Back to the Farm, Christmas 1964

Dear Mum and Dad

I had been home for Easter and the two other holidays during the year, but they had passed in a blur of self-recrimination and probably; self-absorption.

I could not talk to you about the events in my first year at Boarding school for a whole variety of reasons, not the least of which; was that I didn’t fully understand what had happened myself.

It appears, as I write this; many years after the events, that everyone else knew your son was a “fucking poofter” except your son; I was still an underdeveloped 12-year-old, but now; I was a scared and frightened one as well.

Manliness was the most treasured of attributes in our family; even Mum who was beginning to break free of closeted village life and find new outlets for her artistic side, was not ready to deal with the fact her son was homosexual.

As for Dad; at that stage of his life, he would have embarked on a regime of “reeducation” consisting of; at least one good belting every day, until I came to my senses and became a man.

This would have been the only time in my memory, I was glad the Farmers School was so far away, and; so isolated from normal life on the farm. Had I gone to Grammar school, as so many of the sons of your friends had, it would have been so much harder to contain my shame.

At least the principle of “what happens at the Farmers School stays at the Farmers School” could be upheld.

Jerry knew, but his revulsion was such that it would only be revealed to me in the middle of a heated argument, well away from your prying eyes or ears. It was only out of earshot of anyone else, that I would be subjected to the knowing sneers and another of his heated tirades about how “fucking useless” I was at this farming caper. His knowledge of what had happened was unspoken, but the cost of his silence was that his excesses were never spoken about.

I was relieved he was not coming back to School next year; my shame would be private if the issue ever again raised its head.

Bill Wilson again became my confidant; I knew was too old to have an imaginary friend, but it was a relief to sink into comfortable old habits.

Life on the farm at Harvest time was busy and I was now expected to do my bit, I didn’t mind this; for the most part, it was an escape from the arguments and the bitterness that still swirled around the house.

Steve and Dad would fight about most things to do with the harvest so it was best to steer clear when they were together.

Often when Mum was away, I would be called into babysitting duties for Margo and it was these times I treasured above all else. The chance to play with my little sister and to feel her simple love for her big brother; a love untainted by judgement or knowledge of the world beyond the farm.

I think this was the first year, we went in January to the Lake for a vacation, to a holiday cottage perched on the hill, overlooking the expanse of water.

It was close enough to the farm that Dad could come and go.

Often it was just Mum, Terry, Margo and I; wandering down to the water and enjoying this sacred time without the threat of a belting or an argument.

Books were consumed and the sun absorbed as we treasured these two weeks of wet costumes, casual meals and an evening walk for an ice cream after a shower and before bed.

Soon; It would be time for me to go back to school and my fears of a repeat of last year, would at times, boil up inside.

A quick chat with Bill would re inforce my confidence and I would resolve to never again display anything of the demons lurking inside my evil soul.





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