Confession Time…and Last Writes. (sic)

by Anna Raccoon on November 19, 2016

This is going to be painful and humiliating, but it is all pertinent to the big picture.

The Internet is full of characters. Some delightful, some several points past barking mad. Because I started my internet life as a moderator – my choice – I was bored witless when we first moved to France, on what was a general news site, (Anorak) but by force of circusmtances, became the most prolific ‘McCann’ site in existence, fielding some 1500 comments a day, I also started my internet life with at least half of those commentators convinced that I was a paid ‘shill’ (love all the cold war language) in the pay of MI5 and God knows who else, preventing the ‘truth’, or rather ‘their truth’, from emerging. Well, you know, I only had to moderate the comments that said the McCann’s were murdering scum protected by VIPs…da dum, da dum…..the fact that those were the libelous comments was not enough to deter the ‘truth seekers’ from their absolute belief that I was in the pay of….ad nauseum…..cont. page 94.

Some of those people moved onto the next globe trotting conspiracy theory – it came to be known as the ‘Hollie Greig Hoax’. That has now been debunked some four, or is it five years ago, but the die hards continue their obsessive search to uncover the truth….(also cont. page 94…) As an example, here is yesterday’s effort…fresh from my e-mail box.

FROM ROBERT GREEN THURSDAY, 17 NOVEMBER 2016

I rang Daly at 13.17hrs on his mobile phone. I asked him if he had ever had contact with individuals using the names of Anna Raccoon or Tom George.

He became nervous immediately and asked, as he did last time, if I was recording the conversation. I replied truthfully that I wasn`t. I just wanted a straight yes or no.

He then started to waffle about me having the cheek to ask him about his journalistic contacts. I said that was it yes or no or a refusal to comment. He said “I`m not going to answer that”. I said that in that case that was the end of the conversation.

For the record, I have only spoken to Mark Daly of BBC Scotland twice in my life. The first time was when he was alerted to the outcome of the fact that Old Holborn (yes, somehow he is still a friend!) had sent me a resume of the claims, asked me what I thought of it; it had taken me all of five minutes to debunk using original documents, I had replied ‘its rubbish’ and OH had said – ‘Go for it, I expect to see it up on your blog this evening’. I did so, entirely unaware that at that time there was a 25,000 strong Facebook group convinced that this was a genuine example of appalling abuse of a vulnerable girl – and they landed on my head like a box of angry hornets. Mark Daly was merely, as a human being to another human being, warning me that some of them were positively dangerous, and to take care of myself. The second time was on an entirely unrelated matter, I was merely using him as a useful BBC contact who could provide me with the correct phone number for someone else. End of conspiracy folks.

Oh, they also scraped a comment I left on Hoaxtead’s site yesterday – with an added ‘Get well soon’ message for me. Charming.

ANNA RACCOON SCAPES (sic) THAT BARREL

Masterly – you are doing the world a great service. I applaud you.
Congratulations.
I still exist. I still have a voice. I still have fingers that can type. I will be using them again today!

….with an added ‘Get well soon’ message for me. Charming.
“AT SOME POINT SHE HAS TO DIE”

The number of people digging into my background, my family, my life, my work colleagues, every aspect of my life, doubled overnight with the Hollie Greig post. Some of them are still at it. It’s not that they bother me, but I am aware that they have now gained birth certificates and are biding their time. This post is an attempt to take the sting out of their tail. They will not ‘reveal all’ after my death. I shall do so now. Balls to them. 

There is a very sound reason why I have resisted all the well meaning attempts to persuade me to ‘write a book’ – it is that the book would have had a great big hole in the middle of it. I felt very strongly that to write the truth would have involved other peoples lives, and their lives were not my lives to write about. That is about to go by the board – my humble apology to anyone who thinks I am being monumentally unfair, but trust me, they have collected birth certificates, documents, all will be revealed just as soon as I am not around. Better it is done by me than a bunch of evil obsessive bastards.

One caveat. The first part of this is written entirely from my viewpoint. I am the only adult left alive able to pronounce on it. I will encompass what I imagine or believe may rightfully be your viewpoint later.

Deep breath Anna…you can do this.

Turn the clock back to the end of May 1964. I am on the lam once again from Duncroft. I telephone ‘Joss’ (I would refer you to the series of posts filed under ‘Past Lives and Present Misgivings‘ if you are baffled by this reference) who is variously described as my ‘boyfriend’ in some documents, but in truth of fact has never so much as kissed me. His Mother doesn’t say ‘he is away working’, as she does sometimes,  she hands the phone to him. We meet at Waterloo station. A regular meeting place. It is my sixteenth birthday the following day. Joss decides to smuggle me into his Mother’s home. He is around 27 by this time.

We spend the night together in his tiny single bed. Various fumblings take place. With the benefit of hindsight, and 54 years experience, I can assure you that the fumblings did not amount to anything that could be described as losing my virginity; any more than an earlier fumbling with a grocer whose path I fell into. I ended up with very sticky knees, totally baffled at this ‘sex business’ that everyone made such a fuss about. Some sort of right of passage through life. Neither of us had a blinking clue what we were doing. A sleepless night in half a very narrow single bed followed. It was to be another two years before we even thought, or had the opportunity, to repeat the experiment.

I returned or was returned to Duncroft. One more of my many escapades. Fast forward to the end of 1965. Christmas to be exact. The missing few weeks in my absolute certainty that Beryl Shaw, from the bed opposite mine, or Bebe Roberts as she prefers to be known, absolutely wasn’t telling the truth that ‘Jimmy Savile was running round our dormitory taking his pick of the girls’ – even had it occurred during the brief few weeks I was missing, I would have heard all about it when I returned in early January 1966.

