Monday, 29 June 2009

In Her Own Words

In my previous post, "Justice is Served", I directed you to a link in the Daily Mail which reported that the attackers of my friend, Sangita, had been found guilty. I saw Sangita at our debate club later that night and discovered that the Daily Mail had actually done her a injustice. She had written them a piece about her attack and instead of publishing it, they chopped it to bits and made it appear as if they conducted an interview with her. It's unfair to both Sangita and the readers of the Daily Mail that they did this. The original piece Sangita wrote was moving, inspiring and empowering to all survivors of crime while reminding all of us that no one is immune from such an attack. I'm honoured that she has given me the original article she wrote and has allowed me to post it here. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

BY SANGITA MYSKA, BBC News Correspondent /Presenter

I’ve spent so much of my career reporting serious crime, that it never struck me I might actually be a victim of it. On the day I was approached about writing a piece, for example, I was at the Old Bailey reporting the convictions of Ben Kinsella’s loathsome murderers (for the BBC).

The difficult task of talking to victims; visiting crime scenes and dealing with the police - was so familiar to me, that quite unconsciously, I’d developed a sense of immunity. Street crime was something that happened to other people. Not to me. I simply reported on it.

That all changed in March last year. I’d returned home late and was locking the car when two men grabbed me from behind. I was knocked off my feet, and dragged backwards. My neck was twisted so hard that another few millimetres and it would have broken. I was threatened with a knife, bashed up and robbed. All the while, Daniel Mykoo, whispered his threats and instructions with professional precision.

I had become, as some newspapers were to neatly put it, the latest victim of the ‘Strangler Robbers’.

I was easy prey: I’m 5 foot 4”, weigh 8 stone and was alone. They were the cowards and I was the victim. The only thing is, it didn’t feel like it.

Instead, for days and weeks afterwards I felt terribly, terribly angry – at myself.
I felt stupid for returning home late; weak for not fighting them off harder and guilty for putting my husband through the emotional turmoil that followed.

These men had robbed me of more than my wedding ring; they’d stolen my confidence.

I began to experience panic attacks. Everyday activities felt unreasonably risky. In the past, I wouldn’t have thought twice about walking past a group of ‘hoodies’. Instinctively, I now crossed the road. I avoided meeting friends in the evening; walking home after work and travelling on the tube after dark.

A few weeks after the attack I discovered, in a bundle of paperwork sent to me following the mugging, a number for Victim Support. I’d resisted calling them for weeks. I deeply resented the word ‘victim’ - I couldn’t relate to it. I was an independent woman who had every right to walk down the street without fear of attack. The only problem was, I wasn’t behaving like it.

The help and advice the charity gave me was invaluable. Everything I’d been feeling was text-book typical of the thousands of people who experience, for want of a better phrase, this sort of mid-level street crime. Thankfully, I’d escaped with my life - but that didn’t mean I couldn’t feel shaken by it.

It’s now a year on and Daniel Mykoo has pleaded guilty to being ‘the Strangler’ part of the dreadful duo who mugged me. I’ve just returned from 4 months travelling, almost entirely on my own, across South Asia. I’m pleased to say, that with the support of family and friends, I’m very much back – in every sense of that phrase.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Justice is Served!

A while back I wrote a blog about my friend, Sangita who was attacked outside her home. Well today, while I was lying in the sun, she sent me a text telling me to pick up a copy of the 'Daily Mail', a newspaper I don't normally read. I asked her why.

And this would be the reason why.

I love it when the justice system actually works. I'll be seeing her tonight and definitely will be buying her a drink to celebrate. In addition I will anxiously await July 24th. I hope they get life for the amount of emotional trauma they put Sangita and many other women through.

What a great day this has been! First I met adorable little baby Zack, then I saw Foxy Junior and now this piece of good news. I don't think this day could get much better.

Foxy Update!

