April 30, 2010

ACC might become MOD

Dear Jacquie,
Thanks very much for your email. There is some hope that the Ministry of Social Development will take over funding from ACC. I wrote the story below yesterday but there wasn't any room for it in the paper.
Simon Collins
Social Issues Reporter, New Zealand Herald

Other state agencies may pick up the cost of counselling for thousands of victims of sexual abuse who are now being turned away from the Accident Compensation 
Corporation (ACC). Justice Minister Simon Power says the Social Development Ministry will be asked to lead a project "to address the most effective way to deliver sexual violence services''.
Social Development Minister Paula Bennett will lead a stock-take of existing state spending on sexual violence, look at the need for such services, identify opportunities for efficiencies and effectiveness, and consider " future funding options''.
Ms Bennett's office said officials were still consulting on the terms of reference for the project with ACC Minister Nick Smith, but victims turned away from ACC were "an area that will be looked at''.
Sexual abuse victims approved for ACC-funded counselling plunged from 472 in the first two months of last year to just 32 in the same months this year after the corporation tightened its criteria last October. 
ACC funding is now available only for victims with diagnosed mental conditions caused by the sexual abuse.
The co-chair of the national sexual violence network, Dr Kim McGregor, who introduced Mr Power at a sexual abuse symposium in Auckland yesterday, said she hoped the Government would look at filling the gap left by ACC urgently.
"The huge gap at the moment is the withdrawal of ACC funding for survivors of sexual violence. That has meant the support for survivors of sexual assault is on the verge of collapse,'' she said.
She said filling the gap would cost "millions''. 
ACC has spent just over $15 million on therapy for sexual abuse victims in each of the last three years and receives about 6000 new claims a year.
Dr Smith announced his own review of the new ACC rules on Monday. 
A four-member panel led by former Mental Health Commissioner Dr Barbara Disley is due to report to him by the end of July.
Mr Power said Ms Bennett would report to other ministers on other funding options by the end of the year.
Dr McGregor welcomed other announcements by Mr Power yesterday that the Justice and Social Development Ministries would provide ongoing funding for survivor advocate Louise Nicholas,whose job had been due to end in June, and that another $1 million would be found for sexual violence prevention programmes over the next two years by "reprioritising'' other spending. Auckland-based Rape Prevention Education's current budget is $700,000 a year.
Mr Power said his planned trip to Germany and Austria in June would look at whether their "inquisitorial'' justice systems worked better than New Zealand's adversarial system in sexual violence cases.

Confessions of a Knicker thief

I arrived home a little bedraggled (nothing new there) and stepped over a courier parcel sitting on my front door. My arms were carrying files and papers that I'd spent an age sorting out so I uncharacteristically placed them inside, on the coffee table -all nice and neat like - before skipping back to the door to see which delightful person had sent me something.

I ripped open the package. 

Well, actually that's not altogether true. I tore at it, yanked it and sliced at it, which just shifted the glue around a little. On the verge of tourettes, I took to it with a carving knife and out popped a bubble wrapped pair of...bright red knickers.

Further inspection saw me trailing wires that protruded from the general crutch area. I knew those insomniac nights of watching CSI would come in handy and like any true bomb disposal forensic person would (earth cable, always my favorite), I followed them all the way to the seemingly innocent detonator control box.

To activate or not to activate, that is the question...

When one is faced with such grave danger, the best thing to do is telephone older brother and assign him 'team leader' status. Needless to say, he was over in a jiffy.

"Jesus, I thought you were joking!  What the hell does this bit do and where you suppose to put this?" he asked, holding up the control panel. I groaned - what's the point in asking his advice if he merely comes up with the same daunting questions?

"Well, why not try them on and see what happens?" 

"You couldn't fit a weasel's butt into these," I said, "Are you completely mad?"

"Hey, I ain't the one getting this sort of shit sent to me alright!"

Good point. A jolly good point and one that sent me straight to the ripped packaging to investigate just who would send me such a parcel. My mind boggled - an ex-boyfriend with a a bit of a grudge? Well, that doesn't narrow it down at all! A client? Hum.... 

As my brother prodded and zapped in the vain hope that something magical would happen, I spotted the intended recipient. "Oh my God, they're not mine. They're my neighbours!"