So Christmas 1965. I am on the lam once again. I have a false birth certificate these days, and a job, with wages an’ everything. I pay rent for a small room in Hangar Lane. I also do the odd job for a trio of private detectives that had uncovered me on an earlier ‘excursion from Duncroft’ when I would up as the Telex operator for Marconi. (God, I’m sorry Marconi, I cost you a fortune!)  Yes, it is true they did have a sort of ‘hold’ over me; they knew I was a runaway, but I was 17 by then, and it didn’t seem such a terrible thing to be employing me.

By extension, you could say that the fourth ‘private detective’ I was loaned out to that Christmas to perform some task – cannot for the life of me remember what, nor his name. I can see him, clear as daylight, but the name escapes me. Six foot tall, and hugely self confident, I neither look nor sound like a ‘vulnerable child’. He may not even have known of my background.

The only person I have discussed this with in the past 50 years immediately said ‘You were raped’ when I told him what occurred next. I don’t accept that. Nor will I accept any twaddle about the merits or demerits of victim blaming. I take responsibility for me. Not you.

I had a choice. I was perfectly capable of outrunning the fat bastard; perfectly capable of giving him a black eye; and perfectly capable of working out that if I did so, I would dismantle my entire ‘support network’. I chose not to do that. That is not to suggest for one moment that I was actively choosing to lose my virginity on that office floor, with that person, at that time. A bit like the presidential election, I was voting for the least worst choice.

A couple more weeks passed, life in the (post room of a major publisher – ye Gods, did I ever muck up their post!) but my period failed to arrive. Bullseye Ms Raccoon, pregnant first time round. Wouldn’t you know it?

I confessed all to Joss, over more tea at Waterloo station. His immediate reaction was to protect me, as he had done for the past three years, ever since we had met. With the benefit of hindsight, it suited his purposes as something of a mystery and slight disappointment to his family, to be seen as a man with a girlfriend, and a child on the way, just as everyone would have wished. There was never even the hint of a discussion of abortion; I’m not sure I would even have known of its existence. Family planning and birth control was still for married women only. There was never any question that I would give birth to this child. I wanted to. ‘It’ answered all my prayers to have a family, to belong somewhere. Now ‘it’ even had a father – called Joss.

A single mother was a rarity in 1965/66. There were a few, whose older sisters magically appeared to have given birth to a child no one knew they were carrying, or who had ‘left home to get married’ and returned a year or so later, the ‘marriage’ having ‘broken down. Adoption was still the main route out of this predicament. London was still a land of ‘No Niggers, No Irish, No Unmarrieds’ in rooming house windows. Nobody even bothered to spell out that ‘no unmarrieds’ definitely didn’t include unmarrieds accompanied by a squalling bundle of proof of sex having taken place.

The only refuge, the only place I could turn to, was Ms Jones and Duncroft. She was deeply disappointed in me. Of course she was. She was also a fine champion of women’s rights to independence, to make their own decisions, to live a life free of the dominance of the undoubted patriarchy. She agreed to help me keep my baby. It was as revolutionary a decision as her decision to turn Duncroft into a place where bright but ‘bad’ girls could have another stab at education and retrieve their life before it was too late. She was a women’s libber before they even invented the term.

Perhaps now you understand the passion with which I defend her against her miserable little squirt of a nephew who would portray her as a woman ‘bowled over’ by Savile, and prepared to let him ‘have his way’ with her girls. Only if the Pope turns out to be a one legged transgendered alien married to his younger sister….

Over the next few months, she prevailed upon Dave Hunt, sent by the Home Office to make new curtains for Duncroft, to part with a long bolt of very expensive terry towelling curtaining printed with brown Maple leaves, left over from some wealthy American’s redesign of an embassy somewhere. That was cut up to make nappies – complete with indelible ‘skid marks’ that raised some eyebrows in the Mother and Baby clinic! Mrs O and Miss Grey found money from somewhere, and a rudimentary layette was acquired. Miss Grey help me to make a maternity dress. Eventually I was booked into a Mother & Baby Home somewhere in London. It was nearly September 1966.

When I first spoke on the phone to dear (and she is the sanest ‘dear’ in the whole world) Ellen Coulson, who uses her proper name to comment on here, she told me that she had spoken to Ms Jones, who after 50 years only remembered some tale of the FBI surrounding Duncroft in search of me. I was completely baffled! Having now received my notes from Barnardos, I can follow the trail – and it was not Duncroft, but the Mother and Baby Home, and it was not the FBI, but the ever so slightly nuts Joss, found wandering in the garden, who replied that he was FBI when challenged, but was actually in search of me and making sure I was alright.  You can feel Ms Jones’ cold fury and annoyance with the ever troublesome ‘me’ in my notes as she records how she is told to take me back from that home and find me somewhere else – nutty boyfriends wandering around claiming they are from the FBI, up with they will not put. Poor Ms Jones. She found me another home in Windsor. God bless her.

Three quarters of the way through that month of September, I am taken to hospital, and I give birth to a fine, oh so fine, perfect 8lb baby girl. I call her Samantha. Joss is recorded as her Father. I go back to the Mother & Baby home, and Joss sets off in search of accommodation for his new ‘family’. There is no world for me outside of that little face. To this day, I don’t need to see or hear her, just the faintest whiff of her DNA in the air she has passed through is enough to turn me into hormonal soup. I don’t have a rational bone in my body where she is concerned.

