Can’t sleep, won’t sleep

I seem to be in a pattern of going to bed, reading, sleeping, then annoyingly waking at around 3-4am.  Then I can’t get back to sleep, so I make myself a hot milk, think what’s bothering me and come here to my blog.

This morning it is depression and the memory of what we went through back in February of 2010.  And if only husband were here to calm and reassure me like I had to do to him.

Our GP was brilliantly understanding about what was going on, but would only prescribe husband limited doses of sleeping pills.  She said that it wouldn’t be a good idea for him to get hooked and he should try other ways of getting to sleep.  So we’d go to bed, exhausted after a day of walking, fretting, being badgered by solicitors and after an hour, I’d just know he wasn’t asleep.  He used to put his head on the pillow and within 5 minutes he’d be away with the fairies.  Not any more.  The he’d plead to be allowed a sleeping pill.  I’d taken to hiding them as I couldn’t trust him not to take them all in one go.

After I’d allowed him one tablet, I’d have to stroke his head as he lay next to me and I’d urge him into sleep by telling him to imagine he was lying on a big comfy lilo, drifting around a gently lapping lake, a magical lake that could take him anywhere in the world.  I’d describe the gentle motion of the lilo as it bobbed on soothing waves and how if he just looked over there he’d see a white sandy beach and palm trees, with glorious coloured parrots preening in the warming rays of a morning sun.  That the lilo would bob out to see and the next cove would see a cluster of white, Greek houses, banked up on the hillside, with the scent of thyme hanging headily in the air.  And this would go on and on, with me nearly dropping off until, by his steady breathing, I knew that the tablets had taken affect and at last he had obtained temporary oblivion.

So why does it not work for me!  I have to go through the alphabet naming things in order.  My current favourite is dogs!  For some reason I’m amazed at my knowledge of dog breeds, but never get passed E (which is for Elkhound).  I have to make it slightly difficult by thinking of three per letter…. tricky, but not too tricky, is the answer.  Sometimes, if I get bored with dogs, I think of cats, but am not too hot on this topic.  Or else there’s always chocolate bars…..

Right, the hot milky drink is taking effect, so I’ll have another go………

Autumn’s here

It’s difficult for me not to get maudlin at this time of year, during this specific year.  I had hoped last year to be in our new home to see autumn arrive, but of course, we were living in a caravan.  So I looked forward to autumn 2011, but like the season I find I am drooping, wilting and dropping off!  Or, to carry the analogy even further, find I am cut down in my prime.

It’s hop harvesting time and as we have moved a couple of hundred yards from a working Oast House, it’s a time of tractors buzzing up and down the road, the damson filled hedgerows combing the bines as they pass and soon air will be heavy with the sweet green smell as the cones slowly dry.  Then it’s bagging up time and the same buzzing tractors will haul off weightless hessian sacks full to the brim of beer in the making.

So why am I maudlin.  Not only did I grow my sweetcorn in the hope that my husband and I would gorge ourselves on it at this time of year, but this is the one season that the reason behind our local buildings are made apparent.  All those converted oast houses around and hoppers cottages tell us our heritage.  And I so hoped that we would be here together.

I tried to go for a walk alone yesterday, but I didn’t get very far, I couldn’t breathe.  I realised that I was so tense, I was taking shallow breaths so that I just couldn’t continue.  It was everything around me, reminded me of the good walks we had before husband went away.  We’d comment on everything, stop and eat from the trees and hedgerows, advise what was about to come into season and talk.  Talk and talk and talk.  I feel very guilty because I remind myself of my Aunty who lost her husband, so early (he was just 50).  I am being selfish and self-pitying I know, because my husband is coming back.  But I understand the pain she must have gone through.

The loneliness when someone you love has left for sometime is burning, it is salved for a moment or two when you are occupied, but then you stop, and the burning is back.

The tactor buzzes up the hill again and reminds me to get off my mawkish arse and get occupied.

Does life go on?

Small glitch on the employment front means that I will have to suspend my blogging temporarily until we see what comes out in the wash.  All you need to know is that a prison sentence is not just a sentence for the miscreant, but it includes the entire family.

If I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again – stay on the right side of the law, if not for yourself, for your loved ones.

