My poor blog attacked by moths

Every year I notice another hole in another jumper, a discreet hole, and not one caused by carelessness, snagged at a door or a grabbed by a greedy tree branch.

No, these moth holes are neat, as if someone has taken to the jumper with nail scissors and sliced out a tiny section from which the fibres begin to unravel.

This is the work of some other hidden creature who cannot abide my cupboard full of food but will only munch on the finest samples.

There has to be a metaphor in here somehow, but it eludes me, though even, as I say that, I think of my poor blog, attacked by spammers over these past several weeks.

My daughter’s tech-savvy boyfriend is helping me by getting inside the system  to establish what’s going on.

He tells me I have certain corrupt files.

I know not from where they came but once in place some unknown people – I assume they’re people and not robots – have used the space of my blog in which to conduct a scamming enterprise.

I have no idea how any of this happens or how it’s possible. But these gremlins come from France it seems, or so my daughter’s boyfriend tells me, and they use my blog as a means of sending out spam to others.

It scares me.

It makes me hesitant about keeping my blog going. Though I will not shut it down.

My daughter’s boyfriend has enlisted the help of his father, a technology specialist, who will download files to help us eradicate these unsafe files and get them out of my system, so these nefarious types can no longer use the safe appearance of my innocuous blog from which they can run their business of cheating on other people and stealing their money.

Presumably that’s the aim. To steal other people’s money without any of them knowing it’s happened until it’s too late.

It’s strange to be the front of house for such an activity, especially when I had no knowledge of its existence and it’s only the dutiful scouts from Google who picked it up and then warned everyone away from me.

Whenever anyone clicked on my blog, they were warned it was no longer safe.

I try not to take these things personally, but I find I cannot help but feel offended at the idea of being accused of being a danger unto others.

That’s what happens to writers. We write things and before you know it we’re  accused of all sorts of nefarious things that others glean from our writing.

At least this has happened to me.

Even as I write this, a thin wash of paranoia creeps over me as if my enemies might be reading and know  that I am onto them or they might object to me alerting the rest of the world to their existence; the thought police, the censors who tell me I must not write about such and such for fear of upsetting people who do not like my way of representing the world; these thought police who flutter inside my mind, like the moths in my wardrobe and chew holes into my most tender thin skinned confidence.

Cover your head

The year I turned ten, we began to wear mantillas to Mass.

There was never any official announcement just a slow slide from women with hats on their heads – Sunday best hats, big flowery productions, hats that sat on their heads like pill boxes (a term that puzzled me for its connection to medicine) or floral bouquets stitched together and held fast with a pin – to wafer thin spider webs of lace that floated on top. Unlike those hats of old.

Those old hats were not the same as the hats we see today on race days down at the Caulfield race course or Mooney Valley.

The hats of my ten-year-old days were more formal, silent, less a statement of beauty than of obligation.

To cover your head before God. Not that anyone ever said as much. Not that the covering of our heads before God’s was stated as a requirement, but somehow, at the time it struck me as a necessity for women, who also tended to have more hair, lots of hair, long and even short curly hair, to put a hat on top of it, and so maintain order.

It was not until some six years later when men started to let their hair grow, too, that I began to wonder about these things, even after I had noticed that the men in my father’s art books also wore long hair and bright silken clothes that could compete with any women’s fashion of that day.

The mantilla slipped into your pocket just as it slipped into use. Easy and convenient a triangle of lace, black for winter and white for summer like the nuns wore.

The mantilla matched every outfit unlike our hats that could sometimes clash especially when my older sister took to wearing trousers. Trousers were not a match for hats.

One Sunday morning, flanked by two of my sisters and walking along the streets of Camberwell on our way to church, I stopped mid stride, pushed my fingers into my coat pocket and realised to my horror there was no mantilla.

My fingers poked around, first in my front pocket then in either side pocket.

‘Hurry up,’ my older sister said. ‘We’ll be late for Mass.’

‘I can’t find my mantilla.’

‘Here,’ she said and rifled through her bag. My sister took a handbag with her at all times then as a mark of seniority, or a sign that she had possessions, the type most grown-ups had, things that warranted safety, a place into which she might put her treasures, including money.

She handed me a folded white handkerchief, and as I unfurled it the lines of each corner where the iron had pressed most heavily stood stiff as a mountain ridge with none of the gentle caresses of a mantilla’s folds.

‘But people will think I look silly,’ I said.

‘You’d look sillier without it,’ my sister said. ‘You’re too big now to go without a hat.’

We walked into the church of Our Lady of Good Counsel and sat towards the back in the only pews with enough space left to seat the three of us comfortably.

I was glad to be down the back, that way fewer people would be able to see me with my white covering. I looked across to a sea of heads, the back of men’s heads neatly clipped and women, the older ones still in hats and the younger ones their domed heads flattened under the weight of white or black lace.

We were between seasons. No one appeared to look over towards me to snigger.

I needed to find a way of hiding. At least in my head. I looked up to the sorrowful mysteries hanging from the walls of the church and noticed the frayed white cloth that Veronica held out to the thorn crowned head and blood-spattered face of Jesus, a cross on his shoulders on his way to crucifixion.

I thought I could see my handkerchief similarly, not as a blood-stained relic that could add to my indignity, but as a consolation to comfort Jesus though how I could do this I had not yet figured out.  Still it was like those times when my mother railed at the left overs on our plates.

‘Think of the starving Biafrans,’ she said. I figured then, if by eating all the food on my plate, even when I did not like or want it, I could help someone else in Africa who was starving. And then the white cloth on top of my head might help someone else in their suffering.

And so, the makings of my saint hood began.