It was December 1947 the west-midlands of England where it had received a bad snow fall leaving the drifts piling up to the window ledges. In a small cottage on the side of a main London road a child was born, but only because it was the will of god. The will of the father was a lot more sinister who had made it known throughout the young woman’s pregnancy that this child was unplanned and unwanted by him.
The couple were three years into a marriage with one boy already. The father was a survivor of the Second World War which left him with an attitude, and what would be viewed by others as a twisted and sadistic mind. He had told his wife a short time into the pregnancy that she had to abort the baby by any means. Whether she agreed or not the husband plied her with all the gin he could afford on his meagre wages. Yes it was an old wives tale but in those days it was taken as fact.
The boy was given the name of William by his mother whose name was Dora and even though her husband Kit disapproved, she gave him her love. The father in his ignorance wanted nothing to do with the boy but kept it a secret from all including his wife. To him the boy would always be unplanned and unwanted.
William’s older brother Bobby would be the one his farther would nurture into his ways all through Bobby’s life. Bobby was older by fifteen months and was planned and wanted by his father, William was a mistake. At this time the anger that William's father had for his wife would not show for many years. However, by then his fathers’ anger would be for another mistake by his mother. In the fathers eyes she would have to be punished for conceiving a baby without his permission, and an idea festered in his twisted mind.
There could have been a deeper reason for Kit being the arrogant and aggressive person he was. It might have been because of Kit’s own past why he turned out to be the image of his own father.
William was born in a bungalow that had a cold stone floor, three windows, one door, and three rooms. It was a basic house of the time, and the same house in 2012 would be condemned as not even fit for keeping animals. The cottage was loaned to his father while he worked for the farm owner. By today’s standard it was small and very basic, with no electricity or running water. It consisted of three large rooms with the living room in the centre the biggest. It was no more than thirty feet long and most probably only twelve to fifteen feet in depth. The whole building was of red brick with a porch, the floors inside were made from cold Forest of Dean stone.
The centre of the house was the living room because there was no kitchen as such. There was a large black fireplace that sat opposite the door in a large alcove. It had a grate for the fire in the middle with a small oven either side. There was plenty of room behind and to the side of the fire. There was a large pine table in the centre of the room with four chairs. All the cooking and preparing was done in that room, as was the socialising. Either side of the living room was a bedroom that had no heat or light during the night.
There was a small triangle of grass in front of the house that ended at the porch of the house. There was a path that led from the gate to the porch and once again carved from that beautiful pink stone. If you walked into the garden through the gate his father had planted vegetables, but they were hidden from view by the border of flowers that bloomed in the summer. There was a large rose bush in front of the door.
William was now four years old living the life of all children at that age with innocent minds. His father by this time was set in his ways and distanced himself from showing any love for William. He showed his separation by always saying, “Your child,” or “Your boy,” when speaking about him to Dora.
It was also during those four years as an infant when his mother gave birth to two girls, but unbeknown to William because one of those girls was also unplanned he would take the lion’s share of the punishment for her.
William was almost four years old when he looked out of the open door and saw this coloured prism in the blue sky. His mother looked out the door seeing that it had stopped raining and the sun was now shining. She said, “Look, William, that’s a rain bow in the sky. Wherever the end is there is a pot of gold left by the little people.” She then went about hanging her washing on the line. A short while later his mother walked inside the house leaving William in the garden to play.
It was mid day when he looked up from where he was sitting in the garden with his little spade. His father was walking down the garden path towards him and the only door in the house. His father always came home at that time of day to have his dinner. He walked the short way from the farm and back six times a day for his meals. On reaching where William was sitting he asked, “What the hell are you doing, boy?”
“I’m looking for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, Dad.” He answered innocently.
“Dora, that boy of yours has dug the roses up looking for a pot of gold.” William was never his boy, and although he never realised it at the time, it would remain that way all of his life.
His mother walked out and walked William inside to clean him up. As he sat waiting for his dinner, his father replanted the rose bush and walked back through the door. He looked at William sitting at the table in the living room and asked him, “Why did you think the pot of gold was there?”
“Because, the rainbow ended on top of the rose”
It was sad really because he didn’t know what a pot of gold would look like if he had found one. However, his father’s reply was even sadder. “You are a, stupid boy.”