Joss finds us accommodation. It is the front room of a boarding house in St Agnes Place, next door to Kennington Park. It was later squatted by Rastafarians and turned into a Bob Marley Museum. Now I open my Sunday Times and learn that it is multi-million pound town houses…50 years eh?

Then there was a shared sink and toilet between the six other rooms in the house. The room has a gas fire, with a burner ring attached – hey, you can even cook here! (Mind your eyebrows!) The rent is £3 10s a week. There is one major drawback. The house is owned by ‘Beryl’ who runs a brothel. I only met her once, taken to see her to gain her approval – she looked like Barbara Cartland with a house full of Capo de Monte. The brothel is not in this house – this house is where her girls snooze away the day. At night it is empty. By day there was to be neither sight nor sound of an infant to disturb the girls.

Joss’ mother donates a secondhand carrycot in a wire frame on wheels. I cannot call it a pram – by God it got to do a lot of walking. Hour after hour, street after street, and parked in the bandstand when it pissed with rain. Old fashioned pram so to speak, not one of these modern efforts where the child faces outwards. We faced each other day and night. She came to the loo with me, there was nowhere safe to leave a crawling infant in that room. There was never a second that we weren’t in each others view. This was to cause huge problems some 9 months later when I acquired two rooms – she screamed blue murder every time I was out of sight. It had never happened before; it was outside her comprehension.

Joss and I started unmarried ‘married life’ together in that room. His Mother was delighted. The slightly odd, wayward son, had settled down at last.

I, in turn, finally discovered what she meant when I would phone his house and she said that Joss was ‘away working’. She meant he was away with the bally fairies… Joss, bless his harmless, good natured, heart, was a paranoid schizophrenic. Well, we did meet in a mental hospital if you have followed the earlier posts…brainbox here might have twigged that something was up with his claims to have ‘pleaded insanity’ to get out of some devilish plan from the government to stop him uncovering some…..cont. page 94.

I would take refuge in Doris’ house. Doris was another old Duncroft girl, some ten years older than me, who only lived half a mile away. She had had a very bright future having an incredible gift for looking at a garment and being able to cut a paper pattern that would reproduce it exactly. An earlier version of Ms Jones had secured a good job at Butterwick’s for her – they used to fly her to the Paris fashion shows. She got pregnant. Then she got pregnant again. And again. By the time I knew her, she lived in two rooms over the garage with four, it might even have been five small infants, none more than ten months apart, who snivelled in unison, wailed in unison and had permanent nappy rash. She was a lovely girl, but the situation was a panoramic dire warning as to how life could end up – eventually Tom, the children’s father, who was a good man, got crushed against a post box collecting Christmas mail, and was confined to a wheelchair – not even in that first floor two rooms. I don’t know what happened to her, for events overtook me once again.

I went to the launderette. Samantha sat in her carrycot on wheels in the sunshine outside. (You could do that in those days). I passed out. Willing hands called an ambulance. I came round in the ambulance, speeding towards the local hospital – near hysterical as I realised that Samantha was still sitting outside the launderette. The police collected her and took her to a ‘place of safety’ as they call it nowadays, and I was admitted to the hospital. The following day, a Doctor pronounced what was wrong with me. I was incredulous. True, Joss and I had made a few spirited attempts to master this sex business, maybe half a dozen times; neither of us were much interested to tell the truth – but the good Doctor was adamant, that was not scotch mist in my abdomen, I was definitely pregnant. Again. Joss retreated into la-la land. This was more than he had bargained for. Home to Mother.

I found myself two rooms and a kitchen in Balham. 12, Endlesham Road.  Only £3 a week. (I hadn’t actually mentioned the baby to the letting agents – by the time the first complaints came in, I had a lease) It left me £2.10s of national assistance to live on. Samantha screamed day and night. There was nothing wrong with her, she just couldn’t understand how I could be there one minute and vanish the next. Two rooms, see. The expert advice was to let her cry. Easy to say, harder to do. I spent a lot of time sitting on the front doorstep, her muffled wails behind me, the ghastly spectre of Doris’ row of grizzling infants ever present in my mind, pondering what on earth I was going to do; the weeks and months were ticking by. There was no housing benefit then, not even the poxy £100 maternity grant unless you were married. Nada. Zilch.

‘Cathy Come Home’ indeed. I was living the dream, baby.

Rightly or wrongly, and my daughter would tell you – ‘very wrongly’ – I came to the conclusion that the best thing I could do was to agree to both my children being adopted together. They would have each other, a brother and a sister, and (I was insistent, a Christian family, none of the Roman Catholic nonsense for them), they would have a lovely lady and her ‘proper’ husband looking after them, and the only casualty, the only sufferer, would be me – surely that was better than all three of us going down the drain together? It seemed so logical. So practical.

So it came to pass, that on a wintery Armistice Day in 1967, at two minutes to eleven in the morning, my son was born in St George’s Hospital on Hyde Park corner. After two minutes of deathly hush from the entire world, they fired cannon outside the window. I have never been able to view Remembrance Day in the same light as others do. I hold my breath, and think of him. The living, not the dead. I have done for another 49 years.

I am not proud of myself. I refused to look at him, I refused to hold him, I refused to feed him. I couldn’t. I just couldn’t. He knows that, we have spoken of it. I have a very different relationship with him than I do with his sister.

