Stranded in the shit field

30 Oct
Shit Field, by poo on you

Shit Field, by poo on you


Now and again in a life, one runs into what I like to call a shit field – a series of apparently unconnected events that occur simultaneously, or hard on one another’s heels, all of which share a common theme.

It can be difficult to recognise you’re in the shit field at the time, because its very nature clouds the mind and takes a toll on perceptions.

For the last twelve months, and particularly the last four or five, some of the effects of trudging through the shit field have been an increasing lack of creativity, loss of interest in the world, crippling anxiety, depression, and a sense of having completely lost control of my life and my ability to make good decisions.

I apologise to everyone who has stayed with the blog, for my increasing lack of output, and the deteriorating quality of the posts I have managed.

I wrote here about the experience of being with my beloved husband last year, after he suffered a massive stroke. I underestimated the length of time it would take me to recover from the loss of the man with who I had shared a long, fraught love affair of such intensity that I couldn’t ever imagine loving anyone else. I’m familiar with the Kubler Ross theory of the five stages of grief, though in my experience they are not necessarily consecutive, and I don’t recall ever doing any bargaining, probably because I don’t believe in a higher power so I don’t have a transcendental exteriority in my life with whom to cut a deal.

Apart from that, I’d say the model is fairly accurate, and applies to important loss of any kind, not solely death and dying, if one needs a framework to help explain the chaos inside.

I also underestimated the exhaustion I would feel and for how long I would feel it, after week upon week of sitting at my husband’s bedside, watching him deteriorate, watching in shocked despair as he railed and screamed at me in a language I could no longer understand, and at the end of these rantings, trembling as I watched him break down, as he stroked my face with his one good hand, and begged me for I knew not what. I assumed comfort. Many times I climbed onto his bed and laid my body the length of his frail frame, and held him while he fumbled, sobbing, for my breasts.

I would leave him at the end of these gruelling days, and make my way back to the Bondi Beach apartment a friend’s daughter had loaned me while she was overseas. Sometimes I’d catch a bus. More often I’d walk, as a way to calm myself, and reconnect with the world outside of the nursing home. I was not really a fit companion for anyone, and generally too exhausted for dinners or meetings with old friends. I found it difficult to sleep. These days I hate the city, and found adapting to its racket after the silence of my north coast home, almost impossible. I missed my dog. I missed him something awful.

Our life together, mine and A’s, had been largely conducted in Bondi where we lived at the beach, apart from a brief period when A realised a life-long dream, and bought a converted Pittwater ferry that we moored at the Newport Marina and lived on for a couple of years on and off. Our weekend pleasure was to motor slowly round the waterways, and come back to haul up our crab pots full of blue swimmers that A would then cook in a huge pot and we’d eat for supper with wine or a beer.  I remember once standing beside him at the boat’s wheel, my skirt flying open in the wind, my hair whipping at my face, and A turning to me and saying “If I died now, here with you, I would die a happy man.”

I told him this and other stories of our life as I sat beside him, holding his hand. I think he heard. I think he remembered. I think it gave him some sense of who he was, and had been.

I know now that I had never loved him more than I did those months I sat vigil at his bedside. I don’t know where that love came from. I felt it enter me as I walked through the nursing home doors. I felt its energy fill me as I climbed the stairs to his room. I felt that love sustain me through everything that occurred, every day it occurred. That love overwhelmed me.  Without it, I couldn’t have lasted a week. I’m not a believer in anything much. But I believe in that love.

When my friend’s daughter returned from New York, I moved to the glorious cliff top eyrie owned by my friend, Elisabeth Wynhausen, who recently died, who swore me to secrecy when she discovered her cancer, and whom I miss.

The theme of my shit field is emerging.

Then, to my utter surprise, when I had decided such things were over for me, earlier this year I fell in love.  The circumstances were challenging. Everything indicated this was not going to be easy. And yet again, out of nowhere, that love swept in with such power and took hold of me, even harder than before if that was possible, and I said a yes.

Well, in keeping with the theme of the shit field the challenges were too great, and I find myself once again in the stages of grief, or perhaps I never really got out of them.

What strikes me as remarkable, however, is that something so comparatively short-lived can cause an anguish not dissimilar to the loss of the love affair of decades. Of course there isn’t the history to mourn. But the loss. Oh god, the loss.

Or perhaps it is an accumulation of loss that finally overwhelms. I can’t tell yet. I’m still too much in love. I haven’t caught up with events. I’m still talking to him in my head as if he hasn’t gone. I’m still hurt when there’s no good morning and goodnight. I haven’t got used to the loss of him beginning my days and ending my nights. The absence of his presence.

So, I doubt I’ll be out of the shit field anytime soon. Thank you for staying around.


82 Responses to “Stranded in the shit field”

  1. Darryl Adams October 30, 2013 at 11:08 am #

    Nice to here that your life is changing for the better. It gives me hope in my case (well except for finding love, as I am as loveable as syphlis) .


  2. spacekidette October 30, 2013 at 11:11 am #

    I won’t seek to take away your grief and pain for it forges who we are and what we stand for as people, and I have to say from where I am standing, you are ‘good people’. Just make sure you look up from your jouney through shit field to see there is a greener field next door and know that in or out of the shit field you have people who love and support you. xx


  3. Elisabeth October 30, 2013 at 11:15 am #

    I’m still awe struck by your ability to put into such beautiful words the pain you carry. As far as I’m concerned, there’s no need to consider us your readers more. I for one am grateful you’re at least surviving all these terrible losses. Hopefully you’ll get out of this shit field soon. I had it in my mind you were going off to study, which is how I understood your relative silence. I hope that is still going ahead, if it’s your desire. Otherwise convalescence takes its own time. Rest easy. All things pass.


