A comment from a trusty friend just bought all sorts of memories back! Leaving home under not the most pleasant of circumstances led me to finding the dankiest, most shitty flat, in an area which was full of drug dealers and addicts. But it was MINE. This was the time when my true friends and family came into light.
I had no money, no job, just a savings account that a distant relative had left me with a few hundred quid in it. I think it was about 1997. After all the turbulent time at home, I was told to go to my grandmothers. I remember running to the local train station, and finding my way across town to her. She had just had major surgery and was pretty much bedridden. I stayed with her for a week – she was called and was told that if remained under her roof, then all communication between her and my mother would cease. It was a very painful time for everyone. I remember every single word of every argument as clear as day. It still fills me with rage now, but this is not the time nor the place for explosion. I remember my grandmother sending me to Bootle council to try to find an accommodation. The guy, John, who was dealing with my case, said he had a flat available for me but wasn’t sure whether it was suitable. It was in a ‘high rise council building’ and ‘needed work’. We walked round to see it. The elevator was shoddy. He took me into it and it was disgusting. But I loved it. There was no wallpaper anywhere and it was dirty and smelled as though a rotting corpse was in the cupboard. I immediately said yes and went back to tell my grandmother. I think it was then for the very first time in my life that I realised how STRONG the women in my family are. She was so resourceful – she found old towels and bed linen to start me off. She gave me the numbers of second hand furniture places and set me on the right road. I do not know what I would have done without her. My auntie came next and gave me a beach blow up lilo. I didn’t have any money for a bed so I slept on that for 3 months. It was a shitty situation but slowly I began to build myself up. My best friend Adrian came round in his van one day with a dining table and all sorts of things to help me. My friend Mairead from school bought loads of tinned goods because I didn’t have a fridge or a cooker. My mum came round with old sofa chairs for the living room and an old rug. I was overwhelmed at all the help everyone gave me.
Eventually I got a job, working at a telesales cold calling agency. What a barrel of laughs that was! I made some good friends, one of which, is still a good friend today. Such fun we had with our disposable incomes. My first pay check was GBP60…it soon rose to about 350 quid per week. After a couple of months I was able to buy a bed and bits and pieces to go in the flat. I remember my first cooker – it was a Baby Belling – I found it in a newspaper from a couple in the next town over. I thought it was going to be a light weight cooker that you take camping. Nope. It was a heavy, beastly thing! I thought I would have been able to carry it back on the train with me. The couple who sold it to me thought I was mad and gave me a lift in the car. He carried it up to the apartment and the expression on his face – wow, I thought he had been smacked with a fish.
My grandad is my hero. He used to come and collect my washing so my nan could do it, would buy me fruits and all sorts of silly gifts for the house and one day, I came home and found that he had bought me a fridge. I am going to blog about my grandparents after this.
Then my auntie decided to renovate her kitchen! Hooray! Free cooker for me! That leads onto another memory of my friend Clare and I, painting my living room wall with some free paint that my boyfriend at the time gave me. We got covered in paint and it was the year that ‘Suck on my chocolate salty balls’ came out from South Park…it came on the radio and we just froze and burst into laughter! It was so funny! Even until the day I left the flat, the paint work on my beautiful blown vinyl (lol) wallpaper was really patchy peach streaks!
I had lots of friends during that year, but then they dissipated as friends do. I am still very close to a couple of them, and know that I will be friends with them until the day that I die.
So much more happened during my year living in Bootle. I lost my job at the call centre agency because I mouthed off to the wrong people. Lesson learnt. Never burn bridges and be careful who you talk to about work!
I got a job as a support worker and it really suited me. Taking people with physical and mental disabilities out into the community for day trips. I liked it a lot. But I really wanted to go to university. Since I had left home, my funding for tuition had ceased so I deferred my entry for a year just to see what happened. It was a girl who I became very close to during that year in Bootle. Sadly we are no longer friends – I think she is a bit of a psycho, truth be told. But it was her who encouraged me to go to sort out funding with the council.
I took myself off to the offices at Bootle Oriel road, told them of my situation and was delighted to hear that they would pay my tuition fees as I had been ‘estranged’ from the family. So the following September, I would be attending Manchester Metropolitan University to study International Business with German!