Latvia and the Irish mushroom

LIKE so many Latvian towns, Karsava survived its own brutal Nazi holocaust in 1941 and some 50 years of occupation by the former Soviet Union.

But now it faces its biggest single challenge yet.

Yet unlike the string over adversaries this remote rural community in the south eastern part of the former Eastern Bloc country have seen off over the centuries – this particular foe has never actually set foot inside Latvia.

It is none other than the . . . humble Irish mushroom.

In just one year, the town’s population has fallen by nearly a third and most of those who left are now living in Ireland.

In a trend that is echoed throughout Latvia, scores of the town’s young men and women – the lifeblood that should guarantee the future of the place for generations to come – are jumping on trains to the country’s capital Riga and taking cheap Ryan Air flights to Dublin each week.

Since Latvia joined the European Union in May 2004 and barriers to free movement across the borders of member states came down, an estimated 50,000 Latvians have emigrated to Ireland.

Once in the country, the young Latvians – many of whom are qualified engineers, psychiatrists and other such professionals – take on board any number of jobs.

Latvian farm outhouse

However menial – mushroom picking being one of the most popular – the wages involved can amount to as much as 15 times more than what they could expect at home.

Its an exodus that has even captured the imagination Hollywood, where a studio is said to be in talks to turn into a film the first of five books written by a woman who left her four children behind in Latvia three years ago to pick mushrooms in Ireland.

But while Laima Muktupavela’s book The Mushroom Covenant may have become a best seller, it effectively documents the start of a phenomenon that has alarmed the Latvian Government so much is has set up a task force to investigate.

Edgars Puksts, the mayor of Karsava – which is about 40km from the Latgale region town of Rezekne where Muktupavela was born – laughed out loud when interviewed by Ireland on Sunday.

He said: “It is funny to us that a newspaper in Dublin sends reporter to here to ask about what is happening.

“This is at the same time as our own Government sends a team of investigators to Ireland to figure out what is so special about Ireland and why so much of its workforce is ending up there.”

Hotel backyard

Yet driving down the pot-holed and crumpled roads that link each village in the vast Russian border area, it’s hard not to see why.

Streets of once-thriving towns stand deserted, countless homes sit empty while schools and churches struggle to survive as not only whole families move out but the people who run the local services just give up and leave.

Wages earned in a month for anything from a school cleaner to a psychiatrist are a fraction of what a SuperQuinn shelf stacker can take home in a week.

Locals say that if the two men employed to drive the town’s ambulances could leave they would.

On their €20-a-week wage – which is not far off the average for the area – they can barely afford to feed their families.

. . . another Latvian hut covered in snow.

Instead, it is down to locals to provide them with free weekly parcels of home grown vegetables and meat.

But while they stay because their children are so young, they appear more the exception than the rule.

A state TV camera crew turned up when it heard Juris Silvas was to leave.

Until November, the 45-year-old was Karsava Secondary School’s PE teacher.

Earning about €65-a-week, he finally quit his post and announced he was joining his son in Ireland.

It created such a storm that a local TV crew turned up to film his last day.

This, the presenter told viewers, was yet another example of what was happening to Latvia – it’s brightest and strongest leaving to live in other countries, including Ireland.

The broadcast came just days after Latvian biathlete Jekabs Nakums announced he was quitting his country to clean cars in Ireland.

Indeed in the week I spent working for Ireland on Sunday spent in Latvia last December, there were at least five such broadcasts highlighting the country’s emigration crisis.

Jurijs is unmoved by any sentiments such broadcasts are meant to arouse.

He’s had enough of poor wages and the lack of opportunities in his town.

The most 44-year-old wife Vija earnings as secretary at the school was a paltry €60-a-month.

In June the couple waved good-bye to their 23-year-old son Edvins.

Although a qualified farm worker with a specialism in forestry, the only work he was offered on graduation was “washing pigs and cows”.

Jurijs said: “Despite the years he spent studying forestry, demand for his skills fell off when he graduated.

“He tried to make a go of things here but in the end realised he could do so much better in Ireland.”

And while Edvins earns more than €900 working in a supermarket in Ennistymon, Co Clare, his father and mother play their International Correspondence Course English tapes over and over.

Yep, I've only gone and put another one in!

Jurijs said: “We would love to stay in Latvia but we want a better quality of life.

“We also want a more interesting life.

“My son earns more than ten times what he earned while living here.

