June 27, 2020
I was a successful magazine editor, working my dream job in New York. But alcohol, and the ghosts of my childhood, took me to breaking point
My life began in the village of Inkersall, just north of the Derbyshire town of Chesterfield. Mum and Dad collided when she was just 15 and living in a house teetering on a faultline. Their love crackled bright and quick after meeting in the pub, and a wedding was arranged for the day after her 16th birthday. My grandad, horrified and furious, made Mum an offer: a horse in exchange for her calling off the wedding. She loved riding more than anything; anything, it would seem, except my dad. The offer was rejected.
In another act of easy-seeming rebellion, my brother was in her belly almost immediately, entering the world a month before her 17th birthday. I joined them one year and 364 days later. The marriage was a disaster, their fights turning physical after Grandad died. There was a story she shared of the Christmas she couldn’t see the turkey across the table; both eyes swollen shut, and my newly widowed Nana closed-mouthed beside her, warned not to make it worse, because worse it could be. There was another, of the time he outlined what would happen if she left him, how he’d set fire to the house with us all inside.