(with apologies to Daily Mail readers) Thankfully Prisoners Call Home

Well, I seem to have got my knickers in a twist for nothing.  Husband has just called me.  He doesn’t normally call on a Sunday, but on a whim, decided to.  Of course I told him how upset I’d made myself believing he was not due home until 2013, and he calmly explained that he’d already received notification of his FLED – Facility Licence Eligibility Date (thanks to http://www.insidetime.org/info-glossary.asp for the explanation)  and this is when he will be due for his “town visit” and that’s on 11 May 2012.  So I’ve just spent the last 24hours in a deep gloom all for nothing.  He promises me he will try not to let the boredom overcome him and that he will get through this.

That’s all I needed to know.  I’m happy again now.

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, http://www.kentfallen.com/PDF%20REPORTS/SPARKES%20G.A.pdf 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.

Was my interview too flippant?

I had an interesting chat last night with my very good friend, who was upset that I hadn’t come across well on the iPM interview.  She felt I had been too flippant, not really reflected the absolute agony and despair we had both gone through as this story unfolded.  She does have a point.  I felt there was no time in an half hour interview to go through all the traumas, especially as I knew whatever I said would be edited down into about 10mins.  Personally, I don’t think a 10min time slot is enough to capture the horror of seeing the life I’d had planned unravel in front of my eyes.

I have referred in this blog to my “history of events”, explaining that it is still too painful for me to return there. Indeed, in our friendly conversation last night, within minutes of speaking seriously about what my friend had witnessed me going through, I was in tears.  This is what I mean about it being too raw.  She reminded me of how I wouldn’t leave my husband for a second, how I dragged him around like a useless appendage.  He didn’t want to go out, was too ashamed to meet anyone, but I was desperate for the help of others.

She is right, I don’t think I mentioned him being suicidal and then, after her life saving offer of our living in her caravan in her back garden (and finding us a temporary home for our 5 cats), him being arrested and me sitting in their kitchen, tears streaming down my face, but having to pull myself together and go to work.  Or of my lowest point, after having found us a home, got myself a job, dragged my husband back to living, I crashed and decided that Mike’s earlier plans, of us taking our own lives together, hand in hand, suddenly seemed to be the only solution.  I could picture it, it seemed so attainable.

She’s right – that would have made for a different interview.  I am still on anti-depressants.  Every time I think of coming off them, some mini-drama occurs sending me back to the pack.  I need him out, home and clear before I can even begin to think this nightmare is behind us.  And there, I suppose I said it, it is a living nightmare which I skilfully cover up and make light of for the entertainment of others.  But I don’t want to upset you all, life is currently – this week – good.  My garden looks like something from WW1, mud included and none of my cats will come in the house because I’m cat-sitting my niece’s cats.  Oh, and my husband is still in prison.  Oh well, you can’t have everything in life can you.

If it hurts, don’t think about it.

I usually get my thoughts for my blog whilst driving.  One thing I know I should be doing is providing the important background of events, but still, one year and eight months away from Feb 2010, I find it so upsetting to look at my emails of that time.

After our mum died suddenly and unexpectedly following a short and nasty bout of cancer, in August 2008 I hit a low point.  I found it incredibly difficult to deal with the finality of losing a loved one – as most people do.  In the end, I knew I needed help and contacted CRUSE, the bereavement counselling charity, and they were brilliant.  A lady from CRUSE actually came round to my home to talk to me once a week for, I think, three weeks.  And although talking through my feelings, thoughts and worries didn’t dispel the agony I was going through, it did remind me that my depression was self inflicted.  I have had a previous bought of depression back when I was a 20 something whippersnapper.  I suddenly and totally unexpectedly exhibited the classic signs of a “breakdown” when I woke up one morning and decided the world was a terrible place, and I wasn’t going to get out of bed!  The sudden early death of my uncle – with, unnervingly, the same cancer that my mum was to die of – threw me out of kilter.  It was my mum this time, who dragged me to our GP and he in turn sent me to a counsellor.

This was a nasty period of my life wherein the counsellor brought forth buried deep within me, the despair I felt and wouldn’t confront, of my parent’s divorce.  When I was 13, the marriage came to a close and my mum leant hard on me.  My elder sister was about 16 and carving a new life for herself outside of the family home and little sister was only about 9 and was the apple of daddy’s eye.  I remember asking my dad to show me how to change a tyre on a car, just in case mum’s car got a flat!  And asked him to teach me how to wire a plug.  I laugh now, is this the sum total of fatherhood – changing tyres and wiring plugs?  Unfortunately, I made myself so useful to my mum that it got to the point after I’d left home, that every time I went to visit I had to take my tool box with me to do running repairs on her home.  I remember after the counselling saying to mum “can’t I just come and visit you and not do any jobs?”   She said yes, then added “just this time, can you bring your drill…….”  I did speak to her about my feelings and the fact that she did, because my dad had left her for another woman, try to turn us away from him. But given what she personally had to endure, she wasn’t very receptive to my comments!  What amazed me was my admission to the counsellor that still, even though I was in my mid 20’s, I wanted my parents to get back together!  They had both changed so much, my head knew this was an impossibility, but that does not mollify your heart.

