Tuesday, 2 January 2007

Curiouser and Curiouser

Hmmmmmmmmmmm I’m suspicious. Inasmuchas I saw Flavia yon Saturday in Woking, as agreed. Yet again, he wouldn’t allow me 30 seconds extra – arriving early, taking her on to the platform to have breakfast and then taking her back to the car!! Me, I was there at 10.38 again – went to the bank across the road to withdraw £20 (and thus have proof I was there – told you, suspicious mind). Then I went back to the wrong side of the station and waited for ‘em. Must have just missed them each time I crossed the tracks. Flavia and I had a thoroughly enjoyable 4 hours, and that’s when she told me Simon had said she could come and stay with us for a weekend. Hah! Quoth I. (Or something similar). He’s not going to let you do that! Flo coming to the house would show she wasn’t scared of Mark – blow Simon right out of the water. Anyway, moving on. Gave her back to him (at 3.57…maybe I should refuse to hand her over for another 3 minutes…something to think about). The Beeb lied about the weather. They said it would start raining about 3 pm – hah, it was raining when we got out of the cinema at 2! Flo didn’t have a coat, of course, but used mine. I caught my train, got out at my stop and, two minutes walk from the station the rain changed from rain to deluge. I kid you not. It was streaming down my face, my hair. Ugh. Of course I hadn’t taken an umbrella. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky when I left the house just after 10. It was just like being under a power shower. I was drenched. Got home, stripped (okay, peeled), showed Mark my purchases (candles and ground cloves) and dried off (yup, in that order…no wonder he sometimes doubts my sanity). I was watching the clock, wondering if we’d get a call from Simon. The reason being we’d met up with Mark. He wanted to go to the cinema (to see Eragon) and I had the card, so we agreed I’d give him the cash I’d withdrawn. However, we’d all gone, since it was obvious Flo wasn’t scared of him and, when Mark asked her, said she’d love to go to the cinema with him. Since her ability to keep secrets is on a par with my ability to win the lottery I was convinced that she’s tell Simon by the time they got back to Uckfield. Even though we’d both said that to tell him meant not seeing me again (ugly, but true). Sure enough, around 6.30 the ‘phone rang. Mark got it – a tactic we’ve developed. Yep, it was Simon. Not, however, to shout, scream and threat. Instead he said Flavia wants to come to us one weekend and he suggested the coming one. They were going to Exeter on Sunday, returning Friday so why don’t I collect her on Friday? I did a hasty recce on the computer and found I could be there by 6, so it’s all arranged. Question being, why? ‘We’ watched Doom last night and as I sat there, averting my gaze, I kept going over the question. Why. What’s going on in his head? What is his ‘angle’? If she comes here, won’t it blast his case of Flavia being too frightened to come to the house again? Or has Roger (his upstanding, moral solicitor) suggested he appear reasonable – maybe then they can claim that they tried yet again but Flavia had the screaming heebie-jeebies. Or maybe he’s trying to return to our agreement before he decided to stop me seeing or speaking to her again – but if that’s the case, why refuse to let me speak to her at Christmas? Not only that, but his Statement is due before the Court on Thursday - doesn't he want to be there to oversee any last minute changes and sign it??? Of course, there’s always the chance that he wants me to trail all the way to Uckfield, not turn up and then say I wasn’t there on Saturday. Sounds underhand, but he is. So, why did Simon telephone to say Flavia could come here next weekend? I am, as I said, suspicious.

Thursday, 21 December 2006

She Came!!!

