Janey's Blogs - January 2010
Thursday the 7th of January 2010
Safer World for Women
The fair haired woman at the bus stop cried loudly and turned away as her male friend shouted into her face. He then slapped her loudly across the head with a plastic bag which I assumed must have concealed a bottle, for the crack that she suffered made my teeth grind and crush as I heard the impact.
He stood there, his bald head red with anger, his other fist trembling in rage and his face contorted into that of a snarling bull dog. The blonde woman simply moaned and bent over holding her head after the bottle made contact with her scalp.
"Leave her alone, you crazy freak!" I screamed and stepped between him and the moaning simpering woman.
"Don't say anything." - The woman lifted her dazed face towards me, pleading with her frightened eyes. I knew exactly what she was conveying with her eyes. "If you upset him, I get it more" is what she was saying. "If you stand up to him, he will beat me worse in private." Those feelings stirred up old memories within my furious brain. The baldy angry man spat at her and ran off leaving us both at the freezing cold bus stop. The woman refused any words of comfort and help. She jumped on a number 56 bus and I never saw her again. I used to be her.
I got married too young to an even younger boy who never knew how to love without fear and violence. He came from a gangster background - a male dominated family, where women were undervalued and were never really respected. It took us both almost two decades of anger and abuse to work out our differences. I was told men don't change, but I would like to think some can and DO. When my husband talks about how he behaved towards me, he is totally remorseful and has never tried to justify or hide anything he did. He actively encouraged me to write all the details of his marital abuse in my autobiography Handstands in the Dark. He is still ashamed and can never understand why I stayed. I know I shouldn't have stayed but, like many women, I had many reasons to hang on. None of them right reasons; more like excuses and lack of confidence mixed with no sense of self worth.
When my husband had tried to talk about his abuse towards me, no-one wanted to deal with it. He knew instinctively that what he was doing was wrong and needed help to understand what was going on with the violence and his own mental health and recurring depression that he had suffered since he was 14 years old. Other people around us assured him that it was the norm. Society accepted it.
My own mother had been murdered by her boyfriend - Peter Greenshields - and he never even got questioned by the police, despite being the last person to see her alive and having been charged for assaulting her previously. My husband recalls how, back in the early 80s, he tried to seek help from his family and the local priest about the way he had been beating and mentally abusing me. He was told: "Men sometimes just can't control themselves and it is hard when you first get married." This spurred him into seeking psychological help from the local health authorities, which became fruitless and left with him with no other avenue so he went for private therapy. This does not make him a 'good man' but it did make him a good husband who has never forgotten how he terrorised the love of his life. He still struggles to understand what made him so unbelievably violent towards me. That is the reason I stay with him: if he had never tried to understand the anger or take the responsibility for his actions, I could never have shared my life with him.
We are now married 30 years and sometimes to this day, when he shouts, I get a knot in my stomach and cringe at my own vulnerability. He will never hit or abuse me ever again, not because he has promised, but because I will never let it happen to me. It takes years to be strong inside after being abused by someone you love but you do manage it. We have a beautiful 23-year-old daughter. It is hard watching her grow up. I worry she will be hurt or let someone rob her of all that shiny beautiful hopefulness she possesses. I can only try to teach her self worth, self confidence and her father has spoken to her about how he treated me. There are many testimonials my daughter can read about women who were attacked and beaten by their partners and all of those accounts are valid and important, but I think it was valuable for her to hear it from her father - how violent he was towards me - her mother. My daughter was appalled at the level of brutality and emotional fear I had lived under from the man she loves the most in her world and him discussing it openly with her can only help her reach some understanding as to how to deal with such situations in her life. We hope.
