4 December 2015
Back to work
Jason has just mentioned the Lady we had dinner with, and called her wholesome. I had to think for a bit, what he meant by wholesome, but understand what he is getting at. Good, honest, true. Three words to describe her. Three words we should all aspire too!
She cooked Italian and we spent a good five hours chatting about everything. It isn't until you sit down with someone, that you discover the real truth, the real person and their real purpose. In all honesty, so many people have said their bit and had their say, that sometimes, the facts get skewed and that has been a major problem all along the line.
It was a wonderful, relaxing and enjoyable evening, spent with someone who has a heart of gold and truly made us feel welcome, as ever. When you go into someones house, there are occasions when you feel uncomfortable, this was nothing but. We had a lovely time and will reciprocate as soon as we are able!
4 December 2015
In this rehash of my second blog, Forever Enduring Cycles, I refer to Darrell as Jason, his birth name. We both changed our titles, when we left for Spain after taking legal advice. Writing about ones old employer, after the injustices they committed would have been impossible, using our real identities; a pseudonym was the answer. Three years have passed since I began blogging; although I still write under the name Luke Martin-Jones, I am no longer afraid to reference my partner and I in the correct manner! In time, as Oxfam are finally brought to account, I will once again be able to speak freely, without fear of reprisals!
Reflections - 24 March 2018
In the first part of this blog entry, entitled 'Burning ones Bridges,' first written on 4 December 2015, Darrell and I spent an evening at a friends house; dinner and conversation flowed late into the night.
Both of us were invited to a work colleagues home, another Manager who was based in Eastleigh. Since the person in question no longer works for Oxfam, I am happily allowed to refer to her by name; Hilary. Like us, Hilary had become a victim in Oxfam's games; bullied, sidelined and abused by a Manager who had no thought for her staff. Hilary was still working for them at the time we paid a visit; this period at Oxfam was a strained affair and not one she looks back on with fondness and who can blame her.
We had a wonderful relaxing night, spent in the company of a dear close friend, who remains in contact today, exchanging correspondence frequently. The three of us had much to talk about. I was returning to work at the very time Hilary was leaving. She couldn't take the harassment any longer. Like Darrell and I, her health had suffered dramatically and it was the right time for her to take a final bow.
Without people like Hilary my life would have been far more difficult. She was a great source of advice and comfort at the time and was there when no one else was. We all shared our problems often, it helped us come to terms with what was going on. It is sad that other Managers didn't offer support us at such a crucial time, but looking back I can understand why. Most had no idea what was going on and others had seen it all before, not wanting to become Veronica Raymond's latest victim. We three were the lucky ones, getting out when we could. It is painful giving up a career, you have dedicated your life to, but in the long run, sat here writing today, it was the best thing that could have happened.
The second half of this entry refers to the night we finally began to go through decades of paperwork. Our impending move to Spain, was becoming a reality, so we both felt it was time to start destroying a lifetime of documents. This was a difficult process; even after being together over twenty years, we both had to keep everything, that proved our partnership. The Foreign Office could demand access to our files at anytime, in order to verify we are still together; we kept the most important files and burnt the rest.
It's funny really, now we both live in Spain, we have no need to keep any of these papers. We have lived outside of the United Kingdom too long now, so Darrell's entitlement to live and work in Britain, is no longer an option. He would have to go through a process of settlement once again, as he did twenty years ago. Since neither of us intend returning, our life in the UK has come to an abrupt end and we can finally rid ourselves of all references to our time together living in Southampton. As a hoarder and collector, I doubt I will get rid of these memories anytime soon!
2 December 2015
Reflections - 9 January 2018
I was in two minds about reviewing this entry today, since I have discovered that Sam and Laura are no longer together as a couple; however it is important for me to discuss every aspect of my life in 2015; such an important year for me. I met Sam through Christopher Bunday, who just happens to be staying with Darrell and me at the moment. Like Chris, Sam comes from Hythe, or rather Marchwood, situated on Southampton Water, just outside the New Forest; If I remember rightly a more upmarket neighbourhood in Southampton; so I am told. He is a great lad, with a tremendous work ethic, respectful and someone I saw often when Chris lived with me; about ten years ago now.
