Thursday, November 16, 2006

Lost for Words

I probably shouldn’t be blogging about this, but then no-one reads this blog anyway, and I really feel as if I must say something or explode.

Husband’s sister was murdered last week by her son. He hasn’t been tried yet, but it’s pretty obvious it was him. He’s been charged. I did not know Sister-in-Law very well. I’ve probably spent time with her no more than 20 times in my life – but still! The first time I ever met her was at Christmas more than 20 years ago. She seemed like a very nice, pretty young woman. And she remained through everything on the occasions that I met her very nice. That’s what the neighbours said when the papers interviewed them – we didn’t know her, but she seemed nice.

Anyway, she went and got pregnant and decided to have the baby – the boy who 19 years later murdered her. She had the baby, the father pissed off, and her life from then onwards was ruined. We were living in London at the time and I remember asking Husband if we shouldn’t try to get her to let us look after the baby because she seemed so ill-equipped to do it. I still have pictures of Nephew in his baby bath, pulling books out of our bookshelves. He was a sweet blond lovely baby. But we didn’t do anything.

She drifted on. She moved back to the hometown. She kept on having mental breakdowns and being sectioned. She was on medication for all these episodes. She had a brief marriage to this alcoholic guy, from which she had another son, who is now in foster care. Then she managed to get rid of the husband, and had an even briefer liaison with a schizophrenic she met in hospital, which resulted in yet another son, who was taken from her at birth. The last time I saw her oldest boy, he was 12 years old and seemed like a perfectly nice normal young lad, in spite of everything.

We would hear snippets from Husband’s parents about the Nephew – he was in trouble with the police for typical teenage stuff, he’d gone to live with his dad, he was back, he didn’t like his dad’s discipline, he preferred to be with his mother, he was going to catering college, he was doing drugs, but nothing heavy. Obviously he wasn’t doing well, but nothing too dramatic.

Then last week Mother-in-Law tries to call her daughter but gets no reply. For some reason, she gets worried and calls the police. The police go round the next morning and break into the flat and find her dead.

Every time we hear, the story gets worse. First we just knew that she was dead – and we thought, oh, it was an asthma attack or a heart attack – because she had asthma and she was not healthy and very overweight. Then that the police were treating it as suspicious – OK, that’s normal, for any person to die relatively young, alone, would be treated as suspicious. Then that she had definitely been killed and that the police were looking for her son, who lived in his own flat. So we were horrified and imagined an act of random rage. Then it turned out that she’d been stabbed several times in the neck. Still horrible but no real change in the diagnosis. Then – per the police – that he had tried to cut her head off. That changes it from horrible to psychopathic.

Why would he do that? What was he thinking? What happened to him? Granted he had a pretty crap childhood, but lots of people have equally crap childhoods or worse and don’t murder their mothers or try to decapitate them. How did he change from that sweet blond baby or that perfectly nice boy to a psychopathic thug? I can only hope he was out of his head on drugs at the time. It is a terrible thing when you are hoping that someone was out of their head on drugs because their actions have been such that to think that they were compos mentis when they acted would mean things about them too terrible to contemplate. The police are charging him with murder, not diminished responsibility. Why are they doing that?

What would his life have been like if we’d cared enough to take him from her and bring him up ourselves? Surely he wouldn’t still have grown up to do a thing like this?

I feel like a hundred different kinds of crap. We tried to see her this summer because we hadn’t seen her for 7 years since we left the country, but we see Brother-in-Law and his kids every year when we go back for the holidays. We invited her along but then she said she couldn’t leave home because of the Nephew and we didn’t try to change her mind.

It’s really brought home to me what everybody says when someone dies – you have so many regrets for all the things that you should have said and done but couldn’t be bothered and now there is absolutely nothing you can do. Then I think that there is nothing we can do for her, but that her sons are still alive and maybe we should be doing something for them. But the 2 younger ones have been in foster care for years and maybe it is better to leave them in that stable environment? And as for the older one, although I am sure he is suffering and in hell right now, frankly, I am scared of him. I don’t want it to be me or any of my family who are found on our kitchen floor covered in blood.

Life is terrible, terrible, terrible. It seems so easy when everything is going along on an even keel. And yet it seems so easy for everything to suddenly go terribly wrong. All that is required for happiness is constant attention. And all that is required for unhappiness is constant neglect. For the light to be on. And for the light to be off.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

What Kind of Intelligence Do You Have?

Your Dominant Intelligence is Linguistic Intelligence

You are excellent with words and language. You explain yourself well.
An elegant speaker, you can converse well with anyone on the fly.
You are also good at remembering information and convicing someone of your point of view.
A master of creative phrasing and unique words, you enjoy expanding your vocabulary.

You would make a fantastic poet, journalist, writer, teacher, lawyer, politician, or translator.

What a shame that I'm actually an accountant then!

Degrees of Crap

Life may be crap but at least I have a good digestion!

Sunday, September 24, 2006


The other thing that upsets me is my seemingly total incapacity to make a connection with anyone. I meet new people and I can see that they think I’m interesting and they’d like to get to know me and then somehow the moment passes and I can tell they’ve mentally scratched me off their list of people they’re ever going to connect with and I don’t know how or why or what to do about it.

