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Good news time … but at the cost of tears

The long awaited panel day arrived and we were as prepared as we could be. Not 100% sure what the format or style would be but we knew it was an eight person board plus three social services and two scribes.

Arrived on time and duly shown into the Board Room and formal introductions done. There followed a rundown of the agenda.

It became apparent within moments of the chairlady starting to give a precise of the good points of the report that the wrong report was being referred to. Been here before – there are still errors on all the other documents that have been produced!

I did make a comment to this effect when I had the opportunity and could hear the constant typing of the note taker, so assume my comments were recorded.

On that note all the errors must be corrected as they will only reflect the wrong facts of the case in the future which are automatically considered to be true when read in later years.

The questions asked were cross checking our attitudes to what had happened, what preparation we were doing and how we would deal with things in the future. It was traumatic for my better half.

Questions flowed from people around the table and where necessary we expanded the answers so a wider understanding was available. My partner needed a tissue when emotions got the better of here.

The pleasant aspect of the meeting was we knew we know our fate quite quickly. We left the room and waited.

The waiting room is the staff restroom so not private. My partner released her tears quietly but uncontrollably. I could only offer comfort by holding her hands. The chap who had been responsible for the creation of the report came in with a smile. Hmm! He has always been straight with us so I read good into it.

My partner entered first and the chairlady started to talk nearly straightaway. All I heard was … pleased … unanimously … and saw smiles throughout the room. The release of tension was immediate. It was explained that this is a difficult stage to get through. We both had a hard time holding back our emotions, neither of us sat down, we needed to be together to take it in.

We had passed the Fostering Board.

The facts are straightforward …

Yesterday was traumatic. We were expecting that. We are not hiding what has happened and understand, in a limited way, the implications for the future but really struggle to accept the generalisations quoted as thought they are facts and very likely to happen.

I had left the court grounds and was 15 miles away. Ten minutes after the court case had started I answered my mobile. It was from a number I did not recognise, and counter to my instinct to ignore I answered. A chap introduced him self as the manager of the two social workers involved with the safeguarding of our grandson. Both were unable to attend the court case and he was standing in. He continued to ask if I knew what was happening today – had we been told? No. We only knew what was happening as we had been shown a letter from a solicitor. A slight pause at his end and a slow statement – I need to ask a few questions.

Do you know if the proposed outcome happens today payment stops. Well … we were surprised any payments were made in the first place, but payments were never an issue, it is the wellbeing of our grandson that is critical, nothing else. That I think was enough. He said he would call later and keep me updated.

Now the killer. When the family met later we were told questions had been asked in court about why we were not present. I hit the roof. Later my wife hit the roof. We had been told by the key social worker for our grandson our presence was not required.

As it happens the cafcas social worker for our grandson had gone to the wrong family court 25 miles away so he did not have representation. Not sure where that could have been deployed as the 14 days pre-trial meeting did not happen as the letter only arrived two working days before the court case.

Our son and partner said a new social worker had being allocated to them and apologised for not being there.

The outcome is: a Supervision Order is now in place with conditions. It was stated that the next court visit , provided they keep to the plan, could be the end of the matter.

We sat in silence for the journey

Court day! Having thought it was several months away, a surprise letter drew the court case to today.

The journey time was about 40 minutes, an easy journey. We normally chat about anything really, but today nothing was uttered from the start of the journey until we parked up.

I felt tears welling while I drove. I cannot comprehend a life without my grandson. It still upsets me the moment I think he will be gone.

We all needed a comfort break and found somewhere nearby. Sitting to partly drink coffee and partly to pass the time we chatted and it soon turned to my grandson, their child, and his antics of yesterday in the garden – filling the paddling pool with the hose while our dog ran a-mock chasing the shower of water droplets. It was fun, he is fun.

I became sad as when we left I thought our relationship while talking was really a wake!

My heart is slowly slipping into deep upset, and resentment.

This place (WordPress and my iPad) is my sacred place, I have no problems with bearing all to all. The ‘all’ is just anyone who stumbles here. I don’t really mind if no one reads it, it’s my world, it’s my history, and I hope those that do have empathy, not created from traumatic circumstances, look after their loved ones and cherish every moment.

It is like dieing slowly. It like all-sorts of people, so many not known, are all making decisions about my son, his partner and our grandson that are slowing killing us.

