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.

Saturday, 1 September 2012


I was saddened to see the recent images of Goncalo Amaral, the former Portuguese Police inspector, who had the misfortune to pick up the poisoned chalice that was the case of the missing child, Madeleine McCann.  I can only hope that his drastic weight loss is the result of dieting and healthy living, rather than the living nightmare he has endured in his quest to find justice for a tiny, vulnerable child who mysteriously vanished from a small, tranquil resort in the beautiful Algarve.

Within moments of the child disappearing, a media campaign, the like of which we have never seen before, began in earnest.  With a Sky news channel dedicated to the hastily assembled Team McCann, we were continually fed daily, and sometimes hourly, updates, on the plight of the grieving parents, and the incompetence of the sardine munchers, who were doing nothing to help them. 

None were attacked so viciously as the Inspector in charge of the case, who bore the brunt of News International's powerful and sinister, unique brand of interpreting news to the satisfaction of its proprietor.  

In September 2007, Goncalo resigned, his career and reputation in tatters.  He had no option but to set the record straight, and rightly so.  When we leave this world, all that's left is a few trinkets and our reputation, and in the end our reputation is the only thing that really matters.  

In his book 'The Truth of Lie' he gives an honest account of the events, as they occurred, in the summer of 2007.  An account that tallies, almost verbatim, with  the police files that were released following the shelving of the investigation.  An investigation that had been seriously hampered by the overwhelming media attention and the scurrilous slurs of a newspaper industry that has since been found corrupt.

Goncalo Amaral was not a police chief with an immaculate uniform and shiny buttons, he worked overlong hours, he jeopardised his marriage, he is human.  However, he has never stopped caring about the plight of a lost little girl and his humanity shines through.  In his book he is gracious, and compassionate to the parents, he understood their loss, despite the viciousness of their campaign against him.

On 13th September the trial begins.  The McCanns are demanding £1.2m in damages from the man whose life they have virtually destroyed.  May justice prevail, Forca, strength to you Goncalo.  

'Today the only person prosecuted in the case of the disappearance of little Madeleine McCann is the officer who conducted the investigation'  Honorary Chief Commissioner of the National French Police