At that time children went to primary school at the age of four and a half. William was being taught at home how to count and write his alphabet by his mother. He told his father one day that he could do these things, before watching his father ignore his achievements. William’s brother that was now almost six gave him a sneer as if it was unimportant, and it would be a look that only his father could equal.
It was the summer before going to school when all of the bad things in William’s life started to take place. He and his brother slept in left hand bedroom of the house as you looked at it from outside. It was a big double bed that they both shared with William sleeping the side of the bed near the door. At that age they were both in bed before five in the evening, and before their father returned from work at six. Like all children of that age they would play on the bed or talk and laugh.
The day William’s world started to go wrong was one night in the winter. He and his brother had returned home from school and were now in bed talking. “Be quiet you boys,” their mother shouted through the thin wall of the bedroom. “Your father will be home from work soon.” Neither boy had ever seen their father angry but that didn’t mean he never was.
The two boys had not listened to the warning from their mother, and were still playing and giggling when their father got home from work. As soon as he walked in the door his voice could be heard, “You two boys had better go to sleep and give me rest.” The boys were in bed under the thick Eider-duck-down quilt laughing quietly thinking they could not be heard.
There was a loud noise of a door slamming against the wall as it opened which made both boys in the darkness lift their heads above the quilt. The door was wide open, and silhouetted in the lamplight of the living room was the dark figure of their father. His contorted face was partially hidden by the long shadows of his features. The white staring eyes could be seen as if they were alight as he shouted, “I told you boys to be quiet and you never listened. You had to be naughty and disobey me.”
Neither of the boys had seen their father like this before, and they were in fear not knowing that worse was to come. Their father walked over to the bed and threw back the covers aggressively to show intent. He grabbed at William's wrist pulling him roughly from the bed. Once his feet touched the floor his father bent him over the side of the bed. Taking hold of his wrists his he held them together in the small of his back. The pyjama trousers were pulled down moments before he violently beat his buttocks for several minutes.
William was screaming, “Please, Dad,” between the tears and cries of pain. “Mum, help me,” more cries of pain. “Where are you, mum?” His mother was in the living room crying while listening to her youngest boy getting thrashed by her brute of a husband. She knew the reason why it was taking place at that time, and there was nothing she could do to help him. Kit was head of the family that placed food on the table, and her vow in church was to obey her husband. Whether she feared his aggressive nature would never be known as it remained a secret until she died.
His father had deaf ears to William's cries, but eventually stopped as his anger subsided. He roughly threw William on the bed to get dressed once more. He then took Bobby by the wrist and gave him a few smacks on his buttocks before throwing him on the bed. “Let that be a lesson to you both.” It had not gone unnoticed by William that the little amount of smacks his brother had received never brought a tear to his eye.
This was the first of many thrashings William would receive from his father, who would walk through the bedroom door on any minor pretext to administer his cruel and barbaric justice. There would be many nights his screams of pain would be heard from that day forward. They would be heard between the abnormal sounds of a hand smacking soft flesh, or the crack of a leather belt on the same flesh. His father had only just stated his revenge trip and it would take a reality check before he stopped.
William's father had become a sadistic uncontrolled force of brutality that would go through life thinking because he was the head of the family he was the judge, jury and enforcer of justice. This bedroom was not a child’s bedroom any longer but it was now a place of cruelty where a grown man with a twisted mind would almost destroy the soul of an innocent child.
Kit hated the thought of any woman getting beat by a man, and took oath on his own soul that he would never strike a woman. Dora had given birth to two children that he had never wanted or asked for, but it was up to him now to feed and clothe them. He would never bring himself to the point of striking Dora his wife, but that was not to say he would not punish her for defying his wishes. In Kit’s twisted mind he was not punishing William, but punishing his wife for giving birth to William and his youngest sister. It had taken almost five years for this macho Scotsman to vent his anger. The birth of his second but unplanned daughter a few months previous had pushed his warped anger to the limit of endurance.
It was for that reason when smacking Bobby he realised this was the chosen one that was in his grasp. The smacks became lighter and few, because this was the boy that would make him proud. When he had released the grip and threw Bobby on the bed once more Kit knew there were very few tears. William also noticed, he might have been four and a half years old but he had counted his smacks and those of his brother. Bobby had not come close to having half as many as William.
