Friday, 25 January 2013

Why other bereaved parents aren't stalked

I am struggling to come to terms with the way in which, the more verbose supporters of the McCanns have behaved.  Suffice to say, being known as a 'McCann hater/forker' is harmful to your career.  As a newly published author, I was aware that my association with such despicable people was risky to say the least.  But I cannot keep my gob shut.  

Then I thought about a tweet I saw the other day, from Dodgy David, I believe, that asked why other families with missing children are not hounded/stalked.  I am using the vernacular of the supporters here, the majority of us merely asked questions.  Having always been on the receiving end of this hate campaign (I'm on the List) it is a huge leap to look at the matter from another's perspective, but I will try.  

If I heard, for example, that Kerry Needham, bless her, were being hounded/stalked, I would be appalled, sympathise with her immediately and squabble on the net on her behalf.  The very idea would be ghoulish and mean spirited.  So, I kind of see where some of the McCann supporters are coming from.  Some are a bit unhinged in their support, and I cannot lie, I would be very interested to see those particular devils unmasked.  Not least, because I cannot forgive them for the evil things they were saying about the survivors who are now coming forward following the Savile revelations.  I hope their Gods forgive them.

The McCanns have never elicited that sympathy from me.  I felt manipulated at the start by the strategically placed pink cuddle toy, that peeped out from the rucksack for the scrambling paparazzi.  It led to question, after question, not least, a close study of the way in which the public can be swayed by the media.  

I can only but applaud those naive folk out there who still have enough faith in human nature to take the news they are fed at face value. 

We must all now be wondering why a respected journalist from a trusted newspaper, would print an obvious hoax.  The last time a fake photo made the front page of a major newspaper, we lost Piers Morgan to the USA.   

Monday, 21 January 2013


When I first heard this story, I was overwhelmed with compassion and sympathy for the poor child and her family.  The old Catholic in me, even lit a candle.  However, my inner manic depressive occasionally self regulates, and kicks in with a shut off point.  Handy really or I would spend 90% of my time with my head in the gas oven - not cleaning it, as my friends will confirm.  In a nutshell, I have to detach from some news items, or I would go insane.  

For those of us who have watched this saga unfold for 6+ years, it is now reaching a crescendo, of sorts, with one hearing suspended and another one due next week.

I know the above sounds appallingly voyeuristic, but I became detached from the tragedy long ago.  I cannot empathise with the parents, and ultimately, that was what it boiled down to.  As a parent, I know for a fact, it is impossible to get one, let alone 3 toddlers to sleep by 7.30 without divine intervention.  

As an ex-convent girl and now writer, aw shucks, I didn't turn turn to academia until later in life, and its left me playing a constant game of catch up.  In my heart I am still the working class kid, giggling with the bawdy Big Lynn, whose got no right to use big words.  And occasionally I am thrown - especially if it is a word that has anything to do with money or the lack thereof.  

I claim no expertise, suffice to say, I have spent a lifetime studying human behaviour, and my research goes on.  Having spent part of my childhood in a place that I can only describe as Belmarsh for Kids, I feel qualified, I believed I had seen the worst.  

I knew nothing.  Following the Savile revelations, we are hearing of acts of unspeakable horror that even I, could not imagine.  My heart and best wishes go out to my fellow author Theresa Cooper, whose story will break your heart.  A very brave lady.  

I have seen and described human behaviour at its most bizarre and have spent a lifetime trying to understand it.  I could be a diva and say that is why I became a writer, but the truth is, I believe, we all have a writer within us.

That is my background.  Nothing sinister or untoward.  I strive to treat everyone around me with respect, it is part of my Budhist thingy.  I do however, talk about them behind their backs, which is probably the Oirish part of me.  I jest, of course.

Anyway, hungry for knowledge, (and justice everywhere) I was drawn into this case, and in discussing it, I encountered many like minded thinkers along the way.   Such is our interest, I am sure, all these years later, those of us who have stuck with it, could probably achieve Masters, in media studies, marketing, photography, body language and forensic linguistics, and of course Law, I'm sure.  

At the beginning, I was not without sympathy, Like everyone on the planet, I was reeling with shock, when the news broke early on that May morning in 2007.  I was staying with my mother, and she was an early riser and had been watching every update and re-run on the Sky News square since Dawn.  My immediate sympathy was with the parents, my mother was, shall we say, sceptical.  She was Irish, and mad, so I had better not repeat her verbatim.  

