As I’m going to post this to twitter I’ll begin by saying this. You have probably read me saying I still miss my childhood friend even now after almost 50 years. Well there’s more to it than just that and I have a feeling of dread that something may have happened to him in the so called care system. let me explain.
Billy, that was his name, his last name I’ll keep back as there are other children involved it may expose, well they’re not children now but all the same. I knew Billy from the age of four and we grew up together in and out of each others homes just a few doors apart. My dad was a seaman and my mum cleaned. Billy’s Dad was a lorry driver and his mum a house wife. Everything went along fine for a good few years. One night there was a big row in the street and Billy’s dad was punching the lights out of a neighbor, we never found out why then and though we speculated I’m not going to do that here. Suffice to say from that night things changed for Billy. Every night we would hear rows coming from his home. The next day he would have a thick lip or a black eye. It got to the stage he would be frightened to go home. We would be about nine years old when this began. it went on for another three years, the odd occasion the cops would come and take Billy’s dad away, this was in the days when cops did not interfere in domestic violence so apart from drunk and disorderly he would be released the next morning. The drinking got worse and so did the violence. Billy took to staying out all night, and I would stay with him.One afternoon during a row after afternoon drinking Billy came sprinting out of the house with his dad chasing him and shouting come here you little bastard, then he threw something that hit Billy on the back of the head, it was a claw hammer. His dad shit himself knowing he’d gone too far, he picked him up and carried him into the house, Then an ambulance came and they left in it. The next morning Billy came to ours with a bald patch on his head and stitches and he was laughing, talk about a kind of Stockholm syndrome.
One night another row started up in the street and a gang from around the area arrived and cheered Billy’s dad into beating up another neighbor. Then the cops came and took him but this time they searched the house and asked everyone in the street about them, even the kids got questioned, theirs and us. All Billy’s brothers and sisters where taken away that night, Billy was in ours watching out of the upper window, I had denied seeing him and lied to say he had run away. Anyway we where caught a few nights later having broke into a scout hut and made tea and while we where in the process of eating the biscuits when the cops came. That was the last I ever saw of him. Years later his sister came to see her mum, by this time the mother was a very bad wino. I had been married about two years and invited Anne and her husband to mine. Her husband worked for Naval intelligence, which at that time I thought nothing of at all, except I was a bit impressed he was a Lieutenant of some sort. Anne would not even talk about Billy at all, she just went off on a tangent about anything and everything rather than speak about him, in such a strange way it was almost an illness. And that was the last connection with the family I had.
Now nearly 50 years later and hearing about all the abuse in care homes I worry Billy is one of the missing.