RATTLECANS 3 – SHAME
So You Think You Get To Shame Me For Hating?
When we ran for oor lives fae ma violent faither and found oursels in a B&B, the council asked Ma where she would like to be rehoosed. That’s a normal part of housing homeless folk. Ma wanted back in the same area where she raised us. The same area where ma violent Da lived. In ma book, of all the bad ideas anybody could ever have dreamt up, Ma Mawe had dreamt up the worst. I was terrified of him. And I mean terrified. He’d swung his fists about for years, getting mair and mair oot of control tae the point we knew we’d die in that hoose if we stayed. And there she is, insisting we go back to live in the same area. Nothing I said would change her mind, and back we went to that area. If the new house had been any closer tae his street, I’d not have gone back there. I’d a lived in the gutter first, I was so frightened of him. No amount of Ma insisting it would be OK would have convinced me. Two mountains. The distance between him and the new hoose was enough to convince me to give it a go.
I wasn’t just terrified of him. I hated him. I hated that man like you will never imagine. He was my Da. He was supposed to look efter me. He was supposed tae protect me, protect us, keep me safe fae bad things, keep us safe fae bad things. He didnae. He turned intae a monster and he became the bad thing I needed tae get safe far away fae, that we needed tae get safe far away fae. And I hated him for that.
We’d been rehoused, no even a couple of months, and I was off out at the shops getting in messages. Early. He’d no be about the shops. I was fine, quick run roon the shops and I’d be fine. One of our old neighbours saw me. And this neighbour of his, a woman who knew me fae I was born, took it upon herself to stand in the street, bawling and shouting at me, a few shops further along, about what a disgrace my mother was for leaving that man, that poor poor man all on his own wi nobody to cook his tea! “Who will look after him?” she demanded in her screaming voice. “Your mother is a disgraceful bad bitch!” And of course, everybody had stopped going about their business, stopped to watch the show. I’d been brought up to never be cheeky to adults. To respect them, not answer back. Do I stop walking in the direction I’m going, away from her? Do I stand there and let her scream at me, calling ma Ma for everything, simply because ma Ma had decided that mibbes staying where we would die was not a particularly appealing idea? Or do I turn around and shred that fat effin bitch with everything I’ve got for the bloody cheek of her to treat anybody like that?
On and on she bawled and shouted. Right, that’s it.
Not having it and she got the lot, both barrels, aff me, defiant, loud and proud! She wants a fight, she can bloody well have it. Wi me! Aff she scarpered wi me calling her for everything under the sun and tellin her exactly where to go, as loud as I could. Dear middle class feminists, did I call her a fat cow? Oh numerous times! And a helluva lot mair anaw. That was me, sweet seventeen and giving as good as I fuckin got. I’m no apologising tae any a ye for no asking yer permission about whit words I should and shouldn’t use. I don’t need your permission for anything any more than I needed her permission as to where I should live or needed ma faither’s permission to get out ma bed at 4pm on a sunny day… just cos he decided it was midnight. I never needed yer permission when I was 17 and I sure as hell don’t need yer bloody permission a’ these years later. Got that? Go read something mair tae your liking, something a bit more mythical, comfy and sweet, something less real and easier for you to cope with. Good girls. That’s Nice. Butt oot. Mind yer ain.
Aff I went hame, fretting. Gaunnae hiv tae tell ma Ma whit’s happened and whit I’ve done. Cannae hiv her hearing all sorts a long tales and I don’t want her getting a shiriking fae another bad fat bitch and no knowing it might be coming. Hiv I made it worse? Harder for ma Mawe? When I told Ma what had happened, she replied “There’ll be 6 or 7 bad bitches aroon here trying that. Let them away wi it and it’ll never end. I know who they are. 1 down, 6 to go”. “So you’re no angry wi me fur shouting back at her?” “You did exactly the right thing hen. No the first stairheid rammy I’ve had wi her. She’s a bad bad bitch. Thanks”.
“See your pal, John. The wan wi the red hair up the next close fae yer Da. Did you know that’s his Auntie? That fat cow is John’s mammie’s sister. John’s mammie has no spoken tae that bad bitch fae way afore I mairrit yer Da. She’s a nasty nasty bastard. Always has been”. Dear middle class feminists, ma Ma needs no permission aff any a you tae use any word she wants tae use, any mair than I dae. We left a control freak; we never put oot a Situations Vacant: Control Freak Wanted, notice in the paper. Behave yersels.
