Over the next few weeks I’m going to run a series of blog posts about Named Person. Although the Supreme Court ruled the data sharing element illegal (which makes the whole scheme toothless), the Scottish government are rabid in their attempts to get the Named Person back on track. I’ve too much information to fit into one blog entry as this one has already become a monster. All those contributing will be kept anonymous for a variety of reasons. You don’t have to believe their stories but I would recommend everyone in Scotland with a child finds out what their Named Person/Local Authority holds on them (yes you may already have a Named Person and your data may have been illegally shared). This is how to go about obtaining the personal data of both yourself and your child:
Unfortunately the right wing press I wouldn't usually touch with a barge pole were the only ones covering Named Person in any detail until recently.
I have to confess to being a hypocrite because I know my information isn’t good and I’m not sure I want to read it. I’m a home educator with Fibromyalgia. Both are big targets for my local authority which treats both my chosen lifestyle and medical condition with suspicion. During a complaints meeting the social worker taking down my issues compared, in front of a local councillor, my Fibromyalgia to an alcohol or drug addiction four times. All I can say is send me to rehab, baby, and I’ll kick the habit! All the time and money spent needlessly on my family could have gone into something that really helped abused children.
As a parent of three children under fourteen I find Scotland a concerning place to raise them. However, this is my home and has been for over twenty-five years. The beaches are wonderful, my husband has a good job and we have a decent lifestyle. I don’t want to uproot my children and I’d rather fight for their rights.
Disclaimers based on the accusations thrown at me most frequently by the proponents of the scheme:
As Tallulah on my Facebook page said much better than I could: When you are making assumptions about who pushed against the Named Person (data sharing aspect), remember that not all of us had the money to pursue legal means -- the legal action cost £300,000. Some of us could only lend moral support to those who had the means to do it. Don't make assumptions about all those who lent support because of the nature of the actual pursuers (Christian Institute and others). The force in support of the challenge was a very diverse bundle of people concerned about human rights and the spreading thinly of precious resources in child protection. I'm only saying this as I've been called a 'God botherer' and 'extreme Christian' who only wishes to 'own their children' and 'indoctrinate' them. Nothing could be further from my truth. People do like to make massive assumptions though.
And there is the nub of it. As I understand it in Scotland we cannot take out a class action lawsuit like they can in England. Being from Liverpool, I hope this issue is handled like Hillsborough but doesn’t take until my children are middle aged to yield similar results. We definitely need an independent public enquiry. Opening this up and asking questions may well provide us with a much better child protection system and more children saved. It may even find ways to reduce the suspicion in which the state is viewed.
Our younger generation are having a harder time than at any time previous. Houses are difficult and expensive to come by, higher education is an expense that my generation didn’t have and none of them are looking forward to a state pension. A child in abusive relationship with their parents has a very bleak outlook and a difficult time escaping well into adulthood.
With every other minority group we give them rights to protect them, so why are the SNP and the Scottish Greens so hell bent on removing the rights that children currently have?
Banana-Bug is a teenage girl. At present she can go to the doctors for help without even me being told, but if Named Person in its full intended version had gone ahead she would no longer have that privacy. That’s a right the Scottish Government wanted to take from her. Worse still if she goes on contraception a man she finds creepy and who went out of his way to destroy her confidence will now be told. Why does he even need to know if she gets pregnant? She should still have the right to refuse that information being shared with him.
Named persons were described as head gardeners over the parents. Well I think a child should have the right to sack any gardener working for them.
Think back to your own school days… all your guidance and head teachers.
We’ve all known of teachers even guidance and headteachers who were awful, who made us feel uncomfortable or who we plain didn’t get on with. Think of that teacher – would you want them knowing sensitive information about you that they had no right to know? I had a couple I wouldn’t want knowing if I went on the pill.
What about this woman:
That woman was being trained to tell your child that she was their confidante and that they didn’t have to tell Mummy and Daddy anything they discussed.
Parents need rights in place to protect their children from interference from the state because it has a track record in causing harm in many cases. It provides a check and balance just like when the state can take a child in danger from a parent.
