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Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Hearing voices, Valerian overdose, Reaping the whirlwind.

 Last week I spent a day in the Family Law District court with six hundred or so other souls, waiting, waiting, for our cases to be reached. There being upwards of two hundred cases in the list to be dealt with on that same day . We waited, pushed on top of one another in a smallish Foyer, having standing room only with very little in the way of  of seating, as the hours ticked gruellingly by. Marriage breakdown, questions of custody and access to children, domestic violence, all matters bringing  us to that place.We were tormented in not  knowing when our cases would be reached, and straining to hear a court clerk who stood on a chair and called out cases in batches periodically over the heads of  the anxious crowd. In the evening my kind husband presented me with a cup of Calming Herbal Tea, with, as I told him, enough valerian in it to fell a horse. I wasn't looking to healthy he said. I told him to go easy on his spoonfuls of herbals. It's the voices, I told him echoing, insisting, whistling insanely  in my poor frazzled head, clamouring to be heard.

 .                                                    .......(fairly) desperate lawyers
                                                                                                                                                              "OH NO! You can't LEAVE! Yeah I KNOW You've been here since 9.00am.  I KNOW we're 189th in the list, I KNOW there's no where to sit, you need a cigarette, the bathroom, to feed the meter,  get some coffee, phone your sitter. I KNOW. But you can't actually leave.

"Get through that list? Oh yeah he'll get through that list,  keep going untill he does. He doesn't adjourn. Not for any reason. Ever. I mean adjournments right,  why do you think there's two hundred cases in the list? AND adjourned  where??   Onto another list, that's where.. He's like... like the Lone Ranger here, he's gonna like deal with every thing. How? like a knife through butter. In his own sweet way. Like short, bewildering but definitely, when you leave, OVER.. He'll be the last man standing when darkness falls".

"Evidence? He doesn't do evidence. He  hasn't got  time for evidence. He does decisions. And when your case is called start talking from the door on your way in, get in first, before like the other guy, make sure it's your voice he hears. Hey,  it's a small window, you don't want to overload the guy, its a  finely balanced edifice in there"?.

"All wrong? Yeah it's all wrong. but hey, at least you get a decision! And if you don't like it, well hey  go out there and.... AGREE, concur, parlay with your ex husband, lover, partner, one night stand.  Forget the war, forget the battering he gave you, the way she made your babies hate you, the bedsit she won't let you bring them to, the way he left you broke with young children he lavishes useless stuff on come Sunday just because he can. Get back out there and sort it out yourself."

                                            ..........(like) cattle driven off a cliff

"But.. this is important. Sensitive. Delicate stuff. Is't it? It needs time. Patience. Careful consideration. Doesn't it? This is just not going to end well.  Is it?

"Don't know. . Here for five hours now and just managed to grab a seat. Still, I think my ex is gone, he's like,  you know, claustrophobic. Standing like cattle in a pen for six hours solid's not his thing. Hah!.

"Legal aid?, you're kidding. I paid  €600 to mine. For this. Still she looks pretty green around the gills too. Keeps telling me to let her do the talking, she does. Because we won't have much time, she says.  Be ready, cos we won't know when it will be called, she told me. Be prepared, we won't get much of a hearing, she thinks. But, also, not to worry she say, we can appeal.  It's the luck of the draw, also, we can appeal. Could come out right, who know's,  we can appeal.  But anyway but  yeah she says  we can appeal".

"Divorce? Forget divorce. We were going to sell the house, go our ways, agree time spent with  the kids. Now he lives it in the dining room, house is a war zone, bank won't let us sell, negative equity you know, all that. And we have to get a protection order, safety order, barring order, stop a killing, go on medication, get one of us out,"
                                                   .........a whirlwind for the reaping.

And so the day wore on, the gathering evening light penetrating the high court house windows at  the Family Law District Court  folks. Where I  gratefully found a wall to lean against by afternoon (standing room only for this party). Grimly humorous. More grim than humorous. I grimly think about how everything has shifted in Ireland in recent years. A quietly building  tsunami of people having a marriage split, a relationship break up, a fruitful one night stand, and this is what we offer in the fallout.

We need a dedicated nine to five, five day a week Court, stoopid. With  mediators, councillors, social workers attached.  And judges who choose the work, are given a chance to judge,and to learn how. .  Expensive? doesn't have to be, it's a question of planning, vision, recruiting the good and interested people.

And if we don't well,  then we stand over a  system that does actual harm.. Does anyone have any idea just how many children have major decisions made about the trajectory of their lives in  this system? Effectively minced  along with their parents at the end of  this bizarre assembly line. We will answer, are answering already  to a generation, in our  failure to meet this need.  Better to have no "family Law" courts at all. 

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Australia. No babies. No judgement. .

                                                  TRUTH                                                                                                     "Did they come out of the computer for their holidays? Did they?" So said the infant niece of my first born son's  wife, he, she and the three children having come home once again from Australia to visit.
"D'u think its the vitamin D from the sun that makes them like glow" the boss wonders.   "Hmm, yes, probably"  I muse, taking  pleasure from that glow, from actual presence, and also from the ease of conversations without the three seconds pause of  Skype and Facetime.
"Do you think it will be long before we see them again? Will they ever come home again" asks my watery girl, as they leave.
Truthfully, I think not. Employed, glowing, prosperous,  established in a fine circle of friends, why would they? For what come back? They are planning to buy a house ohmygod. How we all swore never to do that again! Australia and they are a fine fit, thanking you Australia. You won't regret it I think.
"Someday baby. Maybe " I tell a kind untruth.

