Room in the Inn?


Room in the Inn?

Forget me Not. The play at the excellent fringe Bush Theatre which  because of its easy bus ride and  relaxed bar has become a favourite. The play about an alcoholic wrenched as a child by the Catholic Church(boo,hiss) from his single mother in Liverpool. Sent to work on farms aka as agricultural gulags in Australia the poor mite turns into a larger than life alcoholic, bitter twisted and suspicious. One of 5000 who since 1945 were  actually condemened to such a life. The play revolves around his desperate relationship with his  daughter, his mother and the care worker. Grim and powerful stuff.

Since I only discovered who my biological father(I have legal, step and in law fathers as well) was when I was over forty with a family of my own, I was of course interested in this story. While in the play the mother cannot get over the pleasure that her little boy  has  come home, she has a grandchild and the rest, in my case it was not so  simple.

When my mother spilled the beans to her ex lover, who was a family friend I knew quite well, he denied paternity. Oh dear. One of those. The  narrative in these stories , as it was in the play is that the trauma of childhood is made all the worse if you dont know who you really are, you are not given the abundant love that only blood parents  can give, they in fact reject you and you dont wear shoes till you are twelve.

The fact that I had a name and a father which were not mine made little difference since until way into adulthood, I really know no different. The fact that my mother’s lover when he found out   in his eighties that he had a larger family said,”He is a nice young man but I am not his father”, said more about him than me. When he and my mother were finally buried, I got in touch with my half brother and sister who easily accepted the relationship  and we have got on more than well for the past sixteen years.

It is a common story line in most soap operas–which after all, have to use every possible angle- that a key character finds out who their real parents  are-with dramatic and emotional consequences. These stories  also crop up in  the feature pages of  the media regularly. By my reckoning there are as many disappointing reunions of long lost parents and children as there are fulfilling ones. In the end despite its fictional possibilities and the appalling behaviour of state and church, not being brought up by your natural parents does little harm. Before contraception and the wide collapse of traditional families it was reckoned that  around ten per cent of children were brought up by fathers who were not their own. I was one of many

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