Friday, 28 December 2012


What do most of us Resolve to do, be, next year, as the clock strikes midnight.  I'm now in my 56th year and wondering whether to ignore it, and watch re-runs of The Big Bang and sing Oh Danny Boy down the phone if anyone dares to ring me, probably hiccuping from pink wine and eating dates, because a) they must constitute at least 2 of your 5 a day, and experience has taught me, that their visit will be fleeting.  Besides,  it is probably the only night of the year you can get away with throwing caution to the wind and drinking and eating what  you like, and getting away with it, on the the whole 'its only one day a year' card.  All the rest do not count, though worth giving a go, on the odd occasion.     

Anyway, I digress, the most popular New Year's resolution is lose weight.  Who'd have thought.  Personally, I have never made it as far as February with my free membership of WW (Weightwatchers) with that one.   There is only so much sugar free jelly you can enjoy.  There are just too many things that are look absolutely scrumptious when I drool over them behind glass cabinets in most supermarkets.  (Obviously designers have been all too aware that an open cake display could prove too tempting for too many otherwise law abiding citizens.  

As we get older, many of our usual sources of divine pleasure start to drop off on - on many levels.  Mostly through our ill health and need for further and further medication that doesn't agree.  Our decaying teeth deny us the pleasure of toffee allsorts - oooh, the sheer joy of biting into unknown, unaware whether it will be mint or vanilla, and looking forward to the next lucky dip.  Ditto, Werthers Originals, is anyone really patient enough to resist the urge to bite it while it is still like a bullett? Anway, they are but a memory, although I might give making fudge a go, yes, I know, I will have to brush immediately after, but worth it I think.  I always thought dentists were lying to us regarding the whole sugar thingy, but turns out it is true.  

It is possible to lose weight, with a bit of resilience, and without giving up the weekly bear claw.  I have discovered the walk to the nearest Greggs to buy one, cancels out the actual eating of it.  Plus the actual walking is increasing the vigour, and soothing the mind. 

But I was just musing.  Misery induces lethargy, I guess many physical ailments are exacerbated by state of mind.  I won't join WW again, I'll just carry on doing what I am doing, which seems to be working, I'm told.  It includes one day, at least, devoted to cereal.  Fortunately, I love porridge made with water, and sprinkled with fake sugar, ok, also with a dollop of cream, but in fairness, the entire day is devoted to cereal.  Apparently diet, and exercise does do the trick, and it wasn't a trick played on us by Hanoi Jane who may or may not have been a double agent in the sixties.  

Anyway, I am quite enjoying becoming healthy, so will settle for carrying on full steam ahead with what I am already doing.  Its no healthy cabbage diet, to be honest, but I never got round to making it.  I was working in an office at the height of its 'latest diet' popularity, but I knew enough about bodily functions and the effects of vegetables, to know it would be very risky on the flatulence front.  The Fibre diet was a bestseller and I had already encountered those who had read the book - usually in lifts.  

Well Happy New Year to all my readers, and hope some of the above may be of use to those of us aiming for health and fitness next year!  

Ps.  None of the above to be taken seriously. 

Pps.  Ainsley's Spring veg, cup a soup is divine, and pink and whites (though tasting like cardboard) are virtually calorie free if eating is the only way you can survive til 5.30, without attacking your boss with a rusty rake.  Oh, I do miss the old tips, around the office water cooler......... 

Sunday, 23 December 2012

THE POPE SAYS...........................

The Pope has spoken out on historic child abuse, maybe something was lost in translation, but other than suggesting a bit more praying, he offered no apologies, nor compensation for lives ruined.  Apparently, child pornography etc, was big in the 70's and he reminded us there are of course greater and lesser degrees of evil - I think the implication being that abusing children falls somewhere between missing mass and eating meat on a Friday.

Having lived in a Convent run children's home in the early 1970's, I would strongly suggest that His Holiness delve a little deeper into the meaning of evil, especially, where it concerns small children.  Paying particular attention to the whole 'Suffer little children' thingy, unless the clergy interpret that particular phrase as as it being their duty to bring about the actual suffering. 

But, I won't mince words.  I would like the Judge in my own particular case to contemplate the idea of living a children's home run by a practising (and very skilled) paedophile and sadist and then ask himself on what planet that could be considered as a nurturing environment?  I would ask others too, those who might perhaps doubt my story, to ponder on the implications for children reared in such an environment?  

That Peter Rands was a paedophile cannot be disputed, the evidence was there within his withheld personnel file.  'Found in bed with a 15 year old' in 1972.  Some would find that pretty convincing evidence for preventing such a person from working with children.  Not so, the Catholic Church, Rands continued to work with children until the late 1980's.   

True, he had his own particular forms of self punishment, and no doubt once he informed his employers that he had given himself a darn good thrashing, they took him back into the fold.  

I would urge anyone who was at St. Anne's Convent, Orpington, who suffered abuse either directly, or indirectly, to come forward and speak your truth.  Peter Rands was not the only 'Uncle' abusing at that time, there were others and some have since been imprisoned.  

In numbers the case cannot fail.  The Church will fight individual claims, but class actions allow anonymity and in most cases, no necessity for years of litigation or trials.  In Ireland, claimants merely have to prove that they were at an Institution where abuse took place (with the Sisters of Mercy it is a given) and their cases are settled.

Prayers and apologies are not enough.  In too many cases practical and financial help is needed.  Lets ensure it gets to those who deserve it.

Friday, 21 December 2012

FECK IT, I'll say what I want

Like Princess Diana, I would have liked to have chosen 'I Vow to Thee My Country' as one of my funeral hymns, purely because it goes beyond a pride in one's past and heritage, but to the very core of one's ethnic origin.  Its quite stirring.  Unfortunately, I come from mixed breed, a combination of a Scottish Father and Irish Mother.  Just to complicate things further, I was born in Brixton, No. 17 Ferndale Road.   Something that I kept secret, until I discovered that my then hero David Bowie was born in Brixton, and it became ok to say it out loud.

It was 1957, a time in which 'No Dogs, No Blacks, No Irish' hung out as signposts on boarding houses in the upmarket parts of London Town.  My dad's Scottish accent was indistinguishable from Irish, to most landlords and landladies, so we boarded with the less desirables, the Blacks, the Jews, the Polish, were our next door neighbours.   We all belonged to the same 'underclass' - yet we maintained our own cultures and lived happily side by side.  I believe it was our dear Polish neighbour, who delivered my goodself, when my mother went into premature labour.   Whoever you were kind Sir, my mother and father were forever grateful to you. 

It was during a discussion the other day with my son, that we ventured into the area of ethnicity.  My son is studying psychology, and it has always been of interest to me.  I have always had an inner turmoil, about who I am (those who know me, will understand the neurosis).  My father was Scottish, my Mother Irish.   Any celts reading this would see 'trouble ahead' as the song goes.   The Scottish and the Irish argue like fiends, yet usually end up, laughing, attempting a jig and rounding off the night with 'Oh Danny Boy'.

