Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Northern Ireland - We've only just begun.


I'm not going to lie, the last week has been a challenge, and by "challenge" I mean I felt like I was locked into one of those real life horror houses with blood drenched actors. Monday 20th saw a vote in the Northern Irish Assembly in favour of Lord Morrow's human trafficking bill, clause 6 of which effectively imposes the Swedish model, making it illegal to pay for sex.

In real terms what it means is this - the Justice Committee ignored the evidence of the World Health Organisation, UNAIDS, respected publication The Lancet to name but a few, all of whom are in favour of decriminalisation, because it has been shown that further criminalisation does nothing but further harm those most at risk in the industry. But worse than that, they ignored the voices of those of us at the centre of the debate, sex workers. The Department of Justice commissioned research found that a staggering 98% of sex workers did not want this law, and that's not just in reference to internet savvy "happy hookers". The researchers interviewed those who had really suffered as a result of the industry, and STILL, they said no to further criminalisation.

In itself, ignoring sex workers is bad enough, but Paul Givan and Jim Wells took that one step further. As head of the Justice Committee, (he has since lost that role), Givan felt it was appropriate to quiz me about my personal sex life, my relationship with my dad and he also alleged that I target vulnerable disabled men. In a final act of arrogance, he said that "some of us don't need any evidence". When the head of a Justice Committee says that, it's time to become terrified. His colleague Jim Wells was equally horrid, as far as he's concerned there can be only vulnerable victims or members of the pimp lobby. No such thing as a sex worker who works independently to support her family and happens to care for the welfare of other sex workers then ? Don't be silly. That Jim Wells has now been appointed as Minister for Health in NI is just depressing, he as shown complete contempt for women over and over again, together with just about every minority group you can think of.

So who in their right minds said yes to a model proven to harm ? Well, CARE had a lot of influence here, as a fundamentalist Christian group they pledged to set up sheltered housing to save "fallen women" in case we become, and I quote, "drug dealers". I'm not sure if the model of locking up "problematic" women whilst enjoying massive government funding is ringing any bells with you, but it sure is with me. I'm terrified that this will be the outcome. All through the process, I appealed to Lord Morrow's good sense. Sure, he can refer to himself as the "hand of Wilberforce", but for me, it takes a very brave man to stand up against the puritans and say - "Erm, trafficking is already an offence. Rape is already an offence. The PSNI don't want this law, the Minister for Justice doesn't want this law, and crucially; sex workers don't want this law, so why are we even looking at this ?" That is exactly the stance that Basil McCrea and several other MLA's took and they will forever have the admiration of all of us who worked so hard to have the law stopped. Quite why the UUP and Sinn Fein did a last minute about turn, I'll never know, but I was bitterly disappointed and angered by their stance.

So what now ? Now we're faced with a situation where sex workers are afraid to liaise with the police, afraid to take on new clients who may or may not be testing the waters, and this in spite of the fact that the bill won't actually become law until Spring. Amusingly, there was a last minute amendment tabled which decriminalised the women working on the street, I guess this is the carrot they feel they can dangle. The reality is this, we are still not decriminalised in that we cannot work together for safety, so any chest beating they are doing around that safety element is, I'm afraid, complete crap. No, their idea is to force women out of shared apartments where they work in safety and on to the streets. Why ? So they can be rescued, by the rescue industry with their funding applications at the ready. That's why. "Put them where we can see them, that boosts our figures and justifies more funding". The reality is that if two women work together for safety in an apartment in Northern Ireland, they are both deemed "victims", but can BOTH be convicted of "pimping" from each other. So we are compelled to work alone, and in danger since 81 MLA's made it abundantly plain that they couldn't care less what happens to us.

And that, I'm afraid, is what it really has come down to. Sex workers in Northern Ireland are seen as no more than a tool to elevate political status and line the pockets of those already profiting from doing very little for the very desperate.

