21 November 2011
Peter Moore tells his story of surviving abuse through the following sequence of transcription poems
The smell of tarmac,
new fresh tarmac on the road
is something I have remembered all my life.
And it was the most wonderful smell.
It was, if you like it was like a horseshoe shaped road,
that came off of a main road,
so you came into Shanklin Road
and you could go down,
right down to the other end
and come back out on to
the same main road further down.
People were very friendly
and they’d all come from different areas,
predominantly in London,
and they were a mix of people
from different walks of life
and different trades
and also different levels of wealth.
The people who had money had TV aerials.
And if you were really lucky as a kid,
you would get invited into another kid’s house
who had a TV, it was fantastic,
black and white TV, very tiny screens,
must have crippled our eyes,
but it was lovely, it was really wonderful.
So everything was really great there,
and we actually stayed there for three years.
Then there were strange happenings,
one of the prefabs got broken into,
in really quite a bad way,
and I think somebody was really hurt in that process
and it turned out that the offender
was a chap who lived in the prefab behind us,
who had a lovely wife
and a very pretty daughter, young,
again at a similar age to me.
And I didn’t know what all this meant,
you know this was something really bad
and I wasn’t really at that stage
used to bad things,
I didn’t know what bad things were. And I,
I didn’t know how to understand it,
I didn’t know how to put it in perspective really,
I just knew that I just had to be careful
wherever I went
because there were bad things out there.
My father never ever explained it.
I remember a boy saying to me
oh you realise that
Father Christmas doesn’t exist.
And I said, of course he exists, you know,
I mean I just put up some defence
about Father Christmas. But he was quite adamant
and I just left it at that.
And when I went home
I was quite upset
and my mother came to meet me,
I was quite upset by this astounding news
and bearing in mind I was only five
and er I said this child told me
that Father Christmas doesn’t exist.
And she looked at me and said
of course he doesn’t.
And to have that ratified by my mother,
who was, it just sort of blew me apart,
you know, that was,
there were bad things happening in Belmont
you know, I’d gone through one
and now I’d gone through something that was,
touched my life, you know.
The other issue about the burglary
and the guy who’d been arrested
and he was sent to prison,
um, it touched my life on the edge,
it didn’t affect me personally.
Father Christmas was more important
and it affected my life, you know,
it touched me,
and it was devastating news
because it meant that every Christmas thereafter
became a different thing altogether.
Dan Dare braces
The second occasion that I went out with my Dad,
it was about Christmas.
And he asked me, or my mother asked me
what I wanted for Christmas
and I said I wanted a pair of braces that,
they were Dan Dare braces,
some braces from the Eagle comic.
And my father knew where to get them
and he took me to,
and it actually was a tailor that he used,
because he was always smartly dressed
and they were in the window
and he went in with me and said what he wanted
and the guy came out
and they were put into a brown, a
brown paper bag
and folded up just as if
you were buying oranges
from the greengrocer
and he picked it up, paid the money
and just went, there,
there’s your present,
that’s how it comes.
My mother used to hit,
she always hit with an open hand
around the ears
or around the,
it was always around the head,
above the neck, always.
And most days,
most days. But then
what she used to do
was say well, when your father gets home
I shall tell him.
And that was a frightening experience,
because when he came home she would,
she would obviously tell him
and he would call you,
and he’s standing there with his belt,
with the buckle end nearest to you,
I mean he’d coiled round the leather end
round his hand
and you got it across the backside,
always across the backside,
and I assume later when I,
I mulled this over later for a long long time,
that the backside was the place to do it
because it was the place
that wasn’t going to be seen
by any outside agencies.
It wasn’t going to be seen by the school.
But this was done with venom,
this wasn’t chastisement, you know.
I think it would have been much easier
to have sat down
and talked about what the problem was.
I’d already been punished, here I was,
I’d been found guilty and punished
and been found guilty again and punished.
I mean you might knock something over
or make a mark on the floor mother’s just washed
or knock a cup of water over
or something like that,
it’s just, it’s not important, you know.
But you knew that you would,
there was a price to be paid.
And that was really painful
because what it, all it demonstrated to me
was that um
there was no love involved in these relationships,
the relationships with my parents,
it was all about,
it was not about being hugged,
it was not about being kissed, or held,
it was about being punished,
that’s all it was.
And that was very hard to cope with.
And I’ve always thought that,
from about that time onwards,
that I was just born to be hurt,
that’s how it was, you know,
there was never any love.
My Dad had a bookcase full of books
which he’d owned,
some of which he’d owned
since he was a young boy
and some of which he’d bought himself,
but they were, the bookcase was glass-fronted
and each shelf had its own sliding,
pair of sliding doors which were locked.
And included in that collection
was all of the children’s classics,
you know Oliver Twist,
all the Charles Dickens stuff,
absolutely amazing books,
Just William books, fantastic, you know?
Things that I’d heard about
but never, never touched or read, you know.
And I dearly would have loved
to have been able to have got inside that cabinet
to just have read a book, you know.
It never happened.
We had a wonderful teacher
who read us a story
for the last half hour of class every day
and that was as close as I got to a book, you know.
The stories were wonderful,
they took me into another world,
they were so exciting, they were so adventurous.
It was what dreams are made of,
it was fantastic. But things like libraries,
I mean if my parents had said ‘we’ll join a library’,
that would have been great,
I wouldn’t have touched his books,
I would have been touching library books
but I mean I don’t even know
where the nearest library was.
I never owned a book
until I got married,
never owned a book,
was never given books.
I did try to speak with my Dad about it
and I never got anywhere.
I needed help,
I needed him to tell me
what I should be doing,
I needed guidance you know?
I wanted to do well and I knew
I suddenly became aware
that this was a key point in my life,
this was a point of
you either go into a factory basically
or you go into something more academic,
that was the difference
between a secondary school and grammar school
So the eleven plus was proving to be a problem.