My daughter, her father and I agreed that silence, shame, ignorance and acceptance are some of the most basic hurdles to get over when dealing with spousal abuse. The shame it brings on a woman to have to admit that the man she loves and chose to marry is the one person who is making her life a living hell is often the hardest thing to tell people. It was for me. To this day, I hope that woman at the bus stop with the cracked head got on a bus and ran away from her violent man forever. Or maybe, like me, she waited and hoped her man would love her enough to stop hitting her only to realise that I had to love myself first. Both my husband and I changed; it took the two of us to get therapy to solve it: him to understand what made him violent and me to understand what made me accept it. It doesn't always work out like this, I know, but I always liked happy endings.
And that is why I support a campaign called A Safer World for Women.
The second you say you are involved in raising awareness about the violence women suffer, you can hear some people shut their minds off from you. Bleeding hearts and sad tales isn't something people like hearing about. The reason there is sympathy fatigue over this subject matter is that folk feel helpless to help and that can in turn be negative about the good work from the people at A Safe World for Women which is run by The Women for a Change International Foundation (WFAC) and is a not-for-profit organisation staffed by volunteers.
Basically the organisation are trying to get one million online endorsements to help raise awareness about the fear, violence, rape, abuse and mental torture suffered by women across the globe. They are also trying to highlight the horror of female slave trafficking.
Please go to: A Safe World for Women
And make your endorsement for a safer world for women; it's free and it makes a difference.
Please follow on twitter @safeworld4women
Wednesday the 13th of January 2010
Chill Out Time
Have loved the cold weather, so much so I went on STV's The Hour show and declared my love of the snow. It was funny - to me.
I did have a blocked-up nose during the broadcast and was sweating slightly. The snow has been a double-edged sword in my household.
On the one hand, we are all getting cabin fever; on the other we are all talking more and huddling together.
Ashley and I are writing together. I have to sit in her room as we do it and I get all distracted by staring at her book collection (why does she have Dirk Bogarde's biography?), the bundles of clothes (are they clean or needing ironed?), why are there make up bottles mixed with bank statements and a basil Panini? (Should I sort them out?) Things come into my head and she shouts: "Mum, stop looking at my stuff and bloody focus on what we are writing. - We have a deadline!"
I am easily distracted. So, after all this week of writing, learning a new program on the laptop and dealing with a lump that I haven't yet let the doctor look at, I headed up to Bingham Pond on the Great Western Road and joined in with a skating/curling event. It was very unorganised yet totally organised at the same time - nothing to do with the council, this was community spirit at work - a bloke had gotten heaps of skates for people to have free, a lovely woman had brought hot food and the kids brought their enthusiasm!
The Bingham Pond was totally frozen over, except for one big hole cut into the side where the ducks and birds sat sullenly around a chilly patch of freezing water.
They didn't look happy. I have never seen so many emotional, sad, angry ducks . They did look totally disenfranchised. They stared at me, sniffed and waddled off in a stumpy huff. This was their pond; why on earth were we walking on their water? What were we? - Jesus?
I met loads of nice people, drank heaps of hot tea, ate home made brownies and did a bit of slipping about - perfect Sunday.
I have been keeping constant contact with my dad. Despite his age, he is determined to get out into the slippy ice and snow and damage himself.
"Dad, please stay in. We will come up with food," I said.
"Och, I will be fine, am just off to get myself a newspaper," he quipped.
Meanwhile I got an ear infection; it made my ear pulsate with pain. I called the NHS helpline and they directed me to the out of hours clinic: they faxed them to let them know I was coming.
The clinic was at The Western Infirmary. With pulsating itchy painful ear I hobbled in.
Husband dropped me off to go park his car. I was sitting there reading a book and trying to imagine having sex with George Michael (I do this when I am in pain - it takes a lot of concentration) when I noticed a fat young bloke snarling and muttering at his skinny young girlfriend.
"They cunts should have listened to you, Shania. I am gonna punch that fucking nurse. She is a cow."
I could hear him despite my ear being half-blocked.
Great - all I need is a fat dick in a bad mood as my ear threatened to explode. Where was husband?
There was a nice Asian-looking bloke opposite me; we both made eye contact and raised our brows at each other. Then the nurse called for the Asian bloke.
