Friday 22 November 2019

Oi by Snowball @OYFtheBook #Oi #RandomThingsTours #BlogTour

Take an eye-opening voyage into the harrowing world of 1960s Local Authority childcare. 
A world of pain, suffering and abuse, systematically inflicted upon defenceless children, by coercive predatory adults. 
It was a world of unbridled suffering, and relentless pain. 
This is the story of one child who survived.

Oi by Snowball was published in November last year. As part of the #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour, I'm delighted to share an extract from this important and very moving book.

Extract from Oi

Fruit Salads, Black Jacks and Grapes (The Late 1960s).

Fruit Salads, Black Jacks and Grapes.  They were the only reason Snowball loved going to school every morning.  It was also the primary reason that he would secretly curse the advent of all and any school holidays, as they periodically came around in the annual calendar, that was both tactically and annoyingly positioned on the kitchen fridge at home.  He had a short journey home from school.  He would be alone, on foot, and yet watched closely by an innumerable number of community eyes to ensure his timely, safe and unimpeded progress.   Fruit Salads, Black Jacks and Grapes were the mini feast that invariably would come his way, being in plentiful supply, and from numerous sources, as he meandered past an array of community lookouts, and the friendly faces that watched over his childhood frivolities and homeward bound dalliances on a daily basis. 
It was a friendly caring community, that took a direct interest and responsibility in ensuring that children were raised in the ‘right way’.  Every pair of adult eyes were perceived as being those of his parents.  Every word spoken, and instruction given, carrying the same, if not greater weight, as those of mum and dad, who waited patiently at home for his imminent arrival.  And there was always the omnipresent threat, that a word of cheek, challenge or rebellion in the wrong direction, to the wrong person, or landing in the wrong set of ears, would result in a sharper slap around the back of his stocky brown legs, than he would ever have expected to receive from mum or dad for a similar offence. 
Whenever it did occur, it was a slap that, for good reason, he would inevitably neglect to mention upon arrival at his own front door, as the shame felt by his foster mum or dad, would inevitably lead to being frog-marched down the street in shame-faced humiliation, where an apology would be extracted under the threat of a spanking, that he knew only too well, was coming anyway, as the desire to demonstrate that your kids were decent, good kids, and that mum and dad were decent good parents, outweighed the true gravity of any offence he had unwittingly caused.  It was a disciplined, structured life in many ways.  A life designed to ensure that he, and his siblings, grew up the right way, became responsible adults, respected the right people and institutions, and always chose to do the right thing. 
The downside of a thousand eyes watching your every move, was far outweighed by the, care and consideration that was routinely displayed throughout the community, and it was something that could clearly be taken for granted.  Snowball felt safe on these streets.  They were the familiar surroundings that he had grown to love and appreciate.  He knew nearly every face, every front door, who lived where, and where to go when he needed help.  These were the streets he had grown in, and they were his streets. 
At roughly six years old, it always seemed like a long, albeit, uncomplicated walk home from school. But it was a welcome walk, that brought him into contact with many of his favourite local characters, and often saw him line his pockets with sweets and pennies, as his familiar and popular smiling brown face, gently caressed and softened the hearts of many of those he frequently passed.  There were clear and present advantages of being the only black child in the town, and he had long ago learned just how to take maximum advantage of it. 
Snowball found school was an aggressively disciplined environment, that he cared very little for.  He had a form teacher, who was clearly unloved by all her own family during childhood and had taken it upon herself to ensure that every child under her care, suffered an equally miserable time, as long as she held the reins.  She was a tall, stern-faced gangly woman, as unpretty as she was ruthless, and she held sway by a hedonistic mixture of enforced detentions during break times, and ritualised beatings at the end of each day, that would see the unfortunate culprits of numerous real or imagined offences, lined up in front of the remainder of the class, and summarily placed across her knee and beaten to tears. 

The author, David Lee Jackson (1964 – Present) was born in Withington, Manchester in England, into an impoverished black family.  Within months of being born, he found himself on the wrong end of abusive parenting, being hospitalised and close to death. 

Eventually recovering and well enough to be treated as an out-patient, he was placed into foster care, where he was loved and he began to thrive.  Unforeseen circumstances forced him from this loving home, and he found himself at the brutal and often criminal mercies of an abusive and violent childcare system. 
The 1960s and 1970s British Childcare System cared little for the children under its control.  It was a brutal, degrading, violent and occasionally deadly environment, into which children were not only thrown like lambs to the slaughter, but were then expected to emerge as competent, capable, contributing members of the society that had so shamelessly failed them at every juncture.
He survived by navigating his course through one violent and abusive encounter after another.  Living on his wits, and his fists where necessary, and longing for the day he would finally be freed from this physical and psychological turmoil.
David survived, educated himself, obtaining an Honours Degree in Psychology and a Master's Degree in International Business.  He has been an elected public official, served on a number of charity boards and forums, and is an active campaigner on social justice and equality issues.  David has worked in the criminal justice system, working with drug-addicted offenders, many with shared or similar backgrounds to his own, and he is a well-travelled and widely respected project management consultant. 
In 2018, David (under the name Snowball) published the widely praised and much talked about book, 'Oi' through the  Amazon network,  in which he detailed in all its brutally cold and horrifically  ignoble glory, the horrifying levels of abuse, brutality and criminality that he encountered, while being raised in the British Childcare System throughout the 1960s and 1970s. The book itself is a testament to the enduring resilience of all children living through adversity and both physical and psychological hardship, and an indictment of the casually brutal and often criminal systems, that inflict relentless brutality upon children it has been charged with caring for.
Reviews included:
…..Harrowing, Brutal and Truthful!  Buckle up and read Snowballs heart wrenching account of a life that no child should ever experience- prepare to be shocked to the core, be ready to feel every emotion…..(Brenda Lee)
……one of the most emotional journeys you will ever take with a child who survives unbelievable childhood adversity. At times it is almost too painful to witness, it truly is a tribute to the child and the man who wrote it……Amanda Knowles (MBE)
…..this book is as epic, as it is painful read at times and extremely sad!  It illustrates a time when Victorian child care was still in evidence even in the 60s, 70s & 80s and children were definitely to be seen and not heard……...this book will educate……Anon
David is currently resident in the United Kingdom, where amongst other professional endeavours, he has embarked on a blossoming career as a Keynote Speaker and Motivational Presenter.  He has an adult son and enjoys the comfort of a vast extended family, that is spread across the entirety of the United kingdom. 
To quote David in words he would choose himself: 
………….Life has been a tough ride at times. It would have been easy, and acceptable to simply give up, to shrink, to fade away as expected.  However, there is an irrepressible force inside all of us called, the Human Spirit, and it constantly screams at me, 'David, you may not be responsible for being down, but you are responsible for getting back up again'…………………and so I get up.

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