Saturday, December 23, 2006
Inside the temple
Saturday Cuppa: nutmeg and cloves in gently warmed grape juice
I was chatting to a lovely friend in Australia this week, when she mentioned near the end of the phone conversation that she was looking forward to reading my blog on Saturday. I hinted that, actually, I was unlikely to write one this week as I was having an emotionally-shite time and didn’t want to put such negative energy into the ethers.
Her belief was that it would be good to share my human side. Oh really? Although I enjoy reading other people’s blogs and online journals, warts and all, I didn’t feel the same would apply to anything that emerged from my keyboard!
Seems rather synchronous that my emotions this week are symbolically being played out by the weather! Cold, deep, dense fog. Almost claustrophobic! Can’t see!
A few events happened this week which brought old demons, blocks and lessons to the surface. I’m struggling to learn them. As someone who likes to get to the bottom of things; to know the reason *why* for everything, I’ve found life challenging.
It started with the car failing its MOT. Fairly predictable, but we always get it through a second time. Not now. Our little blue beasty is destined for recycling and we have till the end of December to get another car. I’ve spent a sleepless week with chronic anxiety-induced insomnia… Maths and numbers make me nauseous at the best of times, but when the maths don’t add up, when the expenses are greater than the income, when there is no income for January ~ it can make a girl near vomit with stress.
What has disappointed me most is that I’ve got all the ‘tools’ for getting through a situation like this. They’re called ‘trust’, ‘faith’ and ‘hope’. They embrace a deep knowing that we’re one with the Universe and the answers to everything are never outside of ourselves, but always, always, always INSIDE. So why didn’t I just go and meditate? Why didn’t I just ‘let it go’ and know things would work out in Divine Order?
I’ve spent the week mentally trying to ‘make’ things happen. But there is a world of difference between making and creating. To create our reality (consciously) we have to allow. The process has to happen without our control. Therein does lie my sticky point. I like to control things down to the last full stop. That’s ok if you’re dealing with a sentence, but totally useless if you’re living the metaphysical life!
Each of us live in a glorious temple assigned by our Maker. We have a duty to look after this place we call our body. My temple, this week, has felt like a prison. I created a Boxing Ring inside my head; my brain screeching around like a headless chicken looking for answers, practical and symbolic. I’ve had the Headache from Hell these past few days ~ torturing myself instead of nurturing the Inner Space. Stupid, clearly. I’ll learn. The side effects of worrying about getting a car took me into a painful place on all levels, but mostly it took me away from being in the present. And it is when we’re in the present moment, we’re at our most powerfully creative. We’re in the zone.
We live eight miles from our nearest town yet life without a car is no-no unless you have a piece of land and are self-sufficient. The pressure of acquiring another set of wheels has really brought home to me that I need to get my butt into gear to create the lifestyle I want before the shit hits the fan in terms of global warming and other *predicted* changes to humanity and Mother Earth.
Coinciding with the car challenge was a letter from the courts announcing the payments we’d have to make on the CCJ.
Those who’ve read The Mother since the beginning will know we had a piece of land called Earthsong. We bought a 4 acre piece of agricultural land in 2003. It had not a single tree on it, but had been used for 100+ years for grazing sheep.
In this field were wrapped my lifelong dreams ~ a place for my children to grow in harmony with nature. I wanted with all my heart to give them a piece of magic from my own childhood….the joy of being surrounded by wildlife and the freedom to play in nature.
We had big plans. Over the course of a couple of years we planted about 600 trees ~ half of these were fruit trees (apples, cherries, plums, peaches, apricots) and others were natives. Mostly they were planted in a bitter and icy winter wind, with snow on the ground. Not pleasant, but oh so worth it. Or so I thought!
There were also 100 blueberries and 100s of raspberry canes. A commercial sized polytunnel was erected along with a shed where we provided shelter for 4 billy goats and 5 cockerals ~ all rescued from being someone’s dinner. I spent many sweaty moments in the polytunnel, wearing nothing but my wellies. Ok, don’t ponder that too long! But I really loved being there with the girls. We’d get so excited at every little stage of a plant’s growth. Food wise, we were pretty self sufficient during the growing season.
