Sunday, 28 February 2016
Continuing my reply to a commentator on Part one of my Memoir course.......
The education system is a whole other topic for another day, lol, suffice to say, I gave up formal teaching with the words of William Blake ringing in my ears 'I must create my own system, or be enslaved by another man's' - a bit sexist, but I'm sure it applies to feisty women too.
I hasten to add, my teaching 'methods' were very effective. I took average, and below average students to A's and B+s, because my first criteria in teaching is to get the student to believe in him or her self. Once they believe they can do it, they can.
What qualifies me to teach writing? A lifetime's dedication I would hope! And a cabinet full of scripts, plays, short stories and everything and anything you could imagine that I haven't got round to sending out or publishing. My passion lies in the writing, both in my own and in others. I urge everyone to write because I know how liberating it can be, it sets you free and offers you a world to escape to, and if you have a constant dialogue running through your head, you don't have to nail your family/friends or an innocent passer by to a chair to force them to listen to it. If you can write, you will always have someone to talk to, even if it is only one of the other Norma No Mates that inhabit your brain. I think I would have to say truthfully, it was loneliness that drove me to write. I was a chatterbox in a small family of chatterboxes, it was pretty hard to get a word in edgeways! I had also reached the stage where I could only get family/friends, passers by, to listen to me if I plied them (and me) with liquor and sang Memory from Cats to them. Might explain why I am now on my own, doh! Now I ply them with tea and home cooked food. I'm not sure which is the greater evil - at the moment I am trying to perfect the chocolate chip cookie, my ginger nuts are to die for, and I refuse to use a liter option.
I think most of us have experienced that feeling of loneliness, even in our younger days when our homes and social lives were buzzing, a feeling of dissonance. OK, maybe just me. There are times in our lives of course, when we are fortunate to bump into a soul mate, someone who shares our enthusiasm and passion for whatever our interest is at the time and thinks it is perfectly reasonable for you to phone them at 4.00am to discuss a Broadway production of a new Les Miserable. In my experience, these soul mates are fleeting (there may be a reason for this), and in real life, it's best to keep the 'crazy' within you, until you have at least got a ring on your finger and a joint bank account.
Writing is a great way to unleash the 'crazy' without spending long spells in prison or a psychiatric ward. Who hasn't dreamed of sneaking up behind their partner with a rusty rake or planned a life of debauchery on a Jamaican beach with a guitar strumming Rastafarian? Ok, again, maybe just me. But I have to add, the wonderful Agatha Christie (would love to have had dinner with her) had a bit of a penchant for bumping off aristocrats in very grand surroundings.
Writing allows us to go off into whatever fantasy world we wish. We can create a hero or a heroine in whatever genre we choose. We can be the futuristic warrior or 19th century freedom fighter. We are not obliged to say I personally did that, or I thought that, we can put our words and deeds (and those of others) into the characters we create. How our readers interpret what we write is up to them.
This self consciousness is, I believe the biggest hurdle most writers face. I started out with a 'pen name' - Cristobell! It is a great way to unbind your inner free spirit. In this wonderful new age of technology, we can actually call ourselves by whatever name we wish, and if writing under a different name gives us the confidence to write, then why not? George Eliot. I rest my case. It is a tragedy that so many use anonymity for bad, when it can be used for so much good! Anyone can publish anything, under any pen name. For the first time in history any one of us can publish a book on any subject we want. We don't have to sit back and get buried by a pile of rejection letters, we have got the same chances of producing a bestseller as a multimillion pound publishing house. Social media has been a great leveller. We can all take our best shot. There are, for now, NO prohibitions. We can go further than writing a Mr or Mrs Angry from Tunbridge Wells letter, we can highlight any injustice we want in whatever form we want.
I am of course biased by my love of literature, but all the major social changes that have come about through the centuries, have been heralded in by those pioneers who highlighted life's injustices through art, literature and music. From those who finely honed their communication skills so they could connect with inner emotions, Charles Dickens, William Morris, Beethoven, they give us the ability to shine the light back onto ourselves, the endearing and starving urchins, the beauty for beauty's sake, the 'listen to me, God dammit!'.
For most people, getting past that 'naked in a crowded room' stage can take decades. Especially if there are a lot of harsh words from the past to undo. Navel gazing is a very strange preoccupation, it takes you off into places you could never have imagined and it's way, way cheaper than therapy! I always start by taking people back to the 5 year old they once were, the age when they completely free (we hope) to allow their inbuilt personality to shine through, without being inhibited by society's codes and conventions and their own growing self awareness. It sounds terrifying, but it's actually very cathartic and much easier to do than you would think. When you look back on your past, depending what frame of mind you are in, or what you hope to achieve, I recommend that you begin by looking for all that was good and everything that made you laugh. Everything that made you what you are now.
When you explore your own past, you have to begin by forgiving yourself for everything, you were young ffs, and you didn't have the wisdom your have now. Going back to tell a decrepit old lady that you once stole a gobstopper from her sweet shop, may absolve your conscious, but it is also likely to get you a whack over the head with an umbrella - same as it did first time round. You must accept that there were circumstances prevalent at the time that were beyond your control. And the same forgiveness must apply to your loved ones, your parents especially. They too probably found themselves in circumstances beyond their control and they were also once young and naïve.
The first rule of writing is that there are no rules. We are all unique and the grammar police often, just don't get it. There is nothing wrong with writing in your own vernacular. Everything doesn't have to be an academic essay, or a poem consisting of ten stanzas. They stifle freedom of speech by rigidly checking every line for grammatical errors and spelling mistakes whilst making us squirm. Whilst we should strive for perfection, it takes time and practice to get the narrative flowing, when in full flow, you go back and make the corrections later. I believe it is good manners to check your final work thoroughly, but if it is good enough you will have editors to do it for you! Meanwhile, you have google at your finger tips, spelling errors these days are just lazy, lol. And yes, I'm guilty of it too. We all are. First drafts will be far from perfect, even for writers with years of experience, but if you can forgive yourself the first errors and omissions (and you will be your own harshest critic) you would be advised to get another opinion before you tear up your manuscript and abandon your dream. You might just have the next Angela's Ashes or Hunger Games on your hands.
