KEARNEY: RECLAIMING OUR IDENTITIES

A post from Nosssh

I recall Kearney regularly exploding with rage in classrooms next door and desperately hoping I didn’t have to contend with him (as well) in my next year group (1970-75). I spent each day trying my hardest to stay invisible or better still, absent because of the inappropriate actions of one teacher. Thus a promising ‘A stream’ pupil (demoting himself to ‘B stream’ to avoid Mr _) left as soon as possible to face the world armed with the single o-level he still cared about and a lot of anger. I would urge anyone on the list of 70+ names I’ve just jotted down (in best “Moggs” voice) to please consider reporting anything they might regard as suspect. Seemingly many/most of my peers sailed through St. Joes with no issues but believe me, some of us are only now able to start processing what happened there to try and reclaim our identities. Others have died before even starting that process.

That’s a powerful statement which needs commenting on.  Especially on behalf of my earlier 60s St J’s  generation who are that much closer to our mortality.

After all: Why let these evil individuals get away with it? 

That’s what today’s  St Joseph’s College, the Catholic Church and the De La Salle Brothers clearly want by their silence in the face of so much evidence.

 Fortunately, Kearney lasted through to the 80s. So if my generation or the 70s generation doesn’t nail him and expose the full nature of his crimes, the younger 80s generation may.  This isn’t going to go away. I find that thought rather comforting.

Because these characters are – by definition –  serial offenders.  They’re predators and they would have abused again and again and again.

It’s usually those of us from vulnerable backgrounds (my mother was a widow) who these characters pick on, which made me a prime target.  It explains why other Old Boys from St Js – probably from more stable homes – will say endlessly, ‘Well he never did me any harm.’  Lucky you.

It prompted me to repeat here a direct message which I’ve kept anonymous.

Hi pat, I came across your WordPress article.. About Ipswich in 70s, I was there, I remember many of the people and places you talk about but buried it deep… Always knew I’d have to face it one day…. Keep it up

Reclaiming our identities is what makes the process of ‘facing it’ worthwhile.

Here are some pointers to where I’m personally going where Kearney is concerned.

1)KEARNEY THE BEAR

Firstly, a recent description of him from an Old Boy from the Mid 80s

Summer 1985 in your photo. Mr Kearney too, but his description would not have been as Pat says. At that time, he was big but overweight, and with a short beard. We used to call him “the bear”. The skin on his hands was so thick he could use his thumb to cover the test tube where he was heating concentrated sulphuric acid without a second thought…

According to Wikipedia

In male gay culture, a bear is often a larger or obese hairier man who projects an image of rugged masculinity

A gay website confirms the term was in use in the UK by the 1980s.

Or maybe Kearney was called ‘the Bear’ just because he was a big guy. 

Not in my experience.

It ties in with my recollections of him. I remember him as an abuser. I’ve been slow to talk about it on this site because I was looking for other indications on the subject before really opening up.  Maybe I should be the first one to take the plunge, just as two other Old Boys courageously outed Brother James as a sexual predator before I said anything about my own horrendous experience.

‘The Bear’ is one indication – of course it’s not proof and there could be an innocent explanation for his nickname even in the streetwise 1980s.

But sadists usually have a sexually abusive dimension to their character and Kearney was most certainly a sadist.

He also had a personal connection to my family which appalled me so much, I cut out all memories of him.

That was my survival system.

If that sounds extreme, ask yourself – would you want a sick individual like Kearney to be a ‘close friend’ of your family?

Exactly. 

I think that might help explain why I still bang on about this wretched guy after all these years. Yes, it is personal.

2) KEARNEY AS A SADIST

That’s my abiding memory of him. I don’t recall his temper exploding as above, but I do recall his sadism as he lashed kids with the Bunsen burner pipe.  This was born out recently by an Old Boy who described his sadistic racism.

3) KEARNEY BREAKING BAD

This is the toughest one because it’s new territory even for the vile teachers we’ve all described on this site.

