Sunday, 10 November 2019

Discombobulated but Bobbing Along

It’s a little over a year since I went to hospital for a hysterectomy and six months since chemotherapy ended, there was reconstructive breast surgery on account of dodgy lumps, summer last year as well. The years of preparation for the #1975Inheritance Act case I brought against my stepfather and my sister’s husband, the executors of my mother’s will, and the trial and settling of the case, are now also over - three and a half years of a part time job acting as my own solicitor to save money on costs – the costs that the other side have recently had to 100% pay, thanks to their persistent refusal to negotiate. These have been the dark materials that I would rather not have been part of the fabric of my life. But now that these matters are concluded, I have been trying to get my body (mind and spirit) back together again. It’s sunny outside, where I have just been for a walk/run combo based on an app that let’s you walk/run to build up your fitness. I staggered home, after the push me pull you (to run, pull myself along the quay), red faced but staggeringly triumphant. I am also hiking in the mountains, gleefully jumping around like the capricorny mountain goat I fancy myself to be. And (soon) swimming beyond the summer in the sea. For which I will need a wetsuit. Years from now, I fancy being one of those crazed grannies that down a shot of Vodka and then, legs bowed, run into the freezing sea, their hair on ice and their jowls billowing in the wind.

Since my diagnosis, I have been experiencing a kind of horror at being in this body of mine (more cumbersome, thank-you steroids and hysterectomy). After all, there was something of an alien spaceship growing on an ovary, that, left to it’s own vices, would have sent out ever more substations and cell-distorted aliens, to strangle the life out of me. The surgery took the tumour, but also the cradle that had nurtured my four children, and almost all that had led to them being there. I mourned these unseen parts of me that had sheltered my secret growing children, that unseen, I had nevertheless loved. Post breast surgery, parts of my torso were removed to patch up other parts. My body was then hystercectomally eviscerated. Still other parts of me were cut out – binned? Incinerated? Gone. Where? Torn asunder, I went through, the motions ordered (thankfully, of course), in a disconnected state. Doctors flashed statistics at me like a flickering black and white movie. Would I die? Would I live? For how long? I tracked along, zombie like, in a body that did not feel like it was mine. This was my body, my life-giving body, that had turned against me. And now, hysterically, the aftermath of the hysterectomy: full blown men-oh!-pause. My husband certainly pauses as he blindly approaches an occasionally slightly mental me through my brain fog and jitteriness. I am trying to stop being suspicious of my body where so many wars have been raging. I need to love its disparate parts again, and to nurture it back to life. There have been bleeding wounds, inside and out, stitched up. But what else, who else was stitched up? 

My mind has been over matter somewhere. Out there. Where? Scattered. It's been displaced, bobbing alongside, above? - my body, held together loosely, by a string. My mind has recoiled in horror from my cut out body and I need to get them reacquainted. Also cut out, during my year of illness, these past years, has been me from family of origin and from my grandmother's estate via my mother's will. I went straight from chemo in April to court in May. Tracking my illnesses like a dark shadow and periodically ambushing my mental health, these past few years, has been dealing with my sister’s abusive husband who represented the family leading up to and in court and seeing the orchestrated (by my sister’s husband) mendacious witness statements (How could they? is too tame a phrase) during the three and a half years of preparation for the #1975Inheritance Act case and the eventual (they repeatedly delayed) trial where my former sister, her husband, stepfather and brother, brazenly lied in and out of court so that they could get away with the estate and, as we tried to, and still argue: fraud. Court was jaw dropping stuff. You couldn’t make it up, though they did. My shredded emotions have been shelled by first my mother’s actions and then, her offspring, my sister, both of whom used their husbands to assault and attack me historically in case 1 and on-going (here, on this blog, weeks ago) in case 2. He has been stalking me online incessantly since 2015. I have a four year's full file of years of written attack from her husband, the last bit a death suggestion that only weeks ago appeared here on this blog. 

