Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Season's Greetings

I've spent most of today in bed again, having spent half the night trying not to be sick.

I am determined nevertheless to keep my resolution to do one thing every day this week by way of direct action.

So, today, it was last posting day for Christmas. Time to make sure I got my cards posted.

CAFCASS, the CSA, and every District Judge who has heard your case this year, have got a card.

I have written on behalf of all the children who, like you, but unlike them, will be spending Christmas separated from their families - many of whom, like you, don't get to see their Dads at all.

That is the fruit of their labours this year, and I hope they are proud of themselves. I have no intention of letting them forget about the lives they decimate all year round. Why should they not be troubled at Christmas by the realisation that they are in such a distasteful line of work?

I quoted Luke 18:2 to the Judges, and Proverbs 19:22 to the others. The latter is one of those quotes that just sparkles from the Message paraphrase, (not universally the case!):

"It’s only human to want to make a buck, but it’s better to be poor than a liar."

And on that bombshell of wisdom, time for paracetamol and another attempt at sleep.

Love from Daddy

Monday, 20 December 2010

A right handy Mick

An open letter to the (possibly) imaginary Mick Hancock of the child support agency typed from my sick bed...

Dear Mick,

I am in receipt of your letters of 16 December (from Belfast) and 17 December (posted by your Crewe office but again bearing the address of the Birmingham one), received Saturday and Monday respectively. I'm particularly struck by your travelling prowess at a time of national transport chaos.

You never did explain to me, last time I asked, why you write so many letters to me, from three geographically disparate locations, why you never sign any of them, or why you never write me personal replies when I respond.

We didn't exactly hit it off at the outset, did we. I rang your lot to ask to set up maintenance payments, because my ex-wife was blackmailing me and demanding cash, and you responded with a letter telling me you had been told to make me cough up and threatening me with all sorts.

When I had the temerity to point out that your calculations were wrong, and that it is perfectly possible to set up a four-weekly direct debit, you hit me with a 'deduction from earnings order', without warning. You ignored my correspondence even when it was sent recorded delivery and signed for by your offices, and whilst I was on half pay, signed off work with depression caused by the woman you were raising money for, you saw to it that the majority of my reduced net income disappeared before I even received it. I continue to have to pay my employer a pound every pay day for this 'privilege'.

When I was blowing hundreds of pounds a month on train fare to see my son, receiving not a penny (contrary to court orders) from his mother towards this burden, you not only refused to exercise your right to net these costs off my maintenance burden but offered me a mere £7 a week off for having him to stay.

And so to the latest joke, your letters of this week.

The first, at three pages long, contains just five bespoke words that are not either case references, my address, the date, or standard content.

"Please confirm shared care details"

The second contained no free-form content whatsoever.

Now, you only know about a change because my ex-wife, or more likely her delightful Miss Piggy-lookalike solicitor, has rung you up to claim that I will be seeing less of my son and therefore should be paying more for the privilege. So why not come clean? Why not tell me what you think is the case, who told you, and when? Why not quote the court order that precipitated this request?

As usual, most of the standard content, of which I have lost count of the number of copies in my possession, is just about threatening me. Oh, and you gave me a total of three working days to comply. I am lucky to get a reply at all to my letters, and yet you threaten me with penalties up to and including imprisonment if I don't do as I'm told immediately.

Just as I was thinking of a suitable response to this, along comes your geographically-challenged second letter, saying that the day before, ie the day of the first letter, in which you asked me to confirm what was going on because you 'needed some further information' from me, you had 'considered' the matter and decided that things should stay the same. Where did this 'consideration' take place, since you were clearly on the way from Belfast to Crewe. Somewhere on the A55?

I have no doubt that if I take this to mean the matter is closed, I am likely to get in trouble, and you will start stealing extra money from me again, without warning.

So, by special delivery, so I can prove you recevied it, (because otherwise I might never know!) I attach a copy of District Judge Moon's order of 9 December for your edification. I can offer no further elucidation as to the practical manifestation of the order that my ex-wife 'shall' arrange contact, because whilst she has found the time to come cap in hand to you, she has not found the time to offer me any opportunity whatsoever to see my little boy. A bit like you guys, it's all about the money. In fact, you probably know more than I do. Isn't that lovely.

I can also tell you that as of this week, I am back to full time hours at work. I don't know the details, but you have gone behind my back to my employers in the past and I am not wasting my time finding out when I know you will do so again anyway.

I can hear your cash register jingling already.

I am now amongst the ranks of those whose MP is party to their dealings with the CSA. I am also now publishing your letters on the internet, so that the collective conscience of those who are not on your books might be stirred.

The ridiculous thing is, you had no reason whatsoever to give me a hard time, not least since I came to you in the first place - but I know that CSA isn't about facilitating fair payments, you are all about going for the Dads who pay and squeezing them for all you can get, in order to boost your figures and justify your own sordid existence.

Your dishonesty, incompetence, profligacy and rudeness will come back to bite you, and the women you act as menaces to demand money for.

Perhaps, 'Mick', you would like to give me a personal reply, signed by your own hand, to explain the existence of these two letters and the ridiculous waste of my time and taxpayers' money. I can think of a few more Dads who would like to join with me to meet with you to share our views of your disgraceful organisation. Your place(s) or ours?

Love from Daddy.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

No let up

I'm huddled up on the settee under your little duvet, with a stinking headache.

It's been a busy weekend, exacerbated by appalling weather conditions which have seen one of the street lamps on our road felled by an errant car and left me relying on every last shred of driving talent to avoid binning the little red car on the way to Tesco. I am shot to pieces now.

The Carol service this afternoon was difficult. As ever behind the camera in addition to musical responsibilities, it brought a lump to my throat watching the children with whom you were until lately attending 'mini praise' singing 'Away in a Manger' without you.

It's at such times when instinct tells me I am a father and then the realisation that the facts are now otherwise slaps me in the face.

I am reaching the conclusion that our enforced separation is worse than a bereavement - not least because this is all so cruel and yet so utterly needless.

Beyond that, it is so very difficult to get on with life as there is never any closure for 'we that are left', nor will we rest over the years ahead. We are determined that you will know the truth, that your Daddy loves and misses you. We owe you that.

Neither, it is becoming painfully clear, will Mummy rest until she has destroyed any prospect of me ever being in your life again.

We arrived home yesterday to a familiar standard form letter with a Belfast postmark - the vultures from the CSA are once again circling over the carcass of a father and son's relationship.