Though these are sad and frightening times, we can't give up campaigning for real decriminalisation, and for good policing practices. Whilst Ruhama and Turn off the Red Light continue to pocket hundreds of thousands of tax payers money obtained through lies, and whilst sex workers struggle to feed their children in a recession, there's work to be done.

LL xx

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Press release 19/10/2014


PRESS RELEASE

Tomorrow (Monday 20th October) the Northern Ireland Assembly will vote on the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Further Provisions and Support for Victims) Bill. Clause 6 will criminalise the purchase of sex, between consenting adults.

This Bill has been put forward by the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) backed by the fundamentalist religious organisation CARE (Christian Action Research and Education). CARE's solution is to "rescue" sex workers (heavily funded by the government) and lock them away in secure housing in case we become "drug dealers". Is that 'solution' not ringing any bells ? Women’s Aid have also given their wholehearted support to this Bill. Women’s Aid claim to represent ‘women’ but like the nuns in the Magdalene laundries before them they are putting their brutal ideology and financial interest over those of us in the sex industry who choose what we do. Women’s Aid have never engaged with sex workers nor have they shown any inclination to do so. Our views and opinions are aren’t worth a grain of salt to them. Women’s Aid need to remember that it was the issue of ‘choice’ that defined the feminist movement and by aligning with the DUP on this issue they have set the feminist cause in NI back decades. Will Women’s Aid now be joining the DUP to have the Marie Stopes clinic shut down? And this is choice ?

Sinn Féin, the second largest political party recognises that this Bill is flawed insofar as it is based on ideology not evidence and will lead to an increase in risks and dangers to sex workers. But Sinn Féin MLAs haven’t held firm to what they know to be true and are unlikely to oppose it. Thus it will pass.

The Department of Justice published independent research into prostitution in Northern Ireland on Friday 17th October clearly showing that criminalising the purchase of sex will not achieve the stated aims but will harm sex workers. Crucially, this research took the views and opinions of sex workers into account, a first for NI. However, Northern Ireland’s politicians are ignoring the evidence and throwing sex workers under the bus. Will sex workers in NI have to wait decades for an apology just as the Magdalene women did ? Or will that apology for bad law making come after the first murder, or fourth serious assault perhaps ? It remains to be seen, but they cannot for a moment pretend they didn't have the evidence available to do right by an already marginalised and stigmatised group. Sex workers will suffer, and it could have been prevented by the courageous actions of a few. Instead we have been let down by the cowardice of many.

Laura Lee
Sex Workers' Rights Activist

Protest at Stormont - Monday 20th October


STOP CRIMINALISATION: SAFETY FIRST !!

Sex workers and allies -

PROTEST AGAINST THE CRIMINALISATION OF THE PURCHASE OF SEX.

Parliament Buildings, Stormont, Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Monday 20 October, 4pm-5pm.


On Monday 20th October the Northern Ireland Assembly will vote on the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Further Provisions and Support for Victims) Bill. This Bill includes a clause which will criminalise the purchase of sex.

This Bill has been put forward by the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) backed by CARE (Christian Action Research and Education). Sinn Féin, the second largest party, is believed to have now decided not to not oppose it. Thus it will pass.

The Department of Justice published independent research into prostitution in Northern Ireland on Friday 17th October clearly showing that criminalising the purchase of sex will not achieve the stated aims but will harm sex workers. However Northern Ireland’s politicians are ignoring the evidence and throwing sex workers under the bus.

I am calling for a protest.

Red umbrellas and sex worker rights banners are encouraged. Sex workers are highly stigmatised in Northern Ireland and thus masks are welcome. Masks will also be made available on the day.

Some of the findings of the recently published Northern Ireland research are:

Only 2% of sex workers support criminalising the purchase of sex.

Sex workers worry that criminalisation of clients will lead to a potential decrease in security, worsen working conditions and increase risks of violence and other abuse. Another common concern is that criminalisation of clients will lead to the increased involvement of organised crime groups and ‘pimps’ in the sex industry;

61% of NI-based sex workers feel criminalising the purchase of sex will make them less safe.

