Thursday, July 16, 2020

my faithful old shoes

What's on? 
My old faithful track shoes tied together with string and wire
Daily they carry my determined feet over sand as hot as fire
They fit me now so perfectly, and I'm reluctant to let them go.
Where before they would have long been discarded..
What's on.? Soon a new show.
Over here more gratefully regarded.
So much, so easily disposed.. Perhaps soon my damaged feet, to a bright new pair transposed? . So many lessons here, I've had stuck together with string and glue..
But my old faithful runners here, are part of a life where I've managed to make do
 Its been a difficult lesson, but one I'm glad to have  shared with you.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Military = Modesty to a Smile

On 2 Mar 2017 08:31, "Gareth Rutherford" <rutherfordgareth@gmail.com> wrote:Hi Axel

Survivor Guilt...

I have for so many years cowered under the cloak of survivor guilt after being awarded a medal for bravery when i was undergoing my national service.
Guilt for having lived, when so many around me died.. 
Guilt for not having done enough..
Guilt for having basked in pride and honour as my brave compatriots lay dead and buried.
Guilt for having been the only one recieving the award when others unseen were worthy too.
Guilt for recieving continuous accolades every year after year.
Guilt for getting on with normal life as if nothing had happened.

But... this had to change..
because in hindsight, I have read the detailed accounts by many others who were there ..  And I have written it all down comprehensively....in minute detail.
Together with reputable sources and respected historians.

Psychiatrists... military professionals.. and fellow medal recipients.. I have overcome the long afflicting debilitating guilts.

I would never boast, as it was never in my character...nor would I  have any delusions of grandeur in my accounts of these actions..But its time to stand up and man up to life and its lessons.

Its gifts and its demands..Its fears and its blessings alike.
No picking and choosing..

To take graciously and to give generously...when its your due..Here below, is my absolution from that guilt.
.Your interest here ... thusfar .. is a great blessing to me.. and then too..If you would read a little further to the end of this page.
I was in awe of the official citation handed to me when i was awarded the medal for gallantry on the battlefield.. honorus crux. 1980.
As it happens...I did ok..I was seen doing the right stuff by many on the most savage battle zone...And most notably.. by the highest ranking officer on the operation that day.

I kept my head.. under fire.. I did not run away.. I challenged the savage enemy alone through their base with only my rifle and my wits.

I ran to the aid of dead and dying while under intense enemy fire and performed medical procedures to the book.. and it was right, and I was the only one doing that.

Initially all of our shocked responses caused further delays and confusion..This was not "supposed" to have happened and was not in any of our training manuals. 

The burnt flesh..blood and shattered bone was real.
My medical training was good, but still never prepared me for the extreme dismemberment of my closest friends.Later others assisted me as I got the situation under a semblance of control.... and I never forgot them or what they did.

It was a great relief to have some help and not to be all alone.. with the dead and dying..I tore open shredded uniforms and severed hanging strands of skin and flesh.I cut off a leg below the knee and picked up a foot still inside a boot.
It belonged to my running partner.. Michael..I bandaged and tourniqued and vomited.. I applied heart massage and the  kiss of life as my face was covered in chunks of gore coming out of my desperate and dying patients.. my close friends.

I inserted drips and injected morphine on the worst.. and ..I held their bloodless dying hands and boosted their morale.. alone.. and it  was seen by all those terrified by the sight of so much blood and gore.

And it was right that someone noticed..this was not my nomination.
So.. I never got shot.. sniper bullets hit the body of the vehicle above my head as I worked.I should have been dead many times over.. as the others sat safe inside  the machines and tucked low behind cover..as I ran around exposed, outside tending the wounded.
Was it By luck or chance or a guardian angel.? . I dont know how or why.? . but I survived those days.
They gave me a medal for that I think..?... whew.!!.A huge parade in Bloemfontein..centre city..They cut the bus stops out off the town square and layed out red carpets everywhere ..19 of us were honoured that day..spanning eight years of operations.My mom and dad were flown in by Defence hq.Pik . PW.. Magnus... and Constand Viljoen.. I met all the big wigs.. it was so scary for this little lancejack  onderkorporaaltjie. It was a huge parade and I was anxious..I never smiled because I knew that the families of the dead and all my compatriots were watching..so naturally... I was pensive and sad.

And I felt then... so out of place... so undeserving.. a fraud.?