And Raymond was in my class at school
and, I mean we really got on so well together,
it was, he was a really nice guy.
And so I went into the eleven plus totally unarmed, you know,
I didn’t know what to expect, what to do,
I had, I just thought I’ll just do what I can.
And that’s how it went. The results came out
and Raymond passed and I didn’t.
My father was absolutely unbelievably furious.
The day that I was taking the exam,
he said to me you will pass.
And I said well I’m not sure I’ll pass, I don’t know.
He said, You. Will. Pass.
And that was quite,
I mean going into the examination
with that in your head
is very unhelpful, you know?
But I failed
and so I was earmarked for the senior school.
But it was, it was as you would expect
it wasn’t an academic senior school,
it was a technical, they called it technical,
it was really metalwork and woodwork.
And, that was a real,
I don’t know, I was so upset
that it was this, yet another failure, you know.
And I was made to feel a failure by my father.
The metalwork teacher was a man called Mr Bulgin
I remember him so well. And he was a big fat er tall man,
muscular man, teaching metalwork
and you stood at your bench and,
you spent your time predominantly filing bits of metal.
In the same way you went to woodwork, you planed bits of wood.
You know, you wanted something half an inch high
and they gave you a piece of wood
that was an inch and a half high,
so that you had to, you just planed for ever,
or you just filed for ever, you know?
It was like a time-killer more than anything else.
And it was um I think it was er,
it absolutely destroyed
any interest you had in learning.
But if you, if you wasn’t filing hard enough
or you wasn’t going as quickly as anyone else,
then he would come up behind you
and he would hit you on the back of the legs
with a file, he had a long file with,
I mean with, a proper file with a handle on,
wooden handle on
and he would just hit you back across the legs.
And then also you begin to believe that
wherever you go in life,
the penalty will always be pain,
you know, this is how it works.
You start trying to put bits of this jigsaw together,
you‘re getting it at home,
getting it from your mother, your father,
and now you’re getting it at school.
I think I’d done really quite well.
So I told my father I was doing mock GCEs
and the timescale, I think it was over a period of,
it was more than a week, maybe ten days,
no, nothing, no feedback, no nothing.
I didn’t know past papers existed,
he would have known past papers existed.
And he could have helped me get them,
but he didn’t. (You didn’t have revision guides
like you have now.)
I’m sure there would have been
more to help me than nothing, d’you know.
But it was like, doesn’t exist, you know?
And then he announced
we would be going on holiday that year.
In all my life as a youngster,
I never once went on holiday with my parents,
we didn’t do holidays, I don’t know why.
And we would be going on holiday one week,
we would go on holiday for one week
and we went, the holiday was in Broadstairs
and it was a week,
the main week of the mock GCE’s.
And I said, I can’t go, I can’t go,
because I’ve got these mock GCE’s.
If I don’t take them, I won’t be entered.
He said, we’re going on holiday.
All those years that I’d worked so hard
to fight my way into the grammar stream,
to get to the top of the grammar stream
was just a lost cause.
I remember quite clearly
walking away from school that day,
on my last day at school
I would never go back there again ever
and just crying. I went with nothing
and I came away with nothing.
I had nothing to show
for the years that I had been there,
nothing at all.
And I knew then
that my life in the workplace
was going to be really tough.
So I left school and I went to work for my uncle.
My uncle works, was a works manager
for a paper factory in Camberwell
and he was, um he was,
I learned so much from him,
I mean he was the Dad I really needed,
you know, he had three girls and um he was,
he was such a knowledgeable man.
Not well educated, but he,
he had really worked hard to be where he was
and he’d got such an expanse of knowledge, you know.
And he was a very likeable man.
And that was the most important thing.
He was very gently spoken
and everything was fine.
And he offered to take me in
for as long as I needed
until I found a proper job.
And it was a good experience,
it was a good experience, um
although I got some flak from the staff,
because there used to be about a hundred workers there.
Because they knew he was my uncle,
so, you know you walk past a little crowd
and they all keep quiet, you know,
it was quite a strange atmosphere to me.
Others just openly cribbed me, you know,
but that was fine,
that was par for the course.
But what I did learn from that was
I don’t want to be there,
you know I’ve got to go into another gear
and find another way and get out of this,
get out of here, because this was really,
I couldn’t spend my life there.
And er I was there for ten months.
And then I had to pass an exam
to get into the Post Office.
They had a big mock-up Post Office,
really bizarre, where you served nobody,
postal orders and oh dear,
it was soul-destroying really when I look back.
I mean it was a job,
at least I was off the ground, you know.
And again I could work away,
I could work away and move on.
And that’s what I did,
I mean I just worked hard and hard and hard erm
I did actually move up within the Post Office
but erm it took a long time coming erm the relationship with, this, this was,
The relationship with the girlfriend was developing,
it was developing in one way,
in so much as um it was becoming more entrenched um,
which I’m not sure I wanted at that age,
I mean she was such a lovely girl,
but her mother was a big problem to me.
And so much so that in the end
the fault lines developed in the relationship
and um it started to degrade quite quickly.
I was working in the Post Office
with the intention of us getting engaged.
And I was doing as many hours as I could
in order to achieve that. And that meant
that I saw less of her
because it was like a six day job.
And I would work, we were allowed to work for other people,
so if somebody in the office wanted a day off,
you could work their shift and they could pay you,
there was like a standard rate they would pay you.
And that all agreed and fine, that’s how it worked.
So I was working six days a week,
from morning to night, working my socks off.
And she was working morning to night
and having her socks off with another guy.
So that sadly came to an end.
She gave me a key and said, you know,
come across earlier and you can watch TV or whatever.
