I Have Lived many Lives -10

Sunday 28th January

Well, my only excuse is that it was 1971, I was barely 21 and had missed out on those late teenage years of fun, fun, fun – that all the groups were talking about.  I had barely been inside a pub, I had no men friends, no mates.  I had been through such a lot, falling in love, pregnancy, the mad escape to Edinburgh and the shameful return, the birth of my son, the scrabbling around to afford everything, the getting kicked out at midnight, the homeless hostel and the brief flame of hope that things might get better.  And I must admit that I went a little bit wild. For some reason there seemed to be an almost endless stream of women willing to have sex with me; maybe it was the attraction that I was a single parent, maybe it was the long hair, maybe it was the Afghan coat.  But I was never short of female company.

I was determined though not to fall in love – and my son Justin always came first.  I think I was a good parent, but how do judge yourself.  I used to wake at 6 and feed and dress him.  Take him to the Nursery at 8 (I was lucky to get in, they couldn’t believe at first that I, a man, was actually a single parent), then to work and rushing back to collect him at 6.  I slowly decorated and made the flat a home.  Then I got an offer of a proper flat from the old GLC.  It was in a pre-war block in a dismal part of Hackney, but my logic was to accept it, as you only got two offers and the next could be far worse.

I made the little two bedroom flat quite beautiful, with Biba wallpaper and lots of bright colours.  I hated the block and the constant smell of piss and rubbish and the occasional burnt-out car, but once I close my front door – it was home.  I would put on a few records and draw and paint until I fell asleep.

Just under two years maybe of this existence and then I met Joybells