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.

On forgiveness

It’s Saturday, I’m doing the ironing, and as normal my mind is never still.  It’s visiting day today so I have to cram in all those weekend chores before 1pm because I really like to try to relax on Sunday before I’m back at work on Monday.

Digression No.1:  Ironing.  The other day, I was ironing a nice crisp cotton shirt and needed my water sprayer as the creases wouldn’t come out.  Got down water sprayer, but would the damn thing work – oh no. Pump, pump, pump – nada.  So I had to buy a new one (.99p thank you Dobbies).  Got home, attempted to iron said shirt and would the damn thing work – oh no.  Pump, pump, pump – nada.  So cursing, I went into the nephew’s room complaining bitterly and spraying the thing at him, saying “bloody thing, doesn’t work”.  “Oi” remonstrates nephew “don’t spray it at me”.  “But it doesn’t work, so it doesn’t matter who I aim it at” says I, and demonstrated by spraying my head, suicide by gunshot style.  And yes, you’re there before me, what did the wretched thing decide to do….. work.  Wet head.  Sod’s law at it’s finest.

Back to ironing.  I was thinking about forgiveness.  I’ve tried to contact a couple of ex-colleagues via the business web site “LinkedIn”.  I’ve listed myself, because I need a job that makes the best use of the skills I’ve built up over many years, and it would be really good to get some working recommendations from ex-colleagues.  Trouble is, I’ve muddied the water by putting the link to this blog on my LinkedIn site.  Now, as explained before, I have done this to indicate that I am not being dishonest or attempting to cover up my past.  I do not want a repeat of what happened at the Agricultural Society – them not knowing what had happened to me and getting hot under the collar.  I have no secrets.  I have not heard from the ex colleague at the Agricultural Society and that makes me feel like a pariah.  Is it because I know my husband and therefore know what a good man he really is.  People who only hear my side of the story must think – oh yes, she would say that wouldn’t she.   So there I am, ironing, cussing under my breath, also about the woman at the Agricultural Society who went to the Board of Directors to tell them that I had printed out an email (that was about my husband), showed it to her and took it home – the reason for my sacking/leaving.   And then all others came back to mind.  How about the Managing Director I worked for who said “it’s not working” when I began dating my future husband?  “What do you mean it’s not working” asked I.  “It’s not working – I’ve spoken to people and it’s not working”.  “Are you asking me to leave?” I asked.  “I’m not saying that, I’m just saying it’s not working” was his replied.  I enquired further “Are you asking me to break off the relationship with Mike?”   All I got was a repetition of “It’s not working”.  Another job over – note: how many jobs do I have to lose due to my husband before I leave him……?

So there was another imaginary “come the revolution”.  But then I thought, no.  Hang on.  Take the Managing Director – I got that job due to such a weird series of events.  I had left the film company (Majestic) where I had worked for the past 13 years, to join  another, smaller TV production company.  One day, out of the blue, I got a call from an ex-Majestic colleague who said she was also now leaving Majestic as she had found a local job.  She lived not too far from me, so I told her how jealous I was that she had found a well-paid job so close to home, wished her well and forgot about it.  About a month or so later, she called me again to say she hated her local job!  She was going to leave and if I wanted, I should apply for the vacancy.  This was music to my ears.  A job just 10 mins from my home.  I got that job and that is how I met Mike.  So, if I was to curse and rue the day I ever met the Managing Director, the consequence would have been that I would not have met my future husband.  Now, there are some of you that might say that would have been a better course of action, but I do not agree!  I didn’t marry until much later that the average gal, I was waiting for Mr Right.  Mike is my Mr Right.  I knew from the first date, although it took him some years to come to the same conclusion.  He is the only person for me, we go together like all the clichés you have ever quoted.

So what is the unintended consequence of being sacked/resigning from the Agricultural Society?  Well, I admit, that is a tricky one to discover at the moment, but I am sure there will be an unforeseen event which will make me say – hang on, if I hadn’t had lost my job there, I wouldn’t have been working here – or something like that.  So I can bear no grudges.  No, wait a moment, there is one person out there who I do bear a grudge against.  Someone I never met but who must have so hated me/us that he chose to hammer us down into the ground.  And the lawyers Field Fisher Waterhouse.  No-one personally obviously, but the company.  Nasty people.  People who do not know you, but who are “just doing my job” now those I think I can reserve judgement upon.