Team leader thew the knickers down in disgust, "Oh you're bloody kidding me! But, she's..." He didn't have to finish the sentence because, by then, we'd both sat down, burdened by the visual of my said neighbor, a considerable plump woman, and her toothless husband, short-circuiting each other's bits.

"You're going to have to give them back."

"Don't make it sound like I stole them, " I yelled. "I didn't. I just....anyhow, I can't." I held up the packaging with its numerous stab wounds. "They'll know I opened it. They'll know I know."

Team leader snatched the packaging out of my hand like some team leader snatching something out of my hand.

"I know!" he said confidently, "We'll just put the bloody thing back in here and throw it over the fence." 

"But she's got two dogs, what if one of them, you know, bites into it and gets electrocuted. We'll be up for thief, perverting the cause of justice, and death of dog!"

"They'll have to prove it was us."

"But your bloody fingerprints are all over the crutch!"

"I told you, you should have put them on!"

Team leader was mortified: "Shove them in your wardrobe and say nothing."

And I did. Those vibrating knickers remained in my wardrobe for nearly two years before I considered it safe enough to throw in the trash. I only had one further encounter with the neighbors before I moved and never saw them again - he motioned me over to his front door, one morning, looked left and then right before asking me whether I had, you know, received something from a courier by mistake. I was so flabbergasted, I couldn't say a word, which was good, cause right at the moment, he let out an embarrassed laugh and said, "I gone bought me wife some vibrating knickers."  

I joined in on his embarrassed laugh - for all the wrong reasons. "Sorry, can't help you with that one." (Gulp).

April 29, 2010

Toilet seats...

Stop laughing. This is a very serious topic alright! We all have them. We've all sat on one at least once today yeah? So yeah, then they kind of deserve to be mentioned as normally as one would, say...hazard a conversation about kitchen knives. Good Lord, have I just made some kind of weird Freudian connection there? Moving along... 

I actually bought a new toilet seat today. Hooray! You would be saying that too if ever were unfortunate enough to have visited our great domain prior to the new throne seat - the man eating thing that it was, only in this household, it was a woman eating thing. 

It had a screw missing. yeah I know, a real simply 'handi-man' job for anyone to fix, except for those who are neither handy nor male -  I get "let off" on both counts.  Anyway, off with the old nasty plastic white toilet seat and on with the patterned one with the additional asset of foam. Yes, you heard right. A foam toilet seat! Next I'll be wanting one of those electric slippers (where you put both feet in the one bit) or, and I have seen these, an electric fleece outer duvet suit. Yep, a suit! A place for you arms and legs and maybe even your house keys! Ah, you just got to love household gadget stuff.. anyway, back to toilet seat. 

Ours now has foam. If you can get passed those childhood memories of "crusties" in rest homes and padded seats that we all deemed as a sign of pending death, then this is the latest thing in comfort known to mankind. It is a lot softer to sit on, admittedly. It is also a lot less horrifying than those nights when you toddle pipped off to the toilet, left the light off cause you know, you're considerate like that, only to find said (soon to be ex) boyfriend had left the lit up and you, in the dark, find yourself being shafted into a dark and icy cold abyss - otherwise known as "the bog." Oh God, I am getting sidetracked... I did say this was a girlie house, didn't I? 

So right... I highly recommend these cushioned seats. As far as I can tell so far, the only downside is that rush of squished air that happens as your butt plummets on the seat, which can be a good thing, and then that, not so flattering bum imprint you leave behind when you stand up. I always think it's wise to wait until the seat has returned to its former glory before exiting the toilet. It could be giving just a little too much away for the next guest if you know what I mean.... 

Enough already

I don't often agree with my mum about music but we agree on this dude. I don't like him. He sings songs that are not his age. At the start of Baby, which is the one main song that I've 'had to' listen to lately, he sounds like a girl and it drives me nuts. That annoying tune seems to be on almost every commercial break on TV. Most of my friends don't like him and I can't understand why anyone would scream when they see him. He needs to go back to YouTube so we can choose if we want to hear him or not. Get off my TV Justin Bieber.

April 28, 2010

To all the Dad's out there....

A child's lullaby...how sweet...how soothing. This must have been what is was like. 

A child falls, cries in pain. Nothing serious but she's rushed at... swooped up in arms so protective and strong, it takes her breath away. This must have been what is was like. 

Laughter, sunshine, and the smell of salt air... cars, traffic and a gallant wand-like arm that bears down on you, sweeps the car away. You, safe, so safe...Oh, this must have been what is was like...