The Scottish Government would have been better putting the millions they have ploughed into this scheme (not to mention the cost of a court case) into schemes that do help abused children. Give those children empowerment, increase their rights to move away from home and shelters they can just walk into, allow bullied children to just leave school with their parent’s support, give parents greater rights to speak up for their children against state interference…. Youth Cafes, children's clubs, breakfast clubs etc provide children safe environments to go and get food. Instead council cuts are having to be made to pay for a scheme that doesn’t work.
Isobel Gaudie, another one who would be surprised to be called a right-wing god-botherer, also from my Facebook page said:"The SNP needs to stop the arrogance and accept these plans were wrong. Until it does, nobody can trust this Scottish government any more to put the best interests of families before its own political ends."
Even if you don't home educate you never know when you might need that right for your child. A lot of parents who home educate did not start out thinking they needed it but they took their child out of school because that child didn't fit or was being harmed by the school system.
Home Education is something very dear to my heart. I discovered it was possible when I was bout 8 or 9 because my mum took my brother out of school for a few months. At that point I decided it was something I would do with my children. I didn't hate school but I was often isolated, often miserable and often bored. All three of my children are exactly what I hoped education at home would allow them to be.
It has in the UK (England, Wales and Scotland at least. I confess to being unsure about Northern Ireland/Isle of Man etc) always been the parent's responsibility to educate their children. It's not the states responsibility.
Of course there are bad examples of home education just like there are bad examples of traditionally educated children. By and large though children can thrive at home. A lack of state interference allows children to be treated and educated as individuals.
In the last few years there has been a major shift and home education has become a media and political punching bag. One home educated child in Scotland asked Nicola Sturgeon during the campaign for the Scottish elections, why the SNP talk loudly about protecting minorities whilst themselves picking on a small minority who home educate. She was promised an answer but I understand it didn't materialise.
There hasn't been a single major media case of a home educated child who has been harmed by abuse who hasn't been involved with a variety of agencies before serious harm has happened. They have all been failures by a variety of people and not home education.
By contrast one of the major reasons for home education, up until recently, was a child being harmed, neglected or not catered for at school. More recently there has been a surge in parents home educating from the start through choice but these parents are often ones who were failed by school in a variety of ways.
Even if you don't home educate, don't let that right to protect your child be taken away from you. The NSPCC aren't the only ones who can do studies and have opinions:
With every other abused or maltreated group in society we protect them by increasing their rights. I don't understand why our children scare the SNP so much they are constantly removing important rights from them.
I managed to knock my pelvis out of align this week - again. It's all my children's fault it has this tendency as it was fine until I got pregnant.
And as a result I am bored. I've done some writing but I've also been doing the authorly equivalent of practising signing my married name in my teenage years when there isn't a snowballs chance in hell that the male concerned is even going to date you. Anya Ball, Anya Sissons and Anya Astley never did happen. (I have a strange taste in men).
This is my rubbish and rather ugly achievement but I am unreasonably proud of it:
Mr Kimlin and I were discussing my blog. Seriously, he's not worth what I pay him.
Me: I want to do an index for my kitchen sink type blog.
Him: Use the categories on the side.
Me: I've told you I can't work out how to do it.
Him: Yeah. (grunts and walks away)
Me: (shouting through) that was your reaction last time
Him: Type it into Google.
Him: Because that's the first port of call for any technical enquiries
Me: No it's not. You are.
Him: I'm just going to type it into Google anyway.
Me: Yeah but you'll actually understand what they're talking about.
I swore when I started this blog that I wasn’t going to do writerly posts! However it was my turn to do an activity for my local writers group and this one went so well I wanted to share it with the world or at least the few hundred of you lovelies who read my blog. So as the saying goes the best laid plans of mice and women go by the wayside.
As a writer one of the biggest handicaps can be a fear of failure. Our imaginations are called to boldly go on a life long mission where no man, woman, dog or even alien has ever gone before. We are there to delve into the deep recesses of our minds and pick out the bits of lint that others would discard but we can maybe use to feather our nests – can I get any more clichés into one post? It’s said that a writer needs to write a million words to get good at what they do.
