An Uncomfortable Truth
Someone, let’s call this person Anonymous, has given some harsh personal feedback. Anonymous suggested that some of the things Wenn experiences in Escape from Neverland and Dance into the Wyrd were highly uncomfortable to read and suggestive of an unhealthy imagination on my part. Wenn doesn’t talk about it till the end of Neverland and it only resurfaces shortly in Dance, other than that it is hinted at by Wenn in various references to men and their sexual appetites.
To me the genre of Magical Realism is one in which fact and fiction are fused in a manner which hopefully makes the sum total believable – the famed suspension of disbelief. Usually I enjoy it when I get feedback that suggests a plot element or theme was perhaps too far-fetched. Almost always it is based on a true story, more often than not even reined in a little bit simply because it was that unbelievable. With regard to these particular comments it gives me no pleasure to say that the sort of abuse described is in actual fact based on reality.
There is a very serious investigation being carried out by the Staffordshire police regarding systematic child abuse in 1980s and 1990s Britain. There are more than 1,400 alleged offenders. 178 from the entertainment industry (TV, Film, Radio. Music) and 76 politicians, including politicians still in political office today. The number of institutions where the abuse took place numbers in the hundreds; including 75 children’s homes, 14 medical establishments and 9 prisons or young offender institutions. The sort of places where Wenn grew up in the 90s.
This morning (26 May 2015) one of the abused gave up her right to anonymity. She is 32 years old, three years older than my Wenn. She was sexually abused from 1989 to 1994, aged six to eleven. The police are withholding names but one of the men who carried out the abuse is a politician still holding political office today and others boasted of punishment by a Judge and a Lord if she were to betray them. The young child believed them, after all, uniformed police officers stood guard over the VIPs whilst the abuse took place. One time when she tried to run away a police officer caught her and brought her back to her abusers. At times some of the police officers would join the abusers.
That is the truth. There are two such predators in the Lord of the Wyrde Woods books and I am afraid that it is only all too factual that professionals like them, charged with the protection of the weakest members of society – the thousands of unwanted or orphaned kids - could have a certain reputation (i.e. everybody knew) and would just be shifted from one institution to another if things got a bit too obvious. The actions of these two in the books will be all too familiar for those who knew what was going on in some of these ‘care’ homes. In actual fact, the best compliment I’ve had so far about Neverland is an anonymous one from a Youth Care worker who told me: Everybody who works in Youth Care should read this book.
Uncomfortable to read? Damn right. It was bloody uncomfortable to write about it too, to be honest. Especially from a female perspective. That PoV was a daunting challenge as it was. I mean, how the heck do I have two characters discuss menstruation when I am far more like Puck and likely to feel squimbly about the whole thing? That was easy though, compared to some of the things that went on in the Odesby Juvenile Care Home, better known as Nowhere Place by the kids who live there.
I chose to present this very dark and odious theme as incidental lapses of reason by a few untrustworthy individuals and in doing so I really applied the emergency brake. A much more realistic situation would have been the likes of Wenn, Sharon and Jasmin being regularly shipped out to a nearby school, courthouse or just the Nowhere Place basement; delivered on a plate by the system to be treated as personal sex toys by those in power. Guarded by police officers sworn to uphold the law as this happened. Should you ever think those in power truly care about the masses remember how they treated thousands of girls and used their station and power to make this possible.
Perhaps the book would have been an easier read without these scenes. Perhaps it is best to let some things rest. Perhaps it’s easier not to know what has gone on in certain institutions till quite recently. Or perhaps it is time to speak of it and string every one of those bastards up by their testicles till the piano wire cuts through them. Perhaps they can use the piano which that aforementioned politician liked the girls he regarded as his personal property to play while they were forced to sit on his lap as he explored them.
Anyhow, it’s one of the reasons I have donated books to the Authors United Against Child Slavery campaign. Any donations of 20 bucks or higher will ‘buy’ you a book selected at random from the many contributions made by a large number of authors.
If you’re short of piano wire at the moment, please consider supporting this campaign. Thank you.