Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Justice, For Once.

I used to live on Park Hill flats, a somewhat notorious council estate by Sheffield city centre.

There is always a lot to say about Park Hill, but for now I won't be going into that. I just need to talk about one incident, and today's long-awaited update on it.

In June 2002, I was woken by the smell of smoke. I leapt out of bed and went all the way round my flat, trying to find its source. When I couldn't find anything, I looked out of a window and saw the very clear cause. One of the flats opposite was very much on fire.

There was a huge amount of smoke, and I watched as one of the windows shattered with the heat, letting yet more smoke out. I saw that there were people around the flat door, and for some reason I presumed that the flat belonged to one of the women standing there. I grabbed my phone to call 999, when I saw firefighters arrive.

I was very frightened and disturbed by what I could see, and did not want to be part of that weird voyeuristic thing which happens to the best of people in situations like this, so I moved away from the window, and hoped the firefighters could get it under control quickly.

I was mainly relieved that the flat's occupant had got out.

Later that day I went down to the Co-op, which as well as being the local shop, also seemed to serve as social centre, marriage guidance, community news spreader and gossip centre of the estate.

Of course, all talk was of the fire. When I got to the till, I asked if anyone knew what had happened, and the woman serving me said, 'They're saying it's murder'.

I was stunned. Totally and utterly stunned. I had been convinced that that woman by the front door of the flat lived there. Why on earth had I thought that??

I was given more information - a woman was killed in the fire, she had had a stalker, one of her kids had seen the fire from the school playground, presumably not knowing their mum was dying in it. The thought was that the stalker did it.

Over the next few days, information began to be confirmed and denied. The situation was that this woman, June Bond, had 7 children. A man had been stalking her, and the flat which had been on fire was actually *his* flat. He was prime suspect, her death was being treated as murder, and he was being looked for.

The firefighters had struggled to get inside the flat to put out the fire, and once they had they were slowed down by the sheer heat and smoke. June Bond was dead.

I was terribly traumatised and disturbed by this whole event. Having seen the fire, I couldn't stop imagining how this (unknown to me) woman must have felt, dying in a fire. Unable to breathe? Burning? Worried about her kids? I had indirectly witnessed a murder and I couldn't get it out of my mind.

And then, after a few weeks, there was nothing. The flat remained boarded up, but talk got onto other matters and I learned nothing more.

This event comes to my mind still regularly, and I occasionally search the web for details of any kind of conviction or anything to follow up this woman's awful murder, but I found nothing.

So today, to read that the guy, Vincent King, had been convicted and sentenced to life, serving a minimum of 16 years, I felt so glad, so relieved.

It seems he had actually killed her with a claw hammer, and then set the flat on fire to cover his tracks. He'll be in there until at least 2018 which I'm glad about, but it doesn't seem half enough. He was stalking her, and had previously been in a relationship with her.

Yet again, a violent man kills their partner or ex-partner. Two women a week in Britain are killed by (ex-)partners. At least this time there is a conviction and something of a sentence.

16 Years for Murderer of Former Lover

A BRUTE who beat his ex-lover to death with a hammer and then tried to cover his tracks by arson must spend at least 16 years behind bars.
Vincent King, aged 59, of Norwich Row, Park Hill, was found guilty at Sheffield Crown Court in November 2002 of murdering mother-of-seven June Bond.

He had already pleaded guilty to arson being reckless as to whether life was
endangered. He was jailed for life.

Now his tariff - the minimum number of years he must spend in prison before he can seek parole - has been set at 16 years by Mr Justice McCombe, who was reviewing the case at the High Court in London.

Even taking into account the time he spent on remand, the ruling means King will not be able to even apply for his freedom before 2018.

Mr Justice McCombe said he had taken into account the fact King had been left in a "distressed mental state" when it emerged Ms Bond had begun seeing a neighbour, Oswald Darmudas.

But he also observed that King had a number of previous convictions for violence, including one against Ms Bond.

The judge also said he had tried to cover up the murder by starting a fire.

