Monday, 1 February 2010
Changelings in Our Midst
Dear Blog, forgive me but it has been 6 days since I last posted anything. I wish to confess a few things. Of late, I've been a bit fed up. I have had a sort of cold/gut rumble bug thing that won't seem to get on with it and either lay me low or bugger off and leave me be. I have actually applied for a new job. It is in the realm of `community safety`, something more akin to my previous trade or calling which I was glad to walk away from, but now, after more than a few years rest, I feel I can take another dip into this malarkey again albeit in a far less intense role. In fact it is such a peripheral role I wonder if it counts at all as I won't actually deal with bad people, muggers, buggerers, bushwackers, hornswagglers or even methodists. I studied the job description and person spec and I could tick all boxes several times over with knobs on. I am actually a little concerned that I am far more qualified than the person who heads the department. Perhaps the fact that it is only a 12 months contract will be sufficient not to make that person think I might be after their precious job, because I'm not. Anyway, the application has been submitted and I will now wait to hear if I get an interview. The beauty of my situation is that I already have a full time job which I quite enjoy and so even if I'm offered this one, I can still politely decline it if, during the interview (assuming I get one) I smell anything I don't like and that wasn't mentioned in the job spec. What I do like, however, is the fact that it is only 22 hours a week for the same pay I get now. What the employer will get, if they select me, is someone whose actual worth they couldn't afford anyway,but who would be quite content with the salary on offer. The other bonus is that I won't care too much if someone else gets it. That is a very fortunate position to be in and I am very aware of how lucky that makes me. As for the rest of my week, well it was very quiet as my work diary was very light indeed. Mrs H and I went to the cinema and saw Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin in, "It's Complicated", a lighthearted rom-com. That Streep woman is a piece of work. Before the film, Mrs H and I had a light lunch in a Pizza Express, taking advantage of one of their frequent 2 for 1 voucher offers. Go to their website and register at once if you have one of their establishments near you. I'm becoming a right miser. Sitting at a table behind us was a young couple with whom I presumed was their young child. The tot was probably less than a year old, a pretty little thing sat in a high chair and tucking into what looked like dough balls or thin strips of pizza margherita. The couple were probably in their late teens and were pre-occupied with their own conversation which seemed to be conducted in an aggressive phraseology, but for the main part was simply background noise. But when Mrs H and I weren't chatting, we both realised that we'd each picked up on a tone and cadence in the gutteral grunts and staccato sentences behind us that we'd both recognised from our `previous lives`. There was no happiness passing between this couple. The baby girl wasn't being engaged in their conversation at all. She was happily chomping at her doughy pizza bits and occasionally letting out a little squeal or a shout, as kiddies of that age do. The reaction of both parents was, for the bulk of the time, almost complete indifference to the baby's presence. The only time they engaged in communicating with her was to deliver an unnecessarily aggressive rebuke from him or a `ssshh` from her. The kiddie was in no way excessively noisy or disruptive, she was doing really well and just being herself. The couple continued to grunt away at each other but again this was mere background noise, except when baby tried to communicate, at which point the male would again intervene with a few choice phrases that would have got him into trouble if he took that tone with an adult. I paid our bill as Mrs H was in the washroom. It was at this point, as I was punching in my PIN to the billing handset, that I heard teen dad bark the following remark to the baby, "Right, you've got two minutes to finish off that food". On hearing this our server looked up, caught my eye and rolled his. He had also realised that this kiddie was so young as to have no concept of time. He handed me my receipt and moved away. I half turned just as robodad repeated his warning, only this time it was "You have one minute to finish the pizza". A blank expression from tot was then followed by him moving his acne`d face right up to her ear and hissing "Do you want a smacking"? At that moment the little tot's expression immediately turned to one of seriousness and contrition and she instantly bowed her head. She knew what that tone of voice and that one word meant. Their life was none of my business, but had a smacking seemed imminent, I know I would have intervened. I reiterate, she was barely a year old. We enjoyed "It's Complicated" very much, but then we always enjoy anything we do together on our days off. Back at home that evening we watched a DVD we'd been meaning to see for a long time. "Changeling" starring Angelina Jolie, not my favourite actress at all, in fact I find her a bit scary, but she done good in this one. It was a dark and dismal true tale of child abduction and police corruption and hamfistedness that scandalised Los Angeles in 1928. It was a fascinating story and we were both impressed with how Clint Eastwood crafted it , but I cannot say I enjoyed the experience of watching it. In my police career I dealt with very few cases of child abuse, because they were always handled by detectives, but I encountered lots of abused children, many of whom were in hopelessly inadequate and violent families. Mrs H, however, spent five years on specialist investigations that included paedophiles, vice, child protection and domestic abuse. We had tears before bedtime on a number of occasions, which is why we normally avoid watching documentaries on the subject. Perhaps we should avoid watching films like `Changeling` too. We did have some good news this week. In conversation with a former colleague, Mrs H learnt that one of the extremely violent, bullying, wife beating, controlling thugs she managed to get put away a few years back, topped himself recently. We drew some comfort from that, knowing that there will be no more victims at the hands of what was a dangerous psychopath. But of all the events of last week, the one thing that got to me the most was seeing that baby hang its head in shame on hearing the harsh, ugly words hissed into her ear. It really upset me.