Though I won the 'battle against cancer' - does this war terminology help? Peace with my body and mind must now be made. I 'won' the court case too though it was not the path I would have chosen, I would have preferred for us all to sit down and discuss things, though that would have meant sharing as I argued (successfully) that we should do. It takes a while to wash your mind clean from all this ugliness. But what else was shattered? My spirit...I don't say soul...I think we are body, mind and spirit. My bewildered spirit has been a raft on a sea whose stormy waves have sometimes formed themselves into watery cliffs off which my little craft (not least my writing craft) tips and slips into the watery depths below, where all former beliefs, all I held true was buffeted again and again over all these life and death things. But it's over now. Chemo and court are done. The sea is stilled. The case is won. I prevailed. I sit on the beach now, discombobulated: like the Iron Giant, the several, severed parts of me are scattered here and there. See me cranking along: a torso, (a la the scene in The Holy Grail where the torso keeps fighting - Come On! Is that all you've got! Oh the laughs! Thank God for the laughs, the pulling myself together laughs that have always kept body and soul together. See me here, in search of my body and head. Putting myself back together again.

Thursday, 10 October 2019

#One in Four - A Poem for Mental Health Day

One in Four

The statistics are one in four
Sooner or later t'will come knock, knock, knocking at the door
(Yes, rhyming is what mental folks do!)
When they are in a bit of a stew
And not bob, bob, bobbing along

Please take the time to become acquainted
With those imbued with a drone in the head
Bone memories
Of things done or things said
(Some of them, might very nearly be dead)

What it is, and what it isn't
So many assumptions
And supposes
Before the schism splits
One in four

Sometimes you only find out the extent of it,
In the papers
Sometimes you're beguiled by the smiles
I'd never have guessed!
But one in four

Shame, conditioning, and all the rest,
Keep smiles laid
On faces dressed in Sunday best
That, behind closed doors crumple
Like innards sucked from skin

They are the clowns
Dressed up but feeling down
Their eyes fixated, hearts frustrated,
Racing along, sweaty handed,
Sometimes, community has disbanded

Pupils wide from prescriptions
Memory trains on brains, tracing, tracing
Tracking this way and that
Stained from abuse and misuse
Yes, one in four

Have a heart,
Yes, you have one
For the smiling ones,
Who struggle to keep the inside
From getting out

Help them
To banish the ghosts
That have hurt them the most
And the ones that mock and scorn
In the land of the living
The ugly red-handed that just keep on giving

Have a care
In this godless place
For members of the human race
Who don't fit in with
How you think they should 

These one in four

They are not like you?
But there is always a tipping point
Even for you
What grief lies in store
For the heartless ones?

When suffering comes
You will know the score
One in four
Is that a knock at the door?

Monday, 16 September 2019

Gym Palace

As part of my recovery package courtesy of the NHS (thanks everyone, including me). If only there was champagne in that package, and Botox inducing face masks or the like, but no, I am being given cut-rate gym sessions at the local gym (not gin, sadly) palace. I see someone called Dion who takes me through the equipment at the gym while we discuss Oasis and other bands from the 90s. He's a spring chicken but his taste in music is sprung. We discuss the lack of guitar music these days, along with my lack of muscles, these days. I reliably inform him that this time last summer I was 2 stone lighter and fit - running up that hill fit - the one most people can't get up without taking a rest. He looked sceptical. Dion then gives me a list of classes to attend. The first one is called Circuits. Sounds hectic. Just the ticket to knock off a few, pounds that is, but when the other gym gear clad grannies and granddads arrive, they look like they are about to be knocked off the planet. Clearly Dion did not believe a word that I said. I cheer up when I see a basketball net. I smugly toss the ball through the hoop, over and over again, from further and further away, just to make a point. The instructor and the coffin dodgers ignore me.

The B52s start playing and the gym instructor gets on the headphones, whilst showing everyone how to have a knees up, but not the kind I prefer, he points his knees up to the ceiling and taps them to the floor getting a bit of a wiggle-vibe on as he does so. The old folk join in but only lackadaisically, given its a bit of a social club and chat-wise, they are warming up. There are ten circuit stations, ranging from standing up and sitting down on a chair, using a rubber band to discourage bingo wings, using a gym ball to polish the wall, using some tiny weights that Jerry would laugh at, and, piece de la resistance (but not with a resistance band) walking up and down. I decide to really give it some welly in order to feel the burn so do everything at triple, nay, quadruple speed, which ain't hard to maintain given the competition. At the 'throw a ball to one another' station, I fling the ball through the hoop like a crazy person. Instead of walking up and down, I tear from one end of the gym to the other like I'm sprinting to my car in Llandudno after leaving it for 92 and not 90 minutes. 90 was also the average age of the folks in my class, but they were good for a chin wag at the water station, where they gave me plenty of tips, such as how I ought to take it easy. When I splashed my face in the ladies afterwards, it was the colour of allotment beet.