The court heard King met Ms Bond, who was 14 years younger than him, in 2001. In May 2002 she began seeing Mr Darmudas and split with King, but he 'stalked' her and discovered her new relationship.

On June 12 2002, he lured her to his flat by saying he had money for her, said Mr Justice McCombe, before killing her with a single blow to the head from a claw hammer.

At around 6.50am the next day he bought petrol from a filling station and set fire to his own flat with Ms Bond's body inside.

Monday, March 12, 2007

The Difference between Self-Harm and Suicide.

Dear John O,

Thank you for your emails, which I always read with interest and concern, and usually respond as best I can to calls for action.

I had to respond to this one, though, because of the way you are classing self-harm and attempted suicide as one and the same thing. This is just factually incorrect and very misleading.

There are many reasons why people self-harm, but it is most frequently a coping mechanism, indeed something which people can use in an attempt to *prevent* themselves getting to the point where they may end up attempting or committing suicide.
Some info:

There are probably as many reasons for self-harming as there are self-harmers.

Some people find that when they self-harm they experience a "release" which they cannot achieve in any other way. This can be a huge relief if feelings of depression, anger, self-hatred, fear or anxiety are becoming overwhelming.

Others find that when emotional pain becomes unbearable, if they hurt themselves in some way it transfers the pain to physical pain on the body. For many, physical pain (e.g. from a cut or a burn) is much easier to deal with than deep emotional pain.

On a similar note, some people find that hurting themselves physically gives them more control over their pain and their lives. Whereas it is difficult to control the emotional pain you may feel, if you then take charge of the pain and are in control of it, this can seem easier to deal with.

On the surface it could appear that self harming is similar to suicidal behaviour, especially if people are cutting their wrists, or overdosing. However for an awful lot of people, self harm is known to prevent suicide. By the means I mentioned above, self harm can take the edge off overwhelming feelings, and thus make someone less likely to attempt or commit suicide.

Some people self harm as a way of punishing themselves. If they feel guilty for something they have done, said or thought, they may then cut or burn or otherwise harm themselves because it is what they feel they deserve. Often the "punishment" is much more severe than is warranted, for example someone slashing their wrists because they overslept.

Self harm can also be anger turned inwards. For women in today's society, showing outward signs of anger is a socially unacceptable behaviour so if someone angers them, instead of shouting at them or taking their anger out in other ways, they may self harm to get rid of the supposedly unacceptable angry feelings.

There is also a scientific theory which could explain some people's self harming behaviours too. This is the theory that when we are in physical pain, endorphins ("happy" chemicals) are released into the body, leading to something resembling a "high". So when someone is feeling especially down or depressed, self harming could lead to a boost of endorphins which could make them feel better, albeit temporarily.

I would actually be surprised if incidents of true self-harm were not higher than those you quoted below. The disgraceful number of attempted suicides is probably much smaller than the incidences of self-harm which may often be well hidden and never receive medical treatment. So by merging the two in your mail you are possibly even downplaying the actual number of self-harm incidents.

Thanks for reading, hippie

John O wrote:

