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Sunday, 30 June 2013

Caught on Camera ,Captured on Sound, Least said soonest mended..

Every picture tells a story;

"Oh well of course she won't stay,  not after that" my husband  is looking at the striking photo of poor Nigella  Lawson, ashen faced and inward looking, in last sunday's Sunday times. "Why not?" I ask him. "Is it because of what Mr Saachi did? Or because of the photographs?" He doesn't get this distinction. I tell him I think it's difficult to believe it was the first time, or even the second. It looked like  a well oiled groove,  in view of what he had to say about it, " grabbed her for emphasis" " just a discussion" , and that he made a statement to the police "to clear it up" stop it dragging on etc . And in her description of him as an "exploder" ( enough said).

No,  the difference now is in the accidental snapshots, unstaged, inadvertant, and so bearing silent and independent witness. Every domestic abuse is alike in the fiction, the lie, told by the abuser,  and accepted by the abused, as to what is happening.  Being behind closed doors, there is no one to disturb the fiction that allows your life to go on. The photographer who snapped for 27 minutes was making a living but his snapshots made the lady herself as much as the rest of us audience to a shocking and inconvenient truth.

Record in Sound;

Up to last Monday  everybody suspected that they knew what went on in Anglo Irish Bank in 2008, leading to the Bail Out, the Bank Guarantee. Everyone suspected that they knew, and now they  know what they suspected. Take a bow the Irish Independent newspaper. On first hearing the Anglo executives Bowe and Fitzgerald on the Radio, my Husband thinks it is a parody, a Laurel and Hardy style slapstick.  And all week long I can not help but wonder if the Anglo executives didn't  know they were being recorded,  and if they did,  did they like forget? believe they had impunity?, were too stupid to hide their own duplicity? I'm with stupid, and this another fine mess they got us all into.

Beauty in the eye of the beholder;

The (formerly) beautiful girl  has had her nose impaled with a (half moon) piece of metal,  I cannot control a facial rictus of horror each time I look at her. She assures me it is just fine and hip. And cool.  And I  just, basically,  don't get it.  " But" I tell her "but... I do get and occasionally even had nose studs, eyebrow piercings, belly piercings, ear piercing,  but suggests the bovine, to be led by the nose..... and also from the right side it looks like a largish booger....or a pair of insect mandibles..." Luckily, at this stage, basically,  she sees no value and sets no store in what I see, at all. 

Friday, 21 June 2013

Lucky, Lucky, Lucky

Examinations over, scholars unleashed, there is a loosening in the house. Teenagers are to be found  randomly sprawling in a  Zen like state in front of the television, making messy stuff in the kitchen, rapt  before the laptop in the hall. Ditto their friends. My husband has a hunted look. "S'ok " I tell him," s'ok,  just a change of pace, besides, two thirds of them will soon be going west to delight their father.  And,  hello, today's the Summer Solstice don't know you  know. Our anniversary! And we are still standing. Still married! Still.".

I tell him about that interview with the eminent Professor on the Radio during the week. Eminent I explain,  knows what he's talking about. Yeah, second marriages, hopeful  nuptials of the middle aged,  it's the new romance. So what are the chances Professor? Is sex on the table, intimacy on the cards, like should the  blushing recidivists have troubled themselves at all?  Umm, well  yes, provided for this time round they knock the Boozing on the head, both parties desist from shovelling their own manure on the marriage by ie  owning   their own stuff ( counselling!! reflection!! God forbid!!), and work to maintain good physical  health. That latter meaning you can keep doing it till you'r ninety two", I add.

He is wearing his mulish look now. "I think you'll find, baby, that boozing is FOR your issues, and, basically,    you  keep on doing it, like most folk,  for as long as you possibly can. Which, in my case will be as long as there's breath in my body"  he finishes magnificently. "Yeah. Well. But the thing is that that's all well and good when you'r lumbered with infants, obligations of support and maintenance, your own naivety. This is a sort of second age, my darling, a noble calling to partnership". He is looking distinctly apprehensive now and I ask him if he wouldn't like to go down the Pub to tease things out, celebrate our union etcetera.

Much much later, he asks me tenderly if I am sorry now. I tell him if I hadn't found him I'd  be looking for him still..And the looking was tedious in the extreme", I add.  "But... however..and leaving that aside....." I labour on,   "No buts," he says "no buts, no booze, no pesky issues.  Lucky, lucky, lucky, we and all the other middle aged saps with breath in our bodies, fires in our  limbs, and time and space to sex and love. Still".

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Radio Rage.

