Monday, 23 December 2013

Nigella, Joanne, witnesses, privacy and the Watkins case.

This week has been, in some ways, very depressing. I met Nigella fleetingly at a book signing more than a decade ago. She was kind and gracious. So what if she had the odd spliff? Her children are teenagers,it would have done little more harm than a glass of wine. But what makes me angry is the way women have been treated in the news this week. Nigella's been hung out to dry, Jo Nikita Mzadjelic has been questioned and interrogated in a way which treated her like some kind of evil doer. Nigella had had to face the same problems but at least she's had some back up. She is not perpetrator, she's a very cool looking victim. It makes me really

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Joanne Mjadzelics, forget Pretty Woman, this is the real hooker with a heart of gold.

Not written for ages, but I wanted to write something about the Ian Watkins case as I've been so affected by it

I don't want to go into the details of the horrific case, they've been done to death.  One of the mothers and her little boy lived about ten minutes drive from me and is less than a year older than my son and it chills me to the bone that this was happening so close to me.

But in the midst of the most awful, depraved, evil behaviour there's somebody who gives me hope about humanity.

Joanna Mjadzelics persisted for five years to bring Watkins to justice.  In the face of ill health, threats of criminal charges, violent attacks and reams of online abuse she persisted and kept on reporting and reporting until he was finally sentenced to 35 years this Wednesday for his horrific attacks on children.

The hooker with a heart of gold is a familiar trope in our society.  Wikipedia describes her as 'an ostensibly immoral woman who demonstrates virtues absent in others'.  I guess our modern favourite is Vivian from Pretty Woman who is a heroine simply for getting her man. The tart with a heart goes right back to Mary Magdelene through Verdi's La Traviata to Dickens.  Dicken's Nancy is probably the closest to our own real life version - risking her own life to help the child Oliver.

But despite the fact that we fetishise the 'tart with the heart' or the 'hooker with a heart of gold' in literature and on film in our society it seems frighteningly possible that part of the reason Joanne Mjadzelics was ignored was because of her profession.  But who do they expect to come into contact with the kind of people who commit these crimes?  It's certainly not going to be a nun or a church going nursery school teacher.  If someone committing these dreadful acts confides in someone it's going to be the escorts or the lapdancers or the strippers of this world, which it is why it is so important that what they say is listened to and not dismissed.

Mjadzelics is attacked online for being 'vengeful' or 'wanting attention'.  Do you know what, I have no idea if she is somewhat motivated by revenge.  Perhaps she does enjoy the attention.  But if she does what should she have done?  Decided that she shouldn't report terrible abuse of children because it would make her look a bit bitter?  Let it carry on because she didn't want to be in the press?  These attacks on her are nonsense, I don't care if she has enjoyed the attention or if she has had the satisfaction of revenge - she has saved two children from horrific abuse and if she has had the kick of attention or revenge then that's just a sideshow.  I suspect she hasn't - if what she wanted was attention or revenge there would have been far easier more profitable ways for her to do that.  People ask why she went back - but many women went back to Watkins and his magnetic charm again and again.  Only one of those women was consistently reporting him even though she sometimes fell for what was clearly a hypnotic personality.

Vivian from Pretty Woman is someone many young women idolize. Forget her, Joanne Mjadzelics is the woman I would tell a daughter of mine to look up to.  Vivian might have got respect shopping on Rodeo Drive but Mjadzelics has allowed at least two children to lead lives free from the most horrendous abuse.

Joanne Mjadzelics, I salute you.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

I haven't posted for a long time and things have changed a lot.  I was really optimistic about going back to work but it was a disaster to begin with.

My return was handled really badly, my supervisor had been made redudant while I was on mat leave. Coincidentally just after she had returned from her own maternity leave.  So I had a new boss who didn't know my work. All the computer systems and a lot of the procedures had changed. And I needed a lot of retraining. And here is where the problems started.

The person set the task of retraining me was the person who had covered for me while I was away.  Our boss worked out of the office and as well as retraining me my bosses only method of assessing my work was by asking my replacement how she thought I was doing.

Now, we were doing the same role at a time when redundancies were being made.  You might think that a manager might realize that perhaps an employee who might be seen as a competitor might not be the best person to put in this role, particularly as she was not senior to me and really had no right to be assessing my work.  My training was slap dash and basic, important bits were missed out, I felt like I couldn't ask questions as I was met with an aggressive response.  The replacement would tell me that I was completing pieces of work correctly so I would continue doing them in the same way, unaware that they weren't being done right.  And all the while she would be complaining to my boss that I was making mistakes when she knew I hadn't been trained how to do them correctly in the first place.  The job was disorganized, I was doing a mishmash of random things and had no idea what the remit of my job was supposed to be any more and it seemed to change day to day.