As the weeks went by, we watched intently, as details of the story began to unfold - there was plenty to read,   as the media battle began.  I was still scolding my mother for her terrible thoughts, but inwardly, I began to wonder.  I couldn't get past the question, why on earth would a group of intelligent people, leave toddlers and babies alone?  On googling the distance between the Tapas and the apartment, the 'like eating in your back garden' made no sense.  It would only apply if you lived in somewhere like Buck House, and had rottweilers patrolling the perimeter fence. 

Google was my downfall.  Once, I started to read and enquire about it, I couldn't stop.  There, I said it.  This case intrigues me.  I would love to see the re-emergence of Maddie just as anyone would, and I sympathise with those still traumatised all these years later, (also the Diana and Elvis* ones) and I urge them to keep lighting their candles.  Whatever gets you through the night and all that.  If, it happens, I have my Rosary on standby.  Meanwhile, for some of us, the inquisitive parts of our brain just won't shut up.  

*luvs ya really x

Saturday, 19 January 2013

What does this settlement mean?

Libel actions have the potential to open floodgates, or possibly, close them in cases where the claimant wins.

The suspending of next week's McCann .v. Goncala Amaral libel trial could well prove to be a turning point, in this saga.  Negotiations are currently under way (though an agreement was reached last Friday) and the result will be known within 6 months. 

I can't see it taking that long actually.  They are due to face their English nemesis, Tony Bennett in Court on 5th and 6th February, less than two weeks away.   

At that hearing, the Judge will be placed in an untenable position. What with potential floodgates, etc.  If he decides that the Libel trial must be heard before he can making a ruling in this case, then the McCanns will have no option but to pursue the libel trial.  Something I suspect, they have little appetite for. 

The fact that they have not pursued the libel action against GA to the Court room, has the potential to unleash much that has thus far, remained under cover.  Basically, those who felt threatened in the past, may now feel free to speak out as they have seen that the McCanns have backed down at the door of the Court.  With social networking such as it is, this news cannot be hidden. 

Speculating on the settlement.  If it is in the mccanns favour, then GA must withdraw his book from sale - they can accept nothing less, if their case is not to be seen as vexatious.  Far be it for me to give their desperate spinners any ideas, but they could take the compassionate stance, and say that 'enough is enough' - they simply want to withdraw from public attention and grieve.  Of course, if they choose this route, it must also include dropping their action against Tony.   

However, in both hypothetical situations, the settlement must include a gagging order against GA, if it doesn't, they have lost and floodgates could open.  

Anyone with more than a passing interest in this case, would agree GA had the upper hand in this libel action, having succeeded in two higher Courts that have ruled the book is not libellous.  He also has the support of the Portuguese public.  Public opinion is vital, and the McCanns do not appear to have had any success in getting them back on side.  The book didn't help.  

Whoever it was, that made the decision to pursue the libel case against GA having lost two previous trials to get his book banned, must have been certifiable.  But that is a whole other story.  

Monday, 14 January 2013


Last night someone from Twitter put a link to an interesting documentary about Peter Righton, Inside Story, The Secret Life of a Paedophile.  It is well worth watching.

Righton was a prolific paedophile, who rose through the ranks of teaching, childcare and eventually became responsible for the training of social workers during the 1970's.  He also helped to place his friends, and fellow paedophiles, in key positions where they would have easy access to vulnerable children.

Some of you are aware that I have written a book about my experience in a children's home in Orpington, Kent, in the 1970's.  The house father Peter Rands, had an almost identical MO to that of Peter Righton.   That is, with the blessing of the Church, he selected boys to take under his wing, and moved them into 'our' house, completely disregarding the policy of keeping siblings together.  The girls were left behind.  He formed a powerful group around him, and victimised those who were not part of his inner circle, including boys who would not succumb to his charms and the sisters of his chosen victims.  

He regularly took the boys on outings and holidays, including taking a select few to the Vatican.  I even have a picture of him, with a boy, standing outside No. 10 Downing Street in 1972.  