In the week after she was awarded an order which despite destroying me stipulated that she must facilitate contact between us, Mummy has been silent towards me on that score.

She has, however, already found the time to contact the CSA to tell them you won't be seeing me and to ask them to squeeze an extra £7 a week out of me.

That sums up how evil your Mummy is. There is no other word for a woman who behaves like that.

We feel so very sorry for her - such inhuman acts betray someone who has deep-seated problems which remain unaddressed for as long as the courts pipe to her tune.

It is very hard to forgive someone for something so profoundly awful when they are still doing it - and not just to you. One day you, as a man, will face the challenge of doing that for yourself.

Unlike, say, Gordon Wilson, who famously forgave his daughter's killers in the Enniskillen bombing, I can't say that nothing can bring you back, because many things patently could. Being angry about all this is therefore rather more logical, because I dare not ever become numbed to what continues to be done to children like you and families like ours when there remains the opportunity to fight for justice and save the children and families of the future from pain and suffering.

Scripture teaches us that Jesus himself showed anger when he turned over the tables in the synagogue, and yet days later as they were crucifying him, he pleaded 'Father, forgive'

It is therefore important that all of those of us wronged with you be not only 'as cunning as serpents' (Matt 10:16, ISV) in challenging evil, but continue to pray for reconciliation and brighter days ahead - for everyone.

That way, I pray that none of us may be chewed up and spat out by our own rancour, but may do right by you and by God.

Love from Daddy.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

The Bleak Mid-Winter

We've been out carolling this morning.

Circumstances have seen to it that this is the first Saturday we've done this Christmas, and sure enough, we picked the coldest, wettest, snowiest day for a while.

Eventually we had to call it quits, as the snow not only soaked us but totally obliterated the music!

I so wish I could take you out to play in the snow. We never ever got the chance. Hopefully you will have some fun wherever you are today.

Love from Daddy.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Dads 0 - 1 Criminal Asylum Seekers

So, let's get this straight. If you kill a child in a hit-and-run, whilst disqualified, both criminal acts, you escape deportation from the country where you were seeking asylum on accout of your right to family life under human rights law.

How can we justify failing to extend this right to our own citizens, who have done nothing criminally wrong?

Who is standing up for my human rights, or yours?

We will both spend this Christmas denied family life together for no good reason whatsoever - perhaps Mr Cameron, you would like to get as angry about that.

Perhaps, sir, you would like to look at the heart-rending pages of Christmas messages being left for lost children on Fathers 4 Justice's message board, by parents and grandparents who haven't seen their children for years.

Perhaps, sir, you could have showed your concern by replying to Step-Mum's letter to you, rather than passing it to the Department for Education, whose response indicated that it was filed in the bin.

We're trying, son. Nobody seems to want to listen, though.

Love from Daddy.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Somebody should have told him

As we find today that the Rushden and Diamonds goalkeeper took his own life, you might well be shocked at my turning to Alan Partridge for wisdom. Stick with me...

Alan: So, who’s your favourite singer, then?

Ben: Oh, anything, really, you know. Frank Sinatra, Kurt Cobain.

Alan: Who’s he?

Ben: Nirvana. Blew his head off with a gun?

Alan: Why?

Ben: He was depressed.

Alan: Why, were they not very good?

Ben: No, they were great.

Alan: Oh. Someone should’ve told him!

Suicide and it's 'causes' is a well documented subject, indeed in my own industry we have some pretty derailed statistics.

It's something I've been exposed to, at work, both before and after the event - and something that has touched my own extended family.

I want to consider the three places where, to my mind, the cause lies.

The first is the disposition of the person concerned, and their ability to cope with a given situation - often related to the other two factors.

The second is those responsible for that stimulus which has driven the victim to this point. That's one for another day.

The third, most contentious, and most interesting to me, is society at large, and societal attitudes towards people who are suffering or struggling.

How often do we ask of another "How are you" quite without expecting or seeking a reply other than a short, positive one?

How often do we fail to seize an opportunity to speak affirming words to someone's face?

Years ago, I was talking to my workplace chaplain. I mentioned a particular colleague whom I respected greatly.

"Have you ever told him?" the chaplain enquired. I had to concede that I hadn't. It struck me as a profound challenge to ensure that he didn't go to his grave never hearing my appreciation.

Of all the kindly words that will be spoken of Dale Roberts in the next few days, I am left to wonder how many of those things were said to him by those people when he was still alive, and how often those people offered him the opportunity to talk freely about how he really was.

The fact is, suicide is the decision of a person, however cursory, flawed or damaged their reasoning, that no longer being around is the best option.

Whilst my industry throws money at stopping people throwing themselves under trains, we could all make a difference, for free - by throwing caution to the wind, overcoming our own inhibitions and vulnerability and reminding each other we are valued.

Go and find someone you appreciate and tell them so. They might need to hear it more than you know.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Believe it or not

I was at the Palace of Westminster again yesterday - my first day back at work for three weeks.

Regrettably, there were no sausages on sticks, it being the 'afternoon tea' menu of sandwiches and scones. It was, however, an opportunity for the first time in a while to meet lots of my counterparts from across my industry, many of whom had been wondering what had happened to me over the last twelve months.

It is notable how different people handle the information you give them. A fairly senior Labour politician whom I know through previous work engagements, said to me as kindly as he could that, with all due respect, the story I tell is 'unbelievable'. I can't do anything but agree. It is. I wouldn't have believed it myself a few months ago, but I can only offer my personal testimony as to what has happened. It's impossible to give a thoroughly edifying account of the last year without lots of documents and even more time, which doesn't help.

I must sound like a dreadful conspiracist, but equally, who in their right mind would give up their son wilfully to fuel a conspiracy theory?

One chap in my office today told me how he had to turn off last night's edition of 'Panorama' on the case of Baby Peter, because it was upsetting. I've seen comments on this blog that suggest that my own words make uncomfortable reading for people. I sadly acknowledge, but make no apology for that, for as long as that upsetting account is a faithful rendition of the life I have been forced to live, and for so long as the system keeps condemning fathers like me to situations like mine. One day I hope my experience might simply be a historic account of a long-remedied injustice.

I want to identify, though, the Christian gentleman (and having been advised of this blog's existence, I hope he recognises himself) who took particular time and care to hear what I had to say, and prefaced his remarks by giving me the unequivocal assurance that he believed me, and believed in me. To that end, he said, I did not have to convince him of my credibility or the absence of an element of story to which I was misleadingly not alluding, but rather just to tell my story.

