My song today is ‘I’m the One’. This was a Number 1 hit in June 1964 by ‘Gerry and the Pacemakers’. In common with the Beatles, they came from Liverpool, were managed by Brian Epstein, and were recorded by George Martin.
They are most remembered for being the first act to reach number one in the ‘UK Singles Chart’ with their first three singles, ‘How Do You Do It’, ‘I Like It’, and ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’. This record was not equalled for 20 years.
When we were young and were growing up on Windybank Estate, all the young boys and girls soon learned two valuable responses wherever adults in authority were concerned: First, we knew never to volunteer for anything, and if anyone was ever caught in the middle of a situation with half a dozen friends where somebody had done something wrong (like criminal damage), the person who did the wrong never admitted that they were the culprit, and it was a code that none of the others ‘snitched’ in order to clear their own name. In most instances, like the collective ’I am Spartacus’ response, to the Romans, we all got the blame and we each took the punishment.
It mattered not whether it was a police officer, a teacher, or another adult, it was less shameful to be punished for something one did not do than to admit ‘I am the one!’
Deciding to identify the wrongs of another is not an easy thing to do, as opposed to walking on the opposite side of the street with one’s head down, and ’minding one’s own business’ as one passes trouble by on the other side of the street and pretends not to be aware (especially when one appreciates that the person doing the wrong will receive punishment if identified). It is harder to pull one up in public for expressing racist remarks, especially if you are part of the crowd who is socialising and having a fun night out. Such a response often invites being ostracised from the group or being considered ‘a killjoy’.
Surely, however, the most difficult of all things to do is to become aware that one of your family has committed a serious offence for which their likelihood of ever getting detected and punished is almost impossible.
Imagine that your husband has a worsening drink problem for years now, and whatever you say, he promises to cut down on his alcohol consumption but never does. He works hard and is often late home as he is expected to drink and dine with potential customers after the traditional working day has ended. He has already received a total of 9 penalty points in respect of three previous minor driving offences. On the night in question, your husband went out socialising with work friends and business contacts, and instead of leaving his car behind and getting a taxi, he foolishly drove home over the limit.
On the way back he hit a young man on a dark country road. He instinctively stopped the car, but when he saw the young walker get up and hobble away cursing him, your husband immediately drove off without checking that the young man was truly okay. Your husband knew that had the police been called and he’d been breathalysed over the limit and prosecuted, a lengthy driving ban (given his previous driving offences) would have been a mandatory sentence. He would most certainly have lost his licence. Although your family is in the higher income bracket, your favourable family lifestyle is severely threatened with collapse.
Your husband is the sole breadwinner and you are the mother of three children, with another child expected in three months. You recently bought a larger house that takes up a big chunk of your monthly income. Your husband’s high salaried job depends on him having his own car and a driving licence.
Man and wife have a big discussion about the accident when he gets home. The wife advises him to tell the police and to hope that the court is lenient. He tries to persuade her that it would be different had he killed or seriously injured the pedestrian he ‘brushed’ more than collided with, and having seen him hobble away, he feels certain that apart from a few bumps and bruises, the young man was not seriously hurt. He tells his wife that handing himself in to the police will gain nobody anything. He reminds her what such a course of action will mean for himself, his employment, and his family. He says it will mean probable imprisonment for him, loss of his good job, loss of their new family house, and he adds, that he could never trust his wife again if she failed to stand by him.
“Fail to stand by me and our marriage is over!” he warns his wife. What should his wife do? Turn her husband in or stay quiet? What would you do if it involved a family member? Would you tell?
When I was around 10 years old, and my sister Eileen was 7 years old, we had an uncle who lodged with us, Uncle Willie. Uncle Willie was a lovely man if you knew him, but he was a terrible drinker and the wickedest curser you ever heard, sober or drunk. Uncle Willie would return to our house many a night drunk and fall into bed. At the time, Uncle Willie shared a bedroom with me and my brother Patrick. One night when he returned home drunk and fell asleep, I was awake before him the next morning. So, I took full advantage of the presenting circumstances I found when I saw his trousers on the floor and that a few coins had dropped out of his pockets. Here was my opportunity to commit the perfect crime. Knowing that Uncle Willie had been as drunk as a skunk when he came home last night and wouldn’t have known what monies he had at the end of a drunken night out, I helped myself to all of his silver change (the coins on the floor as well as those coins which hadn’t fallen out of his pocket).
The upshot was my sisters Mary and Eileen saw me put the extra money (that couldn’t possibly be mine) into my pocket before I went downstairs for breakfast. The two ugly sisters threatened to tell my parents that I’d stolen from Uncle Willie’s pockets. I knew that my Father would give me a good seeing to if he found out I had stolen, especially from his wife’s brother.
Let me explain something about my sisters Mary and Eileen. Let us suppose that when I died that I was canonised by the Catholic Church and made a saint; were that to happen, the Forde family would have been the only family on record since the 'Garden Of Eden' had been created to have had three saints from one family sitting at the right hand of God when they died! In the Catholic Church, we go to Confession to have our sins forgiven, in between sinning the time to confess to new sins comes around again. How bad we have been is decided by a graduated scale of sin. One type of sin is the venial sin (the little sin), and the other type that send sone to Hell is the mortal sin(the biggest sin of all).
Let us say that while all boys and girls would usually have one mortal sin and lots of venial sins to confess, my sisters Mary and Eileen were such ‘goody-goodies’, that they have never ever committed a mortal sin! As adults, neither have ever driven at 31mph in a 30-mph zone or parked their car on a double yellow line. If they parked by a road metre and the metre was broken (thereby giving them a freebie legally), they would still post the proper parking fee to the authorities as they wouldn’t be able to sleep nights otherwise.
So, when the two ugly sisters went downstairs that morning, they raced to be the first to tell my parents, “Mum! Dad! Our Billy’s been stealing again! He’s stolen money out of Uncle Willie’s pockets. Make him turn out his pockets and see what he’s done! That morning my dad gave me a walloping and it took Uncle Willie a month before he would talk to me again. As for my sisters Mary and Eileen, all they got for snitching on their older brother was the smug satisfaction that for once, big brother had come off second best.
I wonder what my dear birthday sister Eileen (or her sister Mary) would do in the above situation if her husband John had hit a pedestrian while he was over the limit and cause hardly no injury to the victim of the car incident? Unless the leopard has changed her spots over the past 67 years or so, she’d probably ‘turn him in to the old Bill!’
Have a super day, Eileen. I love you, Big brother, Billy x
Love and peace Bill xxx