So our cat, Bugsy, got traumatised and ran away in late June.  It was my fault, I’d taken him down the road-to-hell-paved-with-good-intentions, to the local vets, he never recovered.  Once he got out of there (alive), he legged it and was only ever heard of behind distant neighbourhood fences, from that time on.   Fact of the matter is, I was as traumatised as him.  First of all, watching him held down having his fur shaved off for a blood test, then paying for the bloody, blood test.  Bad so far, but not a patch on what was to come, I was given an estimated price for his ongoing treatment; a thyroid  operation at roughly £20,000 ( in used dollar bills).  Then a price for his rotting teeth to be replaced with a gleaming Hollywood smile (£1m in uncut Angolan diamonds).  I left the building trying to evaluate exactly how much that cat meant to me and to the kids.  I called my Mother, the animal lover,  about it hoping she’d transfer her £2 a month donation from the PDSA into my own “save the cat” fund.  Unfortunately, last time she’d petted him she’d got bitten by fleas, so her kindly suggestion was that I have him put down – for his own good.

Image result for evil vet black cat

By the time we returned from our summer holiday, in September, there had been only one sighting of him in 9 weeks,  I told the kids he must have found another family and totally dumped us.  Asha was particularly sad, as Bugsy used to sleep with him most nights.  My Mother asked if we’d seen him since we got back, and kindly advised me that cats often disappear when they’re going to die, apparently, they prefer to die alone, she said. I tried to remind her that he had a thyroid problem, not pancreatic cancer, but she wasn’t having any of it.  Then she helpfully reminisced on all of the pets she’d had since childhood (she’s 90), and told me how each one had died.

Uncharacteristically, I was hanging laundry on the line on a sunny mid-September day, when I looked over to the long grass at the side of the garden.  Technically this long grass was once the lawn, but Sami can skim valuable seconds off his grass cutting chore by letting the edges encroach.  I could see a black thing curled up in the sun in the long grass.  I left the laundry and went over to it, a skinny, visibly ill cat woke up and tried to stand on very shaky legs.   I almost didn’t recognise it as Bugsy it was so weak, not the killer beast I’d been so used to.  I hadn’t realised rotting teeth mean death to a cat that can’t eat the lickle creatures it catches.  But he had the tell-tale shaved fur patch that the vet had inflicted on him.  So the kids and I began to feed him small amounts, round the clock. Friends helped out when I was at work.  My mother advised me if he didn’t gain weight, then I should have him put down, for his own sake.  But he fought for life and each day I saw an improvement in him.  My son Asha, was upset that the cat didn’t know him anymore, wouldn’t come in the house or let him play with him.  I tried to explain that starvation affects the brain and he would need to rebuild his trust with us, after all, how could Bugsy understand why we’d abandoned him.  I felt like taking him to an animal shelter, he was one of those typical abused animals, who will come for food, but is totally wary of humans.  Except, this abused animal was mine and I’d abused him.  I found myself at the back door in the middle of the night, worrying about him and calling him in, but he never came to me.  After a couple of weeks, he’d made good progress physically and he was coming right up to the back door to be fed, although he still wouldn’t come in.

One morning, I opened the door to feed him and found another cat, sitting on the step next to him.  They were exactly the same in colouring, equally black, but the new one was a huge, confident, regal cat.  I looked from one to the other, again and again.  Then, to that enormous Prince of Cats, with the shiny fur, staring up at me as if he owned the house, I said,  “Where the fucking hell have you been, Bugsy?”

Bugsy meowed a simple, “Fuck you” in response and wandered past me to Asha’s loving arms.

 

Radha Kund

13 May, 2016

“Hey Hari, a really great thing happened.” it’s my boss, Shaunaka, in my office.   When he says, a-really-great-thing-happened, it could mean absolutely anything.  Perhaps there has been an EU turnabout on some policy that he has orchestrated (and I have organised) across fifteen member states, a lottery grant for a few million pounds (which I will manage), perhaps lunch with the Dalai Lama (which I won’t be invited to); or he might have found a new second-hand rug in the antiques market.  He likes rugs.  He used to design carpets and custom-made silk rugs, in his own individual celtic designs, beautiful knots, emblems and crosses of old family trees.  I often wondered what those carpets looked like in real life, not through Shaunaka’s colour blindness, the pinks he saw as beige, the blues he mis-read for green.  I bet his customers showed them off to their expensive friends as one of those technicoloured “designer” items, while he believed he was delivering something subtle and muted.

