I was recently asked to write about “Loneliness”, by my friend Rich BJ., (that’s actually his real name; sucks doesn’t it?).  According to BJ, loneliness is a cutting-edge issue of our time and one, I have to say, I often help clients resolve.  So, I’ve written a few pointers on the dos and don’ts of loneliness.  But before we jump-in with a shit-storm of bad solutions, like a Trump supporter in a gay orgy; let’s first try to clarify what we mean by “loneliness”.  I’m sure that the patronising tone of this article, will probably lead you to consider that I also may have suffered the isolation of the human condition, and remarkably, come out the other side with a wisdom borne of experience.  Well, not true!  I’ve always been incredibly popular and had loads of friends.  Now, back to you.

Often, clients say to me;  “I’m just not like other people” and this may be true.  Perhaps, you’ve been shut out of spaceship and your “people” legged-it at warp-speed to another Galaxy, leaving you behind in the woods.  Many of us have been subjected to similar types of social exclusion, often verging on bullying.  But worry not, you’re amongst friends here, and help is at hand.  There are some popular misconceptions on this topic I think we need to clear up first.  No matter how “alien” you feel, do not hide in a dark garden shed or entice a ten year old boy into that shed, by playing “catch my balls” with him, at night.  Do not move into his bedroom, with or without, asking his parents’; nor hide there as a “special secret” between you two.  Neither, contrary to popular belief, can I recommend you engage in cosplay, or cross-dressing with his pre-schooler sister.  If the police are chasing you, do not go on-the-run with a group of ten year old boys, strangely dedicated to you.  Trust me on this, you can save everyone a lot of hassle by just handing yourself in for medical research.  The probes they’ll stick in you are a kindness, compared to the probing on a sex offenders wing, in a high security prison.

Aliens who hid in children’s bedrooms

Perhaps you just feel inherently “different”, to other people.  Maybe you’re a bit of an “outsider” at home, or you just don’t want to play-by-the-rules of conventional society? For those of you who really can’t fit-in, my suggestion is to turn to the healing power of music.  Try dressing from head-to-toe in black, perhaps don some daytime make-up which makes you look slightly vampirescque and look for musicians wearing the same clothes.  Buy their music, whatever it is, then buy all their merchandise, (even wear the t-shirt) and travel as often and as far, as you can, spending all of your money on their concerts.  For a mere $100, you can find yourself surrounded by tens of thousands of other outcasts; all wearing the exact same black clothes and all gathered together (on a weekend night), voicing their refusal to partake in a system they neither understand, nor agree with.  You’ll find things in common, as you stand patiently in line, waiting to show your ticket, or try to locate your numbered seat, amongst the thousand of identical rows.  Trust me, the unique feelings of isolation and disaffection, will be amplified as you all rhythmically raise a fist in time to the music and join in the mass sing-along.  You may have just found your tribe.   Who knew there were so many people, like you, who work in admin during the week.

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Individualism can be an isolating and lonely experience.

For some of you, it’s an insatiable craving for friendship and connection which creates feelings of desperate loneliness.  Even though you could be (unhappily) married, or have children (who secretly dislike you), for some of you, that’s just not enough.  Perhaps you feel like your life is stuck in second-gear, and it hasn’t been your day, your month or, even your year.  Given the opportunity, perhaps you don’t even have five good friends you could share a rundown, Manhattan penthouse with?  Don’t feel stupid or unpopular.  The trick to having friends is to systematically collect them.  Start by locating a weekly classes or activity, you can attend.  By seeing people on a regular basis, having shared interests, you build relationships.  Plan to acquire one new friend at each activity you go to.  Once you have four friends, meet each of them, once per month and continue to collect more.   The more classes you attend, the more friends you will make.  Simple.  Let’s say you attend two classes for six weeks; in just two years you could rack up 18 friends, filling both your diary and any rundown penthouses you want to live in.

Lastly, perhaps you are empathic to the isolation and social confusion of others, particularly young people and adolescents?  Maybe you want to reach out to help them, but you don’t know any?  One of the best ways you can do this is to go back to college and get a degree in English Literature.  You’ll also need to do a post-graduate year, to qualify as a teacher, then you will be able to apply for teaching jobs in wealthy,  conservative, mens colleges.  Once installed there, you will be able to play a pivotal role in broadening your student’s minds, creating a sub-community of attractive young men, all deeply connected through…poetry.  Don’t worry about getting fired for challenging the “system” through the power of verse (no limericks thank you).  Yes, you will change lives, (primarily your own), by surviving unemployment, without references or social security benefits.  Don’t worry, in twenty years time or so, you’ll be invited to their big weddings, lots of people will shake your hand and thank you for being “inspirational”; and you’ll get to eat and drink for free!