                                           THE WHOLE TRUTH
"Nope. Don't trouble yourself. Don't actually bother. Don't  basically lie.....DON'T  tell me it doesn't hurt!" "Nnnnno, I'm not saying ....I mean its a very particular kind of pain.....not like.....I mean it sort of builds and builds and then.... gone.....builds and builds and then.... "   "Stop!That sounds like even worse. Like actually awful!"  "Yes, but it's's a... um ..fruitful pain. And...and I mean the most wonderful high, of your life, when it  like you know arrives." "Yeah, yeah and then it howls and wails and slobbers for YEARS. I'm NEVER EVER  DOING THAT"  I wonder why I am in effect trying to sell motherhood to the beautiful girl? We don't want that, after all. Not for years and years and years.

But I want her to understand. I want her to see. To know it's not  a conspiracy of women to soften the edges, to lure free spirits on to the horror the horror. I want her to have an inkling of  the unique and transformative nature of labouring and giving birth. The act of being torn open, the car crash trauma an essential component even . I want to tell her .....  everything. The truth.  The whole truth. I want to tell her. Oh well I guess she will, having asserted how it isn't for her, come to the yearning aching need  for what grows inside her when she gets there, however she gets there, like the rest of us. One day. Maybe. Most likely.

                                          NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH
And then there is another woman's daughter this week who had the ambivalent victory of proving her father a rapist in a court of law. A full and poisoned chalice. A vindication mired in the loss of her father, in private when she was four years old and first violated and in public this day.  "A good wee girl. I believed her." said her uncle. As did her mother, when the child spoke up at thirteen years of age. But then the years passed and no crime was acknowledged,  no punishment marked. The uncle failed to act, the police were not terribly interested. Other fish to fry. Oh yes.

I  have no truck with Gerry Adams.  And yet, and yet. His revelation to the police finally, of his brother's confession of guilt, was a powerful proof in his niece's case. And I am a little haunted by how he went on to reveal his fathers abuse of some of his ten children, though he himself does not recall it.  He did not say whether he experienced it. The abused becomes the abuser, and all surely in the abuser's family  are expected to sing in that circle., take on the yoke of that which may not be spoken, the bad thing carried by each according to kind.

He is brother, son, and uncle is Adams, and there is no simple truth and nothing but..  Not here. Not for Adams who delivered his brother in to the maws of the justice and penal system. Not for a brave woman who tore open a family circle leaving everyone of them  exposed and isolated in the unsupported light .

Friday, 4 October 2013

Ned Kelly/Lovers/ Villagers bearing torches

We took ourselves  to Cavan for a wedding on the weekend, orphans from the storm of family life. We sped along the motorway with a nice sense of the clandestine, though it was a trip punctuated with  news bites from a story just coming in on the car radio about the two young children lured away  from a children's party in Athlone.  The children, horribly assaulted,  escaped through a window and the alarm was raised." Not some desperate fruitless hunt then for little ones whose fate could only ever be imagined", I said uneasily, as we cut the radio off, " there is that at least.  Is there not? " My husband was silent as we arrived and parked.

"I met her on the internet" the beaming groom, long known in that part of the world as The Hen,  began the wedding speech. " That's how at first, and then..... I went to China, and..." He drew the air deep into his lungs to contain his emotion, to go on, when from the back of the room  the loud squawking of a hen and its human bearers drowned him out. The hen was carried to the bridal table and ceremoniously placed to cheers and guffaws. I watched her edgily where she perched on the wedding table by my elbow. She stared calmly back as though waiting with me for the groom to resume his story.

 He did attempt it, but the hen flew into the air to be snatched as she flew, by one of the guests, and sat tucked into his arm to increased cheers and catcalls. Each time the groom  reached  for the threads of his story he was derailed by the mockers thereafter, until at last he abandoned the attempt.

 " She's the love of my life and my soulmate ANYWAY" he roared above the crowd "and oh I know right well your smart remarks, your chinese takeaways and the like. Don't care, it's what she is" smiling down into the loving anxious face of his chinese bride. And she was. They  were an obvious couple.  Peas in a pod. Each other's only other.

" Why, oh why" I asked the man I  married "wouldn't they let him SPEAK?" But he was in the moment,  hooting at the dexterity of the wedding guest who never even rose from his chair as he reached up an arm to catch the flying hen. Earlier the dear man  had been hauled before a venerable old woman on the Groom's side, who after casting about her in vain for his seed and breed, announced "Oh it's you! Ah yes, you were always like your mother" bringing his beloved mother, lost to an aggressive cancer when he was still in his teens, to the wedding feast. And he was Cavan, native and son again.

On Monday's we watched the people massing on on the Garda Station  in Athlone where a man suspected of the frightful assault on the children was held. "What are they waiting for? I mean what do they want exactly?" I asked my husband, both of us blasted and loose after our pretty wild weekend. "Want? they don't know what they want,  they only know what they don't want, angelface"." Huh?"   Don't want to be alone,  be taken unawares,  be prey to the unexpected. There's safety in numbers, ease in the crowd, positive bliss, baby, in laying down the burden of your own adjectival individual tormenting knowing. Yeah"

Maybe baby. But. Smarts, heart and your adjectival  soul's well thrashed in the braying crowd. And I do not forgive that refusal of the Groom's story, though they drank and laughed and  feasted for him all night long.

And you might like to take a look at Peter Carey's True History Of the Kelly Gang if you want to hear the voice of an individual adjectival man..