Thursday, 1 September 2011

Nightmare On Divorce Street

Well, it's a long time since I updated my blog with anything other than the 30 Day Song Challenge (which in my typical style, I started late and didn't finish.) But a lot has happened since then.
At the beginning of 2011 I decided to finally give in in my increasingly unpleasant divorce and sell my home. My soon to be ex husband left me nine years ago when we lived in Kent, far from my family home. I had followed him around the country for ten years as he moved from job to job, and had ended up in Tunbridge Wells. He left me two weeks after my thirtieth birthday. I had been registered blind two years before in 2000 after losing seventy percent of my eyesight in a couple of seconds in 1996 - it was downhill from then on and the vision that was left deteriorated. I've got some left in my right eye but not a lot.
When he left I was miles from home with very little support. A friend of mine called Louise thankfully stepped in and picked me up, helped me claim income support to pay the mortgage, eat, pay the bills, and keep the roof over my head, and for a few years I waded on. If it hadn't been for her I would have honestly sunk, both financially and mentally. She literally saved my life.
Unfortunately I was not able to do the same for her and due to her crushing bipolar depression my dearest friend committed suicide in 2005. I decided that I had nothing to stay in Kent for and every reason to leave, so I approached the absent ex and explained that I would like to sell the home we had formerly lived in together and move back to Norwich, my home town. I explained he could have a large part of the equity in the home if he were prepared to guarantor a mortgage for me on a new house in Norwich, with the express assurance that he would never have to pay for it or any support to me whatsoever (which he hadn't been doing so far anyway). I would put my share of the equity into the new house. He agreed. It was pointed out to me by a solicitor that he in theory should have been paying me maintenance and was likely not entitled to this money in view of a divorce court, because he was gainfully employed, happily housed elsewhere and I was blind and unwaged with little chance of supporting myself except via disability benefits, but I knew he was in thirty grand's worth of debt and could use the money, so I gave it up.
So he got thirty grand and I got to move back home where I could have some sort of support.
Fast forward to 2008, when I decided to pursue a divorce (I had tried previously, twice, but had been persuaded, shall we say, out of it.) As soon as it was apparent that he couldn't bully or threaten me out of it this time, he refused to cooperate with the divorce, dragging his feet with requests for paperwork at every opportunity, refusing to answer letters and going awol from contact from even his own solicitor. Three years on and he has tried to make me sell my home and give him money from it - which he has never lived in nor paid anything towards. He is happily housed elsewhere (where I don't currently know) and gainfully employed, rather amusingly considering his total lack of moral fibre both past and present, as a police officer. I tried to get him to talk it over when it got really nasty, despite being previously advised by my GP to break contact with him for the sake of my blood pressure and sanity. Any attempts to contact him to discuss a solution, whether it be via official mediation or me trying to contact him personal have been rejected via solicitor's letters.
So, two and a half years of someone who previously purported to care about you trying to take your home away tends to wear you down. Although I should have expected this - he left me after all and was not exactly a nice character when he was with me - but I was at first dismayed and upset that he would seek to cause me pain and chaos in this way, knowing that I was severely unwell, virtually blind, and flat broke, all because I wanted to legally cement what he had done emotionally and physically years before, namely end our marriage.
At the beginning of 2011 I decided to give in and sell up. My fibro really turned up the heat in September 2010 and has not let up since, and I can't manage on my own anymore, it's plain. The constant stress was killing me, the house is in a less than happy state of maintenance as I've had neither the money nor the energy to do it, and my neighbour has caused me no small amount of distress with his aggressive behaviour. And I love my fiancé, who is prepared to take me in and care for me when I can't look after myself, and give me some semblance of a normal life where your partner isn't cheating on you, emotionally abusive, occasionally violent or getting into massive amounts of debt behind your back. Thank God for him. With all this I figured why fight it ? Just sell it and pay the ex off even if he isn't entitled to the money and hopefully he'll leave you alone.
So, now we are in September 2011 and I have managed to get soon to be ex to agree to getting £22,000 from the sale of MY home (I will get much much less than that due to the property crash), and have agreed to waive all rights to his extremely adequate pension and any other capital claims. Basically in order to obtain a divorce from a man who abandoned me without a penny to my name nine years ago I have had to give up everything I have and pay him a very large sum of money. All in all he'll have had £52,000 out of the sale of both houses, past and present, and keep his pension. I pay the mortgage off, estate agents and conveyancers and I'll get £12,000. By the time the credit cards debts have been paid (running a house is expensive when you own it and survive on benefits - it owns you !) there will be around four grand. Then there's my matrimonial solicitor's bill, whatever that is likely to be. Ah well, it's only money.