He and others were exceptionally kind to me during the course of the afternoon, but I cannot begin to explain what it means for someone to tell you they believe you, no matter how far-fetched your tale might sound - even, sometimes, to your own ears.

The industry I work in has always been, in one regard or another, a family to me. By extension, it is already in some respects a family to you, and untold kindnesses, many of which must remain untold for now, have come our way over time.

My counsellor suggested that many people, faced with the situation I am in, rather like when someone has suffered a bereavement, just don't know what to say. I can understand that. Until it happened to me, I wouldn't have understood, either.

Beyond telling you your Daddy's story, I hope that over time, this blog will affirm and validate the lives of fathers like me, and I hope it will open people's eyes to what, why, and how we suffer; perhaps offering them some valuable insight into how to help.

I want also to thank people like the friend I met today, whose word in season did me no end of good.

Sometimes, just being believed is the best thing in the world. When your story is 'unbelieveable', it reminds you that you are held in great esteem.

In days such as these, people like me need to know that.

Love from Daddy

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Guest post from Step-Mum

Today has been hard. We have carried on our Sunday routine as usual, only difference being that this time you aren't with us and we have no idea when you next will be.

You are an integral part of our lives-for me never more than on Sunday. You would usually wake us up and demand three things: "Train ride" "go Armies" and "go marching with the band". Today we have done all those things without you, and each has been painfully tarnished by your absence.

No one to look for "skips" with Daddy at Wembley.

No one to point out my "funny hat".

No little man cheering for the band ("good boy Daddy", "band play LOUD", "drum goes BANG") and falling asleep on my shoulder at the open air meeting.

And it's not just us- you are a popular boy, and your many friends, all the people who have loved watching you grow this year, have missed you today.

You are in our prayers, and never far from our thoughts.

Love from Step-Mum x

Saturday, 11 December 2010

DJ Moony and the Dawn Raid

Half Past Eight on a Saturday morning.

In fairness, by three weeks, that's the quickest Torquay and Newton Abbot county court has ever furnished me with a copy of one of their orders. In fact, the last one of 15 November still hasn't arrived.

The fax that we sent at 0955 on Thursday took half an hour from receipt to make it to the Judge, such is the competence of this tinpot one-man-and-his-sheep setup. We tried to ring them to chase it up, but by their own admission, they only have one telephone line in and out, and it was engaged.

What have we got? Well, the nice bailiff on the doorstep kindly explained it to me - I will upload the footage in time. Despite the news he was bearing, that's the second one I've met and they're the only people who emerge with any dignity from all this - except from the fact that he probably was told to wait until early this morning to make sure I was in.

So, what did the court do in my absence, in response to my statement?

They ordered that my application of 22 January for residence be withdrawn, despite never in that time having been heard at any of the court hearings that have taken place.

They received oral evidence from Mummy, and her barrister, although there is no record of any scrutiny or consideration of the mountains of paper-based, video and audio taped evidence of mine. I paid £300 to lodge it and nobody has ever read it after 11 months. I'm due a refund, I reckon.

I asked for a transcript - they haven't produced one. Convenient, huh?

Mummy's barrister claimed that they had not had receipt of my position statement, which was lodged with the court by email with a CC to her solicitors on the specified date, 22 November. I have read receipts for both, from the day they were sent, and correspondence with the solicitor referred to its existence in the days prior to the hearing. A nice bit of perjury from them then - paid for by the taxpayer.

That's not enough to get an order bailiff served on a Saturday morning, though. Especially since Mummy's not paying for the bailiff - we all are.

In addition to handing Mummy the right to decide for herself what, if any, contact I can have with you, (but no barring it, so I can't be that nasty - just persona non grata) comes a restraining order - that's right, because I'm such a nasty man.

My turning up to collect my own son from nursery, and dropping him back to his home, where Mummy wasn't even in at the time, (neither thing being formally banned and both being things Mummy does every day) has earned me an order that I may not go within 100 metres of either Mummy's home or any school or nursery which you attend. I'd love to have heard how she described the incidents, both of which are on film, although I've already got enough evidence to pursue her for perjury, too.

The order states that the Legal Services Commission have paid for Mummy's legal costs.

Attached to the order is a copy of my letter to the court, exerpts of which I've already published. It contained no overt criticism of Mummy, but rather an account of what the process so far had done to me, and a reminder that the CAFCASS report had not even come close to complying to the terms District Judge Andrew Moon himself ordered in September.

Well done, Sir.

You've failed to uphold your own orders from September.

You have responded to the withdrawal of a father whose spirit you have broken, by handing him an injunction.

What a brave man you are.

One day, son, this man will rue the day he met me. I promise you.

Love from Daddy, whose kitchen has flooded.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Ground Zero

The house is still cold this morning.
It's still empty, too.

Your bed has nobody to sleep in it.

Your toys, several of them Christmas presents, have nobody to play with them.

At the dining table, there is a highchair but no place set for lunch.

Today is our 'Ground Zero' day.

The drama of yesterday's events is over, and despite the fact that I last spoke to you on Wednesday evening, and last saw you on Monday, today marks the first day of the chapter of our lives which we will spend apart - however long that may be.

Today also marks the start of the rebuilding process.

Mummy has laid waste to so many lives this year, with the assistance of the profiteers of the family justice system. What has been done to us is appalling, make no mistake. But today, we start to sweep up the mess, and try, with as much dignity we can muster and without self-destructive rancour, to rebuild our lives on a new paradigm.

Step-Mum and I have a life together to build, now free from the stresses and strains of constant legal threats, financial crises and most of all, free from Mummy's control. It is a year since I filed for divorce to escape that abusive control, and only now are we really free of it.

There is nothing more she can take from us now.

We have no intention of forgetting about your plight, or that of the millions of people in this country affected by the evils which we fell victim to. Rather, like the people of New York, as we quietly start the rebuilding process, we will set our sights towards the day when we will see you again, and the road of faith, hope and action that leads us there.

See you soon, Son.