I decided to supplement my exercise programme by ducking and dodging the tourists and old folk down Conwy High Street like a pro skier on speed, coming at them at an alarming rate and keeping it up in the Spar for good measure, almost unsettling the stacked baked beans in the process, which, if I'd taken Dion's advice, ought to have been used as weights during my supermarket sweep. I haven't been back to circuits yet. I may try speed cycling next, but I had trouble getting into the stirrups at the gym, and wouldn't want to make a spectacle of myself.

Monday, 9 September 2019

Why I brought a #1975InheritanceAct Case 2

Blog before last I wrote of my recent win in a #1975Inheritance Act case. Following the blog, The Family as the judge referred to them, left a series of public comments on these pages, basically telling me I deserved cancer. (I have recently recovered from chemotherapy treatment for an ovarian tumour; I also detailed what the last 3.7 years have taken on my mental health). The comments were anonymous, but linguistically, they remain true to form - the incident that led us all to the courtroom this year, began in 2015, with a public Facebook attack that The Family left via my author profile (it caused the rift that caused the split - family and financial). The public chastisement of women is a thing for The Family and one it seems, they are not going to let up from. For the past 3 and a half years and counting, my sister’s husband has used every opportunity to vilify and attack, in writing, my husband and myself. I have a file of this written abuse from 2015 to several weeks ago. Despite being trounced in court (he was the second defendant) he has stalked my every social media page and this blog since his vendetta began. "How can you take your own family to court?" The Family also queried. I think the former explains the latter and besides, I would never take my own family to court. I have been unable to write freely here until the case went to trial, given my sister's husband would police everything I wrote for his 'witness' statements, but also the case had not gone to trial, so the principal of open justice had not been triggered. Speaking of triggers, 2 things spring to mind: I now know mine comprehensively and avoid them at all costs. 2 of the men in my family who have been shooting at me have actually been shot at and are best avoided.

The facts of the case are these: My great-grandmother left her estate to her son, my maternal uncle. A year before my mother died in 2016, my maternal uncle left his/his mother's estate to my mother and her sister, stating that in the event of their deaths, the estate should go to her survivors. It also stipulated that it not be sold for 6 years. My mother assured me verbally on numerous occasions, and in writing, that the house would be left to her 4 children of which I am one. Shortly before my mother died she made a will specifically cutting me out and leaving the entire estate to her husband. Not a penny or a brick in the estate was marital money as I have always protested, (all of it was my maternal uncle's, and, as the judge pointed out, it would not be seen by the courts as such). I had no issue with my mother's husband having my uncle’s money, despite my uncle being very clear in his will that my mother’s husband should have his MG and 5K only. I also had no issue with my mother’s husband remaining in our family property until he died. Further, I would never have cut my 3 siblings out, reprehensible as I consider them to be. But The Family, 3 of them in particular, had plans to benefit themselves only. The others may just be daft. Or, given the prevailing cult-like atmosphere in The Family: brainwashed. Yes. There were cults too. 

Following my last blog The Family also complained thus: "And now you're blogging about it?" Yes, I've been blogging about my life since 2011, apart from the enforced many months gaps I mentioned. Amongst various vocations I have had in my 36 years of work (I began work at 14), I am an award winning writer, though The Family don't know much about me. We were informed, via their witness statements that I am a drug smuggler who smuggled drugs into the country on the backs of dog collars (imagine my dogs and those of the police meeting!). I am also told that I am (presumably), a violent schizophrenic I am afraid of her becoming unwell, because she knows where I live. I kid you not kids. My sister unreliably told the court (no evidence, because it never happened) that I have threatened her at the 2 private schools that she has been head at. The only true stuff that I could pick out, was the stuff about the witches. Yes, you really can make it up as you go along, as long as you get all your witnesses to sing from the same, orchestrated hymn sheet. But The Family are right. Form-wise, the blog doesn't cut it.

