I am sitting on the floor watching TV when something wet lands on my back. It's sperm. Little John has just shot his load. My mother is a drunken sprawl of flesh on the bed. She empties another drink into herself.

Little John was little. An inch bigger than a dwarf but no more. He looked like he'd been given the wrong head, it being a size too big. In his mid-forties he already had a full head of grey hair, the back and sides cropped short and the top longer, wavy and pushed back with stubby fingers. He was always fresh shaven, which is not clean shaven, and looking at him you could somehow hear the sound of him slapping alcohol on the tender around his face. He worked as a security guard, though what he guarded was a mystery. He used to come around every Thursday and had a habit of asking what colour knickers my nine year old sisters was wearing. In his inside jacket pocket, protecting his heart, lived a quart bottle of HAIG whiskey. Every now and again you'd hear him twisting the cap off, seething, then spinning it back on again.

 Apart from the few seconds when he wriggled about on top of mum, and the ten minutes after, he was always in uniform. Sat naked and smoking on the edge of the bed the two cut a tragic still of life. My mother with her sagging stretch-marked gut and Little John, always in those grubby white sports socks, his genitals scrunched up and looking like something a bird would peck at. That's when it would start, the hitting. Mum would clench her fist, and without saying anything, would start waving it at little John. It was alcoholics' sign language, meaning: You want some of this? I' give as good as I get, me. Little John would watch, his face flushed red with spirits, laughing and rubbing and patting mum's back in admiration. Mum, her head full of drunk, unable to speak words for a moment, just remained there, swaying, her eyes fixed on nothing, shaking her fist at invisible forces which taunted her.

Then she'd slur: Shane, fucking get over 'ere! And as I approached, she'd say: Watch this little John! And punch me full welt in the face. We'd all roll around laughing. Then I'd clench my face, come back in, and she'd do it again. Then again. Then him. When my face was scratched, bloody and as red as theirs I'd go sit back down with my back to them and watch TV, feeling not much of anything at all.

 I don't know what it was but mum would always become angry and mean after sex. Like she despised the man who was next to her, blamed him for some huge wrong in the world. She'd sit there wearing a stony face, not speaking, stewing in a drunkenness that very few will ever see, a hatred nourished over months and years and gallons of neat, 45% proof spirits.

 It was almost three years, on and off, that Little John visited mum. In that time he lost his job, lost his bottom teeth, took on a filthy grey pallor, and ended with a drunkard's dry stubble and pasty, flaking skin with burst blood vessels across the nose and cheeks. As with many people who finally descend into the pit they've been circling around for so long, he fell in with just the clothes he was wearing. The very last time he visited mum his blazer was crumpled and split at the seams; his jumper full of holes and misshapen; his shirt filthy – the collar soft and sunken and the neck brown with grime; his trousers stained all over with blood, piss and semen; his shoes broke through, the upper coming away from the sole, the heels worn down, the thick grubby socks visible in turns as he tramped up the stairs. And finally, his quart bottle of whiskey, his appalling attempt at having style, was then replaced by a white carrier bag of bottles and cans, clinking away, warning the world he was close at hand. He was so dirty that even mum refused to sleep with him, screaming something about 'cock cheese' and telling him he needed a bath.

So instead of fucking mum, he sat on the edge of the bed, shared his drink and leered at my sister, asking innocent questions that somehow always revealed what colour knickers she had and may be wearing. And if once they looked sad sat there naked, now they looked even more miserable and downtrodden dressed – two people who had nothing to offer each other but dull lights and sad music and maybe grief-stricken memories of what someone's company and skin once felt like and had meant.

By that time my fear of the unknown had left, my familiarity with Little John allowing me to laugh and swear and throw things at him, my mother in hysterics as I called him a “drunken dirty cunt” and poked fun at his shoes and piss stained pants. Little John was so drunk that he no longer knew what was an insult, an angry wind or someone offering help. He just sat there with a bemused grin on his face answering in words that was from no language at all, a kind of middle ground that saved his soul for another night.

 Little John didn't so much as leave willingly but was pushed out by other competition: not one, but two dominant males: Whistling Chris and Lloydy Baby. The first was a Travel Agent who hung around street corners peeping into womens' bedroom windows, and the latter, a tall, scarred, murderous Jamaican straight out the Black House. Though I 'm sure, a couple of scummy lowlifes like that would be of no interest to a group of  highly cultured readers like yourselves?
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  1. I love Jamaicans! And, I loved this post!!

