In the summer of 1987, on the morning before my A level History exam, I oversaw the removal of all my family’s property from our home, in a leafy village in the north of Bernicia. We had been served a notice of eviction by the Official Receiver who was appointed by the High Court my father’s bankruptcy, following the winding up of the insurance brokerage he founded in the early seventies, which went tits-up in the aftermath of the Winter of Discontent, after which the late unlamented Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative Party swept into Downing Street, under strict instructions from the internationalists to wage war on Argentina, the Trade Unions and the common unity of the unprivileged masses.
Until today, the afternoon after the eviction was the only time I wrote about the trauma of what transpired that morning, when I explained to my anonymous A level examiner why I had been unable to revise for my exam, in order to justify my insubstantial essays on the history of the so-called “European Renaissance”. Whether this had the desired effect or not, I scraped through the exam by the seat of my undercrackers.
A few days before the eviction, my father disturbed my last-minute revision of the essential differences between Marxism, Functionalism and the position of the Interactionists for my Sociology A level, by entering my room with a truly forlorn expression on his face, which for my father is a singularly rare event, such is the nature of his generally indomitable character. “What’s the matter Dad?” I asked, with discernible anxiety in my voice.
To cut a long story short, seven years of financial struggle to resist losing our home had driven my mother to what seemed like the edge of a nervous breakdown. Fearing the worst, my Dad had scraped together the funds to take her and my younger sister to Spain for a fortnight on a package tour, to which I had no objection since I was heading to the Costa Blanca with my mates after my exams. However, since the holidays were booked we had been notified of the eviction date, which coincided with the period my parents were abroad. They were due to fly from Newcastle Airport two days before we were ordered to leave the property.
Without hesitation, I insisted that I was more than capable of dealing with the situation on my own, despite the almost overwhelming sense of foreboding in my heart. I knew my mother’s mental, physical and emotional states were already fraught, so I readily accepted that the only viable way to prevent her getting any worse was to protect her from the traumatic effects of the eviction. Ironically enough, never once did I or anybody else take pause to ponder the consequences of those effects upon my well-being.
Little did I know it would not be the first and last time I had to deal with such an ordeal by court order, but I did know that my Dad had already agreed with the Receiver that we would leave the property without resistance, on the proviso that no bailiffs would be employed under such circumstances. Thank feck for small mercies.
After my parents departed for sunnier climes, I spent my last night in the 1100 year old house I had called home for seven years. Even a date, the night before the eviction, with a girl I had pursued for more than a year, could not lighten my spirits enough to rid myself of the chilling emptiness of the space where life had taken shape during my formative years. The memories are as vivid today as they were in the aftermath of the events themselves, yet I locked them away in a box marked “DON’T OPEN UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES”… until now.
I awoke to the morning chorus of the myriad of birds which inhabited the grounds of our house, which comprised of two and a half a half acres with an orchard, a kitchen garden and dozens of ancient beech, chestnut and oak trees encircling a Norman Peel Tower, which my Dad and a team of craftsmen and labourers had painstakingly rennovated on a shoe-string budget between 1978 and 1980.
At this point its worth pointing out that my father was the first man from his side of our family to avoid 3-5 decades on a North-East coalface. He left school at 15, served a five year apprenticeship in the shipyards on the Tyne and married a girl from the west end of Newcastle. It is therefore fair to say that ours is not the type of family that usually moves into such properties in these parts even now, unless a son or daughter has achieved fame, success or notoriety as a footballer, reality show contestant or gangster.
I lost count of the number of times my mother complained of being completely blanked by the “posh women” in the village, which she insisted was because of her comparatively broad Geordie accent. My experiences were entirely different, however.
I began several friendships within days of moving to the village, all of which have endured, despite many a turbulent time. The best years of my youth were spent there, including the first time I got completely ratarsed, on Norseman lager and home made gooseberry wine; my first joint of Moroccan hash; and the first times I heard the music of Arthur Lee’s Love, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, Velvet Underground, Led Zeppelin, Joy Division, Tim Buckley, Roy Harper, Julian Cope, Ritchie Havens and Country Joe and the Fish. I even held two pool competitions in my bedroom when I was 14, in which dozens of teenage boys drank homebrew lager and smoked tabs over four day tournaments, without so much as a black eye or broken nose.
I also had a near death experience on the sofa in our living room, after the poison spewing into my system from a burst appendix had me doubled up in agony with a temperature of 102, drove me to the brink of physical expiration. From the very edge of oblivion, I made the conscious decision to turn away from the awesome magnetism of the divine serenity of the Creator’s still white light and return to the physical agony which had turned my skin green, knowing in my heart that my life was only just beginning.