Long before the fictional Walter White, chemistry teachers have been prosecuted for the illegal manufacture of drugs and illegal use of chemicals. Available materials were used for all the obvious reasons – including as predecessors to rohypnol. So it’s not that remarkable. Some of the processes  and uses are quite straight-forward, unlike the complexity of Breaking Bad.

I would so prefer this to be some twisted fantasy born out of my job as a science fiction and fantasy writer.  A product of an over-active imagination. If only!

I’m afraid it is not.

It’s a lingering memory that needs acknowledging. Unlike other Old Boys, I only have snapshot memories of the past. My ‘polaroids’ are clear enough, but they don’t provide a continuous ‘video’ narrative. There are gaps. Hence my hesitation.

And please consider this: The man’s memory has already been tainted beyond repair by recent testimonies of various Old Boys as well as myself. His name doesn’t need further blackening. He’s already a monster. So why would I need to do and say anymore?

Because it happens to be the truth.

And in stating and exploring that truth, it’s far more than a catharsis, it helps me reclaim my identity. Who I was.  What really happened to me. Who I am today. So it’s  empowering for me personally.

It’s well worth it.

There’s a second reason that’s particularly relevant in the area of ‘Breaking Bad’. Anything involving drugs has huge implications that always involve others. I’m sure I don’t need to spell them out. We’re all worldly wise. Breaking Bad and other films show it clearly.

The drug scene in Britain in the early 1960s – my era – is rarely covered in film AFAIK. It’s a bridge too far for most. Quadrophenia is one example – but it only shows working class kids as users.

I can’t recall the ‘respectable’ middle classes ever being shown taking recreational drugs, which seems most unlikely, ahead of the late 60s when cannabis, LSD and heroin were all featured in movies.

But the 60s started long before the Beatles.  The Christine Keeler series and the Keeler film gives some indication of what really went on in my era and earlier. This was the era when I had the misfortune to make Kearney’s acquaintance both in school and out of school. And there are strong hints in the film Darling. But most of it seems to be off limits. It’s like there’s an unwritten rule ‘Don’t go there’.

There’s also the transgenerational nature of abuse rings which the Oz academic study I’ve written about proves, beyond any reasonable doubt, is hardwired into their systems.

One thing I will swear to is this: Kearney was a member of one – or possibly two – of those transgenerational rings. (I say two because one of the rings seems to have been non-Catholic.)

When it stopped, I have no means of knowing. Presumably with the dawn of more vigilant times in the 1990s?  When the Church and its various aligned organizations, like St J’s, came under critical scrutiny and it (supposedly) weeded out its prime abusers.

It would be nice to think so.

That’s certainly what they want us to believe

3 thoughts on “KEARNEY: RECLAIMING OUR IDENTITIES

  1. Christine, your comment about moving on with life perhaps deliberately misses the point but in case you’re real: That is precisely what Mr Mills and other survivors of abuse are trying to do in documenting their experiences. If you happen to have the luxury of a life unfettered by the devastating effects of abuse, may I politely suggest you do the teensiest bit of research. Besides, for all we know it could be that he has been advised to keep the details you’re demanding for the courts to hear. Show some respect, or did they not teach you that at St Joseph’s?

  2. You keep saying you have stuff on kearney. What exactly. Yes he was strict but saying hes a sadist is a bit ott

    • Recently – if you read all the posts – you will see that an Old Boy described how he was punched in the face by Kearney and the latter had to apologise to his father. That’s a lot more than being strict. Similarly another Old Boy described him as being a racist with a sadistic use of chemistry equipment. Where further aspects are concerned I approach with concern because of preference for secondary validation. But I’m beginning to wonder if you really care and are just trolling. If so, you need to stop before I block you. This is a site for careful examination of the facts that is sensitive to survivors, not blind loyalty because Kearney helped you pass your exam and you liked him. So in your opinion lhe couldn’t be a sadist, a racist and more. The work of recovery is tough enough without trolls and their agendas aimed at disrupting the healing process

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