 Yes of course I was proud of the great honour and recognition..but it was completely shrouded in sadness and confusion...and sealed by trauma that few would really know.

I was reserved..in respect for those that died under my hands... and My myriad of inadequacies.?
Today I look back and read the stories of all the others.. their accounts of great valour and achievement.. and I am so proud to have been there with those others.

Because of their actions.. their competent battle events.. I lived that day. It was such a huge team effort and I would have been dead if not for those other ratel platoons.. their fearless gunners and tenacious teams on the ground.

My personal actions were not only combative hand to hand, facing the enemy.. but included comprehensive medical procedures under fire ..and boosting of morale under the pall of death.
As it turns out today.. it is clear ..a good few of my comrades ran away in terror from the immediate contact  zone. Some coming to further grief.. but thats another story that has no place at this stage.

So.. I look back today .. differently..my citation is well substantiated..I see now what others did so bravely.. so selflessly.. and what I did..And it was all right..Today I no longer cower in sadness and regret..and guilt... but I am proud  ... that I did well ...what I was trained to do... compliments to my trainers...and when the chips were down ...  I was on top form.!. coherent and efficient.
And someone saw me doing that.

So 1981..I was awarded a medal for gallantry ..along with a group of very brave soldiers from all over the country..who were on other daring operations..and who, in some way or other..had saved lives at great risk to their own.
.And I was one of them.

Im still here... thats what happened.And I have no guilt anymore.

Axel Wrote..
You already know what l think. I have seen other citations for gallantry in other wars. I know what you did, who you saw, how you felt. You should not have any guilt, because you survived. I do not worship what you did. I understand it. That is me. I have studied conflicts and heroic actions all my life.  I see yours in a different light because l knew some of those you tried to save. They are with me still. Now, always. They died for this disgraceful country and its disreputable governments. And gave their lives for what we have now? For whom? For what? They are still finding soldiers remains in France, ploughed up for the winter. They are still identifying people who were shot to pieces 100 years ago. Brave men tragically killed for king and country for kaizer und der Vaterland an d all that. Our enemy us not the other, but inside ourselves, our ability to summon up hate when we should have learned to love. The curse of being a human being, holding the asses jaw for a sword when we should turn our hand to the plough and sow wheat for the next harvest.There it is.You will always be revered for what you did so selflessly, but will never be so arrogant to claim respect as your right.Here endeth the lessonAs always.APB.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Summary speech

Thank you for having me and for your most esteemed aknowledgement.
Overwhelmed

What is there to say after all of this?
What is there to share of this journey?
What good could result from all this pain?
What good could ever be realised by all this shame?
So many questions...loose ends
And having all the answers would not be my claim.
Nor would I presume on such wisdom or advice or illusions of fame.

What we have together here,
is a view into an obscure experience. What we have together is a strategy for  inspection.
What we can share in this travesty and this display of such delinquent legal processes, is not a bitterness or anger, but a clear and progressive regrowth.

As I stand back from it all with you, from an objective standpoint, and after a great deal of effort and care assisted by a great many wise contributors.

What I've done up till now is to have presented the myriad of confused components coherently and clearly for you to see and share and assess.

Through my previously unblemished reputation and my perhaps tardy attempts at  a putting these events up for an exacting scrutiny, it is my sincere hope that much of this unfortunate travesty will be presented in its entirety for the good things it has yielded .and  Your opinions are very important. crucial.

Your respected opinions and conclusions are yours alone to choose with no obligation to me, or my devastated family and friends.

I am most highly indebted to my now divorced wife and son for enduring the most traumatic deprivations and social rejections on my account.

Their shame and ignominy through all these years of secretive whispers and gossip must have been a most painful ordeal. 
Their incredible fortitude and achievement, even as everything they had earned and deserved, was snatched away, in a day, as I lay incarcerated, helpless, destitute and muzzled.

Significantly too, was how my parents endured much of the same torment and disinformation.

My dear parents were equally  bewildered by the roughshod allegations which were bandied about, so contrary to the long suppressed truth which eventually surfaced years too late.
Bravely those most gallant parents, family and friends stood by my side regardless of the fabrications that resulted in my errant  convictions through THAT well proven legal slaughterhouse.

Most importantly I've acknowledged my misdemeanors and shortcomings many times over and have drawn much reprieve from having disclosed all of that.
The acceptance and confessions of my misdemeanors was a very important factor for my credibility, recovery and self respect.

