Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Weekend Bonanza Pictures

These are a few of the pictures that I took at Kathy's place. First there's Jojo, a friend of mine (the one who sings), Ato (Kathy's cousin), Kathy, me and Kathy's twin siblings, Annabelle and Thomas.

Weekend Bonanza Part II

The next day was Sunday, and I woke up at almost noon. I had to return to Crawley. My friend Jojo wanted to meet me at Victoria Station. It was raining cats and dogs. What to do, what to do. I didn’t want to go out into the rain (duh!). Even more, I didn’t want to go back to Crawley and back to work because I was relaxing and getting reacquainted with my friend. I decided to back a cake for Kathy and her family, and also to make my favorite meal, boiled yam with corned beef and egg stew. Kathy and I went shopping once the rain had stopped. I texted Jojo to come over to Thornton’s Heath since he had a car, and he said he would after church. Ato, Kathy’s cousin, helped me very much with the creaming of the cake, so that I had very little to do, and could concentrate on making the corned beef stew, which turned out really well.

When Jojo turned up, he was quite surprised to see how I had changed, because we hadn’t seen each other in eleven years. J. It took him a while to get over how much I had changed. I introduced him to Kathy’s siblings and cousin, and we all basically sat in the kitchen, cooking and talking. Jojo made to leave many times, and we even wrapped a bit of the cake for him to take with him. As an aside, I made about a pound of the cheese pound cake, and thirty minutes after the cake was done, almost two-thirds of it was gone. Hehhee….(giving myself a pat on the shoulder). Back to Jojo. He didn’t want dinner, but since we had made him stay that long, we forced him to have a bit. A bit turned into a second helping as he enjoyed the meal immensely. (Yes, I am a bit vain, but whatever. Giving myself another pat on the shoulder.) After the meal, a new side of Jojo that I had never seen emerged. I got a phone call from Twum, my honey, so I went into the bedroom to speak to him. We both could hear (him through the phone) raucous laughter coming from the kitchen. It turned out that Jojo was quite the comedian, telling such funny stories that had the others doubled over with laughter. I don’t think he let till after 10pm. All in all, it was a fun night.

I then called Nan to tell her that I couldn’t make it back to Crawley that night. She said she had been worried because she hadn’t heard from me, and I felt a bit guilty. As I didn’t have any clothes but the ones I had worn there, I had to do laundry. However, by the time we had finished cleaning and all that good stuff, it was almost 1am. I started doing laundry at 1am. I knew there and then that I wouldn’t be able to make it to work, but I was hoping for the best. We put it in the dryer around 2:30am, and that’s when I went to bed. I woke up at 8:30 Monday morning to get ready for work, but couldn’t stay up, so I called to say I’ll be in a bit later. I woke up again at 10:30am and decided to get my clothes out of the dryer. They were by no means dry! L. I was definitely going to be way too late to go to work. I called in and said I wasn’t feeling well and would come in on another day. It wasn’t a complete lie because I was really drowsy and coming down with a cold. I slept till noon, had some cereal, and lay in bed reading for a while. I got cleaned and dressed around 3pm, and just kept lazing about and resting. Around 4pm, Ato came to remind me that I had to go to town to change some money and return some things I had bought. I took my handbag and left with him. It wasn’t till we got to town that I realized that I didn’t need to go back home with him, but I could leave from there since I had everything I had come with on me.

I got a little snack from Gregg’s as I was hungry, and then he walked me to the East Croydon train station after I had done all that I needed to do. Ato was really helpful, taking me where I needed to be to change money (Marks and Spencer) and to return two tops I had bought on impulse (Dorothy Perkins). Kathy had had to leave for work, which is why Ato was the one who helped me. I didn’t know how to thank him, but he said he would just wait for more cake the next time I visited. At the train station I bought a story book and a Fanta, but I was told the drink was cheaper if I bought two of them, so I did just that and gave one to Ato. I bought my ticket, got on my platform, and chatted with Twum on the phone until my train came.