An ex Jesuit Monk, he moved a close friend, another ex monk, into his bed, at the childrens' home.  His friend, bizarrely,  was even more sadistic and vicious than himself.  I saw my own brother savagely beaten by the two adult men, as he refused to be part of 'the gang'.  This may have been a step too far, because Rands left the convent under a cloud to take charge of a Boy's Home in Gravesend.  His personnel file, revealed that he was sacked from the Boy's home after being found with a 15 year old boy in his bed, and on the evidence of a whistleblower, who was disturbed that Uncle Peter had taken a group of boys to see 'The Devils' and the bizarre behaviour and rituals that followed.  Huge financial discrepancies were also discovered.  Despite the above, Peter Rands continued to work with children until the late 1980's.  He was never prosecuted.  

One of Rands' victims was a boy called Philip.  Philip was handsome, bright and kind, the only one among us who went to grammar school and his future was bright.  His four siblings were left behind, as Philip was chosen by Peter to move into our house.  Ten years ago, Philip was found dead in a squalid council flat.  The cause of his death was unknown and he was identified through DNA samples taken from his sister.   

Philip was one of many, possibly hundreds, of victims who were groomed and abused by Rands and his friends.  In researching my book, I found so many similar cases, children whose adult lives were devastated by perverts and predators who took advantage of them when they were at their most vulnerable.  

For those who have reservations about victims coming forward and claiming compensation for abuse they suffered, I would simply say, that Philip had a life worth saving,  It is unlikely however, that Philip's case would ever have reached a settlement or a trial.  Not surprisingly, he had a history of drug and alcohol abuse and his character would have been torn to shreds by opposing lawyers.  The Good Lord, if there is one, gave me the gift of writing, and a heightened sense of injustice.  I continue my campaign and speak out on behalf of victims like Philip, because I can.  Too many end up in prison or dead in the gutter.  While throwing our arms up in horror at the Savile revelations, lets not forget that the victims are real people who need help. 

Monday, 7 January 2013


Society has changed.  That is a fact.  Factories have been relocated to third world countries where child labour is legal, and the Internet is killing off the High Streets.  Vital telephone lines are operated by automatons and if we venture into a shop, we get little or no service, unless we join the baffled queue at the help desk.  

Ergo, traditional working class jobs have all but gone.  That's right, they have disappeared, and are never coming back. Whilst the bible might preach hard work ethics, the need to scrub our doorsteps or polish our betters' shoes, is no longer there.  Whats more, we no longer care about nods of approval from the toffs.  

Am I talking rebellion.  Not at all, (well maybe), just trying to clear up a bit of confusion.  Just as Gordon Gekko had the brass face to declare 'Greed is Good', I dare to say, 'Leisure is Good'.  I'll wait a few moments for a few to get their smelling salts.  We have more leisure time available.  All of us.  I haven't peeled a spud since I discovered frozen mash.  

Once we accept that we have more leisure time, we can start to look outwards, towards job creation. The idea that wearing a pinnie at 6.00a.m and looking stressed will enhance our reputations, is a myth. So too, the god given right of men to wander into the female free drawing room for a good cigar.  Or for most of us, the shout of 'just off to the pub'.  But this is not a feminist issue, it affects all of us.  Some men are riddled with guilt if they are caught out with their feet up watching Take Me Out, although, that might just be the catholic ones.    

I digress, It is shameful that the government is failing to invest in science, technology, academia, and yes, leisure?  As an enlightened society, shouldn't these subjects be the way forward? 

Shouldn't we also be investing in our children.  Yes, even the children of the undeserving, or more accurately, the ones who need it most?  SureStart was a brilliant scheme.  At a time like this, young families need more help than ever before.  Not by taking their children away, but by practical help in turning their, and their childrens' lives around.  

Apologies if I am now standing on a soapbox, but I cannot comprehend tory mentality and at times I feel like letting rip!  What do successful people have, that unsuccessful people do not?  Hope.  Yes its that simple.

We must adapt to the new technology that is now available.  There is no way of turning the clock back.  But it should be an exciting time.  Scientists should be discovering things that create industry and improve lives.  We were once world leaders, now we are somewhere behind Ecuador*

Life has improved for everyone, we are living longer, we are surviving once fatal diseases.  Over 50% of the population are employed by the Care Industry, and that figure will increase.  Thats reality.  The chances are, we will all, at some point of our lives, need care.  It makes sense to reward the carers, who often work 24/7 and live on a pittance.  Invest in the Care Industry, teat the workers with respect and a living wage.  

