Thursday 3 April 2014

Skircoat part 8

Bit of a rewrite on the end of Skircoat part 7, along with the next chapter.

To Macc and Back

My recovery took around 3 weeks. Mr P visited my bedside every day.
"Why?" he asked one day.
I looked at him blankly.
"Why you 'ave to cause me so much trouble girl?
"Coz you're a dirty nonce nigger!" I snarled back at him, bracing for the impact that usually accompanied such comments.
Instead he just folded his hands into his lap and smiled. "We have an offer of a place in another facility for you. You would still be registered as living here, but you would spend 5 days there. You have to have an interview first of course, make sure you're suitable. But I sure a girl so determined to leave here is resourceful enough to gain entry anywhere."
"What's the catch?"
"No catch," he replied, "Your Mum has even expressed a wish for you to spend some time back at home, so we were considering allowing you to attend the school in Macclesfield and then return home each weekend. If that goes smoothly, we could look at signing you out of care and back home."
He stood, smoothing his jacket and looked at me, "When will you learn girl?" He shook his head as he leaned towards me. His hand gripped my throat tightly, my already damaged lungs struggling to gasp air as his hand slowly crushed my windpipe. "There ain't no escaping me til I say you can go!" he screamed.
As footsteps came quickly along the hallway, he released his grip on my throat. The bedroom door flung open and Joyce gave Mr P a withering look as she began fussing over my blankets and pillow.
"I told you she was resting."
"And I told you the little bitch would be fine. Now get her back on her feet woman and out of my Home."

As the door closed on Joyce's argument with Phillips, I felt relieved. They were letting me out of there. Didn't matter what kind of school, it was out of hell. All I had to do was survive long enough to get accepted. As sleep crept up on me again, I wondered what kind of place it really was....

As the days dragged on, I fell into a routine of checking every morning and evening with Staff to see if I could get any more details about the placement they had dangled in front of me whilst I was ill.
Gradually, they let details slip, just to keep me quiet. It took two weeks to discover that the facility was a Young People's Unit  in Macclesfield. A Child Mental Facility, designed for maladjusted youngsters that lacked inter-personal skills enough to prosper in "normal" schools, children's homes and other facilities. It was the last chance saloon for delinquents and mini-whackjobs.

As the weeks dragged on, my 15th birthday came and went without much notice. I did a couple of “disappearing acts” but nothing more than the odd night on a mates couch or crawling in at 3am puking my guts up on the shiny-clean hallway floor coz I'd been bought too many drinks – and tried to drink them all!
I think it was around this time a couple of us had booked, through the youth club, to go to Birmingham NEC to see Alice Cooper.

Myself and 'R' were both at Grammar school.

Both knew we were far more intelligent than the imbeciles “looking after” us. As 'R' said to me recently “Makes it hard work for you as a child when you can out fox both parents by the time you are 8.”

We were both bored of the whole “conformity” BS.

We wanted to rebel.

Skircoat agreed to pay for us to go to this gig. Great, one over on the bstrds. We get something nobody else in the Home is gonna get. 3 weeks away, but hey... it was gonna happen!

With 8 hours to go before we were due to set off for the gig, I decided to go out and get hammered. I crawled back to Skircoat with just about enough time to get changed and get on the minibus.
Miss Brunning blocked my entry to the building and I was instantly grounded.
'M' went in my place.
Apparently it was a fantastic gig, apart from when somebody pointed out to Security that 'R' + 'M' were “Care kids” and they were shoved up the front with a few disabled people. As Alice Cooper took to the stage, they nearly got crushed by the crowd, but all in all, a good night, not to be missed. *cheers 'R'....
They did at least remember to bring me back a T-shirt *mumble, grumble, fkin moan

I began to give up hope of Macclesfield, although I'd already started staying at my Mum's each weekend so life was bearable. At least I wasn't running a risk of being included on the "Flat list" any more. I would go home on the Friday, then go to the pub, crawl home late Friday night, pass out, rinse n repeat til I had to return to Skircoat.

It was some time around March when my Social Worker turned up, with my Mum in the car and announced we were headed for Macclesfield. My assessment day was finally here.
It was a single storey building, Very clinical-looking, both inside and out. The Dr's and other staff all seemed friendly and welcoming. I can't remember much of my assessment, it flowed over me, as I sat there somewhat in shock that there were actually some nice people involved in the care of children. After the staff attitudes at Skircoat things were looking up. I was accepted as a "student" at the Y.P.U and my Social Worker set about the paperwork.
My last few days at Skircoat flew by, as I packed and said my goodbyes to people. Explained to some of the younger kids that I would be back every Friday teatime to collect my train fares, before going to my Mum's for the weekends. So they would still see me, I wasn't leaving, I just wouldn't be there.