> ===========
> NCADC News Service
> ===========
> Self-Harm in Immigration Removal Centres
> Every other day a detainee incarcerated in a UK Immigration Removal Centre (IRC), makes an attempt at self-harm (suicide), serious enough to require medical treatment.
> In the 10 months from April 2006 to January 2007 there were 176 attempts to self-harm that required medical treatment. That is one incident of self-harm every 1.7 days.
> In the same period, 1,643 detainees were put on 'Formal Self-Harm at Risk'.
> Detainees and campaigners believe the actual numbers are way higher than those reported.
> Since the first Immigration Removal Centre opened in the UK, there have been 10 deaths from self-harm.
> Number of incidents of Self-Harm requiring medical treatment January 2007
> Campsfield House 1
> Colnbrook 12
> Dover 4
> Dungavel 0
> Harmondsworth 1
> Haslar 0
> Lindholme 0
> Oakington 1
> Tinsley House 0
> Yarl's Wood 1
> Number of individuals on 'Formal Self-Harm at Risk' January 2007
> Campsfield House 0
> Colnbrook 77
> Dover 10
> Dungavel 9
> Harmondsworth 3
> Haslar 3
> Lindholme 3
> Oakington 3
> Tinsley House 5
> Yarl's Wood 15
> A full break down for the 10 months April 2006 to January 2007;
> 46 asylum seekers/migrants in the UK, have taken their own lives (since 2000)
> 30 in the community - 6 in prisons
> 10 in Immigration Removal Centres
> Details:
> End of Bulletin:
> Source for this Message:
> Disclaimer:
> NCADC's email bulletins are an important part of our work in educating the public on immigration, asylum and anti-deportation issues. As part of that work our bulletins hosts news and views from different individuals, organisations and campaigns working in the same field as us.
> The contents of this bulletin are the sole responsibility of the author/s and should not be taken as endorsement of any kind by NCADC.
> NCADC takes no responsibility for the content of external websites linked from our bulletins and links should not be taken as endorsement of any kind.
> NCADC reserves the right to omit or edit the whole or any part of material submitted for publication.
> Viruses: Although NCADC take great care in scanning all emails and attachments with the latest Anti-viirus software before sending. It is no guarantee that the message is uninfected. We advise all recipients of our messages that they should have the latest Anti-virus software installed.
> NCADC cannot accept liability for any damage your system sustains due to software viruses.

> ========================
> National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns (NCADC)
> 110 Hamstead Road
> Birmingham
> B20 2QS
> ========================


'Smoking has been found to be a leading cause of statistics'

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Sheffield Women: Avoid This Man!

Z and I were enjoying a pub lunch this afternoon when I began to be stared at and leered at by a random male stranger. He was mouthing words to me, and stared constantly at me. This made me feel upset and intimidated, but I tried to continue as if nothing was happening, and I avoided catching his gaze as far as I could.

But no amount of ignoring seemed to discourage him and I began to get angry. Why should *I* feel upset and uncomfortable, when it's *him* being rude, arrogant, intimidating and a complete idiot.

How dare he?!

I started plotting and, inspired by sites like the fantastic Holla Back NYC - If you can't slap 'em, Snap 'em I got out my phone and took a photo of him with it. (The guy in question is the one sitting down, I've pixellated the entirely innocent guy walking behind him).

He realised what I was doing and looked duly horrified, and from then until we left the pub, he didn't even glance at me. I hope I scared him, like he had scared me.

And the photo is above. It's unfortunately not a very clear one, but still worth sharing, methinks. It makes me feel better anyway. Ha, you bastard.

Now, things to say to him:
How DARE you make me feel self-conscious? How DARE you make me feel like I should put a jumper on to cover up my barely-visible-anyway cleavage? How DARE you make me feel embarrassed? How DARE you scrutinise my movements and mouth sexual suggestions to me? How DARE you treat ANY WOMAN like a piece of meat? Whatever the fuck was going on in your head was YOUR problem and you made me feel like it was MY problem and MY fault.

You're a total idiot misogynist bastard and I actually hate you.

Don't do it again. I mean that.

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Self-Portrait Challenge

texturised mini me
Originally uploaded by incurable_hippie.
Using the very clever textorizer tool, I created this self-portrait of me long ago.

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Friday, March 02, 2007

Cars, Crap Arrests, Charges, Crossing Books and Cashback!

People in the UK would have struggled to miss the news stories about the petition against increasing the costs of driving here. Even people who are supposed to know me quite well were forwarding me the link to sign. As if!

So, I was joyous to receive a link to a road pricing counter-petition, from FoE via Yorkshire CND...