It escalated to the point of bullying, it was a horrible atmosphere.  The replacement would ring my boss in front of me and complain about me while I was only a couple of desks away so clearly in earshot.  As was of course the intention.  It was like being back at school, their was school girlish atmosphere in the department with whispers happening in the corner, dirty looks, giggles when you walked past, private jokes and conversations over the instant messenger.  When I tried to ask the replacement about work she would be laughing at messages taking the piss out of what I was saying sent by a colleague who sat nearby.   I felt humiliated and insulted.  It was all on the level of 4th year junior.  The type of thing you sometimes get when there is no manager in the office. I got to the point where I didn't want to go into work anymore and felt sick walking through the car park not knowing what was going to happen each day.  I received hardly any of my bonus and it seemed that my targets for the bonus were also assessed on the say so of the replacement.

Eventually I was called into a meeting with my manager.  I was informed that I was now almost incapable of doing my job (no complaints before mat leave) and was being put into special measures.  I was given a list of tasks and informed that even a single small mistake would lead to the start of disciplinary proceedings.  It felt like they were trying to get rid of me and felt incredibly unfair.  I felt like the stress of knowing one mistake, no matter how minor, could lead to the chop, would make me even more likely to make mistakes.

I was wrong though, this 'improvement plan' was my salvation.  The vital thing was that my progress was now being assessed directly through my manager and he was clearly telling me what he expected me to do.  As soon as I was working like this and my work was no longer being assessed by the replacement I started performing really well.  My manager was pleased, I started feeling good about working in the department because I felt my manager had actually put something in place that made sense, was fair and allowed me to have the tools to perform well.  I left for holiday at the start of July feeling really positive about work and confident everything was going to work out well and I could fit back in well.

Misplaced confidence it seems, when I returned I was called in an hour after I got back and told I was being made redundant.  The blow was softened as I discovered I had been awarded all my bonus for the previous period and it was nothing to do with my performance.  In addition my manager who I now had the greatest respect for had been made redundant too. 

It's all a bit, hmmm, as every woman who has returned to the company seems to have been made redundant within a few months of their return.  And I can't say I'm going to miss my colleagues, I'm glad to see the back of most of them.  But I've been given an okay pay off which will keep the wolf from the door for a few months but I am back to square one again.

So I've decided to write about it again.  I've been to a few interviews and I think there's some material there, there's definitely been some weird and wonderful stuff going on with my job search.

So anyway, I'm back. It's almost like I never went away!

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Backdoor shenanigans

Well the title might be slightly misleading but it might get me some google hits.

Guess which eejjit didn't close the back door then rang the police saying they'd been burgled this week. That's right. Me. D'oh.

In my defence it did look like our TV might have gone when I looked through the front window. And when I
 got there I was on my own with the baby and none of my neighbours were in to help me check the house. One of them got back after about 10 mins and stood outside and waited while I checked. So I phoned the police back and told them I was a moron but they still wanted to come round and check that I was a moron.

AND I couldn't find my handbag for while yesterday, and I was really pleased because I thought that meant I was right and someone had been in after all. Then I found it and was all pissed off.

The police were very nice about it, and I am being told if I had gone into a house full of burglars with the baby I would have been being stupid.

However I am feeling extremely embarrassed.  And will be thoroughly checking the back door from now on.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Officially part time

I am now officially going to be returning to work 3 days a week in the New Year.

I was convinced I wouldn't be.  Things didn't seem to be boding well last night.  First of all a certain young man decided he had no intention of sleeping and was bouncing off the wall from 11pm to 3am. I tried everything, Waybuloo's on I-Player, got out the big guns with Brahms and Mozart.  Nothing worked.  Eventually at quarter to 3 I hit on the bright idea of Calpol and he went off shortly afterwards so I am assuming that his teeth were at him.

So finally I'm thinking I can get at least 6 hours sleep with any luck.  Wrong.

4am loud banging noises in the back garden, sounds like somebody is trying to access one of the back sheds and I doubt any of my neighbours were up for a bit of midnight gardening.  At this point I'm just lying there thinking 'I don't care, just take the lawnmower, Mr Skint hardly bothers to use it anyway'.  Cue much tumbling downstairs next door and much shouting.  My neighbours a big bloke, he can deal with it.   Back to sleep.