I do not remember ever being in a state of perpetual tearfulness as I am now. Even with my parents dieing, even with other deaths we have encountered I coped with out a personal drama. We are slowly loosing him to the system and see a beautiful, polite, happy young boy become apart of behemoth service. His innocence of our plight is magical to me.

My state of mind says, at my age, I might never see him again. He will be 18 (15 years hence) before he can decide whether to make contact. Have I got 15 years? That is the first time I have thought about my mortality.

Results …

After a wait I have the results of the biopsy …

27 samples taken – none cancerous.

The relief is instant.

It occurs to me honesty is a fickle concept

Over the last four months my life has been dominated by a two major activities. Concentrating on the Special Guardian process for this particular blog reveals that each of the social services branches I and my family are involved with do not always understand what they have agreed with each other.

My concern is: we now find out that the process we are going through is to be used as evidence in the decision about whether our son and partner are fit and proper people to raise their son. It had been explained it was a separate process and was a backstop in case it was needed; i.e. if returning the child to home was not done.

This is not denying this has to be asked or what the outcome is to be, but how the social services are concentrating on the negative aspects of the situation in away that seems to be sacrificing two people who are desperately doing everything asked of them under the guise of child comes first.

I feel that if they had joined-up thinking and actually looked deeper than their individual responsibilities and worked collaboratively to solve the underlying issues the parents the BIG problem would be solved on route.

It appears to me they are positioning themselves on the self righteous side of life and going for a split up as it is safe. It will destroy five people in a stroke. There will be no return. Five peoples lives gone,

Yes, I hear and read all the documentation produced, which I have previously criticised for being incorrect and inaccurate, but it is when I stitch together what they say and do when presenting their own position to us, I see a trend away from there declared aim of keeping the family together.

Trust is being diminished.

Not surprised, but pleased in a way that my suspicions, while founded, were slightly wrong

Recently, based on observations and a little research, I thought a family member had the traits of someone Gaslighting someone. It was the narcissistic traits and the relentless nature of her behaviour (two, three years) that caused, and still do cause, that underlying feeling of uneasiness about her motives and her desires for the future.

Now a diagnoses of Boarder Line Personality Disorder has been given it now becomes a reality that can formally be addressed. This will, like all the other mental health things going on in our family, take time. Whether any relationships can be salvaged is unlikely.

Mentally paralysed – all paths blocked!

I have reached a point where I am mentally num and dysfunctional. The situation of my life has six distinct activity areas. At the moment they all need to be fed, watered and tendered, but I cannot move, I cannot focus on anyone thing.

Work, University, Cancer, Special Guardianship, my son, his partner are the broad headings. Their order shifts all day long. But there is always one that is more dominant. I have great difficulty in choosing a priority for any length of time.

Yet again I am in a cafe convincing myself I am working on my final piece of work for Uni as that is the priority, but a thought crept passed my study eyes and BAM it’s gone. What is my priority?: I know, I’ll introduce a plausible diversion and still convince myself I am working. Yes it worked – I am typing this – bugger.

In thought now and I realise I have not a real moment for my own personal thoughts, and this (typing gibberish) is my only release but it’s still about the load I have with me. It’s not a true escape!

I only read this yesterday and don’t know who to give credit to, but: it’s like being on a route on a map and being halfway there only to be told you are on the wrong map.

Yes …. I am emotionally lost …. I have not even got the energy to beat my self up.

It’s fantastic it happens at all!

I expect you might already subconsciously manage your own thoughts about the world in an orderly way. I do. But I now appreciate my mood is a big controlling factor. If I am happy, my blog reflects that; if sad, melancholy; if cross I want revenge.

I now also appreciate that my feelings at the time also fall within a particular stereotypical role model(s) that I transition through all day long. I am a husband, father, grandfather, friend, teacher, an engineer, a photographer, a confidant. Ah, I almost forgot, I am in individual, me – divorced from all role models!

Add to this Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and I feel there are three level of consideration in any activity I witness and then after a passage of time want to write about. It is perhaps this passage of time that allows organisation and reconciliation of thoughts to take place to balance the contamination and introduce perspective, which then brings in life’s baggage.