The fat acrylic-clad fuckwit shouts: "How come that Paki cunt got took?"
This made me glare at him, the yellow NHS room felt menacing and the skinny girlfriend looked at me with pleading sorry eyes.
Fat man huffed louder and answered his loud mobile phone whose ringtone was Rule Britannia I was amazed he liked orchestral music.
"Turn your phone off; it says so on the sign," the girlfriend spoke mouse-like but adamant.
"I am dyslexic and cannae read," he sniggered. I didn't doubt it, but I suspect it was illiteracy not even sarcasm.
Then the nurse called my name. Just as I was getting up he snarled: "Why is she being taken?"
At this I snapped my head round and said, "I had an appointment faxed in by my doctor. Did you? Shut up - you might be able to bully her but not me - OK, fatty boom boom?"
He just stared open mouthed and put his head down. I was only getting seen by the nurse before I go to the doctor. I was out in seconds and husband was now on the chairs waiting on me; he didn't know husband was with me and was complaining about how some woman and a Paki got it before them. I sat beside husband and glared at fatty boom boom.
Husband ignored all the words coming out of fatty's mouth - he doesn't like strangers talking to him, far less racist annoying ones.
Just then, a skinny blonde girl and her young spiky haired boyfriend came in - she was painfully thin and vomiting into a grey hospital sick bucket.
"Fucksake, Tam, I feel ill," she bleated.
The fat arse immediately recognised what he thought was his own kind and started telling them how his girlfriend was waiting ages. "I am gonna punch some cunt soon," he spoke gruffly. I stared at him.
He looked away; husband laughed loudly and stared at the wall. The room felt menacing, the spiky young haired guy looked at husband and immediately smiled and stroked his blonde sick girlfriend's back- he was not allying himself to fatty.
Then fatty's girlfriend was called in by the nurse and as soon as she went off fatty said, "Her period is two weeks late, fucksake, and she is bleeding clots, fucksake, and it might be a miscarriage and these cunts aren't taking her seriously, fucksake."
Husband laughed loud again and stared at the wall and said "Yuk" out loud at the 'clots' comment. The spiky boy and sick girl stared at us; the sick girl smiled at me.
"You OK?" I offered some friendship at her.
"I am just pregnant three weeks and I can't stop being sick," she muttered.
I told her I had that when I was pregnant and offered her sympath. She, I and her spiky haired boyfriend all chatted about sickness in pregnancy.
Fatty was left in the cold. Just then his girlfriend came out and he shouted: "What happened?"
She was whispering and didn't want to share with the group and they both left in a hurry.
"Maybe she will get away from him?" I ventured and the sick blonde girl laughed and said, "I hope so." We all sat in silence until my name was called. The upshot is I got antibiotic ear drops and need to keep using them. I was glad to get out of that place. The ears are better and am hoping the thumping infection clears up for London next week.
So Ashley and I are currently learning Burns' poems as we are doing a wee turn at The Groucho Club for Burns' night next Saturday. Ashley is really good at it. I seem to stumble over the old Scots dialect and can't quite get my head around it. Those odd Gaelic-type words flow from her wee lips... me? Its like flip-flops falling out of my mou... I need to practise more.
Both of us are hoping that the snow clears up so we can fly to London when needs be!
Wednesday the 20th of January 2010
On Monday I had to go present myself for jury duty; I tried getting out of it by providing a valid E-Ticket from British Airways which clearly states I am leaving Glasgow this coming Friday. They sent it back by post and told me to turn up on Monday and maybe... just maybe... they might let me off.
What I don't understand is - with the sheer amount of unemployed people that we keep reading about in he Daily Mail why do the courts want people who are terminally busy?
Do busy people have better judgement? I don't think so, I think if I had better judgement I would not work and would lie in bed all day. I am a stupid twat that chose a career; if I was smart I would do piss all and sleep instead of working in an industry that still thinks women aren't quite good enough for the job.
