First Day Of My New Job

I had been offered a post which included accommodation in London. We had agreed the terms of ten hours work each week (possible occasional overtime) and I would received £200 per week and free accommodation. It did seem unusual to me as I mentioned in my previous post.

I should write more about what happened in the two days prior to my arrival – it was probably one of the worst departures from my family I could possibly have anticipated. They have no idea to this day what happened after their fond farewell to me. But it was awful for me. On my way back to London – everything that could possibly go wrong with my journey did go wrong and to this day my family have no idea how much so.

leaving home.png

I even ended up sleeping in the long grass of a field not far from a railway station where my connection had been cancelled. This might sound crazy, yes, I actually think it was. But I did not have enough money to go and find a hotel room, I did not have a mobile phone, and I did not want my family to have to drive for hours to come and fetch me. I was not going to tell you that it was an ordeal for me. You might not think that roughing it for one night is that bad, but for me it was dreadful. I was a wreck that night. One year previously I had been lying in long grass whilst a stranger brutally … and left me to die. Even though I faced some awful challenges, I was so afraid of ever having to sleep outside again.

And looking back, I can see that I was an incredibly vulnerable mixed up cookie. I was so determined to get back to London and to get back on my feet. I did not want to be wrapped up in cotton wool by my family. If I had contacted my family they probably would never have allowed me to return to London – which is exactly why I did not contact them.

I moved into the “tied-accommodation” on a Sunday. I was very tired. The owner of the property was pleased I had arrived and offered to take me out to dinner that evening. I expressed my gratitude for his offer, but said I would like to settle and to have an early night because I was very tired after travelling. He went out for dinner to a restaurant and I was in the property all alone for my first evening. I did go to sleep very early.

headacheI was woken by the customary head pain which has been a part of my life since I was attacked. I showered and dressed and went downstairs. Nobody was awake yet. The house was silent. I had brought some cereal with me and so I boiled some water and ate my cereal with a mug of black coffee. I kept on expecting someone to appear, but nobody did. So I thought I would take a look at the cleaning equipment. There were various cleaning sprays and bleach and a couple of scrunched up and stained disposable cloths.

I decided I would need to obtain some decent cleaning equipment and I fetched my laptop to see what I could order online. I ordered a flick duster, microfiber cloths and a buffing cloth and some white vinegar. I had noticed there was lime-scale all over the chrome fittings and glass in the bathroom I was using and all over the kitchen. I intended to go into battle against that lime-scale. I thought I could walk into town later and buy some toothbrushes and sponge scourers for cleaning. I also sent an e-mail which I copied to several members of my family telling them everything was fine and the journey had been smooth. I did not want anyone worrying about me.

laundryThere were some clothes that had been drying on an airer in the utility room. I decided to iron them and fold them neatly. I had noticed the hard floors looked very grubby so I swept the hard floor in the large kitchen dining area and mopped the floor. Of course now that the floor was wet, the owner of the property appeared in his robe, looking half asleep still and asked me what on earth I was doing. It was almost lunch-time by now and I had been waiting for him to appear since about eight o’clock in the morning. I just explained that I had not been sure where to start so I had done what I could see needed doing.

man in robe.jpgIt turned out that the night before when he had gone out for dinner he had eaten and drank rather a lot and arrived home very late. He told me he did not normally sleep in so late. I showed him what I had done and he thanked me and said it was not really necessary and not to wear myself out. He said he wanted me to relax and enjoy myself. I told him I would like to walk into town to by some personal things. He offered to drive me once he was showered and dressed, but I said I would really enjoy the walk. He seemed a little irritated that I wanted to go out on my own, but I knew I had done more than he had expected on my first day and I wanted to buy some useful cleaning equipment.

I was out for a couple of hours. I bought the cleaning equipment I needed and also some food and toiletries in the supermarket. It was June and the weather was delicious. It was really good to be out in the sunshine. I was so glad to be back in London, although this part of London was completely new to me. I felt a bit better now that I had found my way around the town and knew where important shops/services I might need were located.