  4. 8 Degrees of Latitude October 30, 2013 at 11:51 am #

    Jennifer, we only know each other virtually, and that only slightly, and we would surely argue fiercely about many things were we ever to be in a real-time conversational setting :),

    But I’ll be staying with you. I wouldn’t leave you (well, your blog) in any circumstances that I can imagine, including any temporary absences brought about by the presence of the shit field that is the unavoidable companion of human existence.

    I knew Elizabeth by the way, slightly. We inhabited the same parts of Planet Journo from time to time and we were more or less of an age. She was a fine person and I was very sad when I heard that she had died.

    Bear up! You know you have friends, real and virtual, who value you immensely.


    • Jennifer Wilson October 30, 2013 at 2:11 pm #

      Elisabeth was one of the most generous people I’ve ever met. And funny. The conversations we had in Bondi cafes, she talked at a 100 ks an hour & loud, so everyone heard everything. I am so glad she didn’t have to live long in pain, and I miss her.


      • 8 Degrees of Latitude October 30, 2013 at 7:12 pm #

        I remember her for her volubility as well as her many other desirable qualities. Of course you miss her; and I feel for you in that loss.


  5. Sam Jandwich October 30, 2013 at 11:57 am #

    Could I suggest, my dear Jennifer, that at this point in your life you are sufficiently comfortable with yourself to allow yourself to feel the full force of whatever comes your way, without seeking to shield yourself from the consequences?

    The situation as you very vividly describe it really is palpably agonising (and for some reason I’m wishing I could drop around for a cup of tea though I doubt it would help much), but ultimately I admire you for being able to abandon yourself to the mercy of your emotions. I certainly can’t do it!


    • Jennifer Wilson October 30, 2013 at 2:13 pm #

      Oh, Sam, I would give anything to have a cup of tea with you right now! I could even force myself to visit Sydney again just for that.


      • samjandwich October 30, 2013 at 2:23 pm #

        I’m having one right now! (peppermint), so if you’d like to put the kettle on then we can say that we’re having tea together in spirit;-)


  6. 8 Degrees of Latitude October 30, 2013 at 12:24 pm #

    Reblogged this on 8degreesoflatitude and commented:
    There’s depth of feeling here that you don’t often see in writing. Worth reading.


  7. Toni Blackmore October 30, 2013 at 1:19 pm #

    A number of unwelcome parallels in our lives at the moment, right down to the surprise of almost fierce love nudging fondness out of the way during a nursing home vigil. And the email! Yes. Interest rocked shut like a Plath sea shell. Good that you’re able to lower the draw-bridge a bit with writing. Takes some doing.


    • Jennifer Wilson October 30, 2013 at 2:12 pm #

      Thank you. I always hope when I write something personal that it will become significant for more people than just me.


  8. hudsongodfrey October 30, 2013 at 3:57 pm #

    I don’t know that there’s much more you can do in a shit field than to realise halfway across that your shoes are forfeit and plough on regardless. The observation to make in that case is that you got over it at the point where you let go hope for the shoes well before you manage to reach the far side.

    On each occasion when you’re able to write of it the sense of the journey in progress is reassuring as is the knowledge that at the point when you’ve managed to voice your suffering although you’ve lost more than a pair of metaphorical shoes you’ve nevertheless gained more than the wages of stoicism and resignation. You’re someone who says things others resonate with and that gains you the support of all of us who aside from wishing you well from afar hope to validate the worth of the writing. What you’re doing when you share on a personal level because it is something we’re often at a loss to express and reticent to share because we’re too busy maintaining a stiff upper lip and a smooth exterior. You make breaking what for most of us are the habits of a lifetime seem effortless, and that in itself is no small thing, but an important one because it is only through knowing the dimensions of another’s pain that our own is made seem less limitless.

    Once again good luck and good writing, I think you should keep it up because it seems to bring out the best in you and possibly in us too 🙂


  9. Bianca Wordley (@bigwordsblog) October 30, 2013 at 7:16 pm #

    The only good thing about a shit field is that it provides fertile ground for future joy. x


  10. Mindy October 30, 2013 at 7:47 pm #

    (((hugs))) Jennifer, I hope you get to the other side of this shit field soon.


  11. doug quixote October 30, 2013 at 10:56 pm #

    Yes, Jennifer I thought you might be stranded. I was for several years, though friends thought I was resilient. The deaths of both my parents, my brother, favourite aunts and uncles and several good friends within a couple of years left me right in the shit field.

    But i finally came through it. You will too, I feel sure.

    Keep writing, it is good therapy. To air these issues is good in itself, and I hope we are here to help. You have all my best wishes.


    • hudsongodfrey October 30, 2013 at 11:18 pm #

      Metaphorically you keep the shoes for a while afterwards don’t you.

      Read me above if this seems cryptic.


      • doug quixote October 31, 2013 at 7:27 pm #

        As clear as a bell, contradistinctively to the faecal pastureland.

        Clean them how you will, the best solution is to get new ones, HG.


        • hudsongodfrey October 31, 2013 at 8:15 pm #

          Stilts or gumboots according to preference for the occasion 🙂


          • Jennifer Wilson November 1, 2013 at 7:34 am #

            I have a favourite pair of gumboots. I only take them off to sleep.


    • Jennifer Wilson November 1, 2013 at 7:34 am #

      Thank you DQ. You are very generous in your comments.


  12. gerard oosterman October 31, 2013 at 8:32 am #

    My lady can sleep
    Upon a handkerchief
    Or if it be Fall
    Upon a fallen leaf.

    I have seen the hunters
    kneel before her hem
    Even in her sleep
    She turns away from them.