Anyway, I dragged myself out of bed at 8am on Monday, thought 'Suppose I better wash my hair... I don't want to turn up looking mental... hang on... maybe looking mental is good?' So, instead of coiffing my bunnet, I merely bushed it up further into what can only be described as a hysterical angry terrier hanging off the side of my head.
No make-up either: a blotchy pale face with two red vicious spots on my chin completed the Susan Boyle effect I was going for. Husband stared at me silently. I could see him trying hard to think of something to slip out of lips but, having been married 30 years, this is a man who knows to think really really hard before he says stuff about my hair or appearance. Holidays have been ruined by a sneery look at my summer shorts.
"Nice" was all he uttered.
"I am going to look mental, feels strange going out like this," I explained.
"You look like that when you sit about the house anyway." He stepped into a burning puddle of verbal hell. He didn't know it, he was unaware of the liquid fire chasing his heels, but I let it go. I needed to get to court.
9.45am it stated clearly on the form. So I was there for 9.30am, the cold wind had chaffed my face and made my hair sufficiently psychotic, but the room they put me into was blisteringly hot. That was after they searched me and shoved me through a security arch that was set up at the front door. Within seconds I was sweating, people started filing in and, before long, the room was stuffed with folk. There weren't enough seats; people were standing, nobody talking, all staring at watches and phones.
At 10.30am, I lost patience. I slammed out of the 'steam' room and walked to the info booth. I explained to the pale man that the clerk was late, the room had 43 people and only 37 seats and that the heat was intolerable.
"Open a window then," the man said indolently.
"Well, its ground floor and it could breach security, that's why I didn't open the windows - you could easily pass a gun through the window and bypass the security at the doors," I said too loudly. The policemen, who were standing about laughing, stopped and stared at ... the word GUN flagged up in their head. But I was merely pointing out a fact.
Just then the court clerk Sue Perkins turned up, well she was the absolute DOUBLE of Sue Perkins and I know Sue; she even spoke like her. I was freaked out. Was this Sue? Was it a trick?
It wasn't Sue - she was the court clerk and she announced, "Everyone into court seven please." I was trying hard to get her attention to let her know I needed to be excused and, because Sue Perkins (the real one) is so friendly, I assumed her doppelganger would be as amiable. She wasn't. Actually, that isn't fair: she was just efficient.
Finally we all sat in the court and shouted 'Here' when our names were rollcalled.
After eons of time passed she finally gave us an opportunity to come forward to ask to be excused (it was like school games time).
I was there first. I smiled my best and wished my hair didn't look raped, then told her all about my busy life, my trip to London, my inability to judge killers, my dislike of the small over-heated room, the story about being caught with guns 15 years ago, my Burns Night at The Groucho, my lump near my crotch, my birthday plans and then finally told her I was a stand-up comedian who tells long-winded stories for a living, then I muttered the last time I was in that very court room was when I gave evidence of the child abuse I suffered when we took my uncle David Percy to court in 1996... I talked for ages then told her she looked like Sue Perkins who, by the way, is 'awesome'.
She simply smiled and said "OK".
I ran out of there like one of the Guildford Six celebrating my freedom.
So life is sweet! I am all packed for London and it's my birthday today!
Thursday the 28th of January 2010
London Weekend & Fun
Last weekend was awesome. Ashley and I decided to head to London and have a fun weekend. We were both doing Burns poems at a private London club as part of their Burns' Night celebrations. Ashley 'gets' Burns and I am not really sure of how to pronounce his work, but she taught me over the week.
We flew into London at 8am on Friday morning, both of us exhausted as we don't do mornings well and I hate folk who fight for elbow space on the London tube. Some nasty wee man started pushing his elbow right into my side as he read his paper. Ashley was sitting opposite and glared at him, whilst making silent angry eyes at me, I waited till he got comfy and gave him a proper Glasgow dunt (a big shove) right back. He was startled but gave up trying to stick his arm under my left breast. I felt like turning round and saying, "We will need a lubricant if you get any closer to my side boobs," but the dunt did it. He had the cheek to look at me as if I was wrong!
