Volume 1 (The Family)
Tony finished his sandwich and rushed back to his office to see if he could find out about what was happening with the scout leader, wondering if that was the man at the cafe. On his desk was a message for him to call June. She answered immediately, "Hello. June Archer."
"June, it's Tony. Have you got news?"
"News, Tony? I have more than just news. This goes right throughout Sussex. Remember our friends from Spain? Well so far, there have been over 40 connections to them. Just the men involved without the boys. I dread to think what the final numbers will be."
"I just saw a bloke and three boys taken from the cafe by the car dealers not twenty minutes ago, is that part of it?"
"Probably Tony, Ben and Tom opened a hornet's nest. They couldn't cope on their own and there are police all over Sussex pulling men in for questioning.
Our scout leader friend is just the tip of the iceberg. The powers that be need to change the law where people working with children are concerned."
Tony blew out air and said. "I can't see that happening yet June. There are too many powerful men involved in child abuse. Quite a few are those involved are in charge of making such changes. They mostly get away with it Scot free because others are frightened of that power. Keep me up to date please June."
"I will Tony. Bye the way, have Adam and his father worked things out?"
"I think I can confirm yes. The father is going to change his lifestyle and take counselling."
"That is great news, the last thing I want is another child into the care system. Bye for now."
Tony was concerned about the news of the widespread abuse and called next door to see Bill. Bill waved him into his office and Tony filled him in on the latest findings. Bill was as taken aback as Tony had been. He put an idea to Tony, who thought that although he agreed in principal it might be a step to far. What Bill had suggested was that all male children be checked for sexual abuse on admission. Tony argued that although that seemed a good idea, it might well prove to be an infringement on a child's privacy. He thought perhaps with the parent's permission, it might be OK though. He thought it likely that it would take a law of parliament for it to be instigated fully.
They decided to leave things as they were for the moment and take legal advice at a later date.
Gordon and his father had gone home to the pub. Once there, his father had phoned the brewery, got the job and on top of that, had been approved a loan for a deposit on a house. His new boss had given him 2 weeks to find a house to rent temporarily and they would pay the rent. His first counselling session was set for 2 weeks time. With the under manager happy to run the pub for a couple of days, the two of them went off to the estate agents and a letting agent. Before 5pm, they had a house to view to buy, and a house to rent. The difference in them was a joy to see. Both were laughing and joking all the time, something that hadn't happened for years.
The news that night was full of coverage of the abuse scandal. So far a network of 60 men had been uncovered. All had been arrested and were located at various police stations throughout Sussex. It looked as if the scandal would escalate outside of Sussex and some well known names were bandied around.
Adam asked Tony if it was to do with Gordon and he explained what had happened. Adam clapped his hands for his friend and when Tony told him about Gordon and his father, he was even happier. Tony thought. 'I wonder how many boys around the world are suffering because nobody will listen.'
He fell asleep, sitting in the armchair while Angela was making dinner. He had another strange dream. Two young men were surrounded by others in a large room somewhere. The two men were the centre of attention as one, then the other spoke. A lot of hands were raised in the air followed by clapping.
"Tony, dinner love." slowly woke him as he felt the paper he was reading move in the breeze.
"Thanks love, I just had a mysterious dream. I'll tell you about it later."
Angela smiled and said. "Do you think fish and chips with mushy peas will help love?"
"I think that will definitely cure my problems, or nearly, wife of mine. Which reminds me, are we due to see the vicar again tonight?"
"We are, at 8 o'clock. Mum and the children are going to their place immediately after dinner and staying over. The boys will all sleep in one room".
"That will make a change for them love. Do you mean we have a night all alone?"
"It does my lover. What on earth shall we do?"
"Well." Tony said as he rose from the chair and gave Angela a big hug and kiss. "We could feed the foxes and sleep under the stars."
"You old romantic you, we could sleep in the van though."
"Hmm, now who's the romantic. I love the idea, so shall it be."
Angela gave a cheeky grin and said. "Come on Romeo, food."
After dinner, George gathered the youngsters together and they left for home. As soon as the family left, Tony and Angela drove to the church to speak again with the vicar. They weren't there long and were back home by 9 o'clock. Fox feeding time.
Tony and Angela put the foxes' dinner together and walked down to their burrow. When they got there, the foxes greeted them. The cubs were now really tame. The food was gone in short order and it reminded Tony of the children eating. They left the foxes to play and went back home. Their 'night under the stars' was as romantic as they hoped. They lay listening to the night country sounds including the foxes barking. Tony told Angela of his earlier dream. Neither could make much sense of it. Perhaps it was about the boy's future, who knew.
They both arose the next morning to a chill air and were happy to get indoors and get a hot shower. They laughed and joked about their night 'out'.