    The only gift they offer
    Is their abiding grief
    I pull out my pockets
    For a handkerchief or leaf.

    Leonard Cohen.


    • Jennifer Wilson November 1, 2013 at 7:35 am #

      xxxxx. Thank you. I still have Leonard’s concert to attend on November 30th.


  13. helvityni October 31, 2013 at 8:32 am #

    I was trying to think of something Woody Allen-ish, and couldn’t, so here’s something from the Master himself:

    Life is full of misery, loneliness and suffering, and it’s over much too soon.

    And to appreciate the life in all it’s miseries, some wisdom from Noel Coward:

    I read The Times each morning and if my name does not appear in the obituaries, I go on to enjoy the day.

    If all fails to drag you out of The Shit-fields, put on your dancing shoes ,put on some good Latin American music and start moving…. Leave Leonard Cohen for later on… 🙂


    • doug quixote October 31, 2013 at 7:30 pm #


      • helvityni October 31, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

        Perfect, DQ, Monty Python, bloody marvellous…I’m laughing out loud now….


      • hudsongodfrey November 1, 2013 at 12:04 am #

        Splendid 🙂

        And ironically they made they’re money back with considerable interest because the religious screamed blasphemy without having even seen the film and gave them all the free publicity they could ever have hoped for….. So there’s a hidden subtext of silver linings, sliver lining pockets and crossing the odd palm in the process…..


  14. malbrown2 November 1, 2013 at 4:34 pm #

    I’m sorry for what has happened to you Jennifer. I’m not good at writing responses to posts like that and I have not been following you long.
    But I’m shall continue to follow you and hope with every thought I can muster that things improve for you.


  15. russell November 6, 2013 at 10:25 pm #

    Words fail at the mo. So much. Trust to enjoy M. Cohen . . .


  16. Smith Powell November 9, 2013 at 4:29 am #

    Wishing you the best. You have been a wonderful read during a time when I went through my own shit field with the illness and death of my wife. I note from the many comments that I am not alone in appreciating your caring thoughts and writing and in wishing you a speedy escape from the shit field.


  17. paul walter November 14, 2013 at 5:24 pm #

    Ahh, missed this one..shitfields, depression: yes I identify with what’s written and can certainly concur as to the observation that batches of events turn up, a person get’s thrown unceremoniously out of a situation they have come to regard as “normal” and things fall apart. There is an end to it.
    This comes also when least expected and by and large I’m better off for surviving. What didn’t kill me made me stronger. But you never, never forget and some times something will trigger a memory and you drink in the sadness again, briefly and powerfully, or you get complacent and some thing comes along to put you back at the pivot of the mayhem and you get out quick smart, tank on empty and on memory alone.
    Hardest work of all, getting up after life has decked you, yet again.


    • hudsongodfrey November 15, 2013 at 12:14 am #

      Well you could always work on the old theory that things come in threes. That way as long as you’re willing to believe some spurious connection between the latest blow to your composure and two earlier events then you’ll always be on the cusp of turning a corner. And every time life decks you again after that is over the odds and surely even more reason to be convinced things will soon be on the up.

      Of course you don’t really believe that, but then people acting like they believe a lot of things, especially if they say so out loud or better still publicly, have a way of locking onto a version of the truth that often manifests itself in the commitment they make to their beliefs. In a way that’s how religions work. So if you’ve any choice in the version of the truth you’re about to adopt then don’t be surprised if you find that even these tenuous sounding versions of positive thinking can work.


  18. paul walter November 15, 2013 at 1:56 am #

    With complacency, it only takes something small to destabilise and from that point there seems to come a sequence of ill judged actions and mishaps that subsume a distracted subject.
    You are spot on, HG, in observing how from that point people get complexes and try to self justify or apportion blame to outside forces, when caught out and humiliated in the peculiar way that comes with down fall or even comeuppance if hubris has been involved rather than mere naivety.
    It could be a real key to understanding reactionary politics, with its pathetic over compensating, that derives of the embarrassment of being shown up by the educated on science, climate change, etc… even sexuality.
    The terrible urge to get even regardless of right or wrong overwhelms them, as we see with Tea Part fundies in the US on Darwinism, Fred Nile on same sex marriage conservative Catholics on Zoe’s Law etc.
    But it is true that everyone is caught out somewhere along the line and it is a coming to grief.. then comes the effort of dusting one’s self off and getting on with the game, a bit like a football player getting up after a heavy tackle.


    • hudsongodfrey November 15, 2013 at 11:33 am #

      Starting from the view that human beings aren’t all that different from one another implies that what’s possible for happier people must be accessible for those of us who aren’t always doing so great. To simply say it’s a matter of what spin one is putting on things isn’t me trying to be deliberately trite or over simplistic about this, just to look at one basic facet of the insight being able to shift perspectives can offer us,

      Occasionally we may also allow others to sell us whatever line of bullshit seems comforting, that’s true, but if you see yourself as subsumed by ill humoured thoughts then it is at least usually possible to recognise that if others are spinning themselves positive thoughts then maybe you’re spinning yourself some negative ones. A practice which only you can exercise, albeit in some cases not without help and medication.

      The other part of where I think you may have been trying to go with your thoughts seemed to involve asking something like whether it wouldn’t be so much better if only we could convince all those deluded others to spin our way. I think there’s merit there if you’re about wanting to help, but also danger in that you might inadvertently bring people down by disabusing them of their helpful illusions.

      When we’re at our most rational then sometimes we’re also at our most insensitive and our least persuasive. It isn’t enough to simply confront a problem by pointing out a bad idea, you usually do a lot better substituting a good idea in its place. And that is far more easily said than done. Besides it might be more than a little arrogant for any of us to suggest that our perspective is always the right one, much less that a single shared perspective upon all things among all people is even a good or attractive idea.