Another inspirational poetry teacher is invited to wedding.

Perhaps you are facing problems that you’d like my help with, in future articles? Write to me, confidentially, in the “comments” section below. I’ll answer every one I find interesting.

X

Suit of d’Amour

Chapter 2

The Dress

 

“Oh my gawd,” said the Duchess of Sussex in her dressing room, “I’m so flaming fat, now I’m up the duff.”  Her Ladies in Waiting, looked at one another, pausing to see who was going to reply.  They deferred, to Chief Lady in Waiting, Lady Isabella Chessington-World, who nodded sympathetically, saying, “Perhaps, you’d like to try a different dress, ma’am?”  Darker colours are obviously most flattering on us all. 

 

“Do you think I look like a bloomin’ iceberg?”  The Duchess  continued, pulling at the white ankle-length dress she was wearing. 

“No, ma’am,’” came the muted assurances of the Ladies. 

“But I do think Isabella has a good point,’ piped up Lady Green Von Gables, “This one is very beautiful on you and it’s Harry’s favourite colour.”  There was a understated urgency in her voice, that was barely detectable, to one outside the intimate royal circle.  The fact that it was detectable at all, meant something was severely amiss, amongst the Ladies.  Surrounding the duchess, they eyed each other uneasily.

“Oh, would you Adam and Eve it?  Not more flaming khaki?” the Duchess sighed.  This time there was a noticeably enthusiastic response from the Ladies.  Gushing words in flattery of the mud-green dress (Primani Couture) and excited requests for the Duchess to try it on.  “Nah, you’re alright,” the Duchess continue, “I’m not getting changed, I’ll just wear this.”

The ladies didn’t respond.

Lady Isabella broke the silence, “I’ll get us all some juice, it’s awfully stuffy in here.”

“Luverly.” Replied the Duchess, not noticing the ice-like undertone, in Lady Isabella’s voice.  The other ladies suddenly found things-to-do, there was an unease in the room, that only the Duchess was oblivious to.

“I was thinking of carrying a small bunch of flowers” she continued musing out loud, and maybe wearing a little thingy on my head, a little “Markle-sparkle, as they used to say.” She laughed, alone.

Lady Isabella clapped her hands and Peggy, the Duchess’ maid, appeared.  “I’ve brought the blackcurrant juice, m’Lady Isabelle”, she said nervously. 

 

“Put it over there.” Directed Isabella, nodding towards a side table, on the opposite side of the room.  Peggy walked over and as she passed Isabella, something caught her ankle, for the life of her she could have sworn it was as if she was tripped, although obviously, that was not the case and she, the “clumsy fool of a girl” (as Lady Isabella had rightly shouted at her, many times in the past) lurched towards Meghan, the huge jug of blackcurrant juice tipped and the glasses fell.  They were only saved from breaking by the extra deep pile of the khaki polypropylene carpet, Prince Harry had insisted on, for Meghan’s dressing room.  To Peggy’s horror, the juice splashed across the front of Her Highness’ full-length white gown.  Peggy looked up from the floor, now prostrated at Princess Meghan’s feet.  “What da fuck?” Shouted Her Highness. 

 

To Peggy’s surprise, the Ladies were incredibly nice about it.  In hindsight, the nicest they’d ever been.  They rushed forward, helping her up and asking if she was alright, ever-so-sweetly laughing it off.  They even collected the glasses and ice onto the tray, before she had a chance to, still assuring her not to worry.  Even Lady Isabella told her not to blame herself, saying “accidents happen”, with a kindness she’d never seen before.  Peggy went slowly back down to the kitchen to tell Cook, what she’d done (knowing, Cook’s tongue would be more painful than the carpet burns she was enduring).  She was feeling terribly guilty, not just about the dress, but also about all the nasty things she’d thought about Lady Isabella in the past. She stayed out of the way until the ladies swept down the grand staircase and out in the big black cars, to attend Princess Eugine’s wedding in Windsor, later that day.  HH Meghan, had changed in a loose-fitting khaki dress (Georgio D”Asda – home delivery item).  “She looks lovely in everything.” thought Peggy, as she watched them go.

 

Later Peggy took the white dress to the Royal Dry Cleaner and arranged for it to be made as-good-as-new.  Mr Dyson, the Royal Commissioner for Cleaning, kindly agreed that Peggy could make weekly payments, until the balance was cleared.