Which I did. But then I got to the point when, not snooping,
but if you walked past the kitchen to get to the lounge
and you see a bowl of washing up in the sink,
you think she’s going to have to do that when she comes home,
I’ll do it for her. So I did the washing up.
And there was a lot of washing up. Did the washing up,
didn’t put it away, because I didn’t know where to put it,
but I wiped it all up and just left it on the side
and then went into the lounge
and I thought this could do with a hoovering, you know.
Um and, it just so happened,
the dining room, I opened the door
and there was a hoover there,
so I hoovered all round.
And then she came home,
I think she came home probably about twenty past five
and, from, she worked in ICI in Millbank,
so it wasn’t far for her to walk through Vincent Square.
She’s five foot two, so not very tall,
she’d lost her mother within the year before I met her,
so she’s had a bit of a rough time
so, she got through,
she came home this particular late afternoon
and suddenly realised that things had changed,
washing up had been done etcetera, etcetera.
And she said to me have you done the washing up?
I said yes. And what about the hoovering?
And I said yes, yeah I’ve done that.
Because I thought it would save you,
you’ve come home from a day’s work
and you’re going to have to do this.
And I saw her arm go back
and didn’t think anything of it, to be truthful,
I mean her arm just went back like that.
And then she had a fist and it came for me
and hit me in the glasses, hit me in the eye.
And because in those days the spectacles,
the actual lenses were made of glass,
not plastic as they are these days,
she actually went straight through the lens,
I mean there was no messing up, you know,
I could feel something trickling down my face.
Which was obviously blood. And er so I just left.
And I had to walk home
I didn’t have sufficient money
to be able to get the bus even.
So I walked home from Victoria to Camberwell.
And then I went on my way home,
(I lived off of Coldharbour Lane
in a road called Lilford Road.)
I went to King’s College Hospital,
so I diverted around, went to King’s College.
And they got the glass fragments
out of the lower eyelid and um
they put stitches in the lower eyelid, on the outside.
And then I had to get a new lens put in
which took about ten days,
because it’s not like you can walk into an optician today
and come out with a lens, I mean it just doesn’t,
they don’t have the optical people on site,
they didn’t have them at that time.
And so that was an introduction to
the person who was to become my wife.
she phoned me a lot of times,
I really wanted out of that,
I didn’t think that was the way forward.
But she kept on and on and. She was,
she never ever said she was sorry,
that was a worry, you know.
She never said, she wasn’t a person that,
I don’t think I’ve ever heard her say the word sorry.
(It’s not a word I like anyway.
It’s a disposable word, it’s like
a lighter that, once the fuel’s gone
you chuck it, you know.
I don’t think it’s got meaning, you know.)
She phoned me on numerous occasions,
just saying that she wanted to get back
and it would be okay, we would be alright.
And in the end I, I conceded the point
and went back. Things were never really,
never really brilliant and I actually worked out
that this is how she was, this is,
maybe this is how she was brought up,
maybe she’d seen her father doing this
and I was to learn that later on.
I don’t know, she,
she was really an unforgiving person
and she didn’t forgive herself.
And we went out with, er ,
for only a short time in fact,
we went out for um about three four months
and her father,
who was in a new relationship,
having lost his wife,
in fact he was in that relationship before his wife died,
which was, she died of cancer,
and I think that was a bit tragic,
he was involved with another woman before his wife died.
He told my wife that she had to leave.
Why did you get married to her?
I thought that she was somebody
who was troubled and needed help,
and that maybe I could give her that help.
I mean to be absolutely honest with you,
I mean I, the, next month I will get divorced.
I’ve waited five years and next month I can get divorced.
I would love to have,
I’ve not had a lady in my life for ten years.
Because five years she slept separately
in her room with a dog.
And for the last five years I’ve been living on my own.
So it’s been a really tough, tough time
not having someone close
that you can be with and talk to.
I tried, did my best, I tried.
And at the end of the day
I wasn’t the one who walked away.
She walked away. But that was the reason,
I’d hoped I could turn her life around
She, she sort of did strange things,
like she would, I would go to bed,
I always went to bed before her,
this is something that happened,
I mean I went to bed and,
I think maybe we had a TV
and maybe she was watching programmes
I didn’t particularly want to watch.
But I used to go to bed and read a book,
wait for her to come to bed and the,
the lights kept going off,
I mean this wasn’t one occurrence,
this was quite regular.
And the light went off, and then it came on again.
And then I would read a bit more
and then the light would go off
and then come on again. And in the end
I got up and went into this huge lounge
and she was at the mains fuse box
in the cupboard in the corner.
And she was turning it on and off.
Now I’ve never.. I asked her what she was doing
and she couldn’t reply, she didn’t reply, she wouldn’t reply.
And I’ve never been able
to work out what that was all about.
I mean it really just seems
to have been an annoyance factor
more than anything else. But childish.
But it happened over a period of time.
I mean it wasn’t just a one off.
So there were odd things that went on,
but maybe you know I just accepted that as part of the,
it came with the territory of maybe trying to help her.
We had a good time.
We bought a car as well
and I passed my test
and we bought a car
so we were mobile as well,
which was really lovely.
I said I didn’t want to be in the Post Office anymore,
I was having to work too long hours for the money.
I didn’t want to work in a public company,
and it was really my father that said to me
when I failed everything he said,
you must work, you must become a civil servant,
because you’ve got security.
And I got to the point of thinking,
when I started thinking for myself,
I don’t really care about security,
(at the time jobs were plentiful ,
you know), I will join, she works for ICI,
can you find out if there’s anything going?
She came home with some forms from personnel,
and I applied for the job,
went for an interview with ICI,
in accounting, and got the job
and that was in export credit control
and it was a brilliant job
and tripled my salary overnight.
So everything became, financially became okay.
So I joined ICI in 1969
and set about working hard there in order to establish a,
I always had to establish a reputation.