      • doug quixote November 16, 2013 at 5:57 pm #

        As you say, pointing out a bad idea is not enough. But at least it would preserve the status quo, rather than allowing those who support the bad idea to run away with the victory in the debate, and to implement their absurdities.

        As you say, good ideas are harder.


        • hudsongodfrey November 17, 2013 at 12:06 am #

          And Mae West might’ve said “hard ideas are gooder”!


  19. Rebecca November 17, 2013 at 9:47 pm #

    *many many hugs*


    • paul walter November 18, 2013 at 11:59 am #

      Rebecca, just had a quick look-see at your blog and agree that stereotyping is a straight-jacket for women and for men also.
      Negotiating a conditioning cultural, subtle and often unconscious, seems to be the life task for just about all of us.
      Love Fiona Stanley, her blood is worth bottling, an original individual of a sort the late Doris Lessing may have appreciated.


  20. Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) November 18, 2013 at 11:10 am #

    Just for the (blog) record, and the illtwitterate:

    Only twelve more sleeps till St Leonard!


  21. Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) November 20, 2013 at 1:05 pm #

    Just stranding this in the thread as part of the record of a Twitter stoush between @emptywheel , @LouiseMensch , and @20committee, wherein there came to be a focus upon malapropisms and spoonerisms perpetrated by Louise Mensch in an attempt at grammar-policing Marcy Wheeler:


    For a while the Twitter conversation was a real hoot. A resume of what it was all about can be had here:


  22. doug quixote November 21, 2013 at 7:48 am #

    Hi Forrest.

    ‘Tis risky when one sets forth on the sea of ignorance
    Protected only by the flimsy boat of a little knowledge.

    Ms Mensch may need remedial classes. 🙂


    • Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) November 21, 2013 at 8:20 am #

      Louise purports to know about boats, too, DQ:

      She really is most entertaining.


      • hudsongodfrey November 21, 2013 at 9:21 am #

        I’d to look her up to get a sense of Mensch. I think she’s either a dangerous idiot or worse she’s looking for the attention she gets by simply mouthing the first most outrageously right leaning controversial inanities given the slightest opportunity. Like Peter Hitchens and, I’m sure she’d love to think Ann Coulter, the yellow media are going to lap this stuff up.

        They many be outliers in a generally more genteel society but the kinds of parallels that British public life has thrown up have not been without their comparatively low points. Here I’m thinking of Enoch Powell and Oswald Mosley. Indeed Mensch is the kind of woman even Maggie Thatcher would probably have thought of as having gone too far, though not by very much…..


  23. Anonymous November 22, 2013 at 3:21 pm #

    Now I am stranded in a shit field myself.

    Today was starting out so well on Twitter, what with opportunities for some subversive pedantry here and there, and a little gentle sub-tweeting of our blog host over the breakfast hour(s) as a substitute for her fled appetite and temporary loss of gastronomic enjoyment. Then my Twitter froze.

    Shit happens, as is in some places wont to be said.

    Normally, when such freezes occur, I just force the non-responsive Firefox browser program to quit, then re-start it and click ‘restore tabs’. (I keep tabs on many things.) This generally fixes everything.

    However. [And I very much like the way our blog host (Blogess?) uses ‘however’, I might add.]

    On this occasion Twitter for some reason logged me out, which, of itself was no big deal, as I have my user name and Twitter password not only memorized, but WRITTEN DOWN. But Twitter would not accept my new login, even though it was correctly entered. I was locked out of Twitter! And I had done nothing wrong, at least not by Twitter.

    There is, of course, a process whereby a Twitter password can be reset, if its loss is the problem. (Which it wasn’t, so far as I was concerned.) This involves the sending of an email by Twitter to the email address associated with one’s account. That is where I really started to notice it was a shit field that I was in. In the freeze, Gmail had also logged me out of my email account, and it was to be the same story of Gmail not accepting my correct, written down, password when I attempted to log back in. So I couldn’t access the email which Twitter said they would send for resetting my Twitter password. But that wasn’t quite all: a week or so ago my Gmail had ceased to display my inbox, something I associated at the time with perhaps being a consequence of using an older browser, although I find it hard to credit that Google would not have provided me basic text access as they updated their system.

    I began to ponder the prospects of these two shut-outs being coincidence. You just can’t be too paranoid so far as electronic media are concerned these days. Was I, with my then 82 ‘followers’, coming to be seen as a centre of influence on Twitter, and a threat to certain interests? Apart from the chronicling of Louise Mensch’s short Twitter voyage upon the seas of ignorance a little earlier in this thread, the only recent tweets of mine that may have established ‘guilt by association’ may have been this one to @LaLegale, Michaela Banerji (a DIAC PS that recently lost her job through the departmental mis-use of social media surveillance), although it seems innocuous enough:

    and this one, yesterday, in regard to Graham Perrett MP being called upon to apologise for the content of a RETWEET critical of the Speaker of the House of Representatives:

    or my retweet of this:

    During ‘all’ this, I note I acquired one new ‘follower’, bringing my Twitter ‘circle of influence’ to 83 users. That new follower showed up in a screenshot of my interactions timeline as one ‘Jeremy Stuparich’, but that may not be his Twitter userID. As I presently have no Twitter access, can someone who does do a Twitter search on that name and post a link to his Twitter profile summary here on Sheep? I have so few followers I like to know who they all are.

    Social media, one way or another, seems to be getting decidedly ‘iffy’ these days, doesn’t it?


    • hudsongodfrey November 22, 2013 at 7:58 pm #

      That Zoe’s law is a stupid mess of an idea. I’d support what they want to do if only they’d argue it consistently with the existing body of law that agrees the child has rights at birth.