Macclesfield was a 5-day Unit. Residents presented themselves on Monday morning, unpacked and got settled in before lessons started. The school was also used by the Macclesfield Education Panel as a depository for their own delinquents, catering for around 20 "outpatient" students along with the 14 residents.
Classes included the basics along with Art therapy and psychodrama.
Throughout the week there were individual and group therapy sessions, although I was quickly excluded from group therapy after being deemed an "antagonistic aggressor" which I took to mean "arsey lil bstrd". We all helped out in the kitchen with food preparation. My main job was scrambled eggs each morning, for breakfast.
I was given that task after I complained about the watery eggs they made. I was told "If you can do better, get in there and do it." So I did. After the first morning of decent eggs, I found my name on the roster every morning for the kitchen.
There were regular Community meetings to make sure we felt included in the decision making that would ultimately affect us. Any problems were aired and dealt with at these meetings, so we could all see action was being taken, issues were being solved and we were in a certain amount of control of our own lives. For the first time, I felt almost Adult with the level of consultation each of us was given.
The only problem I foresaw was the reluctance of staff to allow a resident off the property alone, before Friday. If you wanted to go to the shop, everyone had to go. It was a group event. No staff accompanied us, just the residents, with the longest term in charge of the rest of us.
Now I'm older, I can see the sense in this as a team-building exercise but at the time it just seemed bloody stupid.
Thursday night was movie night. 14 residents all sprawled out in the lounge watching a video which more often than not, turned out to be Dirty Dancing. I soon learned to hate that film.
Friday after classes, we would all go to our rooms, pack our stuff for the weekend and head off to Macc centre for the train home.

I would get off the train in Halifax every friday afternoon and head up to Skircoat Lodge, collect my pocket money and my train fare for the next week, along with bus fare up to my Mum's. Say Hi to whoever was around when I arrived, spend a few minutes catching up with what had gone on through the week and then head out again, back into town and straight to the Upper George pub. Spend the full weekend in the pub and on a mate's couch before finally crawling to my mum's house on a Sunday evening for my washing doing and to get a bath and hot meal. Crawl to bed, before Monday came and I had to do it all again.

3 months I remained at the Y.P.U. The full assessment period.

During that time, I tried to avoid most of the classes in the school. The ones I did attend, were mostly through boredom.
Things improved at home with my mum. Her and my dad split up after she found out he had been hopping into various beds around the Dewsbury and Wakefield area.
She gradually came around to the idea that yes, maybe the voices I'd had in my head from being 4 year old might actually be a mental health issue, not just “me being a child.” as one psychiatrist had put it. During that same psych session he also told my mum she was being neurotic. The session ended when he asked my dad about his sex life. At this point my dad near hit the guy and we were rapidly shown out.
I had fought hard to keep the voices a secret at Skircoat. That was the last thing I needed them knowing about. Kids and staff alike. Every last one of them, including myself, would use any weakness to get what they wanted.

On the Monday of my final week, I was called into the Office. My Social Worker was sat there, along with Dr Wells, the head Psychiatrist.
Here came the crunch, if they kept me, there was something wrong in my head like I'd always believed, if they didn't offer me a place, it proved my dad and Phillips right and I was just “a little bstrd!”

I became aware Dr Wells appeared to be waiting for a response from me on something.... so I quickly mumbled an apology and asked him to repeat the question.
“We would like to offer you a more permanent place here, “ he said. “6 months to start with. No matter what, you are here for the rest of the week. We would like you to stay as we feel....”

I breathed deeply and stood up, cutting off his sales patter.
“No ta. My mum said I can go back home instead of Skircoat, so I'm off there. Can't be doing with 3 hrs on train to go to t'pub.” I grinned at my Social Worker and turned to Dr Wells. “Gonna be late for Art Therapy Doc. Can I go please?”
Without waiting for a response, I turned and left the Office.

I reached my classroom, picked up a pencil and paper and sat at the back, quietly. The tutor smiled and left me to it, continuing to instruct the rest of the class but seemingly acknowledging I was in no mood to do whatever BS they were doing as a group, but at least I had attended class for a change.
I sat and thought of never having to see Phillips' smug face ever again, or having to watch Brunning bully the smaller younger kids simply with her weight.
I pondered the truth my dad had been wrong all the time but settled on the fact I would never dare say that to his face

An hour later, a message was sent to Art Therapy informing me I would need to report to Skircoat Lodge on the Friday, as usual.
My heart sank.
The rest of the week flew by too quickly. Friday arrived. Goodbyes were said. Offers to stay in touch were declined. I explained to each that I was no good at staying in touch as I rarely stayed in one place long enough for return mail.
I headed to the train station for the final time and felt a sudden urge to ring Dr Wells and change my mind. Take up the offer of 6 more months free from the authority Phillips sought to impose upon me.

I pushed on, barely reaching the platform in time to catch the train. Climbing aboard, I found a seat by the window and watched as the train carried me back to the one place I feared most of all. Home.

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