I don’t want to be known as a person who doesn’t keep their promises.

Now, where have I heard that before?  I know.  The person who said it knows.  It was a rash comment made to me in a private meeting sometime in the early days of 2010.  The sentence rings around my head most often at night when I go to bed and in the early hours of the morning if I can’t sleep, like now.  A person who doesn’t fulfil their promises.  A distrustful person.

Lies and untruths, promises made but not kept – trustworthiness, that’s what it boils down to doesn’t it.  If you promise someone faithfully that you’ll do X, or you won’t do Y and then you fail to perform this promise, are you not untrustworthy?  And what happens to the person you have made those promises to?  Well, of course they are hurt, so they tell others what you promised and like the proverbial pebble in the pond, the knowledge of your deceit expands to cover the surface….

I’d like you to think before you tell your little white lie.  Is it a little white lie, or is it in fact a big, fat whopping untruth.  Are you trying to protect someone in telling an untruth, or is it yourself you are trying to shield.

Knowing my circumstances, which readers and spammers of this blog will do, you are probably asking yourself “what about her husband, did he not tell the biggest lie going?”  This question has troubled me since it was first put to me in that interview I gave.  Did my husband lie to me?  Am I one of those gullible prisoner’s wife who gamely continues visiting, time after time, sure in the knowledge that “oh no, he loves me, he won’t do it again”.  I will admit to being gullible (example: if you say the word ‘oranges’ quickly it sounds like gullible…. yes, I tried and tried and it didn’t).  But as I lay awake at night and mentally play pin the blame on another, I cannot think of a single example where my husband lied to me.  And I’m not being artful here, not twisting my own words so he comes out smelling of roses, I never asked or even alluded to the question of how much money he earned as opposed to what we spent/he invested.  Mike did tell me we were worth over £1million – but that jackpot figure only came to life when we were dead, so I took no interest.  We had an estate worth just over a million, but we did not have a million quid in our back pockets.  Why would I be interested in our worth once we were dust?  I wouldn’t benefit from it.  And I don’t have children so I do not have that mindset that plans for future generations.   There’s a topic for another day, does being childless remove the urge to financially plan?

Is this what led to our downfall?  Did someone who spoke those words above need all their money to finance their future generations?  Could they not bear to dilute their pot in case their offspring would go wanting?

But it’s not just money that people are dishonest about.  Some of people tell lies on a daily basis; it’s a habit like smoking.  You just can’t give it up.  You don’t want to give it up, it helps you cope.  You tell a person one thing in the full knowledge that it is a lie, but you get away with it.  They believe you, phew, the addiction is fed.  I wonder if you get the same adrenalin rush that other addictions supply.

Being insincere troubles me because I am just no good at it.  I value my reputation and don’t want to be discovered as a purveyor of untruths.  I struggle to be a liar.  Like the unasked question that hangs over me at my workplace “where is your husband?”  Not a day goes by without me worrying that someone will ask me a direct question and having lost my job as an indirect consequence of revealing this truth, I am unwilling to fall into the same trap.  But I cannot tell a falsehood.  Every time I answer a question that concerns my husband I ask myself what, will the questioner think once the truth is revealed?  I evade questions or meet them head on without supplying details.  I have told a colleague bluntly “my husband is not living at home at the moment” – the answer seemed to suffice.

So you don’t need to lie.  You certainly do not need to promise something that you are never going to produce.  You will be tarnished as a liar once the truth is revealed, and once a liar, always a liar, your reputation will take many years to repair.  The alternative words for a liar are not nice – to be deceitful, to be dishonest, a two-faced person, to be insincere and double-dealing, they are all nasty descriptions that I never want to be used in a sentence together with my name – do you?

Let’s have an Open Salary Policy!

Interesting press coverage recently on Executive pay. Interesting because this was a bone of contention with husband and his company. We often discussed the sometimes ocean of difference between those at the bottom and those at the top of the salary structure and wondered what would be the consequences of his company adopting an “Open Salary Policy”. Google this subject and it is noticeable that not many hits come up for this policy in the UK. Happy Computers publish the salaries of all their staff, and probably their employee’s expenses as well, making it impossible to hide such things as “gifts” purchased for customers, Tumi suitcases for colleagues, Faconnable coats or other dubious items.   Another advantage of publishing salaries would be to tackle gender inequality in pay – are you receiving the same as your male counterpart…….?

I work rurally, here we have to drive to work and I love looking at office car parks (I know, I should get a life). It’s interesting that the spaces near the front door are normally reserved for directors and these painted oblongs often resemble a two year old episode of Top Gear. Porsche Targas, shiny Audi’s, Range Rooney’s and the like. However, the further back you go in the car park, there you will see the workhorses, they need a clean and a service but are probably good family cars that are economical to run. And don’t even get me started on personalised number plates – you want one? Don’t you realise it’s cheaper to change your name by deed poll to match your existing plate?