The trip to Crawley was only about 20-25 minutes long, which was nice to know, as it meant I could hop over to visit Kathy without spending a long time on the train. Right as I arrived at the Crawley station, I got a call from Nan asking where I was and when I would be getting home for dinner. I told her I had just arrived, and that I would walk home to familiarize myself with the route. I thought I was lost initially, but I wasn’t, and found myself very soon at the Clarion Hotel which was near Nan’s house. I went in and signed up for the gym membership deal they are having, and also booked an appointment for a free consultation with the on-site personal trainer. I hope to go twice a day. Please pray for me so I stick to that. J

I had arrived at the train station at 7pm, and I got home before 8pm. It was about a thirty minute walk from the train station to Nan’s house, which is not a bad walk. I’m still not too used to the roads and the flipping of the sides where the cars drive. I’ve just told myself that most of the time the on-coming car is to my right, instead of my left, so I should just keep that in mind.

I’m in bed now, about to go to bed so I can wake up early tomorrow morning to get to the gym, then catch the train to work in Worthing. I hope I make it. I start my third week tomorrow. It feels like I’ve been here longer than that.

Stay blessed, and enjoy the week!

Weekend Bonanza Part I

Saturday, I was supposed to meet Kathy, a very good friend from my secondary school days in Wesley Girls, in Brighton. The weather decided that it was a good day to be uncooperative. It kept raining and the atmosphere was just grey and depressing. I didn’t want to leave the house. However, Kathy had already set out. Then, as if clueing in to the weather and sharing in it’s sadness, my phone signal went out, and I couldn’t make or receive calls. Of course, I didn’t know this till about an hour later, and then I began to panic that Kathy might have arrived, waited for a while, and thought I wasn’t coming. I didn’t know whether to stay or go. I decided to go, then started worrying whether I should just go back with her to her London apartment or come back home. I thought I would come back home, so I just left with my handbag and an umbrella. I walked up to the top of the road where the bus stop was, and decided not to walk to the train station because I wasn’t really sure how to get there although it had been pointed out to me, and I was already a couple of hours late. So, I waited for the bus with this young man who was dressed in all black, had tattoos on both arms and was finishing up a cigarette. I asked him which bus to take to get to the train station, and he said all buses went there, so I got on the next one, paid my fare, and got down at the station. I bought a return ticket to Brighton, because once again, I was deluding myself that I would be back home that evening. Why do I say deluding? Because I haven’t seen Kathy in six years, and I knew that we would want to spend a lot of time catching up. It was already 4pm when I got to the train station, which meant that we wouldn’t have a lot of time together before it got dark. Silly silly Denise! Wasting money on a return ticket. Teeheehee.

I had to switch trains at Three Bridges, which is pretty close to Gatwick Airport. Twum called me while I was on the platform and we had a really fun conversation. I got to Brighton at almost 4pm, and picked Kathy out immediately because she is tall. J She has always been tall. She is now 6ft tall. Yup! Pretty intimidating for most guys, especially Ghanaian guys who are usually of average height. We walked down to the center of the town, to Pret A Manger, where one of her friends worked. We asked for a good place to eat and were directed to a Chinese buffet restaurant nearby. Kathy and I had a lot of fun, chatting and filling up on Chinese food. After lunch/dinner, we went into the shopping mall and got a few things we both needed, then went back to Pret A Manger to meet up with Kathy’s friend. Two other friends had turned up, and we had a grand time poking fun at each other’s secondary schools. Kathy and I left Brighton around 7pm I think (it could have been 8pm), and took a train back to London, where we got off at East Croydon, which is on the outskirts of London in one of the zones. I don’t get the zone thing.

Anyway, Kathy has a house that she lives in with her siblings and a cousin. Really lovely house in Thornton Heath. I went in and met them, and Kathy mentioned that there was a Ghanaian restaurant a few minutes away. I wanted to eat banku and okro soup. I don’t know why, but each time I hear about a Ghanaian restaurant, the first thing I want is banku and okro soup. So, after we had relaxed a bit and I had gotten to know the rest of the family, we went out to the bus stop and went on to the restaurant, called Baba Foundation, a Ghanaian community center. On the bus ride there, we encountered quite a few Ghanaian men who proceeded to propose to us and ask us out on dates. LOL! They complained when I told them I was married, saying that all the Ghanaian women they met claimed they were married. It was pretty funny.

I got my banku and had it to my satisfaction, to Kathy’s amazement, since it was almost 1am. Oh yeah! It was that late. A friend of Kathy’s, William, came to join us after he closed from work, and we went upstairs for about ten minutes to dance to the hiplife songs they were playing, then we left in William’s car back to Kathy’s house. We didn’t go to bed till after 4am. Lovely night.