In the morning my Radio tells me that  the fat beaming infant is to be removed from Infant Formula follow on Milk packaging.  Huh???  To promote mother's milk fresh from the breast, stoopid.. " Just tell it like it is why don't you"  I hiss at the radio, on the hunt for shoes, knocking back a cup of tea. "So. They take the smiling baby from Infant Formula tins,  breast feeding spreads like wildfire, and like, maybe we tattoo the displaced smiler on the proselytized woman's breast"? My husband blinks.  What  does (follow on) Infant Formula milk and displaced babies  have to do with him? Other than to comment on how they are doing it also to cigarette packets ! The Nanny State. Yeah.  True.  But its not that,  baby, it's this.

I know breastfeeding. Done it.  Multiple doses of mastitis,  nipples chewed raw, niagaraous leakings et all.  Been the mother of monster babies.   Glugging their way from right boob  to left boob,  now give me that bottle of formula for afters, babies.  Growing exponentially, fed them till reduced to two tortured boobs, and then combined breast and bottle till weaning.  I know babies who were fed purely  and devotedly on breast milk, ethereal creatures in the main, and NOT less prone to infection, colic, obesity later on.  Just don't buy it.  Breast feed as best you can I say, but don't be fooled by the fervent  hard sell. It's tricky, unpredictable and not for faint hearts. A degree of heroism is required, but then you will have done childbirth.  Just  remember that babies starved to death before infant formula, and women sat from dawn till dusk under sucking maws till weaning
And so to work. On the car radio I zone into a story about the Australian government's boast of reform of its' parole system,  as it emerges that the rapist and murderer of  Irish woman Jill Meagher had been convicted of raping more than twenty women, usually while  on parole,  prior to her murder. That's why he murdered her you see.  Parole is now instantly revoked if you are in the frame again. Well done the Australian Government.  I mean why?  Why was he let loose in the world to do it again and again and again? Is it because he was sorry? served his time? and rape is a sort of personal blip? and real men don't,  more than once, twice, three times, four times, five, six,......uhh  twenty,  twenty times? Except for  a tiny minority, maybe?

 I think of the another  Irish woman, Lynn Meagher,  who, on  returning to Ireland from India where she went as a volunteer,  wrote an article in last Saturday's Independant newspaper  to say she would not be returning any time soon, such was the level of in your face  sexual harrassement she suffered from Indian men.  Beautiful country and all that. Spiritual. Lovely people, women, the ocassional man.  Not  a minority thing  in India then. It seems to come to this,  that many many  man will rape if they can. Get away with it. And in India you absolutely can. In Australia a little more difficult maybe, but basically, if you are prepared to do the time you can. Get away with it.

You do it once, I think, as I snap my radio off,  you do it once you will do it again. You do it once you tear apart the very fabric of one woman's being.  So, one strike and you are out. You do it once , you are locked up for life, unless you are sorry enough to be chemically castrated. If men were vulnerable to rape in the same way, this is how it would be.  So,  OK,  we are not going to do that, Fine.  Just tell it like it is.

In the evening I leave three well fed and watered teenagers to the Cinema. On the way the beautiful girl tells me how she would like love a part time  job, but they are like soo hard to come by.  She stings me for €60 for tickets and eats.  Driving home in the grey and rainy evening I listen to a worthy on the radio argue with  apparent sincerity  that the middle aged in Ireland are living high on the hog, the young forced to emigrate, having been quite dispossessed.  Hmm. Yeah. Well.  I think of being a young woman in Dublin,  the damp sparse flats,  the constant  frozen queueing for occasional buses, the black market jobs.  Washing glasses, cleaning houses, scrubbing floors to live, to get by, to get to college, to stay in college.  At least three computer programmes running in your head, most of the time.   All such a crock, I whisper,  switch to Lyric.

I used  to bundle up the eldest,  take him with me to the cleaning jobs,  stairs and landings in a fine and fading Georgian house. A good gig.   I sat him below me two stairs down a time  as I scrubbed  three flights from top to bottom,  gave him the next episode in a never-ending story as we went. Down,  down,   passing  the stringy faded women,  the  whiskey drinking country men,  raggedy solitary folk,  prone to sticking small change in the eldest's infant paw. I kept the story coming,  least he wander off to the shadowy yellowing landings,  the silent closed doors out of my range of vision. We were together, he and I.  I knew where I was going. He knew that too.  Today,  I posted his birthday cards across the planet to Australia. 

Friday, 7 June 2013

School's Out.

School's out. The boy's head is in Mayo, fishing for Salmon, his body nearly after. So Ok, he has some pesky exams to do, the Junior Certificate even, but hey he's on it and besides, as he said when I asked him this  first day  if he was a bit nervous maybe, a little apprehensive perhaps,  "like what's the point,  sure it is what it is". And then, an afterthought " hey d' you know are my jeans  like clean for the cinema after?".