Am I digressing again, probably. Open salaries. Where you work, do you know what your receptionist earns? Or if that’s too much to bear, how about as a percentage? You might not want to know the exact amount, but what if it was published that the Sales Manager earned 10% more than the Sales Team and the Sales Team earned 10% more than the Administrators etc etc. Then this travels upwards. Those above earn 10% more than the Sales Managers until finally you arrive at the top. Fudging the issue I know, but this could be more palatable that actually saying the boss earns £200k whereas the Receptionist takes home £16k. And no, I do not have a mathematical brain to work out the difference in percentage terms of these two amounts but I know it’s huge.

There are those who’d say “but why?” Why should everyone know what the boss earns. It’s not just being nosey; don’t you think you’d be happy as an employee knowing you were worth as much to the company as your boss? And for a boss, come on, what are you trying to hide? If you are running a fair and open company, rewarding those whose hard work it is that has put you in your position, or kept you there, wouldn’t you like your staff to know that they were appreciated – or do you really appreciate them?

Baby steps are sometimes needed, how about starting with bonuses. Round about this time Christmas bonuses are often discussed by staff – often against company policy – why? More secrecy? Who’s getting more than me? Well, blow it all out in the open and do a John Lewis. Staff meeting, announce your profits and/or losses and tell everyone they are getting the same percentage of their annual salary as everyone else. This reminds me of a spectacularly “gobsmacking” moment I had at a previous job. The small team that we were (about five of us) were discussing a business idea we had come up with. We all thought this idea was THE best thing and that we should put our money where our mouths were and invest our own cash in the “thing”. Then we began to metaphorically spend our dividends. Now, stick with me here, our 5 were made up of owner of company, sales manager, IT person, admin and fulfilment. The sales manager actually said that he should earn more in profit sharing because he was going to do all the sales. This was in front of his three colleagues.  I have to say, I was rendered speechless, temporarily. Once I’d scooped my jaw off the table, I argued, why was this fair (yes, those were the days when I believed that fairness existed). And even though I tried to point out that if I didn’t answer the phone, do his paperwork, send out invoices, he wouldn’t get any commission, he still wouldn’t be swayed from his belief that he should earn the largest portion.

Moral of this tale: You’re right, big bad world, there is no fair and unfair in this world, but there is secrecy and that creates bad feelings. Rather than wielding knives, wouldn’t you rather have your workforce united behind you?

The wrong sort of Remembrance Day

It’s Remembrance Day.  And I am sitting in my attic bedroom, on a surprisingly sunny Sunday, enjoying the breeze through the window and remembering.

Firstly, I remember Gladys Alice Sparkes, http://www.kentfallen.com/PDF%20REPORTS/SPARKES%20G.A.pdf who would have been my great, great grand Auntie (I think that’s right) had she not fallen victim on 25 May 1915 at age 18 to a Gotha bomber who’s real target was apparently Ashford’s railway works, not Gladys’ head.  I should be campaigning for her name to be up there on a war memorial, but d’you know what…….  She’s remembered by me, that’s all that matters.

I do remember our war dead and normally, in previous years, I take time out to be by myself for two minutes and such is my imaginations of what they must have gone through, that I shed tears.   But this year, today, I am unable to do so.  In fact I selfishly shed tears for myself.

I suppose it must be the solemn time of the year, or else coming off the anti-d’s, but several sad strands have converged and now I find my thoughts spun together in a nice thick morass of self pity.   What is upper most on my mind is the continuance of a thread I spun out a few posts back – when I saw the couple, lawyers, who were both serving time for some misdemeanour.  At the end of yesterday’s visit, I gave a lift back to town of Mrs lawyer.  She must be about my age, or even younger, and before she got in the car she looked me steadily in the eye and announced that she too was a criminal, just so I knew, and not just a visiting wife, in case I decided to change my mind and not give her a lift.  I was astounded.  Why would I not help out someone just because they had committed a crime, as long as it wasn’t car-jacking at gun point, what was the problem.  I was more concerned because when waiting (for a full 35 minutes) for our other halves to be let in the visiting room, I had been chatting to her and said “sometimes I feel like a criminal when I come and visit” and I was mortified when husband reminded me who she was – I was terrified that she’d take offence.   So, we drove into town and given her status I found her company refreshing.  I didn’t have to hide who my husband was and what he had done.  She knew.  We could cut through that embarrassing explanation.  And amazingly, she’d applied for, and got, the Sainsbury’s job that I had turned down – well, poetic licence that, it was on another counter, but same sort of position.  So next time you are in Sainsbury’s, look out for the ex-lawyer now working on the fish and meat counter……    I was correct in my previous musings.  She now has a situation whereby her husband is entitled to “home leave”.  But where is home?  Gone, proceeds of crime, confiscation order, gone.  They have no home, so how do they have home leave?  Tragically she is now looking for a place to rent on her part time, nearly minimum wage Sainsbury’s earnings.  In the South East??????  She’ll be incredibly lucky to find a shed on her salary.