What I really need to express now, is that there is so much good that has transpired from this most unfortunate turn of events.
The indescribable horror, shock, shame and outrage mustered into the Arab spring and its inconsistencies, transformed into the errant legal processes leading to my imprisonment.
So much good came out of all this.
So many networks of campaigning supporters formed..
So many meetings of the most wonderful personalities.
So many diligent operatives within the diplomatic structures and rather sadly, also our dissappointment at their inaction and impotence.
Where we had hoped that they would have influenced a more balanced resolution. They didn't.

Finally I managed, with the help of some friends from respected kuwaiti social circles amongst the inmates , to get hold of a tiny phone.
From then on, everything changed, and it allowed my loved ones to hold my head above the water . Every day.
It consoled them too knowing that I was well and contending with the daily trials.

It encouraged an interaction of powerful emotions, as the cruelest of events played out. Every day.

So many friends felt the pain and sadness with me... Every long  night.
So many shared the great many joys that occurred.. And little miracles.
Every day.

Contributions came in to me in many ways.... Emotional support and
by relief parcels.. Visits..
messages.. Letters..
Cash amounts or loading to my phone credit.
Some supported my old mum and helped her to learn to use her phone..
Carrying letters and love between her and myself so excessively restrained and silenced.

Some very great friendships and meetings have resulted from all of this.
There is a manuscript for a book presently undergoing final editing.

I have also managed a few of my own achievements as I experienced living into another culture.. Language religion and lifestyle. There was so much I could never have learnt anywhere else.

Reading speaking and writing arabic and using it all every day.
I completed a course as an electrician in the workshops and ran the satellite TV systems for hundreds of inmates.

I made many good friends and good impressions at every level.
I used the time well and exercised consistently and many now follow my example.
I fed the birds every day, now they do it.
I taught some basic English at the school .
Every day I gained a foothold and where I feared I was slipping behind the busy outside world..
I was progressing in other ways.

Obtaining a tiny illegal phone was a revelation and it changed everything.
It became my lifeline and a bridge into  my metamorphosis to freedom .
An interface between the cloistered surreal jail existence and the the fast moving real world outside.

I had found a way to see the world and to extend my presence far beyond the thick concrete walls and steel bars.
I was never alone as my support base grew ever wider.
I was more reassured as the details of my case were corroborated and shared widely.
The details were all researched and cross referenced and carefully set in place for everyone to see,  so they, and you, could come to your own conclusions.

The heavy black clouds lifted from over my head, and my family and many friends breathed a huge sigh of relief as the long concealed explanations were finally aired .
So many letters of  appeal were made to many a high level of government and media groups.
Every single one was rebuffed or ignored. So many kind friends wrote the most flattering glowing testimonials on my behalf submitted all in hope.

Nothing was wasted.. It all served a purpose and confirmed a most universal support and encouragement to me, and to all who hoped with me.

Thank you to my stalwart friends who persevered with these appeals on  my behalf, literally right up till the last day of my incarceration.

Thank you to the hundreds that messaged the most heartwarming encouragements on all social media platforms.

My jailers all knew of the delinquent events leading to my implication and incarceration but of course were bound not  to say a thing. They reciprocated however, by looking after me most kindly, and I will be ever indebted to them for that. 
A number of them are linked on my fbook. My dark angels I call them.

I've gone on too long here I know.. But I needed to share an important point with you here.. That this most terrifying ordeal was turned around to serve a far greater purpose than my welfare.

It's way bigger than me..
Its every one of you,
who held this all together,
and I will never be able to express sufficient gratitude to you all, but will endeavor to pay it forward.

I know it's taken a corner of many lives and brought together the most incredible friendships across the world. There will be a book and another after it concluding and revisiting, rejoicing.

I will recover.. And I hope the odious  labels will fade.
My losses will balance,
with many more gains....
and the credit for all this is due to you.

Thank you for standing by me through all this. Thank you for acknowledging the bravery of my young son and my parents.

Thank you for having me here today
I am most overwhelmingly honoured.
Bless you all.

I recently responded to an old friend who has been funding me very generously over the last few years and I thought I would copy you in on some thoughts even though you might not have the previous track..

Sadly diplomatic intervention was not anything he we had hoped it could be.