Love from Daddy.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

The man with the plan

 Genesis 22 

After these things God tested Abraham’s faith. God said to him, “Abraham!”
And he answered, “Here I am.”
2 Then God said, “Take your only son, Isaac, the son you love, and go to the land of Moriah. Kill him there and offer him as a whole burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.”
3 Abraham got up early in the morning and saddled his donkey. He took Isaac and two servants with him. After he cut the wood for the sacrifice, they went to the place God had told them to go. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey. My son and I will go over there and worship, and then we will come back to you.”
6 Abraham took the wood for the sacrifice and gave it to his son to carry, but he himself took the knife and the fire. So he and his son went on together.
7 Isaac said to his father Abraham, “Father!”
Abraham answered, “Yes, my son.”
Isaac said, “We have the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb we will burn as a sacrifice?”
8 Abraham answered, “God will give us the lamb for the sacrifice, my son.”
So Abraham and his son went on together 9 and came to the place God had told him about. Abraham built an altar there. He laid the wood on it and then tied up his son Isaac and laid him on the wood on the altar. 10 Then Abraham took his knife and was about to kill his son.
11 But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham! Abraham!”
Abraham answered, “Yes.”
12 The angel said, “Don’t kill your son or hurt him in any way. Now I can see that you trust God and that you have not kept your son, your only son, from me.”

15 The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time 16 and said, “The Lord says, ‘Because you did not keep back your son, your only son, from me, I make you this promise by my own name: 17 I will surely bless you and give you many descendants. They will be as many as the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore, and they will capture the cities of their enemies. 18 Through your descendants all the nations on the earth will be blessed, because you obeyed me.’ ”

Abraham didn't say "God, that's ridiculous! I'm not putting my own son in harm's way. I'm not letting him go like that" - he did as he was bidden, and left the rest to his maker, who had a plan.
When you were born, I printed your first picture to go out to our families. I quoted 1 Sam 1:27-28: 

"I prayed for this child, and the Lord answered my prayer and gave him to me. Now I give him back to the Lord. He will belong to the Lord all his life.”
When you were dedicated, Mummy and I gave you back to God. You are his creation, made in his likeness. You are not my possession, neither are you anyone else's, nor a commodity to be traded.
You are not mine to do what I think is best with. You are God's, for us all to seek God's will for you, and to bring you up to seek it for yourself.
On Sunday, I prayed over you, and offered you once more into the care of your maker.
Whatever happens tomorrow, he has a plan for you, and for me. And for Mummy.
Like Abraham, we must all trust, and obey, the man with the plan.
Love from Daddy. 
Quotes from The Holy Bible : New Century Version , Containing the Old and New Testaments. Dallas, TX : Word Bibles, 1991, S. Ge 22:1

Friday, 12 November 2010

CAFCASS - Putting you in harm's way

A rare letter from CAFCASS came today - their first since they allocated your caseworker.

Actually, calling it a 'letter' is excessively charitable. It was a compliments slip and a home made form, signed by a secretary.

On the compliments slip, they misspelled your Step-Mum's name.

On the form they'd made, they'd misspelled the word 'regular'.

Cut a long story short, even though you were taken from me without a moment's thought by Judge W in January and have been staying in your Step-Mum's home in London with me ever since, even though Step-Mum is obliged by a court order to take you back west every third week, they are now, after ten months, demanding to search her criminal record.

This is the lady who gave us a home when the courts just turfed me out and took you from me.

The lady who has incurred tens of thousands of pounds of debt to keep us in the game until now, and still seeing you.

The lady who has given up almost every single day of her annual leave entitlement this year to support the pair of us, even to the extent of acting as Daddy's MacKenzie friend at the start of the year, and going toe-to-toe with her barrister.

The lady who, like me, is at the point of physical collapse thanks to Mummy and her accomplices.

The lady who you wanted to talk to on Wednesday night, whose heart bleeds for you no less than mine.

They're saying that it was ok to put you in her care for the last year without any intervention, but that if she doesn't provide a copy of her blank criminal record now, she becomes a danger to you. That and the fact that they've met with Mummy behind my back, and not with me at all, tells me they are already doing their bit to try and force us even further apart than we are now.

I am your Dad. I have parental responsibility for you. They like me to have that because it means I have to pay the CSA even if I don't get to see you. What I say when you're with me, goes.

Nobody else but Dads like me get quangos telling them who they can and can't have round their children. The greatest irony is that Mummy farms you out at every opportunity - what's the betting that even though I have tapes of Mummy saying Little Grandad used to hit his wife and kids, they've not bothered to give him a hard time? We already know your nursery are free to break the law and cut me out of your life. Mummy has the power of veto over everything these days, I can do nothing about that.

Bu nobody is signing their form. They can get lost. We're not giving up on you.

To their eternal credit, other people aren't giving up on us, either - or the other thousands of children like you.

See you later, son. Teddy is still in your bed. We'll wake him together when you get here.

Love from Daddy

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Sick and Tired

It's the middle of the night, but I can't sleep.

Neither, though, can I articulate to my satisfaction the process I go through when I receive, once in a while, correspondence from Mummy's solicitors. They seem to know when I am away from home - last time it was during the Lib Dem conference. Tonight it was as I arrived in Cardiff.

Such messages are like a drug. My blackberry couldn't open it fast enough, the adrenalin just kicks in and you need to know what it says. The other night I got in such a state reading papers from the court that I thought my own application was an application against me and panicked!

Suffice to say for tonight, after two difficult hours on the phone with your Step-Mum, I am sick in the stomach and too tired to write much about it. Dinner this evening with some senior politicians was made rather harder with a raft of new junk from Mummy's evil solicitor swilling round my head.

Mummy has disgraced herself again. I am told I will get 10 minutes with you on Skype tomorrow, that's it. 'Holiday' with me (they call it a holiday, I simply call it you and I actually seeing one another) she has agreed on the basis that she will not ask the nursery to change their decision to ban me from their premises, and refuses to take part in travelling. I asked for a further week for you to see Grandma and Big Grandad. She didn't even dignify that with a response.

Meantime, my insistence that she pays for the things she took from our house is now met with threats of new, spurious court applications, based on information your Grandad probably impersonated me (yet again) to attain.

What they are doing to me is criminal, and yet the courts and the system incite it. As Fathers 4 Justice say - "In the family courts, nobody can hear you scream". Indeed, it is common practice for fathers to be pushed to the limits of human endurance and then berated for having had the temerity to suffer the natural consequences.

What I can say for sure, with Christian conviction, is that nobody is going to get away with this. Not only will they one day have to account for their actions, as we all will, but I will not allow the people who are destroying our lives to rest whilst I have breath in me. Their evil deeds will eventually be made public, and their humiliation will be at their own hands Every last one of them.

