“They fuck you up, your mum and dad”
– Mr Philip Larkin 1971
There are times when I just lie awake.
Secretly planning, lining them up, identifying those who I know are culpable of damaging innocent lives. The hidden stories that unfurl, the unthinkable, the unimaginable; it’s real.
As I absorb individual life recounts, it flits through my thoughts; who was Philip Larkin writing for? ’Cos these lives are more than just f**ked up.
In my mind, in those wee small hours I have those men, the patriarch, in my sights. They’re up against a wall; am I going to shoot them? Of course I’m not. Instead I conjure up all the ways I can make them understand what their actions have done.
“But they were fucked up in their turn”
So, then over time I get to meet them. They visit, the abusers, the ones (I think) I know so much about. The introduction often strained, sheepishly Dad is pushed forward.
We shake hands.
My ‘wall’ moment is here, it’s now and their backs are against it.
But they are not the evil I’d imagined, instead they are just aged and damaged.
They tell me how important this place is, lament what their lives might have been. Perhaps, maybe, could they come here… a volunteer?
I am cracking, they do not need me to explain, they know because it happened to them.
“Man hands on misery to man”
They are more like siblings than father and son. No, it’s not even that, it’s as if everything is the wrong way around. The child is acting as the parent, seemingly the responsible adult.
The man who broke his son’s arm, who near drowned him, burnt him, scarred him, abused him, I see is still cared about, even still loved in some form or other. And oh, how strong is the desire for unconditional love, no matter what it looks like.
So, perhaps attention in whatever form it comes is better than no attention?
“And don’t have any kids yourself.”
That was Larkin’s cautionary advice on how to break the cycle.
It’s not mine.
Our Chair of Trustees Ted Tuppen is cycling 443 miles in four days for LandWorks!
Not only that, he is match-funding every £1 sponsored. So, every £100 raised becomes £250 after gift aid and match funding.
“For a 65 -year old man who doesn’t look great in Lycra, cycling 443 miles through the Scottish Highlands in four days, sleeping in a small tent, is quite a challenge. But I have trained hard for a year and am now determined to complete the Scottish leg of the Deloitte Ride across Britain, starting in Penrith on 14 September and cycling to John O’Groats”.