July 30, 2014


Yes folks you heard it here first. Dr Peter Jansen, one of the top wigs at ACC has been caught taken a company perk - an internal DSM-IV assessment by one of this three close work buddies who wish to remain, understandably, quiet. 

However, we have obtained a copy of this assessment and records indicate Dr Jansen is actually suffering from a DSM-CIP Syndrome. It's not, unfortunately, a rare problem.

Apart from the obvious symptoms of selective amnesia when it comes to conducting expensive, tax-paid, research, he also expresses hyper-manic self obsessive disorder, thinking he is someone of grand importance and that everyone ought to listen to him. If not, then at least his hand-picked cussy bro. More worryingly is the official DSM-CIP diagnoses - "Completely Incompetent Prick. Person". 

Is it any wonder why all these "clients" are being fogged off. That poor man. He's been suffering in silence all this time while we (okay some) have practically bashed him in the Press. We ought to have really looked into Dr Jansen beforehand, extended our hand in mutual mental illness and welcomed our brother home - I mean, we don't have a stigma, right?  

Whilst I agree with ACC Advocate Mr Wadsworth, that the "SCU senior and technical staff have consistently demonstrated they are not up to the job, including its senior medical advisor Dr Peter Jansen.” I do think he could be a little more sympathetic. I mean, it's a hard diagnosis to hide especially in such a public arena, although, rumor has it, Minister of ACC Nick Smith also suffers the same "disorder" and has no problem expressing all the symptoms right in front of cameras. 

In any event Mr Wadsworth - I agree: “Now it’s time for ACC to shutdown the dysfunctional unit." Dr Peter Jansen should now concentrate on ...um, what's the saying again? That's right!...focusing on his family. 

April 24, 2014

The Redundant Mother

"I was twenty. A mother of three, married and divorced." 

That was how my Mother's justified leaving her three young kids back in the 60's. At the time, my father was a violent drunk - which made her decision to leave him, a good one but leaving her kids with him? Deplorable.

A lot of women were in the same position as my mother and most of them remained in violent marriages because, quite frankly, there was no alternative. For that reason alone, the Domestic Purpose Benefit (DPB) was literally a life saver and the only requirement (at that stage) was proof of parenting - kids. 

My how things have changed. 

Today, there is no DPB. For a parent of a child over the age of 14, there is what's called a Job-Seeker Allowance. In effect, it's the same as an unemployment benefit whereby you have to be up and ready, looking for those jobs (that magically produce out of thin air), and you have to provide confirmation of interviews, personal statements or lists of vacancies applied for, and written correspondence to verify unsuccessful applications. 

You get NO money until you have satisfied these requirements.

In reality, it means a single parent, probably still smarting from a painful separation and having to put up with the angst of their children shooting off 'blame bullets,' now needs to put on a happy face and risk rejection on the job hunting front - over qualified, under qualified, and more recently - too old.

I count myself as one of the lucky ones. I have a job. I have a home. The only money I get is what I earn. What I don't have is a backup plan should anything go wrong cause then, it would mean a move back to New Zealand and probably a place in that infamously demoralizing job-seeking queue - Kiwis are not eligible for ANY benefits in Australia. What I also don't have is a partner. I am a true-blue single parent. No other parent in my child's life. The downsides are obvious - loneliness, a feeling of isolation, and no accountability - which can sometimes, be a great thing. More importantly, I don't have to have my child return from her father's house where he gifts everything to her, shows off his new life (which is so much more affordable when you don't have kids full time), and returns with an attitude that just eats away at what little self esteem is left from a daily dose of job seeking. 

However, what I do have in common with my single parenting sisters is an overwhelming sense of being overwhelmed. If I want to go out to dinner, it's twice the price. If I need a hair cut, it's twice the price. I earn a single wage and yet everything costs twice the amount cause typically, whatever you need so does your kid. Kids in a family with two parents generally have two wages and so, everything is halved. You want to go on holiday and the parents (2 people) chip in for the child's costs. As a single parent - well, you just don't go on holidays. My rent is not halved cause I am a single wage earner nor is my electricity or gas. 

I do not and never will EVER regret having my child. She has repaid me a thousand times more for things money can't buy. But here comes the clincher - she's getting to the age where she will fly the coop and then what? 

