Monday, 28 May 2012


It's been a strange old weekend.

Sure enough, Saturday morning came and the postman woke us with some more nonsense from the nursery. It says something about a nation's priorities when a nursery is more likely to get in trouble for mishandling data than for helping to split children and parents. Having given them several 'last chances', I am now left with no alternative but to hang them with whatever legislative rope comes to hand.

Anyway, in the same way that we are not going to be going to the Olympics, we had the strange situation of being in London during a big Army congress, which, for one reason and another, we didn't attend. There were other occasions in your family over the weekend, and yesterday we went up to see Grandma and Big Grandad, to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary.

On Friday night, though, we were at the Regent Hall for the 'warm up' gig with Commissioner Christine MacMillan, shortly to retire from her appointment as leader of the International Social Justice Commission, whose visit was of much interest. There was a great deal of atmosphere, and a sense of anticipation as to what the weekend would bring.

Ironically of course, the 'I'll fight' theme betrays a common but fundamental misapprehension regarding Army history. Begbie's biography of William Booth, like the War Cry of 1912, quotes a good deal of what the founder said on 9 May in the Albert Hall, but it is generally accepted by Army historians that he is unlikely to have uttered one of his most famous quotes - indeed, words in that form were first attributed to him several years earlier! A year on from a band's 120th birthday, we commemorated a speech (the one he gave was a stirring one in its own right!) using words probably never uttered in it, which was a little odd.

The idea, though, that 100 years on from the promotion to glory of that great visionary and the founder of our movement, The Salvation Army should make another push into the field of social justice, is most laudable. I hope people take more time this year to study Booth's work and writings, which remain so very relevant to us today, if not in their practical absolute specifics, then in their sincere, Godly and audacious intent.

The '#iwillfight' hashtag was designated on Twitter over the weekend, and it was interesting to see what people had to say as the congress progressed. Predictably, much of it was about the event, the venue, the music, and admiration for people and their words. I ventured to suggest that it was today, and in the days ahead, that our 'fight' will be tested. We need the hashtags '#iamfighting' and when we win, '#ifought'!

I was reminded by a quip made by General Shaw Clifton at his welcome meeting in 2006:

"It's a strange quirk of the Salvation Army's legal constitution that a general takes office at midnight. It gives him or her a few hours to mess things up without anybody noticing, I think that's the rationale... there must be a reason for doing this to people at midnight!
...But I did wake up at about 6am, and Helen was sleeping soundly, so I thought 'that's not fair' so I woke her up and said "do you realise I've been the General for six hours?"
She said "What have you done so far?!"
I had no answer to that one! I said "I've slept through most of it so far!""

That afternoon, General Clifton went on to say this, and I think this is all the more relevant in the context of social justice and this weekend's congress:

So it is that God, who raised us up, is calling us again to be a Christ-centred, Cross-conscious Army. As I said to the High Council just a few weeks ago, He calls us back to the old wells. He is not calling us back to old, worn out methodologies, but to the things that made us what once we were: humility, simplicity, nothingness, brokenness, a readiness to risk all – even our reputations – for the sake of Christ, obedience come what may, a fearlessness that the world could not comprehend, a total and ruthless rejection of worldly enticements, a refusal to be seduced by, and to root out from among us anything displeasing to God, a heart for the lost and lonely, being all out for holiness and allowing Jesus to grow Himself within us to change us, and change us, and change us again, from glory into glory ‘til in Heaven we take our place. 
Where do you stand in all this?

Many tweeted '#iwillfight' this weekend. But did they all get up this morning and get fighting? 

This is the Salvation Army that put phosphorous matchmakers out of business, and kept bread affordable.

This is the Salvation Army that bought a girl, losing a man his liberty, to bring to light the exploitation of children.

This is the Salvation Army that gave women a full and equal role from the off, long before most of society did.

This is the Salvation Army that turned the world upside down, with Soup, Soap, and Salvation.

This is the Salvation Army of our forebears; of your and my ancestors. 