Yes!!! As the kids say, 'Result!' Okay, it sounds silly, but it's true. I got to the railway station at 10.40 (not as arduous as it sounds - only a 5 minute trip on the train) and stood outside the railway station until 11.05, waiting, watching, wondering. Getting colder by the second, as well. Brrrr. Then, at about 11.10 my mobile rang and it was Simon. 'Where are you?' Duh. At the railway station, of course. 'So are we. There are two entrances.' You don't say. Your solicitor certainly knew! Hence she stipulated which entrance we should meet. 'I'll meet you at the entrance.' Just as I was about to ask WHICH entrance, the idiot hung up. I guessed he meant the wrong one so went up and over the tracks, down the platform and found them at the wrong entrance. Men!! We (Flavia and I, of course, not Simon and I), hugged and kissed and I was relieved to see she was more sensibly dressed this time. Even had gloves and hat as well as a scarf. Simon raced off down the platform and we took our time. Flavia told me she was so excited to see me she hadn't had breakfast (although I suspect it had something to do with not being a morning person and having to leave the house at 9.00 am!) Apparently they saw me arrive at 10.40 but he refused to allow her to call out to me. Anyway, we had five hours together. We shopped and talked, although the latter is rather difficult when you have no where to settle. I cheated and used a dictaphone to catch Flavia's answers to my questions regarding whether she was scared of Mark etc. She knew about it. I told her Mark needed to hear it from her rather than me. She told me that Simon has kindly stated she will be allowed to come to our house after Christmas. What's wrong with Christmas, since she's supposed to be with us? He's made arrangements to go to a friend's house, apparently. I know it's boloney. If she comes here once that's his argument regarding her fear and loathing of coming here in a hand basket. As we ate lunch I asked again about August. It's like a bad tooth, I keep fussing with it. She told me it had nothing to do with her. She had packed a backpack with a couple of Barbies, toys, colouring pencils etc to use on the train and then Simon informed her she wasn't coming to us! My poor baby. She's confused, I'm confused. Mark isn't. I think part of it is Simon's upcoming anniversary regarding his ordination. He 'phoned in April to say he wants Flavia to be confirmed on his 20th Anniversary. It was disturbing listening to him. He wasn't interested in whether she wants to be confirmed or that it will be her experience - it was all a reflection of him. Adding to his glory. I suspect he doesn't want Mark and I to be there, hence he's pushed his desire to get us out of her life altogether. I feel so sorry for her, so terribly sorry. She's being damaged. I wish he would be sensible, but I know he can't. For nearly 20 years I listened to him, and watched him conspire and plot to 'destroy' those who went against him. Why on earth should I think he's not going to try to do the same thing with me? Crazy. My betrayal is so much greater because I was his wife and thus the loyalty demanded was so much greater. It's very wearing being the target of so much animosity, so much hate. The solicitor we saw said it will never be over, he will always be attacking, trying to undermine. She was right. It's amazing how many professionals look at the case and tell me it's personal. It has absolutely nothing to do with Flavia. Yet she is the one who will suffer the most. I don't know what to do about it. If I did what he wanted, she would be totally in his power and damaged that way. If I stay and fight him for my right to have contact with her, she'll be damaged by the battle and the bitching he uses against me (I do my best not to criticize him to her, although I had to laugh this afternoon when she described him as a 'jerk'. Hell, I couldn't but agree - although it was silent!) So, I saw her. Spent five hours shopping with her and returned home with sore feet and something of a sore heart. She should have been coming home with me, decorating with us, living with us, sharing our Christmas morning. Instead she'll be with her father and although I have no doubt she'll have plenty of presents, what about the love and companionship? Will it be as before? Allowed in to the sitting room for two or three hours in the morning before being banished to a bedroom and the tv? Told not to make a mess, not to make a noise? Okay our house is messy and sometimes noisy (depending on whose music we're listening to - and what the music is. Tell me you can listen to the 1812 Overture at p or pp and I'll call you a liar) but it is full of love and we don't care if Flavia is helping to make the mess as long as she also helps to clear up. I asked her to 'phone on Christmas Day. Is there any point in my calling her? He's refused to allow me to speak to her on Christmas Day before, making me wait until New Years and she was at the pantomime. I'll see. The desire may be too much. I wish she were with us now.

Tuesday, 19 December 2006

Why are people so stupid?