I never set eyes on them for another 27 years.

Meanwhile, I entered the Westminster Hospital for a D&C as it used to be known, and somehow managed to emerge having had a hysterectomy. I try not to join the dots and emerge with theories as to why. The truth is I don’t know. There was a woman with a name very close to mine who had ended up with a D&C when she had been expecting a hysterectomy, so the dots are mighty tempting. Even more so when I discover some 30 years on that the NHS only hold notes for me post the age of 27…. I only remember the surgeon telling me that ‘I had completed my family’ (he didn’t know I had willfully given my family away to strangers…) and that he had ‘taken away the carrycot and left the playpen’. This strange euphemism had to be explained to me later. You didn’t speak to consultants in those days.

You don’t need to be Freud to psychoanalyse me at this point. Any layman can do it competently. I mentally whip myself daily and spend years doing every good deed I can find in the hope that if there is a God (I am a Quaker so don’t take this for granted) he might possibly overlook my past transgressions. Or put it another way. A right psychological mess.

I can run through the various punishments I award myself over the next 27 years another time if you insist – this is not the place.

Now my daughter would, and does, have a totally different viewpoint. And I do understand. She may sound like me to the point where I have to work out who said what in a tape recording, she may look like me (here’s one I made earlier) she may mirror my every body language – in so many things you would imagine were nurture not nature, but she is not me.

She has her own personality, her own narrative, she has grown up in her own culture where single mothers are treasured, she has her own view of the ‘kindly Christian couple’ with their clear ideas of what represents good and bad, she has been shaped by the forces of her own life  – and has her own prejudices, likes and dislikes. The situation is not helped by the fact that she has traced me, not through one of the adoption agencies that are supposed to oversee these tinderkeg emotional situations, but via a boyfriend who works for a well known tabloid and has stumped up the £500 to the we ‘never employed any such character’ private detective who has access to national insurance records…..he never does get his £500 back, but he is a good man, and he never does take advantage of the situation, ever more tempting that it became….

It is also not helped by the minimal information my daughter has been given about her birth parents. I spent most of yesterday trying to work out whether what I think I remember of the short precis written by a social worker that she was sent off into the unknown with actually said I was a bluebelle dancer who wanted to resume my career, or whether that has become embroidered in my mind in the sense of ‘he might as well have said that’. He was right in that I had just come back from Paris – despite being pregnant when he interviewed me, I could still earn a few bob from the trusty private detective trio with the aid of a visitors passport and my false birth certificate – and I did have long legs; and he would have no inkling in 1967/68 that one day the law would change and the two of us would meet over that report he wrote….

Either way, my daughter whether imagining her tone deaf, two left footed, aversion to feathers, mother was a bluebelle dancer, or just a flighty bird who wanted to resume ‘her career’ has already spent 27 year nurturing her view of me and its not about to change overnight. She is cautious and restrained, slightly distant, a little prickly – who can blame her, I don’t. Me? I just want to hug her to death and never speak again. Hugging a porcupine is not for the feint hearted. Hormonal overload.

Funnily enough, all this takes place on Valentine’s Night 1992. Mr G has summed up the courage the pop the question tonight, he has booked a table in the Angel Hotel in Bury St Edmunds; it costs more than he can afford, but it has taken him 45 years to find the right woman, no children, no family, free spirit, loves cooking (one of my businesses at the time is a restaurant).

We never get there. Fortunately he has been such a good friend for so long that he is one of the only people on earth who actually knows the truth (and bear in mind I have meanwhile been married to someone else for 20 years who never had a clue!) and I pick up the phone and gasp – “my daughter, she’s coming here, now…….right now”.

You’ll just have to wait for tomorrow or maybe the next day to find out the next bit, and even longer to answer your questions Owen….

I will do this in my own way, at my own speed.

But do it, I will.

No proof reading, I’m off back to bed.

Carol42 November 19, 2016 at 3:19 pm

I am speechless Anna, what a story and how wise to ruin plans some may have to make your private life public because you disproved their fantasies. Very glad to know that something of your spirit will live on in your children. X

The Blocked Dwarf November 19, 2016 at 3:42 pm

a little prickly .

That would be that famous Middle Class Brit understatement again, right? (Yes I am thinking of the £ ‘incident’).

Bill Sticker November 19, 2016 at 3:43 pm

Anna, a very literary pre-emptive redemption strike against would-be blackmailers. You know, you may have made mistakes in life, we all have. But we are not our pasts.

Your posts are a wonderfully defiant middle finger to the narrow hypocrites who think they can ‘take you down’. To hell with ’em, say I.

Teapot November 19, 2016 at 3:55 pm

Good grief! Speechless indeed.

Lisboeta November 19, 2016 at 4:09 pm

We had all realised, Anna, that your life had been, er, complicated (to a greater or lesser extent, isn’t most people’s?). But that background gave you the insight to speak the truth in the face of lies and innuendo.

What does pain me is that, when you have more pressing issues to address, you felt it necessary to reveal your early private history — which has no bearing whatsoever on your subsequent achievements. But I can quite understand why you felt it necessary to set the story straight before the lies/innuendo take control of the narrative.

I sincerely hope that you will keep going for quite a while longer! As for the rest of us, when the inevitable hoves on our own horizons, we will remember your words: “I will do this in my own way, at my own speed.”

Micky1 November 19, 2016 at 4:30 pm

Dear, I’ll call you. O.K.?