But I learned something. I feels just as good tae stand up tae Mrs Judgemental Ranter as it does tae stand up tae Mr Fisty. In fact, I learned that standing up tae Mrs Judgemental Ranter is a helluva lot easier than standing up tae Mr Fifty. And I’d been standing up tae Mr Fisty fae when I started secondary school. It’s easier, always easier if ye nip these problems in the bud.
That fat bitch had been trying tae shame ma Mawe for years. And that fat bitch thought she got tae issue me and ma Mawe wi the punishment and we’d go scarpering aff tae disappear under the the big stone tae hide in the damp cold Shameful Hole. For having the nerve of running for our lives instead of staying there tae be murdered in oor beds. Imagine that! A woman shaming another woman for not remaining in the home she was absolutely going to be murdered in. A MOTHER shaming a wee lassie in the street for not staying at home where her, her siblings and her mother would be murdered if they didnae run for their lives. Saintly women, saintly mothers, indeed. And there’s me, learning so much about life long before I’m auld enough tae tae join the army. Dearie dearie me, ladies!
I’ve took that lesson wi me. I didnae need tae be ashamed. And nobody should ever try to shame me for refusing to lie down and die at the hands of anybody, never mind ma Da.
I spent quite a bit of time wi ma Aunties and Ma’s pals o’er the next few years. Things were happening. Lots of people were helping us. That school friend’s gran sent him roon tae ask if we needed casserole dishes cos his gran had too many, and that school friend’s gran sent her roon tae ask if we would maybe like a lamp cos she’d an auld wan she didnae like; “Auld fashioned but maybe you would like tae have it for a wee while tae ye get on yer feet?” All the guys, guys ma age, guys who’d been to school wi my older brother, so many guys, most of them wi nothing themselves, stopping me in the street. “How are ye? Are you OK? How’s yer Ma? Are ye sure she’s OK? Look, it disnae matter whit it is, if you need anything, ask. Anything. I’ll decorate for ye. Need a bit a furniture collected and no got a van? I’ll get a van, and me and ma pals will sort it. It’s no a problem. Jist ask, hen, OK. And Rattles, anybody bothers you three, anybody, you tell me. I’ll fuckin sort that out for ye. Jist gie me a shout, right?”
Beginning tae make sense why ma Ma was adamant she wanted back in the same area? Friends matter. Community matters. What else was happening? Things were being said in front of me, things I’d never heard adults say before. Women, women fae all about were saying “See when I saw that you three were OK, see when I saw that… I left that bastard. I’d had a life a hell all my life. Once I knew I’d be OK, I ran tae”, and I was hearing aff ma Aunties, aff friends, that no many a them had marriages that were a bed a roses either. Some worse than others, sure, but a lot of unhappiness all around. Happy perfect families? Where? It’s all front? Fake? Keeping up appearances. Looks like there is a whole load of that going on everywhere tae me! Everybody all pretending it’s all perfect and sitting there, shaming anybody who dares disagree.
I learned a lot before I was auld enough tae join the army. A helluva lot. I just carried on daen ma thing, gaun about my wee life, new places, new people, like you do as yer growing up and out of school, and adopting all manner of avoidance and safety tactics tae stay safe fae ma Da as best I could.
And there were all these folk assuming I’d play along at the happy families thing, painting pictures of roses about their lives. It went on for years. Decades. Aye, well, their lives are no really any a ma business. If that’s what they want to do, that’s what they’ll do. But what they’d do, is start trying to paint a bed of roses for me tae. They knew so little about me, but it was all roses cos, well it must be. Because. That is my business. That’s a line. And they were crossing ma line. That’s a picture they attach to me and I can’t get rid of it once they’ve stuck that on me, uninvited, without my permission? It’s a myth, their myth, no mine. So if anybody tried, involving ma Da, I’d reject their sticking of that picture of roses on me. Cos it’s no true. That’s a game, a trap, a prison. And I don’t like that game, I don’t want tae play it. I don’t live in myth land, I live in reality. Myths and keeping it up, in ma life, that’s deadly shit, that. So when the myths and assumptions about whit a great guy was made by some person who knew nothing about ma Da, were brought out and they were trying tae put them on ma Da, on me, I’d just go Nawe. No ma Da. Ma Da was a bastard. I hate him.