For all of those who want to write, and I think many people secretly do, they are put off firstly, by that intimidating fear that by 'writing anything down' they will expose their weakness with the written word, their spelling and grammatical errors, their inability to compose a complete text that they would be proud of. Most people have an almost adolescent self consciousness that they will mocked and derided, left naked in a crowded room, if they ever reveal their inner thoughts. They become almost paranoid, hiding everything they write away in a box under the bed, hoping no-body will ever look, or maybe somebody will, and that somebody will understand you and what you were trying to say. Even if it is one hundred years down the line.
That reticence is all too familiar to old writers as well new, but for new writers there is a terror that they will be thrown into the public spotlight and their lives will be torn apart by plebs. To them, I would say, they should be so lucky! The biggest problems potential authors have is getting someone, anyone, to read their work. Try walking up to people and saying do you want to read my manuscript, and see where that gets. The alternative of course is to send your manuscript of an agent, publisher, producers, where it will sit under the huge pile of more interesting autobiographies from the cast of TOWIE. Happily, having permanently startled eyebrows and inflated lips is no longer the only route to literary success. Every genre has an audience, and it has never been easier to 'create your own system'.
I have gone down the socially acceptable via an agent and publishing route. I have been 'edited' to an inch of my life, along with the mountain of legal readings and re-writes I had to do. It is exhausting! You are only assigned an editor for a limited time, and you have constant deadlines. My published book 'Cry and You Cry Alone' did not fit the 'misery memoir' genre, I did not embellish anything, and I did not give any graphic descriptions of abuse. I wasn't looking for sympathy.
But returning to your question and points 3 and 4 I believe. My course is in the draft stage at the moment. If I learned anything from teaching within the state system, it is just how crucial it is for a student to have individual attention, so I don't want a 'one size fits all' course and I really need to have a chat with the most logical person I know, who just happens to be meditating in a Buddhist monastery at the moment and is therefore uncontactable. (Or so he tells me :( ) A set course that caters for people across a wide range of abilities will not bring out the best in them, it won't allow their unique talents to shine through.
Most people who 'think' about writing have no idea how to begin. They don't even know what vernacular or genre they want to write in. They are without direction because they believe their work isn't good enough, or worse, ouch, that they should be ashamed of it - this where those ignorant teachers come in.
At the moment I am thinking about setting the course up as six sessions the first two consisting of 'how to get started' with exercises designed to help the student find their niche. The narrative style that is comfortable for them. No-one should be spending hours labouring over single chapters, or heaven forbid, single paragraphs. When your find your own comfort zone, the words will flow naturally. Along of course, with teaching the student how to turn their manuscript and ideas into a tangible, finished memoir or work of fiction, that they can publish themselves, or via a publishing house, or simply printed and preserved as a wonderful treasure for your family or future historians.
The objective of my course is to get those who want to write, writing. I want to get them to remove those invisible self awareness shackles and believe that everything they have to say is valid. It matters not a jot what other people think. There will be praise, but there will also be critics. Not least from those closest to you. When you are upstairs writing, you are not paying attention to them. It's 'A Room of One's Own' all again. To be well written, you have to be well read - that is essential and there are no shortcuts, well there are, but nothing beats reading night and day. The reading will expand your vocabulary. I will be recommending books that offer specific learning curves appropriate to students' aims and goals. No point in pointing them towards Eminem if they have a passion for Shakespeare.
At the moment, my memoir course is in the design stage, I'd like to get a bit of market 'what the customer wants' research before carving anything in stone. I have over the years encountered so many people who have such interesting and amazing stories to tell. And people who have such a natural gift for storytelling without even being aware of. Writing a memoir is not the daunting process most people believe it to be. Once you find a way in which to structure the plotline, with a beginning, a middle and an end, and a SUBTEXT, the narrative will come easily.
If you are inspired, and you will be if you set off on the journey of writing a book, you will be inspired by everything that is around you. An old black and white family photograph can take you back in time, the clothes, the expressions, the surroundings. It can stir memories and open up your mind as you try to imagine the worlds they lived in. The great great grandmother who gave birth to 11 children, was she happy exhausting her body and mind because Queen Victoria thought large families were a good thing? How about great great grandpapa, was he happy to go off to fight a war he didn't understand because it came with a regular pay cheque? (he had a lot of mouths to feed).
Many people now search for their Ancestry online, and heaven knows, I am sure we all have mountains of material there. If we are lucky (best seller wise) there will be a bit of skulduggery and I'm hoping in my case a long line of female rebels who were no better than they ought to be. The 'crazy' in my own bloodline seems to be predominantly in the female genes, possibly because my own grandmamma was a power crazy matriarch who made grown men and small children tremble. I jest of course, her self esteem was quite impressive, the Good Lord agreed with her, not the other way round.
But back to those questions. I am thinking of charging between £200.00 and £300.00 for the six session course. The introduction will be free, it will be a way in which I can assess the student's abilities and needs and they can assess my ability to teach them. I will also be offering editing and critiques, probably at around £200 per 5,000 words. I am also considering ghost writing, or re-writes but that would be considerably more as it would involve a lot of close contact with the 'author' in order to tell their story, and I have no figures for that at the moment.
As for 'being sober', lol, fortunately or unfortunately, I stopped drinking about 3 years ago, the spirit was willing but the body couldn't handle it! It's a shame really, because I used to write some batshit crazy stuff whilst under the influence, though tis true to say my grammar was all over the place! These days my drinking is restricted to a glass of sherry at Christmas and a maybe the odd noggin of a good red wine with a fine steak.
As well as a BA(Hons) degree, I have a Higher National Diploma in professional/ creative writing. I have studied in depth ways in which to structure narrative. Ways in which to fill that blank page. I can make a screenplay out of an afternoon sat in the waiting room of a busy consultant's office - I see clearly delineated stories where others only see a mish mash of great ideas but no way in which to connect them all together. A full accredited writing course will teach how to structure narrative, but I will do it the quick way. Very few writing courses are accredited by the way - my own HND was the first of its kind and quite unique at the time - and it was a two year course that included much,much more than writing.
I hope that my course will appeal to those who have already taken the first tentative steps. People who have been stuck on manuscripts for years because they can't think of an ending and they don't know which direction to take. I always recommend that you begin with 'The End' btw, because if you know what your grand finale is going to be, you can leave hints and pointers along the way, it makes it more interesting for the reader.