I just bumped into 4 of the lads from the office as I was coming back from lunch. They were obviously heading off to lunch somewhere – not that I expect to always be invited for lunch with them – I’m the boss after all – but it reminded me that one of them said to me, at his last appraisal, after working daily with me for a year, that he felt he didn’t know me at all. And that was the case: I try to be open with people, but the fact is I never feel comfortable with anyone and therefore they never feel comfortable with me. It is very very rarely that I ever meet someone whom I can relax with. Sometimes I’ve known them for ages and then one day mysteriously I can let down my guard, but I don’t know what has happened that has allowed them to pass the invisible policeman, I don’t know what my own subconscious’ criteria are. Something, I fear, to do with their saying or doing something that let’s me realize that they like me or that they’re not going to judge me.

The Husband clicks with people all the time. He’s somehow mastered the art of not seeming threatening without seeming pathetic. I think I must seem threatening to at least some people because sometimes after I’ve been working with someone for a while, who has always seemed a bit off-ish to me, for some reason I have cause to work a bit more closely with them, and then they realize that I’m not the terrifying judgmental person that they took me to be, and suddenly open up a lot more.

The Boy is a bit Aspergers-ish, there’s no doubt about it, and I am exactly the same way. I never realized this. I spent literally years, like 20 years, thinking, If I feel like this, then other people must too. Then things that friends have said and things that I read gradually made me realize that, statistically improbable though it seems, I am actually not like most people. For one thing, I had to do the Myers-Brigg test at work and came out as an INTJ, which according to the bumph is a combination shared by only 1% of the population – so the chances of my meeting someone who is actually like me is only 1 in a 100. So that made me realize, I’m not kidding myself, I actually am strange. It’s not normal to feel like an intelligent alien who has been sent to this planet and is trying to blend in by careful observation and copying what they see other people do without really understanding why they do it. I mean I know why people behave the way they do – I read a lot and I watch movies and I’ve been told so often enough – I just can’t really believe it when people behave irrationally and unreasonably, so I can never predict that they will behave that way, because it is not the way I would behave myself.

The Story Begins

The Predecessor used to say, when he was doing this job before me – or rather when he was doing half of this job before me – that he used to feel sick at the thought of going into work. Now he has thrown off his shackles and fled to the other side of the world, it is I who feel sick on Monday morning at the prospect of going into work. God, what is wrong with me? A couple of weeks ago, I thought it was just that time of the month – but the time of the month has passed and I still feel terrible. I suppose this job is so constantly assailing of one’s self-confidence and you come in every morning wondering what ghastly new challenge will present itself, and how you will deal with it, and how whatever you do, you will be left feeling as though your response was vaguely lacking. Part of it is my No. 2. The Predecessor always used to say how this person would roll his eyes and generally make him feel as though he was stupid for the questions that he was asking – now he is doing the same to me: not actually rolling his eyes, but questioning my decisions and actions and saying he would have done it differently etc – all very politely but still it rankles. Is he doing it on purpose to undermine me? Or is it just that he has very high standards and, like many engineers, not much of what my old No. 2 in the Other Place used to call “PR”? From what he says, his people feel it too – they seem to be filled with self-doubt, and no wonder, if their boss is constantly making them feel as though what they do is not good enough. I suppose I’d better mention it to him in his appraisal. In many ways he is an excellent performer, it is just that he is too tightly wound, he questions everything, and gets stressed out and stresses everyone else out unnecessarily. As a team there is far too much rumour-mongering and politicking and gossiping going on, with people complaining about wrongs that they imagine are being done to them, all very unhealthy and a far cry from my previous team.

The previous team is still with me, and I’m a bit mystified by my No. 2 on that team as well, who in many respects seems fine, but for some reason never asks me along when they go and get a cup of tea in the morning, which used to happen when I was heading up that team, and which all the other team members still do (invite me, I mean). What’s that about? She started off doing it and then gradually stopped. Is she trying to make a point? Does she dislike me? Is she trying to cut me off from the team? Does she think I’m just not interested in having tea with them and am only being polite? God knows.

Then on Friday afternoon, we met up with the head of some other department for a wrap-up meeting on some project we are working on for them. He was exercised about some detail which would potentially result in some undesired consequence for his project. Was there any way to get around it? No, he was assured by myself and all the other technical experts around the table. I suggested, trying to be helpful, that perhaps the worst case scenario wouldn’t occur because it depended on market factors which might not materialize due to the illiquidity of the market. And he suddenly flashed out saying, we shouldn’t kid ourselves and it was bound to happen etc etc. Puzzling, as he was perfectly civil to and willing to accept all the other equally unhelpful suggestions being promulgated by everyone else. What was that all about? Have I somehow insulted him? Is there something about my manner that encourages people to be squashing? Is it – flattering interpretation – that he finds me threatening/patronizing and is over-reacting (which has certainly been the case with other people before)? I don’t know why I sometimes get this reaction from people, when, in reality, I am about the most agenda-free harmless mild person you could ever hope to come across, and yet a certain kind of person always feels the need to assert their personality against me, as though I gave a tiny little shit about them and their petty insecurities. Perhaps I’ve answered my own question there!

But then at another Big Cheese meeting on Tuesday, when all were inclined to approve a transaction, it was my speaking up and pointing out exactly how it differed from normal transactions that turned the tide against it, in that particular form anyway – so obviously everything I say is not always completely asinine.

Was watching the 3rd part of Lord of the Rings last night and thinking how heroic all these people are and how petty my problems are compared with having to do all those horrible things to save the world from Ultimate Evil etc etc – granted the story isn’t actually true, but after all, people do have to shoulder much worse burdens than I do every day – if I am so stressed out about my tiny little job, how feeble I am compared to even people like the execrable George W Bush.