Monday, 6 September 2021

What do I do now?

(note - this was written in September 2021.  I then I had an attack of paranoia about whether someone from my old work may be able to find this so I took it down again.  Have realized I was just being paranoid because they wont, but even if they did I haven't said anything that isn't true)

This week has been a momentous week. Last Wednesday I turned 48, finally feeling like I've grown into my moniker (started as a joke as my husband was forever telling me we were old in our 30's and the fact my sister called me a f**king drama queen during an argument - heh, that was from her!). I woke up feeling old, for the first time ever. 

Today, following a week of annual leave, I went back to work. Prior to my week off I was pretty stressed it had been manic and I was struggling to get the information I needed from colleagues. I got into work and one of the bosses called me, suggesting we have a catch up. we tried zoom but his zoom needed updating, he is quite impatient, he can’t wait for that so he called me back.

 "It's not working out is it?" he tells me “can I clear my desk, hand my keys in to a colleague.  They will pay me to the end of the month”.   Oh, so this is what being sacked feels like. 

 I haven't made any big mistake but I've made some small ones. Some typos in emails, a misfiled invoice, a credit note filed in September when he thinks it should have been in August (this credit note did fall into the latter month because of when it was issued - "do I know what a credit note is?!" - yes, of course I do). 

 I have sealed my fate with 1000 papercuts. 

He “is sorry, I AM lovely, it's been lovely to work with me” - hollow laugh "that’s obviously not true is it?"  “It isn’t me, it’s them, the job is hard, it’s vast, they are part of the problem and they need someone to take it all in hand” and me, in my 11 months there, I haven’t  managed to do it. 

 I am devastated. I really care. I feel like I have let them down. 

I am relieved, small company means small company politics where a typo is screen grabbed and then WhatsApp’d to a group to comment “please can you be more careful in future” so everyone can see you being chastised.  I can live without that.

 I am fucking furious. The job is is hard work but it isn't hard. I battled to get information out of them. I pretty much had no training at all. Lately one of their wives has been in the office to help me but it was sporadic, I never knew what days she'd be in, and she would fanny about doing stuff for the website, send a few emails and tell them off when she could see when they weren't communicating. 
At one point one of the bosses told me part of my job was to earwig and read people's minds, a joke I thought at the time, but maybe not? So what I had a typo in an email. They have both done the same or made a mistake on a rota or accidentally  double  booked people (which I spotted and fixed). 
The problem is I wasn’t keeping score.  

I started this job mid pandemic and everyone but me got furloughed a mere weeks into me starting. When I was told to shield I was furloughed for a month on reduced pay (despite me knowing that others on furlough were on 100%, I was the one emailing the payroll across for processing). I didn’t get a chance to become part of the gang so was forever on the edges. I think this is the problem. 

 So I was in work at 9.25. I was home by about 10.15 having cleared my desk and driven home weeping.

 And now what? I'm lucky I don't need to rush and get any job, I can be choosier. But I have no idea what I want to do now. 

My husband suggested I do a course.  
My sister suggested I speak to a life coach.
I just want to curl up in a ball. I feel ashamed and old and useless and I have no idea what I want to do now I'm a grown up.

Sunday, 18 July 2021

Don't look back, you're not going that way

 It's been forever hasn't it?  So much has happened  and yet I have felt unable to write.  Life has given me writers block.   Personal events made it hard to write the words down, as if committing them to type would make everything all the more real (and it was all a bit too real at the time), but now I am going to give it a go and get some stuff out.  I can hear my husband and my counsellor cheering in my head at the thought of me writing again.  Even if its just for me and its going out into the void.

Anyway, here goes nothing.

 In recent years I involved in a court case.  This in itself sounds like something fairly insignificant, a throw away line, but the reality is it was something that took over my life for many years. 

I was initially made a statement to the police in 2016 regarding something that happened to my sister and then they told me there were offences against me and they could build a case for me too.  It's a weird feeling when the police tell you you are a victim, for most of my life I had minimized and deflected in an attempt to protect myself and this opened up all sorts of things for me that I had buried years ago.

Over 2 years of waiting to get to court, at times it felt like we may never get there.  The police couldn't find the perpetrator for quite some time and after they did they found more victims so wanted to parcel us all into the same case, strength in numbers, so all that took time.

We had a horrible Christmas 2017 where we were waiting for the CPS to finalize the charges, where we were promised it would happen before the holiday, but then the woman dealing with the case just went on leave and so it never happened.  

He was charged with 18 offences in January 2018 and we finally went to court in the scorching hot July of 2018.  Five victims who were for the most part unrelated, all saying the same thing about this man.  

I arrived in London on the Monday night and had to I hang around for a week waiting to give evidence, desperately trying to distract myself from what was ahead of me.

