His mother lurched around in his memory, her touch cold and impenetrable as sheet ice, her face doused in perpetual denial caressing the silver crucifix at her throat as if it was blessed. As if the tiny emblem was her only hope against the protestations of a useless child as she plotted out every moment of his life, forcing him to retreat into a lonely existence and find solace in hurt. Forcing him into devising ways to hurt her so that she would have to notice him.

He remembered clearly the first time it ever happened. hen impotent anger had sent his sent mothers best china teacup careering across the kitchen and he had watched it shatter. He had been only as tall as the worktop, but the frustration had been so real he could taste it still and had stood in a pool of sunlight sweating in anticipation waiting for her to come to him. He remembered clearly the cool sweep of air when she appeared, the cherry red of her lips smearing her face with contemptuous disdain and her vice like grip on his arm. And that there, held in suspended animation with the toe of his shoe scuffing on the lino, he had felt the first glorious stream of pain flowing through his body. The first experience of a compunction now so deeply rooted in his psyche that it had gone beyond an obsession to become an addiction.