The Rausings

I just wanted to have a scooby at the reporting of the Rausing case here, parking the obvious tragic dimension to the story.

The bare bones; a 48 year old woman died at home, possibly/probably through drug use, and her husband hid her body in a bedroom for up to two months. He was charged with ‘preventing the lawful and decent burial of his wife’ and given a suspended sentence. He was also charged with driving ‘while unfit through drugs’.

“Unfit through drugs” is the first sub-heading on the BBC report. Rausing’s drug driving is constructed as a ‘mild’ charge. Less damning than drink driving.  His suspended sentence stipulates attendance at a residential drug rehab treatment programme for two years. Eh? A residential drug rehab programme? Where? And at whose cost? These details, for the very rich, don’t need to be provided. Most drink and drug related crimes involve punitive sentences, not throwaway sentences that involve checking into programmes that are beyond the reach and knowledge of drug and drink related offenders. The unseen mechanisms that protect and facilitate the distancing of unimaginably rich people from the rules governing the rest of us are remarkable.

An outcome of Louise Casey’s recent ‘report’ is that problem families (that is, those whose homes were centres of drug dealing and whose children were ignored and neglected – cough cough) have been pilloried and picked over carelessly and nastily in the media. But Rausing, the BBC informs us, is a shy and awkward character.

“In a statement read to the court earlier, Rausing said he had been unable to confront the reality of Mrs Rausing’s death.

I tried to carry on as if her death had not happened and batted away any inquiries about her”

Oh. Okaaay…

“The court heard that Rausing told police in a statement after his arrest: “I do not have a very coherent recollection of the events leading up to and since Eva’s death. Safe to assure you that I have never wished her or done her any harm.”

Phew. You run along then, matey. I almost weep at the thought of how many other people, caught up in horribly tragic situations, would have have dreamt of such a respectful engagement with their experiences (I won’t even sully this by naming names). The use of so much direct reported speech by a defendant is, in itself, unusual. The BBC clearly treat Rausing differently to your run of the mill crim.

“He added: I did not supply her with drugs. I have been very traumatised since her death. I do not know what caused her death. I did not feel able to confront the reality of her death..”

The families Casey interviewed, judged, condemned and spouted about, are not given this space and dignity. The presentation of Rausing as a “shy and socially awkward man” isn’t one afforded to others.  This sugar coating is absent from judgemental and damning portrayals of other sector sectors of society. Casey’s families were solely to blame for their chaotic lives. The Rausings’ were down to the glass of champagne Mrs R was unable to resist one New Year’s eve. Oh, and the stress of being so rich. I just want to add they also had a fucking shedload of options and opportunities that Casey’s chosen few never got a sniff of.

Ironically, David Cameron’s brother was QC for Rausing. He drew on elitist gobeshite defence rubbish; “In the words of Shakespeare, the defendant committed this offence while the balance of his mind was disturbed”. So, the story was dealt with as painlessly, tastefully and smoothly as possibly.  Middle England and the Chippy set barely ruffled a feather.

Rausing got a suspended sentence. Free to shoot himself up in the comfort of his Chelsea mansion. And Louise Casey’s ‘report’ on ‘Problem Families’ continues to inform policy and practice. Stay classy San Diego.

Language, careless statements and exclusion

During today’s Prime Minister’s Question Time, Cameron made the statement; “We know that through the phonics scheme that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education (eh? who?) is leading on, that we can teach reading so that no child is left behind.”

No child? No child? Eh? What about all the kids that will never be able to read Dave? Wow. Excluded. Totally written out of the picture. A whole section of the population. In a statement recorded in Hansard.

I got to thinking. Does that mean that those children who will never be able to read are a different sort of child? Not ‘children’ at all. As we know it (Jim)? How could he make such a statement, particularly having had a disabled child himself?


My thoughts led me to this position; Cameron talks an awful lot of crap all the time, but in this instance, he is probably making a statement that would be received, uncritically or even unreflectively, by many. He is making a statement that would probably not raise an eyebrow if you didn’t have a disabled child, or be disabled yourself.

For parents of disabled children, and others, the exclusionary dimension to statements like this, are regular reminders of how narrow accepted types of children are. Statements like this, whether by an authority figure, next door neighbour, best mate or the person sitting next to you on the bus, happen all the time. There are children. And there are children who are erased from mainstream consideration. It comes back, in part, to Mary Douglas and festering. 

This leads to all sorts of emotions – anger, distress, rage, depression, fury – relating to the consistent, collective, careless dismissal of our children. Our children, just like any other children. Only different. It’s hard to put into words,  but it’s like not only being regularly told that your child is crap in various ways, over the years, but also  to turn round, when you ain’t expecting it, and see that once again, they have figuratively been tossed onto the rubbish pile. I don’t think people are being insensitive really. Often it’s an unintentional act or response.

There was an interesting article in the Independent today about the proposed changes to educational provision for ‘SEN’ children. This was summarised (I’m guessing) in a title created by someone other than the author, Lisa Markwell;  It’s her needs that make my daughter special. For an article to be included in mainstream press about disabled children, I always get the sense that the editor, or sub-editor, tries to cuddle it up (or snuggle muffin* it) in some ‘expected’, ‘slightly sensationalist’ language that is crap. I can imagine that people who write these pieces weigh the benefits of getting something ‘out there’ to extend awareness and understanding with a shit title that, at the same time, reinforces existing understandings and awareness. It underlines the same dominant understanding of difference that needs to be coated with a saccharine pill to to be palatable.

Anyway, I’m going to keep making visibile these instances. Probably tediously to a lot of people. But in the hope that the odd person thinks ‘Hey, Dave, what about those kids who won’t be able to read?’ And reflect on what that means.

*Thanks to Molly for this expression.

Playing games

Now. I ain’t no politician. And I don’t claim to know an awful lot about the structure and process of British politics. Well, barely anything really.

But I do know that, unless you are an exceptional person, if you have the life experience of – very rich family, public school and Oxbridge education (most likely studying PPE) and straight into politics – you ain’t really going to know diddly squit about anything other than being very rich and privileged. Nothing.

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