From a scientific perspective, I am a huge fan of The Big Bang [funny and informative] I would say it traces back to that time before the Ice Age when Scotland and Ireland were physically attached.  My dad (who spoke like Charlie Endle - hint, Budgie, lol) was best friends with a Northern Irish man - who proudly wore his Orange ribbon and bowler hat!  Two opposite ends of the political spectrum, who'd have thought.

I am left in an eternal quandry, am I Irish, Scottish or English?  I Vow to Thee My Country, would be farcical, at my funeral, because I could never be sure which country I would be vowing to?  In truth, I play to them all.  When I am loud and witty, I put it down to the paddy in me, when I am philosophical, I put it down to the Scots, and when I chill out, I put it down to the English.  There is something good, and right, about the British people, something that says, almost Bertie Wooster like: ' hang on old chap, we can't allow that'. We are presently undergoing atrocities that we would throw our arms up in horror, if it were happening in Third World Countries.  Yet here we are accepting, without so much as a whimper, the megalomaniac hype of an ex Bullingdon Boy, who tells us Food Banks are part of the Tory ideal of the Big Society.  

I think I was watching the 1940's black and white film of Oliver Twist at the time his statement came out.  Then I switched over and watched some twat from Made In Chelsea on 'Come Dine with Me' calling his maid and servants to heel as if they were mere chattels.  

I have been asked to give a newspaper quote on my hopes and ambitions for next year.  I have been reticent in replying, because I feel gagged right now due to my opinions on the McCanns, but I actually, now just feel, feck it, I will say what I think on all subjects, before the internet police shut us all down.

Was my book political?  You bet your arse it was.  My book is beyond a misery memoir, for those who care to delve further.  

As for the McCanns, I will continue to watch the saga unfold, albeit, in breathtaking slow motion.  This government I will hammer relentlessly, simply because I remember those old boarding house days, and that haunting statement.................    first they came for the Jews.........................

Saturday, 8 December 2012

CONSTANCE - A Titanic Story

In 1999, when I embarked on my new life as a mature student, we were given a creative writing assignment. It was a challenge I relished, and I had learned one of the first rules of 'how to become a writer' - that is, write about something you know. 

I had always had an interest in the story of the Titanic, probably stemming back to that old black and white movie starring Kenneth More.  My obsession led me to abandon the 3 men in my life for the day, and take myself off to gawp in fascination at the ghoulish exhibits at the Titanic Exhibition that was held in Greenwich.  My little day of rebellion, planted the seeds of the story that was to become my monologue, Constance.  

Among my hundreds of rejection letters, was a wonderful reply from Sinclair Mathieson, the editor of People's Friend, who took the time to tell me how much he enjoyed my story, but it was 'too political' for their genre.  However, his kind words, 'its a story that deserves a wide audience', gave me the confidence to pursue it.  An Edwardian drama, it is more downstairs, than upstairs.

In 2000, it was picked up immediately by Paul Kent, Head of Programmes at Oneword Radio, a former BBC editor, who 'discovered' the wonderful writer, Bill Bryson.  Paul, turned it into a wonderful play for the radio, and it was performed, by Charlie Fane, and broadcast on Christmas Day, as an alternative to the Cameron, Titanic film.  It was nominated for a Sony Award and helped Oneward in achieving a Sony Award as Radio Station of the Year in 2001.   Paul, immediately commissioned 4 more.  

I have decided to publish it now, as a tribute to my beloved Dad, who never stopped believing in me and my madcap dreams.  The CD of Constance, was on his bedside table, when he passed away - Saturday Night Fever was inside the CD player, I don't know why, but that made me smile.  The audio version of Constance will be available within a few days.  The Kindle is available now.  The story is long enough to absorb you, but short enough to prevent mould growing on your washing up.

If you are a fan of Upstairs Downstairs, and Downtown  Abbey, you will love (or hate) this story.

Monday, 3 December 2012

HI OLD AOL BOARDIES and chilling

I spent almost 5 years enticed by a message board.  Yes, its back to haunt and provoke old AOL Europe and Ya Gotta Laugh boards, but for most it will be remember with a fair amounts of giggles too.

My younger son is studying psychology, and could talk the hind legs off a donkey, so I am getting some substance to many of my own theories and conclusions.  Ah, feck it, those weren't 5 wasted years, I met some bleddy good friends, including one who wants to should out 'watcha bellend' at a book signing, lol.  I'll make sure to be in diva mode and demand endless supplies of maltesers so the games can begin! Ditto vino, as most are no strangers to the bottle, ha ha.  

But back to the pluses of those 'wasted' years - I learned more about life, and the characters in it, than any book could teach me.  Including the aforesaid grammatically incorrect sentence.  

Bizarrely, those 5 years will never be forgotten.  From Day 1, I posted as myself, albeit under the pen name of Cristobell 'Bell' to many of you, Bellend to others, lol.  

I can look back and laugh, but it honestly felt as though we were living in a real life soap (but with more believable characters).  

And what characters there were!  The formidable Annies, Jo, Cherub and Bev.  I couldn't dislike any of them even if I wanted to, they are all part of the women who put the backbone into society.  They are the real movers and shakers, the ones who actually do practical things to help others.  A special mention for Bree, little leprachaun that she is, lol, and Helen who shares that same mischevious sense of humour and Inta for keeping a home for us.

And the lovely, Graceland Ann of course.  A legend.  Always happy to catch up with you.  

But enough joviality, that cyber circle also contained elements of Dr. Evil, the dark side of human nature, that manifests itself it within the heart of our society.  An evil that I would prefer to ignore, because I would have to add it to my already full list of news items that I have to turn away from, because I know sure as eggs is eggs they will bring on an 'episode'.  

Know your enemy is a phrase oft used by Generals (I think) -  I am a huge of fan of The 300, and I imagine it is something the divine Gerard Butler would say.  But I digress, I could see why I pissed some people off.  Apparently I am a Libertarian (I did a quiz) and some people don't like that.  I can never figure it out, because I'm not in the least bit bothered what path they have chosen to take.  My philosophy has always been, that of 'whatever gets you through the night'. For some people that is religion and good diet and exercise - probably, who am I to judge? 

I would love to pull Neitzche up on a few things.  Enlightenment doesn't bring joy, and contentment for evermore, it takes away a big chunk of 'the only shoulder some of us have to rely on'.  Saying God Bless all those we love, was an integral part of bedroom routine.  Not just for the Kids.  I am presently having an inner battle, as to whether it is ok, to be Catholic, on the odd occasion.  It certainly helps with the dusting of ornaments and cleaning of floors.  No Cobwebs for me these days, and have to switch off my inner Buddhist, when I let loose with the bleach bottle - for which I blame Gnats, lol.    

My new best friend asks God to forgive me every so often when we are chatting, she's very religious, but unbelievable wise.  She's quite a muse!  So too Dr. Mary Beard, who wrote a wonderful essay recently.  Must dig it out.  

But waffling, hi to old pals and I think of you often - we must arrange a day (evening) to be on Inta's at the same time.  