In December 2015, we were doing the rounds, visiting those close, before we moved to Spain in January. Fitting in everyone was difficult. Darrell and I were busy most of the time; consequently, we were unable to see many, we would have liked to say goodbye too. After a lunch date in Totton, near Sam and Laura’s house, we popped in to see them both and their new son Arthur; who it has to be said, was a feisty one. It was great to see them all together as a family. I was sad to hear they both parted ways; but understand the pressures all families are under today.
There were a few children in my life at the time, most noticeably baby Imogen, the daughter of our friend Kirsty Hooper. Up until this point there were no youngsters of note. It is rather poignant that we became close to Imogen in particular, at a time when we were preparing to move abroad. I would have loved to remain a part of Imogen’s life, as I would others, like Arthur and indeed my own cousin Rachael’s latest child, but circumstances prevented me from doing so.
Unlike my husband Darrell, I wanted to have children, but when we were young, it was an impossible undertaking. I have always loved kids, working with underprivileged children in the UK and of course teaching here in Spain. I suppose that was my way of having contact with our future generation, even though I was unable to have any of my own. This very topic cropped up the other day, while I was working at LoungeD; I was asked if I wanted a family, by one of our customers. Of course I would love to adopt, but at my time of life, in my current situation, that would be impossible. I’ll leave that to those who have the abilities to do so.
I do have friends, who are gay, who have children; they remain a beacon for others who hope to one day follow their example. Richard Leach, the ‘Cakeman’ from my home town is a fantastic father; a doting Dad, like no other. Many I have known also had the ability, far more than I, to become the fathers they so deserve, gay or not. Jay Greaves, who used to be close to myself and Darrell, helping us through some very difficult times, was fantastic with kids; in fact I have personally never seen someone ‘do it better.’ I hope in time, he will also realise his dream of fatherhood. I come from a large family myself. I remember as a teenager, I would go and visit my Gran and Grandad and there would always be children about, which is great when you are growing up. If you have the expertise to bring up a child, especially as a gay man, you should. What a wonderful way to give something back.
When I look at some of those who have children these days, for no other reason than they can, I am shocked at some of the parenting skills employed. Mothers screaming at their little ones in shops, smacking them, abusing them in public, let alone in the privacy of their own home and of course, the terrible cases of child abuse one reads about in newspapers everyday. No child needs to suffer this way, there is a queue of well able and superbly qualified parents from all sectors of the community wanting to give a good home to those in greatest need.
I am struck at how well behaved children are in Spain; they seem to be so different to their British counterparts. The concept of family is far more important here, with more focus on unity and encouragement; as a consequence siblings seem to be closer. Society in Spain allows for a more stable, nurturing and supportive environment in which children can grow, develop and aspire, achieving all they want to. A child’s life is far more outdoor centric and they seem, at least on the surface to be far more grounded. These are of course only my own observations, other people may totally disagree. Living in Spain has taught me a lot about the values surrounding family, something I never really had when I was in the UK.
So there we have it a blog about a certain day in December; at a time when I was visiting friends and family, saying my goodbyes. A difficult turning point for me and Darrell, but part of the process of renewal, rather like the arrival of Arthur. The birth of anything new, a baby, new direction or fresh start, is important for all of us, in order to evolve as people. Baby Arthur served as recognition, that new times were ahead and our future was no longer based in Southampton. It was good to see them and say goodbye, but just as Arthur had a new life ahead of him, so did we.
I haven’t been back to see anyone in Southampton yet; I’m sure I will in time; equally I am sure I will be shocked at just how much both Arthur and Imogen have grown. I wish both of them all the luck in the World for a wonderful future. They are lucky to have loving parents, who will cater for their every need, what more can I child ask for.
1 December 2015
Had an appointment at the Auctioneers today, still getting rid of stuff and trimming down life. It's actually a very therapeutic thing to do once in a while; clearing out the cobwebs and trashing the dead wood, now isn't it about time we all did that!
The end to a perfect day, sat here on the sofa, watching my favourite, feel good comedy, 'Rat Race.' It actually cracks me up, haven't stopped laughing, no matter how many times I watch it!
Peace and Love, always!
