::Article Written by Annabel Giles herself taken fromDma1l m with thanks..::
::Didn’t you used to be Annabel Giles?’ the woman asked, as I was rifling through the reduced-price shelf at Morrisons to find something for supper.
‘Blimey,’ she grinned, ‘you’ve come down in the world, haven’t you?’
I used to be a Waitrose-only woman, it is true. But I don’t think that’s what she meant. Only a few years ago, I was rich and famous – now I’m just poor and obscure. But please don’t feel sorry for me, because I don’t.
There are plenty of others in the same position, and without wishing to sound too smackable, I think it’s good for us.
Thanks to the credit crunch and, let’s be honest, our own greediness, we’re having to go back to living on basics. And for me, that’s been a very good thing
At one time, I owned 17 cars, including three Porsches and an Aston Martin as well as a Morris Minor – and I hadn’t even passed my driving test!
Now I have only one, poor me, which is ten years old and held together with gaffer tape.
I had a beautiful plantation house on Montserrat, right next door to the Governor’s official residence, and popped over there when I wasn’t busy; my last holiday was three years ago.
I thought nothing of buying a top in every colour if I liked it and I certainly never looked at the price tag.
Now, in Primark or similar kinds of stores, I ask myself if I have anything it will go with, if I have anything like it already and if I can imagine life without it. Needless to say, it usually stays in the shop.
My financial life has always been a bit up and down, but this is the worst it’s ever been. The truth is, I’ve been on benefits for the past year.
I’ve deliberately not said ‘living’ on benefits because it’s not a life, it’s an existence.
The Government (to which I have paid thousands of pounds in taxes over the years) is keeping me and my son just above the poverty line, and for that I’m grateful.
It has not been easy. In fact, it’s been very hard, and I am left asking the same question as you: how on earth did that happen?
Looking back, I have had lots of good fortune as well as bad luck, and I’ve made some poor choices too.
But I’m mainly in this position today because of the shockingly irresponsible behaviour of one man and what is laughingly known as ‘family law’ in this country.
The Child Support Agency [CSA] has very few powers to deal with people who don’t want to pay for their children, especially if they’re self-employed.
I have discovered to my cost that the courts are reluctant to deal with maintenance payments, concentrating instead on property or other major assets.
And if you do manage to get a court order demanding that your former partner contribute, the courts have no way of actually enforcing this.
And mine isn’t an extraordinary example: only 40 per cent of single parents in this country receive maintenance from the absent parent.
The ‘ex’ gets to live a financially irresponsible life while you are left, quite literally, holding the baby, and paying for the privilege.
If I sound bitter, that’s because I am, and I’m not the only one. Most of the single parents I know are in a similar position.
We’d do more about it if we weren’t so exhausted from having to look after our children while trying to eke out a living.
We need practical and financial help, not men who climb Big Ben dressed, ironically enough, as superheroes.
My own change of fortune has been unusually dramatic.
In the Eighties, I was married to the pop star Midge Ure, of Ultravox and Band Aid fame, and living in a beautiful listed Georgian mansion right on the River Thames in West London with our baby daughter Molly.
We weren’t too excessive – we didn’t drive our cars into the river, for example – but we were very comfortable.
We loved antiques, we enjoyed entertaining, we were invited to lots of parties and premieres.
But we were private people, we didn’t court Press attention: in fact, we avoided it. Our idea of a good night was a takeaway curry with Hill Street Blues.
was what we called in those days a ‘top model’, which meant I was one of the lucky few who simply had to turn up at the studio looking completely normal (one photographer asked me if I was the cleaner) and the professionals would get to work transforming me into a glamorous don’t-touch-what-you-can’t-afford beauty, for which I was highly paid.
It was fun, and I was expensive. But I decided I was bored with that – yes, really – and so I became a TV and radio presenter instead.
I made my name presenting the ITV fashion show Posh Frocks And New Trousers with Sarah Greene, and went on to interview and act and film all over the world.
