The Truth Is We Can’t Handle The Truth

Do we want the truth or do we like to wrap ourselves up in someone else’s fantasy life? The grip of the news hacking story is dying down now and Cameron is hanging on by his finger tips.

“I did not have any inappropriate conversations” he declared to parliament – Cleverly put.
What he is really saying:
“I did have some appropriate conversations though.”

I don’t know what is the truth. But if I were to speculate, I’d say this; in my humble opinion (IMHO) – I hasten to add:

1.) Cameron brokered a deal with Murdoch for his support (IMHO)
2.) He agreed to take Andy Coulson on his team to give the Murdoch eyes and ears inside Downing St (IMHO)
3.) In return for Murdoch’s support he agreed not to oppose the BSKYB bid

But the truth is that we let this happen because we are apathetic and we want someone else to make our decisions for us. The majority feed off the salacious scandal, the muck digging and the rise and fall of those in power. We let this happen because we gorge on the junk and invest our pennies in it. We bought it – we drove it and we supported it.

A friend sent me an article recently written in The Times declaring that celebrity film interviews were vacuous and pointless because they are so heavily minded by viperous PRs. The journalist wrote this article anonymously because they feared would be blacklisted by celebrity PRs and they wouldn’t get their 10 minutes of guff. The PRs are in charge because they provide access. But maybe journalists aren’t working hard enough to stick to the truth. If the truth is so important to them they would just write what they see. Or maybe folk just want to know that all is well in Happy Ever After and we need the fantasy escapism of perfection to keep our aging inferior selves satiated. Could we handle the truth?

The thing is now I don’t feed off it unless I am in the beauty parlour being plucked and polished so to indulge in a mindless cheese-fest of the empty helps keep my mind off the torture of beauty I am enduring. I don’t invest it in myself because I am not bothered. I am barely interested but I am interested by those who are. I am surrounded by early 20 years olds at the moment – they invest it and they believe it to be real. They are bothered. They buy into it. They want to be Kate Middleton – the fairytale myth of Cinderella centuries on still permeates society and girls buy into not understanding that it’s a honey trap and will inevitably result in domestic slavery.

I just want to runaway. Live in exile, off grid, self sufficient – un-influenced and un-interrupted from a world, I can’t control and vice I can’t avoid.

The truth is that Hagar is at war doing things I don’t agree with. The truth is that many military wives are unhappy but are frightened to say the words out loud. The truth is the military want us to be all cupcake bakers and backbone but give words of thanks they don’t mean. Why am I supporting unpaid, the methods of combat, in a war, we shouldn’t even be fighting in this way?

Hagar is paid for his job – he is not a volunteer yet he has equal responsibility to parent his children and yet he is sent away for months on end. So tell me why should I carry this responsibility? Why should I support the military and the Government? Especially, when the military make up the rules as they go along to suit their own ends. They will punish me when it suits them and then use me when it suits them as well. I am at their mercy by marriage. For the record, ‘no I did not know what I was getting in to when I got married’ and ‘no, I am not used to it.’ When I say these words in other places I am subjected to a barrage of abuse about how wrong I am. But the truth is most can’t handle my truth.

GUEST POST: Married to the MOD

By Heledd Kendrid
http://www.recruitforspouses.co.uk

The day I married my husband I didn’t realise how much I would be marrying into the institution. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a rant. It’s not my nature and equally wouldn’t go down well with my counterparts, who have lived this reality for years without so much as a rumble of complaint. However, last night was a typical day for me really.

I’m working long hours at the moment to get my business off the ground and with two young children to manage I’d be fooling myself if I said it was plain sailing. Being a Military Mum is different; you’re a single parent 80% of the time added to that you’re away from family, friends and the natural support structure you would have created for yourself had you been a single parent. You are everything and more; you are the cook, the cleaner, the taxi service, the disciplinarian, the mother, the entertainer; you do bath times, storytimes, fun times; you spend your time formulating a structure that makes his job easier as you can’t rely on them to be there all the time.

I know because I’ve been a career woman working in the City of London, Canary Wharf with the suit and the power pay. I’ve also been single Mum, on my own with a young child. I met my husband when my daughter was a few months old having left her Father, because he was blatantly a completely unsuitable Father. I fell in love with my husband because he was a caring , good man who worked hard and loved my daughter as if she was his own. (But that’s another story, I married him because I loved him.) You see, I know the struggles of a single Mum on benefits but now I know the struggles as a military mum and believe me the latter is a much bigger struggle.