Clap along and nod your head, like you do in the car!

"They will not force us,  
They will stop degrading us,  
They will not control us
We will be victorious"

Love from Daddy.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

No Escape

I'm off to Wales today with work.

I don't seem to leave London much these days, except to travel to take you back after your three-weekly visit to me. It felt particularly cruel, therefore, that I had to leave from Paddington this afternoon.

I couldn't bring myself to clap eyes on the bear himself, with whom we have played so many times this year. Digby Wyatt's magnificent trainshed invokes, for me, a mixed cocktail of emotions.

I didn't care much for having to look longingly at the Penzance train next to mine, knowing it will be passing you in a couple of hours or so.

I get to Reading and, as I glance out of the window, one of your favourite engines goes past. My heart sinks.

I hope to speak to you tomorrow, but after last week, I am resigned to the likelihood that I won't.

I want to make your bed ready for Friday - but you put your teddy bear to sleep there before you left - and I can't bring myself to wake him.

Love from Daddy

Monday, 8 November 2010

Ed the Duck

So, 'Red Ed' has a new baby son.

He and Mrs Miliband must be chuffed - oh, wait, no.

The man who offers himself as a future Prime Minister not only didn't bother to register as his elder son's father, but brought the need to have so done upon himself because he and the woman he has fathered two children with 'haven't got round' to getting married.

This seems careless in the extreme.

I'm sure the as yet un-named little lad will be comforted to know that his Dad found time to see himself re-elected to parliament, to beat his own brother to the Labour party leadership, but not to give formal recognition to his relationships with either his elder son or their mother.

Wouldn't it be nice for all children to know that their parents' commitment to them, and to each other, at a most basic and foundational level, trumped their career aspirations?

Shouldn't that be a pre-requisite to parenthood?

Your Daddy and your Step-Mum will be able to get married just as soon as Mummy stops using legal aid-funded solicitors to attempt to filibuster the process of getting the finances settled. After eleven months, it's still not done - and there aren't even any assets. It was Mummy's lovely barrister (she reminded me of Cruella De Ville) who condescendingly pronounced at the first court hearing this year "There IS no money". We are fighting for the opportunity to publicly cement our relationship, to show the world, and you, that we love each other and are here to stay.

It's a classic family court argument - Mummy has spent all year trying to argue that your Step-Mum is fickle and will throw me out, whilst contemporaneously stopping us from getting married and all the time pushing us tens of thousands into debt.

And you? I've spent the year trying to convince a court that a father who is prepared to give up a well-paid career to be a full time Daddy has something to offer that a mother who chooses to send you to nursery on her day off doesn't. Apparently I am some sort of nutter for suggesting this - and they say sex discrimination disadvantages women.

By ducking his responsibilities, Mr Miliband doesn't just insult his own children. He insults every child.

Further, he insults and seeks to belittle the raison d’ĂȘtre of every loving father. 

His actions tell us that he doesn't think we're necessary.

I'm sorry that you will have to find out the hard way that we are. I will prove it by not giving up on you.

Love from Daddy

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Radio Silence

Here's another Saturday morning email...


You failed to attempt to call the house on Wednesday, which is the agreed day (read the court order).

You never showed up on Skype or telephoned all day, and you didn’t answer my call or respond to my voicemail that evening.

Calling and getting <my son>  to leave messages on other days than those agreed does not constitute fulfilment of the order, neither does my having not been around to take these calls constitute a failure on my part.

I am about to leave the house for the day. Since Saturday is agreed, and I have not spoken to <my son> since I saw you on Monday, I would like to speak to him by Skype this evening, any time after 1700, for a meaningful session, please.

My mobile is out of action, pending replacement. However my Skype account is logged in. You can use that from the word go. <My son's> login has been provided to you already but is <username and password>


The outcome?

No reply to the email, but at 1700, Mummy telephoned. I got to talk to myself for four minutes before Mummy hung up on me. 

It was more upsetting than spending Wednesday evening sat by a phone that never rang.

A year ago we lived under the same roof, and having done nothing wrong, I am reduced to this. It is clear that Mummy wants me out of your life and will not stop until she's achieved it. Until the law changes, she'll get almost whatever she asks for. I hope you understand that I've always done my best for you, despite the desperately sad outcomes.

Court order says you get another week with me before December, to make a whopping total of three weeks all year. Remember, the courts are doing what they think is in your best interests!

I have been trying to wait, so that CAFCASS could visit me when you were here. We'll talk about CAFCASS another time, but their report is due this week and they've not even contacted me about what they are working on, if anything. It's quite clear they want to stitch Daddy up, though.

I've given up waiting and made the request today, and asked for an extra week so you can spend some time with Grandma and Big Grandad. 

I don't rate your chances, but I'm trying. We all are.

Love from Daddy.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Boy for Sale

I've always been cynical about those who run businesses caring for the vulnerable, especially since I learned of the extent of the wealth people have amassed in this way.

But I've always been especially wary of nurseries – not least the one you will be in today.

It's impossible to plan what happens in your last years and often, as was the case with your Great-Nana, specialist care of the elderly is required, but I've never understood how it is acceptable for parents to bring a child into the world with the express intention of abrogating their personal responsibility to bring them up.

Don't be seduced by the cutesy titles of the 'settings'. 'Little Ted' is looking through the prison window today. The report into the nursery in Laira, Plymouth, from where Vanessa George sexually abused toddlers, is startling because by all the measured standards, it was 'satisfactory' or 'good' - just like your nusery.

Just as appalling to me has been the response of those who still think that buying and selling the upbringing of little people is a right to be protected, even in the face of this mess.

I really do feel deeply for the woman quoted by the BBC yesterday whose child went to Little Ted's - that could have been you.

But who put the child there?

Who chose to put the child in a nursery - that nursery?

Who set acceptable standards so deplorably low?

Who allowed a nation to believe that putting babies in the care of paid strangers was acceptable, and that not having children when you can’t afford to rear them yourself is an anathema?

Who told us to be appalled when children are taken into care, but that it’s ok to pay to institutionalise our own for five days of the week?

Worse still, we have the response of a father whose children went to Little Ted’s, commenting on the re-branded re-opening of the place: 

The man, who retains anonymity, said: "It had been a good part of the local community, so what happened last year was a real blow to everybody.

"We shouldn't let our communities be ground down by people like Vanessa George.
"It's important to rebuild."

