How strange it was that my deciding to write a book about my unhappy childhood should coincide with the setting up of an association - Shirley Oaks Survivors Association - to expose the wrong doings of those who were tasked with the duty of care towards us kids.
As I wrote my book I was never sure why I was writing it. I certainly did not intend to name names even though those concerned had passed on. Indeed, I used pseudonyms. Not to protect the wrongdoers but I was thinking of the still surviving relatives. I thought I might simply be writing it for my own children. I thought maybe I wanted things on record so things could be more open in the future. I thought if I wrote it down it would be gone. Out of my system. I thought lots of things but eventually I decided I was writing it for myself. I was writing it because I am a writer. A storyteller. I like to write.
Seven years since I wrote the book. Seven Years! Can you believe it? Seven years and it has been almost constantly on my mind all that time. So much for putting it all behind me. It has been the compensation battles that have kept it there of course. The more it went on, the more determined us survivors became. Togetherness helped. I doubt we'd have got anywhere without it. But we are getting there now. Things are getting sorted. Each of us have legal representation.
To be honest I nearly gave up a few times. The situation made me ill. I couldn't be bothered. But I was always only a phone call away from support. I was persuaded to battle on. Not just for me but for everyone. The battle is not just about what went before. It is about the future. About the kids who are to come. It is for them.
I was made an offer. I was ready to accept just so the saga would end. But the survivors association had found low offers were being made in the hope that those in financial need would rush to take it. It was a ploy. I was persuaded not to accept and another offer came.
My fight is almost won. I have taken the money. It hasn't made me a millionaire but I now have something I have never had before in my life, financial security. It feels good and perhaps it is as well it has come at this time of my days, Had it come when I was younger and irresponsible I am sure I would have blown the lot.
I am firmly of the opinion that had my childhood been different I would not have gone off the rails as badly as I did. Certainly no inferiority complex. No fights. No imprisonment. I would have continued with my schooling. My relationships would have survived. I would not have this restlessness within me. I could have done better things with my life.
Now, here I am seventy odd years since it all started and what do I have? Well, I have this feeling that I am lucky. Things could have been massively worse. I am indeed a survivor.