So that’s upset me.  I was right in my musings.  She has no home, no prospects of earning a decent income and with husband outside, her only place of refuge is her prison room.  And yes, I can hear the clamour of “well, she should have thought of that before she committed a crime”.  As I like, often, to say “do me a lemon!”  What did she and her husband do?  I have no idea.  I do know that it was a “victimless” crime and yes, I know that no crime is really victimless, but some crimes have a definite “victim” whereas others are more nebulous.   Did my husband’s crime have a victim?  Did anyone or any group suffer?  Did the company he worked for have to lay off staff because he was taking money?  Did the managing directors have to forgo the purchase of a Porsche Targa for a year because my husband had taken all the profits?  Did they have to holiday in Scarborough instead of jetting off to Argentina, New Zealand and a small island I can’t remember where…….. NO, NO, NO AND NO.  Their company went from strength to strength because he stole money from the account reserved for companies that had paid twice.  That money was never returned (not his instructions) and that is what he dipped into.  And when you read the reports of how much he took, you’ll be aware of how much people overpaid SBS.  They should do their own audits and maybe they could be in for a Christmas bonus.

But I’ve gone off track.

I’m also in a mood because it has only just, two months down the line, dawned on me that a prisoner has to serve half of his sentence inside before he can be considered for tagging and all the other stuff that means potential coming out time.  That’s one and a half years in my husband’s case.  I had been ignoring this fact, pushing it back, not wanting to think about it, but now I have and have taken the time to work it out, this means the next TWO Christmases’ without my husband.  As much as I love my niece and nephew who have rallied round, I want Christmas with my husband.

And finally, I have been in contact with another family going through what sounds like an extremely similar crime as experienced by us.  And that depresses me – for them.  It reminds me of the horrors we went through in the early days.  The grinding awareness every time we awoke that it was there, had not disappeared into our dreams.  The dread of every day, of what was going to happen, who was going to call, write.  The desire for it all to be over and done with – in any way possible.  It was a truly nasty time for us and so for me, that is what Remembrance 2011 is all about.

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.

Going Public

This is an interesting one.  Follows on from what I was saying a couple of posts back, or even a post back, in that should I continue being anonymous?  Well, I just kind of blew that out of the water by offering to talk to a journalist on a national radio programme (sorry, I’m still in anonymity mode, it’s a hard habit to break).  I offered to talk about life as the wife of a criminal.  At the end of the interview I actually left thinking I had been really boring, that I’d nothing really to tell and there’s people out there who have worse lives than me.  Actually that is very true.  Compared to many I have a good life now – a roof over my head, I’m currently earning, I can even afford to put up my 26 year old nephew rent free whilst he attends our local college.  I even shopped in Waitrose today, although that was a mistake – I only went there because yesterday I saw they had meal for two for £10.00 and was overjoyed that this included a bottle of wine.  Heck, I’ve been drinking homemade elderflower for weeks now, my guts could do with some shop bought plonk.  Unfortunately, when I went back today, the offer had finished, but I did manage to find a pack of four fresh figs that were half price.  Yummy.  Our old house used to have a fig tree in the garden and that’s the one thing I do miss – big, fat, sun kissed fresh figs.   Sitting behind the gently curving wall that I myself partially built, in what became known as  the “rose garden”.  Hahaha.  Yes, it was a lovely house with a beautiful garden.  Compared to my vertically challenged back yard I now have… do I miss it…. NOOOOO (except for the fig tree).

Anyway, I digress.  Yes, so I finished the interview thinking I’d been boring but on the way out to the car park, I was accompanied by the guy that set up the interview room.  What a sweet lad.  Very apologetically, he told me he had heard what I had said, about my life post criminal prosecution, and revealed that his mother had been arrested and imprisoned for shop lifting many years ago.  His mum had subsequently only ever worked in low paid jobs, part time and had recently been diagnosed with cancer.  His mother actually said it was “god’s punishment” for her earlier misdemeanour’s.   Now how sad is that.  Here’s a woman who apparently got involved with the wrong crowd, shoplifted, got caught, took her punishment, but her own personal punishment continues throughout her life.

