emotional_abuse_by_marcgosselin-d4j8czmThis morning, when I was walking my dog, I passed a house just as a young woman rushed into the front garden yelling at the top of her voice: ‘Come here! Come here!’  Her tone was ugly. She went into the house and slammed the door. I walked on, pretending, as we Brits do, that I hadn’t heard.

Then, two little boys appeared from around a corner and walked slowly towards the house. They must have been about 6 and 8 years old.  I didn’t look back but I heard the door open and the woman yell a torrent of abuse at the children. It was so loud and so abusive that I jumped and so did the dog! God knows what it did to those children. I stopped and listened. I could hear the woman shouting from inside the house and the children crying and shouting back.

To me, what I saw was emotional abuse, but should I report it to the NSPCC or should I keep quiet? Was she just having an off day? We all have those, don’t we? We can’t be perfect parents only ‘good enough’. Was her behaviour to those two kids ‘good enough’ or should she be pulled up by someone working in the filed of child protection and challenged to recognise how abusive her shouting and yelling actually was?

I walked home feeling very depressed. At the moment, in the UK, the figures for rape and sexual crimes against women and children are high. Child abuse is high. What are the incubating factors that make boys grow up into men who abuse women and children? What will those two little boys think of women if they are treated like that by their own mother? It’s not just mothers who behave like that. Most abuse is carried out by men. Maybe that’s why it felt so shocking to hear a woman emotionally abusing two little boys like that? For that’s what it was.


Looks quite SMART, doesn't it?
Looks quite SMART, doesn’t it?

Today my electricity died because a jolly chap came to install a pice of new kit: a Smart Meter! I use capitals and an exclamation mark because I am truly in awe of the word ‘smart’ when applied to anything. It makes me, as a mere human, feel very inadequate. I thought I was smart. Not any more. ‘Smart’ is out there, like an alien invasion. The ‘smart’ fixers are everywhere.

This smart meter will give me loads of information about how much electricity I have used, what it’s costing me and whether or not it’s time to put on the thermal underwear. The jolly chap told me that every household in the UK will soon have one. How lucky are we?

Funny thing, when the juice turned off so he could install it, the house felt so different. All the low-key humming and buzzing that accompanies my every-day life disappeared. The silence was a bit scary, then it was golden – for a bit. It made me think. How would I cope if I was without all the kit that runs my life? Could I go back to scrubbing clothes in a tub? Could I wash in a tin bath in front of a radiator? Oh, hang on – the radiator wouldn’t work without electricity, would it? Could I cook food on a wood fire in the garden? Where would I get the wood? I live in an urban street. True, the countryside isn’t too far, but how would I chop down a tree? Do I own and axe? No. Would I survive? Er…?

Jolly chap finished and bade me farewell. The smart angel was working, strapped to a box on the wall of my house. It’s out there, doing it’s thing. I was staring at it when the postman came by and handed me a letter. Time for a coffee. I left the smart angel purring away, lights blinking prettily, and went back to the kitchen to open the mail. (I’m supposed to be working on my third novel – anything to put off the moment when I have to sit at my desk and get on with it). The mail was from the maker of my washing machine, asking me to buy an insurance plan. The small print was copious and being a cautious soul, I poured the coffee and began to read.

Smart angel?
Smart Angel?

So, even if I religiously pay my premiums every month, come the crunch, they won’t pay out if my beloved washing machine gets clobbered by the following: loss, damage or impairment to functionality caused by earthquake, flood, lightening, fire, wind, humidity, weather conditions, salt spray, storm, catastrophes, abnormally high or low temperatures, terrorism, plumbing problems, corrosion, chemical exposure, radiation, explosion, sabotage, insurrection, revolution, war, riot, armed conflict, civil commotion, rebellion, man-made events, or technological hazards. Blimey!

Perhaps being without electricity wouldn’t be so bad, after all? That list scares the proverbials off me. Are we really living in a world where all that is possible, maybe in one day? I read through the letter again. Surely they must be kidding? No, there it was, in black and white. I will live in constant fear of that list. Every time I use the machine, I will think about what might happen and if it does, the horrible realisation that my machine IS NOT INSURED!

I will put all my faith in that little box. I’ll trust in the ‘smart’ angel. It’s simpler.