 

Screen Shot 2018-10-18 at 04.52.39

No Brainer

22 April, 2016

 

I sit bolt upright in bed at 2am.  My subconscious has processed what the Dr was saying, 5 hours ago in A&E.  Sami’s concussion from his bike accident is passing, he can leave in an hour or two, but there’s something else;

“The CT scan has shown cell growth in the left ventricle of his brain.” The Junior Dr. tells me earnestly.  Initially, I am relieved; I have been pushing my GP for over a year to get a neurological exam for Sami.  I recently got a referral appointment, but my GP has made it clear I don’t have enough evidence to get very far in the NHS.

“It’s great, we have something concrete to go on, physical evidence.” I reply

“Yes, yes, it’s definitely a good thing,” Dr. Young replies a bit too eagerly, a bit too reassuringly.

With hindsight, I realise we were having the classic it’s-nothing-to-worry-about conversation.  The slow moving cogs of my own brain have clicked through the night and finally worked it out for me, “cell growth in the left ventricle of the brain”, can also be called a brain tumour.  I had a bit of medical training, years ago and I remember random bits and pieces of it.  Cell growth can also be described in terms of degradation of DNA.  So, if you imagine a cell has a tiny spiral of DNA which is repeated in a continuous chain, billions of times.  Each time that cell reproduces (dies and replaces itself), it replicates the entire chain, except it loses one DNA spiral each time.  As the DNA chain shortens in length so we experience aging, our skin slackens, our bones dry out etc.    This is what aging actually is (and why skin creams called “Age Renewal” don’t work at all).  There are only two places you find perfectly replicating DNA chains in the body; the first is in the testes – because to produce a child, it has to be born with a perfectly long DNA chain, otherwise it would be born aged.  The second place is in cancer cells.  They perfectly replicate, they’re sometimes known as “eternal cells”, while all the so-called normal cells around them deteriorate.  They have other functions too, but this is how I understand “cell growth in the left ventricle”.  Cells are definitely not supposed to be spontaneously growing in there.  I sit up the rest of the night, classically terrorizing myself on google.  There is between 5%-15% survival rate at 5 years post treatment – a combination of surgery, chemo and radiation therapy (which leaves lasting detrimental effects on surrounding brain tissue).  Not good.  High fat, vegan diet (surely, a contradiction in terms?) has been shown to be helpful.  He is veggie, so I plan to move us into ultimate vegan health over the next few weeks.

I drive us 5 hours back home the next day, in pieces, hiding my bursts of grief from him behind my sunglasses.  He drivels on about the Tour-de-France for five hours, next to me, oblivious.  I email his teacher, she writes back “That’s not good, let me know if I can do anything to support you.”  I fall a 1000 feet through the floor reading her reply, couldn’t she have written, “We get his all the time at school, it’s perfectly normal in teenagers”.  I leave a message for our GP who’s not in the surgery for another 4 days.  She calls me within two hours and my heart drops another 1000 feet, she’s on it, chasing scans, being incredibly competent.  This is not routine.

I watch my son struggle with basic tasks like walking through doors and answering my questions.   I’d been so frustrated with him before, but now I see his neurological impairment, it explains a lot; his outbursts, his inability to be on time, to function at school or communicate.  When I drop him at school the next day, he says, “I hate being late for school”.  I stifle a laugh; he is late for school pretty much every day.  It’s the school’s and my biggest irritation with him, clearly, something is pressing on his brain, because this statement alone is utter madness.

By 9.30am, I am still in the car but I haven’t even finished school run.  I cancel my clients for the next two weeks and park at the side of road, in teary devastation.  There’s nothing else for it, I have to call Kiki.  I have tried not to call her, because over the years we have shared way more trauma than anyone should.  We are not friends who do coffee, or go shopping, or remember each other’s birthdays anymore.  We might send a text – which invariably sits without a reply. Or, “like” each other’s stuff on Facebook and keep up in vague way, meaning to see each other more than we ever manage.  But if one of us phones, like makes a proper old fashioned voice call, we know it’s serious and we pick up.  Two hours later she is sitting in my garden, fag in manicured fingers, tapping on her phone as I explain.

“So, what are you going to do?”  She asks, pressing “dial” on her phone, as I reply.

“Dunno.  Er, wait till Friday then call the GP back?” I say, making it up on the spot.