When I eventually gave evidence I was shit scared.  I had made the decision very early on that I didn't want a screen up.  I wanted to see him.  I wanted to be able to look him in the eye and for him to know that it was me who had help put him in the stand.  This man had been the bogeyman for so long I needed to see what a pathetic old man he was.  It was very cathartic to do so.  To be able to stand there and tell the truth.  I was on the stand for about 40 minutes.  The defense lawyer tried to tie me in knots but failed.  My friend and I still laugh about "the carnation defense", a moment where the lawyer tried to tell me that I hadn't mentioned carnations before (it really is this level of nit picking) and I pointed out that I had mentioned pinks, which are a type of carnation.  It felt like a 'mic drop' moment.  When I came off the stand I felt like I was invincible. I head home feeling like I could take on the world and wait 2 more weeks to hear the verdict

Little did I know what would happen.  The trial would turn out  a fucking disaster, it overran, the jury looked disinterested, it was so damn hot.  Somehow there was some confusion and the judge was persuaded to give them a day off in the middle of the deliberation.  They deliberated for approximately a day and a half and they came back with acquittal on 3 and hung jury on the rest of the charges.  I couldn't believe it.  Had they not been in the same court room as us? How could they not see the pattern in his behaviour?  

Of the 3 acquittals, one of which was against me and 2 against two of the other women.  It was at this point that I discovered that despite being told that had been 3 offences against me, he had only been charged with one.  So that was it,  game over for me.  I kind of unraveled a bit at this point. 

But, there was to be another trial the following January.  I would still have to give evidence to support my sister but had to go into another trial knowing what was awaiting me, knowing that I was going to have to face him and that we both knew what he had gotten away with.

This hung over me for another 6 months.   I said at the time, it felt like I was made to unpack everything and then once everything was out all over the floor was told, if you could just pack that back up we will see you in 6 months time.

Another Christmas with this hanging over me, it wasn't pretty.  

So January arrived and we head back to London again.  This second trial ran smoother, more efficiently.  The judge, we are told is tough, he is taking no nonsense at all.  I give evidence again, the defense lawyer twists my words, tries to trip me up, but I am not scared, I don't have lies to trip me up, this is my truth.  I get to say the thing I have always wanted to say to HIM, I know what he is.  I look him in the eye when I say that.  I fucking hate him, I can feel it pulsing through my veins.  I leave the stand and this time I don't feel invincible because I don't trust the system.  I am scared, what if this jury can't see what he is?

The case for the prosecution is done in the first week.  Week 2 they rattle through the defense and the jury go out on the Wednesday.  

I don't know why but I decide to come back for the verdict this time, I was so complacent first time round, trusting those 12 people to make the right decision.  I get the train back to London and as the jury goes out there starts the longest 3 days of my life.  We are stuck in a tiny room, lots of bodies,  including the detective on the case, the radiator is set to hell.  My sister has bought knitting needles and wool so we can all pass the time knitting.  I start and undo a scarf about 10 times before giving up.  On the first day I have with me books, magazine, knitting to help me pass the time.  By the second day I give up the idea that I can do anything other than just sit there waiting.  I can't concentrate.  My sister's knitting is going billy-o, every time someone passes they comment on how far she's got, its her justice scarf she tells them.  

On day 3 we are told there is a delay because one of the jurors has failed to turn up.  I have the fear.  After a couple of hours the judge dismisses him (police later go to his house and he has had a seizure - I often wonder now how he is).  We are also told that the judge has promised another juror member that they will be able to attend a funeral on Monday, shit, they are dropping like flies!  And then we hear everyone being called back into court.  The detective disappears and then texts us from the court room - VERDICTS!

I lift my bag, and me and my sister RUN through the court house, along the corridor, up the stairs, and collapse into the gallery.  Out of breath we look down and see that we have beaten the judge into court.  HE looks up at us from the dock.  I shake my head at him.

The judge comes in.  The jury give their verdicts.  We can hardly hear.  The detective glances up at us and a small smile flickers on her mouth.  Guilty on all charges.  Sentencing will happen the next morning.  When the judge remands him in custody we all cheer.  He looks up at us and shakes his head.  I nod.  Got you, you fucker.

On 1st February 2019 he gets sentenced to 18 years which get reduced to 16 due to his age and ill health.

Now, I know that he will probably only serve half of that, but he is stuck in prison.  He has been stuck in prison for 2 years now - during a pandemic (must be really scary to be locked in with a deadly virus running rife), during this heatwave that we are having this weekend.

I try not to think about him as I have gradually picked up all my pieces and move on with my life, but I give a glancing thought about him on a scorching hot day like today where I get to sit in my garden, finally writing again, sipping an ice cold beer because I have the freedom to do so.  Karma is a bitch.