It was so very disappointing to learn so late, how impotent and apathetic.. Aloof and bound by bumbling excuses the authorities were, at every turn.

They were polite and kind and always close at hand but it was very clear that they really did not need me.

There is more to this than meets the eye I think?.. and they have yet some cards to play...
Some evasive excuses or possibly good reasons that they were previously unable to disclose?

Either way, they were careful and courteous, and I know a few concerned  individuals were well on my side, and did for me far more than they were permitted, but understandably, were careful to stay within the sensitive diplomatic boundaries.

I write to a few of them today out of official channels and they will always be family now.

I think at this stage, after so much good has resulted, that angling at deficiencies and flaws will not do as much good, as highlighting the minimalistic tardy efforts with complements and thanks.

They did a lot of good too.
Even to the kuwait authorities, I will direct only respect and thanks, for their efficiency and compassion.
In all these big organizations, there are failings,.
As much... or more, as there is in the uk or usa.

The last thing is, that we can be secure in our knowledge that we tried everything.
We left no stone unturned and still had no response.
But I know that every letter and appeal was noticed.
And today every one of those was a bright ray of hope for me, restoring every ounce of my honour and self esteem bit by bit.

My family was so grateful for the concerted efforts by so many great people from near and very far.
For them it was much more of an exoneration from my indiscretions and my getting into this shameful situation.
Nothing was wasted.

Everything, every voice counted, and today it has all pulled together so positively in the end, that there will be little place for critical reproaches, only relief, and gratitude
I think?

Saturday, January 5, 2019

First meeting

Halfway up the stairway
A reprieve and a wonderful escape
There we met on this great day
A son and his dad with so much to say
Ten years of lack and loss
The first time face to face
Alone on the stairs
A step at a time every day
But since then not sight or sound or trace
Bound and trapped like in a spiders web
Still since then
A long silence as the truth sinks in
Cascades of love and longing still abound
He came and saw and met and fled
Back to the vice and her fury
Cloistered again tightly
We wait patiently until he escapes the toxic trap
Soon his bonds will fall away
Soon he will be with us
Free
And with me

Monday, September 10, 2018

School Monsters

I used to attend boarding school as a teen. Approximately 1974 to 1978.
Security was different then and there were no human monsters worth worrying about like today.

One of my responsibilities was to lock up the school late at night.
I was the school electrician and projectionist before the days of television.
On Saturday nights I would show films in the main hall and I was always the last to leave way after midnight..
Alone.. Really really dark.

As boarders we used to go down to the school weeknights to do homework until 10.30pm, when everyone would go back up to the boarding house together, and I would have a smoke and start locking up and turning off all the lights.

My glowing cigarette gave me a kind of confidence... Made me tougher?.. Maybe just distracted my terror.?
I had a master key and would lock each classroom upstairs and down.

It was really scary all alone where I had to go, down those pitch dark passages echoing... In that huge empty building.
The ghostly glow of the street lights far away cast shadows onto the ceiling in places.  Patchy and shadowy.

I did it every night and I got used to it, but the same swirling shapes followed me like huge curling ghosts of darkness.. Shapes.. Silent.. And watching.
I could feel their eyes on me and my skin prickled, but it was my job and the big boys that had done the same job before me, seemed not scared..
So I had to be the same.
(Anthony Yell.. he gave me my first cigarette.. Van rhyn.)

I also couldn't let them see how scared I really was. 
There were places where it was so dark, whether you opened or closed your eyes it made no difference.
I walked like a blind man in that darkness and knew where everything was..
How far..
How many stairs..
And exactly where the doors were..
The dark was so black it was thick and syrupy.. It clung to me like wet smoke.

There was a sound one night..
A beating swishing fluttering and my heart stopped.
I ran and got out of the building as quickly as I could, desperately locking the doors behind me.
My heart was exploding in my chest, and I had no idea what it could have been but I was not going to go back and look and I was not going to tell anyone.
Then they would know how scared I was.
The next day down at school I went to go and see what may have happened..
What it could have been.?
Who?

But there was only a huge mess of pigeon feathers everywhere and a very half eaten pigeon.

And then those rattley keyhole always gave me away.... The monsters could hear where I was, and waited in the darkest places. 
I got better at dealing with that darkness,
with those monsters,
but I never felt safe. 
They slid along the ceiling ahead of me and swirled when I turned to see if they were following me behind. 
I would sometimes stop, and hold my breath, and listen, to try and catch them out.. But they were always too quick for me. They were waiting to catch me.