At the breakfast table the following morning both boys were sitting waiting to eat when Bobby said, “William wet the bed last night.” Their mother never said anything but looked at their father who was listening intently. The two boys had their breakfast silently and went to school. It was that same night when both boys were in bed awake, but silent with the thoughts of the previous evening of punishment in their minds.
The door was once more thrown open and both boys looked at the silhouetted person standing in the door. This time it was even more sinister, because the two inch wide leather belt that Ian’s father wore about his waist was hanging from his hand. William was thinking that he was just checking that they were both asleep, but that wasn’t the case.
All through the day while the children’s father had been working on his own he had been thinking about the things that had taken place in his life that he had no control over. He had two unplanned children, and his wife had to be punished for her defiance. The thoughts that were going through his head were giving him hot flushes of anger that he found hard to control. He had thought through his dilemma and the answer to his discomfort was now in sight. The boy was his property and his to punish, and the law of the land was for the father to discipline his children.
He walked over to the bed and looked down at the two boys, and there was no mistaking the blind anger in his eyes as he stared at William. William started to tremble a little as fear of the unknown passed through his body. “So, boy, you wet the bed last night like a baby. Well I am going to teach you never to wet it again. I don’t like babies that wet the bed and tonight I will give you something to think about if you do so again.”
He bent over the two boys to pull back the cover so that he could pull William out of the bed once more. Again he was bent over the edge of the bed with his wrists held firmly in the centre of his back. This time the trousers were left on Ian's lower body while his father’s other hand thrashed him with the belt. Once again Ian was screaming and crying while calling for his mother to help him. He then heard his mother plead through the sound of his own screams, “Kit,” then after a short pause, “Please?”
The thrashing stopped, whether because his father’s twisted anger had subsided or because of his mother’s intervention was unclear. Once again the sobbing William was thrown back on the bed, where he cried himself to sleep another night. Before his father walked out of the room he threw the covers over the boys once more. There was a silence of sorts in the room that was broken only by the sobbing of Ian as he slept.
At the breakfast table Bobby said, “My pyjamas are wet, mum, Ian wet the bed again,” as he gave his father a smile. Whether bobby was just showing off to his father, or trying to get William into trouble was also unclear, but in later life William would realise that bobby was just as twisted as his mentor.
At the same time as this was said, William who had a spoon in his hand to eat his porridge placed it back on the table. He sat with his hands gripping the edge of the table while looking at his father with fear in his face. He could not mistake the wide staring eyes of his father looking back at him with expressionless eyes. His mother broke the silence by saying, “Pick up your spoon, William, and eat your breakfast.”
William picked up the spoon with shaking hands while still looking at his father’s face. As his eyes dropped to the spoon in his hand near the dish he tried to stop the uncontrollable shaking. The spoon touched the side of the dish to tap in rhythm with the nervous tremble in his hand. His mother stepped over to the table to place her hand on top of his. He looked up at her with a tear in the corner of his eye only to see her smile and say, “Eat your breakfast, William, nothing is going to happen.”
William and his brother walked off to school to return in the evening and once they had eaten their meal they were sent to bed. That night William knowing that his father had heard about him wetting the bed again tried to keep his eyes open while looking at the door. He was waiting for it to be thrown open once more, but tiredness got the better of him and he fell asleep.
A few days went by, and while they were in bed one night Michael gave William a playful tickle under the arms. He burst out laughing and stopped almost as soon as it started, but it was not quite fast enough. The door burst open and their father was once again silhouetted by the light. “So you had to disturb my rest with your playing.”
“It was William, Dad, he was laughing.” Yes that was true but what his father did not want to know was the fact that Bobby forced the laugh. Bobby had already turned into the coward and nasty vile creature he would be for the rest of his life. He would always tell tales on others so that no blame rested on his head.
In his temper and lust to punish Dora, his wife, the unwanted would have to take the hiding. Whether there was a smile or any kind of emotion on the face of their father was hidden by the darkness of the room. Before he walked into the room he glanced over his shoulder into the living room with piercing eyes. He then stepped to the bed and pulled William out who was already shouting. “Bobby caused me to laugh Dad, No, please no. Mum, help me.”
