ARTHUR MULLARD WAS THE COCKNEY COMIC MILLIONS LOVED ...AND A MONSTER WHO RAPED HIS DAUGHTER AT 13; 'Behind his TV smile lurked an evil pervert who made me his sex slave, drove my mum to suicide and destroyed my life'.
Yet behind that loveable screen smile lurked a sickening sadist who sexually abused his only daughter from the age of 13...and drove his desperate wife to kill herself after a lifetime of physical and mental cruelty.
Bullying Mullard's hold over his family was so great that it is only now - five months after he died aged 85 - that his daughter Barbara is prepared to end the family's silence and talk for the first time of her years of abuse and torment
"It makes me boil inside with rage when people talk fondly about loveable Arthur Mullard, what a marvellous man he was, and how they should put up a statue to him," says twice-married Barbara, 56.
"The stupid, jolly, smiling man people saw on TV wasn't the real Arthur Mullard. I knew the real him and he was a domineering pervert.
"He made me, his daughter, want to get hold of a knife and cut off all the parts of my body he fondled - my genitals, everything - so I wouldn't be able to feel any more pain.
"My father left me hanging on to my sanity with my fingernails," adds Barbara, whose ordeal led to major mental breakdowns and psychiatric counselling. "Often, all I wanted to do was die."
But as a youngster growing up in Highbury, North London, Barbara was the apple of her father's eye - the middle child, with an older brother Brian, now 59 and Johnny, 51.
"Dad and I had a lot in common," remembers Barbara. "We both liked poetry and art and I loved going on long walks with him across Hampstead Heath.
"It was only after my 13th birthday that everything changed. He suddenly realised that I was growing into a woman.
"My mum Flo had just gone into hospital with polio. He needed someone to take her place.
"First, I became his domestic slave, then I became his sex slave. According to him, satisfying his carnal needs was part of my womanly duties."
Images of the first time it happened still flash across her mind like the recollection of a bad dream.
"I was in the kitchen when I heard a sort of thud on the wooden table," she says. "I turned round and there was what I took to be a long-stemmed mushroom on it, although it seemed to be alive.
"He said, 'Look at that,' I asked, 'What is it?' Is it a mushroom?'
"He didn't answer me. I think I made him a bit embarrassed because of course it was his penis. I was so naive, I didn't even know that.
"He told me, 'I'm your father and I have to instruct you about life. This is my job.'
"That's how he rationalised what he was doing. He was doing his duty as a good father. So when he was groping me and giving me French kisses, that was loving me and being a good father as well.
"He said I should feel honoured and privileged at getting all this tuition. 'You're the fruit that I've grown,' he said. 'I'm entitled to have the first taste.'
"I was so naive I thought he was play-acting at being a movie lover. I said, ''This is what they do in the films.'' That's how innocent I was.
"I never saw my parents show much love towards each other, so it was like he was Clark Gable and I was Vivien Leigh.'I didn't think, 'I'm being sexually abused, this shouldn't be happening.'
"I just thought that if your father does something, you accept it and that it is a new experience you are having." Yet deep down she realised something was wrong and her mid-teens became a living nightmare.
"I sometimes had to wash in the kitchen and because he'd always burst in at such times I'd wedge a chair under the door handle because it didn't have a lock," she says.
"Once, he forced his way in while I stood like a rabbit caught in the headlamps of a car. Then he looked at me naked and said, 'Oh, you're beautiful,' and he started running his hands all over my body.
"I couldn't do anything to stop him because I felt you have to do what your father says. As he excited himself with me he said, 'All girls do this for their fathers.'
"As I got older he thought that having his way with me was part of his conjugal rights. I ceased to be his daughter...I was his partner and I had to provide sex for him, no arguing.
"Afterwards, he'd wash himself, and say, 'Phew! better not let your mother know...she'll go potty if she finds out, she'll have a right go at you,' as though it was me who'd done something wrong."
Barbara's frail mother Flo, who suffered from mengingitis as well as polio, developed severe mental problems brought on, says Barbara, by her father's mental cruelty. And it was made worse knowing what her husband was doing to their daughter behind closed doors.
"Even before the sexual abuse started, he would delight in making us all feel like rubbish," says Barbara. "He referred to my mother as a millstone round his neck. He'd say, 'She's no good to me. She's a useless, lazy, dirty cow.'
But she was such an inoffensive person with lovely eyes. She just used to sit there and take all the abuse my father was throwing at her." Barbara looked at a studio photograph of Arthur and Flo taken just before they were married.
He is dressed in a smart suit and tie, she is wearing a feathered hat perched at coquettish angle.
"You see my mother's pretty teeth?"" she says softly, tears welling up in her eyes. "My father punched those out.