Before you say anything, yes, this is an honest question? Why are people so stupid? I ask this for a couple of reasons. The first is that I have finished marking my mock GCSE papers. All 150 of them. I listened as colleagues complained that they had 30 (or perhaps, horrors of horrors maybe 60) papers and said not a word. There's no point. It's the nature of the subject. We have 300 students between the two of us - as well as the Year 7s, 8s, 9s and 10s. Reports and exams take on a whole new meaning if you teach approximately half the school - something that covers about 800 students. I feel rather pleased with myself when I remember names - you try remembering so many names when you only see the owners about once every ten days! Anyway, back to stupidity. Firstly, as I said, the exams. Many students regard it as being distinctly uncool to get a good (make that reasonable) grade in the subject. Thus, they don't revise. This is the only answer one can come up with for some of the answers. We have been studying the Christian and Muslim view of medical ethics, crime and punishment, politics and the environment. I have had answers that cover Jedi and science (as a religion). I have also discovered that Jews are vegetarian, no Christian approves of capital punishment (or that they all do), Christians can vote Lib Dem or Conservative (lets Labour out), abortion is a treatment for infertility, the Muslim (or Islamist) view of creation is that a little girl got lost in a garden and then God created the world (just the same as the Christian God, but it took longer), Protestants are a separate religion from Christianity and that Muslims kill then eat animals (to do with animal rights under religion, incase you are wondering). Considering Christianity is a key component, it is scary that Jesus was mentioned (at all, let alone by name) 4 times in 300 papers and Muhammad only by the Muslim students. In fact, generally, the Muslim students got the best grades. Not just because they already have knowledge of their own religion, but because they usually have a healthy respect for the ideas of others. It is, after all, one of their precepts that they learn about the beliefs of others. Mind you, I'm still trying to work out how one of my boys can claim that he is a Christian but doesn't believe in the existence of God. I would have thought such belief was rather a necessary requirement!! Shows what I know. Other stupidity is evidenced by my brother. In 2003 he wrote a letter to the Court supporting my ex-husband's desire to have sole control over our daughter, stating he had known him for 20 years and had always found him to be the soul of integrity, a loving, kind and devoted husband and father who had supported both our daughter and I for years. Between 1989 and 2003 he saw him (us) for two hours (apart from my grandmother and father's funerals). I wrote to him a couple of weeks ago, giving him the chance to write a letter for me. He wrote back saying he stood by what he had written, admitted he had not known Simon for very long and stated (I loved this) that his reason for not writing a letter for me was because he did not want to take sides. Excuse me? My big brother writes a letter, supporting my abusive ex-husband, giving the impression he has had contact with him for two decades and then tells me that not only has he seen very little of him but he doesn't want to take sides???? Is that thick or what? Mark thinks he's lacking in common sense. I know better. He's being incredibly disingenuous. Mark didn't intend to show me the letter. Instead he wrote back to Patrick and told him that if he insisted on this stance he would lose a sister. However, my questioning whether we would ever hear from my brother finally prompted him to come clean. Mark dislikes lying as much as I do. I'm hurt, but I'm not surprised. I lost my brother in 2003 when I found out about the letter. It was particularly hurtful since I thought he was kindly disposed towards me and he had written to me saying he knew how it felt to be trapped in a loveless marriage. My brother, you see, has phases. He had a vegetarian phase, a no-salt phase and, most influential, a Roman Catholic phase. The latter was when he was younger, and by the time he decided God was a load of tosh he had a devout Roman Catholic wife. Problem. It was commented on 25 years ago that he spends most of his time hiding in his room when not at home - difficult since he is retiring within the year. Gosh, sounds like sour grapes and, to some extent it is. I do feel bitter. There he was, telling me how ghastly marriage is, how it should be outlawed, how one never knows the person one has married and yet he supports my ex simply because he is male and wears a piece of white plastic around his throat for a couple of hours each week. Is that insane or what?? Mark is incredulous, believing all the claptrap of blood being thicker than water. My family has never been like that. He doesn't understand. My brother isn't going against family loyalty simply because there IS no loyalty in my family. He went for gender loyalty. That's what he believes in. Me? I believe I have only one sibling. My sister. My brother doesn't exist. Makes the Christmas card list easier.

