I first encountered social services in 1954 when I was five years old, when some ladies came to our house and took me, my 3 year old sister and my one year old brother away from my mother, out of our house, down the cobbled street, lined with curious neighbours and into two waiting cars. I never saw my mother again.
I contacted my friend June with whom I grew up in the children’s home to ask her about her memories. Our birthdays were one month apart and we were inseparable as children. There were many objects we could have chosen, some the same, some personal to each of us, but I totally agreed with her that our ‘object’ had to be our Boxer dog, Bella. This is what June wrote:
“ … Bella, our boxer dog, comes top of my list because she was always there when I needed something to love. I used to get in her kennel with her, do you remember it consisted of a huge wooden freight case (it stood next to the oven in the kitchen) and it stunk to high heaven of dog!”
We all loved Bella and Bella loved all of us – always, indiscriminately and lavishly. She was a wonderful dog, placid and gentle and endlessly affectionate with us, but the terror of postmen and delivery boys. She would always try, and sometimes succeeded, in biting them, which we knew was quite simply further proof of her love, devotion and desire to protect us. She could do no wrong in our eyes.