Friday, 26 February 2016
As many of my readers are aware, I am constantly urging people to write their memoirs - not least because it is one of the greatest gifts they can pass onto their children and grandchildren. It will survive the house, the car and the weary old bones, and if you are lucky it will give future descendants of your bloodline an insight into how their family has evolved. What wouldn't we give to take a peek into the lives our ancestors, to understand the times in which they lived and their hopes and dreams for the future. And if you want to publish it, you might even have a bestseller on your hands!
Everyone has a book in them, and writing a memoir is often the kickstart they need. When you write a memoir, you have a subject that you already know, you were there, you lived it. Sights, sounds and even smells can bring all those memories flooding back, and I can show you ways in which to capture those moments with the written word.
The biggest hurdle for most wannabe writers is their irrational fear of other people reading their work. I know that fear! I have lived it. For many years I crept downstairs during the night to bash away at an old typewriter, only to scrunch the pages up and throw them in the bin. I felt that my 'secret habit' was a bit weird, it wasn't something I ever spoke about - while sober. In my social circle, writing was seen as a bit arty and pretentious and being a writer wasn't something a working class woman like myself should aspire to.
To all those aspiring writers out there struggling with that hurdle, I would say, don't scrunch your work up and bin it, and don't press that delete button. But most of all, don't give up! Many writers can overcome that hurdle with writing classes and I can't recommend them enough, but what they are really looking for is a way in which to get started and a way in which to structure the narrative so that it has a beginning, a middle and an end.
I will shortly be offering a 6 session writing and mentoring course to kickstart that memoir. The course will be individually tailored to each writer's needs, with personal tuition via phone and Skype together with written critiques. I will also be offering reviews and editing services for those further along in the process.
I am hoping to get a website up and running soon, but in the meanwhile, if anyone is interested, please contact me at Rosalindhutton@aol.com
Sunday, 21 February 2016
My spambox has been especially busy this past couple of days with sneaks from the cesspit trying to promote the Richard Hall videos. Just for the record I am not going to publicise theories that name and accuse all and sundry of lying and being involved in a heinous crime. I think it is morally reprehensible that people who through no fault of their own are being 'investigated' (stalked) by groups of self appointed vigilantes who have put them on public trial and found them guilty, based on nothing more than their own prejudices.
I watched the first videos that Richard Hall produced and was deeply dismayed at the 'school boy' errors and the obvious input of chief conspiracy loon Tony Bennett. Richard seems like a nice enough guy, but he has either been totally bamboozled by Bennett (many have, see his Wiki entry) or, and I hate to say this, he has been too lazy to check the facts out for himself. Another reason of course, may be the 'answer to every question', the old filthy lucre. The mystery of Madeleine McCann is a global phenomenon, documentaries, books etc about the case could potentially make millions. Even justice seekers have to earn a crust.
I fully understand why the disappearance of Madeleine has gripped the inner detective that lies within all of us, For some of us the need to know who dunnit, how they did it and most of all, why, can be overwhelming. In the early days, I would have compared my own obsession with this case to Sir Edmund Hillary's need to reach the top of Mount Everest, giving up was never an option. I read everything, and I mean literally everything I could find, and in the early days, thousands followed and commented on this case. It took a long time to sort the wheat from the chaff, but I had a few golden rules. If the theorists I read dismissed or worked round the evidence of the dogs, I stopped reading (Birch) . If they dismissed the work of Goncalo Amaral and the PJ, I stopped reading (Bennett, HideHo, Textusa). If they stuck rigidly to their own theories 'I'm right, dead right', I stopped reading (all of them, plus Peter (last photo) mac).
Eventually, I reached the conclusion, that the only people who know exactly what happened within Apartment 5A, were the occupants and those present at the time, and they ain't telling. The police may be able to work out a scenario based on the forensic and witness evidence available, but will it be strong enough to convince a jury? It should be remembered that the 'authorities' have resources and facilities that the armchair detectives can only dream of. With their limited 9 year old evidence (PJ files), their theories are already nearly a decade out of date.
The problem with 'bad' researchers like Tony Bennett, is that they bring all their prejudices to whatever they do. Tony Bennett had already reached a conclusion before his 'research' into this case began - that is, it involved deviant sex and had links to the hated Labour government of the time. All his work thereafter has been led by confirmation bias, he has been looking for evidence that will support his own conclusions. Those who support his work, will have the same prejudices, ergo, they will empathise, his words will be theirs too.
Whilst confirmation bias has its' audience, it rarely, if ever, leads to the truth. And for those of us who want the truth and nothing but the truth, it just isn't good enough. It would be like cutting the edges off round pegs, forcing them into square holes and saying 'that'll do' or even Sir Edmund settling for a ledge near the top because be 'wanted to go home now'. These theorists are trying to satisfy our need to know with very dodgy, makeshift props that fall to pieces if you give them a prod.
Unfortunately, the McCann case already has an established and very dodgy audience. Many thousands were initially drawn to this case because they were appalled that the mainstream media were bending over backwards to excuse the child endangering and gross negligence of this group of doctors in the lead up to the holiday season. They were also quite clearly, in yer face, covering something up. Unfortunately, it also attracted droves of the self righteous and the sanctimonious, who used the case as a platform to tell us just how perfect they were, the usual nutters (psychos, misfits, obsessives, wannabe stalkers) and those who wanted to lead angry mobs.
The largest group 'the usual nutters', have mostly, moved on to other targets and victims, but as becomes clear if you google 'McCann', a number still remain. The majority who remain however, are still here because they care very much what happened to that little girl who went missing on her holidays. They are here because they cannot accept that a small vulnerable child can just disappear with no-one being held accountable. They are the good people who won't stand by and allow evil to flourish. They are here because they understand that the evil behind that child vanishing is still eating into innocent lives. They are appalled at the injustice of a decent cop having his good name and reputation slandered because he has never forgotten what this case is all about. They are appalled that an innocent lady could be driven to her death by the dark forces who will literally go to any lengths to keep the truth hidden. I can only say, God help those who are living with that dark hand over them, they have lost their freedom. The majority of us are here now because we haven't forgotten Madeleine, and because we cannot stand by and say nothing whilst this evil air of corruption continues.