There is likely to be significant difficulties with enforcement of the law. PSNI officers who took part in the research noted that, in their opinion, a sex purchase ban would be difficult to enforce and would be largely ineffective in reducing the level of trafficking in sexual exploitation.

85% of sex workers believe the law will not reduce sex trafficking.

Only 8% of respondents to the client survey said it would make them stop paying for sex altogether.

Stigmatisation and the related fear of exposure constitutes a very significant issue for the sex workers who took part in the study, it ranked above all other concerns.

The full research report is available here:

http://www.dojni.gov.uk/index/media-centre/independent-research-into-prostitution-in-northern-ireland-published.htm

LL xx

Monday, 6 October 2014

Ego versus evidence


As my regular readers will know, there are several things I cannot abide. Top of the list must be -

- Nuns
- Abolitionists who lie (see "Nuns")
- Bullies
- Those who spout off with no knowledge and an abundance of spite.

Meet Jeremy Wilson, who neatly ticks off the last two on my list. Recently, he wrote this piece in an attempt to undermine the credibility of Brooke Magnanti, a lady I'm sure you need no introduction to, who also happens to be a friend. Now, I know Brooke is a big girl and can look after herself, so whenever someone has a go at her in the media or on Twitter, I stop and ask, is it patronising of me to jump in ? Then I remember the number of times she has had my back and answer my own question.

The first claim made by Wilson is that Brooke may not have worked as a call girl at all. As a fellow escort I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that she did. We have discussed the industry at length and there is a code, turns of phrases and common parlance employed with a wink and nod, which leave me in no doubt. In the same way you could very quickly establish that a lawyer is not all that he claims to be if he can't answer the very basic question, "What did Fisher v Bell [1961] establish in contract law ?", then Brooke was a call girl.

Next, our intrepid investigator goes on to question if Brooke could really have earned £300 an hour. In short, of course she could. There was then, and still is, an elite set of both escorts and clients, particularly in London. Aside from his bitchy jibes about looks, Wilson misses the point in spectacular fashion. At that end of the market, clients are not just paying for beauty or indeed youth. It's a package deal, and a highly intelligent woman who can hold her own in any company or setting will always do well. Further, at that end of the market, clients are paying for discretion too, which is huge, and also the reason no client has "come forward". Gosh, does the fact that none of my clients have ever publicly identified themselves mean I don't exist ? I'm pretty sure I do, although I can think of several lying abolitionists who would wish for the opposite.

Going from ill informed to just plain stupid, Wilson continues "there are established online spaces where men anonymously recall their time with prostitutes", referring to Punternet. Whilst it's true that Punternet has been online since 1999, allow me to introduce some facts, something my new favourite blogger seems to be adverse to. "There are no reports for Taro, therefore she didn't exist !" Erm, no. It is common practice for an agency when closing to request that all of their reviews be removed, and as webmaster, being the obliging sort he is, Galahad will do it. Alpha Babes closed in 2009 (approx) and Punternet has also had several over hauls since then. Archives have been lost, meaning some reviews went too. The main point to be made here though, is that (strap yourselves in for this one) - NOT EVERY CLIENT WRITES REVIEWS, PARTICULARLY THOSE WHO PAY TOP DOLLAR. Heard of discretion at all ?

Whilst it's true that I have a lot of reviews, remember that I've been working online and in the UK since 2006, Brooke worked for 18 months, in 2003/2004, when reviews and indeed independents were less usual. Remember also, that I have openly mentioned that I have some pretty high profile clients. 95% of those have never written a review in their lives, neither do they email, to avoid a trail. They call, they book, we meet, that's it. There is no obligation on a client to write a review, and I know for a fact that were I to suggest it to some of my guys, they would never call me again.