So, where have I digressed off to.  Yes, that’s it, the first counsellor I ever saw opened an amazing vista and gave me the most important lesson for life – that YOU are in control of what YOU think.  If you think of something that makes you unhappy, well, don’t think about it.  It is an extremely difficult state to achieve, you are filled with guilt about not thinking of the thing that upsets you, as in a death.  When a loved one dies, you are terrified that you might forget them, you feel guilt that they are no longer with you and anger at what took them away.  But if you steel your mind and don’t think these thoughts, you won’t forget them.  Time will pass and you will be able to cope with the memory of them.

And that, dear readers, is why I have not gone back to my old emails to give you more background.  Thinking of what happened makes me depressed, angry and upset.  And what’s the point of upsetting yourself when there’s nothing you can do about anything!

So, that was my explanation for lack of background, here comes my thought for the day.  I’ve asked this question before on this blog, about anonymity, the legalities of blogging, but surely what has happened to me has already been reported on in the, albeit, local papers.  The company that my husband stole money from has issued press releases advising their industry that they have picked themselves up, dusted themselves down, and are more successful than ever, even given the fact that my husband, their finance director, stole over one million pounds.  So why am I so shy?  Why am I lurking in the corridor not wanting to put my head up over the parapet to be blasted at by rotten tomatoes?

I say, yet again, that I knew nothing of what my husband was doing for all those years.  I know that I inadvertently benefitted from his theft, but given the agreed salary and bonuses my husband received, I believed this money was legally received.

I am afraid, I suppose, of lawyers.  My life has been ripped apart – by my husband – but also by lawyers.  My husband did not involve me in any of his wrong doing, the lawyers tried to do so.  They alleged that I owned a second property, I suppose after discovering that some of his investments had been placed in my name. But I had and have, no way of knowing whether these investments had been purchased with stolen money or money lawfully earned.  There were other things that cropped up, but I’d have to go back and look at those damned emails.

Where does this leave me.  Oh yes, my thought for the day.  Why have colleagues of my husband, close colleagues, not been in contact?  One colleague we both visited in the States when my husband was sent to work in Chicago for 4 months.  It was agreed, but I think later denied, that I could accompany him on this trip. In doing so, we became very close with an Albanian couple who worked for the company.  We were friends, we exchanged gifts, spent 4th of July festivities together.  When the male friend, who worked for the company, discovered what had happened, he telephoned us from Chicago and told me he wanted to immediately fly over and support my husband.  I told him what had happened, how much we thought husband had taken but begged him not to spend money on a flight.  I said I would keep in contact, but then suddenly all communication ceased.  Emails went unanswered, no Facebook messages from his wife, nothing.  Stupidly I don’t have his home phone number because I should call to find out why the sudden suspension of friendship.

The second person was husband’s assistant.  This is an interesting one because her partner still works for the company and, I might say, benefitted from the exotic holiday courtesy of stolen airmiles.  Husband’s assistant hated with a passion the two owners of the company and a very interesting afternoon was spent in our old garden when she came to visit, recalling all the benefits the tax man wasn’t aware of.  But then, after saying she would support husband in court and tell her side of the story, a deathly silence ensued.   Why?  Husband has written to her from his cell, but his letter went unanswered.  Given the close working relationship they had, and her hatred of the two owners, this is really strange.  Again, I suppose I could call, but I don’t like to – mind you, what can she say that I haven’t already heard.

Facts and figures omitted, feelings not.

I feel shitty.  I spent 10mins this morning sitting on the stairs sobbing my heart out.  Not only do I have a husband in prison, but now I’ve been sacked.  I’ll not go into the sacking in any detail because I wish to appeal what I feel is a grossly unfair decision.

What else is making me tear my hair out – Legal Aid.  Good old Legal Aid.  I have been advised, by Legal Services Commission that now that my husband has been sentenced, they will no longer consider appealing any decision about the amount he has to contribute.  They seem to be sticking to the £8,000.00 figure and I have nothing to tell me how they have come to this amount.  Would you pay £8,000.00 without any details on how this figure originated?  Take you car to the garage, and they say, through clenched teeth “that’ll be £1,980.00”.  What would you do – write out a cheque there and then saying “thank you my good man, I’m sure you’ll do an excellent and worthwhile job.”  Like billy bonkers you would, you’d say “How much!!!!  What are you going to do for that amount”.  Ah ha, a breakdown of costs is it that you are requiring.

Well, not with legal aid.  What happens is that you tell them all you details, how much money you (don’t) have and your bills you have to pay, then they stick their finger in the air and arrive at an arbitrary figure.  Or so it seems.

And another thing.  What about the fact that I’m supposed to be paying this seeing as THE FREEZING ORDER IS STILL IN PLACE.  Yep, maybe this is just what I needed, a bit of vitriol.  Still don’t have access to the now negative balanced bank account, Barclays still have not sorted out with “other side’s” lawyers on the sum of £2,500 owing.  And I’ve just received notification of the bill racking up with husband’s ex-Institute……..

For the record, I am as depressed as I was this time last year.  Not as depressed as I was in October 2010 when I did want to end my life, but well back on the way.  I just hope that there is a light, just a little flicker, at the end of this incredibly long, black, dark, stinking tunnel.

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………