By Easter 2016 I didn't feel comfortable or safe at home. The constant intrusion of being under surveillance by the neighbours 3 CCTV cameras was really getting to me. Despite doing nothing wrong, I didn't want my every move videoed. We'd come here for some peace, but since these 2 particular neighbours moved in I'd been on the receiving end of malicious allegations reported to;
my letting agent,
and now the police.
Plus we were under constant surveillance, cameras attached to number 8 opposite were pointing to my front door, driveway, and the entrance to the cul-de-sac.
These people had already tried to pin an ASBO on my son, and now I was being accused by number 1, of sending number 8 a card calling him a paedo! I hated it here. I felt trapped in an ongoing set up and trusted nobody with a professional title. Like I was the lead role in a new 'Truman Show' and they were chucking this shit at me for entertainment. Nothing made sense anymore.
The boys loved the village, they had made friends like I had encouraged them to. R had a good social life in the village and beyond, D was best friends with the son of the family who lived on our Close, and B and K had made friends with the kids of a family on the next street. They were happy here. It was only me that wasn't.
The family on the next street along were great, they had 4 kids at home all younger than mine, with the eldest being slightly younger than my youngest. 2 boys and 2 girls, they were a lively bunch. Dad was a truck driver and often away during the week, and I had grown particularly close to the mum. She was a petite woman, but surprisingly strong and capable. A loving but firm mum, she kept a clean orderly home, did the gardening and decorating, we had a lot in common in that sense. She'd also been on the radar of social services, but like me with nothing to hide she was more than happy to cooperate. She reminded me of myself a few years before, happy to be repeatedly assessed as she had nothing to hide. I confided our history to her, as well as what had been happening with the neighbours here. She was my closest friend in the village and I valued her support. She felt like a sister to me, and our kids were like cousins.
Home education had to continue but once again I needed to get creative. Before moving to the seaside I often took the boys on caravan holidays all over England and Wales, we had at least 4 weeks a year in different holiday parks.
Caravans were reliably cheap during term time, we could take advantage and book Monday-Friday somewhere, and take our education on the road. And stay out of the village, and away from prying eyes and cameras.
I ordered a projector and a 100" flexible screen, redesigned my curriculum for the following few months, and told the boys we were going on school trips away. Home education on the road.
I attended Withernsea police station to have my fingerprints taken as I said I would, but I was pissed off that her next door had sent the police round to me. As if I'd sit cutting words from printed publications making some pathetic ransom note! The fact she had pointed her finger at me made me think it may have come from her.
Why was I being fitted up like this?
My baby had his 12th birthday, but I was increasingly unhappy at home. The boys would be over at their friends and I'd be sat home alone, feeling watched, under the surveillance of 3 CCTV cameras. I missed my friends, particularly my best friend down in Peckham. She was desperately worried about us and always telling me to go down. The boys loved going to 'aunties' in London, but they loved playing round at their new found friends at home too.
While having coffee with the mum on the next street, she offered to have B and K if I wanted to get away.
"Leave them here, they'll be fine. My kids love having them round" the kids did play lovely together and mum confirmed hers actually fell out less when my boys were around.
"Go on, go down and see your friends, get away from them neighbours, the boys will be fine" she assured me. I had no worries about her caring for the boys. The kids loved the idea, obviously, and my lads couldn't wait to get their quilts and PJs.
I popped over to the other family on our street, and asked if they would mind watching D for me if I went away. D and their son were virtually inseparable anyway, and regularly stayed at each others houses. Of course, said mum, he's like part of the family. I was grateful to these beautiful people.
R was old enough to be left alone in our house, so the boys had access to the house should they need to nip back for anything, but they were being watched by another 'mum', on our street or the next. I wasn't stupid enough to leave them alone, ever. Our every move was being watched.
So when the boys stayed out, I went down south. My little trips down to see my friends saved my sanity somewhat. I was around people who loved me. Loved my character, my attitude, my accent, and the way I spoke. I felt on top of the world as soon as I hit London, every time, whoever I went to visit. But I always ended up back in Peckham. My best friends.
My best mate was straight talking and didn't hold back. She thought my neighbours were weird.
"I think he fancies you" she declared when I was down there. I spat with laughter.
"Nar" she went on, with that sweet southern drawl, "I think he fancies you. That's why she's on your case. She's jealous baby!" We both cracked up laughing. "You're gorgeous! You should put pics up, proper sexy selfies, I bet he's been spying on you"
I didn't know about gorgeous, but I could take a decent selfie. And I knew she was watching my profile, one of them definitely was. So when I got back from London, I started posting some selfies...
My Harley Quinn nickname originated from a friend in London and most of my London mates knew me as Harley or HQ. Even my best mate, who'd known me for longer than most, and knew my proper name, had started calling me Harley, or H. With the amount of police attention I'd had over the last few months, I felt like Harley Quinn.
'If I get arrested any more tines, I'm gonna change my name to Harley Quinn, so they have to criminalise Harley Quinn' the idea made me laugh. Trailers for the upcoming film The Suicide Squad were all over at this point, and the name and character was becoming more well known.
If this was some Truman Show shit, I wanted to change my character...
But whenever I was home, the surveillance got to me. I was living on my nerves, barely eating or sleeping, waiting for the next accusation. The next police car. My paradise had become hell.
At the end of April, the mum from down our street, called me round to hers. I stepped inside her house. Nobody wanted to talk or meet on the street, under cameras. She wondered if I'd spotted number 1, spying from the gap under the blinds, in the bedroom. She'd seen someone there a few times, seen the shadow of a head. Living opposite, she had a view of the window that I didn't have inside my own house, my house faced number 8.
"You're definitely being watched"
So it wasn't paranoia then. Other people were seeing it.
I went home, and then came back out of my house. Facing away from her house, I pointed my camera towards myself. And there it was. The gap under the blinds. The invisible spy watching the street. You've been rumbled.
My anger erupted! How the fuck are these people getting away with watching my every move? It wasn't normal! It surely couldn't be legal? So many people, especially southerners, had told me to go knock on the door and ask what the fuck their problem was, but I got the feeling that's what I was being goaded into doing. Confronting them. Well I wasn't falling for their games. I ranted on Facebook instead. Although I was fully aware they were watching my Facebook as well.
As time went on, I stayed away more and more. In caravans with the kids, or with my mates down south. We needed to move, and I knew it would upset the kids, but I wanted to live somewhere I was accepted, and wanted. I couldn't take any more. I never signed up for this Truman Show freak shit. London was calling me...