I was ten years old when Dad said we were moving house.
Tea time were sitting at the kitchen table eating bacon and potatoes when it was first mentioned. ‘What do you think then would you like to move house?’
‘We’d be living near your nanny, and there is a school right across the road from the house!’
‘My school is across from this house’ I reply.
I carried on pushing my bacon round my plate, without speaking, there’s a family that I know they want a house swap with us but if you don’t want to go we won’t go’
Yeah right i thought. ‘But my school is across the road here Dad’ I say again.
I like my school, and our Pam and the kids live here’
‘Well it’s only a bus ride away.
They can sleep over.’
What he forgot to mention is it was across the road from the labor club he drank in.
I put my fork down and stood up. ‘Come here and give your Dad a love.’
He held his arms out and pulled me onto his knee ‘Come on smile for your Dad’. I smiled weakly and so it was we were moving away from everything I knew.
On the day of the move Mam was still packing boxes old tea chests with sharp metal edges I sat in the back garden with my dog lady listening to Dad and his brother Frank laughing in the kitchen. I don’t remember a van there but must have been one.
I remember uncle Frank’s Mk 1 pale blue scruffy escort stuffed with bags the bird’s cage on the back seat with all the old cushions of the sofa. The yellow topped Formica kitchen table tied upside down on top of the roof rack. I remember staring at the paint stained legs of the table as the rain started to fall.
We must have looked a sight! Nesbits bloody flitting my Dad said laughing his booming laugh as he stood at the front door drinking his last pint in our lovely old house.
Then after our dinner of spam and piccalilli butties Mam hurried my dog lady and me into the back of the car with the last of our belongings. uncle Frank was always running out of petrol and prayed he would run out today but sods law he wouldn’t. I held onto Lady she shook and shivered she hated being in a car I talked softly to her promising her we would be alright but from the moment I stepped out of the car I knew I was wrong.
Everywhere looked dull and grey.
Our old house was across from the woods, ponds with tadpole’s.
Fields with horses and the pig farm and apple orchards everywhere there was green.
I couldn’t believe the difference.
We were just behind the main road on what I was soon to find out was the rough side of town. Industrial, grey and bleak.
The house was at the very end of the terraced street on the edge of a huge council estate.
Greyhound track on the gable end of the house, school field in front leading to canal at the side of a massive ugly gas meter. From the back door was the busy main road I stood in the rain and cried.
‘Dad I want to go home’.
’Don’t be so bloody daft we are home’ he said taking my dog from me.
She pulled on the lead and looked back at me she wanted to go home too I knew it.
Then with a slam of the door he locked her in the outside brick shed!
I screamed I was near hysterical ‘Please Dad please don’t lock lady in there she’ll be scared.’ I pulled at his jacket but he pushed me off and snapped the lock shut on the bolt! I could heat lady scratching to get out and she start to whine. I hung onto his coat.’I’ll look after her Dad’ I continued to plead ‘She doesn’t know were she is!’ He grabbed my arm.
‘STOP IT NOW! he road back handing me with a slap knocking me onto the wet soggy grass.
‘She’s bloody staying in there until I get back all the doors are open in the house and your Mam is sorting out she’ll get out and run off.
‘Now go help your mammy unpack and I’ll let her out when I get back from the club. I’m going for a pint with our Frank.’
That’s when I realized why we’d moved. The labor club were Mam and Dad drank was across the main road. I could see it from the back door. I sat against the shed door sobbing in the rain watched him walk away over the club to get drunk again.
Lady cried inside and I cried outside. Mam opened the back door ‘Get in here and help me unpack.’
‘No!’ I screamed I’m staying out here! Until Dad comes back.’
‘Well bloody stay there’ she muttered.
I lay against the door pushing my fingers underneath to feel lady’s wet nose.
It was freezing lying on the flags but I couldn’t leave her there she was scared. Itwent dark and Dad still wasn’t back. Still I didn’t move.
I hated him now.
Mam was shouting at me to come inside, ‘Get in now or I’ll bloody belt you look at the bloody state of you,’
‘No! I’m not leaving lady!’
‘The next thing I know Mam’s dragging me kicking and screaming through the back door. ‘Get up the stairs now and into bed!’
‘I hate you I hate you both I shout.
I hated her, hated Dad!
But most of all I hated this house. I stood at the window looking over at the club all lit up by spot lights around the car park.
I stand staring at the big blue door. People go in different people come out.
I lie on the bed determined not to sleep.
But eventually I do.
Daylight comes through the window and I jump up still wearing damp clothes from the day before looked out of my window to the back garden, the shed door swinging to and fro in the wind. I run downstairs Mam stands stiring tea in the tiny kitchen.
’Ask your bloody Dad!’
I run into the living room were he is lying on the sofa propped up from the night before. ‘Well tell her then!’ says Mam from the kitchen.
I feel suddenly sick.
And I want to cry.
‘Dads were is she?’
’She’ll be back’ he said with a false smile and a tear spilled from my eye. ‘Where?’
I asked again
‘He let her out last night pissed bastard, and she ran off.’
I’m sobbing now. ‘Lets go find her now!
She might get run over on that big road,’
‘Dad please, please get up she doesn’t know were she is!’
‘I’ve looked’ he is saying. But he’s lying he is still drunk.
I pulled on my shoes and run out of the house. I’m crying so hard I can’t see.
For hours I call her name, walked up and down the big main road, over to Nanny goat park then up and down the back streets every corner I turned I expected to see her. She isn’t just my dog shes my best friend
The lady from the flying horse pub comes out and asks if I’m okay?
‘Have you seen my dog her name is Lady she’s a whippet, we just moved here she doesn’t know her way home, my Dad let her out last night and I cant find her’ I looked up at her still sobbing.
‘No my darling were do you live?’
And I realized I dont even know my address.
‘Does your mammy know your out, where’s your coat?’
I cant answer her.
‘Poor doll’ I hear her say as I walked away. Eventually it goes dark and I walk back to see if she has found her way to the house. She hasn’t.
Every day for a week I refuse to eat or go to look at my new school I want lady back and I wanted to go home.
Everyone else carry’s on as normal.
Then one afternoon Dad comes in with a letter he sits me on the stairs and gives it to me to read he tells me it is from the vet.
I can’t see to read it through my tears he said lady had been knocked down on the main road, they had operated on her leg but she had died. I cried so much my whole body hurt. I hate you I managed to sob as I slammed the bedroom door behind me.
I wished it wad been him instead of lady it was his fault. I loved her more than anything, she’d been with me since I was born she slept by my bed.
All the times I had been hurt, or woke in the night when the monster came it was her that calmed me.
Sneaking into my bedroom to lick away my tears.
Who would look after me now?
Years later in one of their many arguments Mam shouted out that Dad had some girl from the labor club type that vets letter out to stop me from looking for her.
The night of the move Dad had come back drunk he’d opened the door of the shed lady had run from him and in front of a car on the main road. She hadn’t been killed
with no money for a vet he had taken her to his brothers then the next day whilst I was out looking for her he had shot her and buried her at the dam by our old house in the fields id loved to play in.
He’d let me walk the streets calling her for a week Always hoping someone had found her and was looking after her.
Not only was he a drunk he was a liar as well. Oh how I hated him.