They had a light breakfast together and chatted about the family's future. Both agreed that the boys were the most important part of their lives but they mustn't forget to treat the other children the same, as they were part of the family also. Angela thought that travel would broaden the boy's minds and what did he think about them going abroad to France, Spain and Germany. They both got a months holiday per year plus Bank holidays. Tony was all for it as long as the Brighton mob was included. Angela laughed at the expression 'the Brighton mob.' It did suit at the moment, but it would likely stick to them even when they moved into the barn. Angela had already spoken to her parents and it had been decided, to which Tony agreed, that where possible, the lives of both families would intertwine. Apart from the distance between them, they were already to a degree. Tony then reiterated he loved her and after a bit of petting, nature took its course.
Later they prepared for Tony to go to work and kissed goodbye.
There was an accident on the way, so Tony was delayed and on his arrival he popped in to see Bill and apologise. Bill hadn't arrived either which was unusual so Tony returned to his office and checked his diary. He had to go and see Ben about Abraham's mother. On arrival on the ward, Ben greeted him. Ben said that Mrs Abasi was happy to go to Eastbourne on the first week of September so that she was back for the start of the school term. Tony noted that down and asked Ben if there were any other problems on his ward. Ben was glad to say that all seemed well. Tony thanked him and went next to each of the wards in turn and for once all was well with them all.
Angela phoned at 10 o'clock to tell Tony she had been awarded the Deputy Director post and she was going to meet with June at her office at 11 o'clock and have a chat with her about the direction she wanted to go. Tony congratulated her and inside was so happy he could have jumped for joy, but....
Instead he phoned June and got an update on the abuse scandal. She told him that the department was going to be at full stretch because of all the counselling for the Brighton boys. She said that the other children's departments throughout the county would be stretched as well. Some men had pleaded guilty, others not, so there would likely be a lot of trials in the future.
Bill arrived at 11 o'clock all flustered. He called Tony into his office and said that the police had been to see him with regard to the ongoing child abuse case. It had been a frightening experience to say the least. It was just by chance that Bill had once known one of the arrested men and his name had been found in the man's diary. The questioning had taken three hours and in the end the police cleared him from their enquiries and had released him.
Tony could see that Bill was visibly shaken and took him to the canteen for a strong coffee. They spoke at length about the spread of the problem and why it was that children were not listened to or found they had nowhere to go to get help when they needed it.
Angela phoned to say the meeting with June went well and they both seemed to be agreeing on all future ideas. Tony mentioned to her about Bill's arrest and their later discussion about the lack of any facility for children to get help in times of trouble. Angela agreed and said she would talk with June when she started work about it. They would see if they could set up some programme where children could phone in with problems. (Many years later 'Childline' went national, but in the late 60's there was nothing for children.) Tony then put the receiver down.
The rest of the day was uneventful with Tony approving of a payment for a child of a poor family to get some shoes. He made it for two pairs, as one pair in wet weather wasn't enough.
Tony got home to find the family flying the balsa plane. It was flying well and he congratulated the boys on their work. Julie, although not involved in the making of it, squealed in delight as it flew above them. It landed gently on the ground. It was then that Tony could see the artwork design on it. David, he guessed, had painted a beautiful design on it depicting the house on the hill in a sunset. Tony picked the plane up and looked closely at it. It was also very well made and with clean and tidy work. He again told them well done. He then asked George how the car was performing. George was very pleased with it. It had plenty of power, even when full and handled well on the rough tracks.
Angela and Gladys appeared from indoors and wanted to see the plane fly, as they had been busy. Julie jumped up and down with a second chance to see it fly. Adam launched it and as it soared above them, it's balance seemed perfect. It took Tony a while to work out why it stayed up so long. 'The wind,' he thought. It is helping give enjoyment to us all by getting under the glider and lifting it. It flew for a good five minutes and then slowly glided to earth in a smooth descent to land in a perfect spot.
Jamie picked the plane up and took it into the house to keep it safe. When he returned, they all decided to go and have a look at the barn to see how it was coming on. As they got there, the builder came to see them and told them that the building inspector had called and cleared the work to date. Looking at the barn, it was difficult to see the transformation. So, the builder asked them to come back at 7 pm when the workers had gone home and work had stopped. As it was now 6 pm, they decided on a slow walk along the bridleway for a little way just to take in the beauty of the Downs. Autumn would be on them soon enough. A crowd of children on horseback came the other way, some as young as Julie. Some looked comfortable on the ponies and horses, while others seemed not quite so sure. The family waved to them and their leader waved back wishing them a lovely evening. It was David who made the point that not all horse riders were as rude as the two they had recently met. Tony agreed and said. "David, most horse riders are polite and civilised folk. Like many parts of life, it is just a few that give them a bad name." Then, tongue in cheek, said. "A little bit like you boys, really." The boys saw the funny side and joined in laughing with the others.