Monday, 26 November 2012

WHAT A GREAT DAY for a reunion

I am so excited I have no idea where to begin.  As many of you know, without my spelling it out, I have been a bit of a hermit this past couple of years.  Loss, does that to you.  I honest think, that is that moment, we got from young, to middle or even, old, age.  The pain is too unbearable.  And yet, still we live, we go on.  'Why does the world keep on turning' - that tune and that memory, tore me to shreds in the middle of Sainsbury's bread aisle, days after I lost my beloved Dad.  There was no pain to compare it to.  I sobbed unashamably, and amongst the crowd that gathered, I think at least one person suggested an ambulance.  

Like the wonderful Vincent (Van Gough) I suffered for my sanity, is it them? is it me, is it them? who exactly is sane here?  I had plenty of evidence and statistics to back up the fact that is was probably me.  When you are looking for answers, you even have to take in the tricky, mathematical side of stuff.  
I try not to dismiss the sciences -  even though they diss the arts -  because they are always coming up with wierd and wonderful stuff, and besides, I have a bit of a crush on Dr. Brian Cox.  Not that I was in with a chance, he is far too  young for me.  

But I digress.  Today, I met 3 friends - ex boarders, of St. Josephs (part of St. Anne's) and we all bonded immediately.  Even though, they were part of the convent, long before myself (stop sniggering Amanda, lol I am not as old I look) we felt an immediate famiale, or is it en famielle, in French, anyhow, there were no awkward silences, we spoke freely, we came from the same place.   

Three nicer gentlemen I would be pushed to imagine!  Even as a Marxist/Feminist, lol, each of them showed that wonderful British Gentleman, sheer good manners.  It was such a delight!   Call it twee, or whatever you like, but there is so much 'sweetness and light' (from my hero Uncle Dynamite) to treating people with courtesy and respect.  My dear Dad, always wore a shirt and tie, even to run over the road to get a paper - and never in my entire life did I see him wearing a t-shirt!  I wonder if that makes me UKIP, lol.  My 3 tier cake stand might even be a qualifier.

Eddie, I felt as though I were talking to my Uncle Ignas today, your lovely Irish accent was as smooth as guinness!  Though truth be told, I am not very fond of stout, but apparently, my mother took to it like a fish.  She was always infirm, what with the bronchitis, her attention seeking, and all that.  I now think, hey, kudos to her, she ran away from the life and land she was born into, to try another one - and at the tender of 15 too!  She was a terrible person of course, but I somehow think, she would have had you and Sandra giggling!

Vincent, you old rogue!  I am sat here laughing my head off! Absolutely delighted to have met you! And you made me see another side to the you know what, lol.  And hopefully you can introduce some sort of motion to the whole round table, whereby I am forgiven!  I'm absolutely fine with the whole sacrificing a chicken in the wilderness bit, as long as it is free range, and we don't actually have to walk through burning coals (without slippers) or howl at the moon.  I'm afraid me old tobacco filled lungs, could only manage a grrr, at most - and I'm afraid the crowd might shout 'put the kimono back on' if we had to do it in the nip.  
Barry, what a lovely gentleman you are!  So pleased to meet you today... and please don't run away from Brighton just yet, because I may be moving to a place near you soon!  I jest, of course.  Actually, no, I don't.  Brighton would be my chosen location, simply on the basis, that I have a gut feeling, that within seconds, you could meet such a wide variety of people  concentrated in a place dedicated to the arts, and have an engaging conversation over expresso and croissants - sadly no Gaulois to smoke, due to current draconian laws*, within moments of your front door - and no-one will care very much if you have done your hair.   In my retirement, I am thinking of France.  I am picturing a short row of 3 shops.  Patiserie, Bakery and News and fags.  Not even fussed about the wine.  I am more than happy to buy it by the gallon from the nearest wine factory.  I am ashamed to say, that old bf and I sat, sat outside a co-operative (wine making place) for several days, I believe at one point we put up a tent.   But I digress.  Our diligence paid off.  We got to try 20 wines straight from the 'petrol pump' and were given a free bottle to take home with us, hic.  I think our sharing of fags, gave away our true cash status.   Ce la vie!  And the French people were quite impressed by our tenacity!

Apologies if I embarrassed anyone today.  Sadly, I lost all my support systems over the past few years.  Those trusted advisors who could keep me, just the right side of sanity.  Hence I have little idea how to behave properly in a social situation.   Mostly I think of what the nuns would do, and then go for the opposite.   I am hugely aware of how narcissistic that sounds, but I am not part of a couple.  I have no other half.  I have no-one with whom to check stuff out with.  Like a scene from Father Ted, I need someone to point out 'reality', 'far away'.  Most will be relieved to know that my younger son, who is studying pschyology, can, in an instant, distinguish, paranoia from real stuff for me, which is very helpful.  And I am fortunate too, that I am having the good fortune of meeting and becoming friends, with good people, who far wiser than myself. 

Fortunately, I am learning, even this late in life, that, heck yeh, there are genuinely good people out there.  It was something I found very hard to believe for such a long, long time.  For anyone who ever suffers from depression to manic extent, we can reach depths where we can see nothing but man's inhumanity to man, and it tears us apart, to such an extent that we do not want to breath another breath, to live in a world that filled with such evil.  I am drawn to that amazing scene in 5th Element where the very appealing Mila Jolovitch (sp) weeps and prepares to die for mankind, because her poor brain has had to take in so much evil in such a short space of time.

We had a stroll.  We saw the 'old part' of the original building, the St. Anne's or St. Josephs, as my friends today know it.  That is a part of the building I had not seen for 40+ years.   Right at the top of the hill, behind all the new buildings.  It was a moving experience. 

I think of myself as tough as old boots, but I felt quite emotional, seeing those buildings again.  Seeing those iron steps where Angela and I would tell each other, every single detail of every single book and film we had seen, leaving out nothing!   We loved Scarlett O'hara and her fabulous green curtain outfit!

I remembered getting hit in the eye with a cricket ball, leaving me with a great big shiner!  I always wanted to play boys games as good as them, so I have only meself to blame.  I thought I could catch a hard cricket ball thrown from a 100 yard distance, without injury (I even wore a glove).  However, did not take into account, fact that said cricket ball would bypass glove and land straight on upper left cheekbone, resulting in black eye.   Some readers may be relieved to know, that I have never attempted to catch a cricket ball since. Even if it were a hand grenade I would be undecided.  I had to wear an eyepatch for days, though to be fair, I was reading Dickens and the Poor Laws, so had a fairly good idea of my human rights - Even if I was up against the Sisters of 'No' Mercy and their seriously freaky 'volunteer for everything' new house father.  

Within moments, my (albeit, mad) Mother spotted within an instant.  Straight away, she walked into the dining room, pointed at the house father, Peter Rands and said 'I know  EXACTLY what you are.  This is what pisses me off with the current news that is flying.  Cameron, the tories, would have us believe that it is some sort of vendetta against Gays.  What a load of bollocks!  Gays are no more likely to be paedophiles than so called heterosexuals.  Someone who preys on young, vulnerable kids, is a creep in any hemisphere.  Its just plain wrong.  