If you've been reading my blog for a while (or are a friend of mine in real life), you know about Foxy, the fox who lives in my back garden and sometimes climbs the wall and sleeps in the ivy, which allows him to stare in my kitchen window. We've spent a lot of time looking at each other and I would like to think that we've become friends.

But then he vanishes for long periods of time (much like I can do with my blogging) and I begin to worry.

I always thought of Foxy as the type of fox who would wear a little newsboy type cap with chains around his neck and a pocket watch, which he would twirl around. He was very cool, hip and a real player who after cavorting with the lady fox would come sleep in the ivy and stare lazily at me.

Well, either I'm right and Foxy is a real player or I'm wrong and Foxy is female. Either way Foxy has gotten around as this afternoon sitting in the middle of my back garden was Foxy Jr, who I shall just call Junior.

I spotted Junior after meeting Mark and Marisa's new baby Zachary, who was born on Monday. Zach is the cutest thing, even cuter than Junior. I had spent a good deal of the morning holding this adorable little human being. Thus I was feeling quite friendly and loving. So instead of running to get my camera to snap a picture of Junior, I stupidly flung open the window and said, "Hi, baby fox!" Of course it ran away.

Now I'm off to soak up the sun with the hope that maybe Junior will come say hi without biting me.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009


J- HAS PAID ME BACK! Money was in my account this morning. He deposited cash so it really is all there!

Somehow we've remained friends despite the contention that came before. I'm meeting him for a drink today.

And there are a few more posts in the works about some interesting things and there will be some juicy stuff on Cars and Boys. However, I'm in the midst of sorting out visa crap and friends having babies, friends coming to visit and friends moving away.

Ciao for now!

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Blog Makeovers

I've been thinking about my two blogs lately and how one has almost dwindled out of existence. I decided that this couldn't happen, so it's blog makeover time.

I began "My Luck with Cars and Boys" with the thought that I would take my past (mis)adventures with men and motor vehicles and spin interesting tales with them. Perhaps then I would have some interesting fodder for a novel...or at least the inspiration for one. However, I intimidated myself (if that makes any sense) with my own expectations of what this would become and I froze. The posts over there just ceased to happen.

I have decided that my blogs need to really reflect their titles. This blog is titled "H in London" and thus that is what the posts will reflect. My little (mis)adventures in my life in London and other places I might venture to from London. "My Luck with Cars and Boys" will reflect current and past tales of my luck or lack thereof in love. From this point on "H in London" will be love life free.

"H in London" has more readers than "My Luck..." for obvious reasons. Thus when I post a new post there, I'll let you know here. Hopefully this will revitalise and renew both my blogs and keep me writing and keep you reading as well.

And surprise! There is a new post on "My Luck with Cars and Boys.

As always thank you for reading. I hope you continue to do so.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Why Homosexuality Should Be Banned

Many thanks to my friend, Cliff, for pointing me to this.

Misadventures on the Izzle of Wiggit

(Note: My student's name has been changed to protect his identity)

As mentioned previously I spent from Tuesday until Friday of this past week with our year group on the Isle of Wight. There were a few small humours moments.

There were 10 chaperones for a total of what ended up to be 87 kids. Three kids dropped out last minute due to illness and four others opted not to go. We have a small year group this year- I'm not complaining! My chaperone group of ten students decided that they needed a name. They came up with the name Martinis, as my surname is Martin. I stressed that we were non-alcoholic martinis and they agreed (This was after I told two off who proclaimed we were, "Vodka!" at the top of their lungs. Personally if we were going to be any martinis I'd want us to be Espresso Martinis but I wasn't telling them that.)

I have to say that out of all the five years that I have gone on this school trip, my chaperone group was the best behaved one I've ever had. Plus, being an international school there were several different languages that the kids could speak besides English. So, when I had them count off (each student had a number) we began in English, but then there was an insistence that we switch to Spanish, then French, then German and finally Dutch.

