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How It All Began: My First Book
By Jade Goody
John Blake Publishing LtdCopyright © 2006 Jade Goody and Lucie Cave
All rights reserved.
Daddy's Little Girl ...?
I've been thinking about my dad's death a lot lately. I don't really know how to deal with it. For the best part of my life I've tried to pretend he didn't exist, or at least that he wasn't the heroin addict I knew him to be. As a young girl I'd sit and daydream about him taking me to playgrounds and fairs and on nice family holidays, but the reality was quite different. OK, so he'd come and visit me once or twice a year, but that would be on the rare occasion he was out of prison. He was behind bars his whole life: 54 convictions, or something like that, I think he had. He wasn't just a drug addict you see, he was a thief. I guess the two things go hand in hand – you steal to pay for your next hit.
I've only ever received two gifts from my dad in my whole life. One was an Armani denim jacket that he'd bought with a stolen credit card. The other one was a picnic box. I'll never forget it. It was white and red with a see–through lid. He'd nicked that from someone's bag. He only gave them to me because he felt guilty for hardly ever seeing me. Otherwise he would've sold them.
He didn't even try to hide his thieving from me – I was often a pretty useful accessory. For a time he had a girlfriend called Vicky who was a heroin addict as well. When he was out of prison they would both come to visit me and take me out to one of the local pubs. Then they'd swipe people's handbags right in front of me. Once, when I was about 7, we were chased down a high street because someone saw him do it. It was horrible.
Dad wasn't a drug addict when he first met my mum, though. He was just a robber then. Oh, and a pimp apparently. I've only just found out how my parents got together. My mum said they first set eyes on each other when she was picking up her social security cheque in the benefit office. Dad was in there with a mate of his and thought she was a bit of all right, so he asked her out. When Mum told me what he did I said, 'A pimp? Please don't tell me you became one of his hookers?!' She looked at me and laughed. 'Nah! I was into all that way before I met him!'
She's joking, luckily. Well, semi-joking. Back in the day, my mum was what was known as a 'clipper'. A clipper is someone who pretends to sort people out with prostitutes but runs off with their money instead. Mum explained it to me the other night. What would happen would be this: she'd stand on the street, looking to any normal member of the public like a prostitute – God knows what she was wearing – my mum's a colourful dresser at the best of times. Then, when a bloke came over asking 'How much?', she'd tell him to give her £100, promising that she'd sort him out with one of her girls. After that she'd disappear round the corner to this local cab office – who were in on the scam because Mum was mates with the owner – then she'd leave the money there and either do a runner or hide upstairs. She laughs about it now. My nan has still got the newspaper cutting from when Mum got arrested. She keeps it like it's a souvenir or something. There's a proper word for what she did – 'soliciting' I think it's called. So as you can see, the fact that my dad was working the game too wasn't a big deal for Mum. Gave them something in common. Romantic, eh?
Dad was only 17 years old when he got together with Mum. He lied, though, and told her he was 21. She was 23 at the time and she gave birth to me nine months later. I wasn't planned. Dad also told Mum he was called Cyrus (his real name's Andrew). God knows why he told her he was called that, but Mum clearly believed him because she went and had a tattoo on her arm saying 'Cyrus' in black ink. Oops. Mind you, my mum has funny ideas about tattoos. Her latest venture is to get one on her la la. I didn't know anything about the fact she was planning to do this until she announced it on national TV. There was a Granada camera crew following me around for my TV series of Jade's Salon last year, and she decided to tell them. She'd booked in to our salon to have what is known as a 'Hollywood' (where someone waxes your privates completely bald) and was telling the camera crew about it. I think her exact words were: 'Jade doesn't know but I'm going to have a full tattoo done down there. It's a butterfly and has 16 colours on it. Jade isn't allowed to know until I've finished it. Once I've had my Hollywood I can have my tattoo done because hair doesn't grow back on tattoos – and when I'm an old lady I can say I've got a pretty fanny.' I was mortified. I would say I've never been so embarrassed in my life, but that would be a lie. My life is full of embarrassing moments.
* * *
I don't really remember Dad being around much when I was a baby. He first went into prison for stealing when I was 6 weeks old. The next time he was put away was just after my first birthday – then he was in and out of there forever.
When I think about my childhood, the first clear memory I've got is of McDonald's. Typical, eh? At least it's not a kebab shop. I had my first birthday party at Macky D's in Peckham. My mum was really friendly with this man called Kelly who worked there. There wasn't anything romantic between them, they were just mates. My mum's got loads of male friends – more than girls, really (yes, I know what you're thinking – and she's a lesbian!). Every morning Kelly would come past our house and drop off a breakfast for me and my mum. I used to love it. It was the Big Breakfast, the one with sausage and bacon and scrambled egg. Dad wasn't around for my birthday party. I don't actually know where he was. Mum was there, though, and my dad's sister, Aunty Ingrid. Oh, and Ronald McDonald came out and let us have a look around the kitchen.