When I returned the gentleman seemed a little disgruntled that I had taken so long and asked me if I had been all the way to Timbuktu to do my shopping. I apologised. I asked if there was any work he wanted me to do that day. He said I had done more than was needed already. I showed him the cleaning schedule I had drawn up on my laptop that morning while I was waiting for him and asked if he wanted to make any changes. He just laughed and asked what was the matter with me. He told me just to take it easy. He wanted to get to know more about me, after all, we were going to be living in the same property. He said he would stay in and have dinner with me that evening and that he had bought some vegetarian ready-meals from Marks & Spencers for me. He said after dinner he wanted us to sit down and have a chat so he could get to know me better.

So that evening, after a Marks & Spencer vegetarian ready meal, we sat down to chat. He had two sofas either side of a coffee table, so we sat facing each other. He offered me a glass of wine. I declined, but he was rather insistent, so I accepted. I sipped it very slowly. He started with asking me general personal questions about myself and my family and where I had grown up and my goals in life. I tried to ask him the same questions but he didn’t seem very forthcoming with information about himself. He wanted to know more about me. His questions started to become more and more personal and he started talking about sex and asking what I enjoyed.

If you could have seen what was going on inside my head at that moment, it would have been pure rage. Now…I think any employee would feel more than a little uncomfortable with their boss asking these questions on the first day of employment – but I feel I had extra reasons after I had been the victim of a serious crime just a year earlier.

I tried every response. At first I tried to deflect the question, then I out rightly stated that it was a personal subject I did not want to talk about. He told me I needed to loosen up and relax.

He tried to top up my glass. I told him I did not want any more wine. He took my wine glass and poured more wine into it. I looked at him with a stern expression. I suddenly felt very angry with him. But I had to control it. I had very raw emotions that he had triggered, but he did not know what had happened to me, so I could not explode. I had to be able to deal with men who made me feel uncomfortable without treating them as criminals. This was his home after all. I had to learn to be assertive and deal with any unacceptable behaviour in a dignified way.

I stated that I hoped he was going to drink the wine he had just poured because I certainly was not. He told me to drink up. I was very firm. I told him that wine makes me sleepy. One glass was enough.

“I am feeling very tired after the wine I have already had so I am going to sleep now.” I stood up and walked away. He looked very annoyed.

The next morning…

…well, I am going to start a new post with what happened afterwards, because I don’t think you want a post which takes an age to read.

 

 

Who Do You Think You Are?

Have you seen what Caramel’s angry eyes look like?

I use the term “angry eyes” because it makes me think of Mrs Potato Head packing essentials like a golf ball, a rubber-ducky, a plastic steak, a yo-yo, crayons, a dime, monkey chow, and of course the most important “angry eyes”!

I do not really have a pair of angry eyes. I am not often angry enough to throw those kind of expressions, and when I am angry inside, normally I do a very good job of hiding it from others.

But today I am angry. Super angry. Jack has said something in public (and unless the whole clip is doctored – I saw his lips moving and heard the words coming out of his mouth – so I am pretty sure nobody is misquoting him, it is all Jack’s responsibility) that included a rather cutting remark that I knew and all our friends would know, was about me.

Oh no!

Has Jack thought about how unwise and unkind his words were? Does he regret what he said? Was it a careless castaway comment that has been picked up by media and used in clips? I am sure he said other things. But its the personal comments that made it to the screen.

It came across that he was trying to deflect personal questions. But his comments made fun of two of his “fans” who at one stage seemed to be stalking him (although after everything that happened, I do wonder if Jack may have embellished the details of those incidents – I do know there is some truth in a couple of young ladies who were very persistent and did alarm Jack by the places they turned up and the bold declarations they made to him). I don’t think Jack should mention them. I would hope that both of them regret their behaviour now and would not repeat their actions. But I believe Jack made a mistake mentioning them in public.

However, I am downright furious that he referred to me. He did not mention my name. He did not need to. The first thing I knew about it was a handful of text messages which were carefully worded by close friends who basically did not want me to receive a nasty shock. For two years I have had the same experience many times of being warned about something that seemed to have originated with Jack (although sometimes it was hard to tell who had instigated the gossip) and was being circulated and was receiving “likes” and comments from all and sundry.

angry eyes2   Hmm.