I think it is fair to say that this case has shown millions of tabloid readers just how much they have been manipulated. They now know beyond a shadow of a doubt that their newspapers can and do lie to them. In the pre internet days, news could be contained within borders, the opinions of an entire nation could be swayed and manipulated with make or break front pages. Cover ups now are virtually impossible, most of the population walk around with camera phones and instant updates on anything they want. This case has illustrated how the mainstream media have lost control, newspaper sales have plummeted, well known journalists have been exposed as part of the establishment, no longer led by a search for the truth, so much as regular job and pay cheque. On that one aspect I will commend Richard Hall, he does at least pursue his ideas, even if they are a bit off the wall and in the case of the Holocaust denier, downright objectionable to many of us. I don't want his work banned, nor do I want to steer people away, I always advise people to check these things out for themselves and to have faith in their own judgment.
Whilst I am all for fearless documentary making, I have no respect for those that are not guided by honesty and integrity. The most groundbreaking and indeed the most successful of those documentary greats are the ones that target the main players and resist the temptation to go off at a tangent to massage their own egos. Four hours of 'look at how much work I've done' is a turn off for most people. The urge to say, shut up and get to the point overwhelms most of us within the first 30 minutes. The 'A' list presenters and commentators can show how much work they have done within a 2 minute segment, they don't have to accompany it with a biography and a time and motion study.
Not only has Richard Hall been led off on a tangent by Tony Bennett - distastefully, all the people being accused in the Richard Hall videos have no right of reply. They are targeting people who are bound by their own (decent) morals and values, and quite possibly judicial secrecy. Just because we are able, if we are that way inclined, to track down all the people named in the released PJ files doesn't mean that we should. Those 'researching' the witnesses do not seem to understand that what they are doing has gone above and beyond that which most of us would consider socially acceptable behaviour. In my opinion, it borders on psychopathic, there is something a bit 'Salem Witch Trials' about getting a crowd to point a finger at a selected target. But above all else, it is sleazy and it is creepy and it is no doubt why many of them, hang onto their anonymity for dear life.
The continuation of the abduction story is not without victims, people who are being made to suffer and live in fear to perpetuate the myth that Madeleine was taken by a stranger. An effective government keeps the masses in check with fear. Fear of aliens (the ones with dark skins who carry backpacks) and fear of paedophiles (one lurking on every corner and waiting to climb in the kids' bedroom window when the lights go out). Being named and shamed is a dark secret fear held by most of us. We can always find something to torment ourselves with if we put the effort into it. But mostly we very protective of our personal boundaries. Of course, attention seekers like myself are always vying for centre stage, but most people like to lead quiet unassuming lives, or they want to be known by their own talents, not their connection to an infamous missing child case. It was her connection to the Madeleine case that led directly to the death of Brenda Leyland, something those naming and accusing the witnesses in this case should probably bear in mind when they share these videos.
Those promoting these supposedly truthful accounts of what happened to Madeleine McCann are contributing to the trauma of those who are simply trying to get on with their lives. The accusations against Robert Murat are unspeakable and the possible repercussions do not bear thinking about if a gullible deranged viewer decides to take this form of justice one step further. All employers now google potential candidates, how many of those named in the PJ files have seen their lives torn apart by these zealous 'researchers'. For libel purposes, I expect the damages are at present incalculable.
I will not add to their suffering by sharing the malicious and accusatory words of people looking for a short cut to easy money by claiming to 'know' what happened to Madeleine McCann. Or more accurately, what everyone in PDL was getting up to that night, bar the people in Apartment 5A. In any event, the answer is cash. Media sensations like the Madeleine story are few and far between, it was bound to attract opportunists, people who would use the case of a missing child to set up a pretty pointless Foundation. I have no problem with people making money from their talent, but stalking innocent strangers online is not a talent and accusing them of covering up the death of a child is despicable. However, I don't want to ban these pulp fiction chancers, nor do I want to silence them, the only way to deal with them is to challenge them directly and point out all the glaring, and downright ridiculous, flaws in their confirmation bias approach to research.
Among the victims of all the Madeleine related spin offs, is Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Information. The case of missing Madeleine has been, and is, being used by those lobbying for new privacy laws and restraints on what the media publish. It is also being used by those who want legal access to all our computers. For our own protection, doncha know. Their battle cry is 'think of the children'.
But I have digressed. I haven't watched Richard's videos, nor will I (at this stage). I am very precious about my time and at the moment I am desperately seeking episodes of Family Guy (suffering serious withdrawal symptoms). I am still vexed at the 4 hours I 'lost' last time I watched the Hall videos. I am still struggling to forgive Mark Wahlberg for The Happening (a title that takes irony to the extreme) for the 2 hours I will never get back. Though it must be said, he has gone some way to make up for it with Ted. The Hall videos however remain in the never go there again closet.
It would be wrong therefore for me to pass judgement on Richard's videos, I only have knowledge of his previous videos that I am afraid left me less than enthralled. Apart from the absurdity of armchair detectives 'knowing for certain' what happened to Madeleine from the 9 year old evidence, I am horrified that real people associated with this case are being targeted and put on public trial by groups of vigilantes. For some people, enough is never enough, they want/need that 'satisfying' end and if it sits comfortably with their own view of the world, as near as dam it will do.
These Madeleine theorists are not justice seekers nor are they tackling the real cover up that is going on. They are not life's achievers, they are not the movers and shakers, they are the fly by nights who zoom in, spend 5 minutes taking stock of the situation, before passing their expert opinion, and flying back off (probably via UFO) back to their real interests (aliens in Richard's case, the new world of Sodom and Gomorrah in Tony's). They don't really care about the characters involved, they don't see them as the real people they are, they are as real and empathetic to Richard as his extra terrestrials and to Tony, as his band of demons. They are collateral damage in their individual quests to become Cult leaders. Also, Robert Murat got a huge payout for the dreadful slurs against his name and reputation and that irks some people, even to this day.
I have become very philosophical in the years that I have studied this case. Not only have I examined the motives of all those involved, I have carefully examined my own. I have long forgiven myself for my obsessive need to 'solve the puzzle', it is a human trait shared by many, a driving force some might say. Of course there are more important and imminent problems to solve all around me, but I'm fixated on this one, a bit like Sir Hilary. I now know the 'answer', in as much as I am 98% there on how the strings were pulled, but I couldn't possibly say. As to the logistics of how the actual scenario played out, I know only as much as Goncalo Amaral shared with us in his book The Truth of the Lie.
I can take an educated guess at the psychology of what lay behind the actions of the inner group, but that can be nothing more than an opinion. Though I have to say, it is a very informed opinion. One of the modules of my degree course, included deconstructing literature, and it was subject I took to with great relish, and have pursued ever since. Tis my nature to deconstruct everything, an irritating trait, but I've learned to live with it. And the McCanns and the witness statements have given me so much to deconstruct!