Mum and Dad split up when I was about one and a half. My mum chucked him out because she found him hiding guns under my cot. I don't know what he was planning to do with them – rob a bank, probably, or sell them for drug money. Once he started on the drugs, that was it for him, a downward spiral of addiction. He couldn't see what he was doing to himself or his family and he couldn't care less.
Have you seen the film Trainspotting? Most people think it's an amazing film. Some think it's quite funny. I sobbed my eyes out when I saw it at the cinema. The scene where Ewan McGregor's character first injects himself made me physically sick. I threw up when it came onto the screen. Properly physically puked. Those faces that he pulls are the same faces I've seen my dad pull, you see. My belly churns whenever I even think about it. I don't want to remember my dad in that way, and I've spent the best part of my life trying to blank it out.
I first saw my dad doing drugs when I was 3 or 4. It was one of those times when he was out of prison for a bit. During those periods he would live with Jackie – his mum, my nan – and sometimes I'd go and stay there with him for the night. On this occasion I woke up in bed to see him stood in the corner of the room putting a needle into his arm. I'll never forget the look on his face. His eyes were rolling into the back of his head and he was shaking. I was scared stiff in case he could see that I'd been watching him. I think I thought he'd tell me off, so I only dared to look a tiny bit. Then I closed my eyes so tightly I thought I'd never be able to blink again. All that was going through my head was, Why is he sticking needles in his arms? What is he doing that for? It was his facial expression that scared me the most. That's why I can't watch Trainspotting. When I think about it now, I still don't understand it. I know that drug addicts can't help themselves, but surely there's a line you just don't cross? If your four-year-old daughter is lying in your bed, how can you jack up in front of her?
Surprisingly enough, Mum says I was a daddy's girl when I was born. He was constantly checking my breathing in the night, just in case it stopped, and he'd always make sure I fell asleep cuddling one of his socks in my cot, so I had a little part of him there. Ironic how things turn out, eh? Then, when he was in prison, he used to write me letters and draw me pictures. At least he did for a while. The letters got less frequent as I grew up and as his habit got worse.
Even though she didn't agree with what he was doing to himself, it was my mum who'd make sure I saw my dad as often as possible when I was younger. That mostly meant taking me to visit him in prison. I think I've been to nearly every prison in England visiting my dad. I remember going to a prison on the Isle of Wight once and having to speak to him on a telephone while watching him through the glass. I didn't say much. He used to try and talk to me but the whole thing frightened me a bit. Whenever he said something to me it just made me want to crawl all over my mum and cuddle her. I never remember feeling any warmth towards him.
Because my dad was a drug addict, the security guards used to treat me and my mum differently to other visitors. They'd always check inside Mum's mouth in case she was hiding drugs for my dad that she could pass over when she kissed him. On one visit, when I was about 5, the guards did a body search on me and I got really scared. They were patting me up and down all over. I just kept thinking, Oh my God, am I going to be put in a cell like my dad?
My mum never really sat me down and explained about my dad's situation, that he was hooked on drugs, I just kind of knew. I might not be the sharpest tool in the sandwich box (if that's the right saying) but I'll bet I'm more streetwise than most people my age.
My dad was a scag-head, or a smack-head, which means he was addicted to heroin. You can tell the difference between someone who smokes crack (a stronger form of cocaine) and a scag-head because crack makes you all scatty, but a heroin addict will be really fussy, not with it, and they won't be able to get their words out properly. I used to have lots of conversations with my dad where he'd look at me and pull all these faces like he was really out of it, and it frightened the life out of me. Some times he'd be better than others. The thing is, if you looked at my dad you'd never think he was a heroin addict because he always took care of his appearance. He'd wear designer labels like Hugo Boss and Armani and his shoes would always be immaculate. (Obviously he didn't pay for them, though – they would have been stolen goods, or, at the very least, bought with a dodgy credit card.) It was when you looked into his eyes that you'd know he wasn't normal. He'd have a glazed expression and his pupils would be like pinpricks. And, of course, even if he wasn't high it would only be a matter of minutes before he'd be frantically searching for his next hit.
My dad's side of the family is confusing to me. I don't really know that much about him. I know he was mixed race – which is why I've got such big lips – but I've never even met my dad's dad, my granddad. All I know is that he was a black man who went by the name of Wizard. One of my dad's sisters was called Aunty Ingrid. She was such a glamorous woman, always immaculately dressed. My nan, Jackie, was always very well groomed too. She had silvery-white hair and would walk around the house wearing silk shawls. But I think she got her money through suspect means. Mum told me Dad's mum was a madam in a whorehouse for a while. You'll soon realise this is the case for most of my family – they're either plain dodgy or drug addicts. My dad's other sister, Aunty Clare, used to really love me and look after me. But she committed suicide when I was about 12. Took an overdose. Her son, Adam, found her in her bed before he was about to leave for school.
