Out of the frying pan, into the fire.
I arrived back from Ireland on 31st August 1995, having had a very ‘difficult’ holiday with Penny. On checking in at my office, early evening, Paula – my holiday relief manager – briefed me on occurences during the last 2 weeks.
Nicky had been admitted to Flat 2 with her daughter Amy a week ago. Paula then introduced Nicky to me. She was an attractive woman in her mid forties. Blonde hair, engaging smile , about 5′ 4" tall and slim with it. There was a kind of instant attraction between us and I found myself doing something quite out of character. I said, "I’m desperate for a pint at the Rising Sun, would you like to come?"
She did and there began the longest roller coaster ride of my life from then until now and no doubt for more time to come. Talk about a sucker for punishment!! What follows is a copy of the report my relief manager wrote to help her in her application for housing.
Applicant: Nicola W**d + daughter Amy Holly (01.01.81)
Cause homelessness: Marital breakdown/mental cruelty
Priority need: Yes.
Debbie Flischer brought Nicky W**d into the office on Tuesday 22nd August after collecting her from the marital home on the previous day. She had to make elaborate arrangements to get Mrs W**d away without confrontation with the husband who would apparently have tried to prevent Mrs W**d leaving, possibly forcibly. She left with very few belongings. Both Mrs W**d and daughter were very upset and tearful.
Arranged to move them into flat 2, Springhill and made an appointment to see Mrs W**d on Friday.
Note of Interview with Nicky W**d on 25th August 1995. They were living at Vicarage Farm, Bolventor, Launceston, PL15 7TS. They rented the whole farmhouse. It was dilapidated, with poisoned water. Landlord refused to fix oil fired boiler. The rooms were large, windows broken and house unbearably cold. They could only afford one radiator. Initially they all slept in the living room to keep warm, and then Tom (son) and her husband moved upstairs.
They moved to this property because of appalling problems with middle daughter (Verity) in Mundsley, Norfolk. She was rebellious to the point of no return, in with a very bad crowd. She had several convictions for shoplifting and illegal drug offences. She became involved with a violent and manipulative partner by whom she became pregnant. Mrs W**d discussed the problems with her daughter at great length.
Clearly tensions were created in the family. Roger W**d was ineffectual and unsupportive in dealing with her and the other two children Tom (19, with severe learning disabilities and behavioural problems) and Amy were upset and frightened. The W**ds felt that the only way to resolve the problem was to move away from the influences in Norfolk and to move back to Cornwall, of which Mrs W**d had very fond memories when they lived there before.
Husband found a house, admitted it wasn’t good but thought it could be retrieved; claimed landlord would help. They moved down last Christmas, but without Verity (who having had an abortion, stayed with boyfriend and his mother). Verity joined them in April (probably because landlord had thrown them out of chalet where council had rehoused her).
She made life unbearable for the family. Was pregnant again and had second abortion – then returned to boyfriend in Norfolk. Has visited once, when father called to tell her things weren’t going too well with mother.
When Nicky met her husband-to-be Roger W**d, he told her he had been married but his wife had been killed in a car crash. She later discovered that in fact his wife was still alive (three children) and he still living with her. That first lie was to be followed by twenty years of lies and deception, Roger W**d being a smooth talking ex-public schoolboy.
Nicky later married Roger W**d when she was 25 (brought up by grandparents, very sheltered). He was 11 years older than her. She found him to be possessive/frightened/insecure/untruthful. He wouldn’t allow her to make friends, or acquaintances through children’s friends. He was always a loner and had no friends of his own.
She often thought of leaving him, and was convinced he would follow up his numerous threats to kill her at some point. There didn’t appear to be violence in the immediate past (apart when he tried to run her over in Safeway car park earlier in the year- children were in car), but incidents from years ago appear to have traumatised her.
No immediate family to turn to – Grandparents died very young. Her mother hated her and was very hard and unsupportive to her sole child. They moved frequently during course of marriage. Because she tried her best to keep the family together for the sake of the children, and he was very controlling, she always did what he wanted even though his decisions only went from bad to worse. At one point they bought a house in his name. He had a good job but was made redundant. He then formed a finance company and wanted to move again, so he sold the house although they had nowhere to go. She was attached to the home, and had done a lot of work on it. The children were happy there.
He bought another house in ‘85, didn’t pay any mortgage, and did a moonlight flit. Completely homeless. They bough a tent and lived in for a while. Husband got a farm job and they found a winter let. Husband started a brokerage firm and they rented a house in Truro. Very happy there but everything he touches goes wrong. There was an element of bad luck as well – another brokerage business started in the area, a much larger company able to afford incentives to clients, they were put out of business. Mrs W**d had been working with husband, she would do the PR, he would do the figures.
Husband had said he’d gone to the council to apply for housing but it was a lie. The children were happy there but husband insisted on moving them on to get away from creditors. Holiday let …. labouring job …. house (isolated but lovely). He wouldn’t pay bills, then lost job. A dreamer and a drifter. He promised to buy a house with friend’s money.
Nicky came to the end of the road and threatened to go and stay with her mother, hadn’t seen her in five years. Stayed 3 weeks. In the meantime he found another house and job (which he lost). They then went to Norfolk and he started a business with a friend who had money. Fell through in 6 months.
For a time they lived in a car, had more jobs. Went to the council at Cromer for Housing Benefit. Have never got on the council’s waiting list. Husband is suing education authority in Norfolk for lack of Tom’s education.
Mrs W**d finds her husband irrational. Years ago he was very violent, beat her black and blue, and broke her nose. Never accepts responsibility for his behaviour. She was feeling that Social Services felt she was an unfit mother. There were incidents where she felt friends were cutting her off and where he might have been trying to kill her (driving at her in the car).
He accuses her of mood swings, won’t let her drive the car, paranoid she would go off. By now they were living in Cornwall and Verity was working at the Jamaica Inn. His moods drove her and Amy mad, and they moved upstairs during the day. She said that she was going to leave repeatedly. She had looked for live-in jobs. He never believed she’d go. She thinks he would have gone beserk if she’d left when he was there. He doesn’t listen. ’