“Hi, Can I see a paediatric neurologist this week?” She asks whoever she’s talking to, “Ok, if you don‘t have one, where can I get one?”  She speaks to them as if she’s booking her Waitrose delivery slot.  Within fifteen minutes we have a next day appointment at The Portland Hospital.  I’d say we were booked into see a top Neurologist, but there was a bit of confusion with the phone signal and she accidently booked him in with an Urologist, first time round.  (The amount of laughter we got imagining a Doctor sticking his finger up Sami’s arse, looking for his brain, made it well worth the mistake though).  We agree to meet at the Co-op in Woodstock at 5pm.  She is taking over, she is scooping me up, driving to her boat in London, making appointments, buying food.  She is my knight in shining armour because she knows how to be good in crisis.  She’s had more than a few.

Sami disappears after school for an hour instead of coming home.  “Neurological impairment”, I think as I wait, unable to contact him.  When he finally appears, he explains he’s been at his weekly, Tuesday after-school club.  School call it “Detention”.   I understand better what’s going on with him, all this time he’s not being an annoying little git, he can’t help it, he has “Neurological Impairment”.

At 6.15pm I text Kiki to say we’re in the Co-op, he’s hungry.

“What just standing still, staring into space?”  She texts back immediately; neurological impairment is clearly on her mind too.

“No, not staring.  We’re in the Coop, he’s STARVING.” I reply, checking the autocorrect this time.  I look at the basket he’s been filling; four cheese sandwiches, a stuff crust pizza, a loaf of bread, a jar of Nutella, two bags of Wotsits & a Mars Milkshake, veganism will be more challenging than I thought.  I grab a bottle of red and a big bag of chocolate buttons, (I don’t feel like cooking) and jump in her massive BMW.

Kiki is a godsend.  Years ago we were a vacuous pair, who sat in bikinis by an expensive pool in Thailand, complaining about our fat (they were actually flat) stomachs, wishing our idiot boyfriends would marry us.  We imagined our futures with happy little children, who would do well in school and oh, drive us mad!  Our Bridget Jones years.  Then we grew up.  We lost the boyfriends, traumatically.  We survived emergency births, ectopic pregnancies, seizures, operations, traumatised toddlers and a few bouts of Post-Traumatic Stress each.  Incredibly, we’ve both ended up as single parents with three young children.  Mine, a grief inducing, mid-pregnancy divorce – well, that’s what we thought until her husband dropped dead during her third pregnancy.  Yes, she’s trumped me at every turn over the years.  I am in safe hands because she gets it, she knows exactly what I’m going through and what to do.

We sit in detached luxury, neither of us give a shit about our surroundings.  I have a bottle of red, she has a new packet of Marlborough Lights.  I feel helpless, like both my arms have been amputated.  Sami is behind us, headphones on, watching the Tour-de-France on the iPad.   I take a sleeping pill that someone left behind in my house, a long time ago;   I give her one too.  For the first time I sleep through the night.

I decide to wake her around 11.30am.  I notice my bag of chocolate buttons are lying open, next to her bed, thieving cow.  Sometime after, she stumbles upstairs to the living room, blonde hair looking like a straw mat, and joins Sami and me.  She is covered in brown stains, so I don’t say anything.

“Sleeping pills”, she says, casually lighting up.  “Effing strong aren’t they?  I woke up in the night with my hand stuck in a bag of melted chocolate buttons, but I couldn’t quite get up and wash.  Looks like I’ve shat myself in there and smeared it around the master bedroom.  I’d better text the cleaner and forewarn her, eh?”

“Yeah, better had.” we reply casually, as if this is an everyday problem.  Then she urges Sami to photograph it for Instagram.

Couple of hours later we arrive at Great Portland St and she dumps her beast of a car in a private car park, somone will park it for her.  At The Portland I offer my credit card to the receptionist and Kiki pushes my hand away, blinding the receptionist with the glint of her triple platinum Amex.

“Hey, you’d do it exactly the same for me,” she says.  This is not entirely true, I imagine what me doing it for her would look like.  They’d be a lot more buses & trains, and a Travelodge (in Hackney).  She’d probably have a panic attack discovering there were thousands of people travelling on the Underground, right under her Gucci pumps in Sloane Square.

We sit with the Consultant Neurologist and both stifle school-girl giggles when he says he wants to examine Sami. (At this point Kiki makes a swift exit under the pretext of Sami’s privacy, but I know she’s going for a fag and a Costa).   It’s ok, the physical is all above board, he is a Neurologist, not a Urologist – I checked his badge when we arrived.  Later, I send Sami out, so I can discuss the CT scan, without him knowing about the tumour.

“Have you seen the Radiologist’s report, on the CT scan?” Dr Neuro asks me.

“No, I haven’t been shown a thing.” I reply.