Just after 7 they arrived back at the barn. The builder greeted them and showed them the inside of it. They were all amazed. It was already changed into two stories with the staircase in place. They couldn't go up them yet as they needed more work done on them. The downstairs was already divided into rooms. Tony was assured by the builder that he was well ahead of the target date and should be finished a few days early and on budget. As they went round, Jamie and Adam kept asking questions about how things were done and why. The builder was so very patient with them and answered all their questions in a way they could understand. After the tour, Tony thanked him for answering the boys' questions, he replied that it was a pleasure. He was ever grateful to his father who did the same for him as a boy.
George and Gladys were very excited with what they saw of the results so far and chatted animatedly with Adam and Julie about the future move. They all suddenly realised they had better start getting a few things packed up. Tony and Angela were also thinking of the move and realised the barn would need furnishing if they were to let the house in Brighton as furnished. They waited for Gladys and George and mentioned they needed to go shopping for furniture, as the move wasn't so far away. The old couple looked at each other and nodded. "We want to furnish it with all second hand furniture, because we don't want to be greedy."
"Oh mum, dad, you are not being greedy." Angela said, "We want you all to be comfortable in your new home. You gave me a wonderful upbringing and Tony and I want to do this for you to say thank you."
Tony butted in to add. "Even though you didn't bring me up, I can see the wonderful job you did on this gorgeous lady here, so, no arguments please. New furniture it shall be."
Gladys and George gave in and agreed.
Much happened in the next three weeks. The Brighton mob moved and became the 'Barn on the Hill mob'. 70 men were arrested and charged with child abuse in varying forms. Sadly, the scouting movement in Sussex took a lot of criticism. Some offenders were remanded in custody, others released on bail while enquiries progressed. Gordon's father attended his first counseling session and they had both moved into a permanent home.
Angela had started working with June at Children's Services and in the light of the abuse cases, they were struggling to get help for the Brighton children involved. They had however, managed to get private funding for a single manned phone line for children to call if in trouble. It was a free phone number and it had been quite busy taking calls. The department had had to hire more staff to cope with the added need.
Tony fortunately hadn't had any cases of abuse come through the doors. He had, however, been able to help some of the poorer families to clothe their children better.
The Hunt had tried to cross the families land without permission and a court order had been issued and signs put around stating 'no hunting or trespassing.' Ben and Tom had called to see the new house at last and stayed for dinner. Simon and his partner had taken over the children's house and it was running successfully with seven young children in permanent residence.
Ben had looked after Abraham while his mother had an excellent break in Eastbourne and she came back home looking well and rested. It looked as though they were going to be the couple to run the second children's house. There was talk of Ben Kip-Kip and Mrs. Abisi tying the knot, but it was not certain.
David had finished the painting for Jamie, who loved it. Jamie hung it on the wall of the lounge. David and Jamie had also finished the present to their parents. With granddads help, the frame was perfect.
That had all passed and the children were due to start school in three days time. At the present time, all the family was gathered together, enjoying a very large family picnic with friends all attending. The total party was around 25 people. All the children were playing on the new adventure playground that the builder had put in place as part of a thank you for Tony's business. The adults were imbibing in a brew or two and chatting in small groups. The outside caterer had achieved a near miracle getting all the food together for the buffet at 4-30 pm. There was an event later in the evening that everyone was looking forward to. The Punch and Judy man was arriving at 7 pm. The party was part house warming and partly celebration before the children returned to school. Adam had been accepted for St. Andrews and Julie had a place at Roedean. Uniforms had been bought, along with back packs, so they were all set to go.
'The Wind' wasn't needed today. Everyone was happy and life was good. Bella and Beauty, the two dogs, had enjoyed all the fussing to start with, but had now retired to their beds out of the heat. Gladys and George were enjoying the company as well. It had been some time since they had been to a good party with adults making up a large part of the company.
At 4-30 the caterer announced the buffet was ready. David and Jamie had already asked the children to allow the adults to go first and as soon as they had done so, the children hit the tables with great gusto. Julie saw the caviar and asked what it was. Adam told her it was fish eggs from a fish called a sturgeon. She turned up her nose at that and ended up with a plate of salad and pork pie. Needless to say, the food was relished by all and everyone had their fill. The fox family would do well this night from the leftovers though. Later after the caterers had left, the children had worked hard on a surprise Sound of Music song called "The Lonely Goatherd." They did it without music and although it wasn't perfect, the adults gave them a big round of applause at the end. Tony had never felt so proud of the children. They had obviously worked very hard to produce the entertainment for them. The evening drew on and while the Punch and Judy man set up, they all went to see the foxes. They were a little wary with so many people about, but when the food appeared, the shyness left them and they got stuck into it. They made a wonderful sight for those in the company who had not seen them before. After 10 minutes, everyone went and left them in peace.