I loved it. I felt I’d found what I was for at last.
Midge and I separated after six years together, and so Molly and I moved to a smaller house nearby.
My solicitor at the time advised that I take lots of his money with me, but I couldn’t see why I should when I hadn’t personally earned it.
So I took back what only I’d put in, and we agreed to share the financial responsibility for Molly.
That’s probably why we’re still friends now, 25 years after we met.
We had a good life, I had a great career and all was well until, when Molly was 11 years old, I met a man. Or rather, he met me.
I won’t reveal his name, because he’d like that. Those who need to know are very well aware of who he is.
He was a comedians’ agent, and he made such a great play for me that I found it impossible to keep saying ‘no’.
Shortly after he became my agent, he became my boyfriend too. (Yes, I know, but it worked for Cilla Black and her late husband and manager Bobby Willis, didn’t it?)
We didn’t make a good couple. We partied a lot, we argued a lot. It was one of those classic on-off relationships.
My friends got tired of hearing about it, I got bored with talking about it.
Then after yet another drunken reunion, I discovered I was pregnant.
Having been a single parent for most of those years, I wasn’t keen to start at the beginning again.
But the father was ecstatic and said he would do the majority of the childcare as he worked from home and I could carry on working.
I was 38 and I really wanted the mummy-daddy-baby dream to come true, so I agreed to go ahead with the pregnancy.
It was devastating when we discovered at 12 weeks that the unborn baby had a chromosome abnormality called ‘47, XYY Syndrome’.
In a nutshell, (and please look it up on www.rare-chromo.org if you want to know more) this means that he would be ‘extra male’: very tall, emotionally immature and likely to have learning difficulties.
I did as much research as I could and didn’t find anything that justified a termination.
As I lay fat and exhausted on the sofa, I would cuddle my tummy and tell the baby everything was going to be fine because I already loved him, and always would.
I would have terrible nightmares about the father abandoning us, leaving me to bring up our son alone. He used to reassure me that he would never do such a thing.
But when the baby was only two-and-a-half weeks old, for reasons he’s always kept to himself, he did exactly that.
Being a single parent is the hardest job I’ve ever done. It’s lonely, heartbreaking for the child and exhausting physically, emotionally and spiritually too.
Looking back now, I can see that the confident, cheerful, capable person I had been up until then just disappeared.
I was anxious, depressed and worn out from trying to do the job of two people in half the time. Yet, in a way, it has also been the making of me.
I had to find a job allowing me to work from home, as Ted was a very challenging toddler and I couldn’t afford live-in childcare now.
Plus, I had a spirited teenage girl to keep an eye on. So I wrote novels from my shed in the bottom of the garden. Luckily, they did well.
My first novel reached No 6 in the Sunday Times Best Seller List of October 2001 – it was a thrilling moment.
I tried to keep both careers going, but eventually had to give up broadcasting.
I was advised – wrongly – to turn down any TV work I was offered in order to be taken seriously as an author.
I can see now that this was when I lost everything I’d worked for in the entertainment business.
I’ve tried to get back in, but to no avail – I haven’t even managed to get an agent.
I don’t know if this is because I’m too old or too forgotten – it’s just the way it is.
Molly’s career as a singer/songwriter in the music business really took off and she left home.
We moved to Brighton, where I renovated a huge, crumbling house on the seafront and sold it at a good profit at the tail end of the property boom in 2007.
I’d managed, after much expensive litigation and delicate negotiation, to carve out some sort of working relationship with Ted’s father.
He’d also been ordered to pay Ted’s fees for the excellent St Aubyns School in Rottingdean, East Sussex, which has a big heart and small classes, plus a decent monthly amount to me, to cover back-payments for previous years.
But without warning, Ted’s father relocated to Los Angeles and, although we saw him a couple of times after that, he was obviously very busy with his new life, because he hasn’t spoken to Ted since his ninth birthday in 2008.