I am still reeling. Jack’s words were in the media about three weeks ago…but I have been trying to shrug it all off ever since. But I am angry. I think I do a pretty good job of controlling my feelings though. I don’t find it hard for forgive…but if someone keeps on doing the same thing that has already caused so much damage and they give the impression they do not care, it is hard to feel goodwill.

Just going to be courageous and carry on with my life, without someone who seems to be rather deficient in courage casting a cloud over my sunshine.

What do you have to do with me? For my life is a wonderful one! Who do you you think you are Jack Barnes? Have you not learnt from your mistakes? Are you happy? If so, then please live your life. Make yourself useful. Be happy. Do not find fun in taunting others. That makes you look very small. Just live your life.

You have only reminded me of pain Jack. And yet, I still love you despite it all. 

 

 

 

FOWC with Fandango — Forgive

Mandy Versus The Muppet

Have you ever been on a holiday where you had so many incredible experiences, that when you came back home, you were unquenchable in your eagerness to share your holiday experiences with all of your friends and workmates back home?

I am going to admit almost every trip abroad has been memorable and remarkable for one reason or another. I keep meaning to finish posts I have in the ever-expanding drafts folder about the people we met and the places we graced on our travels.

Today I want to share a story that I am not allowed to talk about in front of my younger sister Mandy. You will see why. A few years ago eleven of us flew over to Brasov in Romania.

Now we were there in February, when there was lots of snow, and our Romanian friends wanted to take us skiing. Four of our group (the boys) had skied before. The seven of us girls had only ever been on small indoor or outdoor artificial ski slopes in England and Wales. So our Romanian friends took us to the local ski resort….and negotiated for us to have five days of ski lessons, ski equipment hire and lift passes for a grand total of £60 each.

Now ask anyone who skis and they will tell you this is an extraordinarily cheap price for five days of skiing. Realizing we were unlikely ever to have a chance like this again for such a reasonable price, we all agreed we would like to learn to ski properly. So we spent the next five days in Poiana Brasov, the beautiful ski resort.

Now if you are going to have ski lessons, you of course need a ski instructor. I am not sure quite which planet ski instructors come from, but they are easily identified as invaders from outer space when then they open their mouths and speak and by their erratic behaviour.

Our ski instructor – let’s call him David – (pronounced Dav-eeeed of course) was without doubt from a far flung corner of the galaxy. Planet Muppet!

We thought him odd from the first moment we met him. All week he kept on showing us his cars on his phone. He kept on showing off to us about everything it is possible for a man to show off about. We were just gagging with laughter at his boorish boastfulness.

I have no idea what he thought of us. We were six girls, from the age of fourteen right up to sixty, who wanted to have fun learning to ski on the nursery slopes. He seemed to think this was ski boot-camp. Apparently, there was a competition amongst the ski instructors as to whose nursery group would be the best at the end of the week of skiing.

drag lift.jpgOnly it was clear to us, that we were not going to be the winning group. All seven of us struggled to master the basics of skiing. We all struggled with turning off the drag-lift onto the slope, and stopping ourselves from sliding down the hill without the rest of the group and our instructor.

Lil was hilarious! She was not really in the group at all. She had absolutely no control. I love Lil so much but I was suffering with severe belly ache from how much I was laughing at her. I know that sounds awful, but it was like some kind of crackpot comedy film.

The sixty year old member of our group Lil…oh my goodness, I am amazed she stuck it out for as long as she did! I have this vision of her in my mind. She kept on falling off the drag ski lift and ending up sprawled out across the middle. Other skiers ended up skiing right over her. She must have been black and blue with bruises. But she kept on crawling back onto the nursery slope full of laughter insisting she was fine.

After two full days she admitted she was feeling rather sore and decided to have Wednesday off to rest up a bit. That left my younger sisters Mandy and Milly, me of course, a friend of ours also called Milly, another friend called Emily (lots of confusion with names for ski instructor) and fourteen year old Rachael, who liked to be called Ray. Seven had become six.

