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The One Thing For Which I Never Forgave Dad.

Updated on January 6, 2012

My uncle, Robert Mercer, was a real Spit Pilot who died at the Battle of Britain

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North Foreland Light suffered with dad's attentions!What Shagger Pete pretended to be!
North Foreland Light suffered with dad's attentions!
North Foreland Light suffered with dad's attentions!
What Shagger Pete pretended to be!
What Shagger Pete pretended to be!

An act that still hurts after 60 years

Why I never Forgave Dad

When dads were given out, I got the booby prize. I won’t go through how he lied to my mother to win her away from the decent bloke she was married to. Well, one thing: he passed himself off as a Royal Air Force Spitfire pilot…in reality, he was a jobbing builder! It was too late when she found that out; the good bloke had gone, taking her first son, and she was pregnant with he who would one day have the avatar “Diogenes.”

Dad was no star, and that’s an understatement. Sometimes he brought money home - whatever was left after his frequent sojourns at the ‘local, or the entertaining of his many tarts. But WW2 was well under way then, and he had to join the war effort or go in the forces for real. Not dad! I don’t know how he wormed his way out of it; arrant cowardice didn’t cut much water with the War Department, as Hitler was studying plans of the Home Counties wondering where to build his mansion after he had defeated the annoying British.

The “war-effort” meant you went wherever the government decided your labor was needed. We went from Wantage to Oxford; Guilford to the coast at Broadstairs where dad was actually given a menial job at Manston Airdrome; the place where he had pretended to be once stationed as a pilot! Mum always told that tale with a bit of a wicked grin.

After the war, we settled in a house bought by my mother’s father, and dad continued as a builder and decorator, as they were called then. He soon got a lousy name with customers for cheap work and from occasional employees he failed to pay. (One infamous incident was when all the paint he applied to the landmark North Foreland Lighthouse fell off in 2 months!).

But dad was a star in one department. The young wives he met along the way. Tall and fairly good-looking with a good line of blarney, he began a series of destructive affairs which earned him the sobriquet, “Shagger Pete,” and had him being chased by the wives and their furious spouses alike, some of which hit the local papers. “Woman Chases Man Down High-Street With Bread-Knife” was one such, which I read in a cutting many years later. Another “Local Antique Dealer Punches Man in Court Club.” Evidently, poppa had grabbed his wife’s rear end.

“Shagger” often took his frustrations out me in the shape of hidings with a leather belt; some, no doubt, well deserved, but others as a result of too many pints of bitter on a Sunday morning.

Looking back, it was easy to see he hated me and hardly once contributed to my life in a positive way. No days out, no gifts, no holidays. No affection at all and no promises ever kept.

I don’t know how, but the marriage hung together until I was 12, although my mother, too, introduced me to a couple of “uncles” who must have stopped her going bonkers living with this serial seducer, albeit a large frog in a small pond.

Funny how as you get older, all the past comes into focus again.

During my long life dad played no further part…he married again and had a daughter, but they didn’t stay together. There were years and years when I heard nothing from him. I went down to see him in 1981 only to find he had died 3 days previously; the stamp collection he once said “would be mine one day” was nowhere to be found. The council asked me if I would be interested in paying the $500 for his funeral expenses as he had died penniless. I suggested they hunted down all the lady pensioners of the parish he had once pleasured and passed the hat round. That ended that.

But do you know the only thing I still think about and cannot forgive the bloke for was my Hornby Train.

Yes, turn over in your pauper’s grave, you swine, you know what’s coming.

The one thing I desired almost more than life itself had been a Hornby Electric Train Set. They were very expensive even then, but mum told me if I was good I would get one that Christmas - of 1948 I believe it was. I was nine years old.

Angels could not have been better behaved, I went around smiling at everyone, offering to help around the house, and dancing with glee when no one was looking.

