In the early 1990’s my family bought a pub in England. It had been my fathers dream for a long time having previously worked for himself. We moved around an hour away from where we had been living and moved to a remote area where we knew nobody. I had no friends and neither did my parents. I was almost 10 at the time.
The following few years were pretty crazy in that all sorts of things happen when you live in a pub as anyone who has done it can tell you. People with crippling life problems you see every day and others who just come out to get wasted of an evening. The life of a publican is hard work and demanding, there was rarely an hour of the day that my family weren’t working.
Around 1994 something terrible happened. My Dad and myself returned to the pub after collecting a new car for my Mum and we were greeted by a police van in the car park. What happened next was extremely bizarre and surreal. Two police officers, one plain clothed, arrested my father for rape.
Now I know what you might be thinking at this point. I assure you if it wasn’t with 100% certainty of his innocence (and what ultimately came out in the following weeks and months), I wouldn’t be writing this blog. My father was always innocent. He unfortunately became a victim of a woman with a track record of such accusations and a history of illicit sexual encounters with men who were not her husband.
In all it took about a year for the police to completely drop the charges. It took a toll on my parents marriage and somehow there was a leak in the police force which resulted in some pupils at my school finding out very intimate details of my parents life. It was embarrassing and extremely challenging. I would never suggest that as a result of this the victims of rape should be treated any differently or that the people that carry out these crimes should not be named. Rape is about control and it is the crossing the worst possible line.
The fallout from this was that sadly my parents lost the pub. In the beginning the rumours stuck. As time went on people realised the absurdity of it all and several even stepped forward with their account of the day and her character. I think my father was incredibly grateful about all of this but I still think he felt a fool for having trusted this woman to come into our home and work for us.
The purpose of writing this post today is because I wanted to speak a little about struggle. The struggle to keep our head afloat. The struggle to prove our innocence in this case. Her family fortunately didn’t even side with her and so with that, and various other things, my Dad was never found innocent but then neither was he charged. It hung over him for a year. Along with his weight it led to a thrombosis and, with the existing diabetes, he become sicker with each passing year. The loss of the pub damaged his confidence and now with his health on the wane he struggled to fight back for a long time.
When the dust settled and we had lost everything you would never hear him blame her. He was hurt and confused by the situation that much I know. He never let it hold him down. He spent the last 7 years of his working life trying to regain what he had lost. It was too late but he never stopped trying.
Struggle. It’s what life is all about.