Reflections - 30 December 2017
Two years ago, I was busy packing, selling the family silver and offloading items; many of which, had been in my life twenty years or more. I found the whole process liberating, yes, but also an emotional roller coaster. When you make the decision to move abroad, nothing can prepare you for the difficulties you face, parting with personal items, not necessarily of value, but objects you have a deeply personal attachment to. On 1 December 2015, Darrell and I had a rare day out, away from all the commotion in our life, visiting local bars and restaurants in the Portswood area of Southampton.
Looking at this entry I am immediately back in my old student stomping ground. I was a regular visitor to this part of the City, always enjoying my time here. One can not help but get a little nostalgic for ones home town, especially when looking back at photo's, as I am now, writing about this day. The one aspect of life I miss, living in Spain, is the nightlife in Southampton; always buzzing and full of energy. Last night as I walked home from work, I was struck by how quiet it was, so different to the life I left behind.
Darrell has just said to me, he isn't sure if all this reminiscing about the past is healthy and doing me any good and he is probably right, but it is something I need to do, to understand where I have come from and recall just what we went through back then. I need to keep the memories of what happened alive, otherwise I would allow the bullies at Oxfam to get away with what they did. This entry illustrates perfectly, the turmoil my life was in. Reading between the lines, I can see just how vulnerable I was at the time, trying to hold on to an existence, that was slowly slipping away. A meal in a restaurant, that we used to enjoy regularly, had turned into a trip down memory lane.
I still heard from my volunteers at Oxfam, despite not being in-situ through illness. A card congratulating us on our recent Wedding meant the World to me, at a time when my World was literally crumbling before my eyes. Volunteers are the life force of any charitable enterprise; like me they were victims of a trust that had no value for them or those they were supposed to be helping. Even today, most of the volunteers I worked with, on a daily basis have no idea what really happened to myself, Darrell and others, caught up in a dangerous sociopathic game. They would have been told some untruth about our departure, as they had been in the past. Oxfam are masters at cover ups and have been doing it to protect themselves, probably since their inception in 1948. Recently I was lucky enough to speak to one of my colleagues, who had informed me, that many of those I used to employ are once again working, after a shop I was responsible for, closed down; doing what they do best, working to help others, making poverty history!
26 November 2015
Happy Birthday to my partner Jason. Here's hoping that 2016 will be better than the last. Remember one thing, you have always had right on your side!
All my love Darren x
Reflections - 15 December 2017
I remember my partners Birthday in 2015; it wasn't the usual happy affair, it had been in the past. Even at a time when we both should have been relaxing and enjoying the day, just a little bit more than normal, we couldn't. The stress of what was going on around us, was still very much at the forefront of our minds.
Both of us were still questioning, whether or not we had done the right thing, in bringing Veronica Raymond's bulling activities to the the attention of Oxfam. I was personally in no doubt, this woman had to be stopped; my partner less so, believing we were being used to do the work of others, a scapegoat if you like. He was probably right; no one else, above our grade were willing to stand up and be counted; they were too scared to confront this poor excuse for a human being, allowing her to continue down her destructive path. It was no wonder we both questioned our situation and at times had to reassure each other, that we were doing the right thing. Looking at ourselves and analysing our circumstances was commonplace, we did it nearly everyday. Although Oxfam encouraged us to complain against Veronica, there was no back up or support, to get us through this difficult process; they had left us to deal with everything alone.
At the time I wrote this entry, we had both made our decision to move to Spain, where we are both settled and happy today. As I look through my lounge door, towards the garden room; the sun streaming through the windows on this warm December day, I am amazed that I never moved to Spain earlier. At the end of 2015 I was hoping for a much better year ahead; my final year in the UK had been truly dreadful. All I could do was look forward optimistically. If anything 2016 was more difficult than the previous year. We were both away from the sociopaths that stalked Oxfam, but we were restarting our life in a new Country; lack of employment, a return to Australia, illness and difficulties in acclimatising to the Spanish sun were all factors that prevented us moving forwards faster than we would have liked. We may well be closer to where we want to be now, but there is still work we need to do, in order to enjoy the security and lifestyle, we both desire for the future. A positive outlook and attitude, will most certainly see us through, we have come a long way since November 2015!
46 year old Expat, writer and columnist, living and working in Gran Alacant on the Costa Blanca.