Sunday, 17 December 2006

Saturday - the Truth is out there Somewhere

Saturday was – how can I describe it? Confusing, elating… maybe best described by filling me with incredibly conflicting emotions. I caught all three trains, thankfully they were on time. Up to Clapham Junction, next train to East Croydon and then discovered there was a problem with the signals on the Uckfield line. Was the train going to run and if so, would it be on time? An anxious few minutes, since I knew full well that, even if Simon did turn up, he certainly wouldn’t wait. It was, apparently, my lucky day. The train had just left London Bridge. I raced over to the Platform and waited. It was crowded, vaguely uncomfortable but on time and I got there 40 minutes before I was due to see Flavia and Simon. It was cold but, thankfully the sun was shining. Since I didn’t really trust Simon to turn up, merely say he had but I hadn’t we had determined that I would buy something to prove my presence. I waited until the train left, before I went in to Somerfield. My idea was to buy a bread roll. First problem. Their bakery section wasn’t working and so I had to improvise. Receipt safely tucked away I wandered around the twenty or so shops that make up Uckfield and waited. At ten to two I walked the few hundred yards back to the railway station. If Simon did turn up I had no doubt he would wait less than 30 seconds. At five to two I was there. Waiting. Wondering. Watching the road. One minute to two and I saw his car. I hated the fact that I wasn’t excited to see her. Did she want to see me? How would she react? Part of me wanted to turn around and run, but there was no where to go. The next train didn’t arrive for another half an hour. I walked towards the entrance, wary. I stood ten feet away and looked at her. She half smiled at me, hesitant and I knew how she felt. I was just the same. They got out of the car and I wondered whether Simon would say anything to me. Mark was no where around and so he could verbally abuse me with impunity. Flavia held out a little present and eagerly described it to me. I looked at it. We hadn’t touched, hadn’t kissed or hugged and I wasn’t sure if that was because I was unsure whether she wanted to or if it was because she was nervous of me. Simon stood, as though guarding, listening to our conversation about her gift. I refused to either look at or speak to him. I loathed him for what he was doing and how he made me feel. I despised him. Finally, after what seemed an age, he got back in the car and drove off. We were alone for three hours. Flavia was dressed simply. A shirt I had bought her a couple of summers before, a pair of dungarees and a thin zip up top. I had three layers on under my thick coat and I could feel the chill of the air. Why on earth had Simon dressed her so inappropriately? He knew we were going to be outdoors for the next few hours! We started wandering around the shops, Flavia proudly brandishing three pounds in her purse. I was desperate to ask her about Simon’s allegations but didn’t want to just launch in to it. Get some good relations going first. We walked in to one of her favourite shops and she bought me a present, then asked what Mark would like for Christmas. I could hardly speak, I felt so choked. Finally I couldn’t stand it any more and led her to the local park. I needed to know. I had to know. It might damage the rest of the time we had together but I couldn’t wait any longer. I was going mad, I couldn’t concentrate on anything else. It consumed me. We sat on a bench. The sun shone and the occasional shopper walked past us, laden with bags. Otherwise it was quiet. I glanced at her, uncertain. How the hell should I broach it? I tried, ‘What’s happened?’ It seemed non-confrontational enough. ‘Jack died.’ I made sympathetic noises, all the time thinking, ‘I don’t care about the bloody guinea pig!!’. I tried again, again non-confrontational. For the next few minutes we talked our way through the points raised by Simon. In some ways it was enlightening but in reality it wasn’t. she had no idea what was happening. She thought the suggestion that she was scared of Mark was ridiculous, laughing that he was a ‘big softy’. Had Daddy had to force her to come to us? Did she say she didn’t want to speak to us again? To see us again? Throughout it, I kept my tongue firmly between my teeth and never accused Simon. I wanted to. I wanted to tell her how much I loathed him, but I couldn’t. He was her father. How could I do that to her? Each time the answer was in the negative. She was as confused as I had been. For the rest of our time together we were far more at ease and, as it happened, certain things emerged. Time and again she begged me if she could come to our house. It became evident that she thought we didn’t want her, rather than the other way around. She also begged to be with us at Christmas, as we had previously arranged and kept suggesting wild schemes for her to see Mark. At one point she asked whether we had thrown all her belongings out. At four fifty-five we made our way back to the railway station. It was dark and bitterly cold. I pitied Flavia. I had lent her my gloves and scarf but there was no way my coat would fit on her. My poor baby was freezing thanks to her father. For the last time I checked that non of Simon's accusations were true. Then we were at the railway station and he was there, the engine running, eager to leave. We hugged and kissed and said goodbye. She said she was going to ask her father if she could 'phone us on Thursday and spend Christmas with us. I didn't state the blindingly obvious, but knew the answer. I got home three hours later. Very cold, extremely tired. Exhausted, almost. Mark greeted me with a bear hug and a kiss, closely followed by a hot meal and a shot of Southern Comfort. I sat on the sofa, drained, repeating myself whilst Mark refused (nobly) to say 'I told you so.' Maybe we would deal with the last telephone call she had made at some point but for now it was enough. Simon had lied. Again. Flavia didn't fear Mark, didn't dread coming to us, did not say she didn't want to see or speak to us. She did. He had done what had succeeded all those years ago with my family. Told me they didn't want anything to do with me and told them I didn't want to see or speak to them. Not being a close family, that time it had worked. This time, to his surprise and fury, it hadn't. I had no doubt the pressure he had been exerting on Flavia to say what he wanted was incredible. She must have been subject to terrible mental trickery by him, yet when she saw me the truth came out. Those who haven't been abused have no idea of what it's like. I'm not talking the physical stuff. People can imagine that. They can even imagine the sexual abuse. It's the other stuff. The mind games, the wearing down. They have no idea. You end up believing them. You doubt yourself, your perceptions. They can convince you black is white and that one plus one equals 3. I know. It happened to me and now it is being visited on my daughter. Please God (and I doubt he cares, but I'm desperate) that we can save her.