I don’t know how I endured the wait, but Christmas Day finally arrived. I was awake all night, I’m sure, and ran downstairs to the tree on Christmas morning. There were a few presents. But nothing that looked like a train set. I tore upstairs just to meet mum coming down.

“Is it there” I gasped.

Mum sat me down. I’m so sorry,” she said, “You father couldn’t quite afford it in the end, maybe next year.”

“But you promised” I cried, distraught with loss and shock…

…So I never got my Hornby set, did I dad? “And don’t you think it was mean of you to have bought it three weeks before Christmas for me, but then given it to Gilbert Hobbs, whose mother you were screwing!?”

Mum finally admitted this when I was in my late teens and she always said it was one of the reasons she finally left him when she found out herself later.

So, sorry Shagger Pete, I hope Gloria Hobbs had a little snapper between her legs and it was all worth it! I also hope the fires are nice and warm where you are and you are kept awake with sounds like the shrieking of train whistles. I forgave you everything else, but not giving my precious train set to that squirt, Hobbs!


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    • KDee411 profile image

      KDee411 6 years ago from Bay Area, California

      Oh my God, you are a hoot. I love the way you write, I've just got to follow you. I'm the old gal who don't know where the commas go, but it's so fun meeting all you smart people. I was married to one of those jerks for over 30 hrs. It's a wonder my kids arn't really messed up.I just put in half a hub on verbal abuse and they put me onto you, guy. So I hope you mossie on over

      If I can get my old computer to work, I might do this thing on some old war birds. I use to own a B-17.


    • capricornrising profile image

      capricornrising 6 years ago from Wilmington, NC

      You've elevated your pain into a highly creative work. That shows your brilliance. Thank you for the courage it took to risk putting your tough past online, and for doing it so beautifully.


    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Before I was half-way through reading this truly well-written hub, I was ready to reach into the past to grab “Shagger Pete” by the shoulders and just shake him to make it all stop.

      As Will stated, these kinds of people have a tendency to leave this earth lonely, abandoned and unloved. Had he been a different man, he would have earned your love and support…what a fool he was to have made such a monumental mistake with his life, and to have hurt others in such a way.

      Peace to you Bob; and all the very best. :-)

    • profile image

      kelleyward 6 years ago

      I liked yoru comment about how as we get older it's funny how the past seems to become more clear. I am experiencing this where I am in life. The past will never completely disapear but I hope it never rules my life either. Thanks for the interesting hub!

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 6 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      Do mean people think they will never have to face the consequences of their actions? That is just so sad. My dad sounds a lot like your dad. He treated my brother kind of the same way. He actually bought George the train set, but then stepped on it to keep it from running because he was annoyed with the noise. George was heartbroken. I was heartbroken for him. Our relationship with dad went downhill from there.

    • profile image

      diogenes 6 years ago

      Yeah...yet they marry and have kids, burdening them for life with insecurities which they pass on and ad infinitum. Bob Thanks for visit x

    • profile image

      Sophia Angelique 6 years ago

      "PS Writing this has felt a bit like punishing him!" Yup. There are a lot of things I would like to say to both my parents. I think I could easily say that my mother was criminally insane, and my father, while a good man, was so incredibly self absorbed and so socially immature that he had absolutely no concept of parenthood.

    • profile image

      diogenes 6 years ago

      Thanks Sophie, Catthy and Sunnie

      WOL. Thanks for that colorful analogy. "Life's a train," eh? So...I just threw Pete out the door! Bob

      PS Writing this has felt a bit like punishing him!

    • profile image

      writeronline 6 years ago

      Great piece of writing, Bob. I’m crying and laughing at the same time.

      On trains, my Dad, (whose own father sounds like your father’s brother, separated at birth and sent to the colonies. I never met him) used to describe life, as a train. Not a train ride, but a train itself. Get on at the front carriage, all wide eyed and bushy-tailed, travel along for a while, look and learn, move through to the next carriage, meet different people, have different experiences, see different things being done by, and to, other people, survive a train wreck, or two.., etc etc. Eventually make it to the last carriage, where everyone huddles and talks in soft tones about The Journey of Life. When your terminus comes up, get off, making room for someone else to come through.