When I am tackling the first draft or I have writers block I find it useful to write a stream of consciousness from the point of view of the characters, but sometimes Anya Kimlin steps in. For the writerly activity on Tuesday everyone in the room did it from their own point of view rather than the characters and it produced anger, introspection and humour.
Here is an example from Black's Nest:
I am John Glass Black. I am forty eight and the son of Ian Erasmus Black. I am a psychiatrist who works at… a clinic somewhere in the middle of nowhere near Umber Bridge where both myself and my dad live. I am bored. So bored. The clinic only deals with pampered souls with first world problems so why do I stay at the job? Well I have a mortgage, three kids and a wife from who I am normally separated… why did we separate… I had a one night stand that produced a fourth child… was there anything special? Why not throw in a demon or two... I also stay at the job because of the stuff that Dr Innes, my boss, likes to keep secret. The stuff that happens below stairs… OK so what happens below stairs hmm… I’m a doctor so it makes sense it will be medical… it has to be exciting and Anya’s been watching MASH lately so battlefield surgery it is… why is it secret? Where is the battle. It has to be something worth keeping secret… I know… fairies, bloody fairies… just fairies? Why not have other species of fairies and what can I do to make them special… they have to be more Torchwood than Tinkerbelle… surgeries smell, battlefields smell… fairies smell of marshmallows but… hmm through in decomposition, rotting roses, compost in that it can’t be too “nice”… leathery wings… those wings… ooh could they be the source of power…
It’s still not finished and needs a final edit but it turned into:
When an intelligent mind is bored out of its box that is when world changing thoughts happen.
Dr John Glass Black ___ (letters after his name)__ sipped his whisky and stared at the screen of his laptop. The reports were three weeks late. Next to him, beetroot and salad cream bled on to a plate from a half-eaten sandwich. He was rapidly becoming a stereotype, a psychiatrist with more issues than his patients and to celebrate the realisation he drained his glass. His head ached and he tried to get excited about PTSD caused by a bout of acne, trauma caused by plastic surgery going wrong and the various addictions of the great, good, noble and basically anyone else with enough cash to be treated at St Dymphna’s.
A beeper on the desk disturbed him from his boredom. He blinked and shook himself. His brain realised what had happened and he sprung into action, standing up and plucking his suit jacket from the back of his chair he left the room without a single thought for the paperwork that was yet again neglected. He put his jacket on as he walked; it was a bespoke tailored affair because when he wore off the peg clothes they looked they were still on hanger.
There is no writing that can’t be rewritten, tweaked or improved upon. LET IT FLOW, BABY!!! it's the first step on the road to literary greatness.
Getting the pronouns right when talking about any other transwoman is easy, peasy lemon squeezy but when it comes to Mr Kimlin I have deep entrenched habits and emotions involved. I’m not ready to have a wife yet. At home it’s easy when Mr Kimlin is Mr Kimlin I call him he and when Amanda is in a dress I call her she. It gets more complicated when he has chosen a halfway house and he’s neither one nor the other.
Today when writing Best Possible Taste: The Grand Reveal I had a dilemma. Steph isn’t ready to call Nick she any more than I was at that stage. She settled for the gender neutral they. All went well until I got to this sentence: At the corners of Nick’s mouth a smile was ghosting and they was fighting a desire to join in. After what felt like a long time she pulled herself together enough to ask, “For goodness sake, Nick, help me up.”
My first natural reaction was to write they were. It sounds right doesn’t it? But that’s because I had never really used they as a singular pronoun for a known and named person or character before. It caused me to pause. After talking to Banana Bug who is entirely comfortable with they as an alternative gender neutral pronoun and reading up online it appears to be a language issue in flux. As a result grammar rules appear to be changing in some quarters. They was vs they were became a
serious issue and it is why Best Possible Taste was late going up tonight.
I have a family member who is intersexed and I know that around one in fifteen hundred babies is born neither entirely male nor female and I know that children have been maimed in the past when they’ve been altered so we can tick a legal gender box. This is as common as people with red hair yet we rarely talk about it.
We need a singular and gender neutral pronoun. The choices in English are it, they or hir (and other similar propositions). Hir and its associates are not yet well known and I’m not yet comfortable with using them plus I struggle to pronounce them. At the stage in the journey Steph is at it's unlikely she is o fay with them yet. The use of it as the pronoun is rude and impersonal. Neither Mr Kimlin nor Nick are objects. I’m left with they.