This day, and this was many years ago when I was young and enthusiastic, someone had sourced some Sanskrit volumes for the library, a really great thing has happened.

“So, someone reliable needs to go and collect them.”  He says smiling.  “From India.”

“Great, we know lots of people in India who could do that.” I reply with casual disinterest.  Shaunaka is the Director of a graduate centre for Hinduism at Oxford, he knows a lot of people in India.

“Aren’t you going on holiday to India, this week?” He replies.

“Nope.” My comeback is emphatic, “I lied about that, I’m really spending three weeks at home decorating my house.”

“Ok,” he pauses, “Just that you don’t have a house.”

“Yeah, well, I might get one.”

Ignoring any idea that I might not want to do this, he continues, “So, there’s a sadhu who wouldn’t part with the books for years and now we’ve had a message, he has agreed to talk to us.”
“Okay, a sadhu.”   I repeat slowly.  A sadhu is a holy man, a renunciate.  Any genuine sadhu will not mix with a young western women.  This is not the world of Maharishis with money, cars and that ilk.  This is the world of deliberate material rejection and spiritual attainment.

“He lives in a hut. Next to a Tulasi grove behind Radha Kunda”

“Are you serious?”   I am serious now.  I am not questioning his vague directions on how I find an old man,  three thousand miles away, who probably hasn’t ever seen a landline, let alone a mobile phone.  I know exactly where Radha Kunda is and what that means.   In India, there are a billion significant places of worship, from palatial temples to a tree stump on a filthy path, the place is alive with belief and superstition.   Of these billions of places, there are a few universally recognised holy places.  And a small place called Vrindavana is one of the most sacred.  Only 40 miles west from the Taj Mahal, but well off the tourist map, or off the western tourist’s map at least.  A place of pilgrimage for hundreds of thousands of visitors, the birthplace of the Hindu god Krishna.  Within the district of Vrindavana, is Goverdhan Hill, a place so holy that pilgrims may even travel through it by what is called “dandavats parikrama”.  This means that they will lie down fully with arms outstretched forwards and pray (dandavats), moving along the pilgrim path in these single body length motions of prayer, instead of walking.  These are the lightweights; the serious devotees have a pile of stones next to them and will lie down 108 times in body lengths of prayer, dropping a stone from their finger tips each time to mark how many they’ve done before moving forward one body length and repeating.  It takes them months to finish the 21km path, they must sleep wherever they are on the road and continue each day.  When they are done, many of them simply start it again.  That is how seriously this place is regarded.  And along the pilgrim path, there are a number of holy water ghats and tanks (kunds).  Of them all, there is only one called “Radha Kund”, or Radha’s pond.  A sunken square water tank, a Kunda, about 30m square with wide stone steps on two of its sides, it’s deep green water hiding giant turtles who surface soundlessly from time to time.  Built up around it are hundreds of ancient temples and shrines.  It is the bathing place of the goddess Radha, created for her by the god, Krishna, entirely to please her.  A place utterly revered, considered the holy of the holy in India – not a place for me to stroll up and buy a few books. Well, not without turning more than a few heads.

“Ok, then,” says Shaunaka, as if it’s all settled, he goes to leave. “Oh yeah” he turns back before he goes, “The sadhu took Mona Vrata 30 years ago.  He is very highly respected, so make sure you do it properly.” He finishes with a customary flourish, pulling the rug out from under my feet, after the deal is done.  I purse my lips and stare silently at him until he edges out of my office, smirking. “Mona Vrata” is a vow of silence.  He wants me, a white, western, unmarried woman to go to Radha Kund, find a sadhu who lives in a dirt hut behind a kund, and buy his prized rare books, in silence.  And, I am to do it “properly”, whatever that means.  But I do know what that means; that’s why he’s asked me to go.