A torch would have been so easy and sensible... But there was no such thing.
It was such a relief to get out to the road where the streetlights welcomed me and scared my persuers away.

They didn't follow me outside as I walked back up to the boarding house.
Only my shadow following shorter and longer between the lamplights and the bright stars smiled. They knew.

The real problem is still...
the places I dont know..
Like today..
Places I haven't been before..
Like life's Dark alleys and forests. .. Lonely places...?
We all go there

Now you know too.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

A Mountain to Climb


I dreamt today 2nd September 2018, as I dozed alone before going out for a run.
I did not even realize that I was asleep and it took a few moments to realise that I had just been dreaming.

I was climbing a very high ladder high up in the sky above a volcanic crater filled with water.
As I reached the last few rungs it was as if the stairs moved down as fast as I climbed up and I kept trying to get to the platform at the top.

Two men were standing up there watching me as I kept climbing as I was  staying in the same scary place suspended high above the lake.
The boss man asked me why I dont just give up and jump and that there was nothing up here..
And I answered him immediately still stepping hard against the ever sinking rungs...
It was so clear and immediate!

I said to him that by jumping or falling I would lose his respect, but by making it  up to the platform I would gain a bit back of my own. Self respect.

He smiled and the other silent one pushed the whole ladder, and it swung round into a closer position to the top and I scrambled onto the top level and looked back down at the distant forest and lake far below..
And I felt good.
It was so clear..
And I was alone up there.
And  then I woke up

Monday, August 27, 2018

Personal Serpent

Yup be XXXtremely careful of Her
(your personal serpent) …

when I visited, she said in front of your son,
“Whatever happens, they must never let him out!”
or words very close to that.

I will tell you the context if you ever want to know, but cannot write it.

It is not easy for men like you and me, men of integrity and honour, to imagine the badness of rotten people like my ex-wife & yours.

People who we loved and gave our all.

People who have changed from good to bad Gareth.

From Bee.. Sept 1st 2018
My dear friend.  What a lovely message that was  that you sent on messenger.  I am so thrilled that I am able to communicate with Tom now.  he is an angel in disguise, obviously - I don't have to tell you that.  And I strongly believe that it is no coincidence that your lives crossed. Earthly angels taking care of earthly angels.  Because you are one too.  You are both of a special, rare breed of human who cares so much for other humans that you will risk your own well-being and safety to do what is right and good.  Never thinking of the "self" first, but only as an after-thought.   Always choosing to do the right thing, not what is best for the self.  Always ready to stand up to injustice.  I feel so strongly about these things and I know how much courage it takes to face these adversities - where most would falter or simply not give a damn.  I want you to know this and I know I am cutting deep here but I have never been one to mince words as you well know.  You couldn't have had a worse person as a life partner than Linda.  She is the exact opposite of you.  I found her to be cold, calculating and self-serving.  She proved herself to be just that in her lack of love and affection towards you all those years, and then final abandonment in your darkest time.   I believe you were nothing more than a trophy husband for her, with your drop dead handsome good looks and coming from a good family etc etc.  Thinking of herself first and only herself: oh I don't want to be tied to somebody who is sitting in prison in Kuwait, it's too tedious to deal with, it embarrasses me and it's a stone around my ankle.  Not: I will never abandon the love of my life, my partner and father of my son, because I believe in his integrity and innocence, and I will fight for him with every ounce of my strength and ability until I have succeeded in bringing justice to him and getting him home.   I can't stand people like that and I consciously cut them out of my life!!!  I am so grateful that our paths crossed so long ago and even more grateful that we have been able to remain connected despite the incredible distances and the many many years that have gone by.  I know you said that you don't want to settle down to a family life again and perhaps you never will.  But here is what I want to say to you: there is nothing in the world that can bring you true happiness besides being a family.  No amount of money, success, toys, travel, fancy houses and clothes and cars, good looks either naturally or through plastic surgery, fame, etc.  You can only find that happiness when you have love in the home; a home that consists of a family unit and that lives according to those wonderful Christian values and principles that we were brought up on of honesty, respect and love for each other and for our lord.  This is why I never stopped searching and trying, after my first marriage failed.  I wanted that happiness.  Somehow I knew in my deepest heart of hearts that this is where true happiness lay.