The Spectre of Abuse Is Still With Us

I have been contacted by a young mother who knows her six-year-old daughter is being abused by her father and older step-brother. She is not being helped by the very authorities that are supposed to be there to do that. This is where, we the internet community can help.

I have re-posted and re-blogged the SOS from the unfortunate young mother in the hope that the story will reverberate throughout the internet/Wordpress blogs and Facebook pages of my online friends.

This abusive husband and father has spawned an equally abusive eleven-year-old son who is perpetuating the abuse and trauma he suffered at the hands of his father. He is abusing his six-year-old stepsister; behaviour that is being actively condoned by their father when the little girl is taken on visits that she does not want, but have been so ordered by the courts. 

It must stop. We must stop it. Please help by copying and reposting on your websites too.

Toni Maguire wrote a book, Don’t Tell Mummy. It was all about the same thing – only the mother in that story did nothing; she deliberately let her daughter suffer abuse and trauma. This young mother – mrswrongchoice – is desperately trying to help her child. We must not let her cries fall on deaf ears.

The Spectre of Sexual Abuse

The spectre of sexual abuse being prevalent in yet more aspects of the daily life of our young people, is one that hits at the foundation and heart of modern culture, but it is time to look hard at what we call ‘human-nature’.

Sexual abuse and exploitation is as old as time itself and no one is able to explain why humans should perpetrate such vile acts upon the young of the species.

Psychiatrists and psychologists have tried and therapists attempt to deal with victims and perpetrators. All admit their success rate falls short of expectations – but it is necessary for them to try.

Nevertheless, while politicians wring their hands and the legal fraternity rake in the money bags, little is being done. The will to succeed and the necessary funding to train psychiatrists from already qualified doctors, as well as psychologists and therapists from suitably qualified candidates, must be regarded as every bit as critical as those of Brexit and immigration. Experts are in short supply as are designated premises; purpose-built premises are almost non-existent.

From past experience, I am afraid the current revelations will prove to be another storm in the proverbial teacup – debated hotly by our politicians for an all too short period; tossed around by the popular media, and then dumped on a back burner.

Meanwhile, the victims will continue to cry in vain for justice. They may end up in exactly the same way as the families of the Aberfan disaster in 1966 who were ignored by Lord Robens, chairman of the National Coal Board, and backed by Lord Tonypandy – then George Thomas MP – at the Welsh Office, told to pay for the clean up themselves from the disaster fund. Robens accepted no responsibility for the disaster – having ignored all warnings, and arrogantly proceeded to travel to America aboard the ‘Queen Mary’ where he later delivered lectures on ‘Health & Safety’. This injustice was not rectified until 2007.

Fifty years is a long time to wait for justice. Too many victims of sexual exploitation have gone to their graves still waiting. I believe many more may do the same unless those with the power to do so determine that events must move more surely – and more swiftly so justice can be delivered.

Speak Up or Stay Quiet?

After one of my vocal outbursts, my father gave me a real dressing down; ending up by saying , ‘One day you’ll learn that a still tongue makes a wise head.’

‘But the man shouldn’t beat his dog like that.’

‘It’s his dog; he can do what he likes.’

‘Well that’s wrong for a start.’

‘We’ve got to get home. Lunch will be ready. If we’re late we’ll both be in trouble.’ Taking my hand, my father hurried me along. It was only one of the many verbal tussles we had had, and would have in the future, but I was never discouraged from speaking my mind. Indeed, my father was known to speak his mind, and without equivocation. He believed that if you were right, you had a moral duty to speak out. Continue reading

Memories Are Funny Things

Memories are funny things. The older one gets, the more vivid they become, especially when related to things that happened long ago. I was sitting and thinking about nothing in particular, when a childhood memory flashed up from somewhere in my brain and there I was, about eight years old, sloshing through puddles in a yellow raincoat with matching sou’wester hat and black wellington boots. The turned-down broad brim protecting my face and the back of my neck from the rain which was falling like sheets of pins, like the ones my mother used when pinning paper patterns to the material she somehow turned into dresses and things for me, and for herself.