Friday, 8 December 2006

Getting ready for Flavia

I finally gave in on Tuesday. My sleep patterns have been deteriorating for ages and, since Thursday have become so horrendous as does not bear thinking about. On Monday, despite 4 Tesco over-the-counter tablets I managed 3 hours sleep and looked, to my own critical gaze, terrible. So, I went to the doc and asked, discreetly, for some Mickey Finns. Just to get me to the end of term. Unfortunately she gave me some anti-anxiety tabs (didn't know such things existed!) and some anti-depressants. I am NOT depressed. I'm shattered!
Right now I'm taking the anti-anxiety complete with temazapam, which have been prescribed for the times when my mingraines become too intolerable. At least with those I actually get some 7 hours sleep. So far. I'm not planning it for ever, in fact I hope to desist tomorrow evening. I just need the sleep.
Of course, I'm not stopping them this evening because of tomorrow. It is The Day. I'm supposed to see Flavia for 3 hours tomorrow - and travel forever, of course. I'm waiting for a call to say she's too upset to see me. I just hope he has the decency to telephone before I leave rather than after.
We saw a solicitor today. She recommended we have a barrister to argue our case. Wonderful. Just what I want. Just need the cash. Especially since she also suggested we have a psychiatrist report for Flavia (or the family) to gauge how much Simon's been brainwashing her. However they aren't cheap. Oh for a money miracle!
My aunt telephoned yesterday to ask whether we were going to my mother's birthday party. Yeah, right. Spend around 10 (stressful) hours out of the house tomorrow then spend around 7 hours travelling on Sunday (that is if we hire a car - more if we don't) with painful socializing in between. I gave as the excuse the Statement, which has to be posted on Monday. I did not mention the 150 GCSE Mock scripts I have to mark (and input on to the computer) by 19 December - and teach, too.
I have to admit, I'm feeling a tad cussed. My aunt, mother and brother all supported Simon initially. They wrote letters of support - my brother's was eulogizing and downright nauseating. They had seen him once, for 2 hours in 15 years, yet swore he was a wonderful father and husband and perfect single parent material. I finally mentioned it to my aunt and mother this week - no apology, no explanation. They might not have known he was abusive, but I agree with Mark, that's no excuse for selling me down the river for no reason. Simply because he's charming and wears a dog collar. Grrrrr. My brother is henpecked by his wife, who is a staunch Roman Catholic and cannot believe anyone with a dog collar (can be wrong). I remember how she treated her daughter. Really, she was abused, whilst my nephew was still having his shoelaces tied for him when he was 10. So I had no chance there. Doesn't mean I forgive them, though, and I certainly don't trust them.
Well, we will see what tomorrow brings. Should be interesting. Obviously it is supposed to rain in Uckfield tomorrow - but I guessed that over a week ago!

Friday, 1 December 2006

Scared and fearful near Woking!

