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Monday, 22 June 2015

Only a couple.

Someone in a garden nearby is tuned into a radio station and the sound drifts easily on the air.
It crosses my mind that I don’t remember the last time I heard this.
I had forgotten about the existence of the radio disc jockey.
In the car we play music randomly.
The shuffle option is our friend.
And in work we have music that is piped in with no interruptions and often it just merges with the background noise and barely registers.
Now as I sit here and listen to the voice chattering between the songs it sounds like an echo from the past.
It’s a welcoming reminder that there was a time when life was less stressful.
A time when sitting in the garden and letting the heat of the sun warm my face wasn't a moment that I could snatch, but instead something that could be stretched to fill hours.

It’s nice.

As nice as the glass of wine that I have just finished.
I could have another, but there’s work in the morning and two might just lead to three and then there would be the morning ritual of asking myself why did I bother as drinking never really solves any of lives problems.

A muscle has a short spasm in my back as I stand up and reach for the glass.
It draws a groan from my lips and if anyone had heard me I would have followed it on by saying that old age doesn't come by itself.
It would be embarrassing to be honest and say that it is a result of an injury that required a visit to accident and emergency.
If I said that it would open the door to questions after question.
None of which I really care to answer.
Thankfully no one is within ear shot and no explanations are needed for the grimace that crosses my face.

With the glass rinsed out and resting next to the sink I scan the room to see if anything else needs done before heading to bed.
There’s nothing.
Or nothing that I can see that could be the catalyst for a one sided argument.
Not that anything really has to be out of place if an argument is going to be the culmination of another night out with colleagues.

It’s already over an hour later than the time casually dropped in as a rough estimate for when the couple of drinks was going to end.

There was a time that I would sit up and wait, but that seemed to inflame the situation and there would be accusations of a lack of trust regardless of my trying to say that it was only because I was worried.

Over time I've learnt all the little avoidance tricks.
The things that need to be done that will minimise the chances of a meltdown.
Don’t leave anything out that can catch the eye.
The slippers not tucked away correctly that could be tripped over.
The singular plate left unwashed in the sink.
Anything can really be the catalyst for a drunken tirade.
Little molehills all have the ability to become mountains in the heat of the moment.
A storm can literally rage from a teacup left in view.

Experience has led me to accept that it’s best to just retire for the night and on their return maybe pretend to be asleep and hope that my faux unconsciousness is enough to avoid all the trigger points.

Tonight my stomach is in knots though.

All the signs of the darkness were already in place as they left.
Barely anything said, hardly any eye contact, grunts used rather than words and then of course the sunshine comes out and the smile and easy laugh appears when their workmates arrive to pick them up.
The face is put on for the public and not one of them would guess at what it looks like in private after a couple of drinks too many.
The contorted rage that tightens it, the spittle flecked lips as they curse, the blankness in the eyes as they ultimately lash out.

Everything leading up to them all clambering into the back of a taxi ticks of the red boxes that scream danger to me, and yet here I am going to my bed and crossing my fingers in the hope that a pretence can avoid it all.


It’s dark outside and headlights have just swept across the bedroom wall.
The clock flashes that it’s after three so the couple of drinks have either led to a visit to a club or another quick one in the house of a friend.

The doors of a taxi open and laughter spills out and voices a little too loud for the time bid farewell and mix in with exchanges of promises to do it all again soon.

I close my eyes and try and relax into a believable sleep position.

The door opens downstairs and there’s some stumbling in the hallway, a muttered curse and the sound of keys being stabbed at the lock.
Every step taken is amplified in the house as there is barely any other sounds that are in competition with them.
The fridge door opens and closes.
There’s the sound of a bottle being taken out.
One more for the road about an hour too late I think.

And then there are the footsteps on the stairs.
The door opens and the light switch is slapped at.

When the light goes on there’s no point in pretending to be asleep so I blink bleary eyes and ask how the night was.

Swaying in the doorway they mutter something unintelligible.

It sounds like ‘I fuckin’ hate you’, but I pretend that I don’t hear it, or the ‘you make me sick’ that follows it, and try and calmly say ‘come to bed.’

There’s a slight stagger to the right and they rest against the door frame and then the bottle of beer is thrown at me.

There’s no warning, no slow build up.

My reactions are slow and it shatters off the metal bedpost.
Inches on either side and it wouldn't have broken, but it has and I can see the glass and beer explode on contact.

And then there is the pain.

On one side of my face there’s searing pain and I reach up to touch it and my palm pushes a shard of glass further into my eye and I scream.


This is what I tell the police officer who is sympathetically questioning me about ten minutes after a doctor in accident and emergency has explained to me that the damage is too severe and there is no realistic chance of saving my eye.

He blinks a few times and looks at what he has written.

When he looks up again he asks how many times this occurs and I tell him that I have lost count over the years.

I know he wants to ask me why I didn't leave, but I don’t have an answer for that.

A nurse arrives and tells me that procedure means that I have to be in a wheelchair to be taken to a ward.

I'm taken out and left in the corridor for a few minutes and I can see the police officer talking to the doctor and glancing back at me.

I feel ashamed.

When an orderly comes and gets me we pass the waiting area and I see my wife sitting there looking lost and terrified as the officer walks towards her.

She doesn't see me and I'm glad.

I just want to sleep.


This was written as over the last few weeks I've seen a few discussions about domestic abuse that have focussed on women as if it only really happens to them.
Of course figures show that in the main they are by and large the main victims, but I don’t feel that this means that male victims should be marginalised.
After all a victim of abuse is a victim of abuse.

Sadly - and I do understand why - when the subject is broached the women who have suffered are very reluctant to acknowledge any views offered by a male. 
We are the enemy.
There is a blanket condemnation of our gender regardless of how much empathy we have and how much we support any action that will oppose domestic violence.
On an emotional level this is, as said, understandable and all women who have been abused have the right to feel whatever way that they wish about it.
The anger, the resentment.
All of it is natural.

However to truly bring about an end to domestic violence I do believe that we should all stand together and oppose it. 
Creating factions slows the process down.
Closing the door on those who would wish to stand up and say this is all so wrong is counter productive.

So this fictional story is just to highlight that regardless of the gender abuse is wrong.
After all when tumbling down the stairs does it matter if it was a male or female hand that did the pushing?

None of the above is to claim that we do not have an issue with male dominance and how a patriarchal society addresses violence towards women as of course we do.
It's just to promote a view I hold that working together can bring change to the world faster.
A thousand voices in opposition cry louder than a solitary one.


  1. Very true - and a believable story. Abuse is abuse and not specific to gender

  2. Great article - abuse isn't gender specific.