Things at home were currently ok. Money was coming in because my dad had just opened a butcher shop on the corner of Isaac street which was right next to our house.
Unfortunately, the oven had broken so dinner time became a nightmare for my mum. She would have to go into the shop and use the oven.
Then put all of the food down in the street and then open the door, bring the food in, close the door, carry the food upstairs, and then serve it.
The bills, for the time being, were being paid but unfortunately, this would not last as like with all addiction this comes before everything else. I don’t want anyone reading this to think I’m bad-mouthing my dad.
We had some years when we didn’t speak but that’s all ancient history. We were okay with each other and had been for a good while just before he died in 2010.
One thing which I will tell you is that you don’t know the minute. When we didn’t speak I was well within my rights to not talk to him but in reality that was a lot of wasted time.
In my experience time can heal almost all wounds and there is no point in having bad blood. In hindsight, I could have broken the ice sooner but we live and learn.
When you hate anybody it consumes you not them. I’ve found out from people years later that they had a serious issue with me at some point.
Don’t get me wrong I’m not claiming to be an angel but there have been times I’ve had no idea that a person felt this way about me.
I’ve even said to the person in question wow why didn’t you come and talk to me instead of stewing on this. A lot of the time they didn’t have a good answer for me and even realized this themselves.
I’ve then gone to point out that I thought we were ok so all this time you have felt this way who has it affected me or you? A lot of the time they feel so stupid and we have been able to put it to bed.
There have been other times when I’ve done something which has affected someone. Again I didn’t know it affected them and that I had fucked them over unintentionally.
In these cases, I’ve apologized and tried to make it right. A lot of the times its been possible but there are many who would prefer to grind an axe and seemed to be fueled by hatred and resentment.
In my own personal experience resentment was the building blocks for my addiction so I try my best to not bear a grudge.
A very unpopular opinion of mine which will probably get my lynched is that so many women refuse to let anything go.
I’m obviously not generalizing all women here but I’ve seen this first hand so many times to even consider this correlation. So many times I’ve seen girls who are stunning and they age really badly. The thing they have in common is resentment.
They are talking through gritted teeth about an ex from three years ago, a friend who wronged them out of money, the baby’s dad who is the worst scumbag ever.
When I point out that well you met him doing wheelies on a scrambler while smoking skunk and selling lemo its not the best start to a relationship is it? Then suddenly I’m the bad guy?
Having said that I had this flawed system of thinking for many years and I felt for such a long time that everything was someone else’s fault. Also if your logic is flawed then so will everything else in your life will be especially the company that you keep.
There is a famous quote from the Dali Lama and it could not be more true. “When you think everything is someone else’s fault, you will suffer a lot. When you realize that everything springs only from yourself, you will learn both peace and joy.”
Anyway back onto my father and why he behaved in the way that he did. I know every day we can make choices and change things. Unfortunately, many people don’t have the tools to make things better for themselves.
A lot of people who do have these tools do not know how to use them so they end up stuck in this negative loop.
This has only started to be recognized in the past thirty years so the research that has been doing although groundbreaking is still in its infancy.
They have obviously learned the fundamentals like you can’t beat the shit out of kids and nor can you put them in prison unless absolutely necessary.
They have also learned that fucking kids absolutely destroys them but having said that if it’s not happening to middle-class families then its much easier to sweep under the carpet.
Then the money can be spent more positively elsewhere for example by giving it in foreign aid to a country that hates us.
I remember being at school when I was 9 and childline was just being launched. It was a brand new unheard concept where children could call and speak in confidentiality if they were being hurt or abused.
The fact that this was seen as such a milestone when I was 8 shows me how children had no voice for years.
Now go back another twenty-eight years to when my dad was a kid his cards were really marked. He was born in 1948 and had four brothers my uncles George, Eddie, Keith, Chris. His parents my grandparents were called Jack and Betty.
They were good people but money was scarce and both Jack and Betty were raging alcoholics. Later on, I remember my dad had an obsession with shoes and couldn’t figure out why.
It was explained to me that when he was younger his school shoes would always be in the pawnshop. It was always the same hiding behind the couch from the electricity man or ordering clothes from the catalog and always conveniently being out or hiding when they came to collect the money for the goods every week.
These days that would be impossible as everything is automated and direct debit would be the only option to pay. Back in those days though things were very different.
Once again this was another sad case of addiction coming first. Luckily drugs were not an issue like they are today as both Jack and Betty could have met there demise a lot quicker than they did with the bottle.