With Gerry's blogs and Kate's diaries, they saw a 'Kardashian' future of flashing paparazzi with newspapers and magazines queuing up to buy their story. They put their love of the cameras and airtime above their own self protection. They switched off that part of the brain that was telling them every time they appeared on camera and gave interviews they were giving themselves away.
They truly believed they had anyone who listened to them, fooled, every opportunity to speak directly to the public was taken, because they believed the more they talked, the more convincing they would be. None of their advisors it seems has had the nerve to point out they have been digging themselves deeper and deeper into a hole.
Kate perfected the 'look at how sad I am' whiney voice, almost at the outset of this case. I'm guessing it's the one that has worked so well and on so many occasions since childhood. They have told the abduction story so often, they probably even believe it themselves. Kate even manages faux outrage at the suggestion Madeleine could have got out of the apartment on her own, she almost has to stop herself from saying 'haven't you been listening'. It vexes her when her judgment is questioned. One can almost see the 6 year old Kate stamping her feet and threatening to be sick. But I am not going to deconstruct the huge volume of videos and texts available in this case just now, suffice to say that for anyone studying human behaviour, deceit, body language, psychology, actually any 'ology', this case provides volumes of resources.
In the early days, the MSM were rushing for the opinion of Kate and Gerry(or they were just giving it via their press office) on major news stories and childrens' issues. The epitome of good, solid, middle class family values and phenomenal fund raisers. In other words, an advertiser's dream. Their 'cash value' took precedence over the morals and scruples involved. The Tapas Group's half arsed form of parenting was not only whitewashed, it was almost recommended as ditzy sofa queens rushed to console Kate by saying 'we all do it'. Thus ensuring that the prisoners of Mother England are not only looked down on by our European neighbours for the thuggish behaviour of our football hooligans and inability to cope with alcohol, we are also known as habitual neglecters of young children. The British establishment treated their Portuguese suspect status as totally insignificant, almost with contempt, with the then head of CEOP Jim Gamble, sitting alongside the two arguidos publicising a 'live' missing child. The Portuguese would not have shelved their investigation if there were any prospect of finding Madeleine alive and if there was a child predator on the loose in the Algarve. There is no evidence of an abductor and there is no evidence of Madeleine being alive.
Despite all of the above, Kate 'we checked on them every half hour' McCann was made Ambassador for Missing Children and no doubt had lots of parenting advice books lined up for the highest bidder. For those thinking this is entirely a joke piece, the aforementioned really happened. Mrs 'it worked so well for 5 nights' Mcann is the face of a major charity. Whilst the theorists are chasing their own preconceived ideas, they are overlooking the obvious injustices that are staring them in the face and continue to affect the lives of others. They are targeting the nannies, the neighbours, or anyone who ever set foot in PDL or played golf, and they are overlooking the fact that a mother who left her very small children on their own, and makes no apologies for it, and who left 48 police questions unanswered is the face of a major charity supported by the Establishment.
From what I do know, Richard is sticking with his initial thoughts (or should I say Bennett's initial thoughts) that is he has veered off into the realms of 2 degrees of separation and a vast amount of speculation, by a deranged 'researcher' who is quite obviously a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic - and a nasty one at that. Will I be watching the videos, nah, I think I'll stick with the far more enlightened world of the Griffins.
Ps. I am astonished that those who left the Jill Havern forum because of the cesspit's harassment of the Smith family and other innocent witnesses, are now promoting the videos of Richard Hall on the Candyfloss forum, This is despite the fact that Richard has not only expanded on Bennett's initial stalking and harassment, he has raised it to a whole new level and taken it to a bigger audience. Live and learn.
Saturday, 20 February 2016
I haven't commented on the latest flurry of Madeleine stories, because to be honest, I was feeling a bit sorry for the main players. Their world must be closing in on them, it's a bit like a car crash where you just don't want to look anymore. Besides which, the stories are just more of the same thing we have been seeing on a regular basis for the past 9 years. Madeleine is still missing and the McCanns are still looking and hoping and using their children as human shields.
I try not to pass judgment on other people's behaviour, but ffs, what is wrong with the very proactive family who surround the parents, that they are allowing those poor kids to be dragged into this mire of deceit? Isn't there one among them with a sense of decency and conscience? They are in it up to the necks, but the kids don't have to be. If those kids have trust issues in their lives, the very proactive family will have only themselves to blame.
Kate and Gerry know the public do not like them, so they are using the kids' names in the press releases to ward off criticism of themselves. It is a cowardly thing to do, the twins are at an age where newspaper front pages can affect their lives, especially if they are mentioned by name.
And using their children for sympathy is not new to them. As soon as Kate and Gerry cottoned on how unpopular they were, they used Madeleine's name and face in earnest. 'It's about an innocent little girl' said the father, 'it's not about us' said the mother. Now they are using the twins. 'They want their sister back' Kate tells us, because she knows the sad faces of herself and her husband are no longer tugging at our heart and purse strings.
I probably wouldn't have commented, but I hate being manipulated, especially when it is so obvious. It feels like an insult to my intelligence. I felt like that in 2007 when Kate appeared at the Portimao police station with Cuddlecat strategically placed so that it peeked cutely out of the top of her rucksack as she went in for her interview. Not to mention of course, her snazzy Madeleine badge - available at their newly opened online shop along with good quality wristbands.
We are being manipulated again, the McCanns are keeping THEIR story on the front pages - they are probably building a defence and attempting to get the public back onside by using their children to gain sympathy. Don't any of the adult family members want her back? Those aware of all the facts and the implications of what they are saying? All those relatives who rushed out to join them at Warners' Resort?
The latest news stories tell us that as this case draws to a close, the McCanns still have nothing from Operation Grange that clears them or suggests that Madeleine is still alive. Kate believes Madeleine, is not a million miles from Portugal, not because the police have said so, but because it is where she feels closest to her. We are led to believe that the parents are working with Operation Grange, and the McCanns have also told us that the investigation gave them hope. Yet apart from the age progression picture when Operation Grange began, the police have given them nothing tangible to say in their defence. And they have not been searching for a live child - there has never been any urgency to their investigations so the idea they have been looking for a live child is absurd. Methinks the parents and the police are not reading from the same hymn sheet.