I was always at my happiest when on that piece of land. Loved getting my hands in the dirt, watching seedlings emerge, hearing the birdsong, watching the moon rise and the sun set. It was also a great physical blessing from all the long hours spent each evening on the computer putting The Mother magazine together. The joy we all felt the first spring after planting the fruit trees when the blossoms came along was just so soul-nourishing. I felt I’d found my purpose in life. To nurture myself and my family through Mother Earth. My longer term goal was to share this organic orchard and vegetable box scheme with the community. I wanted there to be somewhere people could gather for local food after the oil runs out. People naively think we’re going to seamlessly go from a fossil-fuel based lifestyle to something else…well, folks, not before a hell of a lot of chaos and turmoil.
But for some reason my dream wasn’t meant to be…
Almost to the day we signed the papers for the land, the neighbour whose field we had a right of way through, started harassing us in one way or another. He told us we didn’t have a right of way and we certainly couldn’t take our car across the field anymore than we could (wait for it) grow fruit, vegetables or flowers. They’re not agriculture!
Typical Cumbrian Farmer mindset, agriculture is only about killing sheep, cattle and growing wheat.
To cut a very long story short, the right of way that came with my land purchase was drawn up in 1991. Here’s the irony ~ it was drawn up by a firm of solicitors called Arnison and Co. (based in Penrith, Cumbria) who would then go on to act for the neighbouring farmer, Geoffrey Purdham, in court.
Talk about conflict of interest or what?!
You see, when Arnison and Co. drew up the right of way, they used a statement from the then owner of my land saying he’d always had free and easy access to his field. It even included a deed showing exactly where to travel across. They removed some of the words from his statement, such as ‘he always used for it all purposes connected with the ownership and enjoyment of the land’. I had a copy of his hand written statement. It came with my land purchase.
Legally, they could not draft a right of way based in his say so. LEGALLY, the right of way needed the express permission of Joyce Armstrong (Geoffrey Purdham’s mother in law ~ legal owner of the land).
How the solicitors, Cartmell and Shepherd, who acted for George Hogarth (the man I would buy the field from) didn’t pick up on this deception and deliberate trick is beyond me. Why do I know it was deliberate?
George Davidson didn’t actually enjoy a good relationship with the Armstrong/Purdham family. His brother was too scared to come to court as a witness for me, but I found out off the record. He was always bullied and couldn’t wait to sell the land which he’d owned since he was 2 years old. He sold it off the open market to George Hogarth, knowing that they could never get legal permission from the nasty Armstrong/Purdham families. The Armstrong and Purdhams always wanted Earthsong (formerly Rye Close), they just didn’t want to pay for it! They made no secret of how angry they were that it was sold privately to me, rather than being given the chance to buy it themselves.
Had honesty in all dealings occurred way back in 1991 I would not be in the position I am in today. A detailed explanation of the terms of any right of way would have been very clear.
How my solicitor didn’t pick up on this dodgy drafting in 2003 will always remain a mystery to me. Perhaps from his point of view it was just not worth going into...perhaps he crossed his fingers and hoped for the best?
How odd that he quoted me £300 to deal with the land purchase and I end up with a bill for £1200. What on earth did I pay for? We spent so much time talking about the right of way and its implications.
Geoffrey Purdham felt very threatened by a woman in wellies and two young girls crossing his field every day to go plant vegetables and for the girls to play on their swing. The two previous owners rarely went to the field…only attending to move sheep on or off. And here was some woman acting like she owned the place!
On the weekend that the first Mother magazine camp was held ~ a bunch of friends camping on Earthsong ~ Mr Purdham’s two sons came racing up into the field on their quad bikes, with no respect or caution towards the toddlers running around.
The told me I had to use a different track to get to my field (about two metres to the side of where I’d been driving). When I pointed out to them that I was using my legal right of way and going exactly where the deed map suggested, they looked at me blankly and said I had no right of way.
Shortly after I received a nasty letter from Arnison and Co. telling me that I didn’t have a right of way. Oh to have been a fly on the wall in their office when I immediately wrote back saying I did have one and they should know since they drew it up in 1991!!
We spent the next TWO YEARS locked in legal battle. It was nightmarish. All I wanted to do was grow things. In hindsight, I guess I was growing. Spiritually. Only thing is it still doesn’t feel like it.
During this time I consulted a psychic. When I asked her if I’d win the court case she said the spiritual balance was on my side. Idiot me assumed that was a *yes* in the courtroom.
We were charged with (wait for this coz it is so outrageously idiotic) TRESPASSING (two metres at most to the left of where their tractor ruts ran to an adjoining field?) and not using an agricultural vehicle.
My solicitor (apparently an EXPERT in agricultural law!!) said the car wasn’t an issue. We used it for agricultural purposes ~ end of story. He consulted someone very high up in legal agricultural circles.