The Punch and Judy man had arrived and set up in their absence and was about ready to start. Everyone sat down on the grass, young and old alike. Some of the adults remembering their childhood memories. The curtains opened and the show began with Mr. Punch shouting for Judy. The show progressed in the usual pattern with some parts a bit gory and everyone shouting out warnings and laughing together. An onlooker couldn't have failed to see the love and joy in the air. The show was extended with Mister Policeman telling the children the highway crossing code. That amused Tom and Ben, who were part way through their training as police, schools liaison officers. In the near future, they would probably be doing a similar job. The latest abuse cases had finally decided them to leave traffic branch and work with children instead.
After prolonged applause at the end of the show, the children were allowed to meet the puppeteer and see the puppets. They weren't allowed to play with them in case of damaging them, but the man answered all their questions of which there were numerous. Finally he had to leave and everyone waved goodbye to him until he was out of sight.
By 9 o'clock, people were starting to make a move toward home. John and Stan were staying over and their parents would pick them up early in the morning before church. Finally everyone had left and David and Jamie volunteered to make the chocolate drink before going to bed. The 'Barn on the Hill mob' stayed on for that, so they had to hunt out 8 mugs, but only found 6. Two drinks ended up in cups and a note to Angela to get more mugs to replace those that had been broken.
Drinks finished, George escorted his family home. Angela and Tony wanted to sit and talk with their boys before they went to bed. Stan and John could tell the family wanted a bit of private time and so went up to the spare room to sleep.
The boys went to their parents for a hug. They sat on the edge of each armchair with their arms over the shoulders of Angela and Tony.
Tony set the ball rolling. "Boys, the holidays are almost over and you will be back to school on Tuesday. It will be a new school with different teachers and boys for you to get used to. I just want you both to do your best, no more than that."
Both boys said that they were looking forward to starting at St Andrews. Although they loved the summer holidays, they were starting to get a little bored. Angela explained the transport plan. She would take them to school along with Adam. Granddad would look after Julie. If there were any week-end activities, dad would play taxi for them. Both Tony and Angela would go on the first day and they would both be there for them if any problems occurred. The boys gave their parents a kiss and then went to bed. Once undressed and in bed, they talked about themselves in quiet voices. Both were a bit frightened about what their parents might say or do. Lately the closeness of the two boys had got stronger. Hugs and kisses more frequent in private. They had feelings for each other stronger than just brothers. They both felt it. Yet they felt guilty. They wanted to talk about it with their parents, but were scared in case they thought them dirty or nasty. Finally, Jamie got up and went to David and gave him a kiss goodnight.
Angela and Tony had long come to the conclusion that the two boys were somewhat closer than just brothers. It might be early days to be certain, but all the signs were there. Tony had hoped that the boys might have spoken of their closeness this evening, but perhaps they were a bit scared. Angela and Tony only had one concern. That was, if the boys showed too much attention to each other in public. Children can be cruel if they find a way to be so. With school starting soon, that could become a problem. Tony finally made a decision with which Angela agreed. Tony went upstairs and gently knocked the door of the boy's bedroom and went in. They hadn't heard him and the sight of them kissing confirmed what he had thought. He gave a gentle cough and the boys broke their kiss and went white. They burst into tears and said they were sorry. Tony sat on the bed and spoke to both of them.
"Boys, mum and I thought you two were a bit more than just brothers. We had a feeling that you two loved each other and I can tell you both, you have our blessing."
The boys relaxed a little, the tears ebbed, and Jamie said. "Your not mad at us dad?"
Tony beckoned them close and hugged them. "No boys I am not mad. In fact, I think it is lovely. I must tell you though to be very careful outside of the house. What you have might be seen by others as something dirty and wrong. It isn't to mum and I, but mum and I can't help you with the prejudice of others. So please be very careful. The other thing to remember is that I am still not your father David. We are still under the eye of Children's Services. I am working on adopting you, but that will take a while yet. So you need to be careful from that angle also.
David hugged Tony so tight he was close to strangling him and said. "Dad, we will be so careful won't we Jamie, and dad, thank you. I love you."
"OK boys. Off to sleep now, we have church in the morning. Sleep tight, mum and I love you both dearly."
Two voices said as one. "Night dad, thank you."
Tony left the boys hopefully a bit happier than when he arrived in their bedroom. As he turned, he almost bumped into Angela.
"I heard it all." She said. "Looks like we shall have to adopt some grandchildren then?"
Tony just had to laugh and give Angela a big hug and long kiss. "I suppose we will." he replied.
They decided to go to bed, relieved in the knowledge that their two boys were happy.
End of Part 17
I will take this opportunity to publicly pass on my sincere thanks to Bob for taking on the task of editor, a task freely given.
Please let me know your thoughts on the story.