The thing is, I’m scared. Or if not scared, certainly worried and a bit (a lot) unsure. Crazy, but it isn’t. Not really. What I do know is that I’m not looking forward to next Saturday. I should be. Seeing Flavia after 126 days (more by that time) should fill me with excitement, happiness, euphoria. But it isn’t and that upsets me. I am scared/worried/unsure. All that time ago, in August, when Simon telephoned to say she didn’t want to see me or speak to me again I questioned it (obviously. I mean, who wouldn’t?). I told him I had to hear it from Flavia – he’s put words in to people’s mouths before, why not now? He told me I couldn’t speak to her right then but should ‘phone back five hours later. I did. To the second. I waited all day, anxious, worried, fearful. The ‘phone was engaged and I had a nerve wracking half an hour wait before I could get through. When I did, he told me Flavia didn’t want to speak to me, but I insisted. I had to. This was my life, my baby we were talking about. I could feel myself crumbling as I made my demand; terrified he was telling the truth. Finally he walked up the stairs, so slowly it was incredible and in to her bedroom where she was watching television. He said, ‘it’s Mummy,’ and I could hear that she was unwilling to say anything. She was reluctant to speak, which made me start to believe that Simon was actually telling the truth (please note, I didn’t say, ‘for once’). I spoke to her (you have no idea how difficult it was to keep my voice level and non-accusatory - I was shaking) and said I gathered she didn’t want to come to our house the next day. She took the ‘phone away from her ear and I heard her say, ‘You said you’d tell her. You said you’d tell her,’ and heard Simon say, ‘I did.’ I cannot describe how I felt. I could see the structure of my world collapsing as I listened to her. She passed the ‘phone back to Simon and that was it. Almost. I tried fighting my corner, difficult when all I wanted to do was creep somewhere dark and safe, curl up in to a ball and cry forever. I told Simon that, if Flavia refused to see or speak to me I needed a reason, needed to hear it from her and we needed to meet in a neutral area, suggesting Guildford. At first he agreed; then changed his mind. We argued (or at least, I tried, but I’m a terrible coward where he is concerned, trembling when I counter him) and I pointed out Flavia had made accusations against him and said she wanted to live with us (which he knew, since we discussed it in depth last Autumn before he made her change her mind, telling her she was all he had), yet we had insisted she return to him to assess how she really felt. He should return the compliment. He refused and told me he had no intention of helping me see or speak to Flavia ever again. Then hung up. Later that evening I had a telephone call from Flavia. I can remember it now, in every painful, excruciating detail. She called me a liar. Repeatedly. Told me she had never said she wanted to leave Simon and then chanted down the ‘phone, ‘Liar, liar, Freya. Liar, liar, Freya.’ She hung up. Mark had been listening on the extension and he couldn’t believe his ears. Neither could I. I stood, the receiver in my hand, unable to move, unable to breathe. Was this what my daughter thought of me? When I did manage to move I did jerkily, as though I had forgotten how to co-ordinate my limbs. I was broken. So, I’m not sure whether I really want next Saturday to happen. How can I when one considers what has gone on before? Mark thinks she was put up to it (or at least he SAYS he thinks she was put up to it) and that Simon was egging her on when she made that sneering telephone call. Whether he was or not, it happened and the pain is still there, still inside me, still with me. My trust, my belief in her has been badly shaken. Mark tells me I have to remember what my life was like with him, how it felt to be manipulated, the mind games he played: and I was an adult. Yet the fear persists. She need not have been quite so cutting, quite so horrible to me. So, I feel sick, nervous and not at all happy about our forthcoming meeting. The child I knew, the child who kept telling Mark and I how much she loved me has gone. I sometimes doubt her veracity. Simon always commented on what a liar she is. As well as lying about Mark and I was she also lying about her feelings about me? Mark says I’m daft (not in so many words, but you get my drift), that I’m letting my fears get the better of me. I shouldn’t fear seeing my ten year old daughter for the first time in what will be 134 days – but I do. What will it be like? What will she be like? I cannot imagine the usual scream of ‘delight’ and hug. Caution (certainly on my side) and wariness. I am deeply hurt by her claims and behaviour. Maybe I do dwell on it too much, but she was the only happiness in my life for so long that to have her deny it is (to be crude and rather blunt) gut-wrenching. I have already warned Louise that I shall not be good company for the next week. I seem to have lost my capacity for humour. Fear does that. Excuse me whilst I go somewhere and lick my wounds.