Take last night for example, it was a family social occasion. I was expected to have clean, tidy presentable children by 5pm at the mess, not to mention myself in high heels and a clean tidy happy me wearing a dress which covered my shoulders, was knee length and was not too revealing, ( I do have images of a slut march through the camp at times) the dogs needed walking, the guinea pigs feeding, oh, and the kids. Sprinkle this, with a working 14 hours a day from home at the moment.

It was 4.15 (sorry, 16.15 hours) and sometimes things have to give. Last night was one of those nights. We had meltdown from my 4 year old daughter, who was so tired from a busy weekend camping (I had decided to drive down to Cornwall with 2 kids to take them camping as Dad was working) she just wanted to snuggle down in front of the telly. She unleashed the full monty of tears and tantrums.

I called my husband who again couldn’t answer the phone as he was too busy to explain to him that we couldn’t possibly make it tonight. By now it was 4.40pm. Harri my 2 year old had dried baked beans smeared all over his face and Aderyn was only beginning her meltdown. All I wanted was to get them to bed and sit down with a large Gordon’s gin.

Like a Flash my husband arrived, briefly played with the kids, ran up the stairs leaving a trail of destruction amongst what was an already chaotic house, showered and left saying he needed some aftershave. I had a quick peck on the cheek and he was gone.

6am the next morning, no husband, I call, (this is not out of character as I’ve been here too often), eventually he stumbles in through the bedroom door. Immediately, he was on the defensive, telling me that he wasn’t that drunk, slept on the sofa as not to wake me and went to work telling me that I over reacted and I need to take a grip.

Now, reading this you would think this is the most objectionable man you have probably met, but without sounding like a doormat, it’s the job. It’s OK to drink and expect your wife to pick up the pieces, despite the mad day she’s having. Some wives I know they don’t allow it but then apparently these guys aren’t respected at work. They’re seen as feminine and under the thumb, ‘pussy whipped’ and that doesn’t demand respect from your soldiers. Funny that the military push the fact that a strong home underpins good fighting power and in turn an effective workforce. So falling short of me walking out nothing will change him.

You see, my husband comes from a good family. His father is a headmaster, his mother runs her own childcare business, his brother happily married is a teacher and his sister is a nurse you couldn’t find a more supportive family. Even with this stable base, my husband feels he has something to prove, an identity, one of the lads, someone who is in control of him and his woman. As that is all I am to him and the military, there are three people in this marriage; myself, my husband and the MOD. If he had a job in civvie street this wouldn’t happen.

Op Minimise

All quiet on the Western Front. Hagar’s epistles are sparse and in-frequent.

Hagar writes:

“Just a quick note to say if it ever goes quiet from my end, it is usually because we have to minimise (ie stop) any e-mails or phone calls from here as a result of a death. As you will have seen on the news today a UK serviceman was unfortunately killed so all comms are stopped to allow the next of kin to find out first! Anyway, please don’t worry is my point.

All is well, morale is high and looking forward to any mail coming my way! It takes around a week or so to arrive out here, depends on flights.

Anyway, happy to hear all is well in UK, apart from the rain, but hopefully the sun will come out for the whole of August!”

Meanwhile, back in Blighty, I am running around like a blue arsed fly. (I love that expression – what does it mean? Flies fly not run – anyhoo.) Thankfully, it is the school holidays so I don’t have to muster The Grenade. I am working full time on a freelance contract, actually in an office (I normally work from home) until the end of July so I am up and out before the house stirs. My aunty is staying with me to help out with the kids while I work. It’s such a luxury. I am so very lucky. She had the audacity to pop home for a few days last week and I literally thought my right arm had been removed. I even had to look after my own children!!!

There is no rest for the wicked whilst Hagar is away. The workload doubles. I am looking at the rain with horror and watching the grass grow and grow. I was wondering if I should put a notice up in the pub – to see if anyone fancied doing their bit for the war effort by coming over to mow my lawn! And ‘no’ that is not a euphemism for trim my beaver, or come around and give me a good seeing too – I ACTUALLY want someone to cut the grass!