Clare and Adam had lived in North London with my nan and Aunty Ingrid before Aunty Clare died. For a while, when I was really young, I used to go there every Sunday for dinner, but it wasn't like a normal family dinner because half of them were high on drugs. When I'd sit down to eat with my aunties, I knew instinctively that something wasn't quite right about them. I don't know if it was the atmosphere or just the glazed look on their faces. I found out after I came out of Big Brother that my nan was a crack-head. That was a nice surprise. My Aunty Clare was no different. She was always either high on something or drunk. She'd stink of alcohol all the time. I remember feeling really confused because on the one hand I loved her so much and wanted nothing more than to be close to her, but at the same time, whenever she came near me I'd think, Oooh! Aunty Clare, you smell! She used to have a thing about twisting her hair until she pulled it out. Every now and then I do it too. If I'm in a tricky situation or I'm feeling nervous about something, I'll start fiddling with my hair. I can't help it.
I remember Dad saying to me that he'd had a really hard life. But that wasn't exactly an excuse for doing crack and heroin, was it? At the end of the day there are people out there who've had much harder lives than he ever had and ended up better people for it.
When I was about 6 my dad was dating a woman called Maria. She was really rich. Her daughter, Mandy, who was a lot older than me, had a horse and she was brilliant at showjumping. She also had a Shetland pony and used to let me go down on weekends and groom it. Maria saw how good I was with horses and said she'd buy me my own to ride. I couldn't believe it. It was called Inker because it was black. I'd go to their house and ride Inker every weekend. I wouldn't even see my dad sometimes. It sounds really corny, but riding him made me feel so free. Mandy taught me how to showjump and I entered a few competitions and won some rosettes. Then my dad split up with Maria and he was back in prison soon after. I later found out that not only had Inker been shot because he had a broken leg, but also that my dad had had a relationship with Mandy.
I've got two brothers. One – an older brother – on my mum's side, and one – younger – on my dad's. My mum had her son, Brett, when she was 21, and he's got a different dad to me. Brett got put into foster care when he was 2 because he was found in the house on his own. It wasn't actually my mum's fault, to be fair. She'd left him in the care of his dad while she went to work in the dry- cleaners that my nan owned down the road. But Brett's dad went out and left him. Mum didn't know anything about it and came home to find a note through the door saying her son had been taken into care. Apparently a neighbour had called to report it after seeing him out of her window. He was walking down the street naked with one red wellington boot on.
Mum was allowed to visit him unsupervised for a while. Then one day something flipped inside her and she tried to kidnap him. She got caught and reprimanded, then lost all contact with him for years after that. I can understand why she did it, though: she just wanted her son back.
The first time I met Brett properly was when I was about 15. He was 18 and came looking for Mum. She was over the moon to see him again because she'd had to sign an agreement that she wouldn't make any contact with him until he was at least that age. We went to meet him in a bar in Bromley, in South London. I can remember thinking, What's he going to be like? Will he be good-looking? Will he wear cool clothes? Then when I actually saw him I just thought, You're a bit of an egg. It was weird. He looks a lot like my mum, but I just thought he was a geek (my actual words were a bit stronger than that – 'a knob', I think I called him). He was wearing a pair of big, black horrible jeans, battered old Nike running trainers – which you could never even run in, let alone meet your mum in – and he had tattoos all over him. Nasty ones. I just thought, Look at the state of him! I have to admit, he annoyed me a bit. We started chatting about what we'd done and I told him what hobbies I was into – then he made out that he'd done them too: I said I did kickboxing, and he reckoned he'd done it too; I said I did modelling, so he said he'd done modelling. It was as if he was trying to be better than me at everything.
After that meeting, Mum invited him to stay with us for a bit. But instead of feeling glad that my brother had come to live with us, I just kept feeling angry at the way he seemed to be treating my mum. She didn't have much money and from what I could see he was really taking the mick out of her. He was constantly on the phone to all his mates and ran up a massive bill, and he was always asking her for money, which she gave him because he's her son. She was so pleased to see him that she couldn't see what he was doing, but to me he was just taking the piss and I didn't like it one bit. I had quite a few arguments with Mum because of him. I used to say, 'He's dirty, he doesn't wash, he makes me feel sick, he's not one of us.' And he was such a know-it-all. I remember sitting watching an episode of Only Fools and Horses once – in my own front room – and telling him, 'I love this programme, it's mad to think it's been going for ages, isn't it?' Then he piped up in this really snooty voice: 'Actually, it's been on since 1981.' He always had to go one better than me and it drove me nuts. Another time we sat down to eat our tea, but instead of asking my mum to pass the salt and pepper like any other straightforward normal human being, he had to say, 'Jackiey, have you got any of the condiments please?' (Of course, I couldn't even say that myself, I thought they were called 'continents' for ages.)
Excerpted from Jade by Jade Goody. Copyright © 2006 Jade Goody and Lucie Cave. Excerpted by permission of John Blake Publishing Ltd.
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