      They could do this quite easily by making law that carried extraordinary penalties for the harm done to an expectant mother in taking the life of her unborn child from her.

      Why you wouldn’t make law that way is quite beyond me. I think that is something that they’ve a responsibility to explain to the public in terms of how and why such a discombobulated legal route was chosen as to have the appearance of making one rule for mothers and another for errant drivers in relation to the same foetus. Clearly it should be possible to formulate better laws by reflecting the reality of whose suffering is at stake to find that the mother not the foetus is the one who is harmed.


    • Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumppXVI) November 23, 2013 at 9:24 am #

      My digitally reincarnated Twitter existence has enabled me to answer my own question, and view the Twitter profile of Jeremy Stuparich.


      Now to see whether I have been robbed, through Gmail’s interaction with Twitter, of my nice blue avatar coat.

      Yes, it really is me:


  24. paul walter November 23, 2013 at 12:35 am #

    It has the crazy logic of the authoritarian impulse that emanates from the Western Southern and mid-western, Red State/Tea Party USA, which is the same impulse that has imposed compulsory, intrusive virtual rape via ultrasound wand for women seeking terminations in some places.
    In short, it is part of the reactionary modernist “War on Women”, that seeks a return to a “traditional” social structure that returns decision making to males in relation to women based on certain unproven assumptions as to the ethical and mental capacities of women to make certain sorts of choices on their own.


  25. Kim @frogpondsrock November 23, 2013 at 9:38 am #

    Ah my twitter friend, I did not realise the depth or the length of your shit field and so I will quietly wait over on twitter for when you have reached the fence, or at least can see the fence 🙂
    I do know with grief (or with mine at least) that it is a long slow slog and that the feeling of “everything is broken forever” becomes less sharp. My son is vulnerable at the moment as well and he has come back home for a while to be safe.So I am distracted and absent as well
    Love to you and cyber hugs. x


  26. Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumppXVI) November 23, 2013 at 10:50 am #

    Looks like someone’s Twitter is being censored or suppressed. I tweeted this to Michaela Banerji (@LaLegale) earlier, but it did not show up in her ‘All tweets’ display of her @ mentions timeline on Twitter:

    I have taken screenshots proving its absence from the relevant part of her timeline display.

    I don’t know who the target is, she or me, but it looks like attempted censorship of some sort.


  27. Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumppXVI) November 23, 2013 at 11:13 pm #

    There is definitely some sort of selective suppression of tweets going on. This tweet, for example, posted at 12:47AM 23 Nov 2013 (US time):

    I am using a free email address on a US-based provider’s service. The tweet should have appeared in Marcy Wheeler’s (@emptywheel) @ mentions ‘All’ display, but it hasn’t as at around 3:00AM 23 Nov 2013. I have taken screenshots that can prove this. Whether I can regain access to my use of the Twitter-capped-for-subscription application TwitPic to post them after my reincarnation from @ForrestGumpp to @ForrestGumppXVI remains to be seen.

    I wonder whether Louise Mensch called in some favours from GCHQ in precipitating the simultaneous lockout from both my original Twitter account and the associated Gmail account that has necessitated my reincarnation, following her self-inflicted embarrassment of the other day on @emptywheel’s @ mentions timeline?

    Is that too paranoid, I wonder?


    • doug quixote November 24, 2013 at 3:12 pm #


      As HG likes to say, when the choice is between conspiracy and stuff-up, stuff-up is by far the most likely explanation.


  28. doug quixote November 24, 2013 at 3:28 pm #

    Zoe’s law is a fine example of hard cases making bad law.

    As far as I am aware, no human foetus can be viable outside a human female until at very least 24 weeks. It is conceivable that a foetus could be deliberately killed with little injury to the mother, and this it may be thought should attract a more severe penalty, with a very firm exception for a termination requested by the mother.

    However it does seem excessive that someone who, negligently, slightly injures a woman who happens to be pregnant should be guilty of manslaughter.

    The likelihood seems to be that such laws will be used – thin edge of the wedge fashion – to try to roll back the abortion law reforms of the last 40 years. I think that is a result to be avoided at all costs.


  29. Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumppXVI) November 27, 2013 at 12:14 pm #

    Lest some people think that my tangential posting toward the latter end of this comments thread is not addressing the substance of the blog post, I’ll have them know differently. The loss of a digital archive, as encompassed by the author in paragraph six, is “an important loss”. Of course, as such, it does not even hold a candle to the significant losses upon which she writes so eloquently.


    The events, howsoever they were brought about, which precipitated my recent cyber reincarnation were such as to bring to mind an article I read on OnLineOpinion back in 2006, just around the time that another Yorkshire girl, Twitter user @emmaZbolland, was entering a shitfield described in this tweeted link:

    The OLO article of 10 October 2006 was titled ‘Losing your virtual mind’, by Liz Conor, and can be reached by surfing from the target page of the link in the following embedded tweet:

    Its a good one. She, too, ends up speaking in threes.

    The problem with archives like Twitter is that they are ‘in the cloud’. If anything can be made to happen that prevents your logging-in to such ‘cloud’ services, as happened to me, you cannot access them. Brings to mind the acronym RMS. RMS stands for ‘Royal Mail Steamer’ (as in RMS Titanic). It also stands for ‘root mean square’ (something to do with statistics). Finally it stands for Richard Matthew Stallman, open source computing guru, who always reckoned cloud computing was a bad idea. Remiss of us all to have ignored his advice.

    Now, as a little final diversion, can anybody (Jennifer?) help me with this:

    As, for example, in this inverted adage: ‘making a necessity of virtuality’.


