Thursday, 23 May 2013

From hell to high water...

I'm sitting in St Katherines Dock and the heavens have literally opened.  It's hammering down with rain and I'm exhausted.

I've just left my solicitors Jones, Hodge & Allen, having just been told my case against the Met Police for wrongly taking my car in January of this year, is no longer financially viable.  I chose to go down the No Win / No Fee route as opposed to Legal Aid and therefore unless there's almost an iron clad guarantee of a win, then solicitors just won't pursue these type of cases.

Even though my solicitor knows I struggle to get around because of my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, find these things incredibly stressful and prefer to do everything by email, she'd orchestrated a meeting at her office to simply inform me that she would no longer be pursuing my case.

Apparently she felt that I wanted information and explanation.

I didn't.

That would be like asking someone if the corpse was definitely dead and then getting a lengthy explanation of what resulted in the persons death, the height from which he fell, the angle which he landed, the damage which was done etc. rather than the simple answer of "YES, HE'S DEAD"!

We weren't breaking-up after a 6 year relationship - she was ceasing to pursue my case, so an email would have been fine.

The facts, as explained elsewhere, remain the same, the DVLA did wrongly apportion a conviction to my licence, acknowledge their mistake and remove it, but before doing so, the Police confiscated my car believing that I had no car insurance (no licence, no valid insurance) as defined by their Police National Computer (PNC).

The impact of the removal of the car on my life was huge - it was after all my home.

But this is where things go awry. The monetary assessment of a case of this type is primarily made up of loss of items (in most people's eyes the least important thing, they can always be replaced) not on the impact the event has on your life (the loss of hope resulting in your suicide for example).

It turns out, as with so much in our life these day, we've consumerised everything, right down to our emotional distress.

I have got most of my stuff back and the car was on finance, so my solicitor asserts, the maximum she could claim for emotional distress based on the removal of my Human Rights and as defined by case law is a £1,000.00 (4 hours of solicitor time).

So it makes no economic sense to pursue the case.

But my question would be, where's justice gone in the legal system?  How come we put the highest monetary value on the thing that is least important to us and the lowest value on the thing that is most important to us i.e. Life?

But on a larger scale than just myself, what is worst still, the DVLA can continue to be allowed to just apportion convictions to anyone they like (it's a great way to avoid speeding tickets in the future by the way - when you send the "who was driving element" of your speeding ticket back, just give an actual name and dob from somebody on Wikipedia and apportion that person with a false address - the court system will then all happen automatically and some poor sod will end up with your offence on their licence - no investigations will have taken place, nobody will have checked if you were telling the truth and the victim will be none the wiser because all correspondence will be sent to the made up address you created until the conviction appears on their licence).

And the Police remain protected from their own mistakes, they are allowed to lie in their statements even if that contradicts the evidence they took in the statement you provided to them.

And the court system is allowed to run on an automatic process with no human involvement whatsoever.

It should be pointed out, I've never claimed to be whiter than white.  But the real irony is whenever as a child I went to do things that weren't always on the right side of the law, I'd get away with them because I'd planned too.

The things I've got caught with weren't offences but genuine mistakes.

Take my Drink Driving offence - I hadn't had a drink in 24 hours when I was stopped. I wasn't even driving dangerously.  I was driving past the place of work of a girl I'd recently separated from and zipped past a few cars in order to get past it as quickly as possible, I hadn't broken the speed limit but, as the police officer who pulled me over put it, I passed other road users in an aggressive manner (which by the way was not illegal).

I was driving in London in the 90's of course I was drivingly assertively. That's what everybody did. But he stopped me on that basis nonetheless and asked if I minded taking a breathalizer, I said I didn't, but to my horror and surprise, I failed it.

It turns out that because of the break-up I'd been drinking huge amounts of alcohol to deal with it, had barely eaten and this had all accumulated over the preceding week. So even though at the time of the stop I hadn't touched a drop of alcohol for over a day, my body hadn't got rid of the accumulated damage.

The medical officer at the Police Station who took my blood actually apologised to me, as the amount of alcohol was so slightly above the legal level, he said if he wasn't on site, another hour would have probably passed and that ,would have more than likely, been enough time to put me under the limit.

But I wasn't under, I was over.

And, sods law, it was just when the legal system had brought in the mandatory ban for any drink driving offence (which seems to have long since disappeared), so mitigating circumstances were not being allowed.

More ironically still was, I'd been previously breathalized and passed on a green light having consumed an entire bottle of champagne.

So all of this seemed ludicrous to me and just added to all the problems I was already having at the time with the break-up. I Lost my licence, lost my car, lost my job etc.