My plea for mitigation

It occurs to me, after reading a very factual and well reported article in our local paper, that I might let you know how I appealed to the judge for mitigation for my husband.  Problem is, how do I do that granting anonymity to (a) husband, (b) reporter (who I have already thanked) and (c) the company who suffered at the hands of my husband.  So on the basis that I have already written to the reporter, he knows my gratitude for his factual report, I can leave out names and details.  Also, I cannot link you to the press article, because I cannot find it (thankfully) on the web.

A Plea for Mitigation for My Husband

When my husband came home from work last February and told me he had been suspended for incorrect use of company air miles, I did not react in the “normal” manner – I was elated, relieved.  At last he would leave that wretched company that had taken over his and our lives.

I’m afraid I have to step back a few years to explain how I first met (My Husband).  (The Company)  was run by two brothers, (Brother A and Brother B).  I left a profitable job in the film industry, in London to return to my roots and secured the job as P.A. to (Brother A), the then Managing Director of (The Company).  The reason I decided I could work locally, for a (this type of) company, was because (Brother A) had the flamboyancy of “film types” I had been used to.  On my interview with him, he was waiting for a shirt to be delivered, from a London outfitter, because he had gone to the gym in the morning and forgotten to bring a clean shirt.    The first time I noticed (My Husband) was when, after working for (Brother A) for a month or so, I was asked to go to (My Husband) for a dollar cheque in order to pay for the holiday I had just booked for (Brother A)’s family in Hawaii.  (My husband) was incredulous.

And so it continued until my relationship with (My husband) became known by (Brother A) and I was called into the office and told “it’s not going to work”.  I asked (Brother A) if he was sacking me, he just repeated what he said.  I left; I moved on, fighting an unfair dismissal case was not in my nature.

I don’t actually know if I can plead for leniency, having had to listen to years of these sorts of stories, having our holidays interrupted by calls from one or other of the brothers, having evenings out cancelled because (My Husband) had to attend to some fatuous emergency, having had to live with a man plunging further and further into a depressive state, I was, and still am, thankful he is away from that company and the thought of him spending time in prison is almost a relief.

I am bracing myself to be without the husband I had already lost for so many years and who suddenly, since this horrendous event, has been returned to me.  The man I knew and wanted to marry.   I fought hard with him last February when he wanted to commit suicide, nearly joined him a few months later when without any legal representation we were being bombarded by the other side’s lawyers and I was being dragged into the affair, but now, with the help of anti-depressants (!) we are rebuilding our lives.  This experience has actually opened our eyes to the world around us.  I am now voluntary Area Secretary for Shannon Trust which runs the Toe by Toe programme within the prison system, have secured myself a prime P.A. position in the heart of Kent and together we are living a quiet, loving life.

I appreciate and understand that (My Husband) needs to be punished for what he did.  I have taken my punishment, even though I had no knowledge of what he was doing, by being stripped of all our assets and giving up our family home, but even this is not a hardship.  Friends that were not true friends have fallen by the wayside, but we have been embraced and supported by those around us that (My Husband) did not have the time to appreciate.

(My Husband)’s children have also been affected by his actions in that they no longer have the financial support he was able to give them, but they go from strength to strength and (My Husband) has finally discovered that there is more to life than money – his children love and respect him for what he is, their father.  (My Husband)’s ex-wife has been a tower of support to us during this affair, explaining to (My Husband) that whatever he did would not cloud his children’s love for him as their father.

Although we went through a rocky moment, I fully support (My Husband) and his absence will be most keenly felt by me.   But I am stoic.  He will come back to me and we will pick up from where we have left off.  I hope that the people he is currently working for – in one case, even though money is tight for us, for free – will rally round us on his release, for they know the true (My Husband).  The funny, kind, loving man I married.

Saturday morning, in bed with coffee and a problem….