I don't think Operation Grange will end well for the McCanns. Even if there are no arrests, the dark cloud will remain and the years ahead will be lined with civil actions. They are eternal litigants, they can never walk away. They also live with the risk that the pact can break at any time. There are too many involved for this to remain a secret forever. Relationships break down and change, consciences gnaw at the troubled in the wee small hours, driving them insane. No-one can ever be certain what another might do. Trust turns to hatred, dependence turns into a prison. As long as they all have to rely on each other, their lives can't be anything other than a living hell. That they continue with it, is another 'unbelievable' to add to the ever growing list in this case. Personally, I'd rather have cocktails with Fred and Rosemary West than that lot.
Monday, 15 February 2016
Whilst I do believe there are restrictions over the reporting of the Madeleine case, for most mainstream journalists, the Maddie case is one among thousands landing on their newsdesks every day. They simply don't have the time or inclination to concentrate on one specific case. A case that will never pay the rent because no-one will publish their findings whilst a live criminal investigation is underway.
Newspapers are loathe to publish stories or articles that will land them in a legal quagmire, the news industry is too fast moving to get bogged down on individual stories that are unlikely to pay off, or even get past their legal teams. I had a book published by Random House and the 'legal reading' is very intense, even the 'giants' are very wary of UK Libel Law. Busy newsdesks have hundreds of stories to run past the lawyers and the problematic ones are usually ditched.
The idea that mainstream journalists KNOW the intimate details behind each and every story they report on, is ludicrous. Their job is to report the news, not to judge the participants and select those who are worthy or not worthy of airtime. This is where the cesspit went seriously awry. They judge the reporters of the news rather than the news they are reporting. Eg. That story can't be true because the reporter is a known adulterer. They can't trust anyone other than the editor of the Parish magazine. In a nutshell, they have lost the plot.
At the moment the floodgates are holding up because there is a live criminal investigation underway. Most people, even avaricious old media moguls, understand that it would be morally reprehensible to interfere in a criminal investigation. Let's not forget that this case is about a little girl who's life was cut short and who deserves justice. Those conducting their own investigations and bombarding Operation Grange with FOI requests and Petitions are doing Madeleine a disservice, they are actively interfering in the judicial process by tying the police up with nonsense, and harassing witnesses. I fear their interference will prevent any trial or any justice for Madeleine, and I'm actually beginning to wonder if that has been their aim all along.
Not only are they wasting the Officers time, they are accusing them of corruption at the very least, and God knows what else, in their private discussion rooms. They are protecting themselves from libel action by using anonymity, but their present safety lies in the fact that they are probably such a low priority in this case that no-one can be arsed with them. But let's hope they have all added their real names to Bennett's Petitions anyway.
As it stands there has been no conclusion to the Madeleine case. Operation Grange, may have wound down, but it hasn't closed. At the moment there is nothing to protest against. If it merely drags on without any announcement or result, anyone of us are free to take the matter to our local MP so that questions can be raised in the Houses of Parliament. We live in a democracy, the investigation has been publicly funded, it cannot just be filed away with no questions asked.
Meanwhile what kind of justice do we want? I don't think anyone can dispute that those directly involved are living under a very dark cloud. Their lives are no longer their own, they are all dependent on the links of a chain holding strong. They are living in fear, and I cannot think of a worse prison than that. A pro once asked me if it would really be so bad if they 'got away with it', and to be honest, I did have to stop and think about it. The crime suspected is grotesque but the punishment is lifelong.
But returning to reality, the 'crime' didn't stop there, it grew and multiplied and it has been very cruel and destructive, not only for those daft enough to allow themselves to become so entangled, but to innocent bystanders and the cop who had the misfortune of being handed the poisoned chalice. They deliberately set out to bring misery and fear to others, and they have preyed on peoples' kindness and generosity to amass a large fortune. But worse, and in the words of Kate 'they will never stop'.
Wednesday, 10 February 2016
[in response to Nuala from The Case Against Robert Murat]
THE SWINGING THEORY
The discussion seems to have veered off in the direction of the 'swinging theory' and in response to Nuala, you are right, we may not agree but the matter is open to debate.
It may be that I have led a particularly sheltered life, but I have never in all my years, known any swingers or attended any swinging parties. I have attended many parties where people have got drunk, taken drugs and ended up under the host, but they don't generally start out with those intentions. Well not if the fights, rows and divorces that follow are anything to go by.
My knowledge of swinging parties comes mainly from the old News of the World, and from sneeky peeps at my friend's Dad's collection of Forum magazines. Fantasy stuff that didn't go on in the 'real' world. Similarly, I have never known anyone who has had an intimate relationship with their twin tub or who regularly attends fetish parties. I'm not saying these murky worlds do not exist, the NOTW regularly featured stories of politicians caught with their trousers down, and Madams Whiplash spilling the beans. I don't however, ever remember entire holiday resorts devoted to middle class swingers. And what a story it would have been?
Whilst I hate to put it too strongly, the swinging theory is insane. Have these theorists even had a cursory glance at the main characters? Do they honestly believe that the clingy Kate, who nearly went into meltdown when Gerry flirted with the quiz mistress, would say 'your turn with my husband Fiona'?
You say that it was extraordinary for there to be 300 tourists in PDL?, do you have stats for the previous years or for similar resorts for the same week? You say that it was well known that Warners held swinging events. 'Well known' where? Do they advertise? The Lancet perhaps?
I don't know if Textusa or other believers in the swinging theory are parents themselves. I tend to think not, because if they are, they will remember the baby and toddler years as the most stressful and argument filled years of their marriages. Those who believe babies mend relationships are completely deluded. Babies and toddlers bring chaos, they take over everything, they never give you a minute's peace and they win every argument. Most couples return from family vacations swearing never to do it again, and talking divorce. Until the following year. Time is kind like that, it keeps smoothing the rough edges off so eventually all you can see is the laughter.
You also say Nuala, that PDL was filled with VIPs, high fliers and professionals. Where is the evidence for this? In the summer of 2007, it was also filled with every enthusiastic crime journalist in the world, how come none of them picked up on that? I don't find anything particularly strange about 300 tourists being in PDL. It is a pleasant resort, family friendly, and the weather conditions were perfect for young children and sports enthusiasts. It may be that this resort had a good reputation via a grapevine, and of course, most of the tapas group had enjoyed Warners' resorts before.
