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> > > > Dan Dare Braces - by Allan Sutherland from the words of Peter Moore

Peter Moore tells his story of surviving abuse through the following sequence of transcription poems

Prefab

The smell of tarmac,
new fresh tarmac on the road
is something I have remembered all my life. 
And it was the most wonderful smell.

It was, if you like it was like a horseshoe shaped road,
that came off of a main road,
so you came into Shanklin Road
and you could go down,
right down to the other end
and come back out on to
the same main road further down. 

People were very friendly
and they’d all come from different areas,
predominantly in London,
and they were a mix of people
from different walks of life
and different trades
and also different levels of wealth. 
The people who had money had TV aerials. 

And if you were really lucky as a kid,
you would get invited into another kid’s house
who had a TV, it was fantastic,
black and white TV, very tiny screens,
must have crippled our eyes,
but it was lovely, it was really wonderful.

So everything was really great there,
and we actually stayed there for three years.  

Break-in

Then there were strange happenings,
one of the prefabs got broken into,
in really quite a bad way,
and I think somebody was really hurt in that process
and it turned out that the offender
was a chap who lived in the prefab behind us,
who had a lovely wife
and a very pretty daughter, young,
again at a similar age to me. 

And I didn’t know what all this meant,
you know this was something really bad
and I wasn’t really at that stage
used to bad things,
I didn’t know what bad things were.  And I,
I didn’t know how to understand it,
I didn’t know how to put it in perspective really,
I just knew that I just had to be careful
wherever I went
because there were bad things out there. 

My father never ever explained it.

Father Christmas

I remember a boy saying to me
oh you realise that
Father Christmas doesn’t exist.
And I said, of course he exists, you know,
I mean I just put up some defence
about Father Christmas.  But he was quite adamant
and I just left it at that. 
And when I went home
I was quite upset
and my mother came to meet me,
I was quite upset by this astounding news
and bearing in mind I was only five
and er I said this child told me
that Father Christmas doesn’t exist. 
And she looked at me and said
of course he doesn’t.
 
And to have that ratified by my mother,
who was, it just sort of blew me apart,
you know, that was,
there were bad things happening in Belmont
you know, I’d gone through one
and now I’d gone through something that was,
touched my life, you know.

The other issue about the burglary
and the guy who’d been arrested
and he was sent to prison,
um, it touched my life on the edge,
it didn’t affect me personally. 
Father Christmas was more important
and it affected my life, you know,
it touched me,
and it was devastating news
because it meant that every Christmas thereafter
became a different thing altogether.

Dan Dare braces

The second occasion that I went out with my Dad,
it was about Christmas. 
And he asked me, or my mother asked me
what I wanted for Christmas
and I said I wanted a pair of braces that,
they were Dan Dare braces,
some braces from the Eagle comic. 
And my father knew where to get them
and he took me to,
and it actually was a tailor that he used,
because he was always smartly dressed
and they were in the window
and he went in with me and said what he wanted
and the guy came out
and they were put into a brown, a
brown paper bag
and folded up just as if
you were buying oranges
from the greengrocer
and he picked it up, paid the money
and just went, there,
there’s your present,
that’s how it comes.

Punishment

My mother used to hit,
she always hit with an open hand
around the ears
or around the,
it  was always around the head,
above the neck, always. 
And most days,
most days.  But then
what she used to do
was say well, when your father gets home
I shall tell him. 
And that was a frightening experience,
because when he came home she would,
she would obviously tell him
and he would call you,
and he’s standing there with his belt,
with the buckle end nearest to you,
I mean he’d coiled round the leather end
round his hand
and you got it across the backside,
always across the backside,
and I assume later when I,
I mulled this over later for a long long time,
that the backside was the place to do it
because it was the place
that wasn’t going to be seen
by any outside agencies. 
It wasn’t going to be seen by the school. 

But this was done with venom,
this wasn’t chastisement, you know. 
I think it would have been much easier
to have sat down
and talked about what the problem was. 
I’d already been punished, here I was,
I’d been found guilty and punished
and been found guilty again and punished.