He admitted that the site's history could deter parents.

"It's a big step for any parent to take. But Vanessa George apart, it was a very good nursery.

"I would be happy to send my children to this new one," he said.

That's like saying the Titanic was a superb ship, apart from the regrettable leak caused by the iceberg.

What part of a local community does a business play, which acts as a repository for children whose parents can’t afford to, or won’t, give up working to nurture them to school age?

More to the point, what sort of father says those things when the independent review has stated, very clearly, that a nursery which OFSTED said was ‘satisfactory’ or ‘good’ was “an ideal environment” for child abuse?

When the whole issue was a little more recent and raw, another father said this:

“You look at your child and think ‘how could I let something like this happen’”

I feel nothing but guilt knowing you are languishing in a terrible nursery. I never should have let you end up in one, and I can do nothing about it now, thanks to the courts. I can't find words to express how that pain feels.

I never receive any form of reports on your attendance or achievements. The last time I heard from them was when Mummy's solicitor submitted a report (saying you were doing fine) and a statement from your carer (who claimed I was causing you to bite the other children and staff) direct to the court, bypassing me. That was in June. Nothing since, despite a court order and despite asking repeatedly.

The fact that discriminating against one of your parents like this, and indeed perjury, is illegal, has changed nothing, but with all the other things that are going on, I've not gotten round to pursuing OFSTED and the local authority yet. We're still trying to keep our heads above water here. I have never ever met the women who run the business that has won the contract for your childhood.

In your case, like many other children, the state pays towards, and promotes your attendance at 'Happy Days' so that they can use Mummy to bolster the employment statistics, and the staff to get the NEET figures down.

On the one hand, the taxpayer is justifying funding your childcare to let your 'Single Mum' go to work, and on the other, they are making sure Daddy is out of the picture and under control, when he would do the job much better for free.

It is not arrogance for me to believe that you, my son, are best off in the care of your own flesh and blood in your formative years - God gave you parents for a reason. Your 'Happy Days' are the ones you spend with your family, not in an institution.

18 months or so ago, when your Mummy decided that being a receptionist was more important to her than being a Mummy, the first couple of nurseries we visited were like Romanian orphanages. The novel sight of a real, live, straight man in the nursery had the children looking at me, doe eyed, as if to say 'please take me home'. At one, I witnessed teenager changing a toddler's dirty nappy on a floor that might have been a sandpit, no more than two feet from where another little boy was picking apart his cucumber sandwiches. Meantime, a little boy of maybe 18 months was shut away, alone, behind three closed doors in another room. That was them putting on a show for potential clients!

I thought we'd seen enough to put Mummy off contracting you out, but she pointed out that OFSTED thought these nurseries were perfectly satisfactory. Just like Little Ted's. That, apparently, made it ok - or at least, someone else's fault.

Of course, your attendance at nursery cost almost what Mummy earned, so we didn’t exactly get rich as a result of the sacrifice of your chance to be a toddler at home, either.

Eventually, having little option, I accepted your attendance at a nursery which was, by comparison, exceptional, and had pretty high OFSTED scores. In practice, they were still nowhere near good enough. At one stage I started to avoid going there myself because I couldn't bear to remind myself - I complained about supervision ratios not being kept more than once. Worst of all, I discovered that Mummy had been putting you in there during her days off work, without telling me. If we could have made ends meet on Mummy's salary, I'd have been at home with you all along - with pleasure. As it was, I toiled on to keep a roof over our heads, and took every chance I could to take you out of nursery when I could spare time from work.

Back in March, at the first court hearing where I got any meaningful opportunity to speak, I explained that it was my proposal, on a demonstrably sustainable basis, to give up work and be a full time father to you. It still is.

Essentially, I was saying I wanted to replace the nursery in bringing you up. The amount of time you spent with Mummy would have exceeded the amount of time you spent with me (which was 50% more than you get now).

Mummy burst into tears and stormed out of the room. That wasn't good enough for her - but it was better than I have ever had since she took you.

The District Judge's reply to my offer? "Don't think that will make any difference to where the child lives!".

She was right. It hasn't.

I have been offering all year to give you infinitely more time with both your parents than you currently spend, and that, apparently, is not 'in the best interests of the child'. Nobody is accountable for this decision.

The nursery you are in now, which you were registered at (in breach of court orders) without my prior knowledge, and over which I exert no authority, is not in business because they care about your future.

They are in business to make profits, create employment and justify their existence.

Just like the Solicitors,


and the CSA,

and the stinking Secret Courts.

Fighting your corner this year has almost killed me. Your step-mum and I will be paying off the debts for years. Meantime, your childhood - like so many other children’s - is just seen as a commodity to be traded, although it seems that at no price can we ever buy it back for you.

It rubs it in to see parents who choose not to spend time with their children paying to get rid of them so they can work, when I am barred by the laws of the land from getting you out of that nursery, or even seeing you most of the time.

Some time ago I taught you that the trains from London which pass your nursery bring love from Daddy. Before I was excommunicated, the nursery staff admitted that you used to often go outside and watch them passing. Once in a while, I still sit at Paddington, watching trains leaving for the west and wondering what you're up to. Sometimes, I ask the drivers to make a noise as they pass your nursery, in the vain hope that you will be reminded that I care.

I have no reason to remain in this struggle for any other reason than because I love you. Unlike the others.

Love from Daddy.

I had me about 15 Dr Peppers...

You are a sufficiently precocious little boy that you know you are. It cracks me up.

A conversation at Tesco last week about the man in the moon led to you sitting and watching 'Apollo 13' with me the following afternoon, passing repeatedly, to my astonishment, my 'TV test' - if you can't tell me anything about the programme, it goes off.

"Watch... Pollo thirteen Daddy - spaceship go BANG!      Get - home.   Mmm." 

Fair play! That's pretty much the whole plot, and the special effects knock Peppa Pig into a cocked hat.

You will need to be a little older before you can enjoy many other Tom Hanks films with me, but I did think of you tonight as, having not eaten since lunchtime, I turned buffet-slayer at a House of Commons reception.

I can't eat the lovely food they lay on at Westminster without mentally referencing Forrest Gump:

"Now the really good thing about meetin' the President of the U-ni-ted States... is the food"

I can tell you that the very best thing about meeting anyone at the Palace of Westminster is the cocktail sausages on sticks, although I suspect if I'd been there on 'family' business, there wouldn't have been quite the same extravagant welcome.

