It must have been a moving moment when the mid-wife handed the new born bundle of gooey 1lb 12oz of scrawny baby, wrapped tenderly in a bloodied pillow case, over into the hands of its loving Park Drive smoke and ash covered mother, as she lay cursing the father of this undersized grotty little monster in her arms.
She, caressed her cigarette, coughed up some phlegm and gently introduced the scrawny underweight mite to the pleasures of ash burns from the end of her Park Drive, and uttered her first words to the unwanted creature, or rather to the mid-wife:
"I don't want it, throw it in the Trent!"
Thus began an adventure full of misery, depression, frustration and failure for the superfluous, repulsive, horrid, little baby that nobody wanted.
The above facts were verified years later, by the same mid-wife when she'd called at the dilapidated hovel to try and collect a debt that the mother owed her (Naturally the mid-wife failed in her mission, as so many did over the long painful years).
So, the start of this terrible tale of malfunctions is not totally reliant on the memory of James Timothy Gerald Archibald Percival Chambers. (I believe the many names, were given by neighbours and relatives, in lieu of debt repayment by my dear mother, to the name proffering people)
The fact that she, (mother) tried to palm me off to various aunties, nephews, etc. for a reasonable cost, to no avail - it seemed that I was to be an incumbency in her charge forever - But no, she soon found a way to get out of her responsibilities, as she absconded, not without reason mind… the debt collectors were getting cleverer and ever closer… so she legged it - until poor Dad had paid off the bills … and would then return full of penitence and contrition… until the often repeated next time.
Fights between my parents were frequent and violent when mother was at home and when she was not running from the police... which fair enough, was not often, but still made me sad and confused - a little like I am now really.
Losing Her Son:
On occasions (four), she went home from the washhouse leaving me there in my pram. (She later admitted this)
On a day trip to Mablethorpe, (Dad worked for the Railway and got free rail tickets) where she was in her elements smoking away and playing bingo to her hearts' content. I was usually left on the beach, in any weather, or if she'd had a win or two, I'd get 3d (1¼p) or 6d (2½p), and told to get lost for three hours in the amusement arcade. So I had to play the halfpenny machines in an effort to make my vast fortune last.
Anyway, back to the tale, this time she actually caught the train home, and got as far as Lincoln before she realised I wasn't there!
She rang the Lincolnshire constabulary, who sent a massive, scary policeman to find me. I was in fact still in the arcade, and was on the only winning streak I'd ever known, and had amassed over 3/- (15p) in winnings from the halfpenny arcade machines!
So when the big bobby found me, I was not very pleased, and went begrudgingly with him to Station Road Police Station from where I was given a lift in the back of a black-maria into Lincoln. I thought I'd been arrested!
We arrived at the Railway Station, where dear mummy blew cigarette smoke into my face and relieved me the 3/- (15p) (that I had won in the arcade).
Nub-Ending & Roll-up Training
She would have me going around the streets picking up nub ends, taking them home, and rolling up her cigarettes… I just thought everyone did it… with so much practice I became an expert 'Rizla' roller-upper of her fags.
Avoiding the Law:
Her abilities in keeping out of court for so long, and avoiding the attentions of the police and debt collectors simply amazed me. She even had some of the people she had conned over the years giving character references for her, at her eventual day in court - it's true!
Many times I was suddenly instructed to answer the door to a caller, and deny all knowledge her, as she hid in the larder under the stairs, or out in the toilet in the yard.
She drove my older brother into the forces, and he got married to a Chinese gal while he was stationed in Hong Kong, where he stayed for a few months, then later he had to decide whether to stay there or return to England.
Dear mother wrote them a begging letter, asking how much they had been earning in Hong Kong... that was enough for our kid to decide to stay there! I missed and miss him so much, could not question his wisdom in keeping away from mother.
To skip temporarily forward about 40 years or so, she was eventually taken to court - by then I didn't want to know, but my sister Janet did go to court with her, here is what Janet said about it:
"I was so embarrassed when they read out the charges, it took the usher about 15 minutes to read out the charges, everyone in the court was nodding off, or looking at each other in amazement!
After it was all over, I wondered why they bothered, she got a new rent paid flat, fully furnished, 50% of the electricity and gas bill paid, and given 12 months on probation!"
Homework (for me):
She used to take in home work for a while, so that ensured that while she was out playing cards or bingo, I could immerse myself in putting 50 hair-nets onto many circular cards, or slotting 20 hairpins into cut away cards for hours and hours - every night.
Mind you, she did give 1/- (5p) a week for doing it.