What Goes Around, Comes Around

Here’s something of interest to those who know me: http://www.kentonline.co.uk/kentonline/news/2012/august/17/roger_moore.aspx

A little bit of background for you?

Last year, wanting to leave one job for more security, I applied to work for the Kent County Agricultural Society. I couldn’t believe the advert, the position was working as PA to the Executive Manager of the Showground, his remit was to organise and put on the longstanding, annual Kent County Show.  I applied and waited with baited breath to see if I got selected for interview.  I did have other things on my mind – Mike had just embarked on the judicial process which would, we were 99.9% sure of, end in his imprisonment.  Our days were spent working, both of us had jobs and evenings were taken up with form filling, trying to persuade the Legal Aid people we did not have £10,000 to contribute towards Mike’s legal costs. And of course, in discussion as to how I would cope with Mike being away.

And then I got an interview and Mike had his first Magistrate Court appearance.  And then I got the job and the day before starting, we were in London to attend Mike’s hearing at the Institute of Chartered Accountants and the same week, on my second day at work in my new job, Mike attended his Plea and Case Management hearing at the County Court.

Last year, the Kent Show made a loss and this was down mostly to the rain, which lashed the marquees.   After the Show, I plunged into my work dealing with all the complaints from visitors, I loved it.  It absorbed my day and took me away from issues at home.

A month later, I took a day off to be with Mike as he was sentenced to three years in prison and then I returned to work as if nothing had happened.  And two weeks later, with the burden of all that was going on gnawing away at me, I took the foolish decision to tell Roger Moore what had been happening and where my husband was.  He took the news extremely well, said that it had nothing to do with me, I’d not been accused of anything, but, and here’s the big but, he felt he should tell the Board of the Kent County Agricultural Society what had been going on.

After that there was a flurry closed door meetings and naively, I thought nothing of this.  Roger went on holiday, and being his PA, I had access to his emails.  I was stunned as emails from a certain member of the board to Roger began asking about details of my husband’s crime and whether or not I should have disclosed to the Board AT INTERVIEW that my husband had been arrested.  The emails intimated that I might claim unfair dismissal if the Board chose to take action against me.  I was aghast.  I printed off the email and showed it to a member of staff there – wrong decision number two.  She actually looked fearful and told me I shouldn’t have printed off the email, but I couldn’t understand what she was talking about.  I put the email in my handbag ready to show to Mike at our next visit, I didn’t know what to do.

The image of two members of the Board marching in and telling me I needed to accompany them upstairs to a meeting and that I was entitled to bring another member of staff with me is etched into my memory.  Indeed, remembering the face of the female member of the board actually makes my stomach churn to this day.  I was suspended on the grounds of having committed a gross misconduct because I had printed and removed from the premises, a confidential email that was the property of the Board of the Kent County Agricultural Society.  Even though that email referred directly to me and my husband and my continuing employ at the Society.

We went through the disciplinary hearings, I was accompanied throughout by an extremely kind and expert friend who, like me, believed that it simply was not possible for them to dismiss me on such spurious grounds.  But we were both wrong.  In the end, seeing the writing on the wall, I paid my money and consulted a solicitor.  She confirmed that I had done wrong, and on that fact combined with my mere two months of employment, I didn’t have a leg to stand on.  The only benefit of my hard earned £80.00 bill was that she wrote to the Society and asked if I could resign rather than be dismissed, something they graciously allowed me to do.  I had only ever been sacked once in my career and that was my first ever job.  I did not want this blemish to go down on my cv.

So Roger, you must know how it feels now.  Sickening.  I was lucky, as you may have realised, I am an extremely dedicated worker.  I was rocked, took a week to recover, picked myself up and applied to Sainsbury’s, thinking they might be my only route to earn money that I desperately needed now that I was fending for myself.  I nearly took the job offered to me, but when I actually sat down and worked out how much I would be paid, I realised I couldn’t afford to pay the bills.  Thankfully a job came up at a temporary agency, and the rest is history.  Impressed by my work I was offered full time employment and am happily beavering away to this day.

In my opinion, the Board of the Kent County Agricultural Society are demonstrating extremely short sightedness.  They have stated that the role of Executive Manager, and that of his secretary too I’d expect, is being axed to save money.  But the Show limps on year after year and without an Executive Manager I’d hazard a guess it’s limping into the graveyard.

You Can’t Miss What You Never Had…

…But you can miss what you did have.  I preface this posting with a reminder:  I thought all our money was gainfully earned.  I never knew our lifestyle was partly funded on stolen money.  I say partly, because my husband earned a very large salary.

Ok, so where was I.  I suppose this has come about because I still have a pink and brown bathroom and it is still on the ground floor.  Every time I lie in my faded pink bath and admire the mould growing under the sealant and the chalk encrusted, rippled brown flowered tiles, I remember what my previous bathroom was like.  It was absolute bliss to soak for an hour or so in a roll top, cast iron, free standing bath.   Upstairs.  I could leave my bath naked and wouldn’t have to tiptoe over five cat bowls  at the same time avoiding giving a cheap thrill to passing motorists via the glass paned front door strategically placed opposite the bathroom door (conversely, passes the time of day if you’re stuck on the bog for a while).