“You will get extra for trying to get your brother into trouble, because I only heard one laugh.” The cries of William once again falling on deaf ears, because the man in the room was now thriving on the power he held over his family.
His mother however was closing her mind and ears to the pitiful pleading of her youngest son while crying quietly. Once again his wrists were held by his father’s grasp pushing them into the small of his back. His buttocks were being thrashed with the flat of his father’s hand, but his screams of pain were falling on deaf ears. Ian's father had once more turned into the uncontrollable monster that was oblivious to the pain of others.
It was a long time before his anger was controlled enough to stop the beating before he threw William on the bed. He looked at Bobby cowering under the quilt, but the chosen one was not guilty of any crime. “Go to sleep Bobby you have school in the morning.” Once his father had walked through the doorway closing the door, in the darkness William pulled the quilt over his body and cried himself to sleep another night.
The inevitable took place, and the bed was wet in the morning once more, William's mother noticed when helping him dress for school but said nothing. It was Bobby that mentioned it once more at the breakfast table. It seemed as though Bobby realised that all the time his father was concentrating on his brother he was safe from abuse. His father looked towards his mother asking, “Is that right?” she never answered, but her expression said it all.
That night William was in bed with his eyes focused on the door while straining his ears listening for the sound of his father walking down the path. Bobby was already asleep when William heard the gate slam shut in the wind before the front door opened. He then heard his mother talking to his father before it went quiet while his father was eating the hot meal his mother had prepared for him.
Somewhere during that time of silence William had fallen asleep, but was rudely awakened by the dramatic entrance of his father once more. The monster pulled him from the bed roughly like all the previous nights. “I thought I told you I would teach you not to wet the bed again, but it seems as though you want to defy me. Well this time you had better learn because if I have to come in here tomorrow you will get a harder hiding than you are getting tonight.” William was being thrashed with the leather belt once more.
Even in his half sleep he was pleading for mercy from the pain which was falling on deaf ears. Crying for his mother to come and save him from the hell his father was putting him through. Before he had been bent over the bed William had noticed the leather belt in his father’s hand. The thrashing seemed as though it would go on forever, until as suddenly as the thrashing started it stopped. “Get into bed you, bad boy.”
William watched as his older brother pulled the quilt up and closed his eyes once more. Without looking he heard his father close the door behind him leaving him in his silent world of darkness. He slipped his body off the quilt so that his knees were on the floor kneeling at the side of the bed. After resting his arms on the side of the bed while the tears slipped down his cheeks like rivers he cried himself to sleep.
How long it was he had no idea, but he felt himself being lifted up and placed on the bed. He opened his eyes and saw his mother looking down at him.”Why didn’t you get into bed, William?”
“I don’t want to wet the bed again.”
With a tear in her eye she replied, “Don’t ever be afraid of getting into bed, William.” She then pulled the quilt over him before walking out of the room. It would be a long time in the future before William understood the reason why his mother never came. It would also be at the same time he would realise a lot more of the family secrets. When he did find out the truth he would never have to forgive his mother because she had done nothing wrong for him to forgive her for. The bond that William had with his mother would never be broken all the time she was alive. His father had just cut the first of many lonely notches in his coffin, but neither he nor William had no idea.
Several days went by before William was caught laughing again and suffered another thrashing. Once again Bobby told them all about the bed wetting during the night. William went to school all of that day thinking about what would take place when he got home. It was that same day while he was at school he collapsed while in the classroom. The doctor was called and he was diagnosed. His documentation stated that he had suffered a traumatic experience which had given him a nervous breakdown.
This story is in e-book form and also in paperback on Amazon https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dunce-At-Back-Class-ebook/dp/B00GO7V6SS/ref=sr_1_18?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1522788930&sr=1-18&keywords=ian+johnstone
The conclusion to this first story is in the second book called Soldier on (The Dunce at the back of the Class) https://www.amazon.co.uk/Soldier-Dunce-Back-Class-Book-ebook/dp/B00M4RPUY8/ref=sr_1_44?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1522789357&sr=1-44&keywords=ian+johnstone