Thanks to a Royal Commission

December 15, 2017 at 12:45 pm | Posted in Poem | 2 Comments
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P1040002 (1280x960)


The bed is for sale now.

The wallpaper’s gone.

The window is bigger.

The lights are all on.


The monster is missing,

But that’s no big deal.

He’s down at the big house,


Copping a feel.


The nightmares are leaving.

And so is the smell.

This room of my childhood.

No longer my cell.


The old moving finger,

That many pains writ,

Now pens a fresh panel:


Enough of this shit!


Paedophile blues

January 29, 2016 at 10:44 am | Posted in Poem | 2 Comments
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Shall we kill him?

September 16, 2009 at 8:17 pm | Posted in Short Story | 9 Comments
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Badge 1977 Crop

Beyond price.

1975. Soft youth of ten. Introverted, bookish.

‘You spend too much time making models. You’ve got to get out and make friends.’

I don’t want friends. Everyone hates me.

‘We’re sending you to cubs, for your own good.’

I don’t want to go to cubs; I love my models.

‘You’re going. That’s final.’

Second-hand uniform assembled piecemeal, the differing khakis an instant target. The ancient, too-soft hat scoffs at clothes pegs and steam.

Dead man walking to a fresh clutch of tyrants, to complement my school set.

Tall, raven-haired Akela has a smile for me. Wiry old Kim lays down the law: we’re all equal. Respect.

Me? Too? I return home undestroyed. Stunned.

‘See! We told you.’

I arrive early to help Akela set up. For my collector’s badge, I bring my models. The cross-legged semicircle listens!


‘This is Colin; he’s joining us for a few months.’

Hello Colin. Welcome Colin.

Colin is a younger grown-up, imbued with the collective wisdom and authority of all grown-ups. He tells ace stories about a camp where he made huge catapults and went to war with another troop, hurling mud balls big as your head across a river.

Could WE have a camp like that? Colin?



Tonight it’s ‘Hares and Hounds’. The hares have all the fun, going anywhere they like. Always the older boys: they never blow the whistle when they’re supposed to and they sneak out of bounds to Kentucky Fried.

Afterwards they boast to us who have ploughed futilely through the suburban night. Though jealous, we’re not dobbers, so they do it every time.

But Colin is with us tonight! Maybe we’ll catch those… bloody hares at last. He brings magical adult power. We run and run. Is it them ahead? Colin knows a short cut.

Unreal! But aren’t we out of bounds?

It’s OK, Colin says it’s OK.

He calls a strategy meeting and we huddle panting.

‘Those guys have gone out of bounds again, right?’

He knows! He’s one of us!

‘Well, let’s play our own trick and hide from them.’

Jaws drop. Hounds hide? The idea is delicious. Of course we want to; haven’t we always said…

‘Enough talk. We must go now, before they suspect. Follow me.’

How swiftly we are in the small room below the street. It’s exciting. Wow! A TV with control paddles.

‘Sit down. See if you can bat the ball across the screen. That’s it! Now back.’

What is this miracle game? A fight to be next.

Cigarettes. The oldest have a go. Cough, cough. It’s grouse. Choke. Here.

Now alien objects. Adult things? Small square packets, round inside. Stickers? Do you stick ’em on your… balls? To keep them out of the way? When you…?

I return to the blipping, popping game.

Time to go. How we hate to leave the wondrous toy.

‘You can come again if you like.’

But Colin isn’t talking to me.

Heavy with our secret oath, we return to the hall to savour the unchased hares’ bewilderment.


I’ve earned three badges since Colin came. Half the troop covets my harlequin sleeves. Now it’s first aid, but I haven’t studied enough and I’m getting things wrong.

Badges are everything.

‘What is the correct way to cut toenails?’

Um… There’s two ways: fingers and toes. They’re different, but which…? Um… around?

‘No, I’m afraid it’s straight across. Fingernails are cut around, cutting toenails around causes ingrowing. Did you read the chapter?’


‘Hey don’t cry; it’s alright. Here, take it.’

The priceless embroidered disc: mine? Really?


Gratitude fills the storeroom. Beyond the door they practice knots. I make ready to leave. Please Mum, can you sew it on tonight?

‘There’s just one thing I want you to do.’ A strange tone.


‘Close your eyes and turn around.’


‘Just close your eyes and turn around.’ A note of urgency.

No, you’ll hurt me.

His softest smile and most reassuring voice as he guides me. ‘I won’t hurt you. Close your eyes.’

I trust. I obey…

I relax.

His hand snakes around to devour my genitals. I feel the heat of his clutch. Electrified, I wrench away.

Woodenly, I rejoin my peers. The night ends at last. I carry my badge home to commercial break praise.

And nightmares in which I fight enemies in turn, only to be utterly disabled at the moment of victory by fingers at my penis.


His motor bike roars up as I stoke the weekend’s pruning. My special place in the clay gutter – baked hard by the Summer and my fire. He crushes the weeds with his big leather buttocks.

‘Why won’t you come on the camp? We’re going to make catapults.’

I don’t want to go.

‘It’ll be great; you’ll be sorry you missed it.’

I’m not saying it won’t be great. I just don’t want to go.

I flee to my room.

He follows, stopping in the kitchen. Dad offers him a beer. ‘We make it ourselves. It’s much cheaper.’

I lie on my bed, barely able to hear past my heartbeat.

‘So how’s he getting on?’


‘Yes, he told us he didn’t want to go.’


‘We agree entirely; he has to learn to…’

Colin’s heavy tread down the hall. He enters triumphant; I haven’t said a word. And Dad worships him for fixing the phone.

Authorised persuasion begins. Prowess befuddles fear. It’s so draining to maintain distrust. He becomes playful, making light of our history. I so want to believe him. We talk of other things and I relax a little.

He tickles me. Tentatively I join in. He pins me down immediately.

‘Shall we kill him?’

What do you mean?

‘Shall we kill him?’


‘I think we should kill him.’

It’s a game, isn’t it? A… game?

He grabs my genitals a second time, copyrighting my nightmares.


 I wage a desperate campaign against my parents.

‘But why do you hate it so much?’

The truth is taboo.

Astonished, I eventually get out.


I turn into a grown-up. It becomes fashionable to have been abused. Oh the scoutmaster, yeah, he had a go at me. I had more badges than anyone. Har har.

1997. ‘Operation Paradox’. On a whim I telephone. A kind policewoman listens to my story, told straight for the first time – apologetically, dismissively.

Would I like to make a statement? Can I remember the address of that long ago night? A surname? The year? Even the season would help.

Try as I might, I cannot recall the metrics of my violation. And I can’t ask Mum or Dad; it’d kill them.


Lo! Cousin Catherine is taking Uncle Barry to court for incest dating back 30 years!

My parents’ cocoon is scorched like the Shroud of Turin, but not destroyed.

‘Catherine’s very convincing, but if there were something going on, why was there no sign, no hint of trouble? She used to stay with us all the time and not once did we ever feel there was anything awry.’

Mum, do you remember the scoutmaster who fixed our phone for free?

Eventually she does.

Did you know he had a go at me, in this house?

‘Really? He did that?’

Yes. Details.

Astonished, she changes the subject. But not before providing a surname.


1998. A pretty wife arranges flowers in the hall. A uniform knocks; not khaki.

‘We need to speak with your husband.’

Colin’s still great with kids. He looks up from the wading pool, his sons frolicking noisily.

Twenty-three years a hare.

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