A Tale of Damaged Childhood
…small kindnesses changed a life
This is the true story of a boy growing up in a Middle England just starting to recover from the Second World War. People were damaged and Great Britain was being rebuilt.
It was related to me by a 63 year-old man, recalling his damaged childhood, a childhood which was far from ideal. It is essentially factual, though some names have been changed and some memories may not be perfect.
The subject wanted to relate the essence of his formative years, and it was a very emotional experience both for him and for me. It caused ripples within his family and re-defined his relationship with his son.
An Uplifting Story…
He was also very insistent that this be an uplifting delivery for readers. Certainly, he became a successful professional engineer and is now an innovative wedding photographer having overcome the considerable obstacles he has faced.
Changed Definitions of Child Abuse
From the outset, we set out to make this non-judgemental. I sought to ensure that this was not perceived as a ‘score-settling’ work, though it is, inevitably, based on one person’s recollections. Being judgemental would be inappropriate – definitions under the broad heading of child abuse have been extended and refined in the last sixty years. Likewise, childcare standards and practice have changed, both for parents and the relevant professions. These changes have been significant, and contemporary (that is, 21st Century) definitions have been included by way of comparison.
Was his treatment fair and reasonable, even half a century ago? I draw no conclusions, but invite you to consider the facts.
Small Kindnesses Add Up
He was quite clear in his assertion that overcoming his difficulties was possible as a result of small, everyday kindnesses that certain people had shown him. How many of us remember the first time that someone enquired after our well-being? He did, clearly.
There are several such instances in the narrative, with a strong underlying implication for us all: small kindnesses add up, and what may seem to us as everyday insignificant acts and favours – even words – can have profound and cumulative effects. Unfortunately, the converse is also true.
Why the Name?
In his story, he is referred to as Susan’s Brother. When I first met him at the start of the writing journey, almost the first words he said to me were:
“the book will be called Susan’s Brother”
The reader should be led to the reason for this by the writer’s craft, and I hope I succeeded.
Find out some more facts behind the book, the crazy theories and the realities of child care in post-war Britain. Did you ever hear of Homer Lane and his bizarre ‘Little Commonwealth’ school in Evershot? Just check some of my latest posts for more.
Epping House Special School
Were you a pupil at this school? If so, you may be interested in the blog comments from former pupils at the foot of the page: Epping House comments here
James Marinero, Author