I need to establish a reputation,
or to show evidence of what I’ve done,
or it’s a nightmare really,
I’m sure that if I’d been to university
I wouldn’t have to do all those things.
In 1970, a year after I joined,
in 1969 when I joined ICI,
late 69 my wife miscarried and
I went home because she was ill
and she was sitting on the toilet and she had,
she was having terrible trouble.
And the embryo was in the loo.
So I got her cleaned up and,
with towels and various things
and got this thing out the toilet
and wrapped it up
and we went up to the maternity unit at Kings.
And they confirmed that she had miscarried.
They took her in, to clean her up internally.
And that was a hard time, that was a very difficult time.
And that must, I knew that must be a very difficult time for her,
because it’s as I understand it
with miscarriages it’s not just a physical thing,
I think there’s a psychological element attached to it as well.
But they always seemed to recommend that once you can,
once you’re in a position to conceive again,
to go for it, you know,
I think they try to fill the gap, I don’t know.
But that’s what we were advised to do.
In 1970, my son Stuart was born,
so that was the year after.
And he was a healthy baby.
And that was the start of the family,
that was a strange situation,
I mean she was continuing with the lights,
it was really weird
and I almost saw Stuart as an intervention
between her and me,
you know that I’d had her attention fully
for a year, eighteen months
and then suddenly this child comes along,
who’s totally dependent on her,
and I’m sure a lot of men must go through this sort of thing you know,
suddenly it seems like a gap appears between you,
another fault line you know. I mean those feelings only lasted,
I think they were quite selfish actually.
But they only lasted for a relatively short period of time.
And Stuart was a delight, he was perfect
and I used to do a great deal with him,
we had the car so we used to be able to drive to Dulwich Park,
Dulwich Park a wonderful place,
walk around Dulwich Park,
you can drive around Dulwich Park
or you could at the time.
Absolutely amazing, they had azaleas ,
rhododendrons at a certain time of year,
it’s a joy, such a joy.
And then In 1973, Nicholas was born,
completely the opposite in character to Stuart,
but another joy,
it was just like a real happy family,
real happy family.
But things were starting to go wrong there.
The whole mood of that area
was starting to turn ugly by comparison
to what we knew when we first moved there,
or what I’d known since I first moved there.
It was becoming a bit more violent,
drugs were starting to appear,
the early stages of drugs were starting to appear.
I became very upset when
Stuart came home from a playschool he was at
and he was swearing
as if it was normal language.
I thought, it’s time to go.
So we started to look around.
(We were in a position then
to be able to buy a house.
And we started to look around in 1975.)
And we came across Woking.
And Woking was ideal,
because I still had to travel to London every day
and the train service to Woking was very good,
from Woking to London was very good,
although the bus service was rubbish.
In 1978 life improved
and we had what are called friends,
but I, I have a thing about the word friends,
like I have a thing about the word ‘sorry’.
Friends are only transient,
they’re only here for a time
or they’re only your friends for a time, you know,
and you suddenly find out
that they’re not as nice as they look,
they, they were,
I mean they were friends,
they were people that we knew,
we’d moved into a new house in a new street,
it was the first phase of god knows how many
and we were all in the same boat,
there were no pavements,
there was a road but no pavements
and everything was rough, you know, around.
And em we were all of the same age.
And that was quite good,
but of course it doesn’t last,
because people will eventually move on
and you lose contact
and it’s okay for the moment
and I’ve always found that very difficult to cope with.
Very much more now,
find it very difficult to cope with.
I started travelling with work
throughout Europe in 1980,
extensively throughout Europe,
three weeks at a time
and that lasted for a very long time,
probably for about a year and a half.
It was quite tough going,
but I got through it and enjoyed it,
I just loved everything I saw.
And it, I mean simple things,
like it was a joy at weekends
when I wasn’t working
to go to the local park on a Sunday and you see
the father and his mother and the children,
immaculately dressed, just parading,
just erm in their best clothes,
they’ve got the most magical dress sense,
absolutely amazing. And that was, it was great.
In 1983, Helen was born
and I wanted a daughter,
I’d always wanted a daughter,
(I probably wouldn’t say that now.)
I wanted a daughter,
we had two sons
and it was really the last chance
as far as I was concerned
and luckily she came along.
I’d moved away from Europe,
working in Europe
to working in North South and Central America.
Very tough, that was,
because it was the same thing,
trips out all the time but these were places,
Central American places like Nicaragua, which was civil war,
El Salvador, war, Costa Rica very good,
Honduras, a lot of unrest
and youngsters of fourteen made up the army,
so you’d come across these fourteen year olds
with guns as big as them.
And that was quite scary,
because they knew that I was a businessman,
they could tell I was probably American or Canadian,
they wouldn’t have known I was English,
but I was a white man, and I was carrying,
they would know I was carrying money,
because you always carried your possessions with you,
you never left them in the hotel.
So that was a bit frightening.
And in, when I left Honduras,
I left Honduras to go to Costa Rica,
to get a break and er
I did receive a death threat.
If I ever returned to Honduras I’d be killed.
That was very frightening.
You could get somebody killed in Honduras,
a guy told me, guy who owed, owes us money
and who paid me money,
which was very good,
but he said I could get somebody killed in Honduras
for a thousand dollars.
The Honduran army would just make it work.
So it was a, it was a real, you know.
Hanging out the washing
There was a very strange experience,
which may seem simple,
or may have seemed simple at the time,
but later was to develop into something worse
and this was about the washing line.
We’d a rotary washing line in the garden,
my wife was hanging washing on the line,
mine and hers,
and my daughter went mad, absolutely mad.
And we, she couldn’t speak properly,
and we didn’t understand what she was saying,
but she was pointing and pointing and indicating,
I got the impression that
she didn’t want my washing
intermingled with my wife’s.
She wanted it separated.