  2. Hey Ya Jim... Sorry, I owe you a reply on your last comment.

    I think these sets of posts are going to be one of the highlights of the writings here. They'll go on quite a while as I can straight off my head think of 13 lovers and I know there were more. It's exciting for me to write and it's rare I feel that, but each time I think or start writing of another lover I want to push him to the front of the cue so as people can read the words. I have to exercise patience and it's something I've failed miserably at all my life.

    They're not all male lovers either. Twice my mother left the family house for a woman... one the sister of her then boyfriend! Jesus Christ, while all that was happening my father was downstairs with his door shut, dressed up as a headmaster and whipping and squeezing the balls of one of his 'friends'.

    Our house was an eye opener... blind people would have left there shocked! X

  3. I cannot believe these are true stories! I was just thinking that the "mother" character would make a great center for a collection of vignettes for publication.

    ohh,....what is in your mind....

  4. Oh no... they're very true. I mean I use words to make them into a comedy or a tragedy or give them darkness, etc... but the bare facts and people are all real (which won't be the case with most the writing on this site).

    Many of the readers from memoires, like Joe M, Ruth... they'll already know quite a bit of my mothers life and even most of these men will have been mentioned over there at some stage.

    But I always appreciate the life and I see what happened as a blessing even if that's hard for someone reading to understand. It's dueled me with sights and smells and memories that are absolutely unique to me and it really serves well for the writing. Maybe if I didn't write I'd look at things differently, my brother and sister don't celebrate quite like I do. I don't know... it was messed up, and very hard at the time (living with an alcoholic just about the worst hell I can imagine) but it passed, and we all moved on and life got better and so now they become good memories because we were all young and alive, and unfortunately, my father (stepfather) passed away last year and his life was just as bizarre as my mothers, and I'd much rather him alive back then than dead now. It's something complicated and something I don't expect others to understand. They were hellish times which turned good over time... X

    1. Anonymous10/02/2012

      I've been following ur 'Memoirs of a....' for a couple of years now and enjoy them immensley. You talk of some people maybe been unable to understand how the (then) bad times are now looked upon as 'good times'. I understand exactly what you mean, I lived the life for many years, maybe not to the extent you have, but in my own way i've been there, felt the despair, the bleakness and overwhelming sense of loss & hopelessness and I've met the characters, the diseased, the near dead (sometimes the actual dead)the liars,cheats and one man/woman freak shows, but although the chaos has cleared and i'm living a 'normal?' life with a son,girlfriend (crappy job) nice flat and car, I look back on those times with a warped fondness & sometimes (only sometimes) I DO miss it all. So reading your posts takes me back and always makes me smile. The poverbial 'devil' on my shoulder is always there and always will be (and I shamelessly admit that every once in a while, the things he says make a kind of sense & even less regularly I still carry out his 'instructions') Good luck in your life mate and keep up the writing. Steve.

    2. Hey Ya Steve sorry it took a while to get back to you. That Devil on ya shoulder will always be there... it always has been: it's you. As long as you're happy and healthy Steve, that's what really matters. If you're happy not using and it works then it's the way you should stick to. I think as we grow older it comes down to just us and the drug and nothing else. It's not aboutimage or cool stakes, or attention, etc.... it's about you and the drug ad if that drug gives you more than it takes away... if it makes you feel better or worse than you would without it.

      Anyway, thanks so much for reading and writing... hope to hear from you again? all My Thoughts, Shane X

  5. These posts are definite eye openers! Like Dante meets Take A Break magazine, and I mean that as the highest compliment.

  6. hey Ben, the first couple of posts are a little disorganized as I tried to make the transition from comments to posts. And of course the comments were directed at Dennis and so I was speaking directly to someone. That doesn't really work put up as texts; Also, as texts, they needed some kind of an introduction as it just seemed too blunt starting right in the thick of things. So tere's been problems, adn i'm not quite satisfied with these first two entries (the structure, nt the writing). But i'm finding my feet more with what I've written and not yet posted and there's some great stuff coming out, and the overall theme of the piece is finding itself and leading to a concluding end part. I guess it's one of the perils of how I write, shaping it as I go along. That's OK if the writing is all done in private, but as I post publicly, and especially concerning running texts, the early posts sometimes need tweaking (or completely rewriting) but I only know that once I've progressed a little with the text and idea. The start of WFJ suffered the same fate and would need to be completely rewritten if it were to be published.