Here are the Martinis at Osborne House (Queen Victoria's home for much of her life)

I was a bit concerned about a student I'll call TK. He constantly blurts out, goofs off and gets in loads of trouble outside of class as well. His naughtiness is never really malicious so much as it's a case of bad judgement. And a case of bad judgement hit TK as we were leaving Osborne House. Like all good tourist areas, Osborne House has you exit via the gift shop. We had established rules about what they could buy at the gift shop. Sweets and any object that can be used as a weapon were not allowed. We were out of time and so to the disappointment of my group I informed them there would be very little time to shop. But oh no, this wouldn't do for TK. When we left the gift shop, he was noticeably absent. After about 5 minutes of waiting, TK came running up to us full of apologies but proudly declared, "Miss Martin, look! I bought a slingshot!" There were a few chuckles from the rest of my group as I rolled my eyes, sighed and gently reminded him that a slingshot was a weapon. He reluctantly placed it in my outstretched hand and I kept a hold of his tool of destruction until the we returned to school.

Wednesday night was my over night duty on-call. This meant that if there were problems after 'lights out', students would come to me. One of my little Martinis had a topical allergic reaction and I had to tend to her first at 1:00 and then again 2:00am when it finally subsided. At 4am I had a dream that a car alarm was going off outside my flat when I heard a pounding on the door to my cabin. I opened the door to 6 very tired and nervous looking boys. "Miss Martin, our smoke detector is going off and won't stop....and there's no smoke." I sleepily stumbled into their cabin. There was indeed no smoke and nothing to cause it. So, I stood balanced on the edge of the lower bunk in the bunk bed, reached out and hit the magic-button on the detector and the noise stopped. There was much rejoicing and we all went peacefully back to bed....for about 10 minutes.

I heard the alarm clearly this time and was out of my bed like I shot. The boys were also out of their cabin and on their way to get me. As I went back to their cabin to do my bunk-balancing/magic-button act, one of them said that the smoke detector had begun to go off with a few sporadic beeps before bursting into its monotonous, piercing nose. I didn't want to be responsible for 'illegally' removing the smoke detector. So as it was slowly building up for its third fit, I grabbed my folder with all the very important information and rang the 24 hour emergency number. I assumed this was was the number for someone at out camp site. It wasn't.

I ended up with a very annoyed woman on the other end of the phone. The number I rang was indeed the number for 24 hour emergencies but for the company that owns the camp and several others, not for the camp itself. She asked why I hadn't rung someone at the camp and I informed her that this was the only number I had been given. After telling me she would ring security at the camp, she hung up on me. About 20 minutes and two magic-button pushes later the security man, who was so large he could barely walk, showed up. He asked me to get on the top bunk and take out the battery. I did. The smoke detector still continued to beep away. I unscrewed the detector, which revealed that it was wired to the ceiling. I tried to hit the magic-button to silence it. However since it was dangling from the ceiling, the detector's button had lost its magic. The heavyset security officer attempted to stand up on the bunk bed and balance the way I had and in so doing nearly knocked me off the top bunk. Finally, out of frustration I grasped at the wires and what appeared to be a plug. I yanked. Nothing. I yanked again. Still nothing. I yanked one final time and out it came followed by blissful silence, which was instantly broken by cheering from the boys.

The next morning the boys were singing my praises as the smoke-detector slayer while I almost slept through breakfast.

The following day my group participated in "The Sensory Trail". Essentially they were all blindfolded and had to walk through a muddy obstacle course in single file with their right hand on the shoulder of the person in front of them. They were encouraged to use their senses and communication skills to work together as a team. I stood silently watching and giggling as they made their way down the path. Upon passing me one of the boys said, "I smell Miss Martin." I was horrified at first but then again he didn't wrinkle his nose-just stated it as a fact. Thus, I'm assuming (and hoping) I smell nice.

And so those were the highlights of our Isle of Wight trip. Since I'm moving up a year level this was the last time I'll be chaperoning this trip. Overall, not a bad way to go.

I leave you now with some quick snaps I took of Carisbrooke Castle, which I absolutely adore and shall miss.