He turns the screen towards me; there is a message from the Radiologist, it lacks any tone of urgency.  It mentions a “density” in the left ventricle, it suggests it’s a shadow of the Medulla Cortex accidently picked up in the scan.  There is no mention of “cell growth” or “possible tumours”, only a recommendation, again without any urgency, that it’s checked with an MRI.

Between us, Dr Neuro and I deduce that Dr Junior, in A&E, saw the scan and interpreted it himself without reading the radiologist’s report.  I no longer feel my son is at risk of cancer, or is dying of a brain tumour.  I am angry at what this has cost us, not even financially, but in human emotion.  How I would have remained in that traumatised state for three, maybe four weeks, if I hadn’t gone privately.  But overall, I am entirely relieved Sami is ok.  The sun is shining, my son is not dying and my life is fine again.  The lift is full, so we watch fondly, as he almost falls down the stairs on our way out.   “Neurological impairment” is no longer an option.

His CT scan (above) clearly shows no internal cell growth.

Sami’s CT scan (above).  The Consultant Neurologist was able to confirm, there is absolutely no internal cell growth.

 

Look!  I’m on an advert for something awesome.  I didn’t even photoshop it and make it up at all.  I know, I know hard to believe.  Find out all about this incredible type trauma therapy at Havening.org (or just read the bit I’ve written below the picture).

I'm the one in the green cardi on the right.

(Top row; I’m in the green cardi on the right.)

The first thing you should probably know is that I had to give up my job as a playground supervisor for this.  I didn’t want to leave because I loved being a playground assistant.  The problem was just that the deputy head didn’t understand that I subsidised my two hours working in school with a second income (known as my real job) as a hypnotherapist.  So, when she refused to give me those 2 hours off to go to New York for a week and get certified in Dr. Ruden’s ground breaking Havening technique, I faced a difficult decision.  Should I stick with my job working for £14 a week in a rainy playground?  Or should I fly to New York in a heat wave, spend a few days at an inspiring conference on trauma, certify in the latest techniques, meet the inventors, their families, have a few days off browsing and boozing in the big apple with old friends?  It was a tough choice, worsened by the fact that the deputy head had just offered me a third lunchtime hour each week, yes, she explained if I played my cards right, £21 a week was waiting right there for me.

Let’s talk about Havening.  Ok, it’s really simple (no surprises there if I’m teaching it right?).  So what you do is basically rub someone’s arms and their trauma goes away and doesn’t come back.  I know, sounds dumb doesn’t it?  There is actually a bit of science behind it, wanna know?

So, if you think of trauma being a red line memory at the back of the brain.  It sits there sometimes quietly dormant, but doesn’t go away.  Sometimes, it sits there noisily interrupting everything in your life, popping up in your thoughts all day despite your best efforts to subdue it.  The idea is that this trauma is rooted in the amygdala area of the brain.  To undo it, you flood the amygdala with your body’s own natural serotonin – by rubbing your face, arms or hands.  It’s very simple.  Sometimes,  people also need to do other things such as hum tunes and count.  This is done to distract the more conscious, working memory and to prevent people from getting too overwhelmed if their remembering the bad ole times.

Some of the problems I have  treated with a couple of sessions of Havening in my clinic include; rape, assault, shock of discovering a dead body, bullying, a variety of phobias – (dental, height, spiders, jealousy).  Blushing, IBS, child abuse – sexual and emotional, drinking, sex addiction, coping with suicide, bereavement, trauma from giving birth, facial tics, physical pain, upsetting childhood memories, abandonment.  The list could actually go on and on, I’ve worked with so many different problems with this on adults and children.

The idea is that if someone comes with a range of behaviour that they’re unhappy with – be it feeling low, eating too much, remembering very sad times etc, Instead of treating those things as the presenting problem, you see those things are symptoms of a more fundamental problem (underlying trauma).  The skill is in finding the root cause of the problem, which can sometimes be something quite innocuous to us as adults, but may have felt traumatic in our childhoods.  If that root cause is treated, with Havening, then the symptoms cease and the person returns to a “normal” sense of well being.

You can do it on yourself too.  I don’t recommend you do big traumas without a trained person to help guide and protect you.  Sometimes the memories can feel incredibly powerful and overwhelming.  But if you feel a bit stressed, then try this.  Just rub your arms from your shoulders to your elbows  saying “calm, calm, calm” in a gentle voice, but out loud, as you do it.

Ok, gotta go, my kids, I mean My Public, await.