I fear Textusa and the swinging theorists have tied themselves up in a similar knotted yarn ball as Tony Bennett. That is, they came to one definitive conclusion several years ago, and have no way in which to wriggle out of it without admitting they were/are wrong.
I am intrigued by your final sentence Nuala. You say if the swinging theory is wrong, there must be something else 'that fits the bill'. Why? As I often say, I am a follower of the school of thought that is KISS (Keep it Simple Stupid), the first and most simple explanation is usually the right one. Even Team McCann knew that, 'It was an abduction. End of'.
Though the idea of a family resort for swingers is novel, even the NOTW would never have run with that one. Whilst some might say swinging is not seedy, taking your kids along, is. And accusing 300 people of abandoning their kids to go have sex with strangers should keep the libel courts tied up for years.
I tend to think that those who come up with these fantastic sex stories, have read way too much fire, brimstone and Black Lace. They come from the imaginations of those a little bit detached from the 'normal' world. I am guessing they have very little sexual experience and any information they do have, comes from bible based resources that warn them about the evils that lie at the heart of our society. In this instance, Mark Warners resorts.
Textusa may well be an enjoyable read for crime enthusiasts who like cryptic clues and long winded plotlines, but she strayed from reality a long time ago. The idea that some major world player was whooping it up in PDL with Kate and Gerry in a popular and very public, holiday resort is absurd. All the couples had very young children with them and they were up early every morning to sort the kids out and play tennis. How could they manage all of this if they had spent their nights running in and out of each other's chalets Carry On style?
There was/is a cover up, but that cover up relates to the blunders made by the incumbent government and the police agencies who rushed to assist the parents. When the truth does come out there will be a lot of red faces - among them politicians, top police officers and television crime reporters. Meanwhile, the known facts of this case are intriguing enough, why the need to embellish them?
My credibility as a CSA survivor is somewhat diminished by the fact that I was not sexually abused while in the care of St. Anne's Convent, Orpington. Those who were sexually abused would argue that we who were not, have no idea how they feel. Their abuse, the majority would say, was far worse.
I am curious to know what constitutes sexual abuse? I don't know if there is a scale that exists, and I wouldn't dare try to google one for fear of a dawn raid. As a young girl about town in the 80's, I was often groped on the bus and fondled on the underground, and if I wasn't, I wore more lipstick. Nothing starts the day better than a wolfwhistle, a fag and an expresso. I jest of course, not with the wholfwhistles, but gropers can be swiftly despatched with a sharp elbow or a swift kick - when did girls become such wusses?
What constitutes sexual abuse in the workplace? I once had a creepy boss who had a tendency to stick his bald head between my double 34DD's and my typewriter keyboard. Was that 'abuse'? It was peculiar, but was it abusive? I found it hilarious, and to be fair, he was far from the only one. As a legal secretary, I had one boss who asked me to stay late so he could show me his secret stash of handcarved phallic symbols, I was broke at the time and on the clock, so I thought what the hell. Such was my experience working for lawyers, I thought most of them were giant dicks anyway.
In trying to understand how sexual abuse occurs and in how it is so much worse than physical abuse, I can only draw on my own experience. Life is not so much about what happens to us in this life, it lies in the way we react to it. I was 'groped' as a child, but it didn't wreck my life. Being physically and mentally forced to believe in and abide by a religious lifestyle that was totally alien to me however, brought me black eyes, multiple bruising, hair ripped out and social isolation.
In the convent environment, those 'favoured' by the Uncles and nuns received privileges that were denied to the girls and the younger children. We were envious of their outings, their new clothes, the fact that they were allowed to stay up and watch telly all night. The way they were treated was polemically opposite to the way in which we were treated. I understand now that they were victims too, but it didn't feel that way at the time.
The reason most of us didn't tell was because we were punished as a group. If one of us 'told' we would ALL suffer. It was a very effective way of keeping the more rebellious among us in check. Whilst we didn't care what happened to us, we cared very much what happened to our siblings, friends and the little ones. We formed a bond between us that has spanned 40+ years. We covered up for each other and we took punishments for each other, it was us against them.
I hid the physical abuse from my beloved Dad, because of how much it would have hurt him. For those sexually abused, that fear, I am sure, multiplies. Nobody wants their horrible, intimate sexual experiences broadcast to the nation, and most of all, they don't want their nearest and dearest to know about them.
My advice to them, is stick with your instincts, you have no need or obligation to drag up the negativity from your past. Whilst the graphic descriptions have an established voyeuristic readership and the full attention of the child protectors, they are destructive to the author. Reliving trauma over and over doesn't make you feel good. Reminding yourself of all the bad things that have happened to you is a recipe for lifelong clinical depression. Self pity is negative and destructive. Our brains are far more advanced than the Freudians, they file the bad stuff away in the corner to gather dust and we should learn to leave it there.
But is sexual abuse worse than physical abuse? On personal level, I would prefer a stroke on the bottom to a punch in the eye. On an institutional level, how would a child given the option of eating a plate of vomit and/or being locked in the coat cupboard all night, see it? Physical abuse was of course, far more prevalent but it was an accepted part of the society's culture, so it is harder to prove. And if you throw in psychological abuse, you open the floodgates. What kind of fucked up ideology drags small children from their beds at 6.00am every morning to go stare at the grotesque image of a half naked man dying on a crucifix with blood pouring out of his wounds while a priest tells them how wicked they are. Girls especially who kicked off all life's ills by opting for fruit from a different vine.
There is more than an abundance of the homo erotic to Christianity. From the carefully chiselled muscular figures of Michelangelo to the naked male cherubs on the walls of almost every ancient church. Jesus is bachelor supported by 12 equally sexually abstinent male followers and one fallen hussy they saved from a stoning. From a sexual and voyeuristic perspective, the bible is filled with stories of male heroism, David faced Goliath, Peter founded the Vatican, Jesus. a hot single guy in his early 30's, was the Saviour.
For this reason, the majority of the sexual victims were boys. Abusers believe they must follow the teachings of the bible, the teachings of the bible allows and indeed encourages the disciplining of young men. As for the distinction between physical and sexual abuse, the spankings, whippings and sensory depravation made no difference to the male or female victim's behaviour, so exactly who was benefitting from it? What is to say there was no sexual motivation behind the physical abuse. From a personal perspective, it was just as degrading being dragged to the ground by my hair and given a good kicking in front of my friends.