The point of this bulletin – well, I may send this link directly to the person I was trying to contact at the Agricultural Society, just so they can maybe have a read and discover what I have been through recently, and maybe they can link up with me and say that “yes, I knew Carol professionally, and I found her………”  In business, I have found it important not to make enemies because you never, ever know what’s around the corner and if you want to succeed, then it’s best to be on good terms with everyone.   No, there’s another one I won’t have anything to do with, even though I could really do with a reference from her because I worked for her for nearly a year.  She definitely stabbed me in the back!  Oh well, we can’t be perfect can we.

If it hurts, don’t think about it.

I usually get my thoughts for my blog whilst driving.  One thing I know I should be doing is providing the important background of events, but still, one year and eight months away from Feb 2010, I find it so upsetting to look at my emails of that time.

After our mum died suddenly and unexpectedly following a short and nasty bout of cancer, in August 2008 I hit a low point.  I found it incredibly difficult to deal with the finality of losing a loved one – as most people do.  In the end, I knew I needed help and contacted CRUSE, the bereavement counselling charity, and they were brilliant.  A lady from CRUSE actually came round to my home to talk to me once a week for, I think, three weeks.  And although talking through my feelings, thoughts and worries didn’t dispel the agony I was going through, it did remind me that my depression was self inflicted.  I have had a previous bought of depression back when I was a 20 something whippersnapper.  I suddenly and totally unexpectedly exhibited the classic signs of a “breakdown” when I woke up one morning and decided the world was a terrible place, and I wasn’t going to get out of bed!  The sudden early death of my uncle – with, unnervingly, the same cancer that my mum was to die of – threw me out of kilter.  It was my mum this time, who dragged me to our GP and he in turn sent me to a counsellor.

This was a nasty period of my life wherein the counsellor brought forth buried deep within me, the despair I felt and wouldn’t confront, of my parent’s divorce.  When I was 13, the marriage came to a close and my mum leant hard on me.  My elder sister was about 16 and carving a new life for herself outside of the family home and little sister was only about 9 and was the apple of daddy’s eye.  I remember asking my dad to show me how to change a tyre on a car, just in case mum’s car got a flat!  And asked him to teach me how to wire a plug.  I laugh now, is this the sum total of fatherhood – changing tyres and wiring plugs?  Unfortunately, I made myself so useful to my mum that it got to the point after I’d left home, that every time I went to visit I had to take my tool box with me to do running repairs on her home.  I remember after the counselling saying to mum “can’t I just come and visit you and not do any jobs?”   She said yes, then added “just this time, can you bring your drill…….”  I did speak to her about my feelings and the fact that she did, because my dad had left her for another woman, try to turn us away from him. But given what she personally had to endure, she wasn’t very receptive to my comments!  What amazed me was my admission to the counsellor that still, even though I was in my mid 20’s, I wanted my parents to get back together!  They had both changed so much, my head knew this was an impossibility, but that does not mollify your heart.

So, where have I digressed off to.  Yes, that’s it, the first counsellor I ever saw opened an amazing vista and gave me the most important lesson for life – that YOU are in control of what YOU think.  If you think of something that makes you unhappy, well, don’t think about it.  It is an extremely difficult state to achieve, you are filled with guilt about not thinking of the thing that upsets you, as in a death.  When a loved one dies, you are terrified that you might forget them, you feel guilt that they are no longer with you and anger at what took them away.  But if you steel your mind and don’t think these thoughts, you won’t forget them.  Time will pass and you will be able to cope with the memory of them.

And that, dear readers, is why I have not gone back to my old emails to give you more background.  Thinking of what happened makes me depressed, angry and upset.  And what’s the point of upsetting yourself when there’s nothing you can do about anything!

