The British Mafia

We think of political and institutional corruption as being characteristic of other countries particularly outside Europe:  Africa, Latin America, etc.

Yet we in Britain got an awakening with the MPs’ expenses’ scandal.

And the residents in my previous neighourhood (in London Borough of Barnet) had no doubt that “money had changed hands” when the local council suddenly – really suddenly – in 2006, approved plans for 13 flats to be built just diagonally across the garden from my home – where building approval had failed on almost as many counts previously.  The next step would have been to go to court, and most of my neighbours – who had fought the proposals up to that point, seemed unwilling to put money into litigation.  So for the next year, we suffered the ordeal of a characterful period house being pulled down and replaced by a building which encroached on all possible space in all directions with maximisation of profit as the only motive.  The pilings, vibrations, noise on our doorstep – even on bank holidays and weekends and outside legally-permitted hours, until a letter from our MP at least had the effect eventually of confining their activity to legally permitted hours and days.  I could not bear to be in my home when the work was going on – even if I was ill.

Corruption in Britain – which brings me to my tale of the British “mafia”, and how it affected my mother.

When I published my earlier blog about my mother, (“Where the virulent anti-Semites lurk”) about how the Palestinian/Israeli medical system irradiated her brain when she was child, someone remarked on what “Israel did” to my mother.  It wasn’t Israel, I responded, but a sector of the Israeli medical system at the time, and some politicians, who believed they were actually doing something beneficial.

Well, I think it is time to relate what “Britain did” to my mother when she was an adult.  Only it wasn’t Britain, but just that British institution that serves as our “mafia”:  the Inland Revenue.

My mother had recurring brain tumours and spent inordinate periods of time in hospital undergoing surgery and skin grafts.  In the meantime she was unable to adequately manage her affairs, and as an effect of her illness, it seems she didn’t trust anyone to manage her financial affairs for her.  So the Inland Revenue came to take a great interest in tax that was owing, and my mother’s assets.  These consisted of a Company which owned eight flats in Richmond, of which my mother lived in one or two.  Another two or so were kept vacant for when her children stayed, and those remaining tended to be let out.

The Inland Revenue didn’t have to take all eight flats – but they were entitled to legally.  They could have let my mother remain in her home, but they weren’t obliged to legally.  Their bailiffs forced entry into her home, and kicked her out with great pleasure and gusto, according to my siblings, aged between the approximate ages of 13 to 17 who witnessed the whole scene.  She was moved into council accommodation in an area where she didn’t know anyone.

Not long after this, my brothers cycled across London to where she was living.  I can’t remember how they got in – probably they had to call the police to break in.  They didn’t know for how long she had been lying in bed unconscious.  Her starving alsation was roaming her flat with glazed eyes, having jumped through and smashed a window in order to get out to find water to drink.

My mother didn’t survive surgery for her third brain tumour.

So this is what the British mafia “did” to my mother.  Not as bad as irradiating a child’s brain, but they certainly finished off the job of killing my mother!

They were apparently legally entitled to forcibly evict her from her home, since it was part of the eight flats which formed her Company which they were apparently legally entitled to seize.  But once they sold the eight flats and reclaimed whatever was owing to them and a whole lot more, all that was returned, after my mother’s death, was £24,000.  Perhaps the value of one flat at the time (1982) – almost?  One out of eight!  So what about the value of the other seven?  (Today, eight comparable flats in Richmond might fetch well in excess of £2,000,000.  So the IR retained the equivalent of in excess of £1,750,000.)  One thing my family was certain of was that given the value of the flats and the maximum possible amount of my mother’s debts, it seemed the flats had been sold off extremely cheaply (to themselves?)   Certainly – to themselves!

J’accuse!

Every line of investigation was blocked.  But the Inland Revenue are Britain’s very own mafia – untouchable!

Music by Contemporary Women Composers

Music by contemporary catherine

Including my “Vocalise” for Flute, Oboe and Clarinet in Bb.  (My surname only has one of each letter!)  Called “Vocalise” because I set out to write a “Vocalise” for voice and clarinet – but it took on a life of its own (as these things do), and became a work more suited to instrumental forces – winds.  But I retained the title.  I can’t wait to hear it performed by these superb musicians!  And I love the atmosphere of the venue!