So now there are five interactive processes involved in any memory activity before I start to write, which is then dependent on the command of the written language of English I have and the effort I want to expend. It’s a wonder how all this happens: not only for me but anyone.

D-Day: Operation Neptune

The day of my operation is a strange day. I sit here knowing and watching the day happen around me. My day is detached from the hospital world and the greater world outside.

The television news is reporting on the anniversary of the D-Day Landings and there is family chatter happening in patches around me, along with purposeful people organising everyone.

People who are not patients are ushered out of the waiting area while old news footage of the D-Day Landings are shown on the news reports.

I am not comparing the situation I am in with those people 75 years ago today, in fact contrasting their situation.

I am safe. I have good prospects, even considering the prospects of Cancer. The future has a plan and on the whole I have a good level of control over my life without anyone trying to kill me.

Those chaps who were boarding the landing crafts were in an inherently unsafe place, the odds of survival were low. While there was a plan, I expect they only knew from the last command they were barked at as to what to do next. Lastly they had no control over anything, apart from putting one foot in front of the other while putting themselves in harms way FOR ME.

Hindsight comes with 20/20 vision of history and is a biased view of outcomes that are designed to placate the negative feelings of what you/me or the country has done on our behalf.

Again this is speculation but I suspect the thoughts and emotions of those chaps were based upon the same level of headline details I have about current affairs and those chaps thoughts were tempered with the fact the war had been going for an appreciable time, so the spectre of the outcomes of defeat outweighed the fears. Duty to friends, family, society in general and the country was the driver.

Not many veterans are left to make the historic journey but each one did more than they can be thanked for.

Blocked her number

Everything was in place for the post Christmas visit to us so an animated telephone call saying the visit would not happen if our son would not unblock her phone was a surprise.

She was insistent that no phone contact means she will not allow the visit to take place. Being able to contact him while he had the children is not unreasonable.

We made several telephone calls to both parties and agreed that he would unblock her calls for the duration of the visit and the children were with him.

It transpires that she had called him about 15 times on the trot and was abusive in all of them. Don’t know what about but not worried.

She mentioned that our son had not seen his children for 10 days. Which is wrong by the information we have.

During the call to us she declared that she knows she had pushed him to far and was very sorry and felt it was wrong.

Our son said he was really not prepared to take any more abuse and it was not his intention to permanently block her as there are valid reasons to stay accessible.

The next day the visit did not start well, but we don’t know why.

What I feel

 

It’s strange … I have written a lot describing the circumstances and plight of the two families in my daily life and not really considered my feelings and attitudes to what is happening. Well, now is the time to unload …

It does effect me. It is not a position I thought I would ever be in. I thought I would be Mr Average and match the statistics: married, 2.4 children, a pet. Blah blah blah.

I do match that description but the problems we have encountered with children are beyond my expectations. I say that as if I had considered the process and made a conscious decision and accepted the risk. No. I had no idea and I don’t think there were any real pointers out there for me to see that would have informed my decisions.

I now appreciate the significance of the saying ‘Children don’t come with a manual’: Not even a go warily. Even looking at those people around me in the formative years of parenthood did not signify real problems. Yes as time progressed sleepless nights, house smelling of nappy contents and the rooms littered with hiding Lego blocks just waiting for nightfall and bear feet did not alert me.

On the humorous side there are Lady Bird books for mum’s and dad’s now. But all in lovely drawn sweet colours and to be taken with a humorous pinch of salt.

My vision of were I am now is simple: In the wrong place! No complaints. I am not disappointed as my mantra has always been ‘don’t look back at unfulfilled wishes’

Looking at the age range the early school years were fun. Seeing growth and personality traits was interesting.

Independence and free spirited youth and the teenagers years were littered with trials and errors made by them. We have supported them all the time. We have never said ‘told you so…’ and we have never cast judgement but let them know our thoughts.

Perhaps the biggest problem is the open and unimpeded accesses to people’s unknown. Starting to loose influence here!

Young adults does mean treating them respect and certainly not creating mini-mes’.

We have had many exploratory conversation so they have understood where we stand on things and have witnessed many learning events they took themselves but never battered them at what they inwardly knew and accept were wrong decisions.

I have only stopped one lad from doing two things and both while in his 20’s. Using his mobile while in the bath while having it plugged into the mains to charge, and overloading his estate car with fence panels etc. to deliver them to me before starting a 200 mile car journey after. His car is his livelihood and I considered the benefit to me was outweighed by keeping him on the road.