But my wife,
instead of speaking with her and ignoring it,
she separated the washing,
which I think was the biggest mistake ever,
because you’re actually bowing to the child’s wishes,
which are, they must be unfounded in some way,
there’s something going on there
that we’re not understanding, you know.
But she stopped crying, stopped indicating
and that was it,
so my wife thereafter hung the washing out separately,
it was alright with the kids’ washing with my wife’s,
but my wife’s with mine no.
We didn’t do anything about it,
I mean my wife just sort of bowed
to what she was,
I said to my wife you are really making a mistake
by doing that, but she just wanted a quiet life.
That manifests later, as she gets older,
that turns into something much more difficult to handle.
I collected up all the pieces
in a plastic bag, and I went
to see her aunt and uncle who lived in,
about four miles away.
I put it all into a bag,
into the car and went over to see them,
and I was, I cried all the way,
at last I could show my emotion in private,
as I was driving, you know?
And it was, it was really,
I don’t know,
you might think it’s only a material thing,
but it was more than that to me, you know.
Lots of things had passed
through the lens of the camera
that were really very precious
and suddenly it had all gone.
And I hadn’t seen such a display of violence
for some years and the realisation
that it was still there
was very frightening.
Back to Work
I’d the holiday which I needed
and then came back to work
and it was really tough going
because I was setting up an accounting section
within the department, trying to recruit staff
and trying to keep the work going as well
and I was doing eighty-four hours a week,
which was, seven days a week was really difficult.
And we were, we’d started moving offices,
we owned two blocks , two buildings
and we were moving from one building to the other
whilst the first was refurbished.
When that was refurbished we moved back in
and refurbished the other one.
It was a really dreadful, dreadful job.
If the manpower had been in place
it would have been okay
but trying to do so much
was almost impossible.
And moving as well.
A day at the office
I phoned a, the person
who was in charge of security
if he would come and have a chat.
And he came down and I started,
he came into the office
and I didn‘t feel any different,
I didn’t feel anything,
but I looked at the man when he came in
and I didn’t know who it was.
And I didn’t know his name,
and I didn’t know why he was there..
Had he come to see me,
or did I ask him to come and see me?
Dunno. And I knew then that
there was something quite wrong, you know.
So I asked him if he would mind going
and I’d get in contact with him
and, I just had to go a short way to the lift,
and I knew I had to get medical help, it’s funny,
in your hour of need, you know the way to go.
And I got the lift to whichever floor it was
and got out and went to the medical section
and I was seen straightaway by,
there were two nursing sisters,
nobody in there, no employees.
Straightaway saw a nursing sister
and she sat me on a chair
and started to ask questions
and I didn’t, her mouth was going
and I didn’t know what she was saying,
what was she talking about?
And I just started crying. And, she just,
her mouth moved and she just walked away.
And then the doctor came
and he kind of took my arm
and took me into his office
and I felt secure in a way
that somebody was kind of paying attention
to what was going on.
And er, and he,
I remember him saying
um something about breakdown and
you need to go home for three weeks,
at least three weeks
and we’ll get you transport..
I saw the psychiatrist at The Priory,
and he gave me some medication,
which took a little while to work
but it was okay, you know,
it started to calm things down.
Erm and I think it was coming up
to around Christmas
by the time all this was, I got to this point.
I remember about,
thinking about Christmas cards,
I couldn’t write the Christmas cards.
It really is strange,
I was trying to get the kids
to help me to write the Christmas cards.
I wouldn’t go out,
I couldn’t go out to get presents,
oh it was a real strange nightmare.
I was regularly seeing the psychiatrist.
And he assured me
that it would come all right.
Well it never came right.
So I returned to work
So I returned to work
after four and a half months,
eventually got back
after four and a half months.
And I was a different person,
You know I was not,
I was no longer self-assured or confident,
all of that had gone.
Um and I was scared and very protective.
And I was protective
because I was frightened
that it was going to happen again.
So I needed to take all precautions.
I threw myself into the job,
and I was there for fifteen months.
And it happened again,
same thing happened again,
same time of year. Um and it was,
I described it as, it’s like if you become,
if you come under so much pressure and you,
it comes at you from all angles,
it’s like you pull shutters down,
you pull these metal shutters down,
they come crashing down, you know?
And then you’re protected inside.
And that’s precisely how it is.
I was in and out of the psychiatric hospital,
I was in as an in-patient for one year,
almost one year,
I’d taken three overdoses,
because I didn’t want
the pain and hostility indoors
it was just too much to bear, you know?
At the end of that period
I was transferred to the day hospital,
where I went Monday to Friday by ambulance
for five years.
And that was from ten till three.
That meant I could see psychiatric nurses,
I could see the psychiatrist,
um there were OTs, occupational therapists,
so there were, there were things to do,
things to occupy your mind
but it was all um I don’t know,
sort of run on a shoestring, you know?
That’s not their fault but,
that sound a bit snobby,
but I mean I was grateful
for somewhere to go where I was safe
and I was away from my wife for a day.
At the end of the five years,
I used to go there by ambulance,
he used to pick me up at about nine o’clock
and he would do a round and pick up other people
and um, then go to the hospital
and then do the same in reverse on the way home,
it was usually the same driver.
But there again, even that,
it was quite difficult because,
during that time, four..
Four people that I knew
There was always a young girl on the ambulance.
She always wore a Chelsea shirt.
And she was a glorious young thing, you know,
she was kind of bouncy
and always help you
if you were sitting there a bit down,
she’d come and chat with you, you know,
she lived round the corner to me,
ten minutes away, and I used to say to her
Look if you’ve ever got any problems
you know where I am, you know?
And he came to my place one morning
and she wasn’t on the, on the,
on the ambulance. And I said,
I asked where she was and he said I don’t know,
he said she’s not answering.