Helen November 19, 2016 at 5:37 pm

What a disgusting society we have become where ‘putting ones affairs in order’ means having to disclose intensely personal information prior to departing this mortal coil in order to protect nearest and dearest from mendacious individuals who will seek to trash your memory. To be honest, anyone without a skeleton or two in their cupboard would be as rare as hens teeth. Decency, respect, compassion and a conscience seems to have been bred out of the human species.

Don Cox November 19, 2016 at 8:23 pm

No, there are still plenty of decent people — probably as many as there ever were.

And there are as many bad people as ever, too.

Mark Parry November 19, 2016 at 6:18 pm

I have had my dog collar, list of recognised sins and holy water bottle packed for weeks ready to present you with a ‘Get out of Purgatory’ pack ready to present at the Pearly Gates. If you are going to make a public confession over the internet I am saved a hurried journey through the night. I am not an up-to-date priest these days…and I rather like the idea of heaven being like the Marriage at Cana (i.e. a party with lots of wine/gin/beer/cigars…). So by way of a formal absolution of sin (and I have seen a lot worse), I shall toast your eternal health with a glass of German wine (I have just got back from Berlin…just missing Obama) and smoke an Havana cigar. As the God I rather like the sound of is one of love I know he will surround you with suitable people to reflect the fact that He and all your readers hold you in the highest esteem. If there is a just and merciful God and a heaven for those who have been Valiant-for-Truth, I expect you to have a G & T waiting for me (ice and lemon, export strength). Holiness is not just for dull people! My love and respect!

The Blocked Dwarf November 19, 2016 at 7:00 pm

“et tu absinthe ab omni vino”…if i recall my cava-chism aright. BTW, incase you have forgotten the ‘patron saint’ (she’s not but let’s not get technical) of Havana Cigars and Cuban tobacco growers is Our Lady Of The Snows. In nomine Pastis …

The Blocked Dwarf November 19, 2016 at 6:35 pm

who will seek to trash your memory

If it was only memory trashing then they, the trashers, would have meagre pickings from today’s post . I think it’s more a question of her protecting her loved ones from hurt. Whilst our own dear Owen or David have a capacity for compassion and restraint, both qualities they have demonstrated many times no matter how wrong headed their beliefs- many others do not. *Daily Mail Caps* Anna ‘The Paedo Friend’s Widower Husband To Buy House Near School’ .

I don’t know what Sam does for a living but very few employers or prospective employers like headlines such as ‘ Sam X , Family friend of Vile Pervert Applies To Be School Dinner Lady’ (not that Sam and JK have ever met i suppose but he might, with an eye on possible libel suits, be called a ‘friend of the family’ …in the twisted minds and syntax of headline writers anyways).

Fat Steve November 19, 2016 at 7:19 pm

I have found in life there are three sorts of people
1) Those who talk of others and when they do so they are never admiring but only ever critical to varying degrees. I have found that in their criticism of others they say more about themselves, their values and the poverty of their own lives than of those about whom they speak.From the manichean perspective they seek only to feed their bad soul and the bad souls of others who listen to them These are the least interesting people and I actively avoid them
2)Those who talk of events. These are usually people who are respectful of others aware that they and their opinions are not of central importance to the lives of others . This people I do not court but neither do I avoid them.
3)There is a third group who venture and invite opinion on broad topics. They speak of the impersonal or if the personal it is of recollection rather than opinion. They can be critical and sceptical but are non judgemental and never cynical in approach. These are interesting people and I seek them out if that is they are prepared to put up with me and if i don’t feel i am a drag on them.
So Anna little doubt which group you fall in and deep deep gratitude for putting up with me although I have often felt a drag.
Permit me an observation …..actually quite impersonal to my way of thinking notwithstanding that in these final posts you speak of intensely personal matters and it is that you write of the failures of a dysfunctional post war Society in the UK and not of personal failure as much as you seem to blame yourself when only luck (not fortune …there is a difference I believe) might have permitted you to escape the odds. That is not personal failure for the Society and Family with which you had to contend would never permit a free spirit such as yours to thrive
And Anna no one has ever evoked the era in which I have lived better than you……and in so doing helped me set my life in better context.
Thanks

Peter Whale November 19, 2016 at 7:23 pm

Anna you leave me in awe. I have nothing but admiration for your resilience and wish you and yours every happiness.

macheath November 19, 2016 at 7:32 pm

I’ve long admired your fluent writing style and wicked sense of humour and, since you’ve been ill, I have had the utmost respect for your courage, but I am left quite speechless by your description of the valiant and sustained efforts you made to achieve the impossible – at least in the mid 1960s – while you were little more than a child yourself. The phrase ‘forlorn hope’ exists because not all battles can be won.

As one of those who pleaded with you to write a book, I apologise if that caused any distress; it was prompted by the virtuosity of your descriptions of cafe and curtain-buying ventures and your Scheherazade-like gift for spinning a yarn and leaving readers rapt and eager for more. I am truly sorry that you have found yourself in a position where you feel compelled to make public this far more personal information; I now appreciate what it must have taken to trust a lunch invitation from an unknown stranger – thank you for your confidence in accepting.

I hope you manage to rest well after your sustained writing efforts; warmest wishes as ever (from both of us) and a virtual hug from me.

Single Acts of Tyranny November 19, 2016 at 7:56 pm

What a moving post, I am truly humbled. For some reason I am in mind of the script from “V for Vendetta” when it said

“But what I hope most of all is that you understand what I mean when I tell you that even though I do not know you, and even though I may never meet you, laugh with you, cry with you, or kiss you. I love you. With all my heart, I love you”

Thank you for a remarkable, personal, fantastic blog for a long, long time. Stay strong.