So, that was my explanation for lack of background, here comes my thought for the day.  I’ve asked this question before on this blog, about anonymity, the legalities of blogging, but surely what has happened to me has already been reported on in the, albeit, local papers.  The company that my husband stole money from has issued press releases advising their industry that they have picked themselves up, dusted themselves down, and are more successful than ever, even given the fact that my husband, their finance director, stole over one million pounds.  So why am I so shy?  Why am I lurking in the corridor not wanting to put my head up over the parapet to be blasted at by rotten tomatoes?

I say, yet again, that I knew nothing of what my husband was doing for all those years.  I know that I inadvertently benefitted from his theft, but given the agreed salary and bonuses my husband received, I believed this money was legally received.

I am afraid, I suppose, of lawyers.  My life has been ripped apart – by my husband – but also by lawyers.  My husband did not involve me in any of his wrong doing, the lawyers tried to do so.  They alleged that I owned a second property, I suppose after discovering that some of his investments had been placed in my name. But I had and have, no way of knowing whether these investments had been purchased with stolen money or money lawfully earned.  There were other things that cropped up, but I’d have to go back and look at those damned emails.

Where does this leave me.  Oh yes, my thought for the day.  Why have colleagues of my husband, close colleagues, not been in contact?  One colleague we both visited in the States when my husband was sent to work in Chicago for 4 months.  It was agreed, but I think later denied, that I could accompany him on this trip. In doing so, we became very close with an Albanian couple who worked for the company.  We were friends, we exchanged gifts, spent 4th of July festivities together.  When the male friend, who worked for the company, discovered what had happened, he telephoned us from Chicago and told me he wanted to immediately fly over and support my husband.  I told him what had happened, how much we thought husband had taken but begged him not to spend money on a flight.  I said I would keep in contact, but then suddenly all communication ceased.  Emails went unanswered, no Facebook messages from his wife, nothing.  Stupidly I don’t have his home phone number because I should call to find out why the sudden suspension of friendship.

The second person was husband’s assistant.  This is an interesting one because her partner still works for the company and, I might say, benefitted from the exotic holiday courtesy of stolen airmiles.  Husband’s assistant hated with a passion the two owners of the company and a very interesting afternoon was spent in our old garden when she came to visit, recalling all the benefits the tax man wasn’t aware of.  But then, after saying she would support husband in court and tell her side of the story, a deathly silence ensued.   Why?  Husband has written to her from his cell, but his letter went unanswered.  Given the close working relationship they had, and her hatred of the two owners, this is really strange.  Again, I suppose I could call, but I don’t like to – mind you, what can she say that I haven’t already heard.

Can’t sleep, won’t sleep

I seem to be in a pattern of going to bed, reading, sleeping, then annoyingly waking at around 3-4am.  Then I can’t get back to sleep, so I make myself a hot milk, think what’s bothering me and come here to my blog.

This morning it is depression and the memory of what we went through back in February of 2010.  And if only husband were here to calm and reassure me like I had to do to him.

Our GP was brilliantly understanding about what was going on, but would only prescribe husband limited doses of sleeping pills.  She said that it wouldn’t be a good idea for him to get hooked and he should try other ways of getting to sleep.  So we’d go to bed, exhausted after a day of walking, fretting, being badgered by solicitors and after an hour, I’d just know he wasn’t asleep.  He used to put his head on the pillow and within 5 minutes he’d be away with the fairies.  Not any more.  The he’d plead to be allowed a sleeping pill.  I’d taken to hiding them as I couldn’t trust him not to take them all in one go.

After I’d allowed him one tablet, I’d have to stroke his head as he lay next to me and I’d urge him into sleep by telling him to imagine he was lying on a big comfy lilo, drifting around a gently lapping lake, a magical lake that could take him anywhere in the world.  I’d describe the gentle motion of the lilo as it bobbed on soothing waves and how if he just looked over there he’d see a white sandy beach and palm trees, with glorious coloured parrots preening in the warming rays of a morning sun.  That the lilo would bob out to see and the next cove would see a cluster of white, Greek houses, banked up on the hillside, with the scent of thyme hanging headily in the air.  And this would go on and on, with me nearly dropping off until, by his steady breathing, I knew that the tablets had taken affect and at last he had obtained temporary oblivion.