Sandcastles and crabs, pippies and shells all calling out your name, a laughter shared, a proud smile given. This must have been what is was like.

When clouds descended  upon love's first kiss and the world you knew but all slipped away, a hand reached out amongst the riffs and brought you... lovingly... back to shore. Oh god, this must have been what is was like.

When the fairy princess dress bride waffled up the aisle and you cried, sobbing like a child, reluctant to let go of my hand - oh this, this must have been what is was like.

When you held your first grandchild, your flesh and blood in those same brilliant arms and cried, declaring you'd lay your life down for this precious one.... and I saw you. Oh this, this must have been what is was like.

Dreams. Fantasies. Silly silly stuff. 

Everyone lost  when you stopped being my Dad. 

The good the bad and the ugly

When I'm in a bad mood I love Jeremy Kyle - his upfront, in your face approach to dealing with "guests/victims" on his show makes me feel as if I am saying his words myself: "Scrap the "buts," button ya lug-holes, and let's move on!" However, as soon as I find myself cheering his brashness, I'm just as quickly overcome with a sense of guilt and shame. Sure, the majority of his guests are from the lower socio-economical "class," but they still deserve a little respect. I mean, after all, it's these very people that have lined his pocket for over a decade.

It's not until you delve into the man himself that you truly get a sense of disgust. According to Kirsty Rowley's account of their brief but disastrous marriage, "My husband is a gambler and a fantasist." His wife claims that during their 15 months of marriage, Kyle was a gambling addict who lied, psychologically abused her and buried them in thousands of pounds of debt, before leaving her with their baby daughter."He's a man hailed by critics as a TV God and adored by millions of viewers for giving cheats and liars what for." His past, she says, makes him a hypocrite.

He does seem to possess an innate talent of tearing strips off people, confronting nasty pieces of work - compulsive liars, serial adulterers, addicts, neglectful parents and the like - on behalf of their victims and demands that they face the truth about themselves. It is a little David and Goliath and maybe that's why, sometimes, I watch with interest. However, it also kind of feels like someone merely cashing in on other people's misery and  setting standards that he's failed to maintain himself. 

Time for the next guest to arrive: Head hung wife walks onto stage. It's been some time since she's ironed her clothes let alone washed her hair. Even on TV, I can smell her depression. She's run down and exhausted. Her husband, unemployed and a drug addict (yet to be denied) enters, claiming his wife is having an affair. "If I find out right, that she's been messin' round, then that's it!" He flares his hands in mid-air - could be to prove he's serious. Could be just a rampant studio fly. Who knows? Who cares? I Don't. I feel united with the audience that mumbles under the breath "Bloody tosser." 

Lie detector results back. Suffice to say, the guy's not only paranoid but terribly misguided in thinking his wife couldn't do better without him. The show takes a sudden shift in mood - to one of a public stoning and I've suddenly found myself in the front row. It's revealed, the hubby has "tried to strangle" his wife, constantly berates her and any attempts she makes at her newly found motherhood. We all look to the head-hung-low-wife: "Yes, but I love him."


It's true what they say, you can't help those who won't help themselves - not even the international renown narcissist Jeremy Kyle.   

ACC - rejection kills mother of three

Two months ago, Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) refused to fund 10 initial counselling sessions for a mother of three who'd spent most her life "cutting" to release the pain of her childhood sexual abuse. It took ACC six months to arrive at this decision and within days of having done so, the mother was dead. 

(ACC) Counselling Services Centre manager Emma Castle said the mother-of-three's claim for counselling for sexual abuse she had suffered as a child was rejected on the grounds that she had not suffered "a significant mental injury".

* * * 
Well I'd say it's pretty bloody significant now! Disgusting behavior. We as a nation were in an uproar when a mother died after her Power company turned off her electricity supply due to non payment. She just so happened to be on a very vital piece of medical equipment that maintained her breathing. This is no different - both woman are dead because both were "cut off" from vital life-saving services. Yet the real shame of this is no one will protest for this mother, no one will bother to take legal action, take ACC to Court, and ensure her surviving children get a bit of a break in life. No one. Why? Because the stigma is still there: one woman killed by a company (compensate compensate, compensate). The other is killed by mental illness - shush, say nothing, with any luck, it will just go away! 