There are a few lessons to be learned from this in my experience.
One - the legal system in this country is not, as people would suggest, weighted towards an unwaged (and disabled) wife on legal aid. The legal help coffers are so squeezed these days that solicitors who undertake publicly funded legal work are often not prepared to take your case to court even if you will win (and arguably my solicitor should have taken my case to the court as soon as the ex tried to get me to sell up) because it costs money. And by the way, legal help still isn't free - anything over about £900 in charges and you will pay the rest if you recover property or money from the settlement. This is called the "statutory charge". I have that to look forward to after it's all over. My ex of course is paying his solicitor from the word go - which makes her much more invested in getting what he wants.
Two - if you hang on in a fight with a pig, the pig will enjoy it and you will just get dirty.

Sometimes it's worth it to fight. But sometimes for the sake of your health and sanity it's better to give the bastards what they want and walk away. Once they're gone they can't hurt you again.

So here we are - the contracts are about to be signed on the house (first ex has to do this, which he will doubtless fuck about on so I'm not holding my breath) but in theory if ex is prompt in his return of the paperwork we could complete the sale by the 16th of September. I will then move in with my fantastic fiancé who despite seeing me in absolute pieces several times over the last four years (and a couple of times in the last few months !) that we've been together still, for some unfathomable reason, wants to take care of me, love me, and eventually marry me.
The nightmare is nearly over.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

30 Day Song Challenge - Day Eighteen ... An instrumental song you like

Does this mean a song without words, i.e. any piece of music which does not involve a vocal performance ? Or an arrangement of a song which is instrumental but is better known as having a vocal ? As I like instrumentals of all sorts I could have my pick here. I like classical music, I like ambient, I like acid jazz. I like Einaudi. I like The Hilliard Ensemble. I like Jon Hassell. As a teenager I was well into Sky and Mike Oldfield ("Incantations" is my favourite of his works and I still listen to it regularly. "Tubular Bells" I can take or leave.) I would probably say that at least a third of my iTunes library is instrumental. But I especially like film scores.

My favourite film of all time is "Bladerunner", but to pick something from that would be boring and predictable. And although nobody is taking notes or keeping score, I like to amuse myself by finding stuff like this challenge to blither on about. And if I'm going to blither on then I might as well spend some time thinking about it.

Earlier this year one of the greatest (in my opinion, and I'm not the only one) film score composers of all time went to the big auditorium in the sky - Mr John Barry. Famous for several Bond scores, music from "Out of Africa", "Born Free", "Indecent Proposal", "Dances With Wolves" and many more. All great stuff and amazing films. However I think my favourite piece of his is from a film I've never even seen, starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour, called "Somewhere in Time." When I first heard the main theme from the film I had been very recently bereaved, and to say it resonated with me is an understatement. To be fair to the piece, as I recall it fairly grabbed me by the heart and struck me dumb on the spot. I had not seen the film but the idea that somewhere in time we are reunited with those we love can't help but be attractive and comforting to us when we have lost someone. Apparently when John Barry was asked to score the film he had recently lost his father, and he drew very heavily on his emotions when writing the music. I only recently found that out however, but I should have known really. Being the master of his craft that he was, I think that the main theme does not need vocal interpretation to make the emotion felt by the composer obvious, although I understand there is a version with lyrics (I'm not interested - it couldn't possibly add anything to the instrumental version in my opinion.) I believe the music already truly speaks to the heart through the ears.
Whilst looking for YouTube versions to link to I found this performance by Chee-Yun Kim, which in my opinion goes a long way to being just as good as the original score version.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