I have digressed.  I want to give a huge thanks to Eddie for picking me up, and    being such a good egg.   I know that you and Sandra have suffered a grief that is unimaginable, and my heart is with you, please know that sincerely.  

I hope that we can one day soon, organise a 'big' get together, of all ex St. Josephs and ex St. Anne's and ex St. Bernadette's too.   As Mick Jagger would say, it would be a gas, gas, gas. (Presently watching series about Rolling Stones) lol.  

Lack of money and bravado, has kept me from meeting old friends thus far, but I hope that will change.  Fortunately, Johnny, Charlie in my book, had the courage to come and knock on my door.  I was so thrilled to see him, my grey roots, profuse sweating (diabetes or menopause) bothered me not one jot!  I got a real kick from finding out what amazing successes, he had achieved!  

And as the week has gone, I have ventured out again!  And will sleep tonight with a huge smile on my face.   One, because I am so damn proud that people have come out of that place, and found contentment and success.  And, even, begrudgingly, even I have to say,that we had regime ingrained into us.  Some would say, we were institutionalised.  Some would say it stood us in good stead.  Don't think I have got anything to argue with there, and would probably have to submit on that one, with a 'you got me there'.  

Fantastic Day!  Now, don't know which one of you it was that put, albeit virtually, lol, 'No Riff Raff'!  I'm a great fan of Fawlty Towers, so please forgive me that, ha ha.  Am presently trying to coax my hair into a bouffant 'Patsy' look, cause I can't be arsed to get it cut regularly, and it grows like the hair of banshee!  I hasten to add that the rest of me is not quite so hirstute, lol, though I have always thought I have abnormally hairy forearms, will have to get  psychology trainee son to take me back to reality/paranoia chart, lol, on that one.  Partially worried that he may take me to zoos and introduce me to cousins.  He has a twisted sense of humour.  

Have had a terrific day - thanks old boys of St. Josephs!  xx

Ps.  A special thanks to the wonderful present day headmaster of St. Anne's for  your kindness and courtesy.  I think you have rid the school completely of its old sinister side, it was a pleasure to meet you.  


Sunday, 18 November 2012


Like many survivors of abuse, I have led an erratic life.  That I cannot commit to a relationship is a given, so too hold onto a job, or find my place in society.  

These problems may sound trivial, because they don't portray the reality of job loss, or home loss, or the constant struggle to stay on the right side of sane.  

Would a payment of £20,000 or £30,000 make a difference to the life of a survivor of abuse.  Hell yes, just in the same way as it would to even, the most normal of households.  But for a survivor, it could be the difference between life and death.  It is more than hard cash, it is an acknowledgement that you were right and they were wrong.  It puts the world back into some sort of perspective and be the difference between life and death.  

In Ireland, claimants do not have to go through the ordeal of a trial.  It is enough to prove that they were in a place where abuse occurred.  In the UK, the Catholic Church spends millions fighting individual claims with such ferocity that few dare to come forward.  In fact they probably spend more defending individual claims, than it would cost in compensating hundreds.  

They cannot give survivors back their childhoods, but they can at least do something to help them change their futures.  

Saturday, 10 November 2012


I have not yet had my training day, due to house move, I suppose, or maybe just caught up in the hospital's over flowing newly diagnosed Type II's backlog.

I am trying to positive, and on the whole, have given up approximately 50% of my favourite things. I know it could be better, but the sight of a fat woman leering at a giant cake bear claw is just sad.  I succumbed.  There was a lady in front of me in a mobile scooter having a good mooch, and we had a good giggle as we coaxed each other on, 'to be a devil'.  She got her French Horn and I got my oversized choux pastry.  Now, I am riddled with guilt that I may have set her down the path to wrack and ruin, by comparing the deliciousness of our 'naughty but nice' buys.  

I am sure there must be a simple way of corrupting 'choux pastry' thus making it making it diabetic friendly. Even I can remember how easy it is to make, and already thinking of savoury ways to fill them.  Sadly, most ideas involve lashings of cream cheese, thus far.

Fortunately, I am too lazy to make them, as yet, but have have great plans.  I still have a hazy and unscheduled lifestyle, but keeping active with hoovering and dusting and decluttering my head, as well as my home and worrying more about lightshades than changing the world.  I was fortunate to meet a new friend, whose wisdom is legend, in my opinion.  Suffice, to say, I have learned much from her, not least the importance of having a clean and comfortable home.  

It is amazingly uplifting, I totally get those 'hoarders' and hippy protesters (I class myself as the latter) but should add, also by nature, bone idle, I flaunted my lack of housekeeping skills and cobwebs from a feminist perspective.  

I am now looking at things from an enlightenment perspective, and a nod that says it is ok to pamper yourself with luxury, albeit faux satin, and to offer your guests a variety of food from a 3 tier cake stand!  The ownership of said cake stand is a lifelong dream, lol.  It took much exercise to find 'just the right one'.  The Mrs Bucket in me, wants to create the ultimate tea at the Ritz experience, in minutes.  

I have dispensed with the whole tier system, on account of the fact, that I rarely buy cakes these days so I just fill each layer with whatever I can find in the fridge.  Unless, pre-warned, should add, then I can get my fat arse down to M&S to buy their sarnies and fruit cakes, to arrange prettily. My guests have been delighted!  If the fridge is bare there should always be cheese, then toasties work well and look fine on all 3 levels.  Not quite the divine Dehlia, but a nod in her direction.  I once made her cheese and walnut choux pastries, and they were fabulous!  

But back to the diabetes.  I have good days, and I have bad, GP told me, that apparently, all my unhealthily high levels, are so common, they are collectively known as Factor X, in the US.  I haven't yet braced myself to do any research, suffice to say, it probably has nothing to do with Simon Cowell but is more closely related to lifestyle, body type etc.  Thats just a guess.

On the plus side, I have increased my exercise, and am now eating many more cereals (with fake sugar) and my unstable teeth make it pretty impossible to tackle a t-bone anyhow - though I could probably manage the chips.  

The bad days still exist, especially the day following excessive exercise.  I expect, it is best to do these things slowly and find a happy medium.

Well, ttfn, must go see where pasta stands on the whole diabetic side.  Is it a complex carbohydrate? 

Ps.  Determined to experiment with the choux pastries, so watch this space. Any suggestions welcome, presently thinking if there is anything other than cream cheese, that goes with olives? Hmmm



As many readers here know, my book Cry and You Cry Alone, tells my own personal story of being abused in care.

I wasn't sexually abused, but I lived in an environment that was dominated by the sexual abuse of others, and the dysfunctional atmosphere of living in a house that held dark secrets.  Each 'House' within that institution had its own particular sadist, and/or sexual deviant, drawn to the profession by the easy access to vulnerable children, whose word would never have been believed above theirs. 

