A La Recherche Du Temps Perdu 97

I haven’t been taken ill, or shut down by unfriendly fire from governments or lawyers.

In 2003 my life collapsed around my ears; I was hopitalised several times and I had neither time nor capacity for personal administration. Over the next couple of years I lost job, income, home and marriage. I was simply unable to face the mountain of correspondence those crises generated. Unless the address was handwritten, I didn’t open it, and sometimes not then. Being bipolar, one of my problems in depressive periods has always been a terror – and I use the word carefully – of opening mail. Then I moved into a tiny flat with nowhere anyway to file anything.

The upshot is that 90% of seven years of correspondence lay in almost thirty cardboard boxes, perhaps a third of it unopened. Much of it is indeed very unpleasant. To give just the example of life insurance policies, 27 different letters saying direct debit payments were missed, and subsequent letters detailing the cancellation of these policies. Plus matching letters from the bank detailing payments not made and fines imposed for “administration”. 17 letters from British Gas threatening disconnection, 11 from Thames Water. 54 letters from debt collection agencies threatening court action. 62 letters from the Inland Revenue, who pursue me with a zeal they never display about Lord Ashcroft or David Mills.

Then there are the 48 solicitors’ letters about the divorce, the letters from the Foreign Office about my sacking, the letters from the Treasury solicitors trying to stop publication of Murder in Samarkand…

You will have gathered that, my life being very much together again, and finally having some filing cabinets and somewhere to put them, I have spent the last week ploughing through the whole lot, sorting it and chucking or filing it as appropriate. I shut myself off from the world and got down to it. It has been tough, as of course it evokes starkly some very, very hard times and difficult emotions.

There is of course also stuff which brings a warm glow. Memories of Nadira’s support in times of despair, little bits and pieces belonging to my children. The loving emotions are the most disabling of all.

Anyway, good news is I am almost finished. It will be a huge weight off my mind.

Most cheering of all were the over 400 letters of support, mostly from complete strangers, many of whom outlined their own experience of injustice and persecution. Many real apologies to the large majority, to whom I did not reply. They have all now been read.

Back to blogging by the weekend, I hope.

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97 thoughts on “A La Recherche Du Temps Perdu

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  • kathz

    Congratulations on going through all that correspondence. It sounds as though you have been immensely organised – and it’s hard to revisit the past like that. I look forward to your return to blogging.

  • Stephen

    Thanks Craig,

    I love the way you mix personal stuff with serious purposive political stuff on your blog. Some advise against it, but you carry it off with aplomb. It makes you more human and sympathetic.

    This has to be the all time greatest interim “I’m busy tidying my room” post.

    Well done.

    Best Wishes,


  • JimmyGiro

    “54 letters from debt collection agencies threatening court action…”

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    With one small fee and your bank sorting details…

  • mary

    Could you come and sort my heap out please Craig!

    Glad you are OK and that Spring is arriving. Perhaps you also have the Seasonal Affective Disorder syndrome and the increase in daylight has given you a boost.

  • Anonymous

    you know craig if you need help valuing your gold reserve or if mrs murray wants her wedding ring valued please post it in the blatent ‘steel me’ envelope provided, and send to ‘ones born every minute’.

    keep your chin up, fix for the day completed.


  • mike cobley

    Good to know you’re still in there kicking and scratching! And as a further lift to your spirits, take a look at the recent comments by the FSA head honcho who said that 90% of the City’s financial activity was “economically useless”. Made my day!

  • Strategist

    Like Mary, I’ve got a pile of post I could hand over to you if you’re getting a taste for it! Disconnection threat envelopes always look so similar to junkmail, do they not!

  • Clark

    Congratulations, Craig!

    I have had two such episodes, the first when a close friend committed suicide, the second when I suspected the death of my father, but confirmation was kept from me by my mother for over a year. On both occasions the thought of opening my post filled me with horror. I got behind and The System started to chew me up. The authorities were utterly unhelpful, though I expect that many employees were well paid for keeping the meat-grinder running.

    Thank you for surviving, recovering, and all your work, then and since; your example brings me hope and strength. Here’s to a more compassionate future.

  • ingo

    Spring is always a good time for jobs like this, (go for it Mary/Strategist) usually I end up in the garden, been preparing to put up my little greenhouse up this morning.

    So glad you got your chores done and smarting to blog, I think the catholic church needs a serious blast for their global abuse of children, imho. the crime of the last fifty years and an outright abuse of human rights.

    To have the smugness to still moralise is beyond me.

    I ‘m also naive enough to suggest that the Hague ICC should summon the pope to appear and suggest in not so many words, to give up celibacy and allow equality to take its course, why should they not allow women priests? And there they go and want to tell us about employment rights, when they so blatantly discriminate for reasons of gender.

    Sorry for diverting the room cleaning thread.

    PS. Craig do not forget that the little key you have somewhere is for a lock up, which needs sorting out before the end of summer. let us know if you need a hand.

  • anno

    By Allah, I do not believe in Bipolar.

    Some of our minds simply cannot process lying. The Establishment is bipolar. Its constant psychotic deceit grinds all of us who have a conscience down. In my own psychology I find that being lied to opens up first a sexual reaction which I obviously have to control, second, if I decide to believe the lies, an intense anger. This anger is at having to alter my own clarity of perception in order to accommodate a credible lie.

    My son has been diagnosed as bipolar and his mum is the biggest liar in the universe. They’ve doped him up, these overpaid doctors, so he can’t do anything. By Allah, by Allah, by Allah, it is his mother’s lying which has driven him crazy, and the greedy doctors who don’t know ANYTHING are paid by the lying establishment to put the burden of the problem onto the innocent.

    I challenge anyone on this blog who is here to recite the cruelty and double-standards of our establishment, in the illegal invasions and torture of recent years, to deny that it is the state that is bipolar and the people sane.

