Well, let’s not be too hasty. I’d put my house on their relative guilt, but yours on the legal outcome.
It seems Prince Andrew, Duke of York [or former titles, presumably, now the Queen has thrown him under the bus, uh, horse-drawn carriage, stripped naked of his royal credentials – and if you fully believe that, you’ll believe anything – but, as I oft do, digress] and Novak Djokovic [or Novichok as he’s now known to me for short – move on, nothing to see here but, ummm, a cathedral enthusiast] have something in common. Are you keeping up? Sorry. [I’ll remove the digression brackets now.]
Wealth. Obscene wealth. And what does that buy you? Obscene lawyers.
If you read my previous two captions [on Instagram], firstly, a week ago, with a degree of neat prescience, I cynically referred to Novichok as potentially suffering from ‘bullshit or simple arrogance’. A week later, I believe that plump chicken has largely come home to roost. Secondly, as per yesterday’s caption, I believe the royal formerly known as Prince to be about as innocent as a crocodile with a wildebeest leg hanging from the corner of its mouth implying he was only using it as a toothpick.
We all know the world is catastrophically imbalanced between, not even so much as the haves and have nots, but the obscenely haves and have nots, who essentially have their obscene wealth to throw at anything. Imagine, for a moment, a world where everyone had that access when it came to the law. We wouldn’t need many prisons, eh?
And people like Prince, Novichok [apologies for lumping you in with these, by the way – bad timing, like a loose forehand going into the stand!], Maxwell and Epstein will have their day in court, and then their appeal in court, maybe even a further appeal in court, or a brown envelope filled with cash should guilt feel a bit too uncomfortably close.
Climate change arguably sounds like a good thing when faced with such warped ugliness, eh? Albeit, the lawyers would still likely survive, with the cockroaches, to start again.
… to grow and maintain a beard you could lose a badger in. And that’s just the women.
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Note: It’s quite possible that I’ve seen too many sponsored ads on Instagram now. And I’ve gone quietly insane. If you’re reading this, please send help … uh, along with bonuses and sundry free stuff!
Since the end of summer, with increasing frequency – a tucked away rock overhang where I drop down into the woods to walk along the river with Willow – piles of litter. Not just any litter, of course, but a curious mix of hard drug remnants [blackened foil], wet wipes, empty crisp packets, sweet wrappers and lollipop sticks. Just how young are these users?
The rock overhang is only just out of view of a public footpath, before a steep tumble down into the valley, but would otherwise only be sparsely frequented by the intrepid dog-walker, or possibly kids looking for a den in the holidays. Suffice to say, without the occasional black sack intervention by myself and another regular dog-walker, it would otherwise be an indescribable shite heap by now.
As I say, the frequency had been exponential – in line with a growing addiction? – and the inevitable happened: I bumped into them. The penny dropped with an incredulous clang. A guy in his mid-20s preparing his next fix; a woman, of similar age; and four kids chomping on crisps and sweets, aged maybe 8, 5, 3 and a baby in a buggy. Had I not seen it with my own eyes, I doubt I would’ve believed it.
The guy quickly scampered from view, leaving me to say to her, ‘Unusual place for a picnic?’ [It was close to freezing and light rain fell from impending twilight.] We had a brief conversation about ‘rubbish in the woods/kids’ laced with metaphor. I’m not sure she grasped the desired references. Then he returned, shielding his face with high collar and hat and they hurriedly left.
I wondered what might happen? If I should do something?
Throughout the following week, the ‘littering’ continued for a handful of almost consecutive days. The inevitable happened again. The eldest child’s rushed voice, ‘Someone’s coming!’ The man runs around the overhang from view. The mother is scrunching up tin foil into balls and the kids are ‘playing’Who can throw the rubbish down into the valley the furthest! There’s another fractured conversation – she glibly suggests the wind will deal with any of the litter.
It’s another cruel winter’s day. She breaks away from the awkwardness of our conversation and prepares to leave. I fix the eldest child with the softest expression I can muster and ask him what he thinks about coming into the woods to play such games. He shrugs his shoulders, but there’s far more than a child in those sad eyes.
The man returns again in a flustered rush, she says, ‘Let’s go kids, we’ve got to pick up Mary from school.’ Shoulders are nudged, a hand is grasped, and a flurry of muddied feet and the mud clogged wheels of buggy melt into the narrow path. The smallest boy turns in my direction, “I’m not your friend,” he says . The man briefly meets my eye from beneath his wintry disguise; a connection. I know him. He knows me.
We don’t know each other by name. But he’s grown up around here. I recall the teenage, slow-witted demeanour from years gone by; he’s cuts a desperately sad cliché.
So… What would you do?
A direct report to the police/authorities now, and the source is probably clear. He/they know where I live, and walk – often in isolated darkness. Ramifications are a distinct possibility – they’re certainly from the rougher side of the tracks. But I can’t ignore this completely, can I?
It’s now one week down the line since my intervention – and a number of days since this blog post. It’s been invaluable to gain other people’s thoughts [notable thanks to my Instagram followers], and it might have been considerably more helpful to have put it out there earlier[!], therefore saving a lot of personal soul searching and wandering of thoughts.