The downstairs bathroom is shitty, at my previous home, I had a choice of two, one with roll top bath and one that I did the tiling all by myself whilst England slaughtered the Aussies at cricket.  I had carpets too, no outrageous inch deep shag pile, just plain oatmeal, wool, but plain.  Now I am the joyous owner of a 120% pure nylon, 0.0001mm pile and a vacuum cleaner that’s throwing in the towel.  The 0.0001mm pile is tenacious and clings to cat hair like it’s its own.  The (different colour) carpet that runs up the stairs is, I believe, made from recycled brillo pads.  I believe this because I once slipped on the stairs and the resulting friction burn almost started spontaneous combustion.

At least we no longer have the original downstairs wall coverings.  They were tasteful.  Plastic effect brickwork on the lounge (no plum colour feature wall for me) and in the kitchen diner (kitchen/dining room) well, I’m looking at a small square we saved.  It’s like wood effect flooring, only plastic and on the walls.  Very confusing if you got slightly drunk.  My old kitchen was vast, well I thought it was big.  I didn’t have a middle island, it wasn’t that big, but I did have a breakfast bar (actually it was a piece of excess marble that just stuck out and we put two stools underneath).  I had B&Q fitted cupboards, unlike my homemade affairs that are (and I’m not kidding) a full 6ft off the ground.  To find anything in them I do have to climb onto the table, but they are capacious.  I miss my cooker as well.  I had a Stoves range, not an Aga, too hot in summer, but it did have a wok burner and a brilliant hot plate from which we scoffed homemade Scotch pancakes in winter.  My current cooker came from a charity shop and has four coiling rings and one oven – actually it has two ovens, but didn’t come with a seal so the top one is not usable.  I managed a perfectly good Christmas dinner for four last year, so it’s not that bad.  And I’m back at the bathroom.

And I do have my furniture which I’ve had for a long while and comes loaded with memories.  I know that I am still so much more privileged than the vast majority of people – I have food, shelter, safety.  I own my own home and have a good job.  But there are a few times I do, hand on heart, miss those little extras that money just can buy.

Baby it’s hot outside

What a week – I’ve been busier than an ant farm that a kid’s just poked with a stick.  I don’t mind, it’s made the week fly by and that’s good considering I’m almost in countdown mode (saving the actual start of countdown until we roll into September).  On Monday, I heard via the grapevine that I’d gained the Customer Service Award for the month of July.  This was news to me because I didn’t know we had Customer Service Awards and also that I’d been nominated.  It would appear, the announcement is now official, that this is a new scheme and my company now awards Customer Service and Employee of the Month.  Although I’m pleased with my award, I wonder how on earth I’m now going to achieve Employee of the Month.   I take Customer Service as second nature – why would you not want a happy customer…. but Employee of the Month.  Darn.  I want that one.

So as we rolled into Saturday I was thinking of relaxing and having a go at garden redesign.  Things have come to a halt at the bottom of the garden.  Mike has decided it is a “big job” and one for professionals.  He wants decking.  If he can pay for decking, he can have decking.  But the top of the garden, well, that’s a different matter.  I want a bit of grass.  So, on what turned out to be the hottest day so far (hit 32 degrees in Suffolk, and couldn’t have been that far off down here in Kent) I was thinking of wielding sledgehammer and shovel to take out one of the many granite block walls that haunt our garden.   I slept in the spare room last night, the attic bedroom being too stifling to even think sleep would be possible.  To keep a nice air flow in I left the bedroom door open, so by 3am, with four cats in or around the bed, I had a fit and shooed them all out and finally got some sleep.   When I eventually got up, I sat with one eye on the coffee and the other on the slowly rising thermometer and eventually thought “sod it”.  There’s only one thing to do when it gets that hot – go lie down and bank up some well earned sleep.  So I did a quick bit of sewing indoors and then as everything began to wilt and pant I laid down on the bed, put the ceiling fan on and got a nice three hours of well deserved sleep under my belt.

I did have a go at the wall when it cooled down at 6pm, helped by chickens on the look out for anything that moved.  And now it’s 9.30pm and would you believe it, I can’t wait to go to bed again.

Now he’s here – now he’s gone

Well, another home leave is over.  I wish I could report that the time spent away from your husband gets easier, but I’m afraid to say that, for me, for us, it does not.

I messed up this home leave and actually had to go into work on Monday, which was strange leaving Mike in the house.  He was very busy doing the washing (I usually do mine overnight using Economy 7), cleaning his car (nope, not done that since….. can’t remember) and Hoovering again (going to wear it out).  He had quality time with his daughter and was absolutely exhausted by the time I returned home.  That’s what comes of stultifying in prison for one whole year.

Yes, one whole year has passed.  I was going to blog on that subject, but am really not in the mood.  We sat in the garden Monday evening and mulled over the time together we had lost.  We’ll get it back, metaphorically.

Today I worked from home which meant physically I was here but mentally I was at work.  Part of me wanted him to return so I could catch up on all those emails.  What am I turning into?  My husband, that’s what.  I felt so dreadful when he cried at lunchtime.  This time he just didn’t want to go back.  But return him I did, and now he’s gone.  It’s tantalising, this home leave, this is what life is like when you come back home – now you see it – now it’s gone.   Now he’s gone.