In fact, this poor woman would probably have been eligible for funeral assistance and by none other than ACC - funeral grants are much easier to deal with than those pesky counselling sessions that keep bloody clients alive. Oh hang on, my bad - of course, they would have to assess eligibility, to you know, ensure there's no fraud thing going on because it's a little known fact - sexually abused victims go on to commit mammoth multi-million dollar fraud every year. First by asking for funded counselling and then through the sheer audacity of feigning one's own death, Oh please! ACC's lost more through the corrupt dealings of their own staff - how many are being investigated by SFO now ? (Serious Fraud Office). 

So ACC rejected this poor woman's attempt to stay alive. I know it's probably hard for some of you to understand this - maybe she over-reacted to rejection a little. I mean, it's just a letter, right? No, you see, aside from the initial "issues" of childhood sexual abuse, whereby you're constantly traumatized by flashbacks and nightmares (not too dissimilar in nature to war veterans and later, thanks to their efforts, diagnosed as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), this woman also had to raise three children. No doubt, if she's seeking  ACC funded counselling it's because she's on a benefit of some sort, which means she constantly broke and pissed off she can't afford "real food," But wait, there's more! 

She's probably not told a living soul about her childhood abuse and chances are her abuser is still alive - maybe still in the family perhaps. She probably saw some "hopeful" advertisement on television that encouraged her to initially reach out for help. She probably spent six months holding the hand of some female stranger at any one of the many fine agencies out there. Chances are, one of those agencies spent the same amount of time convincing her to seek help. They may have even completed the deliriously inept application forms for her and took some of her suicide calls that came flooding in over the upcoming months. Chances are this woman almost bled to death a few times, probably found by her already traumatised kids. Chances are she attempted suicide after having to constantly ring ACC for an update on her claim and being fogged off - assuming of course she can actually afford a phone. 

At one stage, more than likely to be about three months down the track, she would have probably received a letter asking her to attend a psych assessment. She may see one assessor or maybe three -depends really on... um, dunno, it's a secret squirrel ACC guideline thing. She will never meet this "assessor" beforehand in order to establish any rapport or trust before being asked to delve into the deepest and darkest recesses of her childhood abuse and ... describe it. One, twice, maybe three times and to three separate "individuals." Three separate interviews so they don't all go sharing notes. It's called being impartial. In reality it's costly and causes confusion - especially if they don't all agree. 

Oh don't be silly. Of course, these assessors are paid, all three of them. In fact, ACC will even pay for their flights and accommodation if you know, you just don't happen to live right next to one.  If you need to see three assessors then there's a good chance someone needs to fly somewhere right? It's not too much of a 'hop, skip, or jump' to calculate that some of these assessments cost more than the initial sought after counselling sessions. In any event, they do get paid and they do write copious notes during the session - anything up to two hours. After that, you're send on your merry way - painless really, unless of course you're now consumed by sickening sexual abuse that you can't even remember where you live anymore - bummer.  

Of course she won't know that. She won't also realise these 'assessors' are determining whether she needs help. Maybe one will say yes, the other will not? Maybe they couldn't agree? Didn't agree? She'll have to keep telling herself to "act" nuts so you get help, whatever it takes, but don't overdo it, right? She  won't know any of this, of course. She won't know and they won't tell. 

Three months later when she's wondering what that hell that was all about, she might give ACC a call. She might email. She might start freaking out about whose reading her notes, her file, what's been said about her? That woman in the supermarket, does she work for ACC, does she know? She may leave several messages, perhaps an email, a request for someone to make contact. They don't of course which means, she now has to fight those "childhood  thoughts" from resurfacing. Oh you know, the "You're in visible. You don't matter. You don't deserve to live " thoughts - the very ones that feed suicide and ...let me think ... oh yeah, that's right, the very thoughts she so desperately needed a counsellor to help her with before, you know.... 

Too late.

I don't know if that's what happened. I don't know because I never knew this woman. I'd never spoken to her, wrote to her, nothing. You see, that was ACC's job. To get to know their client. But I bet you this, we all know more about this woman now than they ever did. 

Rest in Peace "Mother-of-three" - rest in peace.

In January and February 2009 ACC approved 472 sensitive claims enabling survivors of sexual abuse to access the counselling services they need. This year however just 32 people nationally have had their cases for counselling approved for the same period.