The Price

I mean you might knock something over
or make a mark on the floor mother’s just washed
or knock a cup of water over
or something like that,
it’s just, it’s not important, you know. 
But you knew that you would,
there was a price to be paid. 
And that was really painful
because what it, all it demonstrated to me
was that um
there was no love involved in these relationships,
the relationships with my parents,
it was all about,
it was not about being hugged,
it was not about being kissed, or held,
it was about being punished,
that’s all it was. 
And that was very hard to cope with. 

And I’ve always thought that,
from about that time onwards,
that I was just born to be hurt,
that’s how it was, you know,
there was never any love.

The Bookcase

My Dad had a bookcase full of books
which he’d owned,
some of which he’d owned
since he was a young boy
and some of which he’d bought himself,
but they were, the bookcase was glass-fronted
and each shelf had its own sliding,
pair of sliding doors which were locked. 
And included in that collection
was all of the children’s classics,
you know Oliver Twist,
all the Charles Dickens stuff,
absolutely amazing books,
Just William books, fantastic, you know? 
Things that I’d heard about
but never, never touched or read, you know. 
And I dearly would have loved
to have been able to have got inside that cabinet
to just have read a book, you know. 
It never happened. 

We had a wonderful teacher
who read us a story
for the last half hour of class every day
and that was as close as I got to a book, you know. 
The stories were wonderful,
they took me into another world,
they were so exciting, they were so adventurous. 
It was what dreams are made of,
it was fantastic.  But things like libraries,
I mean if my parents had said ‘we’ll join a library’,
that would have been great,
I wouldn’t have touched his books,
I would have been touching library books
but I mean I don’t even know
where the nearest library was. 

I never owned a book
until I got married,
never owned a book,
was never given books.

Eleven Plus

I did try to speak with my Dad about it
and I never got anywhere.
I needed help,
I needed him to tell me
what I should be doing,
I needed guidance you know?
I wanted to do well and I knew
I suddenly became aware
that this was a key point in my life,
this was a point of
you either go into a factory basically
or you go into something more academic,
that was the difference
between a secondary school and grammar school

So the eleven plus was proving to be a problem. 
And Raymond was in my class at school
and, I mean we really got on so well together,
it was, he was a really nice guy. 
And so I went into the eleven plus totally unarmed, you know,
I didn’t know what to expect, what to do,
I had, I just thought I’ll just do what I can. 
And that’s how it went.  The results came out
and Raymond passed and I didn’t. 

My father was absolutely unbelievably furious. 
The day that I was taking the exam,
he said to me you will pass. 
And I said well I’m not sure I’ll pass, I don’t know. 
He said, You.  Will.  Pass. 
And that was quite,
I mean going into the examination
with that in your head
is very unhelpful, you know? 

But I failed
and so I was earmarked for the senior school.
But it was, it was as you would expect
it wasn’t an academic senior school,
it was a technical, they called it technical,
it was really metalwork and woodwork. 
And, that was a real,
I don’t know, I was so upset
that it was this, yet another failure, you know. 

And I was made to feel a failure by my father.

Metalwork

The metalwork teacher was a man called Mr Bulgin
I remember him so well. And he was a big fat er tall man,
muscular man, teaching metalwork
and you stood at your bench and,
you spent your time predominantly filing bits of metal.
In the same way you went to woodwork, you planed bits of wood.
You know, you wanted something half an inch high
and they gave you a piece of wood
that was an inch and a half high,
so that you had to, you just planed for ever,
or you just filed for ever, you know?
It was like a time-killer more than anything else.
And it was um I think it was er,
it absolutely destroyed
any interest you had in learning.

But if you, if you wasn’t filing hard enough
or you wasn’t going as quickly as anyone else,
then he would come up behind you
and he would hit you on the back of the legs
with a file, he had a long file with,
I mean with, a proper file with a handle on,
wooden handle on
and he would just hit you back across the legs.
And then also you begin to believe that
wherever you go in life,
the penalty will always be pain,
you know, this is how it works.