Monday, 11 June 2018

Getting my glow on

I have a new love.  Well, not such a new love, I have been fairly smitten the past year or so.  My new love leaves me flushed, sweaty and breathless.  I'm unashamed, declaring my obsession on social media.  It reminds me of being young, it makes me smile.

My new(ish) love is called exercise.  Its mental, I know, if you knew me you wouldn't believe it  but something had to give and despite not yet reaching waif like proportions I am heading in the right direction.  My particular passion is a class called Clubbercise.  Think aerobics, in the dark, with glow sticks to dance music.  It really is as epic as it sounds.  So Wednesday nights & some Thursdays I dance like nobody is watching and they really aren't because we're in the dark, with glow sticks!

My favourite tracks are the 80s/90s ones as they take me back.  I particularly love love Born Slippy by Underworld.  This takes me back to 1996.  My final year at uni, Trainspotting,  a mad night of comedy, preview tickets for a midnight showing and piling round to someone's house drinking & playing the rizla game (without rizlas).  This song lets me turn my brain off and go for it.  I have laughed so many times that if my 20 something self could see 40 something me doing jumping jacks to lager, lager, lager instead of drinking lager, lager, lager she would be in hysterics.   And you know she'd be right.  It is funny and fun.  I still like the odd pint of lager lager lager but I wouldn't trade the jumping jacks ever.

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

limbering up

It's been a while and I'm a bit nervous.  I'm out of practice, I could do myself an injury.  I need to have a stretch and warm up.  What if I cant remember how to do it?  What if its rubbish?  who says it wasn't rubbish before? - oh the devil on my shoulder is having a field day!

I don't know why I stopped writing once we moved, maybe it was because I was using all my energy keeping things together, fending off my homesickness, looking for a job, spending all my spare time watching box sets.  Maybe I lost confidence.  Maybe I cant allow myself to do things I enjoy (the latter theory has surfaced during a counselling session for an unrelated matter.

I love writing.  Its something that I do.  I love London, I'm a Londoner,  who no longer live in London, am I still a Londoner?  Who am I now?  What I want to do when I grow up?  Too many questions and not enough answers. 

If I write and I try and I fail then I've failed haven't I?  If I don't write, but spend my spare time watching Elementary then I'm not a failed writer, am I?

Thursday, 25 September 2014

New Girl

Well it's been a while hasn't it? Life has been moving at break neck speed. 

Lots to write about but the main headlines are:

I am officially middle aged as I have just celebrated my 41st birthday.  Obviously most of my 40 before I'm 40 list are languishing discarded.I did have a party, I had a blast.

I have moved house.  In January we decided enough was enough with this divided family routine and so bought a house & we relocated in the summer.  Yes me, towny southern girl, moved away from the bustle to a small market town in the midlands. There isn't even a station here.  The buses run hourly.  There is a weekly market which consists of about 8 stalls.  Its nice.  Its different.  Its not London. Thats not a criticism and yet it is.  The bustle is programmed into my very being and so it is quite a readjustment.  Girls 1 & 2 seem to be settling in quite quickly but me, what do I do? 

There aren't many times as a grown up where you consciously make new friends, you tend to pick them up along the way; at university, at different jobs, doing hobbies and activities.  The last time I consciously made new friends was when my eldest daughter was born and we were all bound together with the shared fear and unknown of having a first child.   I am now in a position where I know no one.  Not a soul, other than my husband and to be honest the playground can be a really lonely place without having someone to simply smile hello to.  And its not as if people are unfriendly, its maybe that lives are just busy or having lived round here all their lives they have no empathy for someone who knows no one.

Mr D is fairly self sufficient, he moved around so much as a child he thinks he doesn't need people, he has friends, old friends but doesn't really deem friends necessary.  But no man is an island, especially not me, I need people.  Life is too lonely without someone to talk to.  

After having a particularly shitty school run the other week, where no one even made eye contact with me, I'd had enough.  My mum phoned and I burst into tears. "I thought this would happen at some point" she said.  Fed up of being told 'It'll take time' I decided to do something about it and arranged to join a group which was meeting the next night.  I don't know if I changed or what but the next morning we ran into a child from Girl 2s class who lives round the corner.  His mum is lovely, we walked to and from school, she introduced me to people.  I went to the group that night and meet women, several of whom have recently moved here.  One in particular swapped numbers with me and we arranged to meet for coffee. 

Its weird isnt it at the start of a friendship, almost like a courtship, how long do you leave it before texting or friend requesting? don't want to seem too desperate, don't want to seen aloof Early stages you dont want to scare them off with neediness or misjudged humour.  Trying to play it cool but wanting to cling on shouting "A friend, a friend, I've made a friend!". 

