Please Don’t Make Me Go: How One Boy’s Courage Overcame A Brutal Childhood

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HarperCollins Publishers, Sep 4, 2008 - Biography & Autobiography - 352 pages
2 Reviews

The harrowing true story of one boy’s experiences in a brutal ‘approved’ school for young offenders in ‘50s London, run by Catholic monks where violence and abuse were rife.

Beaten from an early age by his abusive, father, John struggled to fit in at school where his poverty marked him out. When, aged 13, his father brought a charge against him in order to remove him from the family home, John found himself in Juvenile Court – from here he was sent to the notorious St. Vincent’s school, run by a group of Catholic Irish Brothers.

Beatings and abuse were a part of daily life – both from John’s fellow pupils, but also from the brothers, all of which was overseen by the sadistic headmaster, Brother De Montfort. Tormented physically and sexually by one boy in particular, and by the Brothers in general, John quickly learnt to survive but at the cost of the loss of his childhood.

Please Don’t Make Me Go, tells in heart-rending detail the day-to-day lives of John and the other boys – the beatings, the weapons fashioned from toilet chains and stones, the loneliness – but we also see the development of John’s love of reading, his growing friendship with Father Delaney and his best friend, Bernard, and his unstinting love for his mother whom he feared was suffering at the hands of his violent father.

A painfully honest account, Please Don’t Make Me Go is testament to the resilience of the human spirit as it documents how John learnt to survive and come through his ordeal.

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I was frankly disappointed in this book. At times it came across as a rather violent boy scout camp. The mention of drives out to take part in sporting contests, ballroom dancing lessons, police being called in didn't ring true! Although it might have been for those times. It wasn’t at later dates
These kind of places usually get better as the years go by and as society allows less punishment...this approve school seems to have been the exception. I know this because I was in it 1969 - 71.
Caning was indeed rare being considered too normal a punishment, but a casual beating, regardless of the author’s assurances, continued and was an everyday occurrence!
Boys who were beaten so severely, either by staff or other boys, they needed treatment, were not taken to hospital or referred to the police but hid in a room called 10 bed until they mended. Again I know this as fact being one of those boys.
So many inconsistencies within this book and the 'gentling' down of the violence really angered me to the point I feel I need to be the voice of the boys who suffered after the author claims to have changed the violence of the brothers.
He didn’t!
There are boys out here who never got closure to the pain they experienced in this place.
This being the case I will endeavor to give us boys who still carry the physical and mental scars a chance to tell how it was just before it turned into a community home. Ill write a book that actually tells the full story of St Vincent’s and its Staff both brothers and masters.
Of how the authorities left the boys to the mercy of these degenerates. Governors meetings, police called in! Not in my day. We saw no one say those who abused us.
One of the things I did get from the book is how Brother Ambrose got his name (Nutty) If that is indeed the case. The man indeed did have mental health problems and yet he was a brother superior at this school!
The brothers mentioned I didn't know save for Bro De Montford... he was headmaster at this den of iniquity more than once, leaving to return to his place of crime. I carry a burn scar on my foot courtesy of this Christian brother, and he was not the worse there. The staff were just as given to wanton violence and molestation.
To sum up the book, the author seems to have been at the school when it was more liberal and the brothers more humane, they turned out violent and damaged boys…as for the many mention of Jesus..I am still rated a Catholic but I’d would spit in the face of Jesus for the deeds we suffered at the hands of his ‘soldiers’

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Remember john well when he was in st Vincents boss home temple hill Dartford with Tony miles on a good few days when allowed out the home boys where in vited offer to the youth club to play pool darts and vice verser I once remember john talking about what went on in the home when brother Cuthbert enters the main hall and we were asked to leave we didn't C john and some of the others for a few days and when we did it was to tell us he and others couldn't come over anymore that's the last v we saw of john but a few years later Tony miles was adopted by a local family he was about 10 to 15 I often wondered what Dodd go on in that place now we now  

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About the author (2008)

Following his ordeal at St. Vincents school, John Fenton was sent to Ireland by his father and spent several years in the army before becoming a lorry driver. He is now retired and is married with three children. He lives in Cumbria.

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