You start trying to put bits of this jigsaw together,
you‘re getting it at home,
getting it from your mother, your father,
and now you’re getting it at school.

Mocks

I think I’d done really quite well. 
So I told my father I was doing mock GCEs
and the timescale, I think it was over a period of,
it was more than a week, maybe ten days,
no, nothing, no feedback, no nothing. 
I didn’t know past papers existed,
he would have known past papers existed. 
And he could have helped me get them,
but he didn’t.  (You didn’t have revision guides
like you have now.)
 I’m sure there would have been
more to help me than nothing, d’you know. 
But it was like, doesn’t exist, you know? 

And then he announced
we would be going on holiday that year. 
In all my life as a youngster,
I never once went on holiday with my parents,
we didn’t do holidays, I don’t know why.
And we would be going on holiday one week,
we would go on holiday for one week
and we went, the holiday was in Broadstairs
and it was a week,
the main week of the mock GCE’s. 
And I said, I can’t go, I can’t go,
because I’ve got these mock GCE’s. 
If I don’t take them, I won’t be entered. 
He said, we’re going on holiday. 

All those years that I’d worked so hard
to fight my way into the grammar stream,
to get to the top of the grammar stream
was just a lost cause.

Leaving Day

I remember,
I remember quite clearly
walking away from school that day,
on my last day at school
I would never go back there again ever
and just crying.  I went with nothing
and I came away with nothing. 
I had nothing to show
for the years that I had been there,
nothing at all. 
And I knew then
that my life in the workplace
was going to be really tough.  

Paperwork

So I left school and I went to work for my uncle.
My uncle works, was a works manager
for a paper factory in Camberwell
and he was, um he was,
I learned so much from him,
I mean he was the Dad I really needed,
you know, he had three girls and um he was,
he was such a knowledgeable man. 
Not well educated, but he,
he had really worked hard to be where he was
and he’d got such an expanse of knowledge, you know. 
And he was a very likeable man. 
And that was the most important thing. 
He was very gently spoken
and everything was fine. 
And he offered to take me in
for as long as I needed
until I found a proper job. 

And it was a good experience,
it was a good experience, um
although I got some flak from the staff,
because there used to be about a hundred workers there. 
Because they knew he was my uncle,
so, you know you walk past a little crowd
and they all keep quiet, you know,
it was quite a strange atmosphere to me. 
Others just openly cribbed me, you know,
but that was fine,
that was par for the course. 
But what I did learn from that was
I don’t want to be there,
you know I’ve got to go into another gear
and find another way and get out of this,
get out of here, because this was really,
I couldn’t spend my life there.
And er I was there for ten months. 
And then I had to pass an exam
to get into the Post Office.

Post Office

They had a big mock-up Post Office,
really bizarre, where you served nobody,
postal orders and oh dear,
it was soul-destroying really when I look back.
I mean it was a job,
at least I was off the ground, you know. 
And again I could work away,
I could work away and move on. 
And that’s what I did,
I mean I just worked hard and hard and hard erm
I did actually move up within the Post Office
but erm it took a long time coming erm the relationship with, this, this was,

The relationship with the girlfriend was developing,
it was developing in one way,
in so much as um it was becoming more entrenched um,
which I’m not sure I wanted at that age,
I mean she was such a lovely girl,
but her mother was a big problem to me. 
And so much so that in the end
the fault lines developed in the relationship
and um it started to degrade quite quickly.
I was working in the Post Office
with the intention of us getting engaged. 
And I was doing as many hours as I could
in order to achieve that.  And that meant
that I saw less of her
because it was like a six day job. 
And I would work, we were allowed to work for other people,
so if somebody in the office wanted a day off,
you could work their shift and they could pay you,
there was like a standard rate they would pay you. 
And that all agreed and fine, that’s how it worked. 
So I was working six days a week,
from morning to night, working my socks off. 
And she was working morning to night
and having her socks off with another guy. 
So that sadly came to an end.