The claimants were also trying to stop us having people come to the land despite there not being anything in the right of way about limiting access to people.
The issue of where the right of way ran was where all the focus went. More than £1000 was spent to get Richard Parker, a land agent, to come and oversee some trench digging with the view of determining which track had been there the longest. The owner previous to me (who was our witness in court) said he’d always used the track I had (as per our deed) and so had the previous owner.
The claimants got a friend in to dig their own trench just before this ‘official’ digging and how bazaar to see the earth beneath our track full of rocks and stones PROVING that our track was recent and couldn’t possibly be the legal right of way. They took photographs of this for evidence and then covered their side of the track up leaving ours open and the track inaccessible. How bizaar to then have it officially dug up with witnesses and for the land agent, Richard Parker, to declare there was NO difference between tracks. Funny that, the claimants must have thrown rocks into the trench where our track run. Even the judge must have thought so as he said their photographs couldn't be used as evidence!!
During the two years they put all sorts of obstacles in the way ~ mountains of turnips, cow shit hills, trailers…even putting a dangerous bull in the field so the girls would be scared to walk across it! Bastards. Ironically, for the most part, we were unable to use the car as Geoffrey had made ridiculously deep tractor ruts that not even a 4 wheel drive or some smaller tractors could negotiate. The track they wanted us to use ran on a camber making it dangerous for most vehicles ~ and that’s just in dry weather!
My solicitor introduced me to a litigator with the firm Burnetts, Patricia Hall. She would represent me in court. I know what I’m about to write is soooo judgemental and I hate myself for it, but it’s the truth and I think it is significant in that I should have followed my gut instinct.
She was a middle aged, grey woman wearing a very old, worn navy blue suit ~ the top of which was littered with dandruff. Now I’m no beauty queen or model, but my immediate thought was that if she, at an income of £160 an hour, couldn’t look after herself, how the hell could she look after me? And I was right.
I never warmed to her despite trying really hard (honest!) to not think about the desiccated coconut landing everywhere. Her motive from start to end was about money. It was NEVER about helping me or my family. It was such a rude shock after our solicitor who, despite incompetently missing the right of way thingy, was a genuine, kind and very nice man. I felt like I’d been kicked in the stomach.
On the eve of the court case, by which time we had 3 aerial shots of the land over the course of about 30 years and the claimants had all sorts of friends, relatives and lovers as witnesses, I wondered what we were walking into.
Patricia Hall said to me that I should just give the Purdhams my land in lieu of their costs to day (approx £7000). I immediately left her office crying all the way home.
After the court case she denied saying such a thing. However, something like that is not easily forgotten and she knows as well as I do that she’s lying.
It’s a statement I will never forget for no other reason than that land was my HEART AND SOUL. Every ounce of my being was planted into that moist, fertile soil. Why would I just GIVE them everything I was fighting for? Did she think I was an idiot? Clearly.
I made the momentous decision to represent ourselves in court. Paul and I were so ill with stress by this point. I aged ten years! We couldn’t sleep, we could barely talk. Legal papers were a nightmare. I did a lot of swearing and not acting terribly lady-like (the term fish wife sounds pretty accurate!) when talking to my one and only witness, George Hogarth. He lives about 200 metres up the road in the village so the last thing I wanted was to create an enemy nearby. It was bad enough having Purdhams two miles away giving us evil eyes every time they drove past our house.
George wanted to pull out of the court case. He said it was too difficult with being a farmer in this community. He still maintained I was in the right and all his workers could verify that.
I won’t say what I said, but suffice to say George and one worker came to court with us.
It was two hellish days with Stoat and Weasel (Trevor price from Arnison and Co. and some other irritatingly nasty litigator they’d brought up from Manchester) acting like pricks the whole time. You’d have sworn we’d tortured and killed 1000 newborn babies, rather than driven across a bloomin’ field!
In our favour was the nicest judge you could imagine. However, it was during this very expensive trial that it emerged I didn’t have a right of way because Mrs Armstrong had never given permission.
The judge told me we’d had very bad legal advice.
Clearly he wanted to do everything he could to help us. I got away with saying a lot of things in court that I simply wouldn’t have had I paid someone £160 an hour to be my mouthpiece. Best decision we made was doing it ourselves! Every so often he’d sigh, and say in his posh voice, “Now Mrs Robinson, you simply can’t say that in a court of law…”
Er, can’t I? Too late, I just did!