"Mum told me years later what had happened. She'd slept with someone else and she'd left my father. I was very young, two or three, and she'd taken Brian and me to my grandmother's house, just off Hornsey Road, not far from Highbury. My father came looking for her and when mum opened the door he punched her violently in the mouth. They were always quarrelling and fighting.
"He started off the rows and he ended them laughing at her, mocking and belittling her. I never noticed any signs of a loving relationship between them.
"They had stopped sleeping together when I was about 11. I think my mother missed the physical side, but he'd decided he didn't want anything more to do with her.
"She'd been a naturally spirited woman, but my father's behaviour overwhelmed her. He gradually wore her down until she was too tired to put up any more resistance.
"That's exactly what he did to to me," Barbara sighs. "He wore me down. His sexual abuse was something I had to live with, so I would try to keep out of his way as much as possible."
As he became more depraved, he used his wife's frailty as the perfect pretext for arranging to see more of Barbara... even keeping her off school to cater to his needs.
Flo, worn down by her husband's bullying, was suffering severe mental problems and couldn't cope with even the most simple tasks. For weeks at a time she would be admitted to convalescent homes. "He was really glad when she went away." says Barbara. "He could then lock the front door and have me to himself."
Often it would be up to 45 days a term. "I was just never at school," she says. "I was doing the housework and being abused by my father.
"By now I was convinced what he was doing was wrong, but he had this frightening hold over me. I'd be crying and saying, 'Please don't do this to me...I want you to be my father.' He'd just say ,'Silly girl, you're talking nonsense'."
At 18 Barbara suffered from neurasthenia, a form of nervous breakdown which in her case was triggered by years of abuse.
"I was unable to cope, I was pale and thin, I just broke down," she says. "He could see what he'd done to me, but he never apologised."
Then three years later in 1961 her mother Flo killed herself after taking a massive drugs overdose.
"I blame my father," says Barbara. "He'd created a situation at home where life had become intolerable for her- for all of us.
"My elder Brian had run away from home years before, unable to put up with my father's mental cruelty and the quality of my mother's life was zero. On top of everything else she knew that her husband was having sex with her daughter. I knew she knew. She realised with a woman's sixth sense that something was happening.
"Shee would see him go into the other room where I was. She'd notice that there was no talking going on.
"She would also see him spring guiltily from behind the door when she came in and and see me standing there with a red face.
One day she did actually come in when something was going on. But she blamed me. She attacked me as if I'd seduced her husband, as if I were a romantic rival. She should have saved me from him, but she attacked me.
"Mum must have known that I was being abused, but she was impotent to do anything about it.
"Suicide was her way of dealing with the problem.
"The day she died, my father phoned me at the bank where I was working and said, "Your mother's dead, come home quickly.
"He showed me her suicide note. "She'd written,'I don't want to live any more because of what you're doing with Barbara. Please look after my Johnny.'
"My father then tore the note up in front of me. Only he and I knew about that note." Without the need to stay at home any longer and look after her sick mother, Barbara at last found the excuse she needed to break away from home. But she couldn't escape her father's sexual advances - even after she was married.
Both her marriages fell victim to her blighted past, as memories of what her father had done to her made Barbara less and less willing to have sex with her husbands.
Her first marriage to Geoffrey - just nine months after she left home - lasted three years, although they did have a son, David, now 29.
"Geoffrey was young and I didn't trust him enough to tell him why I was like the way I was," she says.
"Anyway, I don't think he'd have been able to handle it if I had told him what had really been happening while I was growing up."
Her second husband, David Lucas, father of her other three children - Philip, 25, Claire, 24, and Holly, 13 - died of a heart attack six years ago.
Yet her father continued to make any excuse to get her on her own to have "a little cuddle." The only time she could feel safe from his advances was when she was pregnant.
"He didn't like pregnant women, he found them unattractive," says Barbara."So I was always happy when I discovered I was pregnant." Yet, despite the years of perverted abuse, when her father was ill towards end of his life, she nursed him back to health at her home in Essex.
But despite that amazing show of forgiveness, her father still changed his will. He left most of his money, pounds 245,000, to the National Children's Home - while Johnny and Barbara got pounds 5,000 each.
"Neither of us had done anything to deserve this final rejection," says Barbara. "The only 'love' that we'd ever had from our father was this money that he dangled before us like a carrot. When he gave that money away, it was really our love he was giving away."
Barbara is now writing a book about her experiences. She is also a trained hypnotherapist and after years of being a victim of sexual abuse herself, she is now seeking to help others.
Her advice is straightforward. "Get some quality back into your life and start to live," she says.
"Look at me. I have been through the mill, but I've got myself back together again.
"I'm leading the good life now. My days are filled with sunshine. It's never too late. Sooner or later the sun will come from behind the clouds."
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|Publication:||Sunday Mirror (London, England)|
|Date:||May 12, 1996|
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