So we drove to the hospital and then there was this,
all of the staff came on the stage,
cause we’d sit on the stage
waiting for whatever we had to do,
and you know OT or whatever,
they all walked on the stage
and I thought this is weird,
it must be something to do with the fact
we didn’t pick her up this morning.
And it was.
That weekend she’d taken an overdose.
And I just, it just destroyed me, you know?
I’d known her for three or four years
and she used to sit,
there were single seats,
one seat each side,
she used to always sit opposite me and,
I then realised how, for the first time,
how dangerous this was, this illness was.
And that it could just snatch someone.
I left her on Friday, quite normal,
and on Monday, by Monday she was dead,
she died at the weekend obviously.
But, you know I think to myself
why didn’t she call me,
why didn’t she come to my house,
why didn’t she ring, you know.
When you’re in that situation you don’t.
You gotta be in that situation to know.
I had an even better friend,
somebody I knew very well
who used to come and visit me when I was ill.
She’d been ill and she came
and visited me when I was ill.
And she used to come from Molesey,
East Molesey. And she committed suicide.
She hung herself.
And you think, why didn’t she call me?
But the reason that they,
people don’t call you,
and I wouldn’t call you
is because you are so focused
on what you’re doing
and you’ve got to get it right,
if you get it wrong you could be in trouble,
you gotta get it right
and you’re so focused on that ,
it’s like if you’re walking with me,
we’re walking down the same road,
I’m not walking with you,
I don’t see you, I’m just,
I’ve got blinkers on, you know,
I know where I’m going and that’s how it is, you know.
And it wasn’t until I understood that
that I could almost forgive myself
for not being able to do anything,
you know, I mean I would have moved mountains
to have kept that girl alive.
But that’s how it er, that’s how it worked,
I mean, that’s how I,
those were the reasons why things happened.
Whilst I was in hospital
and going to the day hospital,
it was almost my daughter
who had engineered things
in such a way that she had taken my place,
so it was my wife and my daughter
who were running the show.
I wasn’t there any longer and I,
I wasn’t of sound mind to be able to um
say, you know, excuse me, that’s my job.
I just, you know, I just didn’t know what was going on,
I didn’t recognise it. And so we had things like the car,
where um, my wife said that she wanted to get another car,
even though the current car was a brand-new,
pretty brand-new car, or pretty new car,
and was big enough to take the dog,
but no she wanted a new car.
So she decided, with my daughter,
that they would go and look for a car.
And all I said to them was,
well if you look for a car, um,
come back and tell me and I’ll come with you
and we’ll look at the car together,
we’ll just see. And they promised me
that would be the case. But my daughter,
unbeknown to me, knew a chap
who worked for Renault, in the Renault garage
which was about half a mile away.
And when they came back eventually,
the first words my daughter said were,
we’ve got a new car.
I made sort of representations,
I mean it was pointless, it was really pointless,
because they were together,
they were saying you know,
but it’s a perfect car, perfect car,
don’t worry about it, it’s a perfect car.
And I said what about my car?
Oh, we’ve part-exchanged that.
But the irony was, from that,
that my wife was on the insurance, it was her insurance,
my daughter was on her insurance
and I wasn’t on her insurance.
So I had no car, I couldn’t drive a car.
But I had an insurance certificate.
I spent all my time there, in my room, destroying,
I destroyed six thousand photographs,
destroyed six thousand photographs.
They were, they were, they were
a mixture of slides and photographs,
colour photographs, black and white photographs,
I used to develop and print myself
before I was ill
and I just didn’t want to leave anything behind
if some thing, if something happened to me,
if I chose that road,
or if that road was chosen for me,
I didn’t want to leave anything behind.
Abraham Cowley Unit
In 2005 I went into hospital
because of an overdose
and left after one week
because they’d given me
such a hard time
in the hospital. I mean
an unbelievably hard time.
I was seeing all sorts of strange things
and hearing strange things,
I did physically see two things that
I saw an Indian gentleman in the,
the dining room, who had like a,
an Indian robe on, that sort of
hung three quarters of the way
down his back and like the cotton trousers.
And he had faeces all down his back,
and all down his trousers.
And he was going in the forks,
knives and forks with his hands, you know.
He was like that for half a day,
nobody said anything or did anything,
it was really awful.
And then the woman in the room next to me, she
I didn’t know that she had a colostomy bag
and it burst,
I was walking towards her and it burst
and there was this shower of stuff
hitting the walls both sides.
And the smell, absolutely gross,
not her fault, poor woman, you know.
But the nurse, two or three nurses came
and they didn’t wash it with disinfectant,
they wiped it with paper towel.
I just couldn’t, it was like
I’m being punished beyond all reason
for taking an overdose
on this occasion.
The doctor I saw
at Abraham Cowley Unit at the time,
she just took me off all medication,
that’s what did it for me, all medication.
And so I didn’t sleep eat or,
sleep eat or drink for five days.
I just couldn’t do anything.
Like I was paralysed.
And um, she started me on some tablets
after about day three or four
and I couldn’t then go to the toilet,
I couldn’t pass fluids.
And she said I must have a bladder infection.
I knew that the tablets were doing it,
I knew the tablets were doing it but she,
she made me go through this ritual of testing,
testing for a, er a urinary infection
and then testing for a prostate infection
and then she was going to go
further along the kidneys
or something like that.
But she didn’t get the chance
because I bailed out
and went to the Priory where they were,
they were sympathetic,
they were sympathetic.
I mean that’s what you pay for,
or the insurance company is.
They were very kind.
I felt that I was in the right environment
to get better, you know,
I really do feel I was in the right environment.
I still have thoughts
I still have thoughts
of suicide, no question,
I have everything I need to do it.
Um. On the last,
on all the occasions I’ve done I,
I’ve done it with tablets
and taken the tablets with water.