School's out.  The beautiful girl has an eye to the  imminent birth of a new cousin for added babysitting to fund the parties,  the brief summer dresses,  the mascara,  her real life, weeks and weeks of it, till September. Next year  the Leaving Certificate,  she's scared and she's eager, and afterwards, stretching endless,  mysterious,  her beautiful life.

School's out. The boss offers to wash the car, wash the dog, wash the windows, sort out the myriad books threatening to engulf us from room to room. She wants money for stuff. The Gaeltacht in July,  more  brief summer dresses,  high topped Converse shoes to match, the mascara. She drifts away from us, in the throes of  the washing, the polishing, the  hoisting, her tender new teenage form taking shape as she dreams. "What else?" she asks, each evening.  Bored, bored, bored already.

School's out. Summer is spectacularly come.. Nature, held back, made to wait, flings out blossom, colour and scent.  White laced  Hawthorns elbow in front of the flowering Chestnut trees,  reaching above to push into the next tree and the next and the next along the singing river where we walk, hip to hip, body to body, melded..  Birds carol, insects drum, scents explode. Interrupting, rude, exuberant, intoxicated with the ferocious kick of it all. At last. At last.

"Ah you know, YOU'LL be finished someday soon" my father told his moaning children as he ferried us home from school one September day "but sure I'LL have to keep going in and out to school forever" looking vague eyed down the long line of his eleven children as he spoke  He's finished now. I'll bet he shifted gently where he lies in Moone graveyard and sniggered at the boy's insouciance, his fine and untroubled verdict that it was what it

Saturday, 1 June 2013

A Breach of Trust/ An Awakening.

                                               A WEEK OF  WOEFUL WONDER

On Tuesday evening achy tired to the bone you take yourself to bed leaving the after dinner mess, the lunches, the evening,  to the teenagers. Your very kind husband sets up the Free to Air  TV box in the bedroom and you flick idly through the channels to RTE 1.  " DON'T PUT YOUR FUCKING FINGERS IN IT" a woman shrieks at a small child.  What? What?  Oh.  You had quite  forgotten  that Prime time, having sent in their  undercover girls  to work in  Irish creches, are to air the the outcome caught on camera by the girls tonight. You wind it back to the beginning. "Oh hush" you tell your unwitting husband who walks in in  search of toothpaste. "Oh hush. I have to. Listen".  The sorry sordid story invades the bedroom,  detonates,  shreds your hard snatched peace.

                                                                                                                                                             You wonder about all the Creches not visited by the RTE undercover girls,  about all the years since Creches began to mushroom across the country, all the children, ( how many?,)  subjected to the kind of institutional  regime which you believed to be gone forever. You wonder what tribe is this as you observe the  staff  in the Creches featured,  alike in harsh, shrill verbals, in brutal  detachment. The twisted sisters. You wonder if  they practice what they experienced themselves?

You think about your own childrens' infancies. The baby books acquired, the many many tomes on how best to, what not to ,  what  you should do,  shouldn't do, why you couldn't seem to do.  The endless time, the patience, the letting go required. The learning curve, the worry,  the worry, the worry you and all mothers of infants live. You think of the  HSE reports never made public.  You think of  the others. The ones  who  stood by and did not intervene, the entrepreneurial  ones who own it all, who  take the money and wash their hands of  care or knowing. In the end  you wonder  if it was the same pattern in the religious institutions, the borstal schools, the magdalen laundries, same blind eye, same evil dressed as something else, same tacid acceptance, same old story.

You wonder is it actually possible to trust anyone other than yourself to stay with your own infant children,  to bear with them,  to mirror the daft and  burgeoning personality safely.  You figure it would cost a king's ransom to train up and persuade another to do that right for your peculiarly eccentric little person.   Most of all you wonder how can this be,  that widespread  institutional abuse of young children continues on in this Ireland? And  is it true that the wolf in sheep's clothing has mutated from priest and nun to trusted minder. Will any now dispute that flinging soft bodied infants on to a mattress, shutting out  light and air from small ones  with a blanket,  strapping  questing driven infant limbs down for an hour,  two hours, eternities to small ones; that these are  criminal matters. Or doubt that the blatant and cynical faking of daily diaries for parent consumption is  a bloody minded betrayal of trust and a criminal fraud.

You  wonder if we would have looked,  have seen what was under our noses, what was implicit in the exhausted brutalised children collected at the end of the day,  if RTE had never made this program. You wonder just how many have been snatched from these tender mercies, these low grade abuses.  You  wonder how we could let this happen again in Ireland.  Because we have. We have.  Oh yes, indeed, we have.