A week or so later I arrive at Goverdhan Hill, just before dawn with an aquaintence as a walking partner.  I don’t remember who, but it is a long walk if I do it “properly”, and totally unsafe to think of going it alone.  We get out of our taxi, remove our shoes and kneel in the dirty road side, touching our head to the ground in reverence – of a hill.  We set off down the main road.  By dawn we are at the palatial old buildings of Kusam Sarovar.  A series of beautiful, three storey sandstone tombs, ornately carved for long

kusam sarovar.jpg

Kusam Sarovar

forgotten kings and queens, it has huge bathing ghats in front.  I have swum in the murky holy water here many times.  We stop to say gayatri, the silent morning prayer to the Surya, the god, as that perfect ball of orange heat appears in the sky.  The once damp, cold path will be burning our feet in just a couple of hours.

It takes about six hours of brisk walking to get to Radha Kund, if you do it properly.  Added to this are detours to bow in temples, visiting the many other kunds, paying respects at shrines, and pausing to acknowledge significant places from ancient stories (sthalis) we pass – God’s footprint in a stone, a special tree, many must be respected if I am to do this properly.  Priests offer blessings with dabs of sandlewood paste on our foreheads and we drop rupees into empty donation boxes in return.  We pass through lively villages, serene countryside, see wild monkeys and abandoned palaces.  There are no food stops, this journey is done fasting, or a partially fasting, depending on the lunar calendar and the month of the year; I know, because I’m doing it properly.  I wear a cheap cotton sari, I carry my shoes in my left hand, my meditation beads in my right and a bottle of water under my arm.  I have a small change purse hidden in the 6 metres of folded sari, rupee coins to offer to widows and sadhus along the way.  On this journey the poor must be properly acknowledge and respected with donations.

In the afternoon, we reach Radha Kund and take time to make the journey around it’s many pilgrimage places.  When we have finished, we rest watching the green water for turtles, I look around for the path behind the Kund, for a hut or derelict building where the sadhu lives.  I can’t find it and I don’t have an address, merely his name.  I approach a local woman and say his name, moving my arm to show I am trying to find him.  She stares at me, in my sari, with my sandlewood paste on my forehead, the grubby feet of one who has walked the 21km of Goverdhan pilgrimage barefoot.  I ask her again and she bows her head, mumbles and vaguely nods in a direction.  I realise she doesn’t want to tell me where he lives.  In her eyes, I can see I am the equivalent of Julia Roberts in that weird stretchy dress in Pretty Woman, thigh high black boots, a prostitute visiting their local holy man.  I go in the direction she has said and ask a man, he smiles bemused, like the hotel manager in the film; not entirely against prostitutes, but surprised to find one here.  He points to a low hut, with wild Tulasi bushes growing in front.  “Tulasi”, or “Holy Basil” as we know it in the West, is considered a natural marker of a sacred place in India.  I walk over but I know I cannot cross the threshold into his “garden”, a dry dirt area in front of his hut; to knock on the door is a sign of familiarity and utter disrespect.  I am being watched, the equivalent of net curtains are twitching all around the Kund.  So I stand outside the makeshift gate to his dusty garden and wait, looking at his house.  I have no idea if he’s in or not.  I must simply wait patiently, till someone comes.  I am prepared to wait and hour or two, out of respect, then, if no one comes I can ask after him locally and return the next day, to wait again.  I must never cross that threshold without invitation.  After some time, he appears beside his hut, he looks confused and rocks his head side-to-side, the customary Indian signal for what do you want?  I say the names of the books, the Vedantas and Sutras I have been sent to buy, I say the word “Oxford” and he signals for me to wait inside the garden.  Radha Kund waits, watching too, I can feel it.  I must do this properly.  After about half an hour, he comes back, he lays a cloth down on the bare ground and he offers me a metal cup of water (which I must accept and drink).  This is no rom-com picnic, the cloth is for the books, to protect and respect them, not for me.  We crouch either side in the dirt, examining his prized possessions.  He shows me the titles and publication dates, they are in good condition, but even if they weren’t, these are years out of print, I will not see them again, they will not appear on any open market.  They probably didn’t ever have a print run, just a few copies produced at great cost, a very long time ago, now all but destroyed by the climate.  They are in Sanskrit, I can’t read them, I guess the titles and he nods when I have the right one.  We silently negotiate the value, he draws numbers, in Hindi, with a stick in the dirt.  He returns to the hut and comes back with other tomes, some of them I am interested in, some of them not.  Eventually, after hours or deliberation, we come to an agreement, it is done.  He excitedly wraps the books in layers and layers of different cloth and ties them up with home-made string.  This is not a seller of tat in some bazaar, where I knock down the price.  These books are probably both priceless and worthless, in India and in the West.  They are lost in a dying culture, but they will be well preserved and much valued one day, where I am taking them.  I do the deal with proper respect and give the holy man what he asks for each volume.  Then, because holy men must be respected with donations, I donate to him generously, on top of the payment.  He smiles and I leave, offering respectful pranamas – folded palms.  As I walked away, I looked back and saw him watching me and noticed how happy he looked, really happy.  I was surprised.  His face, smiling in the sun, slightly looking up is my strongest memory of the whole thing.   In my youthful naiivity, I had no understanding of the demands of older age, the necessities of life that may have forced him to part with his most precious items, to a stranger from the West.  But I remember him smiling, so genuinely that I think it meant a lot more than that to him, like he’d been praying for a solution that was somehow resolved by preserving that legacy of knowledge, in Oxford’s archive-quality care.    I pass the man who gave me directions, he has watched the whole lengthy transaction from a distance, he nods toward me.  I pass the woman, she smiles and nods with respect at me this time.  I have done it properly.