The thought of leaving all that behind didn’t crush my spirits; in actual fact, it nourished them, because I already felt like my life had been rich in experience, despite many and varied traumatic events. What did sit, brick-likee, in the pit of my stomach, however, was the sickening feeling that there is something inherently wrong with kicking families out of their homes for failing to pay an alleged debt to a bank.
The feeling has never left me, no matter how many times I have fooled myself into believing that I was over it. The it being the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which affects all who are kicked out on to the streets by men in dark suits waving court orders, from the moment one realises that these people will stop at nothing to take from you everything they can get their hands on and that the apparatus of the state is used to efficiently achieve these malevolent aims for the financial gain of the banksters.
When I heard the sound of the wagon pulling on to the pebbled driveway with my granddad and the removal men, my heart started racing with the anticipation of the arduous morning ahead of me. Then I remembered my A level history exam that afternoon! “For fucksake!” I exclaimed to myself, as I ran downstairs and opened to front door, at which my granddad was standing with the omnipresent flat cap on his head and a Capstan Full Strength between his lips.
“Alright son?” he asked, knowingly, but with the calm of a man who’d survived half a coalface falling on top of him. I put on a brave face which he saw right through, but together we set about directing the removal men as to what was coming with us and what we were leaving behind for the vultures to gorge upon.
Just after midday, the van was packed to the rafters as I stood outside and watched it drive away, along with my granddad. Realising that I should probably eat something before my exam, I quickly grabbed some brunch and made the two mile journey to school in my trusty old Nissan 120Y. Most of the three hours I spent in the gym with sixty other nervous adolescents was spent staring into space in quiet contemplation, as the shock of what had transpired began to set in.
“So an Englishman’s home is his castle, eh? What a crock of shit! The citadel of justice and right?!? More like the pinnacle of just-US and the people can hadaway and shite.” Thatcher and her controllers had already set about destroying the working class communities where my family had subsisted for generations, despite the frequently tragic nature of life in a pit village. It seemed obvious to me that something was rotten in the state of Great Britain.
I pondered these thoughts, as I drove back to the place that was no longer home, pulled up on the driveway and parked in front of the house. Taking a deep breath, I went back inside, checking that we had left nothing behind.
I pretty much held it together until I stood in the living room, where I had almost died four years earlier. I sat on the window sill, staring out at the grand old oak tree in the middle of the front garden, with tears streaming down my face, as I sobbed like a baby without a shoulder to cry on. I remember thinking that I had never felt more alone than in that moment. I knew it was time to leave.
I raced downstairs and out the front door, before wandering round the grounds, taking it all in one more time before my final departure. At around half five, I found myself on the lawn, staring at the wall of creeping ivy on the front of the house, which covered all but the windows. I then became aware that a car was pulling up behind me. In what seemed like an eternity, I turned around to see a demonstrably arrogant man in a dark suit park his E Type Jaguar on the grass, only a few feet from where my feet were.
I stared at the willful trespasser, instinctively knowing exactly who he was, though I had never met him or seen a photograph, with a fireball of rage rising in my belly, as he wound down his electric window with a self-satisfied smile. “Tell you Dad he’d better have everything out of the house tonight, otherwise it will be sold…” he said, as I engaged his gaze without blinking.
“You’ve got ten seconds to fuck off, otherwise I won’t be responsible for my actions…” was my utterly sincere reply, which transformed his disgusting smugness into cowardly uncertainty for at least a fleeting moment. “Just tell him what I said, will you?” he said with resumed arrogance, so I started counting. “One… Two… Three…” and before I could get to four, he sped away in his penis substitute to continue his criminal enterprise.
An hour later, I was sitting in my grandparents’ house in what remained of the colliery rows of Shiremoor, telling my granddad what had happened. He sat there and listened in earnest, drinking his pint-pot of tea, pulling on his Capstan, before uttering a few words of Geordie vernacular which I will never forget: “Aye son, you did a man’s job today. But div’nt ye worry, bastards like that will ahlways get what’s comin’ t’ th’m in the end. Ye mark my words.”
Therein lies that which has driven me to dedicate my energies and resources to exposing, challenging and replacing a system which is run for the benefit of pirates, usurpers and mass-murderers, to the detriment of everybody else.
The concerted efforts of the government-owned Lloyds Group to steal my family’s properties for a second time are certainly no surprise, but the aggression, sophistry and criminality with which our attempts to defend ourselves and our interests have been met by the high priests presiding in her majesty’s courts stand as compelling evidence that the so-called Justice System is incapable of delivering justice when the interests of the crown and the banksters are at stake.