I love Primark

I didn’t go to work on Friday because I was tired, and also because it was Chris’s birthday and she wasn’t going to work. I live with Chris’s mom here in Crawley, UK, so Chris takes me to work and brings me back after work. I was so tired on that I woke up almost noon on Friday. Actually, Nan woke me up because she said Amy, her granddaughter, who was coming to take me to town, would be arriving soon.

I went with Amy to her house where she parked her car, then we walked into town. It was a nice walk. I toyed briefly with getting a nose stud because quite frankly, it looks pretty sexy. We came across an open air market with both farm produce and clothing. It was quite fun. From there we walked into the center of the town where I found my new love, Primark (sorry honey! J). Primark is this store in the UK where really nice, stylish clothes and accessories are sold for very cheap. To give you an idea of how cheap these things are, I’ll tell you all that I bought and how much it cost. I got three necklaces, seven pairs of earrings, a set of ten bracelets, six other individual bracelets, three head ties, a belt, a red handbag, two wallets, five blouses and a pair of pants for a grand total of 42 pounds! Not bad, eh? I must admit I went a bit crazy on the red though…oh well, I only live once, right?

I then had the most delicious sandwich, made of chicken, bacon, green onions and avocado on wheat bread. Just amazing! Then I had ice cream from Baskin Robbins, and went into this store called Boots for a make-up tutorial and makeover from the Clinique counter. I looked okay. I don’t think heavy make-up looks good on me, so I didn’t like the final product that much. However, when most of it had faded a little, I was quite striking, if I may say so myself. LOL!

We got picked up by Chris after I had been shown the train station, and we went back home, where Amy, Nan and I took this picture. What a lovely day!!

Random pictures

I have some pictures from Christelle's visit, and from my first day at Nan's place (That's Chris's mum). I've been wanting to put those up for a while but I hadn't really gotten a chance to do so, so here we go. There is a picture of Skippy the dog, a really lovely creature, some pictures of my rooms( I sleep in one and keep my suitcases in another), my shoe collection (which keeps growing...LOL!), and of me posing in the mirror (as usual).

Tough Stuff

It looks like the last time I updated this blog was last week Wednesday, which is almost a week ago. Since then, I sat in on two of the caseworkers’ meetings with clients, some old and some new. One of them, a new referral, was quite emotional and I left the hour and a half meeting feeling physically and emotionally drained. I couldn’t believe that another human being could treat someone they claimed to love so callously. The poor woman totally believed the man she was with when he said he would find her if she tried to run away. Although the WORTH project did not push anyone to choose one mode of action over the other, whenever the woman mentioned that she wanted to leave and we told her we would support whatever decision she made, she always backed out, saying that maybe she should just go back, keep quiet, and take whatever the man was doling out, because she didn’t want to cause trouble. What? What what what?

In situations like these where the woman believes it would be easier to just go back and accept the abuse so as not to cause trouble and involve the police, the case workers had to be blunt, letting the women know that if they stayed, there might be even more trouble if their partners ended up killing them. That thought sends shivers down my spine….

Even more chilling was the case of this old woman whose son was abusing her. I was told that in one instance, the son beat his mother up, threw her around and pushed her onto the floor (this woman was about 74 years old), took a knife and brought it close to her eyes, telling her that he could kill whenever he wanted. When the woman reported the case, she said she didn’t want to press charges because she didn’t want to cause trouble for her son but wanted to help her. One of the caseworkers told her bluntly that the next time it could be murder her son would be up for, and that convinced her. She pressed charges and her son was put in jail for eighteen months. He was however let out after nine months on good behavior. I wonder how this old lady is doing now, whether she is afraid her son will come back to find her and kill her.

And that’s the thing with domestic violence, I’ve realized. Because it’s got more to do with power than anything else, I’m sure most of the women are afraid that if they leave, their abuser would chase them down and find them, in order to exert control over them and not lose their control. As much as I would like to say that this does not happen, that when the women leave the perpetrator doesn’t track them down, there have been incidents where the women have been found by their abusers, and have been forced to live a nomadic life, moving frequently to cause the perp to lose the trail. Once again, I think, “What? What what what?,” and “Why why why?”

In response to your question, Henry, about how the case workers deal with such disturbing issues on a daily basis, I was told that most of them went to see their own counselors often to relieve the stress. Also, they had a scheduling grid where anyone who was on the schedule as the Blue person would not see any clients for two days even though they were present at the office, taking that time to de-stress and touch base with the coordinator. That person also usually got two days off, so that they could work the weekend shift. I hope that answers your question a bit.