Here’s the real kicker though. Judge James of Carlisle Crown Court used the court case to ‘create’ a right of way for me. Oh, how lovely. Well, it wouldn’t have been in theory. In real life what it meant was that the claimants had to make a decision about whether to determine the vehicle we used to access the field or the nature of what we used the land for.
They opted for us to get an agricultural vehicle because being the collective nasty piece of work they are, they knew we didn’t need a tractor or 4 wheel drive.
Their motivation was to financially ruin us and to get our land.
The judge ruled that we could have anyone we wanted onto our land for any purpose (read: VICTORY!!!!! In terms of a community orchard and PYO veg box scheme) as long as they walked across the right of way or came across in an agricultural vehicle.
As for the right of way, the judge could clearly see from the aerial photos that whatever track had been used over time, it certainly wasn’t set in stone, but moved around the place! He came out and marked where the track had to go and ordered that the claimant not leave tractor ruts…at any time. He said they had to put in a flat, useable track. Poor babies nearly cried when they told the judge it would be a civil engineering job (the track is on a camber). He was very short with them and said QUOTE “So what!? Mrs Robinson has enough money to pay.”
That was August 2005. The claimants have never fixed the track. They pulled out the posts the judge put in to mark the track. They covered the gate to their field in barbed wire so no one can climb over it.
One day Geoffrey and Margaret Purdham trapped my girls and I in the car (him with his tractor in front, and her in the 4 wheel drive behind). He was f***** and blinding and banging on the windscreen. My girls were screaming. It took every ounce of will power not to slam my foot down and run him over (protective mother bear urge). The police later told me I’d have been in my rights! If I’ve got any regrets in life...ok, ok, I won’t go there!!
What sort of man traps a woman and two little girls like that? He’s an ugly (sorry, accurate description, I’m not beholding him in the Light very well!), large built man who has spent his life bullying everyone. All the farmers knew he was a bully well before I bought the land. He’s treated everyone like shit and always, always, always gotten away with it.
I don’t imagine he ever thought we’d stick it out till the court room. They probably thought a few scary letters from Arnison and Co. would do the trick.
Trouble is, I was fighting for my life. For everything I believed in. For my gift to my children. I also knew the financial consequences of losing. I spent two years in fear of not only losing the land and being forced to go bankrupt, but a double blow of losing The Mother magazine too. It all felt terribly unfair.
We were ordered to pay 2/3 of the claimants costs. That’s about £8 600. A bargain really, as I’d picked up in a court session recently that it was about £3000 less than I expected. Trevor Price nearly passed out on the spot when he realised the court costs didn’t include his two days in court! Wahooo….a moment of justice when the judge said it was tooooo late to claim it.
What I will never understand is this: if the court case was used to create the right of way, then how can we possibly be charged for any ‘offense’ that occurred before that date? It’s just not logical! (Any ethical solicitors reading this, an insight would be valued).
After the attack by Margaret and Geoffrey Purdham (he was later charged by the Crown Prosecution Service ~ thankfully the girls and I didn’t have to attend, they used our written statements to prosecute) I came to the very painful realisation that I had to stop fighting this. That as long as they lived, we’d never be able to truly enjoy the land. We knew it had to go. We sold it at a huge financial loss. We could never sell it as agricultural land without ripping all the trees out. It was sold as is and the trees will remain and nurtured in a permacultural way. The owners are friends who just want to fill the earth with trees. It’s the only blessing (that I can see) to have come out of this.
In the end, it wasn’t all the money that went down the drain, or even the hundreds of trees we’d not get to enjoy harvests from...it was about the loss of a dream.
Last year a special friend lost her baby at birth. I couldn’t imagine going through something so horrendous and having to get up each morning and put one foot in front of another. I felt childish, selfish and stupid for drowning in my emotional and spiritual sorrows. I simply and regrettably wasn’t there for her in the way a friend should have been.
What I was going through was ‘nothing’ compared to her grief. I’m not even going to pretend they’re in the same category.
And yet, we all go through our lessons, whatever face they wear. I was grieving too. My heart had been ripped out, a large part of me taken away. I don’t know if anyone else can understand such pain and hurt.
Why have I written about all this? Because when the court letter came this week ordering us to pay 3 times the amount each month than we said we could pay, I also had a letter from Burnetts saying that my solicitor William Green had moved and someone else would be replacing him.
I saw red. Why would I ever want to use them again? I saw red at the court letter too. How arrogant, selfish and unconscious to think we can magic up three times the amount we’re able to pay?
