“Mum, why did you say, ‘Again’?”
It was then that mum told me about what happened when I was seven years old and whilst she was pregnant and expecting the birth of my youngest brother.
It turned out that in 1965 and 1966, whilst we lived in Audenshaw, my dad was having an affair with my mum’s best friend. Much of their duplicity took place right in front of her, even to the extent of dad suggesting that she borrowed some of my mum’s most lovely clothes, as mum couldn’t fit into them whilst she was pregnant. Mum didn’t find out about the affair until months after my brother was born and her best friend had become his Godmother. In 1965 I was seven.
No wonder both my parents were pre-occupied. No wonder I didn’t feel I could possibly have told them what a man did to me one day on Ashton Moss.
Pathway on Ashton Moss similar to the one I remember from my childhood