On the whole, I don’t know how to stop. I have to keep living at 100 mph, which invariably involves consuming vast quantities of alcohol and staying up until the early hours, then digging in the next day, washing down tonnes of ibruprofen and taking the kids swimming. I have joined a club with a pool so that we can swim whenever we want. It has an outdoor pool and we can go everyday. This is my holiday. The pool is so warm that the pool temperature is often warmer than the air temperature. The kids are hardier than me they can stay for hours and hours while my lips turn blue.

Then I still have my business to run and deals to wheel. I am in the process setting up the next quarter. It is full hope and excitement with some great contracts being finalised. I can’t tell you because I would have to kill you. All will become clear in time.

All of this is played out with the backdrop of News International-gate which I am still utterly gripped by. I see people dropping off the story now but my hunger for it hasn’t changed. It is so significant – it will change the face of the next election. Will Cameron survive? Today, was a big day – the first mysterious death. The saga unravels like a Jeffrey Archer novel. I can’t wait for the film. This is as big as Nixon and Watergate, for sure.

Did I mention that my kids don’t sleep – they are never asleep before 10.30pm. Every night, even when you get them up early. It’s a constant source of endurance that you have to experience to believe. I am an insomniac too and don’t need much sleep but I am older and I need more than them. They are young versions of me sent to test me. Onwards and upwards. Sleep when you are dead. That’s what I say.

Hagar’s Day Is The Night Shift

My day:

I work mainly nights when on det, it’s the safest time of day out here. The dark is my friend so I embrace it and hopefully, it will look after me. I get up around 4:30pm. It’s still hot outside, low 40s Celcius. You can feel the heat even from inside our 2 man air conditioned room. A shave and a clean of my teeth and I am ready to get dressed into my fire proof Multi Cam combat trousers and shirt. A cotton t-shirt or flame proof long sleeved layer goes underneath, along with cotton underwear. In my right thigh pocket is an escape map, printed on silk, so it is small and yet strong, in my left, some American dollars and a morphine syrette, safely contained inside a plastic ‘coffin’ so it doesn’t auto-inject me by mistake (as has happened to some pilots in the past!). My left hip pocket contains a lip salve and mini leatherman tool, my right a small wallet with my meal card (more on that later) my various compound passes and my ID. My shirt chest pockets hold my work mobile phone and pager. Around my neck goes my dog tags and small head torch that always lives there for when I am in the dark and need to see! I wear desert socks and tough desert boots, with sole that won’t melt in a fire – I often wonder that if I am standing in a fire that is hot enough to melt the soles of my boots I won’t care if they are melt proof or not, as the rest of me will be melting anyway! On my head go my issue ESS sunglasses (going from dark to light is hard on the old peepers) and my Multi cam floppy hat with cut down rim to make it look less like a sombrero……

I walk the 5 minutes to work with some of my crews and we check in to see what’s on the cards for us work wise, sometimes busy straight away, sometimes not. If we are not busy, we have scoff, then gym, then TV, sometimes we go shopping…..

Around 7pm we go for ‘Breakfast’ ie Scoff, but that is evening meal time for most people, so we have pasta or salad or steak or burgers etc. The choice of food is pretty good, as the choice of eating establishments (around 5 at the last count – hence a meal card so we can eat anywhere). If we are busy, it is: in, eat, out, no messing – a habit I always continue for a while after I get home – speed eating (along with Det tourettes). I usually grab a triple coffee at that point with plenty of sugar, to take away, if its going to be a long night. If we are out all night flying we usually get back after it gets light, so we go from day into night into day, which is a bit of a head fuck until you get used to it. When we land, we de-brief the night and then give the aircraft back to our engineers who fix our trusty steeds, make good all the things that re broken, patch any holes the bad guys have made in them, feed and water them, and get them ready to go out to work again later that night. They are bloody good, our engineers, I like them a lot, they look after us – we need them too.

Once we have popped back into work and shut things down for the night, we usually bimble off for brekkie, sometime a full fry if its been a hard night, sometimes fruit salad, always loads to drink. In fact I seem to drink all night when I am flying, endless bottles of water passed forward to me by my crewman and I never need a piss until after I land – that’s what flying in fire proof gear, sitting in an armoured seat, wearing body armour, a frag vest and survival combat jacket, in a glass cockpit with an outside temperature of 35 degrees C at 3 in the morning, does for you. When we get back to the block, its shower and chill time for a wee while then collapse into the lower bunk of my bunk bed (the top bunk holds my junk) and with a fond look at the pics of my kids above my pillow, I fall asleep. The sleep of the tired and the damned, or maybe, just maybe, sometimes the sleep of the righteous. 14 hours per day, 7 days a week, 10 weeks.

