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Boundaries - the Philpotts

Mick and Mairead Philpott made a terrible decision a few years back: to set a fire in their overcrowded home and to subsequently blame Lisa, Mick’s ex-partner who was about to appear in court regarding custody of the children. Already the tale seems unbelievable. But there’s more to it.

Prior to this calamitous event, Mick gained TV notoriety as ‘Shameless Mick’. On telly he came across as brash, arrogant, stupid, and pig-headed - and Shameless Mick was also asking the council for a larger house. Demanding and entitled.

Some things to know about him.

At the time of the Jeremy Kyle show he was on, he had 17 children and two on the way.

He had never worked.

His wife, Mairead, was substantially younger than him, and very much under his thumb.

They lived for quite a while with Lisa, their bridesmaid. Mick referred to her as his second wife - and was reputed to prefer her to Mairead.

His two wives worked part-time to help raise their massive family, but, when questioned by Ann Widdicombe on a tv documentary, the women in Mick’s life had no idea how much the family’s bills were and how much they were claiming in benefit. Mick was clearly the family’s controller and made no secret of his keenness to sleep with any ‘bitch’ who came onto him.

Mick, considering her his property, was gutted when Lisa left.

Even after then, the family stayed together and were strangely functional family. But dysfunctional to the outside world.

It should be said that the fire they organised was meant to be a way of blaming Mick’s ex, Lisa, for arson. Mick was meant to come out of it all as the hero. But he didn’t come out of it that way.

Mick’s publicity seeking, following the deaths of the children who lived with him, was excruciating, and his crocodile tears led to police suspicions. He was a megalomaniac, narcissist and totally uncharming bloke, and is in prison which is where he belongs. According to Wikipedia, “Psychologist Glenn Wilson described Philpott as clinically a "psychopath" and "exhibitionist" with "antisocial personality disorder."

So, why am I writing this?

Because of his children. There are still kids out there who share half Mick’s genes. Are they as horrified as the children of Harold Shipman, and the children of Josef Fritzl or Fred and Rose West? Do they feel guilt for their survival, or dad about their upbringing – have they moved on?

When I watch a documentary which includes video footage of Mick’s children who died in the fire, I am heartbroken to see that they were popular, well-loved, and by all accounts, polite, good-natured and sweet. It does make you wonder where they get it from.

There is one documentary scene where a little girl is talking so beautifully to the family dog. And another scene where one of the young sons, who must have been about four, was swinging towards a camera – backwards and forwards – with the most endearing ‘hello’ every time he gets near. I’ve seen this so many times and it breaks my heart. How can such darling children have emerged from such a man?

There are likely personal reasons behind these concerns. I’m an ordinary person, but my kids’ dad is not. Will my two end up the same way as him?

It is scary to think that genetics may have more of a role to play than environment, upbringing and so on. But Mick Philpott’s children lived in a chaotic home and didn’t have the most normal upbringing, yet were also lovely. The man they called their dad, who was apparently a loving father, had little idea of the normal boundaries regarding relationships, and regarding fatherhood. He also had no idea of how to treat others, how to deal with authority, and how to be a decent human being.

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