30 Day Song Challenge - Day Seventeen - The last song in your mp3 folder ZZ Top's "Rough Boy." For me, a song associated with teenage love affairs. It's one of the few songs I have ever requested and had played on a radio station (Radio Broadland, on a Sunday morning, way back when I was a hormonal schoolgirl.) The object of my dedication didn't even know about it as I recall. Aaaw. ;)

Thursday, 7 April 2011

30 Day Song Challenge - Day Sixteen - The first song in your mp3 folder

I am so far behind in this now (having started it on March the 2nd) as to nearly qualify as being ahead for March 2011. Heh heh. ;)
Well, my mp3 folder is organised by iTunes, as I use macs and iTunes and I have several iTunes libraries that are all shared. But if I actually look in the Finder on the primary machine and go to the first folder (which is just named "_" for some reason) in iTunes Music we have a recording from radio of a reading of the book "I Am Legend". But I'm not sure for the purpose of this musical challenge that counts. So the next folder if viewed alphabetically has a number in the filename and contains "In Your Room" by Depeche Mode. This could have easily been a Day 12 song.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

30 Day Song Challenge - Day Fifteen ... A song you liked in high school

I'd say all of the songs I liked in high school I still like. I might have gone off the boil for some of them but I still like them.
When I were but a teenage bimbet I was listening to Mike Oldfield, Sky, Queen and Long John Baldry. Probably not the usual teenage taste of the time. However, I wasn't above a bit of rampant musical commercialism either (anyone who thinks or says they are is a liar who is trying too hard to be cool or interesting, in my experience) and I remember really liking Billy Idol's version of "Mony Mony". And I still do. He may be a bit of a prick now and then but he done some good'uns and you can't argue with his sales figures. Particularly, IMHO, the live version of this, a big hit in 1987 when I was fifteen. This is the official video which doesn't feature the audience participation that has become a tradition at Billy's concerts. ;)

Monday, 28 March 2011

30 Day Song Challenge - Day Fourteen ... A song from the year you were born

When I looked this year up I found that some of my favourite tracks come from this year and I didn't even know it. When I was born (13th October 1972) a song called "Mouldy Old Dough" was at number one in the UK charts apparently. I've never heard it and something tells me that might be a good thing. The charts that year had Alice Cooper, Chicory Tip, America and Gilbert O' Sullivan. And Led Zep's "Rock and Roll" was released as a single. It also had weird floaty prog rock oddness in the form of "Lady Eleanor" by Lindisfarne, which I have always really liked. I like my weird floaty oddness. So there it is - my chosen track from 1972.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

30 Day Song Challenge - Day Thirteen ... A song that you sing in the shower

This could be anything. Anything I have either heard, or am learning or experimenting with, or like, or sometimes don't like and can't get rid of the earworm. So I guess for a singer this question isn't quite as revealing - I'm guessing most people don't sing on a daily basis so if they sing in the shower or car it's because they don't wish to be observed whilst singing. I don't have that, so I can't show a revealing part of me with the answer to day thirteen's question. So should I pick a song that I sing in the shower that I have never sung in public or would be unlikely to sing in public ? Or would be embarrassed to sing in public ? I'm not sure there is a song I would be embarrassed to sing in public as I have no shame (or at least no shame that would actually stop me from singing, anyway ;) )
I think the nearest I can get to the point of the original question is a song I have never sung in public (though I would like to) because I sing this one when nobody is watching. I grew up with songs like this thanks to my grandfather who was a major fan of the goddess that is Dame Shirley Bassey (all hail the sequined diva !) I've never had the opportunity to sing anything like this in public (not sure this is the Secondhand Band's sort of thing, lol) but would love to get all dolled up in something very glam with feathers and sequins and make like the Shirlster. If I look that good at that age I will count myself as extremely fortunate ! But so far the shower is the only place I've ever sung this. Hey, Big Spender ! :)