That’s was my day. How was yours?

War Is A Risky Business

In three years, my direct contact with death, through war, now tolls at three.

Dong:

A young JTAC (Joint Terminal Air Controller – ie. Please drop that bomb here) I was introduced to by Hagar in the pub one night. We chatted a bit. I knew what a JTAC did because I had written about it in Immediate Response. He deployed to Afghanistan. Not long after he was killed. I was shocked by the news of his death. The instant extinguishing of life. Here today and then gone just like that.

Dong:

The journalist Rupert Hamer, from The Mirror. I had been speaking to him quite regularly up until he was embedded in Afghanistan. We were both interested in whether a peaceful resolution could be achieved. Again, his death hit me hard. I barely knew him but he struck me as journalist who was looking for more than just a story that would sell papers. He had integrity. Maybe this is hard for many in the military to fathom but I was introduced to him by a serviceman because he trusted him. I was deeply saddened by his death.

Dong:

Tim Hetherington. His death, a week today, and I still can’t quite get my head around it. I can’t imagine how his closest friends, loved ones and family are reconciling it. I feel like we have been robbed of a someone incredible. I know it was his time. It’s just that no-one was ready for him to go. War is a risky business and the business of war creates attrition. It can happen to you. We must never forget that. Everyone who knew him will mourn the loss and the gap that now exists in their lives. Death is a wound that heals but it leaves scars. His death has wounded many. For some it cuts deep and others it’s just a scratch. I will seize the creative freedom to which he aspired. We can but keep putting one foot in front of the other, and some must decide, once again, if they can walk in the Valley of Death. Unfortunately, there will always be wars for the intrepid to venture into.

Scanned from Newsweek

My last email with Tim was three weeks ago. I knew that he was going to Libya. Deep down, I knew that he wouldn’t come back. I had stopped looking. He threw himself mind, body and soul into the promotion of Restrepo. We called it Planet Restrepo – he was like a dog with a bone. I watched the short film, Diary that he made and saw a man at a crossroads. I think he should have taken a holiday after Restrepo didn’t win the Oscar and the rollercoaster had drawn to a halt. He needed a break to transition into the next phase. When I learned that he had opted to go to Libya I knew he was a war chaser. It was his crack cocaine. I stopped looking. Just like when Hagar goes to war. I can’t look. Hagar deploys again soon. I hate war. I hate guns, weapons, bombs and destruction. But men need war. Rest in peace Tim. Be vigilant Hagar. To all of you war chasers, in the war business, regardless of how I personally feel, your work is valued and you are loved. Tread lightly.

But onwards and upwards. I can’t hide anymore. Life goes on and we must keep pushing forward while we still breathe.

I am in France opening up our French House – we still have weeks available if you fancy a holiday in France this summer:

Le Petit Pre

Plus I have been invited back to be a Toys R Us Toyologist so more toy reviews, competitions and giveaways coming this summer.

Welcome to Review-land, a new place on the blog where I shall be reviewing all the products that PRs send me. Look out for the latest reviews on the right side of the blog – I have just uploaded some film reviews for your delectation.

Rest In Peace Tim Hetherington

Today, a star died. The world will be a slightly darker place without him. I am shocked and saddened by the news.

My thoughts are with his loved ones and family. War is an ugly business and those in the business of war walk often in the Valley of Death. It was his time and I am honoured that I was lucky enough to have him brush through my life. Even if it was a brief encounter, they were moments I will treasure forever.

Rest In Peace Tim. 😦

Meditation Day

I was contacted by Catherine at the London Meditation Project because she wanted to connect with military spouses. She offered me a free day of meditation in London. I jumped at the chance. I think I have made no secret of my feminist hippy values and I am always open to new ideas and new ways of thinking. I love the exploration of the new. I obviously reserve the right to disagree too.

Catherine posted her meditation day invitation on the forum Rear Party and quite frankly it went down like a pint of cold sick. Nobody signed up. We spoke on the phone and she invited me along to a day for veterans, which passed last Sunday. I dragged Hagar along too. He’s a stressed out bunny right now and he was willing to check it out.