H x

The Doyenne of Divorce

6 February, 2014

Michelle Young, (let’s call her ‘Shelle) wasn’t expecting a divorce, nor was she expecting her husband to claim bankruptcy.  An unfortunate coincidence? That’s not how she saw it.  He ran, she chased, cleaver in hand.  And that’s basically how things progressed, as the Youngs battled in the British courts’ most expensive divorce case.  Seven years of wrangling, raising a legal bill in excess of £6.5m.  They settled (her unhappily) this week at £20m, + £5m in costs.

Both sides have made mistakes.  Mr Young did accidently, tell a few completely prefabricated lies to the Judge – and got caught.  (Oops).  He was given two custodial prison sentences for failing to comply with the Judge’s orders to fully disclose his finances (Oops), he served one and never fully disclosed his finances.  He “forgot” what happened in a few of those years (Oops).  He got mentally unwell and had to go to the Priory, at £10,000 a week.  (Ouch).    And, probably most regrettably of all, he gave an old computer to his daughters.  on which, his wife’s forensic experts found a deleted file where he listed his assets at a value of £319 million. (Oops).

Image

“Distraught & ashamed”, Scot Young is comforted by his friend. “I can’t eat, I just drink a few flutes of vintage champagne each day & force down a few mouthful of Beluga caviar. All I do is sit in my counting house, counting out my money.  My ex wife is like a blackbird, constantly trying to peck off my nose.”

Mrs Young made mistakes too.  The judge described her as verging on paranoid, making wildly unsupported accusations about loads of famous rich people. (Shame).  She was quoted slandering Simon Cowell saying;

 

“Always round my house for dinner he was, that Simon Cowell.  Y’know, he never brought nothing with him.  Phillip Green, what a gent.  He always brought me a vintage bottle of  Lambrusco and sometimes he’d even bring them Ferrero Rocher chocolates too.  That’s class, that is.  Stingy Simon, that’s what we called him, not even a bunch of daffs from the cemetery round the corner.”

At this point Cowell’s lawyers threatened her with legal action and she deleted her tweets.  (Shame).  She was given a paultry one million pounds support for the first year (Shame).  She sold some baubles worth £180,000 (Shame) and put £3m towards the court costs herself (Shame).  Then she moved into a slummy little house, only able to afford a £100,000 a year in rent, (Shame).  Given these dire circumstances, she was understandably unable to ring-fence any money to help her daughters complete their A-levels in their private schools (Shame).  Later, forced to move to even worse accommodation (Shame), she and her daughters ended up renting barely more than a stable with a manger, for £42,000 per annum. (Shame).  Then she claimed, wait-for-it, benefits (wtf? Shame).  She managed to scrounge back £1,300 a month in Housing Benefit (you are kidding me?  Shame).  The rest of the rent being paid for by an anonymous “friend”.

Image

Ms Young; “We can’t afford chairs anymore. Often I sit on the carpet and stare out the window at the neighbour’s chairs. They’re pretty and remind me of happier times. Yes, I do get white carpet fluff stuck on my noir Versace jeans, everything is so hard right now.”

So, who is that anonymous friend?  I hear you cry.  She knows a lot of important people in the public eye, and yes, my exhausted research has uncovered the three most likely candidates.  They are;

  1. Her butler, Paul “my rock” Burrell.
  2. The notorious gangster, Bugsy Malone.
  3. A grant from Mother Theresa’s orphanage in Calcutta.

Now ‘Shelle, I don’t know how bad things have been fighting your ex, but let me assure you, that that experience is going to feel like unwrapping presents on xmas morning if Housing Benefit find out about this.  Any single mum caught topping up her rent by £26,400 could spark off an investigation, anytime.  My advice is don’t publicise what you’re doing, keep it really quiet, cos ‘Shelle, you could get done.

Everytime I see another woman go through the same kind of thing it makes me think it’s worth it”

“Shelle Young, the Doyenne of Divorce

I question that ‘Shelle.  Some of us choose do it other ways, many of us have no choice.   Many of us go back to work, with the burden of children in tow and we build new careers, out of nothing.  You had funds behind you, you have contacts and connections, how many doors could have opened for you, if you’d told him to shove it and had the guts to go for it?  How much respect would you have garnered from us if you’d put your daughters education and esteem ahead of bickering over your bank accounts?  Oh Young Ones, in your myopic race to be the wealthiest one over the finishing line, you flung your daughters aside to jump for the maritial jugular.  Do you really think it’s worth it?

We, the rest of the world get similar treatment. We are their extras in life, the supporting cast to their leading roles.  In summarising the divorce proceedings, the Judge made the following comment.

“The court has to allot to each case an appropriate share of the court’s resources.  It is difficult to see how 65 preliminary hearings followed by a final hearing lasting 20 days, can possibly be a fair allocation of this court’s limited resources on one case.”