All in all I am not where I though I would be, but I am also not sure where that is either.

Who should know?

I am a stickler for recording things, call it obsessional!

I mentioned to our son that he should write the facts down as he remembers them now, as they fade and get contaminated by other memories

If the children arrive at play school with bruises or cuts questions will be asked.

We know exactly how his ex-partner portrays events and will tell miss-truths to anyone who she needs to tell, and I feel he would be named as the culprit for hurting his children to shift the blame.

I am not sure whether I have written this before but in my opinion she could get an innocent man hung.

Christmas – when someone can screw you over

The decorations are up, the food brought and cats asleep. Arrangements have been made to visit the old family home and start Christmas Day in an amicable way – children, presents, mince pies. 🙂

Christmas Eve our son was told that his ex-partners’ father was coming around on Christmas morning and she did not want to rush him away so he could not come around.

So Christmas Day was cancelled at short notice so my son did Not see his children as her father had preferential claim to see them.

We were told that our son had cancelled the day because he wanted to spend Christmas Day with his new partner.

So, Christmas Day for our son and his children was morphed into Boxing Day.

A little later the duration of his absence was used against him to berate him for not coming around over Christmas to see his children.

In my opinion that’s what we are dealing with: Vindictive actions dished up with sweetness and mistruth.

Christmas delights of ESA

While the festive feelings were still in the air a letter dropped onto the floor. It turned out to be the ESA interview, not the PIP interview.

The venue was the same place as the last PIP interview, but this did not abate the anxiety.

Being nervous is normal for anyone so we sat together in light chatter to offset the anxiety. That questioning moment of – is that door opening for me came several times: and eventually it did.

45 minutes later she emerged, not smiling, no tears but pensive in expression.

The results would be made known in due course. Her doctor would be informed as she had declared the benefits of suicide. That was troubling.

Opportunity not missed

Given the chance to grandstand in front of others our son partner will not miss an opportunity.

Our sons ex-partner came home from a walk with friends. She left her confidant, who is sharing a house with our son, and took the opportunity to go into the house and publicly berate our son in front of those who was there. Complaining it was not fare of him to sleep with her friend!

News – PIP is still alive

A new date arrived in a letter. The good news the venue is much closer and accessible by public transport and two busses away.

So the anxiety can now start to weave it’s magic into a fragile persons life.

Physical Abuse

Parental duties are taken seriously by our son. He has their children every other week end and visits two nights a week.

He arrived and things were satisfactory. About the time she was to leave to go out a return time was discussed and she declared she expected to be much later than they had previously agreed. This was not really acceptable so he said no and an argument ensued.

An impasse was reached and he decided to simple leave. This was met with a physical assault. Gripping him forcefully around his neck and refusing to let go. He said OK he would stay to escape the situation and made his way to the back door and was followed and hit. His path was blocked so he returned to the front door and got out. He was followed into the street where shouting continued and more physical abuse ensued. He did away finally.

The disturbing thing is their children witnessed the whole event.

Fighting upstream is difficult

When disruptive and hurtful personalty traits are repeated against a partner they suffer unseen hurt. The problem eventually becomes: how long do you continue a relationship, even if there are children involved, while being an abused.

Here enters a problem: I am no expert but just a good witness, but I am very cautious to blame.

Witnessed

  • Regular belittlement, or putting their partner down in subtle ways by slight of tongue
  • Blaming their partner for the abuse or arguments
  • Often not acknowledging that abuse is happening
  • Playing abuse down as though it was just banter
  • Will not accept or unwilling to recognise the needs and feelings of others

Not witnessed – told by one side or the other

  • Reacts with rage or contempt
  • Tries to belittle the other person to make themselves appear superior
  • Willing to mislead people in by not stating the whole truth

This is not what a healthy relationship looks like or is based around – the opposite really.

These traits did not take long to be noticed in the relationship,  the thought process was simple; there is a nice person in there, a nice person that I love, and early in the relationship they were passed over as being how that person was when in certain circumstances.

Time passed, and when we met as a family the verbal abuse was more noticeable and less easy to pass off.  Why are you abusing this person?  What have they really done? Why are you continuing to dig at that person long after the event?  The cause did not warrant that level of response.  Often it was in full view of other family members, and those that had not witnessed it before did not see it for what it was – abuse.