In Best Possible Taste and Kidology I have taken the decision to use they as a singular pronoun, but also to use it as he/she. Yes they was sounds horrible but the more I’ve written and thought about it they was has become less horrible and I’m warming to it.
I've included a YouTube link to a wonderful documentary about intersexed people that the BBC did called Me, My Sex and I. It's a good starting place.
No Barley Sourdough bread yet. The starter is looking unhealthy so we dumped it and we've started again. Fingers crossed for next week.
“You are so strong” are words I have heard several times since telling people that Mr Kimlin is also Amanda.
I am not a strong woman.
It doesn’t feel strong to let someone I love be themselves.
It's far harder to have watched Mr Kimlin go through years of severe depression and not know why.
Closets are cramped. Closets are dark. There is no way I would want any of my loved ones to be stuck in one for even a moment let alone a lifetime. It hurts that Mr Kimlin couldn't have told me years ago. My daughter never experienced one it was a case of “Mum, I like girls more than boys” one day whilst we were out. And now I tease her about girls rather than boys. Seriously, the lovely doctor and nurse that dealt with her broken leg were totally wasted on her.
Mr Kimlin and I have been married nearly fourteen years. He’s a kind, loving husband and dad.
I was first attracted by the long hair, beard and motorcycle...
...then I was I attracted to his ability to bake a cinnamon roll (a man should, in my opinion, be fantastic in the kitchen and better in the bedroom)...
...and then he hit me between the eyes with a gentle personality and reasonable sense of humour. (have I mentioned he has a sexy voice) I've never had to walk on egg shells around him and the only lies he's told me are the ones he told himself.
Many, many times I’ve watched him put himself aside to be my rock or the rock to someone who needed it. When I had my first miscarriage he was there with big strong arms and loving words. I did not go through that alone and every other hump in the road (of which our marriage has faced many of) he’s been there. Right now he’s downstairs whizzing up the soup because I was too tired to finish it. The Kimlin family have experienced laughter, tears and quite a bit of fear over the years but we come through each trial because we’re together. Our children know when they’re in trouble they have a superman to look after them - although Banana Bug is hitting them pesky teenage years where she's less sure about that. (Parents are idiots - right?)
He came out to me because he knows I love him and he trusts me. He trusted me enough to tell me the deepest darkest of his secrets that he’d never been able to tell anyone else. Even now whilst everyone in my world knows about Amanda there are many Mr Kimlin has been unable to tell. To walk away would throw that trust back in his face. I want to be his rock.
Don’t get me wrong our marriage has its issues., not least Mr Kimlin’s allergy to washing dishes (yeah his kitchen action needs some serious work), and there are issues surrounding Mr Kimlin becoming Amanda. Our wise Banana-Bug says what we really need is a week away together as a family to get to know Amanda. She’s almost certainly right, it’s just hard to make it a priority when the finances are so tight.
It’s not strong to want my marriage to work, it’s not strong to want my children to have their dad living with them and it’s not strong to stay. Things will change and we will have to work out the issues we have but that’s a marriage and it’s what husband and wives do.
He has loved me throughout no matter how hard my fibromyalgia has made life and we do have a rather nuts but secure little enclave in our home for our children to grow up. Strong would be to throw that all up in the air and live with the uncertainty that a marriage break up brings to all parties. Mr Kimlin becoming Amanda is just a minor speed bump in an otherwise happy marriage.
This quote is a little cheesy but I found it on Pinterest and it fits here.
I am bedbound today due to my Fibromyalgia. Hubby is in the process of pulling out our old bathroom so she can fit our new one. (Due to having Banana-Bug in a cast we can't really get a move on with it until August now but we can get the floor sanded and sealed). To the left is Kwaazi - he's a moggie we rescued from the SPCA. As a family we like to think he's really a Norwegian Forest Cat.
At my bedroom door is a laundry basket with a hula hoop propped up on it. A device of death as I'm not walking well.
Sausage: It's for the cat to jump through.
Me: Of course it is that's my first thought.
