HIS FATHER'S SON
Sir, I must correct one statement made by Medb Ruane in her review of my book, Troubadour and Troublemakers (Ireland Now: A Culture Reclaimed) which appeared in The Irish Times on December 21st, 1996. Responding to the fragment of autobiography in my book, Ruane writes: "Jackson owns up to his own influences by telling us about his complex father, a self educated working class atheist so uncomfortable in the Ireland of Jackson's youth that he drank too much, abused his family and died at 49".
What I actually revealed was that my father drank for only the final four years of his life. I also quite categorically stated my position on this unfortunate fact by saying, "should I feel ashamed because my father may also have finally foolishly tried to substitute both drink and drugs for the son he forced to leave home and, later, the wife and daughter who followed because of his clearly uncontrollable, self eroding tendency towards physical and psychological violence?"
This, I know, could be interpreted as an admittance that Joe Jackson Snr "abused" his family. However, my hope for this paragraph was that it would highlight the fact that I, believe he "abused" himself more than anyone else. Despite this, the man did love my mother, myself and my sister deeply, even if he often found these feelings hard to express. Indeed, that love for his family became the basis of his life. As such, there is no way that any of the remaining members of his family would even consider humouring the notion that he "abused" us. He certainly didn't "abuse" us in any sexual sense, though this, unfortunately, now seems to be the association most people make when they heard the word "abuse".
These are some of the reasons I very deliberately avoided using, in the introduction to the book, the word and concept misapplied by Medb Ruane. Apologies to Medb if this seems to simply a matter of semantics. On the contrary, as a person who is fully aware of the responsibilities involved in being my father's only son, I have no desire to see his memory soiled in this, or any way. - Yours, etc.,
St Stephen's Green,