Sunday, 4 August 2019

Antisemitic Spite

Two of my sons are named after Old Testament prophets. The other is named after the Italian boy of a countess that I once worked for as a teenage AuPair. This OT naming is not particularly unusual nor usually fraught with political barbs, there are mini 'prophets' a plenty, but it became so for me at a children's play centre a few years ago, when on hearing my son's name, one of the mothers said, "You're not a Zionist are you?" I replied that I didn't know, that I'd need to look into it, "Are you?" I asked. She gave me a funny look and took herself off. Given I felt I was being judged (and not by a Deborah) I took the word home, looked it up and then put it on the table to examine it. This is what I figured out: I believe in Israel's right, its necessity, to exist on their historic land. As far as I know, through the bible and other historical texts I have read, the Jews lived in Jerusalem before the Muslims, yet Jerusalem has, for the past 70 years been divided between Israel and Palestine - the call to prayer is part of the atmosphere there. Jewish and Arab Israeli's mostly live happily alongside each other according to a new poll

When Israel was established in 1948, there was nowhere else for the Jewish people to go. No one wanted them despite what they had endured in the Second World War. I am deeply sympathetic to their historical sufferings; I am also sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinians in the settlements (Palestinians currently make up 20% of the general voting population according to this BBC article Israel is far from perfect, and should be held to account for specific actions or policies, it clearly has complex issues that are yet to be resolved, and to criticise Israel is not to be anti-Semitic but across social media and social situations, it seems that socially acceptable criticism of Israel provides a pretext for anti-Semitic attitudes. 

Recently, over a crowded table at a friend's 50th, someone in fashion howled with laughter on hearing my son's name, this despite her naming her children along the lines of Frank Zappa's. The assumption was that the assembled would join in but her husband just looked embarrassed. I have also noticed a disturbing rise in antisemitism on Twitter. Many of my left-leaning friends are anti-Israel despite it being the only democratic country in the Middle East. Israel is the only country in the Middle East who has a Pride celebration for instance, where those of Jewish and Arabic descent party happily together. I think there is an assumption that Arabic groups are shunted out of Israeli society and discriminated against in general, but Arabic is one of the official languages of Israel, and I am told (by people who have visited) that Arabs and Jews, live peacefully together there and minority rights are protected. Arab Israelis are active in all areas of life including in the Supreme Court and in parliament. I will not lecture on what Israeli ingenuity has given us or how many Nobel prizewinners are Jewish, but I do wonder about cultural jealousy as a possible cause for this antisemitic spite.

I have some Jewish blood through my great, great grandmother, or so I am told through my cousin David Leitch, who traced our ancestry on my grandfather's maternal side from Odessa to Denmark to Liverpool and wrote about it in his book, #FamilySecrets. As we know, this historical peripatetic movement of the Jewish people has been essential for their survival. Why so much hatred for the Jewish people still exists in our society given the Holocaust is still recent history is beyond me, but it is an insidious social disease that needs to continue to be recognised, spoken about and decried when it is seen. Anti-Semitic hate incidents reached a record high in 2018 and Corbyn's leadership has been dogged by anti-Semitism. I am concerned that hatred of the Jewish people is becoming an acceptable leftist view and one that is assumed and presumed by the inhabitants of the moral high ground.

Saturday, 27 July 2019

The Family

Part 2. 'The Family' as they are appropriately termed by the judge - though I do not mean to make out that the judge was of a Mafiosi mind - but it fits - did not reckon on the tenacity and sheer bloody mindedness of child 2, who ABHORS injustice and saw this final act of her mother as, well, the final nail. She did not act alone, in fact the fingerprints of the dastardly ones that married into The Family are all over the death documents x2. 

Finale: Child 2 'wins' and gets full costs. But there are no winners here. Only losers. Though the morally bankrupt ones had to be taken on. Especially the orchestrator (rhymes with woman hater) who has likely done what he has to other crossers and who will likely continue to do, unless apprehended. By the law.

I will dissect this foul smelling cadaver with a pen (mightier than the sword) in the weeks and months to come. I'm still coming to terms with the ugliness of all I have been through. What happened in court, where I discovered monsters behind the scenes, is hard to digest. I don't have a grid for what I have seen. It would be hard to put into believable words. 

Behind my own scenes and indeed through them, I battled breakdown followed by 2 bouts of major surgery, hot-heeled by an ear shrivelling diagnosis and high blasts of chemo that have left a legacy of instant menopause and scarred, burnt and bruised insides that, given so much of me has been pulled out, now find themselves displaced all over the place. The scars unseen, physical and more, are stubbornly ropey. 

But outside where the light causes the dark to fade, there is pure, unadulterated joy. Not least in the faces of my girl, my boys. I am not a victim. I am an overcomer. Come on life. Keep on coming. I'm here.