I left the convent I was in, with my own demons, as many of us did.  I cannot begin to imagine the trauma of those physically used by those evil men and women who had absolute care of us.

I know at first hand, how difficult it is to adjust from an institutional world to a real world.  Many of us, are unable to adjust or 'fit in' with the rest of society, tormented that our 'sordid past' of being in care, should become public knowledge.  Terrified that, our childhood in care would put off any potential friends or colleagues, or partners.  It carried that kind of stigma.  Society thought, maybe still does, that being in care came with all sorts of negative connotations.  That you were a second class citizen and that abuse went on, was taken as a given, and you had to wait for a second for the interviewer to write 'likely to be very unstable' on your job application. 

The truth is, the victim statistics are alarming. Unfortunately, too many care leavers end up in prison or blot out their demons with drugs and alcohol.  Many end up as society's dregs, another John or Jane Doe, found dead in the gutter.

That is the reality of child abuse.  Unfortunately the abused,the claimants are rarely sympathetic. Often, petty criminals with a history of drug and alcohol abuse. Unfortunately, the courts and society in general, do not have the resources (money) to psychoanalyse and research the backgrounds of their 'regulars, or write more than 'death unknown' for the suicides in bedsit land. 

In my book, I write about Philip, a young boy/man, who was indeed a boy with great expectations.  The only one among us to get into grammar school.  Intelligent, good looking and oozing charm, he was destined for great things.  He died, way too young - never, ever, having lived.  

Childhood abuse wrecks lives, lets never forget that.

Saturday, 27 October 2012


Booze and grass, you'r on  your arse.  Never a truer word spoken, it has to be said.   Having spent 30+ minutes throwing up, I can vouch for it.   Haven't quite worked out the logistics, ie, if you smoke, then drink your ok, but if you do it the other way round you throw up.  I'm none the wiser, but will continue to experiment.  

It has the added bonus in that it could give me the incentive I need to develop bulimia.  Its something I've aimed for, for donkeys years.  I've always loved me grub, way to much to part with it, and besides it would a terrible insult to the chef.

I jest of course.  Some (those not wishing for my early demise) might empathise and be fighting the same battle. I have never actually got to February,when I have joined Weightwatchers or taken life much to seriously at all.  It takes an alarm bell, like a positive diagnosis of diabetes, to make you take things seriously.  You might be nuts and driving all those around you murderous, but it is not potentially fatal, in a physical sense.

I am sitting here tonight, with the mutt, Barney Bubble snoozing alongside me.  I always credit him as co-author my book, due to the number of times he walked across my keyboard whilst I was writing it.  He's never been bothered by fireworks in the slightest in the past, but now that he is all but mutton, they are making him jumpy and twitchy. He is known as grandad, to the other dog walkers, and automatically forgiven for being a grumpy old sod.  He always has been by the way, its not new.  Should he carry on?  When he is running after 'his' ball in the park, that he can only see out of the one eye, he is a pup again.  He can't for the life of him remember when he has been fed, so everytime he wakes up after a long snooze, he thinks it is dinner time, and no-one in the world could resist those soulful eyes.   

But back to my own diabetes.  Having Barney Bubble back in my life is huge incentive to get off my arse.  He's not in the least bit bothered about those 'all important DNA results' on Jeremy Kyle, when he could be out there picking a fight with a Bull Mastiff.  I kid you not, he has always had ideas above his station and cost me a fortune in foil pack dog food.  Probably getting his own back for all those years I made him watch Crufts.  I made him watch Dog Borstal too, but he never took a blind bit of notice.  

But back to the diabetes, I have avoided sugar (on the whole), and the transition from sugar lumps to fake sugar, has been quite painless.  I am programming (if that is the right word here) myself, to have a cup of tea and a carb when I get up.  Most days, I will eat toast with marmite, rather than marmalade, but also enjoying, plain old toast with butter.  

I have rediscovered the joys of plain old porridge!  Still giggle at the argument I used to have with my Scottish dad, for me, definitely NO salt!  But agree, should always be made with water.  One cup of porridge, two cups of water.  Easy peasy, and astonished, at the variety of simpler ways in which to make it.  

I am not 'being good' diet wise, by any means.  See opening sentence. But I am on the whole, avoiding, sugar, chocolate (sob) and cakes, especially.  I am half scots and have a sweet tooth, so going to invest in a cake mixer and experiment with bran muffins made with fake sugar.  Watch this space for results!

Happily Barney Bubble settled comfortably and snoring away,  

Wednesday, 17 October 2012


Being diagnosed with diabetes has taken all the joy out of watching Come Dine With Me - the puddings especially.  I just love this trend where they serve 3 little puddings, all different, and think the person who came up with that idea should be awarded a Nobel Prize at the very least.  

But I am not down.  A little of what you fancy, does you good, 'little' being the key word.  My diagnosis, coincides, with a very happy house move, and an opportunity for another watershed.  I will fortunately, have my beloved little pooch around again, and as old as he is, he still loves his walkies, Even if you spell it rather than say the word, he has his collar and lead in his gob and a pleading look in his eyes that says, 'get your wellies, I'm ready'.  

Have to say, nothing quite so invigorating as walking a dog.  It is one of life's pleasures, that is much underestimated.  

Getting the sugar balance right is still a struggle, I am vaguely finding my feet, though nowhere near there yet.  Unfortunately when your mood goes high or low, its fast or famine - which is not a healthy regime, and probably one of the root causes of Type 2, even for sane people. 

Anyway, have stopped buying chocolate, apart from one minor incident, when a bag of maltesers flew into my shopping basket and stayed in the fridge for all of 10 minutes.  I find if they are cold, you can suck them much longer and not finish off an entire bag in one sitting.  

I'm glad I shared, shocked at how many of us there are out there, and in awe at the ones who have turned it around. 

Anyway, I will continue to write about my experiences, the ups, the downs, the unauthorised cream cakes, and the attempts at exercise! 


Monday, 15 October 2012


I always knew that my laissez-faire, or should I say, cavalier attitude towards a healthy lifestyle, would one day, catch up with me.  

I did at one time regularly do the Jane Fonda exercise video, albeit with a half arsed attitude.  When she said 'lets go get a glass of water, in between the warm up and the aerobics, I would get a can of Stella, and then spark up a fag when they all went to get their mats.  I would have a few drags whilst we were all sat in the  Buddha position.  

Anyway, perhaps I should have entitled this, the occasional journal of getting used to diabetes, and probably going about it the hard way.