I mention this, because this too was a reason my solicitor felt she couldn't win my case.  Whilst someone accused of raping someone is allowed to protect their previous convictions going through the criminal court process (including other previous rapes and child molestation), trying to make a civil claim against the Met Police means they can bring in anything to protect themselves, including your offences that may have taken place nearly 20 years earlier, which they would use to demonstrate you were a person of poor character.

Equally my solicitor claimed that the impact of say being arrested for the first time was the most emotionally damaging. I couldn't contest more. If you get arrested in your teens, it's almost a rights of passage thing, something you do in your youth, a story to tell your kids, but if your arrested as an adult, the situation is far more distressing and emotionally damaging. And far more likely to be an incorrect arrest.

So your history counts against you, your circumstances count against you, your solicitor counts against you.

Britain wake up please - before it's all way too late.

Your sleepwalking into having your freedoms taken away from you and there's hardly a word of dissent.

It's time to speak up and I'll do my best to scream this stuff from the roof-tops.

In a country where people can be paid millions for being an idiot using Accident Claim Legal services it seems astounding that proven errors of both Police and other Public Bodies can go unchallenged - I pity us all.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Another year...

It's hard, this living thing.

Day after day, I'm forced to witness more stupidity, more inertia and more lack of compassion.

You were all probably told, do unto others as you wish to be to done unto you, right?

Well why the hell didn't anybody tell this to those who work in the Public Sector.

My life is seemingly torn down the middle.  On the one side, amazing people with dreams, hopes and aspirations.  Not of wealth or careers but wanting to make fundamental seizmic changes to society.

And on the other corporate drones, Public Sector bureaucrats, little minded commissioners and process driven funders/

The funniest thing is, people who would have read my tweets over the past month, would think I'm living the life of a king. Trips to Amsterdam, Theatre, Cinema, Restaurant, Galleries etc. Work with some inspirational people, all of it.

But the reality is, I now have absolutely nowhere to live, no money (I was reliant on state benefits but they've screwed up) and am now struggling to continue to live in the City I so love.

The people around me are doing their best to support me, but it feels unfair and unreasonable to impose.  Hence the living in the car, but with that option removed, what do you do?

Everyday, I try to figure something to keep going, Vigilia has been in development for 3 years and I genuinely think it's our breakthrough project.  But as with everything we need a break and that doesn't seem to be on the horizon.

Having had the phone stolen, I've discovered how few real friends I really had. It's hard dealing with that one. Suddenly coming to terms with people you sacrificed everything for in the past having made no efforts to check I'm even alive (Lisa Evans (first love), Tamara Thomas (friend in constant need of support) & Alex Laurie (mother of my son)).

I'd gone to Amsterdam/Edam because friends had a house there, I could cook, accommodate my son there for half-term and it would only cost about £300 all in for nearly 2 weeks.

The irony, my son decided he didn't want to join.  I suspect this had more to do with his mother than himself. But it was his choice.  He's 13 nearly 14 and I believe he's got to learn to fight for the things he wants.

He has a lovely nature and doesn't want to upset his mother. Cannot criticise that. But his Mother's influence means I'm getting to see less and less of him. Though I did ensure I wrote to him everyday whilst I was out there.

So I ended up in a beautiful house which just reaffirmed all the things I already knew.  Environment is critical to me.  Suddenly I'm able to control my health (though still ended up having 5 CFS crash days out of the 11 I was out there), eat healthily (there were no junk shops of any kind in Edam, a Greengrocers, Butchers, Deli & Bakery) and exercise, first walking, then cycling.

I took the time to reflect on what I was going to do.  It allowed me the space from having to chase morons to do their jobs (Police, DWP, O2, Apple etc.).  And I had a dawning realisation that I cannot survive in a country that is obsessed with stupidity.  17 years of a Labour Government has created droves of idiots, who don't challenge, cannot think and adhere to rules for comfort.

I've found some amazing people in a group of early 20 somethings.  But nearly without exception they're all talking about leaving the UK to achieve their goals.

I think we're going to see a brain drain in this Country unparrallelled 

Sunday, 20 January 2013

January 1st 2013

I'm sure there is probably a way of changing the date of my posts, but I cannot be bothered to find it.

So take it from me, this should have been written on the 1st of January 2013 (today is actually 20th January 2013 but I wrote most of this on the 3rd January - it's the nature of my illness that has taken this long).

I woke, as I've done so many times over the past 2 years, in my car.

It's where I live!

It's a long story why I live there and I'm sure I will finally put into a blog one day, but for now, take the shortened version as being caused by a catalogue of public sector disasters that started with the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) failing to do their job in 2009 and ended with Lambeth Council failing to meet it's duty of care in 2011.