Meanwhile, thanks to all those who read and retweeted my blog.  For those who do not know me, I am a woman of two parts.  I spent the first half of my adulthood as a tipsy Margaret Thatcher, attempting to preach Marxism.  I always wondered why smart, fun guys always dumped me.  Now I know why.  In a nutshell, became enlightened when I hit 40 - that is became a mature student, and found out that Marx had a good friend called Engels.  Who knew?  Lost my religion (my safety belt - lighting candles at times of tragedy made me feel better) along the way.

Anyway, I muse on here, pretty het up about our current crisis these days, and doing what I can to help by getting on my soapbox.  

Ps. Watched the Iron Lady last night, and realised that I must have been pissed throughout the 80's because for a moment there I thought it was Mary Whitehouse at the helm, or that mad dog woman.  

* I have no idea if thats true, but you get the idea.  

Saturday, 5 January 2013


Have we learned nothing from history.  Beating a horse until it is half dead does not improve its performance.  As the dying creature drifts away off to Rainbow Bridge, it doesn't remember the lesson it was taught by the whip.  And those who loved it, will never forgive you. 

I have seen a growing use of the phrase 'and Dickens weeps' on Twitter and I muse, 'I am sure he does'.  When Thatcher was in power the common phrase was 'a return to Victorian values' and though no-one is saying it out loud, the feeling of it, at this current time, hangs thick in the air.  

Why are we allowing this criminal war on the poor to continue?  We didn't vote for THIS government, it was inflicted on us by machinations going on behind closed doors, and probably the flaunting of job titles.  I would like to see real polls on the feelings of the great British public towards the atrocities that are going on.  Are those enjoying a few titfers in the Dog and Duck, genuinely nodding their heads in approval, as Gideon gives them a wink, to look out for curtains closed beyond midday?  Do they sleep better knowing that the reprobate, dysfunctional family living down the road, are finally getting their comeuppance? And, of course, that thousands of disabled, lonely, and desolate people are being deprived of basic human needs and now have fewer meals and less contact with the outside world? 

How much does it cost to enforce these unending and barbaric interrogations of society's weakest?  And why are the public led to believe that abuse of the system is more widespread than the true statics reveal?  Why not look at wiping out the UK's debts, (probably in a stroke) by starting at the top of the pyramid, rather than the bottom?    

I'm no economist, but I know this is.  Roosevelt's solution seemed to have worked well.  The current road taken by this government, can only lead to disaster - The level of revenue lost through benefit fraud is miniscule in comparison to the tax evasion, and the cream that is being skimmed off at the top.  They don't care, they haven't a hope of winning the next election, and there are fortunes to be made.  This despot behaviour should be a cause for revolution.  How many people really support these welfare cuts? The British people, who created, and supported the NHS?  The envy of the world.  Surely not? Where are the civilised good eggs, who make up the backbone of all that is good in Britain? Are they speaking out? Where are the cries of 'I say, old chap, this is not cricket'?  

How do the admin staff at ESA and DLA, feel at what they are doing?  Do those who went into their jobs, do so with hope and good intentions?  Are they sickened at what they are having to do?  Are they the front line, for those who are screaming and angry?  Are none among them prepared to draw a line?

For those OK with this bizarro* Robin Hood government, how does it benefit them, other than a bit of spare cash for a flatscreen in the downstairs loo, maybe a better class of leisure activity (membership of a Pony Club) and their drinkipoos slightly more upmarket than White Lightening.  As an aside, I doubt anyone, other than the truly desperate, would drink that particular tipple through choice. Ditto, the watching of Jeremy Kyle - he's not that great, and like most, I only tune in, to catch that dreamed of moment, when one of his guests gives him a Glasgow Kiss.  

The poor drink and smoke!  So what, Gawd 'elp 'em? Even if the poor sods had any hope left, what else have they got?  There is no evidence to support taking away their gin, and giving them a diet of bread and gruel ever did the slackers any good.  Depriving them of all joy in life, rarely made them better people.  Occasionally, a bit more 'umble like' but much more likely to spit in your soup.  

*familiar to any Seinfeld fans out there - although it might originate from Superman (?) - it means reverse of everything.....