Jon Stevenson November 19, 2016 at 8:44 pm

F.

Anna Raccoon November 19, 2016 at 9:07 pm

Succinct at least….!

Carol42 November 19, 2016 at 9:07 pm

Anna, where were your parents in all this? Surely they could have helped if only to keep their grandchildren. Hard to believe they would abandon you.

The Blocked Dwarf November 19, 2016 at 9:49 pm

AR has written before about her parents….how she came to be in the Home For Wayward Young Ladies at Duncroft. I don’t recall the details but her Dad only reappeared on the scene when it looked like she was going to be adopted by people who might actually make halfway decent parents. Safe to say she was on her own with the babies.

Carol42 November 19, 2016 at 10:22 pm

I must have missed that post, I vaguely recall her father turning up but can’t remember why she ended up in that situation especially as I believe there are siblings. That she turned out such wonderful person despite everything is testimony to her spirit.

The Blocked Dwarf November 19, 2016 at 10:43 pm
Carol42 November 19, 2016 at 10:58 pm

Thanks for that, what a horrible experience for a small child. It’s a wonder Anna turned out sane let alone as a wonderful and entertaining writer to the end.

JS2 November 19, 2016 at 9:14 pm

Dear Anna, I agree, you do have a wicked sense of humor, which I so admire and once again you have stuck your middle finger up at those that cannot take the truth unless, it is their truth which, is based on lies and innuendo’s, these people are really sad individuals who really have no life of their own, so they have to ruin that of others, well at least they try. They lost the battle with you and in the end, they will realize they have lost the war. You really should have become a writer, you have such a way with words, which is a gift especially when used with the clarity you have, there is no rambling, just straight to the point. Take care dear Anna and keep writing xx

Oi you November 19, 2016 at 9:27 pm

You remind me of my grandmother, who went through something very similar. She died when I was a teenager and I wasn’t allowed to go to her funeral, because those in charge at the time didn’t see it as being important. But when I researched my family tree, a lot later on as an adult, I came across a photo of her, taken when she was in her twenties, long before I was born. She was laughing at the camera, such a beautiful smile, wearing clothes of the era, but she seemed so fresh and vivid…I was taken aback, because the picture I remembered of her was of someone in their sixties, health failing her, worn down by life. That photograph has become something precious to me now. A window on her world.

Keep it up, old gal. They can’t take the truth from you. They can only besmirch it.

:o)

The Blocked Dwarf November 19, 2016 at 10:00 pm

She reminds of my own dear Aged Mother who went through a similar “fallen woman/unwed mother” period only a couple of months after the birth of AR ‘s son. She also recounts sitting in a cold flat with a babe, still bleeding from the birth and having to wait three days for the district nurse to condescend to visit. The only reason she says she didn’t give me up for adoption as was EXPECTED at that time was the fact she couldn’t afford the mandatory layette basket that one had to give the child away in. Yep, for the want of a half crown (or however much it was in antiquated currency) I would have been raised an American …..lucky escape I reckon, shame about the nice American couple who wanted me so much…wish I could locate them…”trump” I think their surname was…

Oi you November 19, 2016 at 10:26 pm

Trump. Lovely surname. In the news alot just recently….

:o)

Keith Walters November 20, 2016 at 2:34 am

Ahhrrr yes, what a great word: “Besmirch”.
Much beloved of Chinese Manufacturers who have yet to realize that a lot of the words in the English-Chinese dictionary are only in there so one can deduce what some piece of archaic English actually means, not that you’re supposed to use them in modern English.
This just reminded me of a pair of Chinese-made leather fashion gloves. Lovely workmanship but we were titillated by the care label which read approximately:
“With mild besmirchment wipe clean with moistened cloth.
When extremely dirty you must submit to a leather specialist.”
Which would appear to show that despite Chairman Mao’s herculean efforts, many of the less-noted practices introduced by their British Colonial rulers still have some currency today.
(This post has nothing to do with anything; Please your normal programming….)

Michael November 19, 2016 at 10:40 pm

Speaking of the love of a parent; as a reassurance to those Quaker doubts, here’s one for you…

The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying:
“Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love;
Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.
Jer 31:3

El Coyote November 19, 2016 at 10:42 pm

You are an inspiration, dear lady. Give ’em the Agincourt salute on your way out…and always, in your own way, in your own time.

Oi you November 19, 2016 at 10:44 pm

Seriously, we are so into our Yuman Rights these days….I know lots of young women who have got pregnant on purpose, just to get a house from the council. Not a thought to whether they’d be a good mother or give their offspring a good home, they just go through the ritual to get something out of the system. In some ways, I understand, such is the situation, with housing etc, but there is a demand there, nay, an expectation that you will be given what you want, not what you deserve….so different to what my mother and grandmother had to put up with in previous generations. I only really understood this when I did my family tree. None of it was discussed in history at school. Too much focus of the cultural marxism that is prevalent these days.

:o)

Oi you November 19, 2016 at 11:06 pm

My god, I sound old. My god, I sound like me dad….

:o)

Lincslass November 19, 2016 at 10:48 pm

Much respect to you Anna xxx

Matt November 20, 2016 at 12:11 am

Oh Anna,

I’ve been reading your site with enjoyment and fascination for probably 2 or 3 years without commenting so far.