But 2012 was unquestionably the worst year of my life. A year where every turn was blocked and every spark of hope extinguished.

I'm writing this because the worst of all them, worse than companies house erroneously closing my business bank account that they've yet to fix, worse than not being able to see my son for Christmas (he lives with his mother in South Wales), worse than doing the living in the car thing, worse than my ongoing fight with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS or ME) or the issue with Apple inc. and 3 failed computer, worse than all this...

I had my iPhone stolen.

Now in itself, the loss of a phone may sound like a mild annoyance and a trip to the store with a bundle of notes, a few lost contacts and a quick SIM change.

But in MY phone was my entire life for the past 12 years.  As a CFS sufferer I take detailed notes of my daily activities.  It formed the foundation of my existence.  How ever bad my memory gets (on some days I cannot remember what I did an hour ago, let alone a week) I could always rely on turning to this trusty device to recall, arrangements, business meetings, all the way down to did I shower that day.

CFS is a crippling illness and one, if you like sitting around all day doing nothing with your life is relatively manageable. The problem is the majority of people it affects are not like that.  They are driven, striving and looking to leave their mark on this world.

I was always intending to write a book about my experiences and everything that's happened, but  everything was on that phone.

The computer failures, back-up issues and iCloud losses meant this information was nowhere else to be found.

The contrast between living in a car because the state fails you, to ensuring you remain the best Father you can with a son who lives over a hundred miles away.

Mixing with celebrities and yet barely having enough money to feed yourself.

It's a world most people would never have an incling of understanding and why it was so important for me to record.

Since the age of ten years old people said I should write a book about my life, because even by then, I had a story worth telling.  But the last 34 years have added to that.

Without the phone I have snippets.

Going through these blogs helps, but nobody wants to read about the days where nothing happens, where you spend 4 days staring at a screen unable to move.

In part that stuff doesn't get published because of what I do, in the main though, it doesn't get published because people don't care.

So imagine spending 12 years of your life writing a story on a typewriter - each day you'd spend 2 to 3 hours keeping crucial notes of your experiences, your feelings, your health, the issues surrounding just surviving, to how it feels to be doing a job that defines you and then one day watching the whole thing go up in flames.  12 years of effort gone in a blink. That's where I am right now.  You cannot get it back but...

I have so few followers on this blog, I'm going to share things that I wouldn't on Facebook or Twitter or Linkedin as I try to move on with my life.

Without the phone, years of my life have been lost, those moments that change us forever, those snippets of things that enhance our life that are so important to keeping going in a life that sometimes you want to end.

When I was 17, because of my life experiences I genuinely never believed I'd make my 18th year.  With hand on heart I thought the stresses of my life would kill me before then.  I'd already been rushed into hospital with a suspected heart attack (another story) and was living in constant fear.

So at 44, I feel I'm living on borrowed time.

The loss of the phone felt like the end of my, life it took away hope.  The failure to get security, the police, O2 or anybody to assist in its retrieval reminded me the kind of society we live in.

For all those people, it was, after all, just a phone. But for me, it was the reason I kept going.

But against that, against my health, against the fact that I started the year alone waking in the passenger side of a Mini (the night before I'd been with some amazing friends - and that's yet another story) I continued an annual tradition a dear friend and I started in 2000.

I got myself to Sommerset House at 09:30 to go skating (it was closed this year even though the Website said it should be open - but the female security guard there made my day), to the London Film Museum to see an exhibition of London Films, onto Trafalgar Square, to watch the New Years Day Parade, to Balcon on Pall Mall, for lunch (but they'd screwed up my booking through toptable - though the manager made up for it in sparkling wine), to the Empire Cinema to watch Parental Guidance, to Planet Hollywood (for the weirdest dinner of my life, a Banana Milkshake, a jacket potatoes and chilli dip - a breakdown in communication with the waitress and no time to fix it) and finally theatre to see Rob Brydon in a Chorus of Disapproval at the Harold Pinter Theatre (that to most Londoners will still always be called the Comedy) and then drove back to my normal spot in my Car to sleep.

Colin (the friend who I started this tradition with) and I, promised each other there would never be a year in London that we would say that we hadn't attended at least one Theatre, Cinema, Restaurant, Exhibition and Walk in the city we both love so much. So we chose to do it all on the 1st of every year, so what ever happened the other 364 days we could alway say we'd done at least one.

This is the stuff I never normally make public, the stuff that would have been written in the phone.  I don't know how much of this I'll get down but I'll try.  Life seemingly wants to eradicate me from history but I'm not keen to go that way. So for at least a while, my experiences will be on the net for anyone who stumbles across them to read.

Who knows, maybe this is where the book will start...