  30. Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumppXVI) December 18, 2013 at 8:40 am #


    It looks like I have been socio-medially stranded AGAIN! According to Twitter, my ‘@ForrestGumppXVI’ account has been suspended, so no subtweets from me this morning. No reason has been given for the suspension, and I do not believe I have violated any Twitter rules.

    The problem is that the process Twitter provides for appealing one’s suspension itself seems not to be working. When I click the ‘Suspended Accounts’ text link in the Twitter nag-screen notification of the suspension and surf to this page, , and attempt to submit a report to Support using the ‘Submit’ button, the screen just hangs with the little progress icon going round and round but seemingly never completing the submission. All required fields have been filled.

    I still have access to the email account with which I registered ‘@ForrestGumppXVI’ with Twitter, unlike what happened in my previous Twitter existence as userID ‘@ForrestGumpp’ in which I simultaneously lost ability to log in to both Twitter and Gmail, and for which reason I had to abandon use of that account.

    Indeed, since the suspension I ( @ForrestGumppXVI ) have received one of those automated emails from Twitter notifying trends and tweets in which it thinks I might be interested. It appears at least some part of Twitter still recognises my socio-medial presence.

    Could you report my situation by tweeting the suspension of @ForrestGumppXVI and a link to this comment to @Support? Twitter will find the IP address related to both my now-inaccessible @ForrestGumpp account registration and my currently-suspended @ForrestGumppXVI account registration to be the same, should it investigate.

    Perhaps there has been some jealousy in some quarters at the number of Top Tweets I have been getting lately!


    • Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumppXVI) December 18, 2013 at 10:19 am #

      Interesting. I tweeted this only three days ago. If one clicks on the #subversivepedantry link in the tweet one finds no mention of it!

      Beginning to think interests involved in connecting future privatised wind turbines into the Irish electricity grid at present (Irish) public expense may have called in some favours. I have had quite a few Top Tweets on the ‘@eirgrid’, ‘#eirgrid’, ‘#pylons’, and ‘#subversivepedantry’ timelines in recent days. Now not a tweet of mine visible on any of them! And I was only innocuously posing questions that might not have occurred to the Irish public about Eirgrid’s GridLink project as it might relate to expanded wind farming.

      Just wondering if Ireland, or perhaps interests trying to exploit Ireland (again), have any access to the Five Eyes of the Little Tinpot Gods and their IT-disruption capabilities through some back door to Twitter? Would that explain my suspension from Twitter? Having a political opinion, like Michaela Banerji ( @LaLegale )?


    • Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumppXVI) December 18, 2013 at 11:12 am #

      Just to keep my un-asked-for little pink Gravatar avatar appearing in Jennifer’s ‘Recent Comments’ display in the hope that it may attract the attention of someone viewing this blog that has a Twitter account that can report my inability to appeal my Twitter suspension to @Support with a link to my post above of December 18, 2013 at 8:40 am .

      Just as a matter of interest apropos #eirgrid and #subversivepedantry timelines on Twitter, I note this recent call by Marian Harkin, an Irish Member of the European Parliament for a stay to the 3.2 billion euro GridLink project in Ireland. It is looking like there must be public concern building throughout Ireland as to the ramifications of this project. I merely have tried to ask the old question: ‘cui bono’, who benefits?

      Could I perhaps have been asking some penetrating questions that unidentified interests would prefer remain unasked?


    • Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumppXVI) December 18, 2013 at 1:32 pm #

      See, I am not the only Twitter user to question the ultimate source of things cybernautical that happen to me. Marcy Wheeler turns out to be right in her speculations much of the time, and she might be thought paranoid, too.

      Then again, there was this reference to a little bit of tongue-in-cheek attempt at political satire which sat on a couple of hashtag conversation timelines having significant Irish content for quite some time:

      It may have ruffled a few feathers in the context of this tweet:

      It would be good if someone with a Twitter account would notice how many pink Gravatar avatars are going up on Jennifer’s ‘Recent Comments’ display, and report my unreportable suspension from Twitter to @Support, as per my post of December 18, 2013 at 8:40 am .


    • Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumppXVI) December 18, 2013 at 7:01 pm #

      Here is an example of the sort of questions I had been asking on the #eirgrid and #subversivepedantry Twitter timelines which I have a suspicion may have been at back of my suspension from Twitter:

      “Is it #subversivepedantry 2 ask how the capital cost [of] #eirgrid ‘s GridLink will be recovered from renewable power generators benefited by it?” Here is the question as a tweet:

      That tweet was awarded a Top Tweet icon by Twitter and remained prominent on the #eirgrid timeline for some days. I have no idea why or how Twitter’s algorithms make such awards, other than Twitter’s own claims that such reflect the degree of interest somehow shown in a particular tweet. The point being that it is something completely outside my control, but one for which I suspect may be behind my suspension for making (too many?) hashtag links in my tweets, effectively at Twitter’s encouragement! I have a screenshot of it, so I know I am not imagining things.


  31. Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumppXVI) December 19, 2013 at 8:46 am #

    While I am waiting for Jennifer, or anyone else with a Twitter account, to view some of the recent comments to the blog and take the requested action, I thought I might mention the reason I first started posting on ‘Sheep’. It was at the time when an attempt was being made to effectively shut down discussion on this blog via threat of a defamation lawsuit: the time of the Twitter hashtag tweetstorm ‘#MTRsues’ in January 2012. I just happened to think that blogs like Jennifer’s were important as one of the few places where genuine public discussion on a genuine public agenda could take place, where views of commenters rarely, if ever, were censored out of the discussion.

    Of course, there aren’t many blogs like No Place for Sheep, which makes the sustenance of it in the face of attempts at censorship all that more important.