Saving the best 'til last, the font of all knowledge goes on to say - "Brooke Magnanti has been almost solely responsible for cultivating the myth of the "happy hooker." Utter codswallop. "The Happy Hooker" was the name of a book written by Xaviera Hollander in 1971, four years before Brooke was born, so unless you can add time travel to the list of her talents ....Brooke has been very forthright in saying that as a migrant, she had very little options available to her, and she's happy with the choices she made, though the sex trade is not for everyone. It really is as simple as that. Never once has she painted a rosy picture, in fact if memory serves me correctly, when Secret Diary of a Call Girl was televised, she tweeted - "Where's the gore ? The fisting ?" As someone who has scrubbed toilets for a living, I don't think Brooke glamourises anything. What she does do, is break down the myths and statistics around sex work, and around her perceived life. Which of the two do you suppose makes Wilson more uncomfortable ? Your guess is as good as mine.

LL xx

Addendum : I incorrectly attributed the article originally. Mea culpa. Another writer at Breitbart is equally culpable in the continued sustained attacks on Brooke - Milo Yiannopoulos. Check out his article here, and his constant badgering on Twitter as @Nero.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Hoarding versus hookers


See, here's the thing, I'm often accused of glamourising the industry. I honestly don't think I do, in fact I've written in the past about how I spend a lot of my time talking newbies OUT of joining the sex industry, but for those who still think I do, here's a tale of woe. Incidentally, I wouldn't recommend reading this whilst tucking into your dinner.

A long time ago and in a town far away, I had a call. The voice was articulate, pronounced and filled me with visions of deep filled hot tubs and chilled glasses of champagne. I'll admit, I was naughty and looked up the address on Google maps. Well, this would be a treat. Discretion he said, was paramount. Status, you know.

After a two hour drive, I found the house. It was well off the beaten track and very beautiful. Pulling into the carpark, I sent my guy a text message to say I had arrived and my heart did a little dance when the reply came - "On my way". I suppose I had a vision of Downton Abbey - "Let's get rid of the pesky house staff so we can be absolutely filthy." Reality, I'm afraid, hit me hard across the face and dunked my head down the toilet whilst continuously flushing for good measure.

From within the bowels of that beautiful building came an apparition. Oh, the accent was still in evidence but picture if you will, the father from Steptoe and Son and you're half way there. Before me stood a man in tracksuit bottoms which can best be described as crusty, insofar as they could have stood up and walked to the washing machine on their own. One hand was gamely picking his ear wax as the other was rooting in the under carriage of his tracksuit bottoms on his approach. It was the latter hand which was drawn out to meet me and ever the professional (shut it), I shook his hand. "Delighted to meet you, I'm Laura." He didn't speak, but rather continued to massage his lower lip in a quasi menacing fashion whilst looking me up and down. "BAGS ?"

I offered him my overnight bag from the boot of my car and made to follow him into the house. Oh, this was bad. His sweater was obviously bearing the remnants of several evening meals without any apologies to anyone. I needed time to think. "Could we have tea, do you think, before, you know ....?" He smiled and led the way to the lounge and here, I began to appreciate the issue. He had, he explained, had a very acrimonious break up with his wife and as they both loved the house and couldn't bear to sell it, they reached an agreement to split it down the middle. Literally. So, as he didn't cook, the kitchen was hers and his kettle etc, was in the lounge.

That wouldn't have been a problem, had we been able to see the kettle, or even the floor. Very often I've watched hoarding programs on television and wondered how on earth people can live like that and if it's made up. I'm here to tell you, it isn't. Hoarding would have been one thing but it was the abject filth that went with it which got me. Piles and piles of pizza boxes, empty beer cans, bottles of spirits, chippy wrappers, dirty clothes, over flowing ashtrays and what I'll always remember, hundreds and hundreds of VHS porn videos. The bathroom was indescribable, with cigarette butts crushed into the sink, a toilet that should have been referred to the World Health Organisation and in the last word in irony, an air freshener hanging from the door to the shower with a display of mould and spider webs.