And on the last occasion
I knew that I’d got
the combination of tablets right
and I took them with water
and I took them when the house was empty
and no-one was expected back all day
and unfortunately for me
my daughter came back after three hours,
just on the off chance,
just for some reason she had
something to pick up from the house,
and I was wedged down the side of the toilet,
unconscious. Then I was taken into A and E,
then taken into intensive care.
And I, as far as I was concerned,
I thought I’d done the job well.
Annoyingly they seem to have the skill or knowledge to,
and the medication probably,
to get you through that. But my daughter
actually said to me
when I got better from that,
she said, d’you know, and she didn’t have to say,
(I mean I would never say this to anyone
in a million years), she said
when we came up the hospital, Mum and I,
the doctor saw us in the corridor.
And he said, that Mr Moore had taken
a sufficient medication to kill himself.
Where he went wrong was (... )
If he’d (..), he would be dead
and I wouldn’t be talking to you in the corridor.
Now, was my daughter telling me something?
She gave me the final key, the final because I,
I know that the young girl in the ambulance
with me took pills like that.
And I never thought about that myself.
My daughter confirmed
that that was the way to do it.
The other thing I do is cut
The other thing I do is cut.
I cut with a,
I’ve got a scalpel and blades,
scalpel blades. And I cut
and the reason I cut is because,
if I’m suffering from, it’s like mental pain
is like a physical pain in your head, you know.
And it is absolutely crushing your head.
The pain, that’s usually accompanied
by a particular concern
or concerns that you’ve got about something,
somebody’s doing something to you
or somebody’s getting at you
or whatever. And if you cut,
you do it, I do it for the pain,
the pain exceeds that pain,
and the more you cut,
the more pain you generate,
and that sort of levels this out
and makes it more manageable.
And it’s almost like a shock in,
within your system, you know?
This is happening and your arm’s
absolutely dripping in blood.
But it is generally because the pain there
is bigger than the pain in here.
It makes it more manageable.
And then I’ve the, I have the knowledge
to stop that, to stop the bleeding,
I can’t stop the pain, I can stop the bleeding
and I have the equipment to stop the bleeding,
the strips, you know you can,
they don’t always stitch in hospital these days,
they use these strips, butterfly strips.
And of course the clips or whatever they use.
But I’ve got the strips and then bind it,
make sure it’s scrupulously cleaned
and the pain is, it goes on
for two or three days, four days.
The pain is absolutely unbelievable.
But it er, it does the job.
For me it does the job.
I never tell the community psychiatric nurse,
I never tell anybody until the psychiatrist,
because that might be something
they would want to section you for,
if it got out of hand.
So I just don’t talk about it.
But that’s one thing I’m very frightened of,
is being sectioned. And I think anyone
who suffers from mental health problems
is, because you can be sectioned
for a week, a day, three days, a month,
six months, a year. At the end of the year,
I’ve known people at the end of the year
struggling through to the end of the year
to be at the point of release, and then
they’re resectioned for another year.
And there’s nothing outside of that place
that says that you can’t do that.
They can do that, two doctors
if they believe that that’s the way,
that’s the way.
So I’m petrified of being sectioned.
And, as I say, I get over this my own way.
I um, one day it’ll go wrong I know
and I’ll cut the wrong bit.
I really worry about where the arteries are,
find out where the arteries are
and make sure I don’t cut them.
Who knows one day what’ll go wrong.
But I, I have said to my doctor,
to the psychiatrist
that I will die by my own hand,
I will die by my own hand.
I will decide when I die.
But that won’t be a conscious decision,
that will be, I will be taken over
by something that makes me do it.
My wife came in,
I was downstairs at the time
and she said to me,
she came into the room,
she said, she just said,
she had this sort of sinister look on her face,
it’s a look that is familiar to me
when she’s kind of seething inside,
it’s a real ‘I want an answer’ job, you know,
it’s really it’s a horrible,
almost piercing look through you.
And she said do you love me?
And I said, yes,
of course I love you, you know I do.
And she walked out of the room.
And then she marched back in
and she said I want my freedom back.
And I said, what do you mean,
you want your freedom back?
You’ve got your freedom,
you’re free to do anything you want
at any time, whatever it costs,
you can do what you want.
She said no, I want my freedom,
my freedom back. So I said
what you mean is
you don’t want me around.
And she didn’t answer
but that’s what she alluded to.
The trouble with all of this is
The trouble with all of this is,
you know I’ve lost my wife,
I’ve lost my daughter, um
I’ve lost my eldest son,
I don’t know why I lost my eldest son,
it was because my daughter had a row with him.
He wanted nothing to do with the family.
So I haven’t seen him for,
I don’t know, two years, three years,
I used to go and see him every Sunday.
And my youngest son,
I’ve lost him as well now.
Um, my daughter in fact got married in 2007
and um she, she hadn’t been talking to me
for many months and three days before the wedding
she came round and handed me that,
she knocked on the door,
I took that from her and closed the door.
And that’s, that’s a wedding invitation.
And this is three days before the wedding.
This had actually been sent out to everyone else
five months before
and it gives all the information you need, local hotels
if you want to stay in local hotels,
and it also included the John Lewis gift list.
And I thought that that,
that was the ultimate,
the ultimate insult, you know?
The other thing about it was,
I would not, it was made clear,
I would not be sitting at the top table.
I’m her Dad!
I would not be giving her away,
I would not be playing the role of a father,
I would be playing the role of a visitor or a guest.
I didn’t even reply to it.
A more predictable life
You know, in this case it was my son.
And it, of his own free will
he decided to stay away and not have contact.
I couldn’t have contact with him,
because I didn’t know when he was there,
I have got no, I can’t really phone my daughter in law ,
I just can’t um so it’s of his own making you know and..
In this case he is the only one
where I’ve made it happen myself.