But low and behold I think I may have the beginnings of friendship. A spark that needs to be nurtured with coffee and cake and shared experience. She has recently moved into the area and despite being on talking terms with many feels alone in the crowd.  I have someone to say hello to. 

Friday, 21 June 2013

15 years

When I heard that James Gandolfini had died this week of a heart attack at 51 my dad was all I could think about.  Dad died aged 52 of a massive heart attack on 21st June 1998.  That makes today the 15th anniversary of his death.

15 years seems so significant, such a big number.  I feel like it was yesterday.  I feel like it was forever ago.

I was 24 (almost 25) when he died and his passing no doubt shaped me into who I am today.

It was Father's Day & for once we were all together at my sister's house for lunch.  For once we had made a really big fuss of him.  We sat & had Mexican food, we talked, we laughed.  Dad then went upstairs for a nap, the rest of us were going to go for a walk, it was a gorgeous day.  My mum went up to talk to him before we went out and then called down to us, she was panicked.  And I knew that something awful had happened from the tone of her voice. I knew.

We went upstairs & he wasn't really conscious, he was a horrible colour and he breathing was laboured.

My sister called for an ambulance, I shouted at him to breathe.  My other sister waited outside for them to arrive.  The ambulance came & we all decamped to the living room.  They didn't want us to see them trying to revive him, and then to try and get my father, a large man, down the narrow stairs.  My older sister kept on saying 'whatever happens it's for the best'.  

My mum went in the ambulance with dad & my soon to be brother in law.  I followed with my sisters. 

They took us through to a family room off A&E.  He was in crash.  "He wouldn't like that" Mum said "anyone who goes into crash on Casualty is a gonner he says".  Turns out he was right.

 The next few hours was a blur of phone calls ringing people to tell them.  I volunteered to break the news to my grandparents and their reaction will haunt me forever.

I can't really put into words how my world crashed down around me when he was gone.  My Dad.  My Daddy.  I kind of lost focus for a while

But life does go on and time does make things a bit easier to bear.  Anniversaries and special occasions bring it back. And music.  I can't hear The Beatles without thinking of him.

So much has happened in the past 15 years.  Me & my sisters have all got married since he died.  We've had 7 children between us.  My mum has had breast cancer twice.  We really could have done with having him around.  Even if he was a pain in the arse sometimes and told embarrassing stories and naff jokes and made me rub his feet all the time.  I miss him.

My heart goes out to James Gandolfini's family and their loss.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Blurred lines

I have a song completely stuck in my head.  I wake up humming it.  Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke (who?) & Pharrell Williams. 
I love love LOVE the song but hate hate HATE the video.  Rated or Unrated versions feature the very handsome Misters Thicke & Williams suited & booted and looking very hot dancing with 3 very beautiful & young models who are scantily clad in the rated version or topless in the unrated one.

I saw an interview with Robin Thicke in which he said the fact that he, Pharrell & T.I. (the guy rapping) are all married make it perfectly OK.  He thinks that having 3 middle aged men (can you believe that Pharrell Williams was born in 1973?) with near naked young girls is funny like Benny Hill.  I think the mistake that Mr Thicke is making is that Benny Hill was from the 70s where casual sexism was the norm. And lets not forget Benny Hill was not really very funny.

So it's meant to be funny or tongue in cheek.  I read that they wanted to make it as outrageous as possible, Mr Thicke has said about it "It is mostly throwaway fun, but naturally Pharrell and I - being in love with our wives, having kids and loving our mothers - we have a lot of respect for women.". 

I can't say that really comes across Robin with the naked dancing girls and the helium balloons spelling out 'ROBIN THICKE HAS A BIG DICK'   

The only really blurred line here being whether this is funny or grossly sexist

To me it smacks of a cynical marketing ploy.  How many hits has it received?  And the "unrated" version has been "banned" from YouTube - however is extremely easy to find as if you find the video on YouTube there is a link attached to take you to Vevo to view it.  Along with the hash tags plastered across it all (I haven't searched for it on twitter yet but as sure it's at saturation point.  

Robin Thicke has said that his wife OK'd him doing the naked video & even came up with some of the ideas for it, and that having half-naked women pouring themselves over him is in no way sexist and he jokes that “If that’s sexism then so is everything inside the Louvre.” 

Hmmmn.  I'm not entirely sure that, that argument washes.  He can't possibly be suggesting (even in jest) that this pop promo is art can he?

I really am not a prude but come on it's 2013.

Like I say I love the song, it's fun, it's catchy, it is a real earworm.  I would rather have just looked at Robin & Pharrell for the duration of the song.  Or would that be objectifying them?

 Hey hey hey