Monday, April 13, 2009

Strangers on the (Bendy) Bus

Firstly apologies for the recent quiet on here - Mr Cru has broken his foot and this means I am now doing the freelance work of two people, including all the heavy lifting he usually does - moving pool tables and stages, etc. Plus fetching cups of tea and meals for him and I'm not even allowed to shout at him for lying on the sofa all day cos he's poorly.

Anyway a couple of things I wanted to comment on. I had a very interesting conversation with a man on the bus the other day. We were chatting about the newspaper I was reading. There was an article about the amount of money the government is spending on "counter-terrorism", accusing anyone with a larder and an alarm clock of owning a bomb-factory. I pointed out that terrorism has killed about 50 people in the last five years in the UK while two women a week are killed by their partners and the government has no clear strategy and clearly doesn't see it as a priority. So be careful who you sit next to on the bus unless you want a feminist lecture!

But this guy replied that he had done jury duty a few years ago on a case of domestic violence and was horrified that the CPS prosecutor didn't even bother to show up for the last day of the case, didn't ask any of the questions he wanted to hear answers to. Meanwhile the defense wove a totally fantastical story which he really couldn't believe but because the prosecution was so weak he wasn't able to convince the other jurors and the guy ended up getting off. He was saying that he didn't think cases like that should be heard by juries but by panels of experts instead - people who could themselves question witnesses and demand additional information if they wanted. Obviously just one anecdote but interesting none the less.

Secondly I was in a supermarket and I had that moment of seeing someone, recognising them and instantly knowing I didn't want to speak to them. I slipped away into the pasta sauces aisle. But I realised why I completely instinctively didn't want to talk to her. We were at university together 15 years ago. Back then she was seriously anorexic - extremely underweight with dark rings round her eyes. We were friends at college but I was well aware of how much the eating disorder was taking over her life - I had just recovered from mine at the time. She counted calories obsessively, ate almost nothing except salads and spent hours in the kitchen preparing fancy things to give to others or to give the impression she was eating more than she was. And when I saw her in the supermarket - she was still that thin and that ill looking.

That means she's spent the last fifteen years on the verge of malnutrition with her every spare minute taken up obsessing over the tiniest piece of food. I just couldn't bear to ask her how she was doing or what she'd been up to - because I knew. Fifteen years wasted. That's so sad I don't want to have to think about it. But it's a reality for a huge tranche of the population. Mostly women, but also guys. And it's yet another thing that government has no clear strategy for dealing with and clearly doesn't see as a real priority.

In fact I've seen more comments from senior politicians in recent months about the merits of the bendy bus (in this case very much doing it's job) than I have about domestic violence or eating disorders. And this misplaced focus is a real waste when there are huge problems destroying people's (mostly women's) lives which we could be addressing.

3 comments:

Ruth Moss said...

Sorry, just let me get over the shock of people talking to each other on public transport in London...

... there we go.

Yeah, you're right of course, the government has its priorities totally wrong. Especially wrt violence against women.

Maybe I'm a conspiracy theorist, but I can't help but feel there is something 1984-esque about the "war on terror".

JENNIFER DREW said...

Yes indeed there are similarities between 'reds under the bed' and the government's paranoid obsession with 'terrorism.' But of course it distracts everyone from considering other issues such as increasing unemployment which of course only affects men not women (sic). Likewise male violence against women is a non-issue from the goverment's perspective. Now terrorists kill far more people (sic) than male violence destroys women's lives.

Agree with male who talked about his experience of jury service, far too little is done by the CPS to prosecute thoroughly. It is all about target figures which of course is what government is solely concerned about. Meeting targets and making government look as though they are taking action. Oh yes and the moon is really made of green cheese.

Oceans Deep said...

Cheers for the comment! =) I'd love to get a link back, my preferences... Scotland, feminist, (liberal leftie secondly).

Isn't it good when you meet someone who does give you slightly more faith in humanity? I think terrorism is 'more of a concern' (ahem) because it can affect anyone, literaly anyone and we all know that domestic violence, well that doesn't happen to people like us. Bah.