I briefly went to the local church in my new town, it had too much of charismatic lean for me, though some people were nice and welcoming, and the Vicar,got me into a routine of helping him with teas and coffees after the evening service.
I did not understand the charismatic element really, the funny prayers for healing, and the ladidadidancing, but that was ok, the Vicar's family had problems,his wife was a talented musician and singer, but suffered a very serious form of depression which impacted on the church, the Vicar had some health problems too and they kept laying hands on him for healing, some of the young Christians befriended me to a certain extent, but they were extreme charismatic and I was not comfortable about it, and ironically the Vicar's family were actually the former clergy family of L.before JM, but JM didn’t like the Vicar and didn’t like me going to his church, because he had caused her problems by coming back and interfering at L. and taking services behind her back and without her permission, she said she had had to go to the Bishop of Winchester about it and that was one time he did do something.
I guess that is an example of how the Church of England is a very small world and everyone knows everyone, nasty if you are branded and shunned.
So everyone in the L.Benefice knew and loved the old Vicar and his family and were always telling me to give them their regards. But I wasn’t so keen on the church, and so I continued to come back to the L. Benefice. One of the Vicar’s daughters was sleeping with one of our takeaway delivery drivers by the time I was a delivery driver in the same town, which says something about morals and taste, but I am not sure what.
Basically a 'Christian' upbringing in the Church of England doesn't work, because morals don't seem to be included in CofE teaching.
Moving to this town and away from Winchester, L.and JM filled me with shock and grief, a choice it was, but a hard one, JM had been central to my life, and that is her doing, in the new place I felt lost and lonely, the town is not an easy town, and it was difficult to get back to L. because the bus service was and still is rubbish. I was isolated, getting to work was hard as well, I had a rubbish old bike that could barely make the journey, getting buses across town and out to work was hard, it was difficult, then one day A.said, 'why don’t you save up for a little motorbike, it would solve the problems and would be easier than a car to look after'.
To my surprise JM and some other church people agreed that this was the solution, and so I was going to find a motorbike, I was scared secretly, wouldn’t a bike be dangerous? The hypochondriac couple said that as long as the bike was more than 50cc then it would be quick enough to prevent any trouble.
With JM’s help and she took over as usual, I found a bike, it was a 100cc scooter type bike, JM kindly fixed a deposit for me as a Birthday present and helped with the conversation with the people selling me the bike, I ended up with finance for the bike, which was scary as I was still precarious financially, and also despite the fact I found the paperwork difficult and I nearly failed the CBT bike training because I was so scared and struggled so much with the instructions, but I passed, and as soon as I had passed I had to bike over to L. for my 21st Birthday Party at A&R’s house.
I was stopped by the police on the way as there had been an accident, and I nearly wet myself, it was a big party with my church friends and youth group there, we had a riot of a time, with a treasure hunt, a BBQ and a big cake, I had never known such wonder and wealth as people drowned me in presents and love and fuss, but me and JM were not getting on and I was finding some church politics and people difficult, so I cannot gloss over and say all was great, but it was a lovely party and I had realised that friends were still there despite me being in away, and now with the motorbike, the friends were more accessible.
The photos of that lovely party and A were recently lost with all my possessions when I left Jersey, as was the heirloom cross that had been passed down for generations in A’s family and which she gave to me. My grief is too great to think about, so I survive by switching my mind off at times like now as I remember.
Youth group continued to be an amazing help to me, a richness in my life, I learned some of the skills and games that I had missed out on in earlier life through them, I got to have special outings with them, such as ski-bobbing, ice skating (which became a passion for me), bowling, swimming, and sponsored events, one summer day we had a sponsored walk to Wolvsley Palace to meet with other youth groups in Hampshire, we were raising money for Uganda, as we marched with our banner, we attracted a police car with a couple of officers who were curious as to what we were doing, then we got to Wolvsley where there was a great big garden party and fete and service, we were running a maggot racing stall.
I do not know how to explain, but as we were doing this, along came the great big Bishop of Winchester, Michael Scott-Joynt with the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. George Carey, one of them was sucking a lollipop! I dived under the table in utter terror! Then as I went to get something for Carol, I bumped into the Bishop’s wife who had been so nice to me previously, she was wearing a blue dress and was with the Archbishop’s wife, I said a shy hello to Lou Scott-Joynt, and she totally blanked me, I stopped and waited for a response, tried again, she ignored me and walked past me, I was confused and deflated, She had been so nice before.
