King's Dock, Liverpool - Photo by Jilly Gardiner
I sat by the side of the Mersey for about an hour, just watching that blue school jumper floating on the ripples. I was trying not to think about me ma.. it was just making me feel dead sick and really angry! Why couldn’t she just love me like normal mothers loved their kids!
I know now that she was just priming me up, so I’d say the things the social worker wanted to hear.
A lot of stuff went through my head while I sat there on the dockside staring at the blue school jumper floating in the Mersey. One of the things that went through my mind was that I wished I hadn’ t threw it in there in the first place! It’s the only one I had, and there was no chance on this earth that me ma would get me another one!
After I’d calmed down a bit, I decided to try and fish it out! I took a walk onto Wapping Road and managed to get hold of a long piece of plastic piping where the workmen were doing some repairs. When they were busy working in the hole in the road, I nabbed it quick and walked on like I’d done nothing. Well there seemed to be loads to go round… and my need was greater than theirs! Somehow though, they clocked me.. started shouting.. ‘Oi, you thieving little bastard!’
I didn’t look back; just started running. Have you tried running with a long piece of plastic piping? It doesn’t work! Not when you’re only five-feet-four! I was tripping over it as I ran. But I managed to get back on the dock in the end without falling flat on my face.
When I got back to the dockside, I noticed the school jumper was slightly closer to the shore now, but it was starting to sink.. Not good! I leaned out and tried to reach it with the pipe, but it was still slightly out of arms reach. I knelt down really close to the edge and leaned out as far as I possible could… that’s it… just a bit more…
… The next second I was over the edge and was taking in pints of that not so fine tasting Mersey water! I came up to the surface and gasped for air. I hadn’t been prepared for that. I looked to the dockside, and there were two workmen standing there pointing and laughing! They’d followed me from Wapping Road when I robbed the pipe, and gave me a nudge into the water! I grabbed the blue school jumper and swam to the side, but it was too steep. The workmen were still laughing. ‘That’ll teach you, you little bastard’!
‘I can’t get out!’ I shouted. They must have had a heart somewhere, ‘cause they did put their hand out and help me ashore in the end. They took their bit of pipe back, and went on their way.. still laughing. I was soaked and freezing, but at least I had the blue school jumper back.
If I ended up back in foster care, what would happen to me ma? She’d die from the whiskey I reckon… it’s more tempting than the devil.
I sat for the next hour on the dockside trying to think how I could get home for 4 o’clock looking like I’d just come from double maths at school, and not looking like I was the creature from the black lagoon who had just crawled out of the stinking swamp…