My father told me that every day they would walk back from school and they would have to go and search the local pubs to see where they were so they could get the key for the house and get in out the cold. Then after this more often than not they would have to see to themselves with food.
This kind of thing obviously still goes on to this day but it would be recognized a lot quicker these days in theory but in those days it was normal.
Bear in mind World War two had only finished four years previously before John Bailey was born. Rationing was still happening and it wouldn’t end until 4th July 1954.
In those days there was not as much entertainment or things to occupy people as there is now.
You add that that a lot of traumatized young men coming home from four years of hell with absolutely no outlet to talk about this and you will create a generation of alcoholics and in modern days drug addicts.
My dad’s dad Jack did not serve in the war but it was much easier to slip into this alcoholic pattern especially with so many of your friends constantly drinking to forget the horrors they had seen.
It should also be noted that at that time it was normal to go to the pub every night.
What baffles me even to this day is the pubs used to open at lunchtime and then close in time for the schools to finish. Then they would open again so people could go for a drink after work and then people would come in the evening to unwind.
The everyday man and woman were very ignorant when it came to taking care of their health. Nobody would dream of going to the gym.
The only people who would go to the gym would be boxers and professional athletes. The everyday person would see this at ludicrous.
So growing up had a serious effect on my dad and his brothers and he was most definitely a product of his environment. Jack and Betty really wanted to put more time into their drinking so they had this genius idea of putting my dad in school a year early.
There were no government-funded nurseries in or around Scotland road near the city center so Jack and Betty had to plan there day around him and Keith who was the youngest then my dad. So having John go to school a year early was a huge win for them.
They forged the paperwork and put him in school and then he surprised everyone. It turns out that my dad was a very intelligent kid. He found the work really easy and loved going to school.
He had a laugh with his friends, the teachers liked him. Most importantly he loved going to school mostly because he got a meal at lunchtime.
One thing me and him had in common was we both went to school for the food. I was lucky as there was always enough to eat in my house but later on when I could see school was pointless as I could not keep up due to my dyslexia.
My mother to be fair to her understood the struggles I had but said to me you at the least have to go to school. I can’t let you sit home at least this way there is a slim chance you will learn something.
So I would go in every day and the school lunches were amazing to be fair so it was a nice incentive for me.
So things are going really well for John and then towards the end of the school year someone figures out whats going on. They see that he was put into school a year too early and they have an emergency meeting.
They see he’s top of the class, they can also see he’s more than capable to continue the work and he’s reading and writing about at a level of 2 years higher than his age.
They also have statements of his teacher saying sweep this under the carpet he is very capable and a good student. So the school does the least logical thing and makes him repeat the school year from day one.
John was devastated and he found it really hard to function in the class. He would go to school bored to tears and his new teacher wouldn’t give him any different work to do.
I myself came across this rigid stupid linear thinking later on and was also fucked over in similar ways which I will talk about in later blogs.
A few months in he started bunking off school except for his lunch as it was almost certain there would be nothing at home to eat.
As I mentioned earlier there was not a lot of attention paid to children in those days so there was hardly any system in place to check why children are hardly ever in school.
Then the inevitable happened he fell in with a bad crowd. All-day there would be nothing to do and money was so scarce so they began shoplifting, stealing cars, robbing houses anything really that would net them a few quid.
When forced to go back to school on occasions he was now behind with the work and his classmates had advanced academically without him.
So now he didn’t know all the answers and had lost his passion for learning due to the poor treatment by the school system.
You add this to having hardly any guidance or support at home it’s not surprising he went down the path that he did.Then when he had run out of chances with the police and the courts he was sent to Borstal which in turn was a prison for children.
The government had adopted a policy called the short sharp shock. This was a system of building prisons for youths and giving them the name of Borstal. See the amazing propaganda link below i’ve found on youtube
The worst and meanest prison officers from across the country were drafted into these sites to in theory scare the children from committing further crime.
Obviously, like most government programs they don’t ever get to the heart of the problem so nothing is ever fixed.
This in turn just breeds more violence and hatred against the already broken system and results with more children being failed and thrown by the wayside.
Borstals were officially abolished under the 1982 Criminal Justice Act and replaced by institutions called youth custody centers.
There were a lot of changes but as you can see by the picture its still a prison for children.
Ive enclosed two very poweful and disturbing links about the short sharp shock below.
My dad told me the first time he went he was terrified. He was lucky because he knew some of the lads in there but like in the article links above some of the things he saw haunted him forever.
I am a firm believer this is what started him like it did many others on his journey with Heroin. When I briefly volunteered as a drug worker I must have met over a hundred Heroin addicts. Out of all of them, I met two who I didn’t like.