If there is a soprano out there who feels she would like to give the flute part a go, that would be great too!  I would love to hear that!

Also, great that this concert is contributing towards putting women composers on the map.  Women have been grossly ignored in the world of classical composition throughout its history.  Today, when there is no shortage of women composers, there is no excuse.  Just a couple or so years ago, not a single work by a woman composer was played throughout the entire summer prom series!  And in the days when massive CD stores were still gracing the West End’s main streets (London), I went into the largest classical CD section to be found in a CD store in London (Tottenham Court Road) and could not find a single CD featuring works by women composers.

Shadows – projecting our dark sides – or not!

People shadows on sunny city street

Sometimes we may perceive things in people that we react to.  Our reaction may be positive or negative. Is is about us? Is it about them?  As my dear late friend said: “If you don’t like cucumbers, it’s about you, and it’s also about cucumbers.”

We all have different constitutions, and different sensitivities. Some people take in more information than others – they may be psychically more open, because they have inherited a genetic state of being so, because they have been on the receiving end of some tremendous shock, or because they are tired, ill, hungry or in a state of fear, or their energy field has been severely depleted by being poisoned by chemotherapy or other toxic “treatment”.

I can’t remember in which book it was that D M Thomas or one of his characters comments that everyone becomes psychic in a wartime – no doubt because of being in a greater state of fear, and in a state of fine attunement to danger.

Then there is the theory of our shadows, promulgated by Jung, but embraced by many including Deepak Chopra. According to this theory, our shadows – rather than being insubstantial as real shadows are – contain all our self-rejected inclinations and emotions, all our denied negative characteristics: our dark sides! These we project on everything we don’t like.

There are people who take this rather far: everything we dislike, fear, or are repelled by, represents something we have rejected in ourselves that we are projecting on others. We are in a state of flight from our own shadows, and will try anything to suppress, tackle, subdue manifestations from the dark corners of our minds – including or especially self-medication! In order to dissociate ourselves from such shadow components, we may attribute them to others. Such subdued emotions may then, according to such a theory, leap out of their bonds in all manner of forms, including mental illness.

A lot of judgement and assumption is involved in applying such a theory – which is  just one more way of trying to make sense of phenomena by labeling them and fitting them neatly into compartments.

It is an interesting exercise to apply this theory to ourselves. If I feel aversion towards a stranger, is it something in myself that I am projecting on that poor unsuspecting person? Observing myself, I have noticed that when I have felt aversion towards a complete stranger, it may be because this person physically resembles someone who may have harmed me in some way.  (This of course is another kind of projection.). I will then have to tell myself that this is not the same person! That my reaction is unfair.

Generally, in cases of aversion, there are very many sources, and in each case, more than one source may be at work. Very often it is jealousy. Sometimes a person is emanating an energy redolent of a negative emotion which may repel us: one does not have to be extraordinarily psychic to sense anger or aggression emanating from a person, which will cause us to wish to keep a distance. The person may have a valid reason for feeling such a way – it does not have to mean she/he is a bad person – and that energy which may repel us may be very temporary.

These are all cases where projection of our own dark side is not an explanatory factor in why we may feel aversion towards a stranger.

People often reveal elements of their personalities, mind states and intentions in so many ways:   through the way they hold themselves, and they way they move, more obviously facial expressions, their aura…..if we react with aversion – this again does not represent projection of our own dark side.

Thich Nhat Hanh describes the Tibetan Buddhist idea of all the emotions being present in each one of us but as seeds; any one can arise, but through meditation we can learn to recognize when a thought generating an emotion (or vice versa) arises, and allow both the thought and the emotion to subside again. There is no shadow – no dark side; there are simply seeds which we may feed, and allow to grow, or which we may allow to dissolve back to seed-state.

Much as there is a great deal of projection going around, this simplistic idea of projection of our dark side onto anyone we don’t like simply doesn’t hold water as an explanatory factor for all, or even most, cases of aversion. We human beings are far more complex than that! And in some cases, far more straightforward!