The day was fascinating. I truly loved every second of it. Catherine sent me some questions and so I am going to answer them for you now live on my blog. I want you to know the feedback is honest and fresh. Here goes…

*What drew you personally to want to explore meditation?*

I don’t know. I didn’t know what it was but ultimately, I was looking for some calm and reflection in my life because I am feeling burnt out and raw.

*What needs do you think meditation could help meet for military service people and combat veterans?*

I think we all need to take some time out in our days, in our lives to stop and reflect on why we are who we are. This time for reflection is priceless and yet there seems never be enough room in the day to make it so.

*How was the meditation teaching for you? Was it clear and helpful?*

Yes, strangely it was incredibly helpful although I never felt I was being taught. What I took from it was that in order to meditate you need to stop, sit still, close your eyes, try to count, breathe and not speak. Not speaking was my biggest challenge. I speak too much. Bizarrely, to not speak was very liberating.

*What parts of the day were most important for you? Shrine room time, learning new skills? Open discussion? An environment of trust and openness? Please let us know any details you wish to feed back about any of these things.*

The whole day was important to me. I loved the openness and the trust. I loved the shrine room time and I embraced the news skills. I found meditating hard but yet liberating. What amazed me most was the instructors we met took on a different form to me in the shrine room from the chat that I had in the normality of the room upstairs. They were one thing upstairs and yet in the shrine room they were different people. It’s difficult to explain. The presentation was so contrasting from the military environment. Military personnel dominate a room with their presence. Yet the meditation teachers had very discrete presences out of the shrine room and yet as they shared their skills their confidence and assurance was exuded in a completely passive yet skilled and experienced manner.

*Any comments on the structure of the day*

Military personnel will need a clearer leadership but the structure was perfect.

*Comments on the way the facilitation worked:*

I loved the centre. It was intimate but yet still clinical enough to not be insincere.

*How was the hospitality?! Did you like the place, the food etc. Did you feel comfortable in the place?*

I loved it! The hospitality was brilliant. The food was divine. I feel happy just thinking back on it.

*Would you recommend trying meditation to others in Military Service, and to ex-Servicemen? Is there a gap you perceive in welfare support that this could help to fill?*

I would recommend it to everyone. I think it is important to take some time out of your day to sit and reflect. There is a gap but I think you need to overcome people’s embarrassment about the fact that they don’t understand what it is, that they think it’s bullshit and they are afraid to ask for help.

*How can you envision meditation contributing: as stress management, support in decompression, supporting partners and families to have some space to be together with support to relax and ‘be’ in a different way? A way to offer support for those holding a huge amount of emotional experience and stress – through trauma, injury and loss and/or through sustained intensely demanding conditions… etc.*

I think it would be brilliant way of re-connecting families with their partners after prolonged periods of absence and two very different worlds of experience. It would be an amazing, passive way of bridging the gap and bringing the worlds together in a supportive, shared environment. It would encourage dialogue and also create a community of people who have shared experiences to connect and lean on each other. No doubt the feeling is that it is already in place and they don’t need help. There is a lot of denial. This is the hurdle that needs to be overcome. In order to help the community the community needs to acknowledge there is a problem. I don’t know how you do that. First rule of fight club is you don’t talk about fight club.

*Do you have any suggestions for form, location etc of future courses, days and residential retreats?*

I think you need to take this to the community. The community will not go out and seek help because of the denial. They will not come to you.

*Your own words, thoughts and experience on this will help us no end.*

I am one person in a sea of many. I think this project is inspired and I hope that you have the success that you seek. The military is tightly, coiled spring who cannot look beyond science. This will help if they let you in. Somehow you have to work out how to unlock them. Unfortunately, I don’t have the answer. Hagar and I talked all the way home. Today, I have decided to create a meditation room in my house. A place dedicated to silent reflection. I left the day feeling very calm and strong. I don’t want to lose that. It was amazing to meet you all. It was incredible to think that I sat still for 3 x 30 minutes and didn’t speak and barely moved. For me, a person of many words and a complete fidget pants it was a hugely challenging experience. But in the words of the Dalai Lama – “Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.”

If you want to know more about Catherine and her inspired idea to bring meditation to the military then email her:

Catherine Powell
catherine@londonmeditationproject.org

She would love to hear from you. She wants to help and she had done a lot of work with US military, who are a little more evolved in their openness. Catherine genuinely cares. Don’t be frightened, I promise you can trust her. She is a white light and she is lovely.