“My wife and I – and friends of ours who have already left the town are very proud of Latvia.

“We appreciate that by leaving, we are helping to kill of our own communities.

“But life is life. There is change and that is all there is to it.”

Karsava Secondary School Director Stanislaus Katkevic said: “It’s a great pity that so many of our people want to go to Ireland.

“We are genuinely worried that whole communities will just disappear.

“Each year there are fewer and fewer of us.

“In the last year alone, we have lost 800 people bringing our population to about 2,100.”

And he added: “But you know, it is not something the people who leave are shouting about.

“There is a certain amount of shame and embarrassment attached to all this.

“We have a word for it. It is ‘Neerti’.

“Nobody is feeling very good about having to leave their own country just because they need to earn some extra money.”

Erika Bondarenko, editor in chief of local paper Ludzas Zeme, agrees.

She said: “Many of those that leave are walking away from communities they and their families have been part of for decades,

“They are well educated, they have a good station in life and they are well socialised.

“Yet to survive they have to go abroad – mainly to places like Ireland – to earn enough money to give themselves a better quality of life.

“Anf yet the jobs they have to do are menial jobs – like cleaning toilets, building work and picking mushrooms.”

Agricultural student Aija Mihale will soon become another of Latvia’s mushroom picking exports.

The 19-year-old’s mother Silvija has already left and is currently one of thousands of Latvians who pick mushrooms in Ireland.

She admits: “I’d like to be an aupair but I might also end up picking mushrooms.

“There is nothing for me here and the fact that there are so many of my fellow countrymen in Ireland makes it a very attractive destination.

“I do not speak good English but maybe it is not so important if I am among my own people.”

While she talks, the bent over frame of an elderly black clad woman emerges slowly from the shadow of a dimly-lit side room.

Shuffling out into the light and leaning heavily on her walking stick, she looks blankly at Aija and then shuffles back to her room to sit back on a ramshackle bed.

It is her 90-year-old grandmother Bronislava.

Who will look after her when Aija joins her mother?

A family friend shrugs and says with breath-taking and somewhat brutal honesty: “She’s too old to travel and at 90, she’s had her life.

“She will be fine. It should not be young Aija’s concern.

“Maybe Silvija will return in a year and look after Bronislava, maybe not.

“It will not be a problem.”

Also facing a future at home without either their children or their grandchildren is Mihails Kravcenko and his 55-year-old wife Jekaterina, 55.

At 53, Karcava General Hospital’s Chief Administrator considers himself too old to start a new life in Ireland.

But he has already seen his daughter Jelena move there.

Her husband Viktors left in January and returned for her in June, once he’d found a job and a flat.

A fully qualified psychiatrist, the 33-year-old had instead been forced to work as a cleaner to make ends meet.

Her take home pay was little more than €20-a-week.

Mihails, who survives on his own meagre wage by growing his own vegetables and only ever buying second-hand clothes, said: “My daughter is a very well educated and intelligent woman.

“But what kind of life is there for her here if all she does is cleaning.”

And it’s a life his two grandchildren will never get to experience.

Daria, 13 and her eight-year-old brother Daniil are dubbed “mushroom orphans” because, like thousands of other young Latvian children, they are left at home with relatives while their parents eek out a living in Ireland.

But, although they talk to their parents over the phone each day, they are hoping to join their parents in about two years.

Daria said: “I don’t want to go but I know I will have to after a certain time of study at school.

“I will finish one, maybe two years and then go.

Talk to anyone in the town about Ireland and they all say the same.

When asked where we were from by Vladmir Paklenkovs, a petrol pump attendant at a garage on the outskirts of Karsava, he signed: “Oh my God, you guys.

“You have taken half our town.

“We are not so used to seeing Irish people in our country. It seems we prefer to come to you.”

Although the 40-year-old father-of-two will not join most of his school friends in Ireland, he admits: “If I was younger, I think it could be a better option.

“But I have my various jobs, my car, my house and my life here – which is cheaper than in the West.”

He knows of more than 30 of his relatives and friends who have left in the past year and talks of the new lives they have established for themselves in Ireland.

While some of them have gone over to pick mushrooms, others have taken jobs on building sites, in forestry and in factories.

One of his customers, who had been listening to the conversation by the counter, muses aloud in Latvian that the area in and around Karsava had survived invasion and occupation by both the Nazis and the Soviets.