And it was in the *seeing red* that I realised I have got so much healing to do. There is so much anger and venom in me still…and it is easy to forget that it is eating me up all the time, not just when I’m consciously thinking about it.
Our blocks rise up like the Himalayas to greet us. They come us gifts for us to love, melt and heal. I’m at a loss though. In my head, I know I need to forgive. I need to forgive the solicitors and litigators in their suits, hand-stitched in arrogance. I need to forgive the Armstrong and Purdham families, each and every one of them deliberately nasty.
And clearly I need to forgive myself. Right now it is so much easier said than done. Everyone has made money out of my suffering and they’ve gotten away clean-scott with their incompetencies…
I’m 39 this week. I’d like to let go and start living. I need some emotional freedom.
The car and lack of money issue made me realise almost every job I’ve done has been for love and for very little money. I have been trying to understand why money is such an issue…both through job/lifestyle choices and then wicked twists of fate like the county court judgement. Why haven’t I been able to create a wonderful income consistent with jobs of integrity and honesty?
I had an abundant childhood. I truly did. The only thing I can trace back to, that might possibly lead to blocks of self-worth, may be to do with one of the men who sexually abused me...my uncle willy (or villy if you say it with the german accent).
As a little girl I adored that man. I don’t remember the first time he sexually abused me…but I do remember all the times of feeling uncomfortable. The thing about my uncle was that he always gave me money. Loads of it. I can’t help but wonder if somewhere deep in the dark hole of my subconscious I have a belief connecting the receiving of money with betrayal. Is there a ‘catch’ with receiving money? Do I, at a deep, fundamental level believe that money comes at a price?
My ego wants answers. My thumping headache wants justice!
If there are any intuitives, psychics or other ‘genuine’ people in touch with a pure universal energy that could shed light on the WHY of my experiences in the past few years, I’d be ever so grateful for your insights. I really would.
They say, astrologically, we often have big changes around about our birthday. I’m trusting, hoping and praying that this turn of the sun in Capricorn will bring me wisdom, peace and allow me to truly forgive...no strings attached.
Had a lovely gift this week…from Shazzie. Something she gave to share with all her friends and family. It brought a tear to my eye. Maybe it means so much more in light of my own feelings towards protecting the planet, and personally nurturing a bit of mother earth.
She wrote: “I've bought 20 acres of threatened land that will be preserved for ever and ever (along with its wildlife) through the World Land Trust http://www.worldlandtrust.org/. I also haven't bought any cards for ecological reasons. Much as I love them, I just can't do it anymore.”
And finally, you know how much I love my page three stories in The Mother. Well, here’s one for this week’s blog. May Christmas and New Year be everything you’ve imagined it to be.
With all my love, the-very-human Veronika.
Brother Like That
Author UnknownA man named Paul received an automobile from his brother as a Christmas present. On Christmas Eve when Paul came out of his office, a street urchin was walking around the shining new car admiring it. "Is this your car, Mister?" he asked.Paul nodded. "My brother gave it to me for Christmas." The boy was astounded. "You mean your brother gave it to you and it didn't cost you nothing? Boy, I wish..." He hesitated.Of course Paul knew what he was going to wish for. He was going to wish he had a brother like that. But what this lad said jarred Paul all the way down to his heels."I wish," the boy went on, "that I could be a brother like that."Paul looked at the boy in astonishment, then impulsively he added, "Would you like to take a ride in my automobile?""Oh yes, I'd love that." After a short ride, the boy turned with his eyes aglow and said, "Mister, would you mind driving in front of my house?"Paul smiled a little. He thought he knew what the lad wanted. He wanted to show his neighbors that he could ride home in a big automobile. But Paul was wrong again. "Will you stop where those two steps are?" the boy asked.He ran up the steps. Then in a little while Paul heard him coming back, but he was not coming fast. He was carrying his little crippled brother. He sat him down on the bottom step, then sort of squeezed up against him and pointed to the car."There she is, Buddy, just like I told you upstairs. His brother gave it to him for Christmas and it didn't cost him a cent. And someday I'm gonna give you one just like it...and you can see for yourself all the pretty things in the Christmas windows that I've been trying to tell you about."Paul got out and lifted the lad into the front seat of his car. The shining-eyed older brother climbed in beside him and the three of them began a memorable holiday ride.That Christmas Eve, Paul learned what Jesus meant when he had said: "It's more blessed to give..."