Online vandals

For the last several days, my blog has been down. Closed for business. Unbeknown to me, it exceeded its bandwidth. In other words, it had taken up more space than it warranted for the month. 

All because some unknown person, persons or cyberbot decided to download thousands upon thousands of pages from within, much more than your average reader might want.

My trusty technological exert tells me, it’s most likely hackers hell bent on mucking up the smooth running of my blog. 

Online vandals who get pleasure out of ruining things for others. 

I’m not taking this personally. I doubt it’s directed at me the person, rather it’s one of those virus type things that float around in cyberspace ready to pounce when ever there’s a gap, rather like the way a virus attacks your body when you’re run down, stressed or otherwise vulnerable.

Not that any of us can ever be immune to viruses in totality. 

We’ve blocked the culprits and hopefully this will be the last of them, but you never know.

If you’re reading this, my blog is back up and running.

Oh, happy day.

No blog, and I felt a whiff of homelessness, that sense of not having a safe space in which to hunker down at night. No place for my thoughts to stretch and turn.

When I was fifteen, I stayed with a family other than my own for several weeks in a type of foster care arrangement to give my parents time to sort themselves out. I did not think of it  as foster care at the time. I thought of it more as visiting another family for the purpose of having a roof over our heads, and regular meals away from the tumult of my father’s erratic behaviour. 

I did not consider my responsibilities in this arrangement were other than to be polite, keep myself in check, help with dishes after meals and otherwise work hard on my studies and participate in family meals. 

All of which I did with varying success. 

I was not alone in this. My younger sister and I shared a double bed installed on the second floor in a large house that looked for all the world as though it had been built in Holland or some other country where the roof sloped down almost all the way to the ground as a way of letting the snow side off. 

No snow in Melbourne as far as I knew but this family was Dutch, more Dutch than my own family in its love of tradition. A family of five, four boys and the youngest, ten years younger than me, a girl. 

I did not know at the time that the mother of this household had agreed to take us on in the hope that we might be like extra daughters, older daughters who might offset some of the burden of the large family by offering to take on part of her share of the washing and maybe even the cooking. 

But we offered nothing. We were of the view that we were there for our convenience and not hers. 

It went awry, three months down the track when my older sister invited us to go to her place for dinner one Friday night. Without telling our hosts back home in our foster home in Camberwell, we accepted the invitation.

I was fifteen and full of myself, full of my own needs and wishes, full to the brim with a sense that if it was ok for me then it should be ok for others. That was until mid-meal when my sister asked if I had told our host mother than we would be missing out on dinner and home late.

I rang my foster mother then and there; my plate empty of my sister’s cooking.

The air froze over the airwaves between us. ‘I have your dinner ready,’ my pseudo mother said. ‘This is not good enough,’ and she hung up. 

I dreaded our return. I dreaded the thought of what she might say when we finally passed through the back door of her Dutch snow house on top of the hill in Camberwell. 

As much as I tried to put it out of my mind during the long train trip back from Cheltenham and the flat in which my older sister lived with a school friend, back to the Dutch house. 

When we reached the back of the house, the screen door was snibbed shut. We knocked several times to silence and finally dared to ring the doorbell. 

Lights went on and the man of the house, the father of this family of five, stood in his brown dressing gown, striped pyjama legs sticking out over wool slippers. 

He unsnibbed the door. 

‘You can’t stay here anymore,’ he said. ‘After you call your sister to take you away in the morning, please stay in your room.’

My threatened homelessness lasted only one night. One night when I could not move, not strip out of my school uniform or get ready for bed. I propped my head on my pillow and panicked for a solution.

In the morning, I would go to the top of the hill and walk down to the presbytery of Our Lady of Victories Church and ask the parish priest to intervene. 

The woman of the house was a devout catholic. The priest could get through to her, soften her, turn her against her intention to eject us. 

 I must have fallen asleep and by the time morning came and with it light, it was too late for the priest and I walked on tip toes down the hallway through to the telephone. My sister promised to come later that morning and I bolted back to my room, terrified of seeing the mother of the house, whom I decided now hated me so thoroughly we could never again make peace.

I never saw my foster mother again, except in photographs, not even to say goodbye. In time she became my older sister’s mother in law, but that’s a whole other story.

At least my blog has been resurrected and I am not homeless. I never was. The nuns took us in as boarders and my younger sister and I entered a different institution where the rules were more clear cut. 

My new home at boarding school.

2 thoughts on “Online vandals”

  1. I’ve always thought of myself as an empathetic chappie but that’s not strictly true. I am capable of empathy but only in cases where I’ve gone through what the other has. So if you’ve lost your dad or got a pimple on your bum I’m your man. I can’t empathise with murderers or bullies or cross-dressers. On an intellectual level maybe but that’s really not enough.

    I have been guilty of vandalism as a kid and on numerous occasions. Growing up we lived next to an ever-expanding industrial estate and there was always some new building site to take over and turn into our playground for an evening. Damage was done and I throw my hands up—it’s a fair cop, guv—but I still struggle to think of myself as a vandal because, to my mind, the whole purpose of vandalism is to deface and that wasn’t us; any damage that was done was by the by. It was okay to break windows in a disused building but not a new build. That, even then, I didn’t get, being bad for the sake of being bad.

    A couple of days ago I was out back putting out the recycling bins for the flat (I’ve taken it on myself to police them because many of my neighbours clearly have no idea what can and cannot be recycled at the moment or don’t care) and while I was there I had a chat with the brickie who was doing some work for our factor. Our bins are contained within a brick enclosure and over the past couple of years the top layer has vanished. Vandals, of course, but what I can’t figure out is what was so important that they’d prize them free and cart them off piecemeal like that. The work that would be involved. And for this to continue until almost the whole top layer has gone. I simply don’t get it. Just like I don’t get the people who abandoned the washing machine in the small grove of trees beside our car park. Intellectually, yes, I understand why fly-tipping happens but I’m trying to picture a couple of blokes under cover of dark humphing that out of their flat and deciding that spot slap bang in front of our window was the ideal place to leave it. Maybe that’s just where they ran out of steam.

    Online vandalism is something else entirely. I get people giving their mates’ book five star reviews even though I don’t approve of it but it’s the hordes of reviewers who come along and trash a film they haven’t seen and have no intention of seeing just because they can; that I don’t understand. But it’s the world we live in. Lucky us.

  2. Yes indeed, Jim, it’s a weird world we live in. But the world has always been so, Jim, I reckon. Weird. And only the so-called natural wood the rocks and trees, the elements and the planets make some sort of sense but even these elements can seem weird at times. Interesting your tales of the abandoned washing machine in the car park and that outside bin enclosure whose top gets dismantled piece by piece. I suppose. we’ll never know why. Thanks Jim.

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