Washing Up

She gave me a key and said, you know,
come across earlier and you can watch TV or whatever. 
Which I did.  But then I got to the point when, not snooping,
but if you walked past the kitchen to get to the lounge
and you see a bowl of washing up in the sink,
you think she’s going to have to do that when she comes home,
I’ll do it for her.  So I did the washing up. 
And there was a lot of washing up.  Did the washing up,
didn’t put it away, because I didn’t know where to put it,
but I wiped it all up and just left it on the side
and then went into the lounge
and I thought this could do with a hoovering, you know.
Um and, it just so happened,
the dining room, I opened the door
and there was a hoover there,
so I hoovered all round. 
And then she came home,

I think she came home probably about twenty past five
and, from, she worked in ICI in Millbank,
so it wasn’t far for her to walk through Vincent Square. 
She’s five foot two, so not very tall,
she’d lost her mother within the year before I met her,
so she’s had a bit of a rough time
so, she got through,
she came home this particular late afternoon
and suddenly realised that things had changed,
washing up had been done etcetera, etcetera. 
And she said to me have you done the washing up?
I said yes. And what about the hoovering? 
And I said yes, yeah I’ve done that. 
Because I thought it would save you,
you’ve come home from a day’s work
and you’re going to have to do this. 
And I saw her arm go back
and didn’t think anything of it, to be truthful,
I mean her arm just went back like that. 
And then she had a fist and it came for me
and hit me in the glasses, hit me in the eye. 
And because in those days the spectacles,
the actual lenses were made of glass,
not plastic as they are these days,
she actually went straight through the lens,
I mean there was no messing up, you know,
I could feel something trickling down my face. 
Which was obviously blood.  And er so I just left. 
And I had to walk home
I didn’t have sufficient money
to be able to get the bus even. 
So I walked home from Victoria to Camberwell.
And then I went on my way home,
(I lived off of Coldharbour Lane
in a road called Lilford Road.)
I went to King’s College Hospital,
so I diverted around, went to King’s College. 
And they got the glass fragments
out of the lower eyelid and um
they put stitches in the lower eyelid, on the outside. 
And then I had to get a new lens put in
which took about ten days,
because it’s not like you can walk into an optician today
and come out with a lens, I mean it just doesn’t,
they don’t have the optical people on site,
they didn’t have them at that time. 

And so that was an introduction to
the person who was to become my wife.

Aftermath

She afterwards,
she phoned me a lot of times,
I really wanted out of that,
I didn’t think that was the way forward. 
But she kept on and on and.  She was,
she never ever said she was sorry,
that was a worry, you know. 
She never said, she wasn’t a person that,
I don’t think I’ve ever heard her say the word sorry. 
(It’s not a word I like anyway. 
It’s a disposable word, it’s like
a lighter that, once the fuel’s gone
you chuck it, you know. 
I don’t think it’s got meaning, you know.)

She phoned me on numerous occasions,
just saying that she wanted to get back
and it would be okay, we would be alright. 
And in the end I, I conceded the point
and went back.  Things were never really,
never really  brilliant and I actually worked out
that this is how she was, this is,
maybe this is how she was brought up,
maybe she’d seen her father doing this
and I was to learn that later on. 
I don’t know, she,
she was really an unforgiving person
and she didn’t forgive herself. 
And we went out with, er ,
for only a short time in fact,
we went out for um about three four months
and her father,
who was in a new relationship,
having lost his wife,
in fact he was in that relationship before his wife died,
which was, she died of cancer,
and I think that was a bit tragic,
he was involved with another woman before his wife died.
He told my wife that she had to leave.

Why did you get married to her?