Sausage: And then we can applaud him.
He shoves the cat.
Sausage Come on cat, kitty, kitty, cat (his usual cat charming powers seem to be failing him)
Cat looks about as impressed as myself.
Seriously if I was one of our pets there would be far more biting and scratching of littlies.
And as I'm writing this the cat proves me wrong and neatly jumps through the hoop. We all cheer loudly. Even the misery guts that is Banana-Bug joins in.
Sausage: The cat's gone. I can't find him.
I have Fibromyalgia and this week it has been kicking my tail more than it has done since I started my vegan diet. It brought to mind a story I had written about the time just after my diagnosis.
One of Mayhem's biggest champions was a wonderful author and reviewer who had Fibromyalgia. She was determined that the story wouldn't settle for any old publisher ;) Sadly, she died in 2013.
**********TRIGGER WARNINGS (CONTAINS SPOILER) *************
This story is bloody miserable and it is about euthanasia
Fibromyalgia was the White Witch who waved her wand and turned lives to constant winter. Aslan could come and make it spring again but there was no telling when or if that would ever happen.
The Wallace and Grommit alarm clock on the bedside table told her it was one. Afternoon probably. It was awful dark for day though. It could be one in the morning. Apparently, the date was 09 06 98. An anniversary of sorts. Her life had ended three years ago, exactly, or maybe exactly but twelve hours ago.
Snow fell, thickly, outside her bedroom window. She watched it and felt nothing. Feelings required energy from her that she didn't have to give. Even with the curtains open it was dark and grey; it sucked the colour and the vibrancy out of the tiny room.
Fibromyalgia. She'd never heard of it before that day. Take these tablets and follow the instructions in the leaflet. They had said. You should return to something approaching a normal life. They had said. Don't worry it's not a life threatening condition. They had said. They being the medical profession. The same people that couldn't tell her why she had gone from swimming, dancing, playing rugby and working a physical job to staring at the ceiling drooling. Dribbling was nice; it created a sensation on her chin and it was one of the few things her body could still do. I'm not going to die! I'm not going to die! I'm not going to die! She wasn't sure at which point the jubilation of those words turned into dread. Dread that she would have to face the next day.
Lazy, self indulgent, mental were all names those who should care had called her. Her last visit to A&E had seen humiliation at the hands of a sadistic bitch of a doctor. She wished she had the energy to be lazy or self indulgent. The brain power to be mental was a dream she had. Maybe they were right. There were many days when it felt like she was watching someone else's life. She'd stopped living.
Children played outside the flats, throwing snowballs at each other. They built a massive snowman in the car park. The obnoxious man from across the road stopped his car and yelled at them because he couldn't drive into his spot. They swore back at him and refused to move.
She watched them and wanted to smile but she couldn’t manage the energy to feel the emotion to drive it. Caring about another required her to find some vitality that she couldn't afford to share.
Stuck three floors up she hadn't made it downstairs to the living room in a month. Outside would be a mission to boldly go where she had never been before – well it felt like it anyway. She tried to open the window, desperate to for the cold and to breathe the fresh air, but she couldn't. Her hand was too stiff to grasp the handle.
There was no response.
She remembered. Her mother had gone to the shops with her brother. Tears would be a release but she didn't have the energy. She lay back on her bed and stared at the mushy pea green ceiling. Her sensitivities meant that she couldn't change the colours of the room; she'd chosen the dolphin wallpaper when she was sixteen. At twenty-four it seemed childish and the hues evoked a cell in Wormwood Scrubs; some cells in prison had to be bigger and prisoners got an hours exercise. She knew each speckle on the ceiling personally. One night she'd named them. Seventy-two hours of pain: too sore to stand, too sore to sit and too sore to lie down. She had considered getting her brother to stick naked men up there but her mother wouldn't have liked it.
“We're home. You OK up there?” The front door closed. And she heard the rustle of plastic bags in the kitchen. She couldn't remember the last time she'd been to a supermarket. ASDA or Tesco – which one had they gone to?
“Yeah, Mum.” She wasn't OK. She had not been OK for three years. The novelty had worn off. Few people still remembered her, let alone cared whether or not she wasn't OK.