Because he wis a bastard and I did hate him. Why would I play along wi a game a lies created by folk who know nothing? And who else is in the room? Somebody who is in the very same place I was when I was at secondary school? Somebody in the very same shoes ma Mawe was? And they’re sitting there, trapped? Listening tae the roses story, wi naebody tae tell them the story of how ye get oot? Like the wumin fae ma community but who had seen ma Mawe dae it and decided they could survive the big escape fae hell tae?
The number a women, ages wi ma Mawe, who should have known better, who would immediately tell me I was a bad bad lassie and I’d nae right tae talk like that and I should be ashamed of myself and how I should respect my father…. Jesus Christ!
And every single one of them got “He was a drunken violent bastard who liked tae toss his fists about the hoose. That’s ma Da”, and if they didnae shut up they got me, looking em straight in the eye, munching on ma sandwich or whatever for lunch, talking like this: “I’m no terrible, I’ll say whit I want about ma Da, whit’s up wi the truth? No ma fault he’s a bastard. I’m no lying about it. Whit’s terrible about refusing tae die in yer bed on the end a his fists or whitever else he’s chucking aboot in wan a his rages? You trying tae shame me for surviving? Ur ye? Fur running wi ma Mawe and ma sister fur oor lives? Wasting yer time. I’ll never be ashamed a that. He was a drunken violent bad bastard who was never done setting about ma Mawe. It was ME standing between ma Mawe, and his fist. ME. No you. I protected ma Mawe fae that bastard as best as I could. Where were you when he was pummellin intae her, or me or ma brother, or ma sister? Where wur ye? Naewhere, that’s where. I hate his guts. I’ll hate him tae the day I take ma last breath. I’m ashamed a nothing.” The mair they protested and tried to scold me, shame me, the mair of it, they got.
Was I being rude, cheeky, not very, mature, polite, reasonable ehm, what’s the word, diplomatic? Who was? Me? Or them? DV is no exactly a 1 in a million rare thing, is it? But we’ve all to pretend, play myth-making that it is? I prefer facing reality of life in Scotland. If you don’t face it, you can’t do anything about it. And not facing it, not doing anything about it, well, that can be deadly. I spent a long long time begging and pleading wi ma Ma tae leave him. I wasn’t the only one. We all have to face the reality that is life, good and bad. We don’t get a choice in that, really, do we?
I needed the folk about me tae know. Needed. With a capital K. Whit happens if he shows up, looking fur me, wi that look in his eyes? I know that look in his eyes. Does everybody else? Whit happens when I turn intae a panicked, freaked oot wreck? Who is looking after me, who is going to block his view as I start zig-zagging off as fast as I can, scatterin chairs or anything else about as I run, to block his route to me, to get the hell away fae him? Who is prepared for what comes if I’m trapped. With him in front of me?
Oddly enough, I don’t remember any men trying to shame me, trying to force myths on me and objecting, arguing when I refused those myths. I cannae think a wan man who did that. It was women, almost always older women, no men. Men know that some men are just bastards; some of them had faithers, jist like I had. They’ve told me about having tae leave their Mawe behind cos she widnae go wi them, so aff they went tae the army or whatever, anywhere just tae get away.
Whit’s this about making Hate a Hate crime? Carry on, myth lovers. You know nothing about reality, nothing about real lives. You only know how to create myths and try to force folk to accept your myths. First comes the shaming, then the control tactics and when that’s looking shakey, the violence starts. Seen it all before. Seen it all before I was auld enough tae be needing tae go buy a box a tampax.
Carry on, myth lovers, you know nothing about real lives. You carry on condemning the terrible wee straight A hater who was telt tae pack in school and when she refused, her Mawe was lying, decked by an angry man, 20 minutes later, every few days for 3 weeks, tae eventually she packed in school tae protect her Mawe fae the man she hated wi every bit of her.
I know you, myth makers. I’ve met you before. I know you. I know plenty about you. Defiance shocks you, panics you, angers you, enrages you, makes you froth at the mouth like a wild, rabid animal. I know you. Defiance of you, simple ordinary defiance of your commands, your demands, by independent minded thinking people you have no business trying to control as though they are nothing more than factory animals, and you lose the plot.
I know you. I’ve met you before.