It’s the sort of narcarcissicm you see in teenagers and toddlers; when the believe that they are the only ones who really exist and behave accordingly.  The Youngs have been openly contemptuous of our judicial system, our laws and of our benefits system.  All just accessories to their latest single-minded want.

Young Ones, you have waged your war.  Was it worth it?  Are you happy now?

sad-queen

Stranger Danger

28 June, 2013

The kids got “Stranger Danger” education at school this week.  Making sure no one gets into a car with a stranger, or worse still, accepts any sweets.   We discuss this type of thing quite frequently at home.  This is in part, probably due to my job.  I encounter, on a far too frequent basis, the results of childhood sexual abuse.  And also the fact that they spend a lot of time away from me at weekends, often in situations which I’m not terribly happy about – at pubs and parties with people I don’t even know.

There are only estimates for the number of children sexually abused in the UK.  It’s largely unreported, in fact, I can’t even remember ever having a client who has reported it to any authorities – other than maybe telling a parent, who ignored them.   Estimates put the figure for girls at 1 in 4, and for boys 1 in 6.  Sad-to-say, but it sounds about right to me.  The incidence of abuse rise with added risks of alcohol, drugs and multiple partners.

I have a friend who worked with a group of pedophiles.  (I should probably point out she was a social worker).  They told her an  interesting thing.  That when they’re hanging-out around the schools, it’s not the kids they’re looking at.  They’re looking for the vulnerable parent who is going to give them access to a child.  Feel vulnerable?  To be honest I used to, especially as a single parent, but this made me feel a whole lot better about it.  Not being the vulnerable parent, with the vulnerable kids – yeah, that one I could manage.  So my children’s education began at a fairly early age.  We have frank discussions about all sorts of things.  We talk about situations, strangers, so-called “friends”; we discuss tactics and have a good laugh about it too.  But, I always teach them how to deal with each situation.  So they’ve been armed with responses, rather than trapped in the headlights of blind panic.

But, I also put perspective in there.  I don’t let them listen to the news, with it’s terrifying stories about children being abducted or killed.  I’ve always thought it’s scaremongering.  There were 72 child abductions by strangers, in the UK last year (er, that’s about 64 more than I thought, actually).  But, more frighteningly, there were 375 attempted abductions by strangers.  A lot more than I thought.     However, let’s compare this total number, 447, to the overall rate of abuse of our young people.  Let’s say, (purely) for numerical sake, abuse happens between the ages of 6 and 15.  That would be an estimated 750,000 girls and 500,000 boys being sexually abused right now, in the UK.  The  447 child abductions are clearly the extreme, visible end of the problem; but not the predominating perpetrators.

A client once said, “When are we going to face up to the fact that our children are at most risk from someone we know and trust, not strangers.”  Her words stayed with me, because she was right.  Collectively, we’re still in denial about who abuses our children.  And in that respect, we continue to fail them.  When are we going to really educate our children how to speak up if a grandfather, step dad or brother enter their room at night, when mum is asleep?  Are we going to teach them how to cope with threats of everyone knowing “the dirty things you’ve done”?  Will our children get an assembly on that?  There is very little on the internet when it comes to talking about family abuse, but massive resources to protect from them from strangers.  Are we teaching practical measures for children with this problem, other than, “tell someone”.   Surely,  we can find more ways to help rid these children of their nightmares?

Back to “Stranger Danger”;
Me:  “So what did they say?  Don’t take sweets from strangers?”
Sami: “Yeah.  Showed us a video.  But, of course we’d all take the sweets, we just wouldn’t get in the car.”
Amba: “Yeah, grab ’em and run, really fast.”
Me: “Er, I think when you put your arm out for the sweets, that’s when they grab you.”
Sami: “Really!  They didn’t tell us that.  Everyone in my class is gonna take the sweets.”
Amba; “Yep, my class too.”

 

Image

The elderly man in red was suspected of giving children expensive gifts  to gain access to their bedrooms.
(This blog does not support vigilantism)

Take a Break

20 June, 2013

I was reading about the top selling magazines in the UK.  I mean,I don’t actually read any of them, unless I’m at the Doctors or somewhere like that.  I tried to read one in Specsavers at the weekend, it was on technological advances and they did a list of their top 40 fav products on the market.  So there’d be a  picture of say, some speakers.  You know the type of thing, doesn’t look like a speaker, that’s half the joy of being technologically advanced isn’t it?  Having things other people don’t know about.  Anyway, next to the speakers they wrote; Capabilities:  does an x4r with a JBNK and has 2rpb which makes it unique.  Honestly, I just couldn’t understand a thing.  I felt old.  Then, I went in for the eye test and it was confirmed.