I saw an Oprah Winfrey show once about mothers that grieve when their child goes off to college - in the States, that generally means they leave home. At the time, I couldn't fathom grieving over being childless - I could very well have been buried under a tonne of nappies at the time. But now, I feel the time is coming. I think that's why kids go to school camps - it gives the parents practice time for the day they leave for longer than a week.

When my kid went on camp I cried for three days. Later, she went to New Zealand for nearly a month. I didn't cry but I practically stalked her on the Internet and one night, I called her just to yell at her for not calling me. I was completely irrational, driven by panic that I couldn't reach her, she couldn't reach me, that I couldn't do what I had done all her life and that was to be there for her. 

I think one of the hardest parts of being a parent is letting go. Like most parents, I want my child to go off and explore the world but I'm haunted by visions of me clinging to her ankles at the airport. Letting go is a parenting skill and like most parenting skills, it's learned on the job and with no manuals - you just make the shit up as you go along.

And if you're a single Mum going through all this  - job seeking, getting rejected, having your kids look at your different (maybe even resentfully), struggling financially - then pat yourself on the back. It ain't easy. 

Being a true super hero never is.

March 15, 2014

A Gentle Man - Part 1

I spent an age trolling through the images of this wonderful man trying to capture his spirit and through all the campaigning, and angry mob-looking, hand-waving, energetic photos, I stumbled across this one and it made me stop in my tracks. I'm not sure whether I picked this because it makes me feel better - he does look rather smug - or whether this was the real Tony Benn thriving in one of those rare private moments. 

I've have often thought of Tony - feels a little disrespectful to call him by his first name but Sir makes me feel all of about three years of age and I'm pretty confident he'd have hated that title (smile)..labels just weren't his 'thing'.  But thanks to him, I earned one of my very first "titles" - I was a journalist and not just any old journalist, I was a New Zealand International Foreign Correspondent. It didn't take me long to adopt Tony's view on labels - they're just things slapped on you, very hard to live up to, and 99% of the time, they're imposed on you with a very hefty price. As was the case with my forging Journalist career. 

I first met Tony in 1992. I'd like to say it was by accident but I practically stalked the poor boy. My first visual of him was on the television, swamped by protesters - something about C.N.D (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament), and a reporter that was more interested in his own voice-overs than anything Tony tried to say. I then found myself doing a really weird thing - I tried to look around the TV screen to see whether I could lip-read what was being said....Plan B....I know what I'll do - I'll just give him a call - as you do. 

I wasn't completely mad. I did have a plan and it went something along the lines of.....I shall call the House of Commons, his Secretary will answer, she will realize I am a nobody, fob me off, and I will sit back down on my couch with the TV blasting and tell myself:  "Well, at least you tried." Good plan.

On the eve of the 1992 Gulf War while everyone watched the bombing of Kuwait, I called the House of Commons. I looked at the little candle lit in my lounge window signalling to the rest of the world, I was anti-war, and waited for his grumpy secretary to strip shreds off me for wasting the man's precious time but nothing went according to plan - someone threw a rock through my lounge window and Tony answered the phone. 

And there it was - my first words to this gentle soul was "Jesus! Holy fuck!"

He didn't hang up. I don't know why. Maybe he gets a lot of calls like that. Instead, he just patiently waited on the end of the line until my brain could scramble some English words together. I considered telling him about the candle - go for the sympathy vote so to speak - but thought he'd redirect me to some crisis helpline and that was going to waste time. In the end, I managed to explain my intentions - I was going to interview him about the Gulf War.....get really famous and rich - although I left the last two major incentives out at the time.

" Excellent. Would you come to my office on Friday, say around 10?"

I had three days to find out who this man was let alone what I would ask him regarding the War, and I knew nothing about both. I didn't have Internet back then but if I did, it would have saved an agonizing trip to the local library looking through index cards hinting at where the hell they hide their books. In the end, I endorsed the help of a very enthusiastic Librarian who seemed quite impressed that I was interested in this man. 

"Oh he's just so wonderful," she said, sounding like a groupie. "I'll get you his diaries."

Diaries? I was a little taken aback that he'd have his personal diaries in a public library but if they were anything like mine, they'd be a minefield of information - favorite restaurants, wine intake, and who the hell pissed me off that day. A scoop for sure. 

To be continued.....