Ted is obviously very upset about this and gets distressed whenever we try to talk about his father.
There’s been the odd email since, but he soon stopped sending the payments, and a couple of years ago he announced that he wouldn’t be paying the school fees either.
I had given up trying to get any money out of him through the courts and the CSA.
Now that he is out of UK jurisdiction, I am completely powerless.
Of course I paid the school fees for as long as I could while desperately trying to get my old career back.
I don’t earn any royalties from my novels; in fact, you can buy them all on Amazon for 1p each.
I had no time to write another novel and, last December, I finally ran out of money.
I applied for various ‘normal’ jobs, but as a 51-year-old woman with no qualifications except a degree in Showing Off, I didn’t get so much as an interview.
And I couldn’t work full-time as I had Ted in the school holidays.
I took a job in a cafe, but someone tipped off the local paper and I was still hanging on to my ‘reputation’ then, so I left.
I’d lost all my confidence, I became frightened and I couldn’t stop crying.
But none of that earned me any money, and I had a child to feed and clothe.
So there was nothing else for it: I had to make that call to the Benefit Office.
I’m glad I did, because that was my first step to asking for help and, thanks to some careful accounting from me and the generosity of others, we’re surviving.
I’ve been so touched. There’s still a lot of human kindness out there in these hard times and I’ve been fortunate.
The school has awarded us a huge bursary, for example. I’ve still got my house, because the interest-only mortgage repayment is cheaper than living in rented accommodation.
The best news of all is that the school and I have worked well together, and Ted has become a fantastic young man and is back on track.
The workings of the benefits system are obscure and confusing at the best of times, but suffice it to say that I don’t have a penny to spare by the end of the week.
And this is despite a level of resourcefulness I never knew I had. We walk almost everywhere, avoiding using the car.
I keep a record of everything I spend and check my bank account every night. I wear all the clothes I never used to wear.
I never turn the heating on during the day, but make do with layers of jumpers, blankets, gloves and a hot-water bottle if necessary.
Where I can sell things, I do. I have completely given up alcohol and takeaways are out of the question.
I’ve managed to stay away from the credit cards but I am, of course, in debt.
The bank rang last week and told me they’d cancelled my overdraft facility, so I owe them thousands of pounds which, right now, I have no hope of repaying.
I’d love to get back to performing – I’ve got a good face for radio. I’ve also got a great idea for a non-fiction book.
Or maybe I should try something completely different. Perhaps we single parents should rise up and demand a change in the law. I’m open to suggestions!
If or when my circumstances change again, I hope I never forget to be as forgiving to others as people have been to me.
I don’t begrudge anybody trying to get by on government handouts because for most of them it’s not a lifestyle choice.
If you know a struggling single parent, then why not offer them a bit of seasonal help?
This is the worst time of year, as the pressure’s really on to provide the kids with a Christmas we can’t afford.
And to answer that lady in Morrisons, I am still Annabel Giles, but with a lot less money and a lot more compassion.::
Maaf lah anda tidak kenal sapa orang ini. Tapi disatu ketika dia hidup mewah, rezeki murah dsbnya. Kemudian dugaan melanda. Dia masih cuba bersikap positif dan berterus terang didalam penulisanya didalam article diatas. Dia tidak pura pura nak menyembunyikan fakta dsbnya. Dia face realiti dan mengakuinya..
Tidak macam setengah org celebriti, bila dah takde duit, guna nama peminat, nak bertemu peminat dan jual karya recycled. Lepas tu senyap buat perangai sana sini, venture busines nasilemak bungkus, con sana sini, atau jadi penyu jadian(tinggal telur sana sini) kmudian recycle album lagi dan buat lah apa yg patut untuk mendekati peminat.
Dalam dugaan hidup kita manusai samada jadi yang positif atau makin menjauhi yang positif. atau pura pura positif bak kata orang show off ajala...
err no offence this is general application ye..