This particular memory resurrected itself while I was in Pershore a couple of months ago, house-sitting for my daughter and looking after her elderly dog plus two doves because she and my grandson were in Sussex at the wedding of her goddaughter and his childhood friend. It was Saturday morning. I had ventured as far as the garden intending to get a few things at the local shops but changed my mind as the first large drops fell just as I reached the gate, even so, I got soaked to the skin by the time I had got back to the door.

It was while I was sitting, watching the water swirling along the footpath and road outside the front window that the memory flooded back.
Continue reading

Age, Life’s Quiet Companion.

I wonder how many other older people like me watched the recent programmes screened last week and this by the BBC, as well as the Panorama programme on Wednesday evening. It made salutary viewing and brought the predicted outcry, bluster  and hot-air from politicians and the media. Such revelations always do, for a short time, like the revelations about paedophilia and prominent names, but then the blustering gives way as the hot-air bubbles are pricked and the rhetoric drifts away to be forgotten – except by the victims and their families.

In 2004 I visited a geriatric ward in Cardiff’s Heath Hospital and was so incensed by what I saw, I wrote to the then Minister of Health, Jane Hutt AM, and her Deputy Minister, John Griffiths AM, at the Welsh Assembly in Wales. I invited them to do as I had done, but to do so without warning and without their retinue of civil servants in attendance.  They never did, although they wrote (the letters remain on my files) suggesting that the patients involved could write a letter of complaint to the hospital authorities.  Looking at the patients involved in the Panorama programme, I doubt many of them would have been capable of doing so, and their families were too scared of the possible repercussions on the patients.

Why was I there? I was visiting my aunt; then in her early nineties, who was a patient there for about one week for observation and treatment. She was visited twice a day by her daughter who ensured her mother both ate and drank the nourishment she had prepared at home while she was there. My aunt was summarily brought home by my cousin when she found her mother in some distress having soiled her bed following several calls for a nurse to help her use a bedpan. The patients either side of my aunt were not so lucky, having family who rarely visited and only did so late in the evening.

While visiting, I witnessed a male ward orderly, serving tea from a trolley, pick up full cups of undrunk tea; replace it with a fresh one but make no attempt to help the supine bird-fragile figure, lying helpless and moaning on the bed to even sip her drink. When I remarked that the patient needed help, the response was, ‘That’s not my job.’

We have heard that same reply all too often since it became fashionable to delegate responsibility in what has become the blame-and-claim, compensation-seeking  culture of our modern world. Old people are as much a part of our culture as the young. They belong with their families. My father lived with my family for seventeen years following my mother’s death.  I won’t pretend there were no tensions. He drove us mad – at times, but he meant well and I remembered the doting father of an only child, who’d carried me everywhere when I seemed to be at death’s door for almost two years. So, when it was my turn to care, I was fortunate to have a husband who believed in the same values, and who originally suggested that my dad came to live with us.

Hearing that the company operating the care-home in question made a profit of some one million pounds last year, makes one realise how much money is involved in families and local authorities financing such places.  It would make more sense if the state helped families to provide necessary care for people in their own homes. Carers who drop in for a few minutes are not the answer. Better provision of better trained, better paid carers would make more sense and would be a more efficient way of utilising tax-payers’ money. Older people need to have their personal dignity respected, but don’t need to be locked away in seclusion where unseen, they can be subjected to the kind of abuse we witnessed on the Panorama programme.

Animals Can Teach Us A Thing Or Two

Being woken in the early hours by what sounded like the entire contents of one coconut tree falling on the roof above me, is not the kind of awakening anyone would choose, but the thunderous bumps and thumps were proof that the mongoose family that has chosen to make its home in the space under the roof of my host’s house, were waking up and enjoying their daily dose of furious gymnastics before starting their work for the day; hunting and killing any snakes or rats lurking in the garden before they could enter the house. They would be gone for the entire day, returning at dusk to climb up the wall of the building, via a banana tree, to get back through their entrance hole to sleep off their daytime exertions. Hearing their noisy wrestling matches has reminded me of Rikki- Ticki-Tavi and Kipling’s Just So Stories and what a lot we can learn from animals.