…. this is what we used to do.  Knackered from a week’s work, we’d sit in bed and drink coffee and talk.  Talk about anything and everything.  Even though we’ve been together for, ages, nearly 14 years, we’ve never stopped communicating, never not found something to talk about.  I remember my sister telling me that once, sitting in a pub with her ex-husband, she saw a middle aged couple in the corner, sipping their drinks and staring into thin air.  She told me that she wondered if her and her then husband would ever get to that point.  That must have stuck in my mind, to whit I’ll drag up any bit of twaddle or nonsense that I have heard in an attempt to get a bit of conversation going.  So we ramble on in the mornings.  Now he’s not here and I’m at a loss.  It’s just not the same sitting in a big bed with a pile of pillows where he once sat.  And I’ve got stuff on my mind which I can’t tell him because I don’t want him to get upset on the “inside”, but I need to bring stuff out into the open, wave the problems around, give them an airing and make a decision on which way to go.

So you know what’s coming….. I’m going to ask if you have an opinion.  Obviously I think I know what I’m going to do, and what I bring out will be my biased version of events, but I’m stuck and don’t know which route to take.

In case you can’t be arsed, or are unaware of the background, I left my old job, because I had no contract of employment and because I wanted a steady job with better pay.  I knew I didn’t want to jump out of the frying pan and into the fire, so was overjoyed when I saw the advert for the job, after passing through two interviews and a typing test, I secured.  I was elated, just the job for me, working for an Agricultural Society, back to being a PA, but brilliant.  Lovely boss, lovely people, what more could I want.

After I had signed my contract of employment and begun work, actually on my first day, I arrived home where Husband advised he had attended his Plea and Case Management hearing and had pleaded guilty, on the advice of his Barrister, to all bar one of the counts against him.   Elated and deflated in one go.

So I carried on working, applying for just one day off to attend his Sentencing Hearing, where, as we know, he was sentenced to three years.  Here’s where I make a massive mistake.  Knowing that I would need to take calls from Husband at random times, thinking that I would be called by the prison for telephone number confirmation, wondering what the other staff would think of my not going on summer holiday, I decided to tell my boss the abridged version of what had happened.  Big error.

Here’s where my dilemma starts.  The Agricultural Society, is, as its name suggests a “Society” made up of a Board of Directors.  My boss, although extremely, genuinely, sympathetic to my tale of woe, explained that he would have to tell the Board to seek their opinion.  From memory I cannot think of how many are on this Board, say just under 10?  I know that one very understanding and kind lady has already said “it’s none of our business and I fully support her” (or words to that effect).  But someone, somewhere is obviously unhappy as it is now considered that I was not truthful in the interview process.

I didn’t realise I had access to my boss’ emails – I discovered yesterday, whilst he is on holiday, that I do.  Of course, going through his emails to respond to matters that needed urgent attention in his absence, I came across subject lines with my name on.  And of course I read them.  Someone is asking the question of how long my husband was engaged in the theft from his company because this is crucial information for determining whether I knew what was happening, and I suppose I should have revealed this in my interview……!

Can you imagine applying for a job.  Oh yes, madam, you have all the qualifications we require, and the experience, now tell us about your home life – is your husband engaged in any illegal acts, are your children straight or homosexual, your parents, did they engage in wife swapping…….

I know that what happened to my husband is completely irrelevant to any company employing me.  Because that is the key, they are employing ME.  However, I now have to make a decision – do I want to be employed by a company that bases its opinion of its employees on the actions of their family members?  I think we all know the answer to that one.  Problem is, I genuinely love the job.  Other problem is, and ah-ha….. I’ve just had an epiphany here…. I could look for another job.   Other problem was that of course I need the money and security.  But I could get this else where.

Ok, to compound the problem, my ex-employer, who enraged me at times, but who is a special and lovely lady, has asked me to come back.  I can’t.  I know it wouldn’t work.  She’s said she will match my salary, but she cannot offer me the pension contributions that have now become an important matter to me.  But then again, I would be working for the company I wanted to buy a matter of months ago.  Could I put up with her funny ways and stick it out?  You know, it’s tempting here and now.

I feel better already and you haven’t even joined me in this debate!  I need another coffee, and I need to get this house tidy – somehow, without husband around, everything is in a complete mess….. don’t know how that’s happened!

How to visit your loved one in a UK Prison

Ahhh, thank the sweet lemons that is over.  My puffed up eyes attest to the fact that it was not easy.  From the moment I drew up alongside the huge concrete walls, I knew my worse fears had come true.