I walk for two minutes through Radha Kund, the ground feels damp again, it is cooling quickly at the end of the day; charcoal fires are lit, burning smoky warmth into the cool evening.  Sunset is coming and silent evening prayers will pay a respectful good-bye to the sun god, Surya as he travels, full circle towards morning again.  We have come full circle too, we have travelled the right way, around the sacred sites, around Goverdhan Hill, respecting its divinity and its inhabitants.  According to the ancient scripts in my arms, we are also changed in divine ways from the experience.  We reach the main road and walk along, looking for our taxi from this morning.  Sure enough, he has stayed all day waiting patiently, properly, where we left him, just like he said he would,.  We kneel in the dirty road side, touching our head to the ground in reverence – of the hill.  We set off down the main road leaving Goverdhan Hill behind us.  Properly.

Radha kund (1)

Radha Kund

Heartbreak Hotel

30 March, 2016

 

He left me in Heartbreak Hotel.  It was on a Thursday around 8.25am, there were words.  His were insolent, mine shouted, he threw something and left.  A thumbs-up, mocking me as he walked down the road.

After what felt like eternity (about 4 days), things did begin to change, as I reflected on the past, the good times and all that I missed about him.

I noticed a lightness in the air, I think it’s actually called “fresh air”.  It eased away the memorable odour of my teenage son, happily riding his bike-machine, hard, two hours of sweaty training in my house each afternoon.  Oh, happy days.  I fondly remember how we shared my kitchen, him speaking loudly, almost shouting above the noise-cancelling headphones he’d taken from my bag.  “Get me a drink bottle”, he used to say, as I tidied up, cooked dinner and got ready to go back to work.

“Not that one, I want the blue one” he’d shout urgently across the room.

“This one is blue”, I’d foolishly reply.

“The other blue one”, he’d say, understandably irritated with the delay.  He’d often do another 60km on his machiney-thing, before I’d found the right bottle, in his used sports bag, in the back my car, under his bike; then 15km while I washed the rancid liquid out and freshly filled it for him.

 

I remembered our happy evenings going to the Redbridge race track on a Tuesday night.  The anxious hour I’d spend waiting at the school gates, terrified he’d been abducted by a pedophile, when he didn’t appear with the other children.  As usual, his phone would have been unfairly confiscated during a lesson, rendering him unable to call, or text, to say he’d be out after detention.

And even though we set off a bit late each week, we’d chat for hours and hours in the car, as we queued round the M25 at rush hour.  His inspirational mind would find new routes to try and get us there on time.

“Turn right. Now.”  He’d say unexpectedly.

“Where?”  I’d reply

“Back there?”  Him, incredulous that I’d screwed-up again.  He was right, he could have probably driven so much better than me; 13, so young and so gifted.

 

I still find it difficult to walk past bike shops, without spending excessive amounts of money.   I remember the anxiety he’d be in when he found an expensive gadget he desperately needed.  He would worry (me) day and night for it and sometimes secretly buy it with my bank card.   The bike shop staff were always so friendly,  I’d often pop in early on a Saturday morning, before a race, to replace a part he’d lost.