“But,” he says with a smile, “it looks like we could be beaten by the Irish.

“They will be the death if our communities with their bloody mushrooms.”

About two miles out from Karsava, sits The Brothers Cemetery – a stone-column reminder of the day the town suffered its own Nazi holocaust.

Laid out off a remote pathway in dense forest, it marks the spot when – on August 21, 1941 – the town’s Jews were rounded up and “terribly killed and burned by Hitler’s Fascists”, with their bodies dumped in a massive open grave.

And in its wake, the Soviet regime has left its own mementos – in the form of Karsava’s once grand and paint-peeled Communist Party buildings, as well as in ghost towns like Lidumniek, about 20km away and nearer the Russian border.
There, row after row of drab concrete cereal box-style blocks of flats stand deserted on hills above countless centuries-old wooden farm houses, also abandoned.

Although the timber-framed and newly-painted Catholic Church remains open for weekly services, the old 1920s secondary school closed in nearby Siblis about five years ago because it simply ran out of children to teach.

This is hardly surprising when – as the town’s chief economist Zinaida Pavlova admits – so many of the area’s 20 to 30-somethings leave each year.

She says simply: “Although we have launched various initiatives to do what we can to rebuild the infrastructure, there is a perpetual decline in the population.”

Few doubt that perhaps the legacy and “monument” of Ireland’s influence here and elsewhere in Latvia may well just be the growth of ever more dead or dying communities.


Casey admits confusion in first interview for six years.

EAMON Casey’s name may be cleared of recent abuse allegations against him and a plane ticket booked for his long-awaited return home to Ireland.
But the last person to know about it yesterday was . . . the man himself.
As far as the 78-year-old former Bishop of Galway is concerned he’s staying in the UK and has yet to be told if his name has actually been cleared.
The decision is believed to have been made over the past week after a Catholic church enquiry into sex abuse claims against him by a UK-based woman with a history of mental problems.
As a result of the allegations – about an alleged incident that his accuser claimed took place more than 30 years ago – Dr Casey had to step down from his post as a parish priest while they were investigated.
That investigation is now over.
But last night, in his first interview in more than six years, he said: “The whole situation is very, very bizarre.”
Speaking from the small west Sussex parish church of Our Lady of Fatima in Staplefield – where he has been based for the past six years – he said: “That I have been cleared may be a headline in all the papers but I still have not been told myself.
“I can’t tell you how I feel or say anything about being cleared because I simply haven’t been told by anybody that the accusations against me are false, or that they have been withdrawn.
“The police haven’t spoken to me at all about this, and nobody has written or phoned to tell me I have been cleared. So I just don’t don’t know.
“That’s the gospel truth and to be honest – not that I was ever particularly good with them – I’m just lost for words on the subject.”
He added: “I am genuinely not avoiding anything here or running away from anything, I’m just telling you the facts.
“It’s bizarre and I feel very, very frustrated by this..”
And as far as returning to Ireland was concerned, he said: “I’m making no decision about it whatsoever until I hear formally that my name has been cleared.
“As far as I’m concerned, I’m sticking and staying where I am until then. And I’ll only decide whether or not to go back to Ireland when I’m told.”
Asked how he’s coped over the past weeks, Dr Casey – who was trying to get hold of his lawyer last night in a bid to find out what was going on – said: “As the man says, ‘I’m surviving, thanks be to God.’
“My full ‘release’ won’t come to me until I get formal confirmation and I’ve absolutely no idea when that is likely to come or where it’s likely to come from.
“I’m currently in the process of writing letters to 56 people who wrote to me and have been very supportive to me throughout all this yet I’m writing these letters without actually knowing what’s going on.”
Pressed again on the issue of whether or not he will return to Ireland when he does get confirmation – as predicted by Ireland on Sunday last year – that his name has been cleared, he laughed as he repeated: “I’ll make that decision when I’m told.”
Earlier this week, reports claimed Dr Casey was to be cleared of all the allegations against him and that an announcement was due to be made about preparations for his home-coming.
Gardai – who, like the UK police, haven’t interviewed Dr Casey – are said to believe that there is no substance to the claims made against him.
The allegations last December were a massive blow to someone who has not only struggled with ill health because of a series of “mini strokes” in recent years but also someone who has worked tirelessly for charity and among parishioners of his remote country parish.
As well as holding church services, he was also a regular visitor to nearby Princess Royal Hospital local hospital in Haywards Heath, offering pastoral care to up to 150 patients-a-day virtually all year round.
His work and the years that have passed since he resigned as Bishop of Galway in 1992 over his relationship with Annie Murphy have done much to rehabilitate the colourful cleric.
His affair with the American divorcee, which started in 1973, resulted in the birth of a son – who is now 30 – and for whom Dr Casey is believed to have paid out around €100,000 in maintenance.
Just before the allegations against him came to light, Dr Casey had told friends: “There is nothing on my conscience whatsoever about this claim and I am very much at peace and ease with myself.
“I have done nothing wrong.
Friends told Ireland on Sunday last year how bitterly upset he had been not to have been able to thank all the parishioners he had grown close to over the years as he was effectively forced into hiding while the investigation was carried out.
He had been due to retire last this year anyway.
The woman behind the Dr Casey allegation could now herself face either a police investigation or a civil action for damages.
Her recollection of the alleged assault when she was a young girl growing up in Limerick is believed to have came about as a result of Recovered Memory Syndrome (RMS).
While attending intensive therapy sessions to help her find possible reasons behind behavioural problems she has been experiencing, she suddenly “remembered” the alleged assault.
Although mindful of the controversy associated with RMS in court cases, therapists immediately contacted Catholic Church authorities and Dr Casey volunteered to step down.
Last night a close friend said: “The past few weeks have been horrendous.
“He has known all along that he was innocent and yet even now, he is still having to put up with the weight of this whole business.
“It really is sad that nobody can just give the poor man a ring and put him out of his misery. Hasn’t he endured enough?”
Bishop of the Arundul and Brighton, Dr Kieran Conry said “We’d be happy to have him back.”
Rev Stuart Geary, the diocesan spokesperson, added of the news the claims against Dr Casey have been dismissed: “We recognised that that was going to be the likely outcome.”


