The Good Samaritan.

After my fleeting moment with the lady on the train a month ago, I decided that I would no longer ignore people in times of need. Of course, in certain situations, it is sensible to think of my own safety but sometimes it is necessary to take those little extra steps to make it easier or better for others. Today was one of those days.

As I waited for the bus home from work, I caught the eye of two girls that live on my road. We have never spoken but they have always been friendly and smile at me each time we get on the same bus. They became even more excited when they discovered that we live on the same road. I am polite and smile back. Children are judged too quickly these days. People seem to fear them but why should they be condemned before they have done anything? We wouldn’t do that to anyone else yet why is it okay to judge teenagers like that?

Our bus home arrived and quickly became packed with passengers. I sat down as the two girls got on. The driver suddenly got louder and seemed to telling one girl off. I took my headphones out as they seemed to be arguing. I did not want to pry but it was very crowded and the driver was making a scene. He began shouting at the girl about her ticket, telling her that she cannot ride the bus for free and that she “needs to pay like everybody else”. She wasn’t trying to trick the system, she was waiting for her new Oyster card to be delivered and kept telling the driver it was coming in eight days.

It was pitch black out now the nights are longer and so cold; to send her out and throw her off the bus not only seemed unreasonable but totally unjust. He continued to rant at her and some exasperated groans left the mouths of the other passengers. Enough was enough, she did not need a lecture she just wanted to get home and out of the cold. We do not live in a dangerous part of London however even here, have I recently been followed by some rather dodgy men on a Friday night. It was only 6.30 in the evening but the darkness had become their cover. Thankfully, they did not harass me too much and my bus arrived to save me in time but that didn’t mean that I wasn’t petrified.

I know that girls alone, in the dark, are an easy target.

I got up from my seat and without hesitation paid the driver the extortionate £2.40 he demanded from the twelve year old girl. Both sisters kept telling me not to worry as they would just leave, but I came to their defence and plainly told the driver,

“They are children and you are very happy to throw them off the bus in the cold and in the dark. We as adults should be looking out for their safety whether we know them or not. They aren’t trying to cheat the system. They are very sensible girls”.

Okay. I didn’t know if that last part was true as we had never talked but two young teenage girls who stand up to let the elderly sit down or smile at their new neighbours, seem pretty sensible to me. They are innocents and we, in a world like this today, should be celebrating that.

In  the background while the driver began barking obscenities at me, an elderly lady said as other passengers murmured in agreement,

“She’s a good Samaritan that one”.

The young girls seemed grateful and began speaking to each other in their own language as they sat down, The younger sister blurted out,

“I’ll pay you back, I’ll go straight home and pay you back!”

I said not to worry. What’s £2? They get to go home safely, that’s all that matters. The elderly woman had her feathers ruffled as she was appalled by the driver’s attitude and manner. I just reiterated the point that they are young girls being thrown off a bus and how inappropriate and unkind that would be.

As we drove further, another older man began rummaging through an envelope and started counting some loose change. He caught my attention and handed it to me. I immediately refused and smiled telling him to put his money away. I was shocked that so many people were now coming to my need. That was so lovely to see.

The young girl did repay me later.

I told you she was sensible.

Through the eyes of a teenager.

I have been doing some Sunday reading today. Mostly my old diaries from 1999 onwards. A blast from the past? Not really, more like a painful hit of memories. I did spend most of my morning cringing however after reading my “boy troubles” and the desperate want for a boyfriend. Thankfully, those issues do not exist any more. A few pages in each diary caught my eye. In my first journal, I wrote something on the 22 December 1999, aged seventeen,

It’s 2.40 something in the morning. This is now noted down in history as the worst Christmas ever. I’ve had a major argument with my bastard father which resulted in him telling me that he will no longer pay my drama school tuition fees and that I won’t “get a penny”, that I am to move out the following morning and that he never wants to see me again. Well Merry Christmas to you too.

I hate my father. No, I despise him. He doesn’t have a clue how to be a parent. I miss my mum. I can’t even stay at hers, my shitty sister is too “stressed” she says. Well bollocks to her. All I know is that I can’t handle this shit any more. I don’t know what I’ll do. 

Another entry said,

My dad is the devil. I HATE him with passion. He asked me what I wanted for my birthday. I asked for a trip away with my friends. Then, he proceeded to tell me how irresponsible and untrustworthy I am. Why did you ask me what I wanted if you are going to put me down for the rest of the night because of it? Bastard. 

In a different entry in November 2003 I speak about my mother:

My mum’s gone to India. She flew out last week. I REALLY miss her. She doesn’t know that I am ill right now. I won’t tell her. I’ll call her when I’m better, otherwise she’ll start to panic and worry when she hears me. Anyway, I’m not wheezing so I can’t be that ill. She had loads of trouble getting there so I’m glad she’s okay now. She comes back in February. I cannot believe how long that is!

On the 12th December that same year I wrote,

I spoke to Ma. I miss her. I hate being here with the ‘devil’. He’s making me hoover the entire house tomorrow. I’m sure he’ll be checking if I’m doing it right too. He is constantly telling me I do nothing around the house and he does everything. He’s driving me crazy. I feel so angry and I have absolutely no way of venting it. All this anger and bitterness is building up inside of me and all I want to do is scream. I’ve not been allowed to get angry for the last six years. I’m like a volcano waiting to erupt. When I finally do get angry, I usually end up taking it out on Ma which is so wrong as it is nothing to do with her. HE doesn’t let me get angry. HE wants me to be emotionless. ME. The girl who cries all the time! It’s depressing. I hate this so much right now.

It is quite hard to look back on the past. One thing I have discovered is the way I have always felt about my mother. It has never changed. Although my sister convinced her otherwise, my love for my mum has never faltered. Even during the worst of times, when my loyalty was to my father, I thought about her every day. During the abuse, she was constantly in my mind. I am thankful for that love I felt. I think it saw me through. Without her love, I would’ve been totally alone.

Family photos.

After the age of eleven, when primary school was over, the amount of family photos or any photos lessened. My childhood photo album stops around the age of ten. After that: empty. No one bothered to fill it up. Pictures were not taken in our house, there was nothing to document, nobody wanted to remember. I did not own a camera till my late teens so a whole section of my life feels as though it is missing. My memories are all I have and even those are a blur. 

There are no pictures of any of us at this time. My sister was eighteen when I was ten. She went inter-railing around Europe with friends after she took her A-Levels. She took photos there. However, there were no family photos. Occasionally my father would place us next to each other and force a family photo out of me and my sister. In these photos she looks incredibly uncomfortable, it’s obvious it is not her choice to be posing, to show a moment of happiness; there were no moments of happiness. I on the other hand, oblivious to my father’s controlling intentions, reveled in the picture taking much to my sister’s annoyance.

I wanted to be in photos. I wanted to see my family together. I was very aware that in reality we were falling apart. My want to be photographed only added to my sister’s resentment and irritation of me. I was self-centred and narcissistic when honestly I was a ten year girl who wanted memories of her sister.

I never had an agenda.

When I look on Facebook at friends’ photos of their family and children, I feel quite sad. I have nothing to look back on.

At my wedding, David and I had a show reel of our childhood in pictures. I have plenty of baby pictures but after a certain point the images vanish. It was upsetting to see David’s abundance of childhood photos.

Surely my life was as important. Why couldn’t my parents given me that? 

I forget to take photos of important events now. To be honest, I don’t really enjoy having my picture taken. I feel very self conscious. 

“Photography is truth” – Jean-Luc Godard.