got on with that dog because he was always treated better than I was. Whereas I got little or no food, he was always fed a full tin of dog meat every day plus biscuits; he even had his own chocolate drops which were kept in the cupboard under the sink beside the pots and pans. I ate some of these from time to time when I was doing the dishes and had to put the saucepans away. Snooky was allowed to lie on the rug in front of the fire, and he was petted and loved. He even got to go out. I envied that dog and the life he led.
Anyway, on this particular day I was bent over the bath in my underwear. Helen started beating me, telling me to say that I was sorry, that I was bad, that I deserved to be punished. I was trying my hardest to remain in the same position as Helen had demanded, but it was so sore that I eventually squirmed around as she hit me. At one particular whack, I let out a scream. Snooky leapt up and ran into the bathroom where he started barking and snapping at me. Helen continued to whack at my little body as the dog sank his teeth into my stomach. I couldn't make sense of it – I was about seven years old, how could I?
I don't want to make excuses for my father but neither do I want to criticise him unnecessarily. All I want to do here is understand him a bit more. He is no longer alive so I can't speak to him face to face about this multifaceted story which is so far from straightforward, but I do need to work through what I know. I have very few good memories of him, and these are mixed up with some memories where I feel sorry for him. I know how ineffective he was at seeing what Helen was putting me through, but, in my mind's eye, I also see how kind he could be at times.
He was forever helping people out. After Helen left we always had people staying over, people who had been chucked out of their homes, always men. I know that he just wanted to help these men, but most of them abused this kindness by abusing me. I recall people saying that he was such a good man for looking after all of us in the way he did. Most men, they said, would run a mile. This seeped into my subconscious and affected how I thought of him. For many years, I just couldn't see that my father was as responsible for my childhood treatment as Helen was. I suppose he was the better of the two in many ways, and he certainly never sexually abused me directly. However, by making the conscious decision to take me from Barnardo's to live with my stepmother and him, he was responsible to a large extent.
He was my father.
I was his little girl.
He should have protected me.
While Helen was still with my Dad, I didn't see much of him apart from the times he was asked to 'deal with' me. One particular incident that sticks in my mind happened shortly after we moved to Edina Place in 1967, when I would be seven or eight years old. It must have been a school holiday because I was at home but my Dad wasn't. This day was like most. I heard Helen get up and move about, make tea, switch the radio on, blaring out the latest hits. I heard her feed her children. Meanwhile, I lay frozen in bed waiting for her first command. It came this particular morning with a thump, thump, thump as she banged on my bedroom door. 'You! Get up! Get out of bed, NOW!' she screamed. I did as I was told (I always did), and then I stood behind the door, trembling, waiting for her next order.
There were chores every single day: the dishes, sweeping up, washing the woodwork, scrubbing the floors, polishing the linoleum, cleaning out the fire, polishing the brass, bringing in the coal, taking out the rubbish – anything that needed to be done I and my older half-siblings would have to do. My most hated job was cleaning out the toilet. I had to pour bleach down it, then, with a cloth, I'd put my hand into the water and scrub every inch of the thing until it was 'spotless'.
Then there was trampling the blankets. I didn't really mind this
Vincent Bugliosi, Curt Gentry