This is the Salvation Army, then, of people like you and me. "Sing it as our comrades sang it, many a thousand strong, as they were marching to Glory", as I used to sing in the singing company.

In kindness I ask all our Salvationist readers, and myself (and one day, as your Dad, will ask you):

'What have you done so far?'

Love from Daddy

Saturday, 19 May 2012

A drive down memory lane

Well, it's a Saturday morning, so of course we should expect now that we're going to get something nasty in the post, and we have, but let's not waste time with that today.

Yesterday I had a bit of a trip down memory lane.

Some years ago now, having cycled up the hill to the circuit, I arrived at Brands Hatch and pitched my tent under the trees on the outside of Druids.

Next morning, I was woken at some unearthly hour to be told that, unlike at Oulton Park, you can't camp around the circuit! That day, I started my first full season photographing the British Touring Car Championship.

When I was a boy, I used to watch the BTCC's slot on 'Grandstand', with Murray Walker. Here's one particular incident I remember having on a rather worn out video tape!

Yesterday I returned to Brands for the first time in pushing a decade, as did the Schnitzer team who ran Steve Soper and Joachim Winkelhock back in 1993, when they took the British title.

It's the DTM meeting this weekend, and I decided to take advantage of the cheap Friday tickets to go and see what was cracking off. It was frustrating, not having access to the paddock or being 'signed on' to go 'inside the fence', but I couldn't resist getting the camera out, so here's a few pictures, and a few famous names:

Ralf Schumacher
David Coulthard
Anyway, I had an interesting day out, the little black car was able to stretch its' legs, and I got a few happy snaps.

It was sad to see children your age there, some of them with their little pairs of ear defenders on (which they definitely needed - the DTM cars make quite a racket!), knowing that I never got the chance to introduce you to 'my sport' and the environment in which I spent a few happy years working.

This morning's letter from the solicitors indicates that Mummy still considers it appropriate to break court orders, but equally appropriate to try and use them to persecute me, even when they don't say what she'd like them to.

Either way, as we approach 18 months since we last saw one another, yesterday held a bit of sadness for me. They will let you drive at Brands from the age of 11 now, and as I wondered about the likelihood that you will get the chance to do those sorts of things with your Dad, I was reminded of your very early driving career...

Plenty more where they came from!

Love from Daddy.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

"Tonight, ladies and gentlemen...

...I shall be tweaking the nipples of fear!" Good old Joe Pasquale.

Mummy's statement arrived today.

Of course, it arrived late, and by email, which no self-respecting solicitor accepts as service. It also arrived after I had written to the court to draw their attention to the fact that not only was it late, but I had emailed David Cobern to remind him, over two hours before the deadline.

David is very anxious that I shouldn't share any of the content of this statement, or anything else to do with the proceedings, publicly. This is in common with most people, and most cases, connected to family law, because nobody wants the world to see how families and children are treated by this industrial mincing machine. You will recall, though, that this blog has been causing consternation to David's client for around about the same amount of time that I have been back at court trying to get things sorted out for you (but not before - at least, not since last time we were at court... see the pattern emerging?!).

As part of his 'appeal' to me (yes, he did use that word) he helpfully referenced the Family Procedure Rules and their associated practice directions.

Of course, the problem is that unless our readers happen to recognise your face, they don't know who any of the parties, or the child, in our case, is, because I only name people who work in the industry, who are involved in many, many cases in the South West of England. Even the most recent of my pictures of you are now almost half a lifetime out of date, so what are the odds on a random stranger finding an anonymous blog and working out who we all are? There are, in any case, more efficacious means of dealing with the specifics, like parliamentary privilege, and the Data Protection Act.

Let's just remind ourselves that over a year ago, I was told I had until the end of the afternoon to pull this blog down, or face an application to the high court for an injunction. That didn't happen, even when other people were paying, and now that Mummy's legal aid has run out, it's a brave person with debts running into tens of thousands, who takes on a man who already has lost his income and whose only 'asset' is a house worth less than he owes on it, jointly owned by the other party.