So why does it not work for me!  I have to go through the alphabet naming things in order.  My current favourite is dogs!  For some reason I’m amazed at my knowledge of dog breeds, but never get passed E (which is for Elkhound).  I have to make it slightly difficult by thinking of three per letter…. tricky, but not too tricky, is the answer.  Sometimes, if I get bored with dogs, I think of cats, but am not too hot on this topic.  Or else there’s always chocolate bars…..

Right, the hot milky drink is taking effect, so I’ll have another go………

My plea for mitigation

It occurs to me, after reading a very factual and well reported article in our local paper, that I might let you know how I appealed to the judge for mitigation for my husband.  Problem is, how do I do that granting anonymity to (a) husband, (b) reporter (who I have already thanked) and (c) the company who suffered at the hands of my husband.  So on the basis that I have already written to the reporter, he knows my gratitude for his factual report, I can leave out names and details.  Also, I cannot link you to the press article, because I cannot find it (thankfully) on the web.

A Plea for Mitigation for My Husband

When my husband came home from work last February and told me he had been suspended for incorrect use of company air miles, I did not react in the “normal” manner – I was elated, relieved.  At last he would leave that wretched company that had taken over his and our lives.

I’m afraid I have to step back a few years to explain how I first met (My Husband).  (The Company)  was run by two brothers, (Brother A and Brother B).  I left a profitable job in the film industry, in London to return to my roots and secured the job as P.A. to (Brother A), the then Managing Director of (The Company).  The reason I decided I could work locally, for a (this type of) company, was because (Brother A) had the flamboyancy of “film types” I had been used to.  On my interview with him, he was waiting for a shirt to be delivered, from a London outfitter, because he had gone to the gym in the morning and forgotten to bring a clean shirt.    The first time I noticed (My Husband) was when, after working for (Brother A) for a month or so, I was asked to go to (My Husband) for a dollar cheque in order to pay for the holiday I had just booked for (Brother A)’s family in Hawaii.  (My husband) was incredulous.

And so it continued until my relationship with (My husband) became known by (Brother A) and I was called into the office and told “it’s not going to work”.  I asked (Brother A) if he was sacking me, he just repeated what he said.  I left; I moved on, fighting an unfair dismissal case was not in my nature.

I don’t actually know if I can plead for leniency, having had to listen to years of these sorts of stories, having our holidays interrupted by calls from one or other of the brothers, having evenings out cancelled because (My Husband) had to attend to some fatuous emergency, having had to live with a man plunging further and further into a depressive state, I was, and still am, thankful he is away from that company and the thought of him spending time in prison is almost a relief.

I am bracing myself to be without the husband I had already lost for so many years and who suddenly, since this horrendous event, has been returned to me.  The man I knew and wanted to marry.   I fought hard with him last February when he wanted to commit suicide, nearly joined him a few months later when without any legal representation we were being bombarded by the other side’s lawyers and I was being dragged into the affair, but now, with the help of anti-depressants (!) we are rebuilding our lives.  This experience has actually opened our eyes to the world around us.  I am now voluntary Area Secretary for Shannon Trust which runs the Toe by Toe programme within the prison system, have secured myself a prime P.A. position in the heart of Kent and together we are living a quiet, loving life.

I appreciate and understand that (My Husband) needs to be punished for what he did.  I have taken my punishment, even though I had no knowledge of what he was doing, by being stripped of all our assets and giving up our family home, but even this is not a hardship.  Friends that were not true friends have fallen by the wayside, but we have been embraced and supported by those around us that (My Husband) did not have the time to appreciate.

(My Husband)’s children have also been affected by his actions in that they no longer have the financial support he was able to give them, but they go from strength to strength and (My Husband) has finally discovered that there is more to life than money – his children love and respect him for what he is, their father.  (My Husband)’s ex-wife has been a tower of support to us during this affair, explaining to (My Husband) that whatever he did would not cloud his children’s love for him as their father.