Fight on, thinking of you.
Matt

Ho Hum November 20, 2016 at 12:21 am

Dear Anna

It feels a great privilege to read your life, as there aren’t too many other people about who can, at a time like this, write in a way that shows they definitely have all their Marples about them

DtP November 20, 2016 at 1:31 am

What were you supposed to do, eh? Seriously, you were a kid yourself and whilst you may have had the Scouser, street smart, quick as a flash attitude – you were a kid, raised in weird institutions, trying to find your feet with so little in your kit-bag. The 60’s were a cruel decade and you got your head caved in at every point. You did what you did because at the time it seemed like the best option and if God can’t see that, he can kiss my scrawny arse.

xxx

Keith Walters November 20, 2016 at 6:52 am

“What were you supposed to do, eh?”
Yes, it seems to be a perennialy popular pastime; judging the responses of people to situations occurring decades ago but using today’s “approved” standards of behaviour.
Apart from the lack of other options, how was a young girl in the 1960s supposed to know how “wrong” it was to “abandon” her children?
Who would have told her this? There was no Internet; all you basically had was newspapers, radio and TV, all of which were heavily slanted toward the concept of Dad, Mum and 3.4 children (or whatever it was in those days). Even War widows were expected to “get over it” and re-marry as soon as humanly possible.

The Blocked Dwarf November 20, 2016 at 9:22 am

It might be argued that if nice Jewish girl by the improbable name of Jochebed hadn’t abandoned her baby son we would NOT have a society that could condemn a mother making such an ‘ultimate’ sacrifice (next to throwing herself infront of the oncoming car, giving up a child is pretty much the greatest sacrifice any parent can make ) .

AR’s account had me in tears a couple of times yesterday, thanks to my 15 month old granddaughter whom I start to miss everytime i hand her back to her parents. I cannot start to imagine how AR felt returning to that empty-of-Sam flat. How Sam must have felt -‘mama GORN!’ . *tears* (and I am not much given to soppyness).

Jim McLean November 20, 2016 at 2:36 am

This is better than any book I’ve read recently. It’s like “The World According To Garp” and “A Prayer For Owen Meany” rolled into one. Thank you Anna Raccoon.

Stewart Cowan November 20, 2016 at 5:53 am

Whatever the future holds, I hope that regulars have long since given up believing a single syllable that appears in a mainstream article. During a heated debate on Twitter (is there any other kind?) before the referendum to leave the EU, a freelance journalist who had written for such propaganda mills as the BBC and Guardian tried ridiculing me because I was a ‘Scottish Top 25 blogger’ with “less than” 500 followers. I explained that I would rather be true to myself than be compromised by writing for the mainstream. I also corrected him on his misuse of the language, i.e. it is “fewer than”. No reply from the big-head.

“I mentally whip myself daily and spend years doing every good deed I can find in the hope that if there is a God (I am a Quaker so don’t take this for granted) he might possibly overlook my past transgressions.”

It doesn’t surprise me that a minimal-commitment faith system produced this unfortunate outcome. A full immersion in the love of Christ leads to the knowledge of sins being forgiven. Not that there is no chastisement for sin; there certainly is, but not a life sentence per sin.

I expect you would have tried to do the right thing had you not lived with your harsh self-imposed punishment. Love and prayers.

The Blocked Dwarf November 20, 2016 at 8:59 am

It doesn’t surprise me that a minimal-commitment faith system produced this unfortunate outcome. A full immersion in the love of Christ leads to the knowledge of sins being forgiven

I can only assume you wrote that before your first coffee of the morning. Besides being insulting and hurtful to AR, it is also hurtful and insulting to , i suspect, a large chunk of your brothers and sisters in other denominations. Certainly i can personally name dozens of truly committed Christians of all congregations, groups and churches who would love to know for SURE that their sins are forgiven them…to FEEL the LOVE. Indeed the root of my own Bestes Frau In The World’s psychosis is the fear that a vengeful God will have her burning in Hell for all eternity.

Rather than being ‘minimal commitment’ Christianity , Quakerism is infact TOTAL commitment, of the sort that meant it could survive and flourish despite the most obscene persecution even into modern times. Hundreds of men and women were whipped naked at the cart tail through towns and cities. Quakers were in the queue for the showers at Auschwitz en mass becuase of their oh so minimal commitment to non -violence and not taking oaths. Why do you think they are still on the ‘Prescribed Organisations list’ in several countries…even France I believe?

An analogy if I may: if Mainstream Orthodox Church Christianity is a grocer’s push bike , and Evangelical that Raleigh Chopper of our Youths, then Quakerism is that light framed drop handle barred racing bike with 12 gears and without stabilizers which after a few broken bones a child can learn to ride fast enough to do itself real damage, downhill into heavy traffic.

Being a ‘Friend’ is to give up all the safety nets, stabilizers and harnesses. ‘Thou shalt decide for thy self’.

And no, I am not a Quaker, but I know enough of them, and about them, that they earn my respect…as does anyone who actively lives their faith.

The Blocked Dwarf November 20, 2016 at 9:29 am

*proscribed list not prescribed….slight difference.

Stewart Cowan November 20, 2016 at 6:26 pm

“Insulting and hurtful to AR” were the very last things on my mind.

Anna Raccoon November 20, 2016 at 6:49 pm

‘Ere, it would take a Panzer tank to insult or hurt me now’, in the frame of mind I’m in.

JuliaM November 20, 2016 at 6:29 am

“I have never been able to view Remembrance Day in the same light as others do.”