    Hence my concern when I see what I think could be attempts to shut down or restrict discussion in the complementary medium of Twitter, whether they arise by way of malicious complaint from other Twitter users, or from perhaps ill-conceived automated policy enforcement algorithms of Twitter itself, such as I suspect may be behind the current suspension of my Twitter account ‘@ForrestGumppXVI’.

    As a matter of interest, a Google search of the term ‘Twitter suspension without reason’ yields quite a deal of information revelatory of quite arbitrary suspensions of Twitter users having become increasingly commonplace over time. Many of such suspensions are linked to the unforeseeable (to the user) operations of the algorithms used to identify what might be thought to be spamming or spam-like behaviour of users. The consensus seems to be that the Twitter process for appealing these arbitrary and unexplained suspensions is pretty shoddy. It certainly appears to be so in my case, as the report page fails to even submit when the ‘Submit’ button is clicked.

    As I write, Jennifer is on Twitter, tweeting away. Which is good. The other day she tweeted this:

    The interesting thing is that she ‘favorited’ my response to it, which can be seen by clicking ‘Expand’. But just now as I write I noticed that ‘favoriting’ repeated on my ‘Interactions’ timeline of my suspended Twitter account. Curious.

    Maybe soon she will visit her own blog. Right now she is busy listening at one remove to the PM “crashing around in the undergrowth of his native language”:


    • Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumppXVI) December 19, 2013 at 9:32 am #

      Just to show how good a time Jennifer is having on Twitter this morning, and for the record, given the ephemerality of Twitter for most:

      Do view the photo.


      • Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumppXVI) December 19, 2013 at 10:33 am #

        More of Jennifer enjoying herself on Twitter:

        Somebody has to look after her blog for her!


        • Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumppXVI) December 19, 2013 at 1:33 pm #

          In one sense Lizzie O’Shea is quite right. Graham Young ( @GrahamY ), publisher of OnlineOpinion, has stated that one of the reasons OLO imposed limits on the number of posts per topic, and also in aggregate per user, in any 24-hour period, was because without such limits many posts tended to become abusive and short, and thus operated to shut down rather than contribute, to discussion.

          By the very nature of the platform, Twitter is prone to this experience.


          It has been my experience on Twitter that tweets are more memorable, and prompt more engagement and interest in any Twitter conversation, if humour can be substituted for abuse, or attempts to discredit other users. I tend to use Twitter somewhat like an abstracts journal, and thus pay more attention to tweets that include a link to a more extensive reference, than I do to what might be regarded as ‘self-expression’ or mere assertive opinionation tweeting.

          Thus, if Twitter was to be used more as a complement to blogging, for example, the chances of tweeps (or blogesses) coming to see such things as the array of pink Gravatar avatars as now have come to populate Jennifer’s ‘Recent Comments’ display would be correspondingly greater.


      • Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumppXVI) December 19, 2013 at 10:38 am #


  32. Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumppXVI) December 19, 2013 at 3:18 pm #

    My old @ForrestGumpp account has had access restored by Twitter. Now to see if I have got my blue coat back!


    • Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumppXVI) December 19, 2013 at 3:24 pm #

      Not quite yet, it would seem. What a cybersocio-medial mess! I am blaming mostly Gmail at this stage for ‘moving forward’ and no longer supporting my browser, denying me even the most rudimentary access to my Gmail email account.


  33. Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumppXVI) December 20, 2013 at 6:50 am #

    The Wilsons. Juxtaposed.

    For the record.


  34. Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumppXVI) December 21, 2013 at 6:11 am #

    This post is addressed to Twitter @Support. It appears here on Dr Jennifer Wilson’s blog ‘No Place for Sheep’ by courtesy of the Blogess, who is interested in freedom of speech, and is a great fan of Twitter as @NoPlaceforSheep.

    As noted above in my post of December 19, 2013 at 3:18 pm, , (to which this is also an amplificatory reply), following the suspension of my @ForrestGumppXVI Twitter account, access to my original @ForrestGumpp account was restored by Twitter. Not that I was notified by Twitter of this; I had to find it out by trial and error as part of the process of establishing some form of feedback to Twitter in an attempt to appeal the suspension of my @ForrestGumppXVI account in the face of the Twitter report page associated with the suspension nag screen notification refusing to submit when its ‘Submit’ button was clicked.

    Twitter may well have notified me by email of its resolution of the log-in/password acceptance issue that denied me access to my original @ForrestGumpp account, but because of my simultaneous and continuing loss of access to the Gmail email account to which that Twitter account was registered, I would never have seen any such notification. Gmail’s fault, not Twitter’s.

    Clear so far? I hope so.

    Having discovered the re-activation of my @ForrestGumpp account, I tweeted @Support, thus:

    and thus:

    Twitter’s evident response was to re-assign the email address associated with my now-reactivated @ForrestGumpp account to the email address I had used when registering the currently suspended @ForrestGumppXVI account on 22 November 2013. Not exactly what I had asked for, but certainly a step in the right direction, for which I thank @Support. So far, so good.

    None of the issues that prompted the registration of the currently suspended @ForrestGumppXVI account were mine to resolve; they were all Twitter’s. This is important to recognise, especially if it is the case that Twitter has a policy of discouragement or disallowance of multiple Twitter userIDs being used by the one person. The only reason the @ForrestGumppXVI account was opened was because of the Twitter log-in issues that were preventing my use of the now-reactivated @ForrestGumpp account.

    To this point, I do not know why my @ForrestGumppXVI account has been suspended. After having checked the Twitter rules and Googled the subject of unexplained Twitter suspension, I can identify no breach of the terms of use, nor any behaviour such as, for example, ‘aggressive following’, that would see my usage of Twitter flagged for suspension. Can I be told, via my now commonly registered email for both accounts, the reason for which my @ForrestGumppXVI account is suspended, if only so I can avoid any problem with my continued use of Twitter?

