Friday, 27 April 2012

Just another nine weeks

I wonder how our parent readers would feel if they were told they wouldn't see their three-year-old for nine weeks.

People who spend less time than that in the Big Brother house moan about missing their family.

But this is the problem. As at today, it is, as my iPhone app tells me,

So on one hand the Judge said on Tuesday that the amount of time we have been apart has essentially cemented the situation, and on the other they are quite content to add 'just' another nine weeks into the process.

I applied to the court on 4 March. By the time the next hearing comes round, we will be over three months on, on a second trip to Torquay, just to get to a directions hearing on how the case will be dealt with.

And by then, the Judge will be telling me how it's been over nineteen months since you saw me...

A lesson to anyone in the family justice system. Status quo is everything. Delay is the best weapon your enemy can deploy.

Love from Daddy

Monday, 23 April 2012

Vocatus atque non vocatus, Deus aderit

Boy, have we had to deal with some nonsense since Friday. Mainly down to CAFCASS.

I am dosed up and we hit the road in the morning. My first court hearing in respect of you since the day the order was made that allowed Mummy to separate us.

I have no words; I need to sleep, difficult as that is when I need to, just as it is difficult not to when the adrenalin rushes tire me out. 

Either way, tomorrow has been a long time coming. As I enter the den of iniquity which separated us in the first place, I draw on words popularised by Carl Jung, which hang on the wall of an office I visited recently.

'Bidden or not - God is present'.

Love from Daddy

Friday, 20 April 2012

A nasty silence

Five Hundred Days yesterday. Another appalling milestone. I'm not going to write about anything meaty, but I want to write, and nobody's going to stop me.

In a former career, Daddy came into contact, though admittedly, often fleetingly, with a few young men who were to make it to Formula 1.

Some of them were talented, some of them were rich, several were both.

Quite a number of them, out of interest, came from separated parents but most bucked the trend and lived with dad because he was behind their racing. The 2008 world champion went from living with mum to living with dad  (pictured right applauding another victory) at the age of 12.

I went out to Pau one year, to the F3 race, primarily to maintain my customer's contract to supply Red Bull with pictures of all their racing activities. I was told to watch out for a young man called Vintantonio Liuzzi, who, er, failed to finish.

Then there was Takuma Sato, who won the British F3 championship in 2001.

'Oh, come on Dad', I can hear you saying. 'These guys were rubbish!'

Well, there was a disarmingly introverted young lad called Kimi Raikkonen, who rocked up and wiped the floor with all comers in Formula Renault. The following season it was Heikki Kovalainen who took his place, but he never performed at McLaren.

A young lad with a lot of important friends competed in Formula Renault nine years ago. He didn't need lots of advertising on his overalls, because 'Uncle Ron' was paying. That, and he was a bit of a star, winning a memorably red-flagged race which ended in pouring rain on slick tyres at Silverstone. McLaren's investment seems to have paid off, although his latest team-mate is giving him a hard time.

Speaking of which, Haywood Racing ran a guy called Jenson Button in Formula Ford in the last season before I turned professional, who I seem to remember finding round the back of the garages at Oulton Park rather well oiled at one race meeting. He'd been hot property in karting, and even before he'd done anything in F1, Colin Brown, who was similarly successful in karting, was being touted as 'the next Jenson Button'.

It's sometimes a bit odd, then, to see these guys on the telly, three of them having been world champion since then.

One of the many reasons why I stopped doing motorsports was because I became disillusioned with the flow and disposition of money, and the way some people behaved. I found myself earning peanuts photographing young lads doing what I would have loved to have done, in many cases the only difference between us being how rich our dads were. I worked with some great people, too. Talented businessmen as well as rip-off merchants. Gentlemen and junkies.

This isn't about my precarious some-time existence as a motorsports photographer, though. Another time, perhaps!

Jenson, who owns a house in Bahrain, said this, according to the BBC, when asked about the situation in the country this weekend, as the F1 circus arrives on the island to prop up the embattled dictatorial regime, which has paid Bernie Ecclestone just enough to ensure that he colludes in their propaganda war:
"I'm not going to get into the details of it. You are here interviewing me as a driver and that's exactly what I am going to talk about - motor racing," he said. "The outside issues, I'm not going to talk about."
I'm a great fan of Jenson Button's driving, and how he has learned to conduct himself as a racing driver, following some wild years when even Flavio Briatore wrote him off as a playboy. But this is the money talking, surely?

As Ed Miliband spots a convenient bandwagon to jump on, Jenson sidesteps the fact that his sport operates not in Bernie's little cocoon, but in a world - a world with its share of trouble, which in the case of this weekend, is probably being fuelled by the presence in a troubled country of the greatest show on earth covering for a regime which is attacking its own people.

Whilst Force India worry about the safety of their pit crew but not enough to pull out Jenson and Lewis worry about qualifying and the threat of Nico Rosberg, a man is starving to death for democracy in the country. Street battles are taking place every night. The Arab spring is into its fifth season and F1 has thrown itself right into the heart of the maelstrom claiming all is rosy.

The shortage of influential people prepared, as Damon Hill has now done, to recognise that the Bahrain GP of 2012 is now inescapably a political event, is not down to an inability to recognise the problem, but an inescapable reality that Bahrain and its friends are so well invested in F1, and in teams like McLaren and many of their sponsors, that nobody dare speak the truth. If Jenson spoke his fans' minds, he might well never drive in Formula 1 again.

So it is with being a father like me to a son like you. Lots of people privately think what is happening to us is appalling. If Mummy gets what she wants, you will never have the opportunity to go racing with your dad, even if I am ever able to afford it! People tell me how indescribably hard they think it must be for me.

But far fewer speak out. 'Those outside issues' that don't affect them directly, they 'don't want to talk about'. Maybe they fear that they could be next, or that however good the cause, they don't want to get too close to a subject they think is risky for them by association.

I grudgingly understand why Jenson is carefully silent about Bahrain's struggles, just as I understand why so many 'good' people won't stand up and be counted on this most western of tragedies that we are caught up in. Self interest and self preservation are destructive natural tendencies when they are deployed most carnally.

But if it doesn't at least trouble them, that bit I do struggle to understand.

So as Formula 1 carries on, trying not to notice, less be affected by, the troubles of their 'hosts', we will be off to Devon on Tuesday, surrounded by a similarly nasty silence from the many who know, but won't say; who 'would do if only'... but don't, and, that being so, all the more grateful to God for those brave souls who bear this load with us.

Love from Daddy