Unfortunately, physical abuse does not have the sensationalism or popular appeal of sexual abuse, sexual abuse will always elicit the most media response. Unless it reaches the proportions of Baby 'P', it will remain the less interesting sister. The physical abuse of children is a murky area. The government has no right to tell parents how to discipline their children, and physical abuse is far from confined to institutions. 85% of us come from dysfunctional homes. But that is a statistic just like any other, what is functional?
Returning to those affected by sexual abuse. Most victims will have been men, and the male of the species are not known for sharing their innermost thoughts. And they shouldn't be forced to. All those who have put their sorrows behind them are the ones who have been successful and who have thrived. They were the invulnerable children, the ones who didn't allow their bad, early experiences to throw them off their goals. The best form of revenge is live well.
Friday, 5 February 2016
Many thanks to Jim (The Pope says....) , who kindly contacted me and is going to buy my book. I wanted to reply to Jim, but not just to Jim, to all those caught up in the debacle of the CSA trials and investigations. Or what will probably come to be known as New Labour's Witch Hunt.
I wanted to call my book Cry and You Cry Alone, 'The Invulnerable Child' and I kind of wish now that I had stuck to my guns. It wasn't a misery memoir and I wasn't a victim, I created an entirely different genre, one that a former lecturer of mine, used to teach on his HND course, bless him. I broke the mould, not that it got me anywhere, lol.
I always say I regret nothing, only because I like singing No Regrets Edith Piaf style when I get drunk. It kind of breaks the moment if you say, 'well there was that one time.......'. But I do deeply regret that I allowed the actions of those psychopaths in St. Anne's to have such a big influence over my life. I wasted 40+ years plotting ways and means in which to get revenge. I wanted to expose the evil that went on in that institution. Ultimately, I achieved what I wanted, I got them into Court and I got a major publishing deal. I got the opportunity to tell my story, but it didn't make me better.
I lost my legal case because of Limitation Laws (the time in which you can bring a case) and the fact that I did not present myself as a broken victim. 'And how does a person like you, know a word like 'malevolent, Miss Hutton', asked the barrister for the Defence. Which pretty much summed up the whole tone of the trial. When the Defence Lawyer and the barrister shared stories of their own jolly japes in the boarding school dorm, I knew I was doomed.
Not that I am bitter - the Noddy car will be mine one day! I regret spending so much time blaming other people for everything that has gone wrong in my life. In my case these people were 40 year old ghosts that I summoned up when the man I loved didn't love me back, or I didn't get the job I wanted. I blamed the nuns for spoiling my education by forcing me to scrub floors so I couldn't do my homework. I blamed the rabid ex opus dei monk for trying to force his fucked up ideology into our young and vulnerable minds. Who teaches kids 'mortification of the body is good for the soul' and gets promoted for it?
I still believe that those who survived the government funded gulags should be compensated for the horrors they endured but without being put on trial themselves. It is now, I hope, widely accepted that institutions are prone to turning into dystopian nightmares. They create the same environments as the 'Zimbado experiment'. That is, the inmates will divide into prisoners and guards and unless someone intervenes, there is likely to be tragedy.
The number of survivors of these 'institutions' would run into hundreds of thousands. The authorities are presently holding back the floodgates, which is why they are fighting the individual cases so vigorously. The institutional abuse of the 1960's and 1970's, was part of the hegemony that existed at the time. It was recommended that children (of all classes) be given a darn good thrashing. The bottoms of the boys in Eton were just as red as the bottoms of the undeserving poor. The difference of course being, that the Eton boys were being taught to be leaders, the undeserving poor were being taught to be obedient (and grateful) servants.
The victims of historic child abuse are not only up against Goliath, he has got several big brothers. That the abuse went on, is a given. How can vulnerable children placed in the care of criminally insane psychopaths come out unscathed? That adverts were put out for single men to become live in 'Uncles' to unprotected kids who needed religious and moral guidance, might just attract the most evil child predators in society was never given a second thought. In fact, preference was probably given to those with their own whips.
Far be for me to tell survivors to give up their fight, I doubt I would have listened if anyone had tried to tell me, so I know how hard it is. Pursuing these individual claims is pointless, it has created a whole new industry of experts who are doing very well out of your pain. They will listen to you, but they will never tell you 'get the feck over it', because if they did, their lucrative careers would come to an immediate end.
I'm afraid I have completely fallen out with the theories of Freud. If you have a festering boil, you don't keep topping up the poison every time it starts to look a bit better. Whilst I do believe that what happens to you in childhood moulds your character and personality, you have the choice to use it positively or negatively. If you see yourself as a victim, you will use past trauma as an excuse. If you are an 'invulnerable child' you will use it as a strength. Look at what Nelson Mandela achieved when he was released from prison.
It is only in recent years that I realised I had the 'ruby slippers' all along. Everything that happened to me had been my own choice. I wanted to be a martyr, so I chose a martyr's life. I believed I was damaged, therefore I was. I thought 'justice' would make me feel better, but as it turned out, bringing those old and infirm men and women to Court brought me no satisfaction whatsoever. At their advanced ages, they were rendered harmless. That they were ever troubled by the their own inner conscience is a matter of debate. Their miserable lives had made them what they were, or what they were, made their lives miserable. Either way, I felt more pity than anger.
In the whole scheme of things, I was fighting for something that didn't really matter, I told myself to 'get the feck over it'. All around us there are vulnerable children in dangers of epic proportions. I think those concerned with child protection should be focussing on the immediate needs of children in peril NOW, perhaps the island of Lesbos with the tiny shoes and babygro's strewn across its beaches and the food banks in this country where kids are literally going to bed hungry.
I still believe that those who suffered under the regimes of those sadists richly rewarded for the care of society's most vulnerable children, should be financially compensated along the same terms as those in Eire. That is, individuals should not be subjected to the 'you are a dirty little liar' approach taken by those examining their claims. I find the need for every single graphic and lurid detail bizarre. How many times over do these things have to be proved?
Meanwhile, I think all those survivors who are trying to numb those bad memories with alcohol, drugs or bad psychology, to put a sticking plaster over that boil and stop picking at it. Life is too short to worry about traumas from the past and the idea of reliving them over and over is just mental.
Every single day we wake up with the free will to choose any path we want. Worrying about the paths we have come down, won't make any difference to the one that is up ahead of us. Try explaining to a hungry tiger that you had a difficult childhood and were a misunderstood teen, and see where that gets you?