You have to get there real early, visiting is not until 13.45, but the reception opens at 12.00 and you want to get in amongst the first visitors so you get your maximum amount of allotted time.  You first confirm that you are allowed to visit by showing your visitor order number which your loved one has sent out to you.  Then you have to go to a second window to have your identity confirmed, you are issued with a plastic tag which has your visitor number and then you must pay a deposit for a locker key – you can take nothing, absolutely nothing, in with you except your money in a clear plastic bag – bit like going through an airport check in without the excitement of going on holiday.

Then, that only takes about 15mins, you are then hanging around in a wasp infected car park come grassy area, waiting.  Waiting.  Waiting.  If you have any clothing to take it, you can do this in your free time whereupon it is x-rayed, ticked off as allowed and stuck on a shelf.  Then you go back to waiting.

Eventually, when it nears 13.45, you head back to the reception area and – yep, you’ve got it – you wait!  What happens is that visitors are taken into the prison in batches of 10, so if you’ve got a badge with 1-10 on it, you’re in luck – this is why you got there early.  Once your number comes up, and you will already have dispensed with everything except your cash, you leave the reception area and head towards the prison.  You have to take off shoes, and snotty tissues that you’ve stuffed in your back pocket, for them to be x-rayed, then you go through airport x-ray, then you are frisked, then go into a glass box where one door is shut so you are hermetically sealed for a moment, then another opens, through a big gate, into the main prison, then – another wait whilst the inmates troop into the visiting room.

Then a guy calls out your number, gives you a weird map reference where your loved one will be sitting, then sweet, sweet, sweet….. you are finally reunited.

That is the special part, what you have hung around all day for, what makes the day worthwhile.  You can hold hands, hug, kiss, talk, cry, buy a hot sausage roll!

Hopefully on my next visit, I won’t be in such a state and would like to thank again the young lady who ran through the ropes with me – I could never have gotten through the ordeal without her.

Hang on, I’m starting to believe all the hype

Now I know what you’re going to say, it’s a classic case of “you would say that wouldn’t you”, but hear me out.  In all the hype, in all the furore, all the shock, the damnation, the disbelief, indignation, I lost sight of something.  I forgot that you don’t know how the criminal justice system works.

Can I just plant a seed of doubt into your trusting mind dear reader, here’s a hypothetical idea.  A lad breaks into a flat, goes into one apartment and steals some money.  Goes to the second apartment and steals nothing, because there’s nothing to steal.  Later, he gets caught.  He is charged with stealing money – and jewellery.  “Oh” he protests, “I didn’t take any jewellery”.  “Hmm” says Mr Policeman and solicitor dragged out of bed to represent him on Legal Aid “you broke in, you stole money”.  “Yes” interjects the lad, “but I didn’t take the jewellery.”  Look lad, it’s your word against the owners, no jury is going to have sympathy for you, so do yourself a favour and admit the whole lot, the judge will congratulate you for your sense and you’ll get less time inside for admitting wrongdoing at the first instance.”  Now, what do you think the lad is going to do? Stand up in front of a jury and run the risk that they might believe that the people he stole from are on an insurance fiddle?  He could if he could afford a crusading TV style barrister, but remember, he’s on Legal Aid…… he can’t afford a decent lawyer?  Come on now, what would you do if you were on the jury? Might I run the risk of suggesting you  would say to yourself “he’s got what’s coming to him, shouldn’t have broken in in the first place – guilty.”

You have then painted that lad as a worse thief than he actually was, because yes, the couple were fiddling their insurance and they knew it was one person’s word against another, and coming from such a bad angle, they knew that no-one would believe our young lad and they could get themselves a nice fat cheque and buy some more geegaws.

Young lad, on the other hand, now has a record for stealing £1,000 of loot, when in fact all the couple had in their flat was £500.

It’s an interesting predicament isn’t it.  Young lad was clearly in the wrong, but so are we if we are going to fiddle our insurance – but the insurance fiddlers are not the ones on trial are they?  It’s one person’s word against another’s and when, like our lad, you are on the back foot, what are you going to do?  Admit everything to get a decrease in your prison time.