For the first time, today, I saw some semblance of half an explanation as to why Mummy separated us - and it's based on things she claims to have discovered after she did so, which is an interesting chronological concept.

The central claim is that my association with you, and your experience of having me as your Dad, was an unhelpful one, and that the status quo, that of bastardisation, is best for you.

I could make all sorts of running, and they would be good arguments, substantiated with truth and evidence, about the flimsiness and desperation of the claims Mummy is scrabbling to make that I was a bad influence on your life that you are well rid of. But there is no need, even in anonymity, to go into that level of detail.

Because I have too many pictures, and too many hours of video, of a happy, contented, relaxed little boy of two spending time with his Daddy, for anyone ever to believe that load of old cobblers. And as of this week, I am going to be saying less, and sharing more and more of those.

The court is unlikely to lower itself to personalising your case to the extent of looking at pictures and video of you. Previous judges have refused; if they had to do that for all the children whose lives they tinkered with, whose families they smashed and helped to steal, they might find it harder to sleep at night.

But you just look into your own eyes, son - and you will learn about the Dad you lost.

Plenty more where that came from.

Love from Daddy.

Monday, 7 May 2012

The two Ronnies

It's a few years, now, since I used to go to the then Wickes British Open at the Assembly Rooms in Derby, to watch the snooker. I got Willie Thorne's autograph and everything. Your uncles went to the Crucible the other day to watch this year's world championship, the final of which has just finished.

Well done to Ronnie O'Sullivan - and how lovely it was to see, and hear about, his little lad, and what fatherhood means to him, as Ronnie Jnr stayed with him for the presentation and interviews.

You can guess some of the things that crossed my mind as the confetti fell in the arena. At great moments of achievement in our lives, there are people we want to share it all with.

Especially in the case of such a naturally gifted guy who has had to face his demons, it was lovely to see the Two Ronnies on our screens tonight.

Not far from where they live, we are working to give other Dads the chance to do just the same, for and with their children...

Love from Daddy

Covering your tracks

After Saturday's post, here's a lovely quote from last night's 'Have I got news for you' from Jeremy Clarkson, who knows a thing or two about injunctions regarding one's personal life.

When, rather predictably, Ian Hislop led the panel in ganging up on him, he came up with this hard-earned piece of wisdom:

"Here’s a top tip I’ve got for everybody really, if you’re watching. An injunction is a very expensive way of making sure a very boring story reaches the maximum number of people."
Jeremy Clarkson does come up with some gems, but for a more reliable reference, and an explanation as to why people might want their actions to be kept secret, how about this?
"They are judged by this fact: The Light has come into the world, but they did not want light. They wanted darkness, because they were doing evil things." - John 3:19, NCV
Love from Daddy

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Facial recognition

It wouldn't be the Saturday of a bank holiday weekend without something hitting the mat, would it?

Today, we mark a milestone. The first letter from Hartnell Chanot about you since we last saw you.

We found out this week that Mummy owes the Legal Services Commission £21.5k for part of the costs she has incurred to date, secured on our old house, the sale of which has fallen through in testing circumstances.

Mummy (well, Little Grandad) is now paying solicitors out of her own pocket for the first time, which is good news, as it introduces a bit of equality of arms to things, although little in the way of proportionality, save that they are now using David Cobern, who isn't a fully qualified lawyer - presumably his hourly fee is lower than that of his predecessor, Jennie Read.

Having said nothing for over a year, they want this blog down, just as I have trimmed the content right back to keep everyone sweet.

They have threatened us with various things, including another specific issues order, because they have seen us using your picture for our charitable work, and on here:

"My client would invite you to take immediate steps to remove all photographs of [you] from the website (and any other websites within your control) at your earliest opportunity. Please also provide you [sic] assurance that no further images of [you] will be posted online or displayed to the public by yourself or anyone else on your behalf."

I am a proud father, David. Nobody is going to stop me from sharing old photographs of my little boy. Not least when doing so is part of the process of coping with that fact that I don't even know what he looks like any more.

Love from Daddy