April 26, 2010

Long live Nanny Jo Jo

I don't usually watch programmes like this but there was nothing much else on. I'm glad I did. Tonight's series was a little different. Two deaf parents with three kids under ten and an eighteen year old from a previous marriage (mother's side). Aside from the usual blended family chaos I wondered how much more harder it would be for deaf parents.

Melissa, the eighteen year old, captured my heart from the onset. Trying to maintain school levels, holding down two jobs so she "pays her own way" while also having to be the parent to her three younger siblings was, quite frankly, overwhelming to watch let alone live. 

Now the usual routine with this programme is observation (day one), set the ground rules for change (day two), and then a follow up kind of reinforcement day - all in sixty minutes of filming, if you please. 

Day one saw the kids running riot. No surprises there, only this time there was the added thing to consider - deafness. What do you do if your kids are having a tantrum and you're deaf? Now I know a lot of you mothers out there are going "And, so what's the problem? Gee, wish I never had to hear my kids kicking off" and you'd be forgiven for thinking that  - I've already pardoned myself so it seems only fair. However, this mother was heart broken. "My kids talk behind their hands. I have no idea what they're talking about. I read lips. They know this. What if they hate me?" 

Well it was right about then that I wanted to jump off the couch and give those kids a "what's for" when I thought... let's leave it to Jo Jo yeah? 

Enter Melissa. She's eighteen years old and the daughter of the mother, from a previous relationship. She signs and is hearing so, unfortunately, she had become the family's on-call 24/7 interpreter cause, well, the younger girls - all three of them - have decided that sign language sucks.

Now okay, my first instinct of said Melissa was - this is the spoiled, I don't care, I'm getting on with my life, typical, teenager - This view was slightly hampered by my dislike of another person with the same name who, quite frankly is a bitch but that's a whole new page, blog, website even, Internet - hell,  Cyberspace even! 

However, this unfortunate namesake (bless her cotton socks) holds her school grades, two jobs and the family together. For Pete's sake, that's more than what I do! The parents, on the other hand, are filmed, sitting at a table - dumping (their crap for all I care right about now) about how bad Melissa is, back chatting, disrespecting them, not helping out. Film roles and there is the teenage villain talking with the siblings, cooking their dinner, eating with them, disciplining them, putting them to bed. Oh that horrible horrible child!

"The kids listen to her, they respect her cause she's hearing," says the mother. 

"Deafness does not make you lesser a parent!" Nanny Jo barks - kind of wasted on deaf people but I am sure the interpreter put a wee emphasis on that - surely!

Start of day two filming: House rules. I watch as all three wee girls look on at Nanny Jo with gut-wrenching horror. You that? Look at Mum and dad when they're talking? Have respect for our belongings AND each other? ... oh, I dunno, that's a lot ya know.

As it turns out, none of the younger siblings have been taught sign language. Unsurprisingly, they've all resorted to the one or two signs that are universal and does not require the need to be deaf. Combating this, like any good sledgehammer should, Nanny Jo starts games for them to learn ASL (American Sign Language)  - because if you're going to disrespect your parents, it's probably best you get your message across loud and clear. 

Melissa joins in and it's all happy families - stuff for TV. (Puts tissues away)

Crap TV...heavy sigh.. gotta love it eh?

Back to nature - I think not!

Took darling sweet child to river yesterday. Took dog too. Thought dog off "heat" now so no need to worry. Child has never been on heat, so all good there...nice walk until two dogs sent "oh yummy" messages to our flirty dog 'Charlie Hot-Pants.' 

Child and I, in a moment of profound wisdom, race left into bushes. Mother and child slip down side of cliff towards river. Child has gravel in knickers. Mother has twigs. Dog wags tail. Now trapped, darling child decides she needs to go to the toilet. No needs - MUST! 

Holding rampant flirty dog on lead while standing in rapids, I assist said child in a discreet pee. Said child falls into river. Flirty dog goes ballistic. Dry towel, now wet. Cigarettes in backpack catch current to Wellington. Shoe comes off. Child hurls abuse at flirty dog who now thinks this is a great game. Lead gets caught around my legs. Dog has child's knickers and shoe. I go for swim.

Mother subjects world to a bout of tourettes. Child lunges for knickers. Dog sees this coming. Tug-a-war ensues. Child yells at dog in five different languages. Dog looks puzzled. I yell every dog command known to man. Dog let's knickers go. Dog is praised. Dog lets shoe go. I chase shoe. Dog chases shoe. Shoe wins. Child suspends foot trying to put on knickers. I rein in dog. Child disappears. Dog lunges for lost child. I go unwillingly with dog. Child propells out of water. Dog prasies child. Child blames mother. Mother blames dog. Dog wags tail. 