Eamon Casey tells friends “conscience is clear”

NOTHING will come of the recent abuse allegation made against Eamon Casey, the former Bishop assured close friends days before it was made public.
In a series of private meetings before he went into hiding, the 78-year-old told them: “I have done absolutely nothing wrong.
“My conscience is clear.”
The 78-year-old told them that while any investigation into the claim could attract the “wrong kind” of publicity to the church, he would welcome one.
Gardai have yet to interview the former Bishop of Galway about the allegation – which was made by a UK-based woman in her fifties with a history of mental problems and who has made similar and unsubstantiated claims against other priests in the past.
Her latest claim came to light two weeks ago, after Dr Casey’s parish priest informed parishioners during Sunday Mass.
He had just a few days to tell a small number of people himself before news of the allegation was made public.
This has come as a massive blow to someone who has not only struggled with ill health – because of what friends describe as a series of “mini strokes” – in recent years but also someone who has worked tirelessly for charity and among parishioners of a remote country parish.
His work and the years that have passed since he resigned as Bishop of Galway in 1992 over his relationship with Annie Murphy have done much to rehabilitate the colourful cleric.
His affair with the American divorcee, which started in 1973, resulted in the birth of a son – who is now 30 – and for whom Dr Casey is believed to have paid out around €100,000 in maintenance.
Reeling from this latest blow to his reputation, he told friends: “There is nothing on my conscience whatsoever about this claim and I am very much at peace and ease with myself.
“I have done nothing wrong.
“I sleep easy in my bed, I get up in the morning and say my prayers and I go about my daily business.”
When each of his friends – including his Bishop Kieran Conry and his close friend Fr Martin Jakabus – asked what he intended doing, he said: “Even though I know it won’t come to anything, I’ll step down straight away and let an investigation take place.
“It is deeply unfortunate both because the claim against me is just not true and because I have to stop working in a parish I have been so happy in.”
And he even apologized for “any inconvenience” the allegation caused the church.
Bishop Kieran Conly, the Bishop of Arundel and Brighton, said: “This is all very unfortunate.
“Eamon has been extremely popular here and he brought with him a wealth of experience.
“I met him on the Friday before news of the allegation was made public and he really was at peace with himself.
“He told me he had a clear conscience.
“I could tell however, that this has really knocked him back.”
For the past six years, he has served and lived at Our Lady of Fatima’s Church in Staplefield – a very small West Sussex church that is a far cry from his previous postings.
Most of his possessions remain in the small priest’s house attached to the church – his radio still sits on top of the fridge in the kitchen at the back of the house, his black jackets hang on the backs of two chairs and a pair of black suit trousers hangs from the back of the kitchen door.
A solitary coffee cup sits in the kitchen sink, while two plates, a saucer and a glass dry on the side.
Although he was nowhere to be seen, deliveries to the house carry on as normal – a DHL courier knocking at the chipped wooden front door with a small envelope of “Urgent Documents” one minute and an oil delivery the next.
Attached to the one-bedroom priest’s house, the small faded white church building is usually host to twice-weekly services for around 140 parishioners.
Those who would speak to us were shocked at news of any claim being made against Dr Casey.
One couple said: “We heard something but don’t believe a word of it.
“He is a thoroughly decent man who has always struck us as utterly devoted to his work both in the parish and at the hospital where he was a chaplain.”
A local pub landlord said he used to see Dr Casey regularly strolling around in the village’s vast green early most mornings.
He said: “I haven’t seen him around for about two weeks but I used to bump into him when I’d walk my dogs.