They were all really good people but deeply flawed. Every one of them had a horrendous story to tell which in many cases was a result of child abuse, rape, or something as equally disturbing. This attracted them to the worst possible drugs and well you know what happens next when it comes to the brown.
I mention in an earlier blog when you take Heroin you are summoning a demon but there are way more people with pain then there is education so this evil carousel keeps on turning.
A good movie to watch if you want to know what Borstal was really like is a movie called Scum. Its stars Ray Winstone and its before he was famous. There are so many British actors who play small parts as well before they are famous.
This is one of those movies I will describe as old but gold. I’ve met many people who went to the borstals who told me its not a hundred percent but yeah it’s pretty accurate. Luckily I’ve found the full movie on youtube so feel free to watch it below.
When my dad went into Borstal he ended up having a few fights but came out on top and with having friends already there he was lucky not to be a target like some of the more younger vulnerable prisoners.
The screws then put together a boxing program all under the illusion of teaching the children discipline. The theory of this was sound but most of the screws just wanted to watch the kids punch fuck out of each other for their own amusement and also make some money with betting amongst each other.
I’m not saying all prison officers are like this but it is a very negative job also I know from people who have done heavy jail both young offenders and real jail back in those days the screws did what they wanted.
They had even gone as far as thrown prisoners down flights of stairs and try to cover it up as a suicide.
I also know at present five serving prison officers. These are all good people and are not a patch on what I’m describing in this article.
They all agree as well that the system now is more broken than ever and the job is twice as hard due to underfunding and so many people quitting due to constant stress.
The screws could see that my dad could fight so he and few others were allowed to go to other borstals to fight there fighters in competitions.
He told me I would wake up in the night and I would hear some of the younger prisoners screaming from either being badly beaten or sexually assaulted.
This didn’t happen every night but often enough so I just trained as hard as I could because I never wanted that to happen to me. He said I would have wished that on my worst enemy and the screws knew what was going on but really couldn’t care less.
He also said I just wanted to cry because you knew exactly what was happening but was scared if he drew attention to himself he would become a target.
Whoever the genius was who put together this fucked up system thought that it was appropriate to put seventeen-year-olds in with twelve-year-olds.
The same dickhead was most likely under the illusion that if the child felt that he was in danger he could just report it to one of the screws.
John and the rest of the boxers didn’t have to do as much of the work assigned for prisoners such as gardening and various other hard labor. The schooling was nonexistent so they were trained more in the gym and were given extra food.
Extra food in itself was seen as a luxury and with nobody coming up to see him on visitation day as Jack and Betty were busy all the time with there drinking he needed something to focus on to get him through the day.
He used to say as fucked up as it was I was definitely one of the lucky ones. What messed him up the most is the fact the guards just let all of this happen and at times even encouraged it.
Unfortunately, my dad could have been a promising boxer if even in the Borstal he would have had the right guidance. He was sent down to Wales to fight the Welsh champion.
That day they were short-staffed and he was sent down alone with a driver who had to stay with the car.
The champion cornered him with his four mates and got in his head just before the fight telling him he was a dead man and other various insults.
He went on to fight the Welsh Champion with cornermen who he had never met, away from home in a hall full of Welsh Supporters and was beaten badly. As you can imagine this seriously affected his confidence.
He carried on boxing in his Borstal but had no intention of traveling to other prisons now. When he got out he tried his hand at the boing again but couldn’t commit to it as his true passion was, unfortunately, drugs and alcohol.
He got out and was sent back multiple times and I was when he was eighteen his mate Jimmy Downey introduced him to Heroin. They both went into the toilets at Central station in Liverpool and he was injected.
Normally addicts will smoke Heroin first but not this time I think this gave John the escape he needed from all his pain.
He didn’t turn into an addict overnight this happened gradually over the years. He functioned well and even though he was a known criminal he managed to have some decent jobs and like mentioned earlier got himself a butcher shop.
Just like all addictions it just keeps taking from you until you have nothing left. So this was the beginning of the end between him and my mum.
He obviously hid this well and he wasn’t shooting up at the dinner table. Now I had been born she caught him at it times but it was a case of what to do next and how to fix this mess.
Most addicts are really charming people so it’s not like she met him in a shop doorway he was and still was when he died the life and soul of the party. He still had the odd slip in later life but his death was a complete surprise.
So much so that there was an inquest about it. It turns out his heart valve had torn unexpectedly and he died almost instantly. This was totally out of the blue but I’m so glad we were ok at the time of his death in 2010.