Shame is a story of my true experience. It starts with a childhood of utter degradation and neglect and proceeds through an inevitable trail of court appearances and borstal and prison stays.
But this story perhaps really begins when I was sexually abused by a warder in one of the borstals I was sent to – Medomsley.
This was a horrific event for a boy who had had no sexual experience at all, of any sort, until that point (I was always too dirty and smelly for any girl to look twice at me) and it set the tone for the rest of my life. It gives the book its title – Shame.
The shame that I felt that I had not fought back when I was attacked, that I had given in to the most degrading and horrifying abuse haunts me still. In this book I allow the reader into the life of a victim of abuse and what happens long after the headlines have faded. My abuse at the hands of a paedophile, now dead, who has been described as ‘more prolific than Jimmy Saville’, has coloured every part of my life since I was seventeen.
My story takes the reader from my first forays into crime (climbing out of the bedroom window to steal bread and milk from doorsteps to eat), to the night that I turned up at the home of Neville Husband, my abuser, with a gun, determined to shoot him dead for what he had done to me and to other boys. It is a ‘warts and all’ look at the youth offender penal system and highlights the good and the bad of that system. It covers my escapes from borstal and the harsh treatment I received from the courts.
It examines, without self pity, what happens to a child who is allowed to grow up feral, to be beaten in front of the police by his mother as a punishment for his crimes, and to be beaten every day by that mother whether or not he had done anything wrong.
I share with the reader the loves I had and my eventual marriage to Denise, who is still the love of my life. My story tells of the death of my first son, and my suicide attempt that was fuelled by the all-encompassing shame that has influenced my whole life, and it covers the court case against the Home Office, which includes the experiences of fellow sufferers.
This is an observation of how the world was for a young boy who was abused first by his mother and then by various other people in authority, but who throughout his childhood steadfastly believed that adults were always right.