Enough to say, the first job I had on leaving school at 15, was receptionist/clerk/typist.  I had a school certificate that said I could type at 35wmp, and a very servile attitude.  I had spent a long time in a convent.  But back to the story, the job was at the Council Offices of Dartford Rural Borough Council.  I would walk to Swanley Station, with my 65 year old companion, who would thrust her handbag at me, and shout back 'you bring the bags, I'll run on ahead for the tickets'.  I kid you not, she was one of those lovely, sprightly, Joyce Grenfeld types, so not necessarily a prophesy of a lifetime of lethargy on my part. Have been chanting 'I will wash the lightshades' for several weeks now, in the hope hope, it will eventually sink in.  I have deliberately bought new white ones, knowing that I could not live with the shame of the nicotine stains - My inner Mrs Bouquet.  Possibly, due to my new best friend, being Irish, Catholic and get this, tory!  Suffice to say, I am presently bedazzled by these new lightweight hoover, come duster thingys, they keep advertising.  Anything that allows me to spend a wee while longer on my fat arse is worth a try.
I feel like the advertisers have probed me and discovered the secrets of my desire.  I used to have a cupboard full of defunct, labour saving devices, and I am shameless enough to say, I doubt any of them gave up the ghost through overwork. Have you ever tried selling 10 broken vacuum cleaners at a bootsale in November. Especially, when you know full well, you cannot lie, because you throttled that nagging little Jiminy Cricket on your shoulders yonks ago and your red face would melt a snowman.      

Anyway, Stage One, lose weight I guess.  I am presently thinking of the divine Stephen Fry and his amazing weight loss achievement.  Walking.  Simple as that.  Oh, and also extreme housework.  Nowt like having a good clear out.  Presently do not know if I am high or low, as have been skipping meals, so I can have tea with sugar in.  I know I must follow a rigid 'eating' regime.  Its gonna be a struggle....... 

Follow my ups and downs as I get used to things, bearing in mind, that I have officially been diagnosed with disassociated personality disorder too, so there will be ups and downs, and probably a few giggles.  One of the 'me's' is bit like old Ada, and loves a moan. Would appreciate hearing from others, and learning how they have coped? how it has changed their lives?  How they found out?


Sunday, 14 October 2012


All the signs were there, I should have known, but sometimes you cannot see what is right there before your eyes.

My son has had Type 1 Diabetes since he was 13.  It is something we, mostly he, have struggled with for many years.  The immediate response, was 'learn everything about it'.  I recognised it in my son, because of his weight loss, and the stickyness of the toilet seat.  As a mum, I would have given anything for it to have been me, instead of him.  

But I digress, I should known, recognised it in myself.  I have had a good doctor these past few months, and I have been a good patient - I've turned up.  I blamed my ill health, my sheer exhaustion and fatigue on being overweight and depressed.  I accepted my athritis with good grace, and put my heavy sweats and pounding heart, down to an extended menopause.  My mother's went on forever, and I guessed I had inherited that along with her Irish love of an illness.  Seriously, when I asked her one week if she had been to see Dr. Shipman (her pet name for him), she said, quite seriously, no, because she hadn't been well.  

My own dear doctor, didn't patronise me, by explaining the ins and outs, and I was grateful for that.  I wasn't in the mood.  Still haven't been, daren't even google it, too much in depth just now. To be controlled by diet and exercise which is not in the least bit conducive to my lifestyle - although it could be.

I do at least know now, why I feel so ill at the time, and have gained an insight into the reality of the disease, more than I had ever imagined.  I am on the list for a one day course at my local hospital. Meanwhile, I am starting to recognise, when I am going low and need to snack.  Haven't accomplished the 'going high' end yet (that I know of) and can still polish off a bag of 'tropical mix' - my nod to living healthily, in lieu of a box of maltesers, with the added danger of my perilously loose teeth thrown in, to up the ante.  

I thought I would share my news with you.  Lots of us out there, sadly.  Will give the ins and outs of the early stages and, I am sure, the laughs.  I am already seeing the plus side.  Anything I do, or say, wrong I can put down to the diabetes, in a hushed Les Dawson's Ada Shufflebottom voice, to evade further questions.  

Meanwhile, if any 'old hands' out there can offer any tips and advice.  The 'reality' stuff as to the government approved advice, it would be great if you could share it with us. 

Wednesday, 10 October 2012


I noticed several of the speakers at the tory conference made references to our own particular demographic.  Ie, old birds who are basically burned out, or who have realised that that they are collapsing under the burden of caring for their parents, as well as their kids and trying to stay polite as some jobsworth penpusher, is asking them to touch their toes, so they can get them stacking shelves in the Pound Shop.

I can see where this is going. We clapped out ones, are a huge drain on the economy.  Even those with zimmer frames are suspected of having pole dancing lessons in their front parlour.  Everything will be investigated.

The rest it seems have achieved that lifetime dream of afternoons with Jeremy Kyle, Foxy Bingo and a litre of strong white cider.  And they get VO's to visit their kids and grandkids, ever 6 months, which makes a nice day out.  I can never understand why the faithful become so incensed with that particular perspective?  Is it a lifestyle they would prefer to the one they have?  Is it not pitiful?

I think those kindly benefactors of free work have probably now got we old birds penned in for care work, when they get their mitts on the NHS.  Can't beat free labour or even outsource hands on care to third world countries. Lets just hope they provide cardboard boxes and a fast track ticket for the food banks?

LETTERS TO LYNN - Watching George Osborne speak

Am sat here watching George Osborne giving his speech at the Tory Party conference.  Was afraid to watch it, for fear of throwing things at the telly, so have removed breakables and transferred my juice into a plastic bottle.

However, found myself roaring with laughter, for all the wrong reasons naturally.  I just picked up on the bit about him taking away housing benefit for the under 25's, and he stressed the point by saying that there were many 'twice their age' still living at home with their parents.  Naturally, I presume he is talking about tory voters, and it has given me the right giggles.  I sort of picture Timothy (Ronnie Corbett) in that old sitcom wearing a sleeveless pullover.  

Or the heir apparent waiting in the ballroom, saying to himself 'one day all this will mine'.  

Eeeek, Francis Maude, now getting rid of union reps!  He's saying this is a 'new world' - one in which workers will have no rights, not that they have many now!  You would be on your soapbox Lynn, waving your fist, and shouting 'e're, thats not right'.  Now saying civil servants (hospital workers) to have their sickness, days off, scrutinized.  

They gave a nod to the volunteers who worked on the Olympics - not that they had much choice, it was do it, or have your dole cut, and btw you will be sleeping rough underneath an old railway tunnel.  

Gawd 'elp the nurses, wondered when they would start on them, it will include carers too, I despair.....

Tuesday, 2 October 2012


Watcha mate,

Really must get down to the opticians, just read an email that said, replies to ENQs and read it as UFO's for some reason, and wondered if I had joined some conspiracy ET cult when I had had a few?  

Anyway, it was nothing more exciting than curtains.  Such is life, its been my greatest joy these days. Lynn, you would have totally got the sheer bliss of redecorating a new home and starting from scratch. Of course, you can get almost the same kick, just by redoing one room, but I generally go for the former, not usually through choice as you well know, I hasten to add, and do you remember during one house-move, when 'you know who' remarked 'wouldn't it be easier to get the hoover out?  He could be very droll. I can hear your big old, booming cockney voice now, saying 'you what? bleeding cheek!' Then we would roar with laughter, and think he might have had a point.  What went wrong?  We both became hoarders - you more so than me, bless ya, more of which to come another time.