“Replacement heart rate strap?  That’ll be £56”.  They said in January

“Replacement heart rate strap?  That’ll be £56”.  They said in February

“Replacement heart rate strap?  That’ll be £56”.  They said in March

“Replacement heart rate strap?  That’ll be £56”.   They won’t say in April.  I hope the shop stays open without me.

 

Another interesting thing I’ve noticed since he went is the TV changes channels.  I had no idea our TV did this; I just assumed it was stuck on one channel, broken, waiting to be replaced.  The kids tell me that there are hundreds of other things you can watch on a TV, apart from reruns of the Tour de France.  (Who knew?).  You’ll need a remote control device to change it over, you find it moulded to your teenage son’s hand.

I’ve been wandering through Heartbreak Hotel and I discovered it’s actually ok.  A three star, seaside type B&B (without the sea), happily providing an Easter holiday experience for my two remaining guests.  They check in and out with me, telling me they’re here or when they’re leaving; they recommend it to their friends and persuade me to fit a few more in, even though the rooms are all full.  My guests show up at the agreed times for meals and pick from a limited choice, of bored daily offerings, what they’ll have each mealtime.  (They say please and thank you when they do this).  If they need something, they come to reception and ask for it, there’s no facility to charge it to an unknown account.  We limited room service (for guests 6 months old or younger) and full laundry facilities are provided solely for the guests’ use (management takes no responsibility…..).

And if you don’t like it, or the facilities it offers aren’t good enough, you can just check out, with your bag, without a good-bye.  Like you did.

elvis on bike

I spent a lot of money on special cycling clothes.

 

Mid life crisis

16 March, 2016

I’m slightly annoyed with myself about this having-to-get-another-job business.  I’ve spent the past several years working part time, for myself, apparently as a therapist.  My clients seem happy and I have many certificates which prove how qualified I am – I file these important qualifications in the recycling bin, partly so I can’t recount exactly how many weekends I’ve spent listening to someone teach me their version of  “Shite Made-up Therapy”,  or add up exactly how much it’s cost me.

I partially wish I’d made a better go of being self-employed and didn’t have to resort to a second freakin’ job, but to be honest , there’s a part of me which just wants to go to work and come home and forget-about-it-all.  My “Ambition” is the one having the mid-life crisis here;  it has veered way off course, it’s supposed to be driving me forward, but it’s gone to lie on a beach, drink tequila and when I try to call it to action, it simply doesn’t answer the phone.  Or something like that.  So, I’ve got a mid-life crisis plan.  I’m going to sit on the sofa in the evenings and forget about everyone – ok, everyone apart from the three individuals squabbling over who’s turn it is to sit next to me, that is.  We’ll see how it goes.  The only problem I foresee right now is that I never sit on the sofa in the evenings, yes, life is going to be full of new challenges.  The reasons, for my disinterest in the sofa, I’m sure you dying to know,  are;

  1. I don’t watch TV, ever.
  2. If I sit on the sofa, my three kids immediately fight over who’s going to sit next to me because it’s such a novelty to have me there. Finding this really annoying,  I get up and go do something less boring instead.  They used to fight over who’d lie next to me in bed,  when I eventually noticed (I tend to block out a lot of what goes on when they’re right next to me), I was naturally, incredibly flattered by their love.   One of them went on to explain in no uncertain terms, that my fatness emitted the most body warmth, I was a veritable live hot water bottle that never went cold, hence they fought so vigorously to lie next me.  Cheers.

So, I looked up jobs and found two.  One I can work half a week and earn what I make by myself in three hours.  The other was as a prison officer.  I fancied being a prison officer (for three and a half minutes), I thought I could be firm but fair, understanding and empowering (obviously within clear boundaries – such as the iron bars of their incarceration between us).  Then I got to the bit where it said there was a gym onsite and I imagined it was one of those sweaty, small, blokey gyms full of weights and machines and one tiny window; not a gym with brightly coloured mats, a view of golf course and a Costa Coffee franchise outside.  So I gave up my passion for criminal reform and went for the other job.   I have an interview, a chance to check if they’ve got a cafetiere.