Although we went through a rocky moment, I fully support (My Husband) and his absence will be most keenly felt by me.   But I am stoic.  He will come back to me and we will pick up from where we have left off.  I hope that the people he is currently working for – in one case, even though money is tight for us, for free – will rally round us on his release, for they know the true (My Husband).  The funny, kind, loving man I married.

So that’s it, some 18 months of anxiety and now it’s 3 years.

In court yesterday for the sentencing hearing.  I’m afraid I lost my cool when told that it would look as if husband had originally not told the truth.  What, says we, he always admitted his guilt.  But, you see there were some things he really did not do, some amounts he really did not take, but because he was told by the barrister that he would get a lesser sentence for pleading guilty at the first instant, he did as was told i.e., pleaded guilty to some things that he did not do.  There’s no paper trail to back up what he did or didn’t do, it’s just one persons word against another’s.  We were advised that a jury would have no sympathy for my husband because he was on an excellent wage ergo why did he feel the need to steal.  That is really missing the point.  But heck, when you go through the legal system, you quickly learn that there is no colour shading, it’s just black and white.  There’s no moral high ground to be had – you either did it or else you did not.  So even though those around him did what he did, they were not on trial and it was their company and they are allowed to take as much as they like out of it.

Mention was made in court of the fact that my husband took money from a “duplicate account”.  This is where money was paid to the company he worked for twice.  I was really hoping that during the trial someone would ask the question “has money been paid back to those people who paid twice?”  No questions like that were asked, and I am led to believe that it was an awful lot of money that was paid into this duplicate account.  But I can no longer get involved – hopefully one day the company in question will conduct an audit and realise they are a bit short of cash and then go in search of it.

I have my first experience of prison visiting tomorrow.  It is farcical trying to book a visit on the phone – the lines, and there are two of them, are permanently engaged – oh no, not when they go off at lunch time, silly me.  You do not have a hope in hell of getting through.  However, you can now book via email – yet again a reason that everyone has to have email – which I did so and I received a curt response giving me a date of tomorrow.  Nope, don’t try having your own life if a loved one is banged up, your life goes on hold too.

How much is a wife responsible?

Did I tell you we went to court alone, they had many a solicitor on their side, we had…. well, I thing I took a twix to keep me going.  I didn’t handle this very well, I think I spent most of the time in tears thinking of the legal bills they were running up.

OK, message to all you kids out there – want to make a mint?  Study, study and study and become a solicitor.  Than basically you can charge what you like for sitting on your tooty in a chair.  Brilliant.  Why didn’t I study that hard?  Whilst in the ante-room to the court, I was besieged by a woman acting for the other side, who said the only reason she had called me at 9pm was so that we were prepared for the meeting.  Hmmm, 9pm, to my home, to me who hadn’t done anything.  Where exactly was the kindness in that act.  I just failed to see it.

I started emailing anyone I could find on the internet who might help us.  Again and again “we do not cover civil legal aid” except for one lady, Marie, who suddenly, like a lighthouse in a raging sea, suggested a company I might contact who might be able to help me ringfence my money.

You have to bear in mind that prior to marrying my husband, I had my own home, my own income, my own savings.  These were in the process of being eroded by the decisions of my husband.  Is this right?  I know you marry “for richer, for poorer” but where does the line in the sand end?  It looked like we were going to have to pay back sums of money, but where would the balance end?

We had to agree to a HUGE sum of money, and I mean HUGE, for the initial costs incurred by the forensic accounts.  Amazingly the judge thought these costs were reasonable.  You could have knocked me down with a feather.  Reasonable?  If you earned that amount of money in a year, you would have been considered extremely well paid.  I know there were a team of accountants, but really, the amount was excessive.

The only way of paying this sum of money was for an “asset” to be liquidated.  So that was one bill sorted, what about going forward?  We tried (unsuccessfully) at one point to withdrawn my inheritance passed to me by my mother on her demise, but it was decided that the money in our account was so “tainted” with “stolen” sums that it was not possible to say whether these funds were clean.  What really hurt was the words used “alleged” inheritance, like I’d lied about the death of my mum.