Suffice to say, the pair of us used to be so house proud when we were younger - you much more so than me, and I was in awe at that bejewelled cover you got for light chord in your bathroom!  You had been to the Ideal Home Exhibition  and you were deliriously ecstatic explaining every gadget you  could physically carry home with you. Must be said though, I have yet to forgive you for welding those false nails to the skin underneath the enamel of my finger tips- I knew you were getting carried away with that nail file!  Doh!  Do you have any idea of the agonies I went through getting them off? 

I'll take it as payback for when we were 16, and you let me perm your hair.  No, as I remember you asked me to perm it, I doubt we will ever agree on that one.  I know we would always got the giggles when we remembered it.  It had the kind of tight curls that not even a hacksaw could penetrate, let alone a comb.  Nothing quite like walking down to the phonebox as a teenage girl wearing a scarf to tell your dad you would have to stay with me overnight, as you couldn't travel home on the bus because you looked like Hilda Ogden! 

I miss you old fruit and I have imaginary conversations with you in my head and they make me smile.  Even a simple mundane piece of news, like the joys of frozen mashed potatoe, could lead to an in depth 3 hour phone discussion.  By the way, I am eternally grateful to you for recommending those round stainless steel ball thingys.  They have saved me from throwing out any more burnt saucepans.  

I want to tell you things that make me laugh, tell you about people who get on my wick.  When I see something out of the ordinary, I think, I must tell Lynn that, that would make her laugh, or Lynn would understand. 

I began to understand the pain of widowhood, and the sheer resilience of women of a similar age and older.  Both Lynn and I remained single, probably through choice.  Heterosexual, not that it matters, though don't think anyone would have had us to be honest - we were both barmy.   

For some reason, I still feel as though you here Lynn, I have no idea why. I change my religion and beliefs on an almost weekly basis, I don't know if its a spiritual thing, or maybe you were my soul mate, like a married couple.  I have just never felt as if you went away. And I never realised how much I relied on you.   

Then I remembered all those ago, when you worked in Italy, and the absolute glee of receiving your letters.  I would read them over and over, and would hoot with laughter all day.

You were in Italy for several years as an au pair and had learned much of the lingo, especially boys names (yes, we were once that young) oh, and how to order a bacardi and coke with ice and lemon in fluent Italian, albeit, very loudly and with a hint of cockney.

The point is, I feel as though I have had a bit of an epiphany.  I've just realised that I can chat to you, I can send you letters, like we used to.   


Friday, 28 September 2012


Imagine how happy you would be - if your lost everything you owned, and then got it all back again?

Think about it for a minute.  I've always found that phrase kind of put things into perspective.   Especially if you are prone to doing really daft of things, like going to your GP and remembering to mention your dodgy eyesight, unaware that you are wearing the 3D dark glasses, and not your own designer prescription ones.  Or walked away from the cash point leaving £100 in the machine for the next honest customer to chase after you with the banknotes (yeh, right), two weeks before Christmas when you are seriously eyeing up the mutt and wondering what he would taste like alongside a few roast potatoes and brussel sprouts?  Being me, little diva, me, me, me, that I am, I had to actually put the whole destitute bit to the test. More of which to come.

I mean, when you lose something precious, that you will never get back again.  Anything from a precious loved one, to a great knife you once had for peeling spuds.   Material things don't seem to matter quite so much.  After much hunting (mostly online these days) I have been able to track down the same butter  knife .  However, I will have to live with the fact that I will never got back that packet of sausage rolls that I put underneath the baby's buggy way back in '88, ditto the singular garlic that fell out of the trolley on my way back to the supermarket car park in  the 70's.  Even, the last £100 I had in the world is beginning to stop hurting and is now stored  in the memory bank alongside the sausage rolls and the garlic.

The one thing we cannot replace is our loved ones.  Our confidants.  I have had the joy of shopping these days to refurbish the next home that I am going to.  My new home is very small and very humble, should any of my enemies be gloating, but I cannot stop tossing and turning for thinking of colour schemes, and 'what would Lynn choose?'

Its at times like these that I miss my loved ones the most.  Those lovely long gossips, those secrets that you would not share with anyone else in the world.  Outside of that miniscule circle of friends close to you.and your family.   And within each tiny group an assigned 'partner, relative,  friend' - there are those you can swear like a trouper with, and feel at ease about it, and then others with different qualities that you admire and you have the good manners to behave yourself accordingly.  Sort of horses for courses.  For most there is one special one, one who understands every aspect of you, even if that someone is just a special friend.  Someone you imagined growing old with, someone who remembers where they were when Elvis died.  Someone you had shared memories with.

I have never fully understood widowhood, if I am honest.  The agony of losing someone that close.  Your life partner, the person you planned all of your lives with.  The person who knew you were an arrogant moo, terrible lazy at times, a forgetful old thing, and often talked a load of old nonsense, but loved you anyway.  They would simply say yes dear, when you insist there is only one way in which to fold and stack flannels, for example, and woe betide anyone (as if?) putting the loo roll on the wrong way!  Incidentally, does anyone else change all loo rolls, even those in strangers houses, to the RIGHT way, ie, taken from the top, not underneath, hmm, or again is that just me?  Don't me started on tea bags.  Unfortunately, I am one of those angels who does take a walk, where others fear to tread.  And then I wonder why I remain among the Uninvited.

But I digress, like many readers of a similar age, I have had way too many bereavements these past few years and I can see now, how people can go from looking young, to looking old, sometimes, almost overnight.  Even in my own case., would you believe.  It is becoming a hard job these days to convince security people that the almost ten year old passport photo is my goodself.  I actually deny reality.  In my head I still see a svelte, Audrey Hepburn wannabe, but in photos I look like someone's granny.  It is most disconcerting.

Right now, I am missing my mum, its anniversary time.  I'm missing Big Lynn too.  I want to know their home decorating ideas, point out the bleeding obvious, and silly girly things, like getting exited by lampshades, and trading all sorts of ideas.  I miss my Dad too of course, but not on the decor side so much, he only found out in his fifties that he was in fact colour blind.

 Lynn too had her 'funny' little ways, and was well on her way to becoming a hoarder.  She once jokingly told me hadn't hoovered for a year.  Which was ironic really, because she used to be a germophobe.  To be fair, there wasn't much carpet to be seen, as she seemed to have filled virtually every spare bit of space.  I didn't bat an eyelid, I had my own huge spider that had taken up residence in the corner of the ceiling above my bed.  I didn't have the heart to destroy all his wonderful hard work, and I even named him.  I think I was a Buddhist at the time.  I am still in moral conflict on the whole spider issue. but I draw the line at maggots, and have still not forgiven sons for leaving live maggots in the fridge during their fishing days, nor, they me, for taking them to the pictures to see Little Buddha - not one of Keanue Reeves, better films.   But, I am a changed woman, for reasons I will get to eventually.  I digress, I intend on getting shipshape and going back to my inner 'Mrs Bouquet', so does anyone know where I can get hold of some tiny sugar lump tongs, silver, of course.