Leading me through to the bedroom, which he proudly displayed with a sweep of his arm, I surveyed the scene in utter dismay. Here was a single bed I suspect rats would avoid. As sexily as I could, I slowly began to strip, taking an extraordinary amount of time in removing each item of carefully chosen clothing. As he neared closer, it was now I began to notice that his teeth didn't quite meet in the way they ought to and in fact clacked when he was talking. He peeled off his sweater to reveal a chest which was dark with dirt, that's the only way I can describe it. From there, he ran his yellow, calloused, fingers up the inside of my thighs, whilst leaning into my neck. "I want you", he breathed, and drew me closer. Nothing, but NOTHING prepared me for the bonus, that thick layer of green scum over his tongue. As his head dipped towards me, I won't say I shouted, it was more of a guttural scream.

"I CAN'T DO THIS. I'M SO SORRY I HAVE A MIGRAINE. YOU CAN HAVE YOUR MONEY BACK."

"Oh for fuck sake, you're the third escort I just couldn't click with."

There are times, when to bite your tongue rather than point out the screamingly obvious green furry one, is the far better option.

Now, ask yourself, still think I glamourise the industry ? Still think I paint a picture of some euphoric utopia ? And while I'm on it, still think that because a man pays a sex worker, we have to do exactly what he says ? The answer to all the above is no, a refund was issued, resulting in a drive home and a very grateful dive in to my pyjamas. Never has one woman been more glad to see her cowprint onesie.

LL xx

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

They shoot hookers, don't they ?


Guest post on the recent shootings of sex workers in Baghdad.

They certainly do in Baghdad.

But where is the outrage from the Fem Nazis? Where is the team of ‘British specialists’ sent out to Baghdad to investigate by our Prime Minister David Cameron? Where is Michelle Obama gormlessly holding up a #BringBackOurGirls sign? Where is the hysterical Twitter campaign?

Perhaps if we were to relabel those women as ‘vulnerable victims of evil sex traffickers’ their death might attract more sympathy? As independent women, standing tall amidst the chaos of Baghdad, supporting themselves, not relying on some well funded NGO organisation to ‘rescue’ them, or a politically correct British barrister to demand the removal of their ‘demeaning’ burka, they were, as with the proverbial British Rail ‘wrong kind of snow on the line’ – simply the ‘wrong kind of women’ to be deserving of the ritual hand wringing on the six o’clock news.

A year and a day after the infamous ‘Swedish model‘ killed Petite Jasmine, on 12 July 2014 Iraqi abolitionists gunned down 29 sex workers in an apartment building in Baghdad.

That is exactly what happened, in simple words.

An abolitionist is an abolitionist, and an extremist is an extremist whether Radfem or Muslim. It is a little bit moot whether you kill someone with a bullet or by making their lives impossible while cranking up the stigmas with hate speech (the preferred method in Europe and America).

You are still just as dead, and in my honest opinion the bullet is quicker and cleaner.

This is not hyperbole either, on 8 July the French Senate voted to remove the clauses penalising sex buyers from proposed legislation, leaving behind only decriminalisation and provision of exit resources. Their argument was that, properly examined, it is clear that ‘Swedish model’ legislation does not work in terms of reducing the sex industry, but has a significant negative impact on sex workers and places their safety at considerable risk – just common sense really.

The remaining argument to be made against that by abolitionists involves attacking sex workers head on, much as beauty queens were once attacked, as complicit enemies of gender equality. A few days ago that seemed a good thing that would show the true viciousness and callous indifference of the abolitionist movement for what it is. Today I am not so sure.

“The apartment complex is known for prostitution and in the past prostitutes have been the targets of extrajudicial killings there by Muslim extremists. It was not clear if that was what happened this time. However, if the targets were prostitutes, it is unlikely that would cause the kind of backlash that a large-scale sectarian killing would.“

People know very little about Iraq. It has often been presented in the media as a primitive country not unlike the Yemen. In the real world, Iraq, land of the Tigris and Euphrates, was the cradle of civilisation, and its indigenous people and culture are more closely related to the Jews than the Bedouins, while being unique and very different to both.