Damn! Got something in my eye…

windsock November 20, 2016 at 8:57 am

I don’t think anyone can read this without casting a backward eye over their own lives, viewing mistakes and transgressions and what can only be called “(un)luck”, ask what were the alternatives and wonder what other people would make of them.

Which makes me answer “who cares” what other people make of them? What happened, happened,. It is our own life and we take full responsibility for it, crap and kindness, beauty and banality. It’s yours and no-one can take it away from you. Be proud of the good you have done. Be aware of the problems you have caused and try not to repeat them is all we can do.

All of which means I admire you so, so much as a fellow human being, whose honesty is to be cherished – no matter what other people might try to achieve with said honesty.

Sorry if that sounds waffley. Without wishing to be voyeuristic, I look forward to the next post.

Anna Raccoon November 20, 2016 at 9:22 am

Which makes me answer “who cares” what other people make of them?

Na’er a truer word was said, windsock.

I don’t care for myself, if I did, I wouldn’t be doing this – but I do care for other people.

I’m heading for the bath again….I might be back today, might not.

JS2 November 20, 2016 at 2:49 pm

I say AMEN to this Windsock, you are right, it is our life, our past, our mistakes, that’s why I will never understand how people like to pick up stones to throw at us when they think they have found out some piece of juicy information about us, makes me think of this verse in the bible ‘first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye’ they are after all hypocrites all of them.

Bandini November 20, 2016 at 5:51 pm

Er, unless my memory is failing me (note: it isn’t, so don’t waste your time denying it) the writer of the above thought it would be a good idea to tweet two photographs, side by side, to her thousands of hapless followers; one picture was of a notorious killer (whose new identity is protected by law as his crime was committed when he himself was a child), the other of someone with whom she had an internet-beef & who was known NOT to be the notorious killer… but she suggested that maybe they were one and the same, hoping that some ‘vigilante’ would help her out… Luckily, the evil plan didn’t quite take off.

Previously falsely-identified individuals had their lives turned upside down – or worse:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2186431/Father-killed-hate-mob-wrongly-accused-James-Bulger-child-killer-Robert-Thompson.html

(And let’s not ignore the anguish that the original victim’s family could once again have been put through as they were pestered & hounded by ‘vigilantes’/the press.)

Mentioning the bible is laughable. It’s not my place to say, I know, but if it were I’d tell JS2 to ‘fuck off’. Then I’d fumigate the place.

Fat Steve November 20, 2016 at 9:11 am

@windsock Be aware of the problems you have caused and try not to repeat them is all we can do.
As clear a statement as can be made as to the purposiveness of this life

The Blocked Dwarf November 20, 2016 at 9:14 am

…unless you’re me then you check it really was a mistake the first time round by repeating it …just to be real sure ‘n all, like.

windsock November 20, 2016 at 11:05 am

And I wouldn’t hope or expect anything else from you, because “mistake” is not necessarily the same as “problem”

The Blocked Dwarf November 20, 2016 at 11:20 am

True dat but both do tend to fall under the heading ‘shit wot i wishes i hadn’t done’.

Mudplugger November 20, 2016 at 9:30 am

I take issue with the word ‘humiliating’ in the first sentence. The sheer weight of breath-taking honesty ensures that any feelings of humiliation should be overwhelmed by the warmth and empathy any sentient reader will provide. Painful it may be to recall very personal history in such a public forum, but humiliating it ain’t. It’s a real person, telling real truths to other real people – in doing that, you have lost nothing, but have gained even more respect in this place, respect which will not only outlive you but probably the rest of us too.
Whatever more you choose to submit, be sure its audience here will relish the opportunity to add further factual flesh to the back-story framework of someone we have come to admire so much. More power to your keyboard fingers.

Mzungu November 21, 2016 at 8:43 am

Exactly the response I had.

This is not humiliating, it is humbling for the rest of us to see the searing honesty and vulnerability of AR in these pages.

She’s right up near the top of the list of people I would love to meet but probably never will.

Bandini November 20, 2016 at 9:33 am

I’d be nursing paper-cut fingers if this had appeared in printed form – what a page-turner!
Thank you for penning it, Anna.
x

James Higham November 20, 2016 at 1:16 pm

That’s quite a lifestyle, Anna. 🙂

Anna Raccoon November 20, 2016 at 1:41 pm

Now you can see why a poncy little troll is just a quick snack before breakfast…..!!!

TJ November 20, 2016 at 4:06 pm

Keep eating the trolls, even if they are not nutritious…

Once again, Thank You.

suffolkgirl November 20, 2016 at 3:35 pm

I hope you don’t still blame yourself and that your children understand now. Even if they are not you they carry something of you into the future.
Your writing and story telling are inimitable, however.
Hugs and kisses as the kids say!

Bill November 20, 2016 at 4:17 pm

Long time reader of your blog who seldom comments.

Just wanted to thank you for your efforts over the years, for shining a light and raising a smile.

As regards your “confession”, whatever you did back then you did with the best of intentions and from an incredibly unfortunate situation. You have nothing at all to be ashamed of.

The little shits who seek to spread misery by their venomous deeds on the other hand, fuck em, their combined value to the world doesn’t amount to one hundredth of one Anna Raccoon.

Fair well Anna, I hope your remaining time is happy and your passing is as pain free, in every respect, as it can be.

You will be well remembered. Bless you.

windyone November 20, 2016 at 5:45 pm

So much exactly what I have wanted to say but been unable to formulate the words.
I second that emotion.

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