I have decided that
although I live a more lonely life,
because the more people who go
the lonelier I become,
and he was the last one. I mean the others,
Helen got rid of herself,
my wife got rid of herself,
my eldest son got rid of himself,
Nick sat on the fence,
he didn’t know who to go with
so I pushed him off the wall
and pushed him away.
It’s shame because I
had a lot in common with Nick.
He’s more like me
than my other two children.
And he’s, he’s very docile in a way,
but he doesn’t do things,
he’s not proactive
he just accepts it.
So I mean, I’ve basically, I’ve lost him.
And, and that’s the way it is, I,
I live a more predictable life,
but I live a very solitary life.
And now I have to go into hospital.
Cats and shadows
And I said to him, you know,
when you’re not here, and when I’m on my own
and I’ve been on my own for,
say for three days, it’s over a weekend,
I said, I see cats coming out of the wall,
I see a ginger cat and a black cat.
And that really is true.
And this is a regular occurrence,
I think I own a bloody ginger cat and a black cat.
And they come round behind me,
I’m sitting at the computer
and they come round behind me.
I’m not fazed by it at all,
you know they come
and I don’t know where they go,
I don’t look behind me,
they just come and they are cats,
there is no question about it.
And I’ve never seen them go out,
but they, they come in.
But sometimes what happens,
if, er , I sit at the computer,
continue sitting at the computer,
the black cat will come,
we’ve had cats at home for ever,
will come and brush itself on my left leg,
I feel my left leg as if a cat’s brushing against it.
But I look down and I can see a black cat,
the back end of a black cat,
no problem at all, um ,
I don’t worry about it but, I mean it shows me
that my mind’s playing tricks with me, you know,
and that’s not right,
there’s something in there that’s sparking that off.
What is that, I don’t know.
And then, last night I was cooking my tea
and I hear voices, always hear voices,
the voices are in the lounge. I hear singing,
I heard, last night I heard a, a tenor singing.
And he was singing for quite a long time
and then suddenly a soprano came in with him, you know,
and they were singing together.
Now that, I’ve got no radio on
and I don’t have a television..
I get television pictures on my computer.
But it wasn’t, it wasn’t on television.
My neighbours don’t play loud music,
so where’s that coming from, you know?
And then, I see shadows
as I look towards the front room, the lounge,
there’s like a shadow, it sort of,
it sort of moves around the room,
you know as a shadow would,
it sort of buckles
and I think there’s somebody in there,
I have to go and look.
I always have to go and look,
then I have to check every room.
And there’s nothing there.
And I go back to the kitchen,
and then there’s a showdown again.
Or I see lights, there’ll be a light like a torch,
a very slim torch, powerful just flash, voom, so
and it will do it half a dozen times,
and you look and there’s nothing there.
So it’s all these things that compound the depression.
It’s all because there are things
that you can’t understand what’s going on.
They say to me I suffer from psychosis and paranoia.
Well that’s probably true,
because I always think there’s people,
that there are people watching me.
So I have to go out at different times of day
and different routes
and never take the same,
never go the same way.
There’s all these things going on, you know,
that you have to be mindful of
and what you touch, you know,
even when I, when I go to communion,
because I converted to Catholicism,
(not because my daughter did
but because I wanted to),
just before you take communion,
you have to show the sign of peace
to people around you
by shaking their hand.
So you shake hands with your right hand.
And when you go up
to get the host or the wafer,
put your left hand on top,
so it’s putting your left hand,
you know your left hand’s clean,
because you haven’t used it.
But I can’t take the wine,
because that’s er,
that’s used by everybody.
So there’s no way I can use that.
I’ve written instructions for funeral arrangements,
what has to, what I want to happen,
and I’ve also written the service itself,
I’ve said in here who can come, who can’t. What I’ve done
is incorporated a lot of personal stuff into the service,
because these days you can more or less do what you want
as far as funeral service is concerned.
I’ve invited all the health professionals there.
I mean most of them, most of them probably won’t come,
but in the service itself I’ve got a prayer,
I’ve got up there, the Minister,
‘It was to hard to bear, Peter’s pain
was more than he could stand any longer.
Almighty God, Peter saw no alternative.
He was trapped with no way out,
he was desolate and desperately lonely.
All hope had gone and he was plunging
into another place.
He paid the ultimate price.
Please forgive him Lord and bring him now to Christ,
who brought his pain to death
and grant his peace.’
This is the bit for the professionals.
‘There are so many people
that Peter feels he has let down,
and for which he is very sorry’
I mean, I know that
when this time comes,
I won’t even think about them...
‘In our mercy please help each to understand
that what has happened
was not their responsibility.’
(So this is a funeral service
based on the presumption
that you will commit suicide?)
Yes. Yes. Well I mean,
as I said to the psychiatrist
I will die by my own hand. Yes.. Um
‘In your mercy please help each to understand
that what has happened
was not their responsibility.
They were a wonderful team and Peter cared
for each and every one of them very dearly.
They never failed Peter, Peter failed them.
However, he needs them to know that
he could no longer struggle
with a life of constant punishing depression
and mental pain, deep anguish, loneliness ,
constant despair and endless difficulties with family,
now or in the future.
His work in this place was now finished
and there was nothing left to do
or achieve. His job was done
and he died as he knew he always would.
Let’s hope the stay in hospital starts to prove you wrong
Well, I mean. Yeah, I mean,
being in hospital is like a,
being in that hospital, I mean, I’m
I am hopeful with that hospital,
but being in hospital is like
being cocooned, you know?
You become out of touch with reality.
It’s not, you can only test it
once you come out and you’re in,
back in the community on your own, you know,
you haven’t got people there twenty-four hours a day.
But I will go in with a positive attitude
of trying to get better
because I know there is
so much more I would like to do.
But I equally know that
there are no guarantees with this.