Iraq was a sophisticated country before the Ottoman Empire, let alone before the first Gulf war. In truth Iraq was a pretty sophisticated country before Abraham. Sadly, like any old and sophisticated culture Iraq tends to fast breed political intrigue, much of it toxic, hence the apparently endless trouble.

Regardless, you can forget any image of Iraqi sex workers as illiterate peasant girls. It doesn’t work that way in Iraq.

Salon.com Joshua E. S. Phillips 25 June 2005 – Unveiling Iraq’s teenage prostitutes

Cnn.com Arwa Damon August 16 2007 – Iraqi women: Prostituting ourselves to feed our children

Al Monitor July 9 2009 – Iraq’s Prostitutes Inhabit a Dark, Dangerous World

Wikipedia: Prostitution in Iraq

Blip.TV (video) – Alive in Baghdad Iraqi Refugees Forced Into Prostitution

CNN (video) November 2009 – Prostitution in Iraq

Some of it is exaggerated, most of it is spun to agenda, except for the noticeable absence of anyone with the raw cheek to suggest that ‘ending the demand’ would be in any way helpful.

(Listen to their stories, where on earth would any ‘Swedish model’ fit in constructively?)

What I want you to take in is the element of ‘same old…same old’ particularly in the videos.

The women who were gunned down by people who wanted to abolish them are just like any other sex workers in the media, they are just like you, and they are just like me.

They were my sisters and they were yours, just as much as Jasmine, and they are just as violently dead. I cannot help wondering about the coincidence. The first anniversary of Jasmine’s death fell on a Friday, the Muslim holy day, and I am not sure how that works. It may have the same weight as the Jewish Sabbath with some Muslims.

If ever there were a clearer message that *STIGMA KILLS* I have not seen it.

…and the Western Press brushes it under the carpet. So far the UK and Irish press are mostly ignoring it apart from a brief piece in the Telegraph. The Irish Times makes reference to the death of ’29 women in an apartment block’ but no mention that they were sex workers, despite the fact that ‘punished for prostitution’ was written on the door of the building like an edict.

The BBC went with ‘At least 20 of those killed were said to be women’ - ‘said to be women‘? Obviously not the ‘right kind of women’ for anyone to be sure! ‘The motive for the killings is not clear‘ continues the BBC copy – despite then quoting:

Writing left on the door of one of the buildings read: “This is the fate of any prostitution,” AFP news agency reports.

Locals in Zayouna have accused Shia militias of killing women thought to be prostitutes, Reuters news agency reported. The neighbourhood is a mixed district of Sunni and Shia Muslims.

A brothel in Zayouna was attacked in May 2013, with seven women and five men shot dead.

Only for the BBC is the motive ‘unclear’…

Of course there is a punchline that changes everything. I have done a lot of research no journalist seems to have bothered with today.

Several European services regularly book tours for ‘Escorts’ – another euphemism – in Iraq, there is also some evidence of British sex workers operating in Iraq.

Stand by for the hysteria when it is discovered that one of those murdered women was a British passport holder, a ‘child’ no less, enslaved by evil jihadists…until then…

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Every. Fecking. Time.


"The Good Lord only gives you that which he thinks you can bear; no more, no less. Further, every trial and tribulation is sent to teach you a lesson about yourself - resilience, strength, patience, tolerance, or in your case how feckin' dim you've been to get yourself into that situation in the first place."

Those wise words of my Nan still make me smile and have never been more apt than the last six months, which have been a test of gigantic proportions. So much so that I've developed a theory. In the same way that psychopaths lack empathy, I believe that my psyche is lacking that element which says, "That's it, I'm off."