I thought that she was somebody
who was troubled and needed help,
and that maybe I could give her that help.
I mean to be absolutely honest with you,
I mean I, the, next month I will get divorced.
I’ve waited five years and next month I can get divorced. 
I would love to have,
I’ve not had a lady in my life for ten years. 
Because five years she slept separately
in her room with a dog. 
And for the last five years I’ve been living on my own. 
So it’s been a really tough, tough time
not having someone close
that you can be with and talk to. 

I tried, did my best, I tried. 
And at the end of the day
I wasn’t the one who walked away. 
She walked away.  But that was the reason,
I’d hoped I could turn her life around

Flicker

She, she sort of did strange things,
like she would, I would go to bed,
I always went to bed before her,
this is something that happened,
I mean I went to bed and,
I think maybe we had a TV
and maybe she was watching programmes
I didn’t particularly want to watch. 

But I used to go to bed and read a book,
wait for her to come to bed and the,
the lights kept going off,
I mean this wasn’t one occurrence,
this was quite regular. 
And the light went off, and then it came on again. 
And then I would read a bit more
and then the light would go off
and then come on again.  And in the end
I got up and went into this huge lounge
and she was at the mains fuse box
in the cupboard in the corner. 
And she was turning it on and off. 
Now I’ve never.. I asked her what she was doing
and she couldn’t reply, she didn’t reply, she wouldn’t reply. 
And I’ve never been able
to work out what that was all about. 
I mean it really just seems
to have been an annoyance factor
more than anything else.  But childish. 
But it happened over a period of time. 
I mean it wasn’t just a one off. 
So there were odd things that went on,
but maybe you know I just accepted that as part of the,
it came with the territory of maybe trying to help her.

I.C.I.

We had a good time. 
We bought a car as well
and I passed my test
and we bought a car
so we were mobile as well,
which was really lovely. 

I said I didn’t want to be in the Post Office anymore,
I was having to work too long hours for the money. 
I didn’t want to work in a public company,
and it was really my father that said to me
when I failed everything he said,
you must work, you must become a civil servant,
because you’ve got security. 

And I got to the point of thinking,
when I started thinking for myself,
I don’t really care about security,
(at the time jobs were plentiful ,
you know), I will join, she works for ICI,
can you find out if there’s anything going?

She came home with some forms from personnel,
and I applied for the job,
went for an interview with ICI,
in accounting, and got the job
and that was in export credit control
and it was a brilliant job
and tripled my salary overnight. 
So everything became, financially became okay. 
So I joined ICI in 1969
and set about working hard there in order to establish a,
I always had to establish a reputation.
I need to establish a reputation,
or to show evidence of what I’ve done,
or it’s a nightmare really,
I’m sure that if I’d been to university
I wouldn’t have to do all those things.

First pregnancy

In 1970, a year after I joined,
in 1969 when I joined ICI,
late 69 my wife miscarried and
I went home because she was ill
and she was sitting on the toilet and she had,
she was having terrible trouble. 
And the embryo was in the loo. 
So I got her cleaned up and,
with towels and various things
and got this thing out the toilet
and wrapped it up
and we went up to the maternity unit at Kings. 
And they confirmed that she had miscarried.
They took her in, to clean her up internally. 
And that was a hard time, that was a very difficult time. 
And that must, I knew that must be a very difficult time for her,
because it’s as I understand it
with miscarriages it’s not just a physical thing,
I think there’s a psychological element attached to it as well. 
But they always seemed to recommend that once you can,
once you’re in a position to conceive again,
to go for it, you know,
I think they try to fill the gap, I don’t know. 
But that’s what we were advised to do.

Stuart

In 1970, my son Stuart was born,
so that was the year after. 
And he was a healthy baby. 
And that was the start of the family,
that was a strange situation,
I mean she was continuing with the lights,
it was really weird
and I almost saw Stuart as an intervention
between her and me,
you know that I’d had her attention fully
for a year, eighteen months
and then suddenly this child comes along,
who’s totally dependent on her,
and I’m sure a lot of men must go through this sort of thing you know,
suddenly it seems like a gap appears between you,
another fault line you know.  I mean those feelings only lasted,
I think they were quite selfish actually.
But they only lasted for a relatively short period of time.
 
