The wrong sort of Remembrance Day

It’s Remembrance Day.  And I am sitting in my attic bedroom, on a surprisingly sunny Sunday, enjoying the breeze through the window and remembering.

Firstly, I remember Gladys Alice Sparkes, who would have been my great, great grand Auntie (I think that’s right) had she not fallen victim on 25 May 1915 at age 18 to a Gotha bomber who’s real target was apparently Ashford’s railway works, not Gladys’ head.  I should be campaigning for her name to be up there on a war memorial, but d’you know what…….  She’s remembered by me, that’s all that matters.

I do remember our war dead and normally, in previous years, I take time out to be by myself for two minutes and such is my imaginations of what they must have gone through, that I shed tears.   But this year, today, I am unable to do so.  In fact I selfishly shed tears for myself.

I suppose it must be the solemn time of the year, or else coming off the anti-d’s, but several sad strands have converged and now I find my thoughts spun together in a nice thick morass of self pity.   What is upper most on my mind is the continuance of a thread I spun out a few posts back – when I saw the couple, lawyers, who were both serving time for some misdemeanour.  At the end of yesterday’s visit, I gave a lift back to town of Mrs lawyer.  She must be about my age, or even younger, and before she got in the car she looked me steadily in the eye and announced that she too was a criminal, just so I knew, and not just a visiting wife, in case I decided to change my mind and not give her a lift.  I was astounded.  Why would I not help out someone just because they had committed a crime, as long as it wasn’t car-jacking at gun point, what was the problem.  I was more concerned because when waiting (for a full 35 minutes) for our other halves to be let in the visiting room, I had been chatting to her and said “sometimes I feel like a criminal when I come and visit” and I was mortified when husband reminded me who she was – I was terrified that she’d take offence.   So, we drove into town and given her status I found her company refreshing.  I didn’t have to hide who my husband was and what he had done.  She knew.  We could cut through that embarrassing explanation.  And amazingly, she’d applied for, and got, the Sainsbury’s job that I had turned down – well, poetic licence that, it was on another counter, but same sort of position.  So next time you are in Sainsbury’s, look out for the ex-lawyer now working on the fish and meat counter……    I was correct in my previous musings.  She now has a situation whereby her husband is entitled to “home leave”.  But where is home?  Gone, proceeds of crime, confiscation order, gone.  They have no home, so how do they have home leave?  Tragically she is now looking for a place to rent on her part time, nearly minimum wage Sainsbury’s earnings.  In the South East??????  She’ll be incredibly lucky to find a shed on her salary.

So that’s upset me.  I was right in my musings.  She has no home, no prospects of earning a decent income and with husband outside, her only place of refuge is her prison room.  And yes, I can hear the clamour of “well, she should have thought of that before she committed a crime”.  As I like, often, to say “do me a lemon!”  What did she and her husband do?  I have no idea.  I do know that it was a “victimless” crime and yes, I know that no crime is really victimless, but some crimes have a definite “victim” whereas others are more nebulous.   Did my husband’s crime have a victim?  Did anyone or any group suffer?  Did the company he worked for have to lay off staff because he was taking money?  Did the managing directors have to forgo the purchase of a Porsche Targa for a year because my husband had taken all the profits?  Did they have to holiday in Scarborough instead of jetting off to Argentina, New Zealand and a small island I can’t remember where…….. NO, NO, NO AND NO.  Their company went from strength to strength because he stole money from the account reserved for companies that had paid twice.  That money was never returned (not his instructions) and that is what he dipped into.  And when you read the reports of how much he took, you’ll be aware of how much people overpaid SBS.  They should do their own audits and maybe they could be in for a Christmas bonus.

But I’ve gone off track.

I’m also in a mood because it has only just, two months down the line, dawned on me that a prisoner has to serve half of his sentence inside before he can be considered for tagging and all the other stuff that means potential coming out time.  That’s one and a half years in my husband’s case.  I had been ignoring this fact, pushing it back, not wanting to think about it, but now I have and have taken the time to work it out, this means the next TWO Christmases’ without my husband.  As much as I love my niece and nephew who have rallied round, I want Christmas with my husband.

And finally, I have been in contact with another family going through what sounds like an extremely similar crime as experienced by us.  And that depresses me – for them.  It reminds me of the horrors we went through in the early days.  The grinding awareness every time we awoke that it was there, had not disappeared into our dreams.  The dread of every day, of what was going to happen, who was going to call, write.  The desire for it all to be over and done with – in any way possible.  It was a truly nasty time for us and so for me, that is what Remembrance 2011 is all about.

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