Let's start with the appearance I did at the Northern Irish Assembly in which I was told that I'm financed by pimps and target vulnerable disabled men for my own benefit. Further, I was told that a Justice Committee "do not need evidence." Lovely. That didn't actually get to me until I boarded the boat home that evening and it began to sink in. That any human being in a position of trust and responsibility could be so unprofessional and downright rude, all whilst maintaining an air of sanctimonious righteousness is astounding. What was even more perplexing was when my complaint about that behaviour was cast to one side.

I was home a matter of weeks when having had my real name revealed to the abolitionists present on the day of my NIA appearance, COMPLETELY by coincidence, I had a letter from HMRC to say they had singled me out for a tax inspection. (This is the price you pay as an activist, it's seen as just punishment for daring to question the lies and seemingly unquestionable bottomless funding that the abolitionist NGO's enjoy.) I have nothing to hide, and have years of accountant prepared reports, but even so, spending my evenings going back over every strawberry flavoured condom purchased is something I could have done without.

Finally, and after many months of arguing, I satisfied the requirements of HMRC and was given the all clear. Next up, exams. I became feral for several weeks, and surviving on a diet of Diet Coke and crunchy nut cornflakes I locked myself in to my office and crammed. I'm really not sure how I did, nowhere near as good as if I had really studied to the best of my ability but then when you're holding off HMRC and abolitionists, there's only so much you can do. Finally through the exams and back on the road to enjoy a summer of freedom from any major stresses, I landed back in Belfast.

Day one was grand, enjoyable appointments and good craic. Day two started off like any other working day, sprinting down the stairs at the very last minute for breakfast before hitting the shower in preparation for a busy day. Having carefully laid out my towel, coconut body butter, razor and shower gel, I stepped in to the shower. I'm not sure if you've ever seen those injuries sustained by footballers where their knee goes in completely the wrong direction, but in a nutshell, I did that in conjunction with the splits. Feel free to wince, it goes one eighth of the way towards the guttural screams which emanated from my hotel room.

It's funny what goes through your mind when you've had a bad shock. I was naked, wet and in a crumpled heap at the bottom of a shower cubicle and I knew that my right leg was badly injured and wouldn't take my weight. So I crawled, out of the bathroom and pulled myself up on to the bed where I dried off and got some clothes on. What next ? "Well", I reasoned, "I'm going to be in feckin' A & E all day so I might as well have a ciggy". Yes, that's right, with a leg which was starting to resemble that of an elephant and turning fantastic colours, I hopped over to the other side of the room and hung out the window. By now the shock was beginning to wear off and pain was setting in so I called for help, and David (one of my lovely guys from Belfast), came to my rescue. He picked me up and brought me to A & E and waited with me all day while they did tests, x-rays, and that loud hissing noise through the teeth, usually reserved for mechanics about to hand you a monster bill. End tally = ankle broken in two places, dislocated knee and assorted torn tendons. Full house.

Aside from the fact that I was now facing six weeks off work with no income and probably lots of pain, I was also wondering how the hell I was going to get to Glastonbury. Y'see, I'd been asked if I could go quite some time previously, so what followed was a very animated "discussion" with the hospital consultant. Really, I could have saved us both a lot of time by introducing him to anyone who knows me well, I was going and that was final. Go I did, and it was fantastic, until my motability scooter got bogged down in the mud and I had to be towed out by four burly security men. (In fairness, I've been ably assisted by security men towards the exit in the past, but this wasn't my fault and was particularly mortifying.)

A product of 1950's Catholic Ireland, my Dad doesn't do "I love you". He did say it once but that was after sustained familial pressure when I was emigrating to the US. (I was back ten days later, but that's a story for a whole other time.) No, the best you get from Dad is as follows -

"I'll give you one thing. Life knocks you back but by God, you get up. Every. Fecking. Time."

LL xx

P.S : I'd like to thank everyone who has supported me when I've been unable to work, including Jewel of Edinburgh, Lucy Smith of Ugly Mugs, David (as mentioned above) and the very many others. It means more to me than you'll ever know. Three more weeks and I'm back on my feet.