*Subject:* Counter petition in favour of road pricing
>Dear All,
>Friends of the Earth have created a counter petition which says:
>We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Don't Scrap the
>planned vehicle tracking and road pricing policy. *More details*
>Submitted by Tim Lewis – **Deadline to sign up by: **11 March 2007 –
>**Signatures:** 4,686
>Please sign up – link below. Please forward to friends
>Denise, T2000
>Dear Friends of the Earth
>I'm emailing you about the road pricing controversy that's in the news.
>There is a great deal of coverage of the million-signature petition
>against road pricing.
>The impression given is that the motorists lobby is an overwhelmingly
>powerful and vocal political force. I believe that the green lobby could
>be equally influential, but needs to make its voice heard more clearly
>in order to have a greater influence on political decision making. I
>also think that road pricing is an important step to reducing traffic
>congestion and carbon emissions, and to making the roads safer for cyclists
>I'd be very grateful if you could forward this link the the pro-road
>pricing petition to your members, or others who you think might be
>interested, or highlight the link on your website
>Let's see if we can show that there are a million people in this country
>that care about the effect that traffic congestion has on our
>environment. I'd hate to be shouted down by the motorists lobby again
>Thanks a lot
>Alice Brockington

The text of the petition is as follows,
Having recently received an email asking me to sign the a petition to scrap the vehicle tracking policy, I'd like to propose the opposite. I strongly feel that driving is a privilege and not a right. There are simply too many cars on the road and too many people making journeys by car when they could simply walk or cycle. Thousands die every year in road accidents and many, like myself, are forced to risk our lives in trying to get to work in a sustainable manner. We are dependent of foreign oil and the wars to secure such resources will only get worse if we don't curb our driving habits. Driving started off as a freedom but as we've redesigned our land around the auto mobile, rather than the pedestrian, it's become nearly a necessity. It is, however, perfectly possible to live a successful, car-free life. I would like to advocate that this become the norm and if this law helps driving to become even less attractive than it already is, I'm all for it.

I couldn't agree more! And, I'm sure, neither could you. So GO SIGN, dammit!

Oh, and speaking of car pollution, does anyone else wonder whether all that contaminated petrol killing off cars in the South East could be the result of some kind of anti-car action somewhere along the line??

Just in from Schnews,

...for telling it like it is.

The keepin-it-real young hoodie who made a 'firing gun' gesture at David Cameron last week has ended up the one targeted.

Cuddly 'Eton Messy' Cameron had been on walkabout on a Manchester estate when the 17-year-old made the hand gesture as he walked past. Police swiftly arrested him, then raided his house and held him over the weekend for a few joints worth of weed. Well, no-one disses the Tory Krew!

District Judge Wendy Lloyd told the youngster she was "concerned" that he'd been kept in custody so long for such a small quantity of cannabis. She said: "That you have been dealt with differently causes me great concern." This concern didn't stop her from dishing out a £75 fine however...

The youth, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is now auditioning for the lead role in a local theatre production of "Taxi Driver".
(my emphasis).

At some point last night when I couldn't sleep, I heard on the news that an Australian man in Guantanemo Bay has actually been charged now, having been there for five years. Five years! To charge him!!

But the fucked up thing is that being charged could be a positive for him? I mean, rather than rotting in the Cuban cages indefinitely, he has the prospect of *something* happening. So many people there have not had any charges against them, indeed if it took 5 years for this guy, and we know that anyone there being charged is pretty rare, the vast majority are just being held and held and held, illegally and totally cruelly. The racist and anti-Muslim focus of these detentions cannot be overlooked either. They are vital to keeping the whole 'war on terror' cog turning. Can you imagine if we didn't live in a racist society? Our governments wouldn't get away with a percentage of what they do.

One more reason to challege racism, eh?

But back to this Australian guy - could being charged actually be a way forward for him? I know that's all mixed-up and churned around, but that's the nature of the Guantanemo world he's been living in, and the nature of the huge war which our governments are pushing forward. *Everything* is mixed-up and fucked-up.

Also, have to give plugs to BookCrossing - commit random acts of literacy!!

to Greasy Palm - earn cashback for the shopping you're already doing!

and to YouGov polls, earn money for sharing your opinions! And get excited when polls you took part in are discussed in the news ;)

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