      The key thing he used to say about this analogy was that it was not only acceptable, but in fact mandatory, to “Throw shit out the window as you go along”. No point in gathering an ever-growing bundle, which you have to lug from carriage to carriage, and put on a seat next to you that could otherwise be occupied by someone you might enjoy meeting, someone with no baggage of their own. Especially when you know you can’t take it with you at the final stop anyway.

      While I was reading about your life and the train you earned but didn’t receive, I couldn’t help thinking, “This is what Bob’s doing now. Throwing shit from the train”.

      I hope you feel better for it, Bob. I’m sure it’s in a better place.

    • profile image

      Sunnie Day 6 years ago

      A boat is good! A new man toy lol...I know it will bring you much joy..I only saw argos in the UK when I googled it..oh who needs a toy train when you have a boat right?

      Have a wonderful night,

      Bless you too,


    • cathylynn99 profile image

      cathylynn99 6 years ago from northeastern US

      "the evil men do goes on to the fourth generation, but the good they do goes on to the tenth generation."

    • profile image

      Sophia Angelique 6 years ago

      "The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones."

    • profile image

      diogenes 6 years ago

      Kind thought you have Argos out there??? But I am lining up a boat at present so my toy train days are over.

      Bless you


    • profile image

      diogenes 6 years ago

      Thanks, one and all for kind vist and caring comments. You can scar a child for life doing stuff like this...I really don't know how much his influence affected me, but it wasn't good as my own quirky life will show. But I could never be that unkind...Bob

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      This makes me all that more appreciative of my own good father.

      I once knew a man even worse than your dad. When he died, he died alone and abandoned. None of the family even claimed his body.

      This was very well written, Bob, because it angered me.

    • profile image

      Sunnie Day 6 years ago

      Hello Bob,

      I am so happy you wrote this and got it off your heart. I am sorry you had to deal with this hurt as a young boy. I wish I could get this for you but I did find this on line and while it is not the same as getting this from your father, it is a gift for yourself. I hope you will go and buy yourself that train. Place it somewhere as a reminder that you became the man you are despite him. Forgetting the past and moving forward. I say this only with the best intentions as your friend.



      SO funny..I just now read the comment above from Fpher...I think we are onto something here..Jump on the love train...


    • Mr. Happy profile image

      Mr. Happy 6 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      I wish You all the best Mr. Diogenes! Perhaps the Universe can listen to your wishes and allow them to manifest this year.


    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 6 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      diogenes..I am so relating to your (memories of hurt & heartache)dusted over with a fabulous-life-saving-sense-of-humor. With every fiber of my being, I believe in laughter....& a realistic-but-humorous attitude that keeps us sane and living, at times when we doubt both our sanity & life. Bless your heart. I certainly hope that at some point, you have bought yourself that train!! Gosh, I just had a great could set it up right across Shagger Pete's grave...and play to your heart's content!! Make sure the coal car dumps a load of coal at the base of his tombstone!! Have a great day and PEACE, friend....your attitude is a blessing to you!

    • cathylynn99 profile image

      cathylynn99 6 years ago from northeastern US

      no excuse for some people. my dad wasn't perfect - distant and a verbal bully, but yours is much worse - hidings for nothing and broken promises. here's to the healing that comes when we do a better job of taking care of ourselves than our parents did of us. hope you treated yourself well for christmas this year.

    • homesteadbound profile image

      Cindy Murdoch 6 years ago from Texas

      So sorry for your pain. I could identify with your pain as there are some similarities in our childhoods. I enjoyed the hub, but I find myself at a loss as to what to say ...

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 6 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      I don't know if this is hilarious or terribly sad. Could it be both? I think it could. I imagine that's what you intended. In any case, I enjoyed it.