Street angel, house devil, comes to my mind.  Behind closed doors reasonable adult judgement was not shown.  In public sweetness and light was the beacon to watch.  Arguments would start small and escalate out of control, often introducing spurious concerns unconnected and a goading process would unravel until stalemate existed and emotions were left very high.  Going to work etc. was the solution, but for only one person.

Emotionally, on both sides, there was no place to go, no unsaying something could be done to reset the status

Counselling has been tried but that has to be done as equals who both must want to explore the possibilities of recovery.  This can only be fruitful if both people accept that they bear a part of the cause.  One party does not feel there is anything wrong with their behaviour, actions or demands and will always want to win at any cost.

The response was to try and not get sucked into arguments so as to calm the situation, but this would cause the situation to get worse as claims of being unreasonable or objectionable would be made.

We are unsure of exactly how the ‘other’ family see the situation, but we do know there has been unfair pressure placed on one person to leave the family home.  So in effect a three woman attack (the aggressor, her mother and grand mother) has been made on one person.  A lesser person would have walked away months, if not longer, ago if were not for the children!

We have, and will always supported them both as we want their relationship to continue in a healthy way and fully understand this will be apart but the children must be protected and grow up with loving parents and a support network around them.

Gaslighting

I recognised a pattern of events and wondered whether there was a known condition that would explain what was driving these situations and therefore provide a solution to resolve the issues. Yes.

I was surprised, very surprised. It is a phenomena known as Gaslighting (been used in the plot of film – Gas Light 1940) that describes how a person systematically destroys the confidence of another by undermining their self esteem to a point where they sanity is also destroyed.

I researched further and read the accounts of Gaslighting and there were too many occurrences I witnessed that for me not to say there was in my opinion Gaslighting taking places. I was shocked!

Please accept I am a layperson, not a mental health professional but it left me worried.

The chilling thing is: all the advice about the outcomes were the same – leave as you have no fulfilling relationship and you stand a chance of serious mental health repercussion yourself.

Problem: there are children in the relationship.

My partner and I

We have cried together, we have laid awake and talked at three and four o’clock in the morning. We just don’t know what to do. We have two sons in difficult relationships.

We do not think we have been bad parents: there are always things that could be done differently, but nothing major.

It might sound harsh, and I want to say we fully support our sons, their partners and their children, but it is the two young ladies who have both had very difficult and different upbringings that are a cause for concern.

We can only support all of them, and not interfere.  They are our family!

SANE

I attended an introduction evening with the SANE Charity in North London. I had hoped to help them and as a spin-off understand what I could do better my family.

The evening was very well run and delivered a powerful message about what they did and how they did it.

It was only on the evening it became apparent that while a national charity they operated from one office in North London and had a minimum of three four hour shifts in a week over a year.

This was impractical for me due to commitments I already have.

Helping people in their time of crisis is a fantastic thing to do, and while I can’t help now, I may be able to do so in the future. I wish them good fortune in the future.

Going through the mill of coercive control

A family member and their partner are having a difficult time with their personal relationship and there is only so much moral support and guidance you can give them without becoming frustrated as the facts of the situation are taking them to separation and children are involved.

Their relationship is fragile.  One of them pushes the emotions of the other without understanding there are penalties and consequences of all life’s actions – with speech it is a memory.  There is an accumulation effect where previous ‘pushing’s’ are added too and a saturation point will arrive where change or break is the fork in the road: Decision time!

One person will simple talk in a passively aggressive way to the other and not listen to reasoned argument.  They have a point they want to get across at any cost and will not give in for any reason no matter how rude they are or how off topic they become. Tempers and emotions on both sides are raised.  The other person is engaged with the argument but is, due to the relentless barrage over a two year, or longer period, ow tries to become disengaged; but this aggravates the situation and that is then the new snippet argument that is taken forward.

No matter what happens it is only stopped by walking away and taking further abuse about not wanting to conclude the argument that is circular in nature and can’t be changed with out a mindset update.

It’s all about me: gas-lighting? Narcissistic attitudes?  An abusive relationship?