The thing about mid-life crises is they get an incredibly bad rap, likened to a form of embarrassing madness which takes over a person and explains away alien behaviour that people can’t understand.  It puts blame and belittlement on that person without making any attempt to understand what’s really going on, deep within them.  And what is going on tends to be that they’ve simply realised they are really going to die one day and done a gradual reassessment of their life, culminating in a sudden change in their external behaviour which matches their more progressive, internal change of heart.  It is generally connected to ageing, there is a turning point in our lives when we realise we don’t have time to waste, that we really don’t have time to waste and our values can shift considerably.  I can’t say which way they shift, it’s an individual thing, but the beliefs and values, which were once so solid and so dependable in the make-up of that person, become liquid, they flow to new places and consequently, they do “change” as people.  It’s a response to the way we routinely attach ourselves to value systems, inherent beliefs if you like, almost unquestioningly.  It’s how we reproduce society; with each generation there are changes, but the basic core structure remains fairly unchanging.   So we as youthful, rugged-individualists “decide” what the “right” thing to do is, and do it.  Except we choose from a very narrow set of options, like say, which job, who to marry/live with, when to have kids etc.  These could even be seen as blind-options, the sort of thing you use when dealing with small kids – “chips or beans?”  You limit the choice, it makes life simpler.  And we commit to those “choices”, fully supported by generations of societal evidence and organisation.  I’m not saying this is wrong or anything, I’m just saying that most us don‘t understand what it really means, when we aspire for the trappings of maturity, the rites of passage – marriage, kids, mortgages etc.;  Only when we actually do them for a while do we realise what they entail.  I often compare having children to getting married, in the way that you spend so much time preparing for the “birth” or the “big day” and give almost no thought to the reality-of-the-reality, which lies beyond that initial gateway experience; you know, the one which lasts a potential lifetime.

 

Anyway, my mid-life crisis is relatively mild.  I’ve always thought a lot about dying and consequently, I’ve always thought about how I’m going to maximise my living.  Things which have shifted for me?  I genuinely grade my crises by the fact that other people have kids dying of leukaemia.  I find that sorts out a lot of my so-called problems in one, perspective-changing thought and it’s a relief to not have to give a shite about crashing the car, the bank account, or whatever this month’s trial-by-fire is.  I have abandoned some of my core values;  I just don’t rate them anymore,  I’m not going to get into what they are, nor justify why I’ve dropped them, if you value them then I really don’t want to mess with that.  Right now, I’m all for independence of thought and mind.  Work it out for yourselves, because I’m off to Costa to top-up my compulsion.

ladybird_3469914b

Books are a valuable source of selfy-helpy information about a mid-life crisis, especially if none of your friends and family speak to you any more.

 

Hurley Comes Clean

6 February, 2014

Liz Hurley issued an unequivocal apology in a statement from her press office today.  It read:

“I want to apologise to Mrs Hilary Clinton and to the American people. The rumours circulating about myself and former President, Bill Clinton, are true.  He is one of the few men I have not slept with.  It was a reckless oversight on my part and one I regret deeply, now that I see how much publicity it would have generated for me.”

Miss Hurley later tweeted the names of other famous men she hadn’t slept with in a bid to prove unfounded the allegation that (former) President Clinton had been discriminated against.  She tweeted:

@mennotyetshagged; Fred Flintstone, President Clintstone. oh god I’m sure there are a few more, they’re just not in the papers enough for me to remember their names.  Oh, what about wasshisname, thingy, with the red shoes, er,  Ronald McDonald, that’s him!  Oh no, I did him, I forgot.  Sorreeeee.

There has been outrage across America.  Head Boy of the UK, Dave C., has held round-the-clock talks with the American Ambassador in London, in a desperate bid to repair the political damage this scandal has caused.  He was quoted as saying;

“We’re all shocked, especially those of us who know Liz.  I mean know her socially, only when our wives are in the same room and never leave us alone with her.  Ever.”

Image

Donald McDuck in his stockroom. “We shared so many happy meals together.” He says of Ms Hurley.
(Photo courtesy of Salmonella Awareness brochure).

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).

