Archive | March 2017

The latest news about Blake’s Cottage

I have been asked to give an update on what is happening to Blake’s cottage so I feel I must tell you what I know.

I wish I could say the news is good or encouraging but sadly, I can’t. No repairs of any kind have been done since the Blake Cottage Trust took over on September 21st 2015,which is now eighteen months away – except for putting in those steel supports to hold the roof up ‘pro tem’. The 500 strong petition that I gathered last year was presented to Tim Heath ion November as publicly as I could do it, so that he couldn’t say he hadn’t seen it, but I was wasting my time and that of all the concerned people who signed it, because he has totally ignored it.

So now what can any of us do? It’s obvious that the BCT hasn’t been able to raise the funds to repair our Blake’s cottage. Nothing has been said about it by any of them, but, if they’d collected any money at all, Tim Heath would have blazoned it all over the newspapers. And he hasn’t said a word. English Heritage haven’t got the money to help and no other organisation seems to be even remotely interested in it.

The Felpham Village Preservation Society,  which is the local organisation that should be at the centre of local agitation about it – their motto being Protect Preserve Promote – is silent. One reason for that is that very few of them know what is actually going on – or, to be more acccurate, what is not going on and why. I have offered to meet with them and tell them what I know but my offer has been sternly refused by their Chairman – even though there is a sub-group within the organisation that is specifically committed to ‘keeping a watching brief on Blake’s cottage.’ It is a total impasse and leaves me feeling demoralised and exhausted.

I fear that the BCT’s inablity to raise funds will mean that the cottage will continue to be neglected in the months ahead. And eventually it could fall into such a very poor state that it will be condemned as dangerous and pulled down. That would be a very sad end to the most prestigious and historic building in Felpham village. But is there anybody out there who is prepared to help it now?

This entry was posted on March 27, 2017. 7 Comments

A Sense of Proportion

WarchildrenThe events on Westminster Bridge and in the grounds of Parliament that we witnessed on TV on Wednesday were indisputably shocking. We felt deeply sorry for the people who had been injured and full of pity for those who were killed and for the anguish that their families would now be suffering, but we were also full of admiration for the way the police, the ambulance crews, and ordinary men and women in the street took action at once and rushed to help the injured. Yes, we were aware that all this had probably been caused by one man in a frenzy of hatred but we were also witnessing scores of other people at their very best, skilled, compassionate, immediately helpful, calm and kindly.

But – and it’s a very big but- it was not a terrorist attack, despite what the pundits and some of the reporters were saying. It was one frenzied 52 year old man determined to kill and injure.  A terrorist attack is a very different matter and a much more destructive one. A terrorist attack is the deliberate use of guns, high explosives and incendiary devices to destroy houses and kill hundreds and thousands of people in order to subdue them. It’s what we’re seeing in various places all over the world. And we’ve been seeing it for most of my lifetime. Although we didn’t call it a terrorist attack when I was a child, we called it Guernica when it happened in Spain, and the Blitz when it happened in London

I hope you’ll forgive me if I quote some figures at you but I think it will help you to see what I mean when I say that what we need now is a sense of proportion.

Between September 7th and November 14th 1940 London was bombed every night bar one by hundreds of German bombers.  On that first night more than 400 people were killed and 1,600 seriously injured. After that the raids didn’t come every single night but they went on hideously steadily until May 10th 1941. By that time 28,556 Londoners had been killed, 25,578 had been seriously injured and more than a third of the houses had either been destroyed or were uninhabitable. But – and this is another big but – there were no reporters striding about in the ruins enjoying the vicarious drama, nobody panicked, people were remarkably and admirably calm. They joined the ARP, the Auxiliary Fire Brigade, the WVS, and thousands of them came out in the streets every time there was a raid, to fight the fires, which were formidable, to gather up the bodies and bits of bodies, to dig their neighbours out of the wreckage and comfort them through the shock they were in, to serve tea from temporary canteens, to find temporary shelter for the homeless, and all of it while the bombs were falling all around them and they knew they could be killed at any moment – as many of them were. There were thousands of them. J.B.Priestly called them the Citizen’s Army explaining that ‘this war, whether those in authority like it  or no, has to be fought as a citizen’s war.’ The Lord Mayor declared that every single one of them should be given a medal. They had worked calmly through the longest terrorist attack in history.

So what is the point of my story? It is this. It isn’t reporters and pundits bigging up the event and talking wildly about it being a terrorist attack who are important. It’s time to  ignore them. It’s the ordinary and admirable men and woman who immediately came out to help who have earned our attention. It’s our quiet citizen army. Respec’!

This entry was posted on March 24, 2017. 5 Comments

How do you cope with a deformed character?

No, it’s not a typo. I don’t mean a reformed character. I mean a DEformed one. What I’m going to try to write about today are characters who have been emotionally and psychologically deformed by the appalling and often cruel way they’ve been treated as children. Child abuse is no longer taboo nowadays, so it is possible for the subject to be  discussed and that means we’re beginning to understand that abuse varies from family to family and affects abused children in different ways. I’m going to concentrate on one particular example, which I call the spoilt brat – hence the picture of Violet Elizabeth Bott.

I’ve been inspired by an excellent and revealing article in the Family section of yesterday’s Observer. Do get hold of a copy if you can. Written by Joanna Moorhead, it examines the work being done by two pioneering women, a psychologist called Alyson Corner and Angela Levin who is a journalist, who have set up a website  to help the victims of childhood abuse to survive. In it, they offer seven practical suggestions that might help teenagers and adults to come to terms with what has been done to them and move on. Stay calm: learn to accept your situation: don’t retaliate: look to your future with hope: believe in yourself: talk to someone you trust; look after yourself. All very sensible but no use at all to a small child stuck at home with an abuser. They have to accept their situations. There’s nothing else they can do. The can’t retaliate, their adversary is too big and too strong. They can’t look after themselves. Often they’re not allowed to talk to anyone about what’s being done to them. They are stuck.

So I’m sticking my oar in on their behalf.

I spent the first nineteen years of my life with a ‘spoilt brat’ physical abuser and, as there was nothing I could do except accept the situation I was in, and wasn’t allowed to speak to anyone about it, I tried to make sense of it by keeping a diary which I began when I was seven. Years later, when I read it as an adult I could see the patterns. So what had I learnt? Let me list it.

  1. Spoilt brat abusers  – like all abusers – are full of ugly negative emotions, like hatred, jealousy and a sense of grievance, which boil up into cruelty at hideously regular intervals. The psychologists are spot on about that.
  2. They belittle their victims and blame them for what is being done to them.
  3. They live in a fantasy world in which they are perfect and believe in it so thoroughly that it is easy for them to convince other people that it is true.
  4. Because they are so firmly locked into their fantasy, they have no ability to relate to or understand other people.
  5. They lie effortlessly because they have convinced themselves that what they say must be true because they are perfect.
  6. They are lazy. Other people exist to wait on them and look after them.
  7. If they don’t get their own way they throw temper tantrums or – even better – make themselves ill.

I have no idea how you can turn such a personality round so that they can face the sort of people they really are. But it is becoming increasingly clear that there are a lot of spoilt brats out there  and that some of them are not jokes like Violet Elizabeth but are men and women in powerful positions who are capable of doing an enormous amount of damage. Are there any psychologists out there who can advise us?

And for those of you who would like to read what I made of those diaries the link is



This entry was posted on March 13, 2017. 5 Comments