“He generally seemed to be preoccupied in thought but he was always very friendly and would always say hello.”
Builders at a next door property said they regularly saw him walking around in circles at the front of his church, his head bowed in prayer and clutching an open bible in his hands.
Another neighbour added: “I don’t know anything about what has happened but what I will say about Dr Casey is that he has always ever been a very pleasant and decent person.
“His church services are very popular locally and he is very well respected and liked.”
Dr Casey lost his driving license following a recent drink-drive conviction and has had to rely on a friend to drive him around the parish and to a nearby hospital, where he served as chaplain.
For virtually every day of the past six years, he has visited up to 150 patients-a-day at The Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath.
There he consoled relatives of people who had died or counseling the sick in the wards.
According to a close friend, he never once missed a visit and regardless of what he was doing – would always be prepared to visit someone at home or in hospital.
Not wanting to be named because they had been told not to talk to the press, the friend said: “He is not bothered about the claim as such because he knows it’s absolute nonsense.
“He believes it all stems back to the unfortunate notoriety he acquired years ago because of his relationship with Annie Murphy.
“But the one thing that upsets him most about all this is that he hasn’t had a chance to say thank-you and goodbye to all the people he has worked with and met over the last six years.”
Fr Martin Jakabus, head of St Paul’s Haywards Heath Parish, said: “Given the standards under which we now operate it is enough that an allegation has been made to remove a priest from public ministry whether the allegation is true or false.
“The particular and peculiar circumstances surrounding the said allegation make it very unlikely that it is in any way true.
“Fr Eamon is very saddened to end his time with us under these circumstances.
“He is also saddened that he has been unable to say goodbye properly.”

Ex-wife brands knife-killer “deluded maniac”

VICIOUS KNIFE-killer Christopher Newman was last night branded a “deluded and violent maniac” by the ex-wife who dumped him years before he stabbed lover Georgina Eager to death.

Speaking for the first time since the 63-year-old self-styled “professor” was charged with the stunning 28-year-old’s brutal murder in May 2003, Moufida Louhichi wept with joy when she heard he had been sentenced to life.

Such is her hatred for the father of her two teenage sons that she wishes he’d received the death penalty instead.

She said: “He should have been given death for what he did. A life sentence in prison is far too good.”

And months before he killed Georgina, he even tried to get back with Louhichi.

A neighbour has revealed how deluded Newman – who married Louhichi in Tunisia in 1985 – flew over to London to woo her.

The neighbour said: “He was constantly trying to get back with her.

“He told her about Georgina and his relationship but said it didn’t matter to him and that he wanted to start all over again.

“Typically, this happened round about the time his relationship with Georgina started to run into problems..

“He used the fact that Moufida has his children as some kind of emotional leverage.

“But she stuck to her guns – not for herself but for the sake of her children first and foremost.

“This may be wrong but as far as I know, she refused to see him any time he turned up and I think he turned up at least twice.

“You’d see him pressing the buzzer on the intercom at the entrance to her flats and talking into it, pleading with her to be let in.

“She’d either tell him herself or get a woman she has staying with her to go away.

“The prospect of him having anything to do with their upbringing genuinely horrified her.”

The jury in his trial heard how Newman turned up at Louhichi’s Islington home in north London just hours after fleeing Dublin the day he knifed Georgina more than 29 times during a row Newman – who was effectively branded a murdering liar by the judge in his trail – claimed she started.