What are we – martyrs?  I know we can’t all be running around breaking the law but we can all make mistakes.  But to have to pay for that mistake throughout your life.  Heck no, that’s neither fair nor true.  Let one person look me in the eye and say they have never, ever, done anything wrong.  Doesn’t matter how small – like the £2.00 I took from the petty cash tin when I had no money for a lunchtime sandwich (Ms Perry, in case you are reading, this was about 25 years ago).  Have you never speeded, avoided paying your car parking ticket, found some money and not taken it to the police, fiddled your taxes (sorry “evaded”).  Most people try it on.  Most people have a limit to what they will try on and know where to stop.  But if you keep trying it on and don’t get caught, the temptation becomes too great.

I’ve digressed again, haven’t I.  I’m pleased I opened up on the radio.  And I will continue to proudly announce that my husband is currently in prison awaiting a better life when he is released.  Gay’s come out to the world – so should wives of prisoners!

I’ve resigned!

Yabadabadoooo….. I’ve resigned!  At last, I have a good reference and a letter to confirm that for personal reasons, I resigned from my previous occupation.  The job I really wanted, that I put my all into, and left under circumstances that those who know me, know what happened.  Thank heavens a temp job has come up because money is something I am in dire need of.

I drafted this comment a while ago – I sought the advice of a solicitor and amazingly was advised that it would be highly unlikely for a case of discrimination to be successful at an employment tribunal, especially given my short length of service.   In the view of the solicitor, the emails discussing what my husband had done, in relation to whether or not I should have advised my employer, could have been read as sympathetic towards my situation (!).  So I said “stuff it” can’t they let me resign then.  It cost me a solicitors letter, but they have agreed that I resigned and sent me my final salary and a reference – phew, glad that event is over.  Lesson learned: shut thy mouth.

10 days is a long time for the wife of a convict

10 days since my last post….. 10 long tedious days….. and what has caused me to break my silence?  Well, where exactly shall we start.

Am I right to blog?  Why do people blog?  Is this just a strangulated cry for help? Is it legal to name and shame on a blog?  Surely if I am just writing what has happened to me and carefully put both sides of an argument I cannot be accused of anything.  I just get so tired of having to deal with what I can only describe as “crap” in my husband’s absence.  Actually, it’s “crap” of his making, not mine.  The fact that it affects me is grossly unfair.  I know I married my husband, for better or worse, but really, how much worse does matters have to get before you say “hang on a minute”…….

Ok, I’ll not hold you in suspense any more.  Before my husband went away for a brief sojourn at Her Majesty’s Pleasure, he put in his final invoices to the companies he was working for.  Two of those companies paid without question money that was owing to husband.  The third of those companies, actually the one I had worked for previously, has decided that she needs to take advice in view of what my husband has “done”.   Apparently rather than pay the invoices due to my husband, she is “assessing the cost” to her company because of the “fall out”.  Apparently she has spent “hours” and even “weekends” on this and has also been advised (no doubt by a very expensive accountant) to conduct a full audit on her company.

To say I am spitting teeth is an understatement.  My husband, after being suspended from the company he confessed to stealing from, whilst awaiting trial, worked for her.  Worked weekends for her.  Worked evenings whilst we lived in a bloody caravan for her.  I worked for her, not charging her if I worked overtime.  When I left her company (because she could not afford to pay me the going rate for my services) she asked me to return to work for her.  I did so, in my free evenings after I finished my day job.  She told me she would pay me for this work – did she?  No, she did not, but she was happy for me to continue to work for nothing.

And now, for reasons that only she knows, she has been “advised” to withhold payment.  What a disgraceful act.  I only hope the auditor that conducts her audit charges the same pitiful amount of hourly rate that my husband charged her.  To think she had the audacity to call both myself and my husband her friend.  She is yet another one of these false friends.  Once who was pleased to take but now hides when my husband is away and cannot defend himself.  What a coward.

So, since hubby has been locked up, I have lost my job because I told my company what he did, I cannot take them to a tribunal because I was not employed for long enough.  I am running out of money because I am no longer working and now, when I think that money that is due to me, it is being withheld by someone so whiter than white ……. I’m sorry, I am so, so, so cross, I had better not continue.

I’m still job seeking though, still smiling!  I will get work, I have done nothing NOTHING wrong.  I am being punished for standing by my husband – and he did what he did because the people he worked for were themselves disreputable.  I know in my heart that one day, one day there will be a comeuppance for these types of people.  I also know that not only will I trust no-one, but that if I do trust them and that trust is broken, then surely I am free to tell the world how hard done by I am.

Thank you, and goodnight.