Joint counselling has been tried, but one side does not acknowledge there is a real problem and even if there was it’s not mine attitude is prevalent. I have not witnessed this but from conversations it is evident that one party is guarded in the conversation during counselling for fear of retribution at a later date. There was a fortuitous event that meant only one person could attend and true openness was allowed.

Footnote: separation is now happening but counselling has been agreed. I just hope the children are not held hostage!

Someone is being used!

A close friend of our sons partner happens to be a house mate of our son. She may not realise this but she is being pumped for information about our son by his ex-partner.

What is said we don’t really know, as what we hear is possible somewhere between a lie and the truth! But it always has a spin against our son – yes I would say that, but …

Their children stayed with our son overnight and a short time after we were told that the children did not want to stay with him again, as they did not like seeing our son kissing his new partner.

We have been told that previously his ex-partner had had a weekend away with a chap, but the weekend had not gone that well. We know no more.

Bloody PIP

 

Well, the PIP process carries on. I took time off work to take our sons partner to her PIP interview. The journey was uneventful but anxiety showed in her as we approached our destination. Cold sweet, stammers in her voice and a reluctance to want to attend took over.

Once we found the place it was off for a comfort break. Tea and coffee later we went back.

The chap on reception was very helpful and polite and we waited and waited. Our sons partner became more and more agitated and went outside and was sick.

On her return I had to break the news her paperwork was not there and they did not know where it was. I expected a full blown outburst, was pleasantly surprised at how calm we all were.

Her paper work was in a far off distant office as a home visit had been requested by the CPN and needed a Doctors approval but no one was bothered to wait until it had been agreed before making the appointment.

Controlled tears were shed and a reticence set in that acknowledge that it had all gone wrong again.

We left not really knowing when the visit would be or where.

Moving out!

Leaving relationship where children are involved is not done on a whim. The reason will become distant memories in the future, but the pain will keep you awake at night.

Environmental Psychology has explanations on what attracts people. Earning potential is just one aspect of this fatal attraction. So when one partner can’t see the benefit of earning more than just a subsistence wage but wants a higher life style it should not be rocket science to see there is a mismatch in life’s expectations.

Time came when the balance of sanity had to be addressed. A new home for a single person was found and they moved out.

Total meltdown

Starting on a new course is an exciting thing. It may come with trepidation but not with fear. That is to say a stereotypical thought and does not apply to some one with anxiety. I missed a trick in trying to deescalate a situation and paid the price.

Time had been built into the day to allow for changes and arriving relaxed. I was providing transport and child care. The car seat was moved into my car but not fitted. We had time!

Securing the car seat was a bit of a faff as my hands do not allow the clip to be passed through the seat covers with ease, but it was done as a joint effort. The next step – secure child in seat proved so difficult that it did not happen. The webbing between the child’s legs had been pulled tight, by me, that in no way could the shoulder straps be positioned over the child’s shoulders unless they were of only paper thickness.

Neither I or the parent could release the tightness of the straps. We tried every which way we could but no. We took the chair out and looked and poked it everywhere but the shoulder straps would not budge.

All this time my grandson was climbing through the gap between the front seats thinking every time we moved he was being chased. Buttons were pushed in more than one way! The parents temper broke and harsh words spoken, and not because of that his full nappy started to leak, yes out over the car seats.

The parent went passed that point where talking would help recovery. I spoke to the course organiser and explained the situation and it was my fault and this was understood and appreciated. The parent was now in shock and could not be reconciled. Thoughts of failure were spoken, thoughts of nothing every going properly were said and my suggestion of calling for a taxi was rebuffed by pointing out to me that this, say 15m, was the farthest she had been from the front door in over a week.

We returned indoors where I had to bath my grandson due to the nappy explosion.

We agreed I would visit the course venue and check what we should do as she was very worried she would be kicked off the course. They understood and it was not a problem.

Partner has a hard time

The partner in this relationship is suffering greatly.  He phones home during the working day to a non-greeting.  He arrives home from work to simple see his partners feet disappear up the stairs to leave him looking after his son.  No feelings are shown to him.

When we are altogether he just gets harsh and rude disparaging words grunted towards him.  He can do no good.

He does a very physical job and if I don’t say so my self works very hard for the money he earns.

I see the damage being caused to his feelings and it hurts me.  He is standing by his partner and child but for how long is the question.

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