Mother and child tranverse back up cliff. Dog leads. Two joggers scream as we spring from a bush. Dog does "bring it on" motion. Child ducks for cover. Dog looks for child. Dog spots knickers. Child inherits tourettes. Dog is confused. Lead strangles mother. Child scrambles to put on knickers. Joggers return. Mother ducks for cover. Dog springs into "tada" moment with joggers. Joggers ask if they can help. Child stands, triumphant. She has knickers on. Jogger's eyebrows raise. Mother plays dead. Joggers leave. Child yells at mother. Mother yells at dog. Dog wags tail.

Girl with no Words

Girl with no Words – listening to the language of cutting - is now coming to Wellington following performances in Auckland, Wanaka, Queenstown and Clyde and at RNZCGP conference 2009. 

A multi-media theatre performance exploring mental distress communicated through self-mutilation and our response to it. Supported by a Mental Health Foundation. Girl with no Words is coming to the Llott theatre, Wellington Town Hall on 6/7 May 2010. 

Written, directed and performed by Gilly Pugh, John Schwarz, Lucy O'Hagan and Lizzi Yates. 

Reviewed by Mary Anne Bourke, 12 Sep 2009
Fear not, Girl With No Words: Listening to the language of cutting is not the latest sensationalist ploy contrived to lure you into the theatre, but a meticulously researched multimedia presentation that explores the voiceless expression of mental distress in a bid to expand awareness and understanding. 

Opening at the Conference of the Royal NZ College of General Practitioners before embarking on a nine-week national tour, the piece asserts itself as a fresh resource in on a subject that has festered for too long under the carpet. Starting as it means to go on, it speaks as pointedly to health professionals as it will to the general public. 

Lucy O'Hagan, a GP from Otago (with a specialist interest in the philosophy and ethics of medicine) works with actors Gilly Pugh and John Schwarz to present a mix of live action, documentary video, projected artwork (by Lizzi Yates) and song that takes us on the journey though the health system with a disturbed adolescent. 

Briar Rose Edwards is a young woman who slices her arms with a razor blade whenever the anguish she cannot articulate becomes too much to bear. This is not a suicide attempt, nor even so much as a cry for help, but an act of survival - that no one can understand. 

There is, of course, no simulation of 'cutting' but we see the effects of it, mostly on Briar's brittle, perfectionist mother and hand-wringing father. That Briar persists with her self-injury in the face of interventions from a series of robotic doctors and self-satisfied therapists, as well as her peers, both supportive and destructive (in multiple roles played by Pugh and Schwarz), is a key point of the piece. It is clear that these interactions exacerbate rather than alleviate Briar's turmoil. 

The domestic and clinical drama is interspersed with documentary clips of interviews with professionals and academics giving their views on self-injury. These make for some rueful humour, as several exhibit a censorious anxiety, or resort to obfuscating jargon. An anthropologist and a sociologist offer astute - if conveniently academic - insights into the problem. Some trenchant testimonials from survivors offer hope. 

Set before a pair of transparent curtains, the piece is hugely informative by virtue of the wealth of experience accessed and displayed for us. Good use is made of a few props - such as a stuffed doll with no mouth that is pulled apart - and costume accessories changed over black to denote character. The big screen slides of Lizzie Yates' pencil drawings are highly expressive and work well as a sign of Briar's eventual progress towards articulation. 

I won't ruin it by telling you how the story ends. Suffice to say, judicious choices have been made of the various forms of human language to demonstrate this development. 

The show does occasionally leave something to be desired in terms of dramatic efficacy, e.g. Briar talks to the audience as much as anyone talks to anyone. This does not help to convey her inarticulateness. Also, the txting scenes: guys, why are they gazing at the txt on the big screen. Txters bend to the phones in their hands. Seriously, that bit sux :) 

It is billed as being 'collaboratively directed by The Silk Tent Theatre Company' and I have to say I believe it occasionally suffers from not having that 'outside eye' to recognise ways to pull and poke it into its best shape. However, its qualities of courage and compassion go a long way towards compensating for this. And I mean that to say a lot. 