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“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

The Matrix

30 January, 2014

I’ve been to hell and back, except I’m not sure I came back, rather I got a bit waylaid in purgatory. Neither happiness nor an abatement of suffering. I’m the middle (wo)man the mediator between two unforgiving parties, trying hopelessly to find a mutually agreeable way forward. It used to be the unions in the olden days (er, 1970s), who were known for their uncompromising stance on business disputes. But, they have been replaced with a whole new level of opponent, one who makes them look like a bunch of girls fighting over a skipping rope in the playground. Yep, business is going to look back on those good ole days of strikes and sit-ins and remember the personal interactions. The 40 hour face to face negotiations, the egg throwing, black listing workers by names not image, calling people who crossed the picket lines “scabs” and dawbing paint on their cars. The art and craft of beautiful banners, adorned with witty insults that today’s advertising execs would envy. Yes, a proper protest of yesteryear, it bears nothing on the uncompromising dogma I’ve been faced with this week, when out of the blue I got an anonymous message on my computer screen saying, “Incorrect password”.

This brave young couple led a million people through the streets of London, all shouting and waving banners, protesting against the use of fossil fuels.   (Photo courtesy of Greenpeace, 2011)

This brave young couple led a million people through the streets of London, all shouting and waving banners, protesting against the use of fossil fuels.
(Photo courtesy of Greenpeace, 2011)

Years ago, I had one password, it also contained my pin no and life was simple. Despite the fact that most people who visited my house could have easily accessed my finances, ebay, email etc. (because I kept my password/pin on a post-it note on the fridge), there were never any problems. (The only small difficulty I had, was that many of those so-called visitors decided to actually move in, preferring to live off me, instead of stealing from me. They found in this way, not only did I pay for the shopping, but I actually went and got it all as well). In time, my password was forced to morph into various incarnations of the original and these days, with every new item requiring an individual code all of it’s own, I spend my spare time guessing which of the 14,776,336 variables these might be anytime I try to do anything. If I spent this much time guessing lottery numbers, I’d be inconceivably rich by now. At one stage, my darling son Sami and a so-called friend, changed all my passwords to “Youforgotagain1”. Helpful? Yeah, really, thanks so much. In texting skill, this is the equivalent of me changing their passwords to; “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious1”.

Right now the computer, ipad & phone seem to stare back at me, fixed in their calm serenity. They, my modern gurus, equipoised in full knowledge, beam benevolently down at me from their stock images of serene Himalayan peaks and magical sunsets over tropical isles. I sit beneath them, the fledgling student attempting to enter their tranquil world, typing password attempts asking;
“This one oh Master Mac? Is this the keychain to the Universe?”
Uninterrupted in Samadhi, there is no response. Again and again I type, neophyte that I am. The more frantic my effort becomes, the further from utopia I move. Until finally, I bow my forehead in complete surrender, smacking it repeatedly on the keyboard. And in return for my unalloyed devotion, a message appears from above;
“Password accepted.” Flashes briefly on the screen.
“Oh, Master thank you for accepting me.” I am overwhelmed at this initiation into real knowledge.
“Oh Master, might you just send me a humble reminder of the exact keys I just head butted?” I enquire submissively, then hastily add, “Sorry, sorry, it really doesn’t matter at all. I’ll find a mirror and just check the imprints on my forehead later.”
In that euphoric moment I merge with the source of all knowledge and unconditional bliss before me; I’m on t’internet. I click on an app, it begins to open, “please enter password” flashes nightmarishly in front of my disbelieving eyes. Inescapable, my karma has tracked me too soon.

All knowing computer, who is the server and who might the user really be? Millions of combinations of letters and numbers stream through my mind. I have reverted to running DOS, not on a microchip, but deep inside my skull.

I shout, “What am I, some kind of machine ?” in frustration at the universe.
Silence, is my master’s reply.

"There were times when, I have to admit, I lost faith and I thought about giving up and just sending a quick text instead.  It took years of prayer and sacrifice to get back into my email, but it was all worth it in the end." - as this picture so clearly shows.

“There were times when, I have to admit, I lost faith and I thought about giving up and about just sending a quick text instead. It took years of prayer and sacrifice to get back into my email, but it was all worth it in the end.” – as this picture so clearly shows.  Dalai Llama, Darjeeling itunes store, India.  2011