Later I told JM about this and she launched into a tirade about snobbery at Wolvsley and the Cathedral, she told me that R. had been snubbed and ignored on his interactions with the cathedral, she told me that Wolvsley were cold and that she went to Bishop Trevor (who she called Bishop Treasure) when she needed help, she often spoke of him and their friendship, which was obviously a mutual admiration, I liked Bishop Treasure too, I helped clear with some work preparing for the consecration of the new churchyard at L. and was thus at the ceremony for it, and Bishop Treasure made a point of coming over to greet me among everyone there as well as obviously being sweet on JM, I was bowled over and also scared so I ran away and hid.
I was confirmed at L. church after doing the Youth Alpha course with the youth group, the thing I found most difficult about preparing for confirmation was that the church treasurer? was confirmed with us, and he was always behind us in the pews with his then baby daughter in his arms who yelped and cried, the sounds young children make are agonizing for my too sensitive hearing, and so I was tense and stressed.
The confirmation itself made me sad in a way, because the other young people all had family there, I had almost no-one, I had invited my housemates from the sheltered house, but sadly the only one who could get there was the paranoid schizophrenic who I did not want there, the church was packed with proud families, but I couldn’t tell my own family or invite them, my parents would have been furious that I was confirmed into the church of England (well, they were right on that), and the rest of my family were scattered and not in contact. I felt sad, but the youth leader proudly hugged me and made a fuss of me, and someone took photos of him hugging me and as usual JM made unhelpful remarks about that, but I was proud that the photos showed me in a pure white girly top and with a cross at my neck, and with a real hug from a real church friend. I also had photos of me with Bishop Lloyd-Rees who confirmed us, he was nice, and I named my confirmation present from A&R, a toy spaniel puppy, after the Bishop, well they had similar eyes.
The photos are all lost in Jersey now. I had to be baptised in order to be confirmed, and JM baptised me the Sunday before the confirmation, in a rush and with me a bit unsure, the witnesses to the Baptism were sadly C and M.F and FM, and again I was not too happy about it, but we had afternoon tea afterwards, which I liked. But later on I redid my baptism, I will explain later. (I am Baptised Catholic now).
Let me tell you about work, I was taken on to a gardening team on an estate that specialised in enabling disabled people to work and to live independently, the team was a mixture of mainstream gardeners with special needs, trainees and people doing occupational therapy, I was a gardener, I loved the work, I liked some of the people on my team but found some of them hard to understand, and because of everyone’s disabilities there were tensions, our supervisor was a woman and our charge hand was the boss’s son, one of the gardeners, ***, who had epilepsy did not like the female boss and was against females working in the industry, but I helped him to come to terms with that, then there was a lad called ****, who was brain damaged by meningitis, he was nice but very repetitive and could get annoying by saying the same things over and over.
then there was **** and ****, a pair of jokers, **** was very disabled and unpredictable and also disliked the supervisor, **** loved everyone, and fancied me and talked about going out with me if G. lost interest, they were great fun to work with as they larked about and joked and were happy, then there were the trainees, ***, who had Asbergers syndrome, and through whom I began to realise I was indeed on the spectrum, *** also was sexist at first but I kicked that out of him and he became a friend after upsetting me a lot, he also lived in a fantasy sci-fi world a lot of the time, as a lot of Aspies do and I remember asking him to label some Nemesia KLM plants for me and he labelled them ‘Nemesia Killing Large Mutants’ and I had hysterics.
Then there was ***and ****, who both had to leave because they were not meeting the standard, and then there was G., when I met G. I mistakenly thought that he was going out with another girl, but in reality she was stalking him, trying to force a relationship on him and taking advantage of his gentle nature, so when G. showed an interest in me I was surprised and more concerned for what I thought was his relationship with the other girl, G. would smile at me, sit with me and share his snacks with me, the joke in the mess room was that G. shook his tic tacs at me, and I agreed heartily that I went out with him for the food.
I was surprised when G. asked me out, and asked about his ‘girlfriend’, and he explained to me that she wasn’t his girlfriend and that she drove him mad. I was happy, I wasn’t deeply in love, but I liked G., he was gentle, he didn’t misbehave and he was honest, quite disabled, but that was irrelevant, he was safe.
I remember one day G. and I were standing outside the hostel where the trainees lived, and G. and I were cuddling, non-sexually, some of the other trainees shouted out graphic and rude instructions to G. as to what he should be doing with me, he grinned and said ‘ignore them, they are just idiots’, I respected him for that, he also said to me one day ‘All the other girls are just tarts, you aren’t’. I took that to mean that he liked the fact I didn’t dress up and wear makeup, I did have my ears pierced and wear little diamond earrings though, but because of the nature of my work and the eczema I get, I didn’t keep the piercings for long.
G. and *** and I ended up working really well together, we called ourselves ‘G-Force’, Gilbert, Gurgle and Gruff, *** was called Gilbert, I was the gurgle and G***** was Gruff, we were like children playing sometimes.