It is intended to encourage us to listen and to speak, to share our stories without judging, and it definitely succeeds in what it sets out to do. In fact, it is salutary to see how far these qualities carry through and raise your consciousness - and about more than just 'cutting'. For, while at the outset, that act might seem difficult to understand, it can also be seen as simply one of the most graphic, and perhaps most honest, manifestations of the psychological isolation and fear of self that is so often 'medicated' in more socially accepted or 'cooler' ways, such as substance or alcohol abuse. 

It's worth getting the full message that this show has to offer, so I'd encourage you to get along when it comes to a wharenui near you. Your mind will be expanded and your spirit lifted. 

Nutter's Live: April 25

Maria France

Maria (42) suffered a head injury at age 18 after her boyfriend ran her over in his "big" car outside her parent's house. She was in a coma for two weeks and was often told by Doctors and Specialists that she would not be unable to achieve things taken for granted by those without a brain injury. "Don't expect to pass school cert, they said, and so I did and then I went on to University." Maria laughs.  

That is not to say Maria's injury didn't effect her. At 19 she was thrown unwillingly into the New Zealand media spotlight, depicted as a "brain injury" fallen victim to a hoax tarot card reader. Maria had taped all their conversations, over eighteen months, because she had problems recalling their sessions and it was those very tapes that became vital in an inevitable guilty verdict. 

Maria then went over to the UK. "A twelve year old in a nineteen year old's body."  

To listen to, she doesn't come across as someone with a serious brain injury - aside from forgetting what she was saying every now and then and getting confused about the difference between a niece and nephew. Then again, if that's the only symptom then maybe I have a brain injury as well and .. hell, didn't even know it! Would I know it if I had one? (Looks sideways at child sitting on couch...would she even tell me?)


Maria stayed on well after the 10pm shut off for guest speakers and around the time "the Nutters" come out to play. We had calls from others suffering brain injuries, a poem from another member depicting her time "in the dock," and a rather arrogantly rude call from some fowl mouthed tosser, which Mike handled with matching finesse. 

There were discussions on "Zero tolerance for drink driving" by those convicted of drink driving, victims of drunk drivers, and those struggling to maintain their sobriety. 

An interesting discussion started up about disassociation and whether this was a by-product of Maria's brain injury or/and an amazing survival skill by all those suffering post traumatic stress disorder and a debate about whether alcoholism was a symptom of mental illness of whether you could "just be an alcoholic."

"An addiction is an illness. Alcoholics don't FAIL cause they are unable to to drink socially - "control" their drink. They are allergic to alcohol. No one with diabetes would be expected to socially overcome the need for insulin shots.It's a dis-ease, something that puts the body "ill at ease."    
"I have just heard Mike say what i quoted a few times. Gives the suggestion that addictions and can not occur without issues/insecurities/short comings also occurring simultaneously in ones life. Alcoholism and addiction often develop because of other issues people are having but this certainly isnt always the case. For many alcoholics and addicts, the only issue they have is that they are alcoholics and addicts."
"Yeah i hear you XXXXXXX (and good on you for cleaning up!!) but i think you may be missing my point. Rats in a clinical settings form serve drug addictions – rats will push a leaver TEN THOUSAND TIMES simply to receive a tiny dose of methamphetamine. I don't imagine these addictions from from anxiety, social pressure, low self esteem or problems with the wife :) This suggests that not all addiction is the product of underlying issues." 
The Nutter's Club is broadcast every Sunday at 8pm on Radiolive. Podcasts of all shows are available onsite. 

April 25, 2010

Puberty, muffins and my Mum

My eleven year old returned from school and started to tell me about her "Life Education" session. 

I has been expecting her report to be a little different to previous years as I noticed "puberty" and "drugs" were on the list of topics to be discussed - oh, and could you see your way to paying an additional fee of blah blah blah... 

Initially, I was annoyed, not because there was a fee but because I've always kept an open mind with my daughter and we've often talked about both subjects - it was against my grain to have to pay some stranger to merely repeat my good work. Regardless, I paid the fee and waited for her to return home, marveling at something one of our own "talks" had not revealed. 

I was not disappointed. 

"Puberty right, well it's like this. A mother has these teenagers right, and they got the puberty and she's cooked these muffins yeah?..." 

(Memo to self: Do not glaze over. Do not glaze over!) 