“Do you want anything?”
“World peace and perfect skin.” What she really wanted was to watch TV but she couldn't concentrate on anything and it bothered her eyes.
“Shout if you do want anything.” In an earlier life she studied for a degree and even considering a postgraduate course. On a good day, if she was lucky, she could read Thomas the Tank Engine or the Australian story about the Magic Pudding.
With bowed legs, she waddled to the bathroom. She didn't know why her knees wouldn't straighten up, her brain told them to but they wouldn't obey. All she needed was a pee. It was barely worth the trip down the landing. The walls in there were a cheerful pink. She sat on the toilet until she got together the energy for the walk back to bed. Pins and needles built in her feet until it was unbearable. She could feel the ring forming on her arse. The indentation would be something to feel later.
Attempts to move her feet failed. Damn! Life support only: when her body shut down all non essential functions. Her arms stopped and her head flopped. She had a choice – spend an hour waiting for the feeling to come back or....
That's right – total and utter humiliation.
Literally caught with her pants down. She wished. Sex was a distant memory and an activity she wished she'd participated more in when she could. Adrian had stuck by her until the drooling started and the bad temper has developed into a roaring fury.
Mum took her time. These days she seemed to be slowing down. In the early days, when she'd first come home everyone had leapt to see to her every need and comfort. Now they knew she wasn't dying the novelty had worn off.
“Oh, dear.” Her mother said. She could have been talking to a toddler who'd had an accident.
Damn! Bugger! Blast! And all other expletives. She wanted to use some stronger ones but not with her prim-and-proper mother around. Even in her head it felt wrong. Her Mum was even smaller than her at just barely 4ft11 and she'd aged recently. Hanging over Mum and having her pyjama trousers pulled up usually left them laughing but today her mother didn't even make an effort to smile.
“Tom! I need help.”
Crap! And now her brother was needed. Her mother and brother were laughing and joking, but whilst she heard the words she couldn’t process them into sentences. Her body remained stiff. They carried her back to bed. It always hurt her arms so much when they carried her like this. Laid flat on her bed she still wasn't moving.
“Try to sleep now.”
In other words one of my shows are on and I don't want disturbing.
Downstairs life went on without her. Her mum and brother cooked the dinner she didn't want. Lasagne and garlic bread it smelled like. It used to be one of her favourites. Her arms weren't moving and she'd need to be fed like a baby. Today, that would be a humiliation too far.
Outside children played, car doors slammed. Christmas was coming apparently. Like that changed anything. They'd be having fun and she wouldn't be able to join in. Her only contribution was needing cared for.
Oblivion in the form of sleep did arrive. At some point during the night her limbs broke free of their self imposed cocoon and the movement woke her up. The indentations from the toilet incident had gone.
She waddled to the window. The snow lay thick on the ground and the world glowed orange beneath the street lights.
Her brother snored in the next room.
Wallace and Grommit proclaimed one o'clock. Probably in the morning this time. Twelve hours had passed and the highlight had been getting stuck on the toilet.
She could not face another dawn.
Underneath her bed was the box. She'd planned this and it contained her note, financial details, will and the means to end her suffering: sleeping pills, painkillers and anti depressants. Since she’d been diagnosed she’d stockpiled all the tablets she’d been given that did nothing to make her life better. They ate her brain, made her itch and want to vomit.
This wasn't about dying. Her life had ended three years and twelve hours ago.
Her hand shook, but the thought of not dying and living like this for maybe another forty or fifty years drove her to take pill after pill. If God wouldn't answer her prayers and take her away then she had to do it herself.
Some said the pain was unreal that she just wanted attention, because every twenty-one year old on the brink of a fascinating new career throws it all away to lie in bed screaming in pain and drooling. Day after day. All she did was hold back those closest to her. Her head felt light and the road to freedom had begun. She'd read about the convulsions and losing control of her bowels, but it would be fleeting.
The brief note on her bedside table read:
To Mum and Tom
Heaven, hell or oblivion, no matter
for it will be bliss.
Taken from this Earthly shell to
a place away from pain
Don't fret about me.
I'm content to wait
until we meet again.
The Kimlin Family