So, I was reading about magazine sales,  c’mon, see if you can guess the top five selling magazines in the UK?  I’ll give you some ideas shall I?  You’ve got Cosmo, Vogue, House and Gardens (pretty, pretty),  Brides, Nuts, TV Times, Health and Fitness.  Any ideas yet?  Ok, here’s a little clue – it’s none of them.  Think of the magazines you read, maybe?  Ok, I’ll put you out of your misery:

Top 5 selling paid for magazines in the UK

1.  TV Choice
2.  What’s on TV
3.  Radio Times
4.  Take a Break
5.  Saga (retirement)

Now, I personally don’t watch TV and part of the way I’ve brought that into the children’s lives is to ensure we never have a TV guide.  Yep, they have unlimited access to the telly, but they never have a clue what’s on.  Of course, they could go use the TV itself – it has an electronic programme guide on it.  But, they seldom do.  I think actually they’ve just forgotten we’ve got one.

The other surprise in there is Saga Magazine, which, I think is subscription only.  My mum used to get it and I always read it because it was well written and they didn’t make all the articles up, unlike some other magazines.  But the biggest shocker on the list, for me anyway, is Take a Break Magazine.  Have you ever read it?  Own up now, it’s got a  circulation of 740,00 copies a week?  Someone is buying it.

For now, I’m going to assume you don’t read Take A Break very often and give you a little look at the uplifting stories they publish.  This week they are offering insightful commentary on a range of real human issues (with photos):

The headlines on last week’s front page were:

*Finace nicked my cash to wed secret lover
*Was he lying or dying?
*Caught on camera: Rape at eight months pregnant
*Big day shock: I had my wedding without my groom
*Our beautiful prom queen:  Why I couldn’t tell her the truth.

a web_tab_cover_25_4

Nice isn’t it? The fourth best selling magazine in the UK.  So, with this in mind,  I’m going to start re-working this blog to include a bit more sensationalism, drama and violence, in an attempt to move it into a more commercial market.  The story (below), is about a stabbing in our kitchen (please don’t read on if you’re squeamish).

“We were a happy family, just myself and my three children after my husband had left.  Yes, things didn’t always go our way, but we kept a cockney cheer about us.  Often, you’d find us out in the streets where we lived, spontaneously performing complex choreographed song and dance routines with the bin men and passing strangers.  Hard times, but my, they were happy times too.

Things were tough, but we always made time for a song and a dance (routine).

I had no idea at beneath that cheery grin, how troubled my beautiful little girl was.  I never sensed what must have been building like a volcano inside her.  Perhaps things weren’t going well at school?  Although I’ve searched for an answer, I’ve never got to the bottom of it.  But, I’ll never forget the day it all happened.

I’d just cooked tea, no matter how tight money was, I always made sure the kids ate well.  They were halfway through their tottiglioni arabica served with organic rocket salad and a hazelnut and fresh pomegranate molasses vinaigrette, when it all began.  Without any warning at all, Amba picked up her fork and started stabbing her food. “Stop it, stop it!”, I pleaded with her, but there was no stopping her.  She just kept on stabbing it, like she was possessed or something.

fork

An artist’s impression of the fork.

I’d never seen her like that before, the boys and I were shocked and appalled.  I felt sick watching her, could this really be my beautiful angel?  I don’t know how long it lasted, it’s hard to tell, it was like time stood still.   Eventually, something inside me just snapped and I shouted, “For god’s sake Amba, just put the fork down!”

Somehow, I’d finally gotten through to her.  Her frenzied attack slowed, soon she’d put the fork down. Later, we worked out, she’d stabbed her tottiglioni over 20 times.  Even more shocking though, she acted as if nothing had happened.  She looked up at me and just said;
“I’ve finished.  Can I go out and play?  Amy is waiting for me.”

I was choked up and appalled. I couldn’t reply, it broke my heart to think of her with such awful table manners.  How could I let ever allow her to go for tea at someone else’s house again; when I knew what might happen?

Since then, fortunately, we’ve moved on as a family.  We don’t discuss that day, we’ve put it behind us.   And I never make Tottiglioni Arabica with pomegranate molasses vinaigrette anymore, too many painful memories. Even now, sometimes when she picks up her fork, a sense of utter panic comes over me.  I’ve often asked myself, where did I go wrong?  Yes, of course, I blame myself for what happened.  What mother wouldn’t?”

I'm too frightened to cook proper meals

We eat more simply now, cooking brings back painful memories.

 

 

Bye x