When you're a separated Dad, your preoccupation with your missing child extends to situations where your children do not ordinarily accompany you.

As I dug into another canape portion of fish and chips, being bored to death by a stranger who seemed short of someone to talk to and had cornered me for the second time, I thought what you would have made it all.

I could almost picture you in your little suit, making a mess, munching on the prawn toast whilst trying to look like all the other people there, the average age of whom was a good 25 times your own, yet knowing all the time that you were being 'cute' - and sharing the joke. It's the fact that I see little glimpses of my own nature in you that reminds me you really are still my son - just.

I wish I could post a picture of you the last time you came to my office, stood on a packed platform in the morning peak, suited, booted, fruit shoot in hand and your 'paper under your arm, to prove my point.

This time last week, you were free as a bird. We'd been out into London to buy some more track for your model railway amongst other things. Tonight, you will have been waiting to be collected after another ten hour stint as a statistic for someone's business, to be fed and bundled into bed ready for another early start to do it all again tomorrow. Meantime, I've been doing politics, but of the 'paying the bills' sort, not that which I feel convicted to engage in.

Part of what I've had to learn this year is that when rights are stripped from you by force, those who stripped them, and those who commissioned them to, are the ones at fault. One day they will be accountable for their decisions.

If I could rescue you tonight, I would.

Love from Daddy.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Fan-Prayer for the Quiet Man

"Never underestimate the determination of a quiet man"

As one of the few, faithful viewers watching him live as he delivered that fateful line, and one of the even fewer who understood just what he meant, and with it the all too familiar destiny of the modern conviction politician, I'm heartened by IDS's words, repeated in today's Daily Mail.

It is meet, to my mind, that he is no longer party leader. On the basis of the ludicrous and frightening responses to the Mail's piece, his views would have to be seriously compromised to gain mass popular support.

Never mind that they are backed up by cold, hard statistics, the kind of facts people like CAFCASS fear the most.

All too often, parliamentarians on their way out eulogise over their 'record', or indeed their 'convictions', and then either vanished without trace or disappointed us once free of the burdensome electorate. Lembit Opik announced he'd found faith, and then promptly did stand-up comedy... 'nuff said.

Mr Duncan-Smith's 'quiet' record since he vacated the Tory hot-seat has demonstrated that his words to that largely apathetic conference audience in 2003 were truly a statement of conviction. He left the stage and went to work. The Centre for Social Justice, set up within a year of his ceding of office, is already part of his legacy and working hard for the cause of families.

It is encouraging, too that he has met such violent opposition. It's a sign that we who cherish the sanctity of marriage and family life are on the march.

My brand of Christian upbringing taught me that resistance is a sign that you are in danger of making progress.
It puts a spring in Daddy's step today to know a member of the cabinet stands shoulder-to-shoulder with me on such a pressing matter of conscience.

Let's be realistic though.

Mr Duncan-Smith will get a hard time today, not least in his own Whitehall department, conditioned as it as been by over a decade of post-modernist Labour marriage-bashing.

It takes guts to speak the truth, when an evil world is baying for comfortable, self-affirming lies.

Similarly, it is much more popular to generically bash 'self-serving politicians' than it is to identify with, and thereby be judged alongside, such a man of conviction.
We should pray for IDS today, and others like him, that he might feel encouraged in his stand, and hold his nerve.

We can aspire to his bravery by first affirming it.

Love from Daddy

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Skype-ing to reach you... not.

Last week was the first proper week we'd spent together all year. You were in hospital for half of the other one, in Exeter.

Just to underline that I am a reasonable man, and that I am keen for you to know where you stand with all your family, I decided to honour the court order for 'indirect contact' (telephone and video conferencing) in reverse, even though it doesn't apply to me.

In fact, your Step-Mum and I are working on the principle that where practicable, we will let you talk to any of your family, any time you ask, when you're with us. Grandma and Big Grandpa spoke to you about eight times on Friday...

Last time we went to court, in September, the Judge said that whilst it had been reasonable for me to have had to travel 800 miles plus, every other weekend, for the past six months, to spend time with you, that it was unreasonable for Mummy to have to let you see me every fortnight if she had to share the travelling 50:50.

So, as a sop to me, since I was now only going to see you three-weekly (the least contact ever since you were born) I was awarded an order guaranteeing me at least two telephone calls or video conferences a week. When I asked what I was to do when Mummy failed to comply, I was told she wouldn't. Any Daddy who has been in the family courts knows this is tosh.

Mummy, having told the court she had a webcam, then told me she couldn't afford one. She must have blown her budget on the i-phone, new laptop, new wardrobe, regular changes of hair colour... Sorry. Party games and a long silence from Mummy's solicitor naturally ensued, oh, along with the threat of a non-molestation order to shut me up. What telephone calls I did get with you were brief and often at unsociable hours - 0720 on a weekday and 2140 on a weeknight as examples.

Anyway, at long last, we had our first video conference last Thursday - to allow you to talk to Mummy whilst with me. It lasted forty minutes, and I taped it all. For much of it, we left you to play, first in the lounge, then in your room, so you could play with your kitchen with Mummy, without distraction. It worked a treat.

I offered Mummy a repeat on Saturday. She said she was too busy and would wait til you got back to her. I got that on tape, too.

Anyway, why the rant?

Well, I have had a long day at work, I've been into London on a strike day, to Doncaster and back for a meeting, and rushed home to be ready to talk to you on the webcam for the first time, two months late. That was the light at the end of my tunnel.

I got home, I got your model railway out for you to see on the screen, and waited.

Mummy never called. When I rang her phone just before eight, she didn't answer.

It gives me no pleasure to have to start pursuing your Mum for contempt of court. I gave her every opportunity to sort herself out. I warned her solicitor a fortnight ago that she needed to get her to comply or face the consequences. I even showed Mummy how it can work for you, by letting her speak to you at length during your first proper week with me all year - and I will do so again happily if ever you ask, or on special occasions, in the same way that she got telephone calls from you on her birthday, on mother's day, at Christmas...

The point is, you are two. You can't ring anyone unaided.

On Saturday night, your Mummy was too busy to talk to you. She turned down my offer of a call.

Tonight, I am left feeling the void of another night spent praying I would get to speak to you - and you probably won't know I even tried.

Not yet, anyway. One day.

Love from Daddy.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Solidarity, Sister.