My grandson, like everyone in the family, is a walkover where animals are concerned, so when one of his birds, he keeps pigeons and doves, was being systematically bullied and persecuted by its fellows, it was taken into the house where it quickly became domesticated (as far as birds can be) and accepted by the elderly dog, another rescued refugee, to such an extent, that soon pigeon was taking a daily bath in the dog’s drinking bowl. When it became apparent that dog didn’t mind, grandson decided that providing an extra water bowl, exclusively for the daily ablutions, might be worth a try. It’s worked, as pictures put on Facebook by my grandson have proved.

This reminded me of a stray kitten I found in the middle of a dirt track almost twenty years ago when I was living in Cyprus. I braked hard when I saw in the car headlights, something move in the road. It turned out to be an un-weaned kitten, perhaps it had wandered away from its mother, but more likely had been dumped by the side of the road, as so many unwanted puppies and kittens were. Picking it up, I quickly dropped it in the lap of my passenger and took it home. We cleaned it up and dribbled warm milk into its mouth, then put it in one of my carrying baskets ( I already had several cats), and hoped it would sleep; it didn’t, but howled all night in the basket by the side of my bed.

All three of my rescue dogs slept on the floor around my bed. The smallest and fiercest, a Cypriot hunting dog called Perdy, although spayed, was fascinated by this latest arrival and was even attempting to lick the kitten through the grill of the basket. Holding my breath I tried opening the door of the basket, and before I could stop her, the wee kitten was snuggling up to Perdy and suckling her empty teats while the dog began a frenzied licking of the tiny body. With peace and quiet restored, we all fell asleep.

When I awoke, I saw one bedraggled kitten that had obviously been licked for hours by one would be canine mum, but who was now hungry and wanting rather more than Perdy could offer. Later, having taken the tiny creature to the vet, I was told that dog’s instinctive licking had saved the kitten’s life as it needed the constant stimulation of her tongue to help it to keep warm; as well as helping with its circulation, the constant licking aided digestion by encouraging the body to expel waste. What had appeared to me to be a near drowning with excessive maternal love, had in fact been a life saving instinct to preserve. Sufficient to say that from day one, Kittypuss was the recipient of canine devotion par excellence from all three dogs, including Rambo the giant German Shepherd.

A Symphony of Curries

Since returning to Sri Lanka, my first visit was seventeen years ago, I have been captivated by the daily assortment of curries placed before me. I have had to beg to be excused from indulging more than once a day , I couldn’t face curry for breakfast, though homemade hot roti, eaten with one of the myriads of varieties of bananas, is hard to refuse; as are pineapple slices washed in salt water and then sprinkled with ground chillies. The sun-ripened fruit, freshly caught fish and garden-fresh vegetables that appear at mealtimes in small and large dishes with an equal number of spiced sauces, or alone, are as numerous as the notes on the page of a Mozart symphony, while the flavours that burst on the palate could well have inspired Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks. For those who claim they cannot eat anything highly spiced, I offer my commiserations. Since childhood I have enjoyed spices. Thankfully my digestion remains robust, as long as I’m not confronted with meat, although the amount I can eat has decreased with advancing years.  

Yesterday, I was the guest of family friends at one of Colombo’s finest beach-side hotels. The decor in the foyer was sumptuous, and air-conditioned, with a cool fruit drinks being offered within seconds of our arrival. Making our way to the lower ground floor, at garden level, we were confronted with a buffet offering a vast choice of curries and sambals. It was delectable, and although for the many tourists sitting down in their tour groups, or individually, it was authentic and appetizing, the difference for me, having eaten authentic village cooking, was that it was too bland – a musical interlude rather than a symphony.