Lynn was a major source of knowledge on anything practical.  I would always consult her before buying any major appliance, or even phoning the doctor.  She had in-depth knowledge of  everything medical.  She had medical books by her bedside for night time read.  She knew every pill and potion from A to Z and could even tell you the side effects.  She was one of those mad lone women, that the locals used to go to, before it became more fashionable to burn them at the stake.  She was a bit of a renegade,  but she talked me out of buying Tea, Coffee, Sugar holders made of tin, and told me baby wipes were much cheaper than wet toilet tissues.  I haven't actually tried that yet, as we both intoxicated at the time, and scared they might not flush. She persuaded me, by phone, to get my lazy arse out of bed, and walk around the block a couple to time to cure the worst hangover, I had ever had in my entire life!  I had drunk scotch with a late night caller, who decided after years of dumping me, that I was the only love of his life, and always had been.  I, of course, fell for it.  In fact it became a bit of a theme.  Actually, it is a shame that technology was so barbarian at that time, because the poor sod whose company I required there and then (I was just as bad) had to pay telephone companies to block me singing 'Paper Roses' into their answering machines at 3.00am.  It is not something I am proud of.

I will sign off on my new epiphany, my new awakening.  Along with the bad, there is so much that is good out there.  When I am especially down, it is something that I try to remember.  Mind you at the really low times, I would dismember, anyone who would dare to suggest anything like that as a cure all.  Don't think anyone who suffers from manic depression could.  Friendship has actually changed things.  I don't know if I have changed, or other people have, but I have latched onto a lovely elderly Irish lady, who is much wiser and far more knowledgeable than myself and who has wonderful, mischievous ways of pointing this out.  She is a bit like a bizzarro version of my mother, one with a bit of common sense.  She is such great company, I fear I am becoming a pest!  And I have met others too, whose kindness have overwhelmed me.  For whatever reason, something has changed.  As my heroine Blanche DuBoir would say, 'I have often depended on the kindness of strangers' - and lovely to discover that they do indeed exist.  

Monday, 3 September 2012


I don't believe there can be any worse pain than losing a child, and like everyone else, my heart ached for the parents of Madeleine McCann, a sweet little girl, not yet 4, who mysteriously vanished while enjoying a family holiday in Portugal. 

I was not without sympathy, but as an eternal student of psychology, media and human behaviour, I had questions, hundreds of them - but for some reason asking them, elicited such venomous abuse, that I began to think, curiosity did indeed kill the cat. 

Within hours of the child going missing the parents demanded a priest, a press agent and a crisis management team.  Before dawn broke on that morning of 4th May, we were being told that the apartment had been broken into and the child had been taken by an abductor.  By the time it had been established that there was no break in, the story had been spread globally, and sympathy and cash began to pour in.  

However, over the past year or so, there has been an air of change.  Newspaper magnates and prime ministers have been called to give evidence before Public Enquiries, into the sleazy operating practices of certain branches of the press.  Even those who restrict their reading to headlines, page 3 and celebrity trivia, cannot fail to have picked up on the Levenson Enquiry, the loss of their favourite Sunday paper, and the fact that there is something very remiss about the way in which news is reported.  Never underestimate the power of spin.

We could of course argue points about this case until the cows come home, the total of the Tapas bar bill, the distance between the restaurant and the apartment, the 6 minute window of opportunity, etc, etc, but as many have have said, it has been done to death.  

I am not a hater, nor a forker, nor a hounder, I don't wish to add to the parents' pain by criticising their parenting, only to say that I wish they had used their tragedy as a warning to others. I have no idea what happened to Madeleine, no doubt time will tell.  Though 5 years on, I dare not say, I think Madeleine is no longer with us, because the result would be a long sojourn in Holloway.   

I do however, object to the use of money donated by compassionate people who cared only for the fate of missing, vulnerable child, being used to gag newspapers and individuals who dare to ask questions.  

Of course, I do not know if The Fund is used for legal fees.  It may well be that all these expert, extradition and libel lawyers in the UK and Portugal work for nothing. And if they do, I hope that Goncalo Amaral and Tony Bennett, use this fact when their own cases come to trial.   

Meanwhile, I cannot help but wonder, why the McCanns set up a Fund within days of their daughter disappearing? What was the need for it?  The police and the people of Portugual had instigated the largest missing child search in its history and the iconic image of Madeleine was a global phenomenon.

Though not a registered Charity, The Madeleine Fund received millions in donations from well wishers all over the world.  Without charitable status, the Fund could remain dedicated to the search for one child and the support of her family.  We were invited to put cash in envelopes and simply address them to Kate and Gerry, Rothley. 

Without charitable status, the Fund is not required to produce transparent accounts, nor does it. We are told all donations go towards the search for Madeleine, and we must believe this without question, though the only accounts available show the actual amount used for the search was 13%.  The rest, presumably, comes under sundries, including an incredible £37,000 to set up a website.       

Fortunately for the McCanns they have Carter Ruck, the most prominent (and expensive?) libel lawyers in the world, acting on their behalf and through them and a series of libel trials against newspapers, they were able to add to their coffers , and crush all, but a few dissenting voices.  

The stories surrounding the disappearance of Madeleine may be old hat for those of us who use the internet and the message boards, but for most of the British public, they are unknown and unseen. The accounts published in the main stream press have been read, censored and approved by Team McCann and highly paid lawyers with an agenda.  And yes, Carter Ruck do indeed have a team of lawyers dedicated to reading internet forums, would you believe.  

Criticising or even questioning the McCanns and their unique form of parenting is now a criminal offence, and at least one British citizen is facing prison. There are several ongoing libel actions in this case, one of the main ones against the lead detective Goncala Amaral begins on the 13th of this month.  The McCanns demanded that his book The Truth of The Lie (available in English on the net) be banned.  Initially it was, but the book burning frenzy was overruled by the Appeal Court and the Supreme Court and it is now back on sale.  However, the McCanns are proceeding to seek damages in the sum of £1.2m.  

For me this case evolved into an issue of free speech, a subject I care about passionately, the burning of books especially.  We have learned this past year, about Super Injunctions, ways in which those who are rich and powerful enough, can manipulate the law to cover often unpalatable truths. And those of us who care about Freedom of Speech are all too well aware of totalitarian societies where free and independent news reports are forbidden by law.  We must never allow that to happen here. 

For those out there willing to dip a paw, like the proverbial curious cat, there is much more to this case than meets the eye.  You may be surprised to see that the 'haters on the net' that the McCanns refer to, are no more than interested observers who discuss this case in a civil, moderated environment. Abuse and libel is strictly prohibited.  I would suggest you look at the 'pro' sites too, JATYK2 is a good starting point, however, don't give your name, because on sites such as these, abuse is positively encouraged. 

It may well be that the McCanns have enough in the kitty to sue everyone, but if you have read this far, I can only urge you to dig a little deeper and ask why the McCanns need more money and why the details of this case can never be revealed.