Anyway we got to the Crown Lawn apartments at Point West on the Cromwell Road and they were AWESOME, seriously – a huge two bedroom flat with enormous patio! My niece Ann Margaret was coming down for two nights, but the poor wee mite was doing the ten hour bus journey as she doesn't have a passport nor is into flying yet!
Ashley was furiously learning her Burns poem and I was silently ignoring mine; it will be all right on the night!
Ann Margaret arrived on the Saturday morning after the journey from hell on the bloody Magic Bus... trust me it wasn't magic, it was evil.
On Saturday afternoon we all got ready and headed into the club to prepare for the big meal and the Burns performance. Little did we know that John Landis and his wife would be in attendance. It's one thing winging a poem in front of a small audience and another doing it in front of a big Hollywood film director. To make it worse there were a few very famous faces from the big screen. Ashley stared at me with a pale face and I felt my bowels do the Macarena!
There were only about 50 people in this small room... so it's not as if you can huddle into a corner if you totally fuck it up!
Anyway, after the most amazing Address to the Haggis by a lovely Scottish actor, Ashley was first up with her rendition of 'A man's a man for aw that' and she was really good. Her clear voice and determined attitude saw it through.
I did my poem and some Burns-based comedy, as did other fabulous performers. It was a lovely night. Mr Landis congratulated Ashley on her lovely poem and chatted to her: he was so bloody nice!
Then we all had karaoke, which Ashley and Ann Margaret LOVE! They sang, danced and chatted the night away - fabulous stuff!
All in all it was an awesome night out, despite having nerves performing in front of some famous people!
So I am back home and back working, writing and trying hard not to think about my colonoscopy next week, but my bowels know it's going to happen and they are rebelling in a way I will never describe in words.
Saturday the 30th of January 2010
January never ends
It felt like January was going on forever, but it has ended now, thank God!
It's been an odd month for me all round, lots of writing work and less performance gigs which has freaked me out slightly. If I don't get on stage I tend to be mental: husband says I am like a cloven hoofed wolf prowling the house looking for faults!
My dad decided he wanted new curtains for his windows, so we bought him some (he picked them and shouted the serial number of them into my face in the street - he is a bit deaf - still... I nearly bit his face; I hate shouting). After we delivered them and the new curtain pole, I told him to give us a few days before we could come up and fix it into the wall. He agreed and spoke at length about the dangers of an old man going up heights but, as we drove away, I saw the silhouette of him erecting the ladders through his blinds! He is a stubborn old bugger!
Ashley and I have been writing hard for a radio show. People always ask what it's like writing with your daughter or writing with your mum and we have always worked together. We did a sketch show at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2006 and toured New Zealand and it was awesome fun.
She has a great writing skill and I am great at saying words out loud that she can type; she is very professional and I just watch her in awe.
We are not best pals: I disagree with that idea. She is my daughter but we have very similar yet very different comedy bones and that works. Also she is much more disciplined than me; she is aghast at how I prepare for shows or how I quickly write for newspapers etc... but that's a university education for you! As you can imagine I am very proud of her, as is her dad.
He just stands back and watches us both banter words back and forth. He doesn't speak, he supplies the coffee, makes the dinner, irons the clothes and calls us 'his talented girls' and occasionally adds a word when we do a read through or he voices his confusion over a paragraph. Its great, coz he has Aspergers Syndrome so when he doesn't understand something we know an audience won't get it either; his mental capacity is a great sounding board. Every writer should have an Aspergers Syndrome person listen to their ideas!
I am looking forward to my one-woman show at the Tron Theatre on Thursday 25th March for the Glasgow Comedy Festival. Ticket sales are going great guns!
I am glad January is over. It felt so long and dark.