Now I am not going to go into too much detail because of the length this post might become, but by the end of Wednesday Emily was being air-lifted to hospital. The boys all came down from the black slopes, and with our ski instructor David of course, went along to the hospital. David was in tears. He was on the phone having a melt-down to his mother who was a surgeon. It’s causes quite a stir when someone has to be air-lifted from the nursery slope, let me tell you!

Seven had become five. Then my youngest sister Milly said she would stay with Emily and Lil, and the rest of us should carry on skiing. We debated it, but Emily, who was conscious and stable by the way, said she needed to rest and it was better to just have one or two with her rather than a gang of eleven.

So now there were four of us, Mandy, our friends Milly and Ray, and me. Well, David our ski instructor was clearly feeling a bit anxious after what had happened to Emily. But he also seemed to be losing face in front of the other ski instructors, because his group had dwindled so much. That day, which was Thursday, David kept on yelling at us. Any time one of us slipped he would tell us to hurry up and get up again and carry on. The other beginner groups were obviously doing much better than we were. We didn’t mind. We were on holiday! We had no ambitions to win any competition.

David did not realize that he was taking all the enjoyment out of these lessons. He was already showing signs of being a top-class muppet. Mandy fell on an icy patch near the top of the nursery slope. Her glasses fell and had clearly broken. Now, I have never had to wear glasses, but I know from both Mandy (who is actually very short-sighted) and others, that if your glasses break, it is no laughing matter. Understandably, she was determined to recover her glasses and see if they were repairable. David started to shout at Mandy, telling her to hurry up and get up on her skis and carry on skiing. Now wasn’t he a muppet!

Silly David! He learnt the hard way that you do not shout at our Mandy! You do not pick a fight with Mandy! II mean she has changed a lot since she has been married. But from the age of three to twenty-three, Mandy had a fierce temper.

What happened next?

There were words coming out of Mandy’s mouth, angry words. Not swear words. This was the wrath of a woman pushed to the brink of exhaustion, whose best friend was in hospital and now with broken glasses. Not just any woman – this was Mandy Finch. You don’t provoke Mandy Finch! She told him in no uncertain terms what a complete and utter muppet he was. She told him he had ruined our holiday, and that he was not fit to be a ski instructor, because all he could think about was this stupid competition. Our friends Milly and Ray and I all looked at each other wondering how to control Mandy.

Then I saw her unstrapping her skis. Next minute the skis were flying through the air and fortunately fell short of their intended target. David looked white with shock! Mandy was storming off down the nursery slope.

Milly, Ray and I were shocked. We had all seen Mandy when she had lost her temper, but this was one of the worst incidents. She could have caused some serious damage by throwing those skis like that.

David turned to us and said that we should take a break and not worry about the competition. I explained to David that Mandy was tired and she was very upset about her glasses. I told him not to take what she had said too personally. The three of us said that we had been enjoying the ski lessons, we just wished it was a bit less competitive. We headed into the little cafe and bought hot drinks. Mandy sat on the opposite side of the cafe refusing to come anywhere near David. Ray and Milly kept on trying to cajole her to come over.

In the mean-time, David was sobbing and was wimpering to me “I was born to be the best. This should not be happening to me. I should be the winner. I am the best at everything. Why is this happening to me?” I tried to console him without laughing at his silly words. He really was a bit of a muppet!

Well on the Friday the group of seven was now just three. David took us up to the very top of the mountain were there was a restaurant and we had lunch there. Then he gave piggy-backs down the mountain. Two of us would walk while the other was on his back and he was skiing. That was fun.

I have to say, I did enjoy skiing itself. It was hard at times. It was exhausting. But I didn’t mind all the falling over and getting up again. But for the moments when you are actually flying along on your skis, it seems worth all the effort.

I am not sure if I will ever go skiing again. If I do go, I am going to stay on the nursery slope!

I don’t think my sister Mandy is ever going skiing again! We are not even allowed to mention skiing to her just in case it brings back memories of the muppet she lost her temper with in the middle of the nursery slope at Pioana Brasov!