I discussed the scenario with a couple of colleagues in school [I work in a high school environment, in case any reader isn’t aware]. And it’s an important distinction to draw, simply for the reason that in my position as a teacher I have a responsibility for safeguarding and child protection. Effectively this means, had, say, a child come into our room and made reference to potentially going down into the woods with dad/a man while he does drugs, then it would be professionally incumbent on me to report this to the head of safeguarding. So, as you can see, there was always thinly-veiled semantics, as far as my experience and professional obligations were concerned.
In school, I spoke to both a support tutor/counsellor, the latter – known for quite strong opinions – suggested How would I feel if something happened to one/some of those children? [Something alluded to during the discussion on Instagram, too.] A slightly brutal analysis of the situation; at the end of the day, it’s not me who should be responsible for the welfare of those children; and my discovery was purely accidental. But it did make me feel less comfortable about doing nothing, or delaying any further.
In the end …
I came up with my own compromise solution. A compromise in the sense that I had, at least, done something, while also hopefully protecting myself against any potential repercussion.
I researched and located Bristol Drugs Project and Frank . “There is no easy way to pick up that phone or knock on that door but take that step and you’ll find knowledgeable, free and confidential help…” I photocopied their main website pages and inserted them into a couple of weatherproof sleeves. I then wrote a personal, handwritten message headed with a loud THINK! [Slightly annoyingly, I didn’t keep a copy of it, as it was simply a stream of conciousness – but it referred to BDP and Frank and assured the reader, if they were open and ready for help with their addiction, that they were great people; I also posed a question, referring to my own connection with safeguarding/child protection: If you were me, what would you do? I closed out with further encouragement to seek help, but at the very least, to take this habit away from the children and think what they might be doing to them.] I added the note to top of one of the clear sleeves, went down into the woods and cleared every scrap of ‘litter’ [again!], before placing them on the ledge, held in place by two large stones.
The following day [last Saturday], I returned to the spot. There was a single discarded cigarette paper on the floor and the remains of one of the man’s distinctive roll-ups on the ledge … the sleeves were gone. I had a good look around, they had seemingly been taken, rather than discarded in the immediate surroundings, at least.
The addiction-driven habit, since just before and across the Christmas period, had become almost daily – certainly every other day.
It’s now one week down the line … and absolutely no sign of any return. I can only hope there was an impact, on his/her conscience and awareness of the children, at the very least.
People who know me well will be aware that I’ve suffered with a chronic health issue for more than a couple of decades. [I don’t propose to bore you with the details here, but you can read a related blog should you wish to enlighten yourself further here.] Essentially, this has resulted in me working part-time and finances have always been … tight.
Time has drifted on and my ability to create images has slowly been suffocated, mainly due to having a steam-driven computer! But after another year of stuttering [and spluttering], I have been driven to action. By the time spring rolls around I hope to have a GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign up and running. Unlike the time I relied purely on the generosity of my friends and family with nothing in return except my immense, humbled gratitude, this time I will be offering prints, books and other assorted planned ideas in return for contributions.
So, I’m beginning the process by following on from last year’s wonderfully successful single 2016 Calendar Auction by offering two new 2017 A3 Wall Calendars, alongside a choice of 10×8 inch fine art print.
Fear : A Street Portrait Of Our Times
Coupling : Dining Out
At The Zoo : Watching The Animals
The Focus Group
Aldo’s : Gentlemen’s Barbers
Reflecting : Evolution
Sitting Amongst Memories
Eyes Wide Shut
Reflecting : The Artist
When Everything Feels Like Such An Effort
When Other People’s Dogs Jump Up
Everyone Has Their Favourite Place To Watch The World Go By
Everyone’s A Critic
They Come In Pairs
Park Not Vets
To The Dogs [A Tribute To Elliott Erwitt]
I’ve carefully selected a set of personal favourite Street Photography images, as well as a To The Dogs set as a personal tribute to Elliott Erwitt, whose images proved to be the gateway drug to my true love of photography.
There are THREE options for each calendar, as well as different prices to suit either UK or International shipping:
Option 1 : Street Photography OR To The Dogs A3 Calendar ONLY:
International : £32.99
Option 2 : Street Photography OR To The Dogs A3 Calendar PLUS 10×8 inch fine art print of your choice. [You can choose any of the images included in the calendar to have as an individual print.]:
Option 3 : Street Photography AND To The Dogs A3 Calendars PLUS 2 10×8 inch fine art prints of your choice. [Choose one image from each calendar to have as two individual prints.]:
IMPORTANT: All above prices include postage, packing and shipping. Preferred method of transaction via UK-based BACS system or PayPal. Please use the Contact details at the foot of the Enquiries page to order these items, or if you have any queries. Thank you!
Completion of orders to hopefully ensure delivery before 1st January 2017:
UK: 21st December 2016
South America / Asia / Eastern Europe: 7th December 2016
Space is pretty amazing, I think many would agree. Huh? No, not green space, or a parking space, or even personal space – all of which have their place – but space space, that really big black, shimmery thing up in the air where the stars and things live …
It fascinates me. And I’ve been hugely fascinated by Rosetta, which ended its two-year space mission by crash landing onto the Comet 67P earlier today. You might recall it launched its own lander, Philae, which after a bumpy start has since returned extraordinary data. The comet is not only highly porous – like a vast pumice stone; it would actually float in water. But is thought to be made up from material billions of years old dating back to the creation of the solar system.
On the dark side of the comet they also discovered early outlets for both McDonald’s and Starbucks. It’s understood they were probably built there simply as a tax offshoot.