5am Mr Skint is up banging around though he does need to work so I can't moan. But I'm still awake.

6am next door decides to start blowdrying her hair, we have thin walls in these little terraces.

7am other neighbour gets the hoover out for some bizarre reason.

8am my mother rings to 'make sure I'm up nice and early for my meeting'.  Thanks Mum.  This has woken up SJ as well so there is no chance of any more sleep.  Think I had 40 minutes all night total and a hugely important meeting today.  Dosed myself up on coffee and set off hoping for the best.

With these inauspicious starts I was expecting a big battle, trying to think up lucid arguments for reasons why 3 days a week would be reasonable and workable which I've been going over since August but in my sleep deprived state I was finding it hard to recall them or at least get them into any kind of lucid logical order.  'At least' I thought, 'this will give me something to right about in my blog',  A decent narrative and a sense of burning injustice at how working mothers are treated by the business world could give a few decent blogs as could a job search.

Well unfortunately for my blog but fortunately for everything else I walked into the meeting and was told that everything I'd asked for was fine and when would I like to come back?  I'm  also going to get two nice holiday payments as though I'm still full time.

Why isn't everything always this easy?  So from a terrible start to the day I am now feeling incredibly positive and have got the best news I could have hoped for out of  the day.  After a tough week last week things are looking up.  What I'm going to right in my blog now I don't know. But perhaps a better dilemma to have.

Monday, 19 November 2012

It is my very important meeting tomorrow about flexible work at 11am.  

It is 1am.  I am awake with a little tiny baby who despite the best efforts of Waybalus, Brahms and Mozart is  still bloody awake.  Aargh!

Friday, 16 November 2012

This was supposed to be a light hearted blog...

....bust so much serious stuff has happened.

So finally, almost 3 months after submitting it I have the meeting for my flexible work request set up next Tuesday.  I am going and taking the baby with me to sit with one of my team mates for half an hour.  I am hopeful they will let me go down to 3 days a week, after all it's only an admin job.  But I'm unsure if they will, who knows what the politics of work are behind the scenes.

But the problem is that if they insist I work 5 days, as well as not wanting to leave my son, I will effectively be paid nothing for the extra two days I work when you factor in childcare costs and lost tax credits.  Who'd want to work two extra days for nothing?  If they insist I don't think I'll go back.  I wouldn't have to have my arm twisted too much to be honest, the job is boring and I'd love to do something more interesting in a sector which was more rewarding like education or health like I used to, but with the cuts this might be impossible as not much is available, although I have applied for a fixed term job at the University I used to work at just in case.  I just can't motivate myself with sales.

My supervisor has just gone back after her leave too and our work have not been too helpful.  They've refused to allow 30 minute lunches to shorten our day and have refused 'official' working hours to go after 5.30pm.  I say official because I suspect that both the 1hr lunch break rule and the 'official hours end at 5.30pm' rule are because they know that they get free work out of people in the last half of their lunch and by them staying late.  I think it's a reluctance to start paying people for things they'd get for free anyway, and I suppose if they gave it to one person they'd have to give it to everybody.   I'm travelling to the nursery and back on public transport and haven't managed to find one particularly close to either my home, work or tram stop so I'm really going to struggle to fit in dropping the baby off, travel to work, work, 1 hr lunch, work, travel pick up baby into the space between 8-6.

Not sure what's happened to this blog, it was supposed to be light hearted look at the things I did with my baby to have fun without much money but it just so happens over the last few days it's all been about the 'not much money' part and very little about the 'fun' part.

Have to remember that ultimately it's all worth it, my little boy is the most amazing thing ever and I love every moment of being a mother.  After trying for him for so many years I know how many people long for the chance to be a mother and don't get it so I feel privileged every moment that I am one.   I was very proud of my little dude today, he's 8 months and he's decided his current mission is becoming a standy uppy baby.  I'm amazed by the way they build up to doing these things, it's like watching someone do a constant gym work out, the motivation and determination is just astounding.  If I could nick a bit myself this baby fat would be gone in no time at all!

So, plans for this weekend are to have some fun and find something funny to write about.  I am thinking some hand printing activities to make hand prints for Gran and Great Gran.  Should be fun... and messy....and Lord knows I need some fun after the week I've had!