At Tunisian-born Louhichi’s fourth floor mansion block flat, Newman – who was born Panna Lal Palta in 1942 – wrote out his will after barging in on the pretext of seeing the 19 and 15-year-old sons he fathered with her.

He begged to be allowed into the flat, saying he had something very important to say that would affect their lives.

After the visit, he hailed a taxi on the busy street outside and ordered the driver to take him to Westminster Bridge from where – he claimed later in court – he intended to jump to his death.

Instead – after having drunk two bottles of champagne he’d bought at the Sainsbury’s near Louhichi’s home – he ended up being too drunk to even get out of the taxi by himself.

Louhichi later revealed – in a written statement to the court – of his sudden appearance at her home: “I was in total disbelief that it should be Palta.

“He looked old and frail and was talking about suicide. He said his end was tomorrow and we’d read about it in the paper.

“I got him a pen and paper. He began to write out his will. He never once told me what he’d done.”

She then asked him to leave as he tried to push cash into one of his son’s hands.

She said: “My son threw the money back at him. He threw it out of the taxi. My son picked the money up and gave it to me.”

Last night, Louhichi – clearly still traumatised by her brief marriage to Newman – fought back tears as she said: “My heart really goes out to Georgina’s family.

“I am so very, very sorry for what they have had to go through and for what they will probably never, ever get over.

“I cannot say it enough times how sorry I am that she ever had anything to do with that man.

“I knew very little about her – where she lived, who her parents were or any of her friends.

“If I had, I would have called them and warned them about him but I had no way of knowing how to get in touch with them or even really believing if in fact Georgina even existed.

“The fact that I too fell for him all those years ago is the biggest single mistake I have ever made in my life and it is something that I will always regret.

“I put up with him to save my marriage and to protect my children.

“I heard it said in court that he was a man of good character but although I really don’t want to go into all the details, I can never ever agree with that description of the man I married.

“He is a lunatic.”

And as she said that, she tapped a finger to the side of her head, repeating again: “A lunatic.”

When told of his conviction, she asked: “What did he get?”

On hearing it is a life sentence and that the judge suggested he may never leave prison alive, she started to cry and said: “Good, yes. But the man should have got death.

“He deserves to die.”

And she revealed that Newman’s bogus philosophy about life – which he dubbed “factology” – was a regular feature in their marriage which ended when she divorced him shortly after her second son’s birth in 1990.

One of the few times he ever broke down in tears during his trial for Georgina’s brutal murder wasn’t while describing how he brutally stabbed her to death in the flat they lived in next door to the health clinic he ran in Walkinstown.

Instead, it was his fear that people would never understand his warped take on life – what he dubbed “factology”..

This effectively amounted to a rejection of accepted and “traditional” medicinal practice in place of his belief that treatment of sick people should be based on HIS own interpretation of the facts about their health.

Louhichi said: “At first, like Georgina may well have been, I was taken in by him because he had so much passion and he could be very charming.

“But I realised too late that he was in reality very far from being the sort of person he wanted people to think he was.

“I don’t doubt that as he has probably conned anyone he has ever met, he will do the same to the criminals he spends the rest of his days with.”

Louhichi refused to discuss claims by a family friend that he was violent towards her.

She said: “I did not take him to the police for the sake of my marriage and for the sake of my children.

“I cannot talk about what happened in my marriage. It is a closed book.

“When I divorced him, I turned a page in my life I have never since wanted to turn back to.

“He is dead to me. Gone, gone gone. It is all in the past and I do not like to even mention his name after this.

“I want to be left alone to get on with the rest of my life, although the damage he caused will always be there.”

But the family friend – who only spoke on condition they would not be named – said: “I know Moufida reported him to social services and tried to get more help from them to deal with the situation than they were able to give.

“But in the end, she thought it best not to make a scene or go to the police for the sake of her children.

“She did what she could to absorb his delusions and protect them from the reality that their father was a dangerous and violent fool.

“He used to beat her up during arguments.

“He was a ferocious bully and a Jekyll and Hyde character who could be charming one minute and then turn into this raging monster the next.

“She used to just take it until she finally could not put up with it anymore.

“She felt a lot of shame about it all but in the end, she thought it was better to admit she had make a mistake than live a lie.

“She understands more than anybody else what Georgina must have gone through.”