    In anticipation of the suspension of @ForrestGumppXVI being able to be resolved and lifted, I request to be able to continue the use of BOTH accounts, and have all of the tweets and followers of @ForrestGumppXVI restored to their respective timelines etc.

    At the time of the suspension of @ForrestGumppXVI I was tweeting in regard to a matter of significant public interest in the Republic of Ireland, that of @eirgrid’s 1.3 billion Euro GridLink electricity transmission project which has a 7 January 2014 deadline for public submissions. I need the access to the Twitter archive of my interactions in that context that this suspension is currently denying me. As matters stand, the removal of my tweets as @ForrestGumppXVI could be seen to have the appearance of politically motivated censorship of that public discussion that Twitter as a platform once offerred such promise of facilitation. If one was to scroll through earlier comments to this thread one could see that I could easily have trodden on a few toes of persons of erstwhile significance in US and UK governance that may have been motivated to seek censorship of my tweets via the avenue of Twitter suspension.

    And yes, I do have a predilection for political satire, as my penchant for the use of hashtags like #subversivepedantry in my tweets might indicate.

    Thanking you, Twitter, in anticipation.


    • Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumppXVI) December 22, 2013 at 7:29 am #

      I have just checked my email for any word from @twitter or @Support as to my appeal against the suspension of @ForrestGumppXVI. It is Sunday morning here in Oz, but it is Saturday in the US, where I presume this appeal is to be resolved. So I’m guessing it may be another 36 to 48 hours before my somewhat unorthodox out-of-channels submission gets to begin to be considered.

      I don’t dare try to use the Twitter Support report pages I might be able to access via my restored @ForrestGumpp account in attempting to deal with the @ForrestGumppXVI matters, lest I precipitate some confusion that puts even my crippled original persona account off the air, or net, as the case may be.

      Meanwhile, in Ireland, the pylons march on unchecked, with the constructive alternatives of which I have advised not able to be seen for the tweets they were, as a (perhaps unintended) consequence of this suspension.

      I just wish the most powerful man in all of Ireland, Barach O’Barmagh, would take an interest in this important matter and intervene with Twitter to restore my @ForrestGumppXVI privileges. Then the two halves of my split cyberpersona could be left to battle things out between themselves without having to impose upon others in the ongoing quest to save the world. Do I think he could do it? Yes he could!

      NSA! NSA! NSA!

      We live in hope.


    • Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumppXVI) December 23, 2013 at 11:28 am #

      Checked the email again this morning for anything regarding the transgressions or reinstatement of my @ForrestGumppXVI account from Twitter. Nothing, as sort of expected, given that although it was 0630AEDST Monday here, it is Sunday in the US.

      While we are waiting I’ll just mention a few things in relation to my @ForrestGumpp account. In case anyone is wondering, avatar-wise I am an egg on that account because I have never been able to upload an image when editing my Twitter profile. I still can’t, as I tried only the other day to upload the same image of Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump as I had successfully put up on my @ForrestGumppXVI profile. This probably operates to the detriment of perceptions as to competence in my Twitter presence.

      Also, my DMs have never worked reliably on my @ForrestGumpp account. I can receive, but not transmit. Crippled. For the brief time that I had it, the DMs did appear to work in both directions on the @ForrestGumppXVI account.

      One of the good things about my @ForrestGumpp account is that I have associated with it a registration as a user of the third party app TwitPic. As a third party app, TwitPic has, since I registered as a user, become subject to a cap on the number of users arbitrarily imposed by Twitter. I doubt my @ForrestGumppXVI account would be able to sign up for TwitPic today, and I would not even begin to think about trying to effect a transfer, lest in the process I lose access to it altogether.

      One of the best things about TwitPic is that I have been able to tweet via that app at times when for unknown reason I could not tweet on Twitter directly. Sure, there is a penalty in that only 114 characters are available for text in a TwitPic tweet, but often the picture more than makes up for this. As, for example, when I use my ‘Tweetlonga’ workaround and put up an image of text typed in my text editor as the TwitPic pictorial content. So that is a major reason I want to be able to continue using my @ForrestGumpp account even after the hoped-for reinstatement of @ForrestGumppXVI.

      Interesting that WordPress is still registering my posts here on ‘Sheep’ via my suspended @ForrestGumppXVI Twitter account. Interesting, but not surprising.


  35. doug quixote December 24, 2013 at 8:18 am #

    To Forrest Gumpp : You react as if your basic human rights have been removed, and bewail the injustice of your apparent treatment high and low.

    But where in the Universal Declaration is there a right to tweet?

    I get it that you are feeling deprived of a soapbox; get over it and get on with your life. Create a new persona (I doubt you were born Forrest Gumpp) and create a new you – one without the baggage!

    Feel the freedom of rebirth! Renaissance!


    • Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumppXVI) December 24, 2013 at 11:00 am #

      But Doug, I did all that. Then they took it all away from me!

      Someone has to take myself seriously, so it might as well be me. Remember that great aches from little oak corns grow, and that to ignore the seeming vagaries of the Twitter platform is to as good as openly encourage insidious hidden selective censorship/suppression of political expression. (And I got a ‘favorite’ for that little pseudo-spoonerism from the great @NeinQuarterly : I have been most seriously robbed of my hard-won online kudos, not to mention the extra dozen or so followers I acquired during my brief renaissance.)

      Maintain the resentment, I say!

      Keep the Twitter bastards honest!

      And a Merry Christmas to you too, Doug.

      Liked by 1 person

      • doug quixote December 24, 2013 at 4:28 pm #

        Fuck Twitter! You wouldn’t catch me dead on there.



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