And Stuart was a delight, he was perfect
and I used to do a great deal with him,
we had the car so we used to be able to drive to Dulwich Park,
Dulwich Park a wonderful place,
walk around Dulwich Park,
you can drive around Dulwich Park
or you could at the time. 
Absolutely amazing, they had azaleas ,
rhododendrons at a certain time of year,
it’s a joy, such a joy.

Nicholas

And then In 1973, Nicholas was born,
completely the opposite in character to Stuart,
but another joy,
it was just like a real happy family,
real happy family. 

But things were starting to go wrong there.
The whole mood of that area
was starting to turn ugly by comparison
to what we knew when we first moved there,
or what I’d known since I first moved there. 
It was becoming a bit more violent,
drugs were starting to appear,
the early stages of drugs were starting to appear.
I became very upset when
Stuart came home from a playschool he was at
and he was swearing
as if it was normal language. 
I thought, it’s time to go. 
So we started to look around.
(We were in a position then
to be able to buy a house.
And we started to look around in 1975.)
And we came across Woking. 
And Woking was ideal,
because I still had to travel to London every day
and the train service to Woking was very good,
from Woking to London was very good,
although the bus service was rubbish.

Friends

In 1978 life improved
and we had what are called friends,
but I, I have a thing about the word friends,
like I have a thing about the word ‘sorry’. 
Friends are only transient,
they’re only here for a time
or they’re only your friends for a time, you know,
and you suddenly find out
that they’re not as nice as they look,
they, they were,
I mean they were friends,
they were people that we knew,
we’d moved into a new house in a new street,
it was the first phase of god knows how many
and we were all in the same boat,
there were no pavements,
there was a road but no pavements
and everything was rough, you know, around. 

And em we were all of the same age. 
And that was quite good,
but of course it doesn’t last,
because people will eventually move on
and you lose contact
and it’s okay for the moment
and I’ve always found that very difficult to cope with. 
Very much more now,
find it very difficult to cope with.

Europe

I started travelling with work
throughout Europe in 1980,
extensively throughout Europe,
three weeks at a time
and that lasted for a very long time,
probably for about a year and a half. 
It was quite tough going,
but I got through it and enjoyed it,
I just loved everything I saw. 
And it, I mean simple things,
like it was a joy at weekends
when I wasn’t working
to go to the local park on a Sunday and you see
the father and his mother and the children,
immaculately dressed, just parading,
just erm in their best clothes,
absolutely wonderful,
they’ve got the most magical dress sense,
absolutely amazing.  And that was, it was great.
 
In 1983, Helen was born
and I wanted a daughter,
I’d always wanted a daughter,
(I probably wouldn’t say that now.)
I wanted a daughter,
we had two sons
and it was really the last chance
as far as I was concerned
and luckily she came along.

Honduras

I’d moved away from Europe,
working in Europe
to working in North South and Central America. 
Very tough, that was,
because it was the same thing,
trips out all the time but these were places,
Central American places like Nicaragua, which was civil war,
El Salvador, war, Costa Rica very good,
Honduras, a lot of unrest
and youngsters of fourteen made up the army,
so you’d come across these fourteen year olds
with guns as big as them. 
And that was quite scary,
because they knew that I was a businessman,
they could tell I was probably American or Canadian,
they wouldn’t have known I was English,
but I was a white man, and I was carrying,
they would know I was carrying money,
because you always carried your possessions with you,
you never left them in the hotel. 
So that was a bit frightening. 
And in, when I left Honduras,
I left Honduras to go to Costa Rica,
to get a break and er
I did receive a death threat. 
If I ever returned to Honduras I’d be killed. 
That was very frightening. 
You could get somebody killed in Honduras,
a guy told me, guy who owed, owes us money
and who paid me money,
which was very good,
but he said I could get somebody killed in Honduras
for a thousand dollars. 
The Honduran army would just make it work. 
So it was a, it was a real, you know.