Vir Cantium

I'm right, you know …

Category Archives: Life

On Parenthood

I feel that one key difference between being a parent* and not, is that a story of child abuse, or worse, goes from being sad or shocking to being a tragedy or scandal.

It was only when the Peter Connelly court case entered its final stages that I was made fully aware of what that poor toddler had gone through – at that point my own son was then around 17 months old – the same age as Peter when his life was so brutally and criminally cut short. For me, I was no longer able to just view it from purely an insular “I hope it never happens round here” perspective. I now imagine what little Peter would have been aware of, capable of, and what he could have developed into had he lived. He’d learnt to walk and talk, he would have had a growing vocabulary, his own personal likes and dislikes, his favourite toys, his own little world (albeit not a happy one) – all gone now. Such things can turn even the most libertarian and liberal into Daily Mail editorial sound-alikes.

The story today – of a severely depressed mother who drowned her son – is clearly different, given the circumstances, but I feel my views before and after the onset of fatherhood have again changed. Do I feel anger towards the mother for what she did? Before I had children, I may well have done. Now, though, I can appreciate how “wrong in the head” she was to have done such a thing; something that goes against the instinct of every normal parent. To sentence her to a psychiatric institution is probably right – not only to treat her severe depression, but to help her partly deal with what she has done and the effective life sentence that she cannot now avoid (and which, depending on your own perspective, she may or may not deserve).

Sorry to post on such a heavy subject.

Anyway, it’s Friday – now go and enjoy the sunshine while it’s here! (Oh, and the cricket!)

* By “parent”, I know this can equally apply to any dedicated guardian, uncle/aunt, elder sibling, etc, etc.

Old Fashioned Ideas

Phew. Back from deepest Devon, having to follow the cricket only on Radio 4 long wave and (gasp!) no internet connection. We got the right result in the end though.

I’m not one to bore people with holiday snaps, so I’ll restrict myself to this pic of “The Tea Station – Food And Drink At It’s Best”.

Former West Bay Station, Dorset

Nice use of a former railway station (West Bay in Dorset), bad use of an apostrophe.

I could also have taken one of a curious road sign in Somerset, but since it was one that said “Police Operate In This Area” I thought I’d better concentrate on driving. Is the idea really so novel that Avon and Somerset constabulary think it’s worth announcing? What do residents of those parts of the county not so covered think about it? Perhaps they’re being patient and hoping it’ll catch on.

Ivan Cameron RIP

As a family looking forward to our second addition in April, we were particularly sad to hear the Camerons’ tragic news.

Our deepest condolences to David and his family.

Doing Your Duty

Croydon Crown CourtIt was ten years ago today that I found myself summoned to Croydon Crown Court and then spent four months under close supervision in a confined space with eleven others. I had spent three days getting to know intimately the jurors’ waiting room, which resembled a provincial airport departure lounge without the retail diversions (unless you counted the canteen).

Like everyone who is called up, I was expecting a two week break from the 9 to 5 routine, replacing it with a 10 to 4 routine, but then on the Wednesday a long string of names were called for a trial that might last up to two months. I somehow ended up in the final twelve. I’m not one for conspiracy theories, but I had already dodged been excused jury service twice previously: once as a civilian working on police business (at a previous firm where we did a lot of work on mortgage fraud cases for what was then SO6) and again when my next boss wrote a well crafted pleading letter. The drawback, I think, was that this not only put me firmly on their radar for some “payback”, but it also made it clear which profession I was in and so, lo and behold, I got called up to serve on a VAT fraud case.

Looking back it did provide me with some unique CPD* opportunities – poring over accountants’ working files, hearing how Customs & Excise VAT investigations worked, and noting how an innocuous and actually perfectly innocent fact, through the eyes of an inexperienced VAT inspector, led them to uncover a genuine fraud.

As the trial progressed so did the Tramlink works along the 353 bus route every day. The trial lasted nearly four months less a few days. Yes, it was more than two months, yes it went beyond Easter (they like their long Easter breaks), yes it went beyond the date of my election to the Council – the following day I had to stand up and ask the judge for the afternoon off to get myself sworn in at the Council. It was a Friday afternoon so funnily enough there wasn’t much resistance.

Like seniors teasing the new first years, we would enliven the regular treks to and from the jury room by walking past the newbies saying “Good luck. We’re in our third month now. See you after Easter!”. Their faces were a picture … once they realised we weren’t joking.

The Chartered Accountant in the dock was found guilty by a majority (I think we were into our third day of deliberation from memory) and got, I think, three or four years. After the verdict it then emerged he was also facing charges from the Police and Inland Revenue, to which he changed his plea to guilty.

Anyway, here’s hoping that Dizzy has better luck.

*Continuing Professional Development