    After you swallow their lies, they have the cheek to tell you that your sexuality is abnormal and that you have to go to anger management classes. It’s time for the honest people of this country to stand up to these human-sacrificing druids.

  • Vronsky


    You might enjoy a tour around the fiction of Philip K Dick. His short stories have given rise to a couple of movies – Blade Runner, Total Recall and Minority Report spring to mind, but please don’t judge the writer by the screenplays (although the movies quite creditably capture some of the meaningful surrealism).

    What he questions is just why any of us should think that our view of reality is the only possible one, and any other represents some kind of pathology.

    Technically I don’t think he’s a great writer, or even a good one, but the ideas are fascinating and disturbing. Always lurking in the background is the suggestion that schizophrenics see clearly, and the rest of us are mad.

  • Richard Robinson

    “Technically I don’t think he’s a great writer, or even a good one, but the ideas are fascinating and disturbing”

    Agreed. I think the writing is not good at all (the characters are horribly done, particularly t Sting was paid one million pounds (if it came from Karimov’s regime, then it was, indeed, blood money), but how much do CEOs get, Craig, for doing business with all manner of vile and corrupt regimes, and for making sure the poor never get out of poverty?

    Craig appears to be blaming everything on Blair, Brown, and Sting. The public can change the “figureheads” come the next general election – and the music! – but it won’t change Britain’s brutal foreign policy, which impoverishes and slaughters on behalf of British corporations and their obscenely greedy CEOs.

    I’ll come back in a few years to see if Craig has summoned up the honesty to speak about British foreign policy, British CEOs, and British ambassadors. However, I’ll expect he’ll still be blaming Sting, while praising BAT. British American Tobacco, is, after all, a first-rate humanitarian organization, doing good deeds around the world. I take it as read that a human rights activist will reflexively praise such an organization.

    I trust Craig as much as I trust Blair, Brown, and Sting. They all seem to be corporate lackeys.

    Craig’s unspoken premise: corporations should never be subjected to any form of democratic accountability. Why? Naturally, it’s because corporations bring INFINITE, ENDLESS growth, cheap products, and rising incomes – to the entire world! Every country could be as rich as America, if only they gave CEOs free rein – it’s true!

  • dreoilin

    Welcome back, Craig. I’ve done that job too, but on a much smaller scale. I’m glad you’re back blogging – I thought the last thread would go on forever. Heavens above …

  • glenn

    Recently had a big clear-out experience myself. Taking advantage of Broon’s taxing of energy companies to provide cheaper insulation, we had the loft and eaves done. Through our travels we had been putting things in storage, the parents off-loaded large quantities of our possessions when we returned, and the lot was just dumped into our storage areas.

    So this was the mother of all chuck-outs. It’s speculated that junk expands to occupy the volume available, and this provided a weighty data-point for the hypothesis. Anyone want about 500 old issues of Private Eye?

    Also remarkable while going through old stuff back to childhood are the memories they evoke, many very strong, which would probably have lain dormant forever without these cues. The rather racy letters from old girlfriends were fun to read too. Think I’ll hang on to them, actually.

  • Andrew

    What do you make of the story on the Guardian website that the government say we cannot afford the luxury of not cooperating with governments that mistreat detainees? Much as we might deprecate the ethical compromise behind that, what would your pragmatic answer be to that statement?

  • Clark

    Richard the other,

    if you have evidence about a CEO, write a comment and post a link. Before you criticise Craig, remember that one person can only do so much, and take a look at his articles on corruption in Ghana. You’ll gain respect if you’re constructive.

  • Clark


    though you state your position more radically than I would, I agree with you in many ways. Our society is morally deficient. No one in any official or commercial position ever admids that the system they work within is wrong, morally or in specific instances. Instead they lie. The entire culture is based upon deception at least, and often outright dishonesty. Examples include “spin” and advertising.

    Every human attribute exists for a reason. Anger is no exception, but it has been all but outlawed in our society. “Customer Services” departments insulate the policy makers from the public who suffer from their decisions. Menial staff deflect the complaints with institutionalised lies; signs proclaim that abuse of staff will be met with police action.

    Deception is so widespread that no one questions its effects upon their personal lives and relationships. The conventional wisdom seems to be that as deception is so institutionalised, there can’t be anything wrong with it. There is essentially no law against it. That role was filled by religion, which is increasingly abandoned. I’m an atheist, but I still pray; a conversation with the Almighty is good for my morals, even if it’s only pretend.

    People who don’t fit the mold are increasingly labelled with various mental ilnesses. The System proclaims itself as faultless, so anyone dissatified must have something wrong with them. A large proportion of the population are on “medication”, there must be many more suffering who won’t tell the doctor because they don’t want to be on pills.

    Two friends of mine have been put on “lithium”. In both cases it has severly curtailed their personalities and caused unpleasant side effects. When I’ve been unable to cope I’ve been very careful about what I have said to my doctor. I’ll see psychologists, but not psychiatrists. Psychotherapy is becoming increasingly difficult to get on the NHS; it’s pills and little else. Of course, the drugs companies are doing just fine, nothing mad about dosing up ten percent of the population.

  • anno

    Richard the other,

    Your words, ‘Craig’s unspoken premise: Corporations should never be subjected to any form of democratic accountability’ seem to me more like Shakespeare’s Richard 3rd’s thoughts about the twins in the tower of London, than a description of Craig’s views.

    One of the delightful things about this space, is that people participate and add flesh to the skeleton of Craig’s comment. For example, he spoke about Tony Baldry’s forced apology for a conflict of interests between his govt. duties and his private interests. Dozens of references appeared, about the abuses of govt. and corporate power.

    Had you thought of putting your own head in a bucket of Malmesbury wine?

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