10/11/90 Chester City v Blues, A Messy Red Splodge On The Horizon.

The day before, I’d walked out of the flat I shared with my wife, my Son, and I thought, my job. I know that sounds like a start of a thriller or murder novel, but it was just another stage of my life. If you’re wondering why the sudden dramatic change in circumstances, it’s fairly simple, in amongst the fog of domestic horror, I had a moment of clarity, and it wasn’t pretty. S.O.C.O. and the clean up team, would’ve arrived to find several pieces of the inner workings of human being’s strewn around the flat. Right, ok, here goes, try not to fall asleep, but I totally understand if you do. I was brought up in a family that didn’t condone domestic violence, let alone indulge in it. Yeah, I know my Dad had died when I was 5, but there wasn’t any family stories of my Mom and Dad smashing each other to bits, far from it in fact, don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t an episode of ‘The Walton’s’ on a continuous loop, but it was harmonious enough, we were happy. Needless to say, hitting a girl/woman just wasn’t done. Hitting anyone wasn’t exactly encouraged, it was frowned on, losing your composure, showed a distinct lack of intelligence. (I’m still trying to stumble upon some modicum of intelligence) Remember ‘Light switch’?, well unbeknown to me, that on/off relationship, subconsciously, hadn’t done my self esteem any good. Julie always did the hiring and firing, I was a moth to a flame, I needed to break the cycle. There was a dumpy girl, (Sounds harsh, but it was true) that I worked with who I discovered, fancied me. Looking back, it could’ve been any girl that took a shine to me, it just happened to be Mandie, someone, I was to find out, that was psychologically damaged. To cut a long story short, I moved in with Mandie after a month of the first date, by that time, she’d been dismissed from where we worked, due to bad time keeping, and I’d walked out in protest. (Something that didn’t go down well, with my Mom) The violence started a week after I’d moved in, a slap, her on me, I went to leave, she stopped me, all tearful and apologetic, I fell for it, by that time, I’d fallen in love with her. I have no idea what the argument was about, your mind has a way of departmentalising memories, with a label on it saying ‘Do not enter’. She’d had her name down for council accommodation, and at the same time that her name got to the top of the list, she fell pregnant, so a month after moving in with her, we were moving into a high rise tower block, one of only two in Telford, and also the worst of the two. Two weeks after moving into our 4th floor flat, (Still the best view I’ve ever had out of the window in a place I’ve lived) I started working at a factory that made house bricks. When I told my Mom that Mandie was pregnant, we had a huge argument, and I stormed out, (It took a letter from my Sister Chris, including  a school project that my eldest Nephew had done about me, stating I was his favourite relative, to mediate a reconciliation) the violence got worse, and thinking that it would settle things down, by that, I mean settle her down, we got married, it didn’t, it just carried on getting worse. My Son was born, and I thought that maybe this was the thing that would be the catalyst, it wasn’t, 4 weeks after he was born, yet another argument, but this time at her mother’s, I ended up getting the train to Shrewsbury, as they were playing Blues, I watched Our first league defeat of the season, the 13th game. A Wayne Clarke hat trick did the damage, I stopped the night at Mom’s, but only because it started raining, otherwise, I’d have slept rough. I went back to Mandie on the Sunday morning. The violence got even worse. Two weeks later, and that moment of clarity, either, she was going to go too far, and actually kill me, I was going to finally flip, and once I’d hit her for the very first time, I wasn’t going to stop, or I would kill her, kill my Son, and then kill myself.

Back to the day before, I’d not gone to work as normal, but gone to my Mom’s instead, to tell her everything that had gone on, most of which, she’d suspected. I said goodbye to my Mom, waited for the bank to open, then emptied the joint account that me and Mandie had, by 09:20, I was on the train to Brum, it was the first time in almost a year, I’d truly been able to relax, knowing that Mandie couldn’t get to me. I spent the night at Hamed’s, well his Mom and Dads, she was ok about it, he wasn’t. After an extremely heavy night at the pub, I woke up on the sofa, on the Saturday morning. Hamed made me a welcome cup of tea, before I left him with my bag, that contained anything useful and everything I could carry, and got the bus into town, I was going to Macclesfield. (Chester were lodging with Macclesfield) I got to New Street to find out that I couldn’t get past Stoke, due to signaling problems, I got the train to there, before getting a rail replacement coach to Kidsgrove, where I got the train to Macclesfield. I had a pint in one of the pubs near the station, before walking up the road towards the ground, stopping off at another pub on the way, I felt like I was back home, seeing a couple of familiar faces, the camaraderie between Blues fans, that uniqueness. Another couple of pints, I carried on up to the ground.