I can still remember the shock I felt, the first time I sat on a packed Glasgow commuter train and heard everyone talking to one another like old friends. It depends where you were brought up, I suppose, where you land on the spectrum - London probably only second to Moscow at the opposing end of the scale. It doesn't take long for people to get the hang of it here in town. Paradoxically, in situations where we accept you have no personal space whatsoever (Victoria line at teatime, anyone?), we become fiercely, aggressively, insular. A packed train is a bizarrely quiet place.

I just love the way having a two-year-old exempts you from this game. Having a little chap who can name half the lines on the underground, hang onto the handrails like a  performing chimp and sit on a packed train in the evening peak, studiously digesting his upside-down copy of the 'Standard', all to order, somehow permits you to speak to your fellow man, or, if that's taking it a bit too far, at least smile at someone.

An effervescent small child is a must, therefore, if you long to break the rules of (dis)engagement, particularly in London. You can rib the middle aged men who are beaten (wilfully) to giving up their seat by an elderly lady, when it becomes apparent that actually the little fella prefers to stand. You can, pretty much whenever you like; play the 'come on, I've got a two year old on my shoulders and you're still holding me up' card when people start pratting about with suitcases you ought to have an HGV licence to tow, right at the foot of an escalator - knowing they are so much less likely to give you a mouthful back or rearrange your teeth when the little boy on your shoulders with whom you are conversing out loud is beaming at them like an angel. I love it. We both do, actually.

As with all performance arts, though, the adage 'never work with children and animals' rings true; sometimes, you get more than you bargained for.

Which is how I came to spend the best part of five hours last night with a weed addict from Camden.

Sat in the waiting room of the railway station in Mummy's home town, with an hour to kill before the dreaded 'hand-over', it became time to do a walkabout. Everyone, willing or not, in that waiting room, was subjected to an illustrated lecture (thanks to the photographs we'd just printed in Asda) on our first full week together at home for ten months. One man, so shocked at your introductory technique of sneaking up behind him and attempting to walk between his legs, made his excuses and went to sit out on the platform.

As time passed, people came and went, until eventually just one lady remained, who'd been there when we arrived. It must have been something to do with your fixation with trains, that the conversation which inevitably takes place between apologist parent and joe public (we'll call her 'Kelly') turned to the prospects for fare dodgers.

"What do you reckon my chances are?" she asked.

I knew she wanted to get to London - just as I'd walked into the station earlier, I'd seen her looking at the fares on the ticket machine, before walking away frustrated towards the platforms.

Cut a long story short, Kelly had a long story to cut short. Just like me.

Kelly has a little boy. He's ten. She'd come to drop him off after a week in London, too.

Kelly had a difficult upbringing. Her Mum had been an addict and died too soon. For the first seven years of his life, her son had lived with her, and barely saw his father. Whilst concerns about her son's welfare had never existed, eventually she decided that she wanted to rid herself of her own addiction; to do the best for her son, she brought in social services, contacted his father, and set him up with a new life with his Dad whilst she went into rehab. She was philosophical about his prospects - as much as she struggled with his father, she believed that the lifestyle, the education and the environment in the west country would be to her son's advantage. She still has him for almost all of the school holidays.

Kelly is a brave woman. I lost you because you were taken from me. Kelly let her little boy go, to try to do the best by him in difficult circumstances.

Having satisified myself as to the plausibility of her plight (she'd missed her National Express coach home, for which she showed me the tickets), I said I'd help her, since I was going back the same way once I'd dropped you off.

When I came back from the worst bit of the week (watching the mother who hit me and the father who she says hit her taking you away from me for another three weeks), I handed Kelly a ticket to London.

She burst into tears and hugged me for all she was worth.

"Why me?" she asked. "I don't deserve this!".

The journey home was an interesting one. We got on the train and sat down to find that someone had left a CAFCASS compliments slip on the table. Kelly knew CAFCASS. As ever, they'd proved more damaging to her son's childhood than any of the other difficulties he'd faced.

The conversation came round to faith. Of the two books Kelly had read in her life, one had been a children's Bible, when she was in rehab. Rehab hadn't gone smoothly - but the good book had stuck with her. She was desperate to know and understand more, but nobody had ever given her the chance.

Kelly's life, as she told her story, was to me the epitome of the real story of so many of those people we see on the tube - she felt lonely in a crowded place.

Amidst the noise of the world, she was craving a 'still, small voice of calm'. The 'I'm alright Jack' charade was merely that.

She felt ashamed. Worthless. A Failure. Her dreams to be clean of drugs, to get a job, to find some meaning in life, seemed to her to be beyond her grasp, undeserved even, as the tears returned.

Her heart bled for her son, setting out in life in conditions she never would have chosen.

As we sped into London, I realised that we had a lot in common.

Telling her so, she berated me. "But you're a fantastic Dad - just look at you and your lovely little boy. You're a lovely man. Look what you did for me tonight".

I was back in the counsellor's chair. This lady, for all that she had suffered, for all that she struggled to understand, had a word in season for me, too. We both needed to be told we weren't condemned.

I don't know if Kelly and I will cross paths again, whether she will take up the invitations I made to come to church and learn more about the God who created and loves her. I hope she will. But I do know that I was preaching to myself as much as to her when I summed up our conversation and offered to pray for her.

"There was nothing in it for me to do what I did tonight, although the Bible tells me I did it for Jesus" I told her. "But seeing your reaction reminded me how I feel when I think of everything God's done for me - if you want to know more about what being a Christian means, hold onto that moment".

Thank you for sparking that conversation out of nothing, son. You played your part for the Lord tonight, too.

Miss you.

Love from Daddy.

It had to happen eventually.

This blog has nearly been started innumerable times. I imagine starting is the most difficult bit of this blogging lark, so let's get it over and done with.

It will serve, I hope, two purposes.

First, it will serve as an insight into the life of a devoted Dad, wronged by an abusive ex-wife and almost destroyed by the unaccountable, secret, family courts. A window on the world of a father being torn from his little boy.

Second, I hope one day it will allow my (now two-year-old) son, with the benefit of understanding and maturity, to understand something of what his Dad went through as he fought to try and stay in his life.

The shroud of anonymity will stay for now, not least since court proceedings are ongoing. The participants in this tale will not fail to recognise themselves, and perhaps it will give me a degree of liberty to express myself which I have not known in real life for almost a year.

The story so far will become apparent relatively quickly, but I'd sooner cut to the chase and we can catch up as we go along...