Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Childhood experiences: sense of injustice

“You never forget what happens to you in childhood. It remains with you for the rest of your life.”

No, this was not a comment made by a former child patient but said by the distinguished journalist and broadcaster John Humphrey's speaking on the radio about his early childhood in a poor working class area of Cardiff and how he got beaten by his headmaster for being late one morning for school after he had struggled to deliver newspapers in a snowstorm.

Yet a similar sense of injustice comes through in many of the children's stories we are hearing. They felt they were unjustly punished for seemingly minor offences- beds pulled out into centre of the ward or corridor or even put out overnight on the veranda for talking after the lights were turned out . ( See yesterday's blog of Winnie Gammon's experiences).

In my own case I remember being penalised for allegedly throwing away a dental brace.

But I was very proud of my brace and saw it as an opportunity to have my teeth sorted out. However, I could not eat it with it in and it had to be taken out before meals. Then one lunch time it disappeared from my locker.

The punishment ordered by Dr Huppert was that all “privileges” had to be stopped: no walks, no cinema.

While other girls went off in groups I was forced to stay alone on the balcony.
Yet the brace mysteriously reappeared about a month after I left Craig-y-nos. One girl claims to have found it in the rhododendrohm bushes.

Yes, I could sympathise with John Humphreys sense of injustice in getting caned for being late after battling through a blizzard.

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