The game was attritional, but I felt free, I was relishing the release of tension. The only things I remember from this game, was manager Dave MacKay coming on and checking on a bad injury, I think to Martin Thomas, who after considerable medical attention, was able to continue, and Robert ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins, scoring a late winner. It was the dissension that MacKay’s appearance had aroused in the travelling support that struck me, I’d been watching from afar, we’d started like a rocket, first 4 games were all victories, those victories, were followed by 8 straight draws, the defeat at Shrewsbury, at the hands of an ex player who we’d passed over the opportunity to sign on loan, before he’d signed on loan for Shrewsbury, and the subsequent defeat a week later, at home to Huddersfield, had turned Blues fans against the Scotsman, this victory was to just paper over the cracks that were growing wider and wider. I was happy, I was back.

I went straight back to Brum after the game, not trusting the trains, I didn’t fancy being stuck somewhere, and besides, I needed to pick my bag up from Hameds. The trains were fine thankfully, and I got back to Hameds ok, and although I understood, he was really apologetic that his Dad wouldn’t allow me to stop. I got the train back to Wellington, and my Mom’s. Talking to a bloke in a pub on that Friday afternoon, before I’d gone round to Hameds, the idea of me working on the markets, and living in the back of a van had been muted, I’d have been happy to work 6 days a week, wherever his mates market stall took us, as long as I was able to go and watch the Blues.

So back to the domestic violence, and my experience with it. First of all, a bloke who is a victim of it, isn’t weak, he’s no less a bloke for putting up with it, anymore than the perpetrator is deranged. I mentioned earlier, that the human mind departmentalises experiences, and it does. For several years, I viewed Mandie’s behaviour as schizophrenic, to the outside world, she gave the impression of ‘butter wouldn’t melt’, behind closed doors, it was a different matter entirely. The truth is, that it takes a huge amount of mental strength to break the chain. As we grow up, we follow the examples we are shown, why not, it’s what we do, each generation doesn’t know or care about what damage it creates. Mandie saw the violence between her father towards her mother, and instead of being the victim like her mother was, she became the perpetrator. It’s how, subconsciously, she thought relationships were. I never raised a finger to Mandie, and for a long time, I wondered how life would have been like, had I retaliated just once, would she have stopped, or gone further? Once I’d finally fallen out of love with her, I was able to walk away, and I did so proud of myself for not having hit her back, (Or her front, or any other part of her) had she been a bloke, I would’ve hit her back, but then, if she’d have been a bloke, it would’ve meant, I was homosexual, and my Son wouldn’t have been born. Ironically, according to statistics on domestic violence, there’s more violence between same sex relationships, than there is between heterosexual couples. The biggest reason why I left Mandie, was that I didn’t want my Son growing up, watching the violence, it wasn’t the right example of how relationships should be for a start, and as role models go, because of the escalating violence, neither of his parents were any good, that had to change, so I walked out. Afterwards, I made the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make in my life, and decided to not have any contact with him. It wasn’t heartless, it was taken because I felt that Mandie would hurt him straight after a visit from me, and blame me for it, I wasn’t prepared to give her that opportunity. I’ve missed him, still do, always will. I have, still do, and always will, hope that he’s ok. I won’t ever go in search of him, that’s down to him to decide, but the doors open, even if Jeremy Kyle isn’t on anymore. I’ve thought about the reasons for domestic violence a lot. Well first of all, we’re all psychologically damaged in one form or another, whether we don’t realise or recognise it, although I didn’t realise it at the time, I was. When I wandered into the relationship, I was primed, even without having that year, because that’s all it was, I wouldn’t get sucked into domestic violence now, I’m ‘sure’ of myself. Like I’ve said, my self esteem at the time, wasn’t even registering above zero, Mandie was insecure about our relationship from the start, her self esteem was as low as mine, but the difference, was example. Subconsciously, she’d worked out that intimidation, violence and ultimately, control, was the right way of ‘keeping me’, she was paranoid that she’d lose me. What she didn’t know, what they never know, is they are destroying the one thing they love. I don’t hate Mandie for what she did, I’ve come to terms with it all now, completed enough self psychoanalysis. Besides, to wallow in self pity, is to stop from moving forward. You can wake up now.

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