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A Shout From The Attic: The Theory Of Relativity

"I could not say that either my father or mother ever really grew up...''

Ronnie Bray has grim memories of a bullying father. To read Ronnie's autobiography from the beginning click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page.

I was born eighteen months after Irené, who is called René. The marriage of Louie Bennett and George Frederick Bray was not a happy one. On reflection, I could not say that either my father or mother ever really grew up, although I know they would mind my saying that. My father was not happy with life: a few beers would change his outlook and a few more turned him into a violent abuser of women and children.

The divorce came some short time after my father brutally kicked René upstairs at the house we lived in at Abbey Road, Fartown, allegedly for putting newspaper into a neighbour’s drain. When a child is disliked or blamed for an adult’s downfall, any excuse will be taken to abuse the child.

I recall seeing a family in Greenhead Park some years ago. Three of the children were very attractive, but one son of about eleven was decidedly ungainly. For his years, he was tall and thin with a gaunt sepulchral look. His father constantly criticised the lad for doing nothing that appeared to be either outstanding or different from what his happy and well-loved siblings were doing. His brother and sisters carried on their jovial sport without perceptible regard for the well being of their brother, who had been reduced to a languid question mark by his father’s fascism. That indifference to the suffering of one’s fellows is the tragedy of humanity. The mother made no move to protect the boy from the constant bitter carping of his father and protector.

I still can see René standing on top of the kneehole desk under the windows of the cellar living room, her frock and vest lifted up to show her appalling bruises. That was the final straw and was long overdue.

I have two memories of my father during these early years at Abbey Road. One is of my mother backing out of the house behind the wooden ironing board that she employed as a shield against my father’s brutality. The other memory is of sitting at dinner and being told, “eat your peas.” “I am,” I answered and was promptly knocked off my buffet onto the floor. I don’t remember getting up or anything else about Abbey road except getting my foot stuck between the palings at the bottom of the garden and screaming in sore distress until mother rescued me. After the violent abuse of René, We returned to the place of my birth in Fitzwilliam Street.

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