    As a side note: Take A Break...

    I've only ever had two stories published for money in my life (both when I was in my late teens) one for Woman's Own magazine and the other for Take A Break! I submitted quite a few after that but they all got refused on grounds of "extreme bad taste". X

  7. wow! how can somebody who has lived through THIS still be a person,any kind at all? I hope you don't mind but i do feel sorry for your childhood. I know there are others who've had worse but there are lots of others who have had much better. I, personally have been through a pretty indifferent father who loathes the fact that my mum loves my sister and me so much. But that's the end of it. I salute you dear for being the person you are and the talent you've got. Wish you well.

  8. I well remember these from DC's etc.

    I still find the punching the boy and laughing stuff shocking.

    After all that it's amazing you've turned out so well-balanced!

    I know you've said your mother turned down all monetary offers to write about the Nielsen thing, but she obviously has a tail to tell apart from that.

    Maybe if I didn't write I'd look at things differently

    That's it, isn't it. Even though I don't write much these days I still have the writer's invulnerability, or as someone put it 'that splinter of ice in the heart'.

    1. Hey Joe, this will be the last one from DC's (there were only 4 anyway) the rest will be completely rewritten. Actually this one has had a huge overhaul too. I found they didn't make the transition well from comment to post. There's some really great characters and behaviours to come.... I almost want to corrupt the chronological order so as I can write about them first!

      I think the writer has two things which work in their favour: 1) 'the splinter of ice', etc. 2) Hope. There's always hope outside of the 9 to 5. There's also that thing where paclking boxes for 8 hrs a day may finally not seem such a waste of life if it fuels some writing, a book, characters. X

    2. Yes! that's it I think. Everything counts as material. As long as you keep writing it down, every 'bad' experience is (literally) worthwhile and can be recycled into something more than itself. We're slippery sorts when it comes down to it. When life gets too comfortable I always find myself mining my periods of chaos/ dark nights of the soul.

  9. Shane these posts are brilliant, they affect me so much though, I am uncomfortable reading them. I feel for you as the young boy that you were, I could weep for you.. I could weep for your mother, that she was in such a state for this to happen.. I also know that these are your true memories so it upsets me even more. As a piece of writing though you should be proud as you nailed it as always xx

  10. “How can anyone who has lived through all THIS be a person, any kind of person at all?”
    My view is the complete opposite, it’s interesting. I feel sorry for all the molly coddled, content children from happy families who cruise through life never experiencing violence, madness or any extended period of uncertainty. It’s a cliché but don’t the crushing disappointments make the reprieves all the sweeter? So I guess my view would be ‘How can someone who has never lived through hardship be a person, ‘any kind of person at all?” (or at least a wise person, with hard-gotten empathy, raw experience and a bunch of good stories to tell/take to the grave..)

    Reading this stuff is a rare objective, uncritical narrative on the lives of the unliterary, inelegant and incoherent from an insider who isn’t emotionally disturbed or bitter. Except it’s better than that because you fucked, fought and shot up with the worst of them and not only lived to tell the tale, but lived to tell it astutely and gleefully without the sympathetic detachment of an outsider - in fact, I definitely detect a perverse pleasure taken in the gory details! You old devil.

    Sometimes I even catch myself envying your life experience. How perverse is that! But only because your stories made you the writer you are today.

    'Then she'd slur: Shane, fucking get over 'ere! And as I approached, she'd say: Watch this little John! And punch me full welt in the face. We'd all roll around laughing. Then I'd clench my face, come back in, and she'd do it again. Then again. Then him. When my face was scratched, bloody and as red as theirs I'd go sit back down with my back to them and watch TV, feeling not much of anything at all.'

    I’ve seen some things in my time but these stories have me beat.

    Very excited about this series, love what I’ve read so far.

    S xx

    1. Woops, the top paragraph of that was supposed to be in response to the comment by Absolutruiness but it's the third time i've typed this out as my computer is having a strop so here it stays.


"You'll destroy me too," she said, "I think I want to die."
- - -

Make a little history and leave what words you have.. X