Thursday, 30 November 2006

The first time back in Court

Well, the first shot has been fired, so to speak. Mark and I went to Court this morning and faced Simon and his solicitor. We had to wait ages. I fairly quickly found my fear was giving way to boredom. Have you noticed how difficult it is to be scared and bored at the same time? Trust me, it is. I finally realized I recognised one of those waiting with us. It was Ron, erstwhile Vicar of Simon’s last Parish. He looked bored as well – and uncomfortable. I found it vaguely amusing that Simon needed his companionship – again. Ron tagged along at the last Court hearing in Eastbourne too. Poor Ron. If he only knew the contempt Simon has always felt for him. He doesn’t, of course. So he sifted through the old magazines in the waiting room and then fell asleep. At least he didn’t snore! Finally we were called. I saw the Judge raise a slight eyebrow when Simon gave as his reason for denying me all contact the fact that Mark had lost his temper with Flavia on one occasion. Simon’s solicitor (not Roger The Shark) gave their reasons as to why the case needs to be moved to Eastbourne. The Judge kindly pointed out that the argument regarding expense would be equally valid for Mark and myself if the case were moved to Eastbourne. i have to admit to feeling hopeful at that. The solicitor also stated that there was no basis for Mark being part of the application since he has no parental responsibility. Well, stop using him as an excuse for being difficult and spiteful then! Obviously we didn’t have a solicitor. Can’t afford one. I tried speaking on our behalf, countering a timeline the solicitor gave the Judge which included the fact that I had agreed to every other weekend with Flavia. The Judge didn’t look terribly impressed with Simon’s argument regarding Flavia being ‘condemned to a state education' if I moved her with me to Surrey. However, the end result was that the case is being moved to Eastbourne. That’s a 30 minute journey for Simon and a 3-4 hour one for us. If the next hearing is at 10.00 in Eastbourne it means we have to leave the house at 6.15. Six fifteen! My stamina needs to improve, that’s for certain. The Judge was not impressed by Simon’s claim that, because Mark had shouted at her that once, he did not feel he should make her come to our house. Instead he said we should have contact and, if we couldn’t come to an agreement, he would make an Order. Simon argued it, claiming I had never tried to have contact with her (liar, liar pants on fire – as a certain person would say). Out of the Court Simon’s solicitor was running around, back and fore. I suggested meeting in Guildford – Mark is, obviously, to be nowhere around. Too violent, vicious and scary. Looking in the mirror again? Simon refused, suggesting Eastbourne. What? He expects me to travel 7 hours for a three-hour meeting? Yes, she’s my daughter but I don’t need to go south for all that time, especially when one considers he lives 25 miles to the north of Eastbourne!! He then suggested we alternate. Two Saturdays we meet in Guildford (40 minutes travelling for me, 60 for him) and two Saturdays we meet in Uckfield (5 minutes for him, 3 hours for me). No. If he wants me to travel all the way to Uckfield then he comes closer to me. So, we agreed two times in Uckfield, two times in Woking. Uckfield is going to be fun for me, anyway. A forty-minute wait before they turn up and a forty minute wait after they leave. I will be frozen. Trust me on this one. Moreover, there’s nothing to DO in Uckfield. Check out the few shops and spend some time in the Tesco cafĂ© I suspect. However, I half expect to find Flavia will be too traumatized to make the meeting anyway. Amazingly. I’m feeling rather low. I miss her, I’m worrying about what it will be like to see her again after all the claims Simon has made regarding not wanting to see me or speak to me. I’m worrying about the money regarding journeying to Eastbourne and the need for a solicitor. We need one. Desperately. Even Mark says Roger will eat us alive without one. Yet how do we pay? All the websites say one should hire a solicitor immediately. How without money? And even if we had the cash, how do we find one that won’t roll over and beg when Roger sends his first salvo? That requires interviews and we are too far away. Arghhhh. I have Parent’s Consultation this evening (four interviews…there are advantages to teaching a subject no parent cares about) and then my worst day tomorrow, including the Class from Hell. And Mark has been very naughty (again) and not won the lottery. I don’t know. Can’t trust anyone. Social Services still haven't been in touch. Two 'phone calls and one email later. There's power in that there collar. Note to the gullible. Miracles DON'T happen and the good will not inherit the earth. They will just be booted around until they give in. Just thought I'd share that with you.