"So, anyhow, one day the daughter comes home and the mother offers her these muffins and asked how her day was. The daughter takes a muffin and is happy, rabbiting away about how awesome her day was, but the next day, when she comes home and the mother asks her how was her day, the daughter just says, oh my God, I can't believe you could ask me that, and goes off into her room and slams the door...."

Lu has noticed my dumbfounded look. "It's cause she's got puberty mum!"

I nod.

"Anyway, "she continues, "the mother's son comes home on the first day. He eats the muffins and talks about his day, just like his sister but on the second day, when he gets the puberty, he also comes home in a grump. He doesn't storm off into his room or anything but he only eats two muffins and mutters before going to play hoops."

"And that, " she concludes, "is puberty."

My first instinct - is this a 'home economics' class or a pathetic attempt to discuss puberty? I know she mentioned the word 'puberty' but I'm buggered if I know where the word 'muffin' comes from - unless, of course, it's a euphemism for later in life. That aside (for now), I wondered what "stereotypical" behaviors this school was teaching my child. Mother cooks muffins? Oh please! Teenage daughter is a moody cow but son, an up and coming man of few words, just goes off to play hoops? Not only does that seem to be "telling" my 'soon to be teenage moody cow daughter' that she has every right to go stomping off into her room at the mere hint of civilized conversation but that any man she is likely to encounter does not, will not, no matter how hard you try - talk about the basics in life. Is this about the time a green light turns on inside their hormonal heads and sets the tone for things to come - women are irrational, men are aloof?

Whatever the point of that class was, the most my child got out of it was a giggle at how the teenage boy only took two muffins and all because he was getting puberty. 

Getting? It's not a disease for goodness sake.

"I think there's more to it than muffins," I add wisely.

This is about the time my mother enters the conversation and I know, in about thirty-nano-seconds I'm going to start contradicting myself and start sounding real right irrational and cranky. 

"Puberty's not about bloody muffins.It means getting your period and if you get it too early, you dry up like an old prune."

My eyeballs instinctively circumnavigated the inside of my head. "Oh for Pete's sake Mum, don't say things like that. She'll believe you."

"What do you mean dry up?" Lu asks.

"Nothing Lu, it's nothing. Nannie is just being a dick."

"I'm not being a dick. It's true. You're born with only so many eggs and.....

Lu wisely interjects: "I know about eggs Nannie,"

"Well that's alright then but the next time you eat an egg, you just think about what that really is."

Lu looks mortified and I silently sign behind my mother's back - 'Don't listen to her, she's loop-de-loo.'

"And another thing, you'll probably find, just before your period Lu, that you get real moody and have tummy cramps and ..."

"Mum, stop it. It's a right of passage not a bloody illness!"

"A right a who?"

The conversation swung back and forth, between a cynical grandmother and naive grandchild. I know my mother says things believing she is funny and I look at my child and can only hope that in the years we've spent together, that somewhere along the way, she's managed to figure out the difference. 

Just as I'm thinking this, Lu sneaks out an 'eyeball roll' and I smile. 

Whew. She's not being sucked into the vortex of my mother's (sometimes) overbearing sarcasm anymore than the naive theory of so-called pubescent muffins. 

We live... another day.

Dark invader in NZ

Police are hunting a Russian computer hacker who may have set up shop in New Zealand, selling the account details of millions of Facebook users.
Detectives from the National Cyber Crime Centre are investigating whether the hacker Kirllos is using New Zealand as a base.He is offering to sell Facebook user names and passwords on an underground hacker forum.

ANZAC Day Tragedy

The fourth crew member of the New Zealand Air Force died this morning after their Iroquois helicopter crashed near Paekakariki Hill Rd around 6am.The crew were travelling from Ohakea and heading towards the Anzac Day commemorations in Wellington.Three crew members died instantly while the fourth was airlifted from the crash site with serious injuries and taken to Wellington Hospital. The Defence Force will hold a news at Ohakea at 2pm.

April 24, 2010

For Rachel's Mum


I close my eyes
only for a  moment and the moment's gone
all my dreams
pass before my eyes with curiousity 

dust in the wind
all they are is dust in the wind

same old song
just a drop of water in an endless sea
all we do
crumbles to the ground though we refuse to see

dust in the wind
all we are is dust in the wind

don't hang on
well nothin last forever but the earth and sky
it slips away
and all your money won't another minute buy

dust in the wind
all we are is dust in the wind