So I was going to have to commute to S, unless I moved back to Winchester, and seeing as my heart and community were in Winchester, I looked in the Hampshire Chronicle for a room, and found one immediately, I had good references, there was a little bedsit in Harestock, a funny little set up, converted to make extra income for the family, and slightly set apart from the house with the entrance through their utility room, there were basic cooking facilities, a personal shower and toilet and use of the washing machine at the rare times it was not in use as they were a sporty family. So there I moved, at first I missed my old landlord and town and everything I had got used to, but it was ok.
I increased my freelance work, settled to the school
work, found the work ok but struggled with communication with the kids
and teachers, I was frightened of them really, I got on well with the
head though, and he got me doing his garden and his friend’s garden, I
was also ashamed to be doing the school because one of the staff from the College who had misunderstood me was on the school board, and
another had children there, I thought they would think it was pathetic
me ending up as a cleaner when I was trained in landbased work as they
didn’t know I was a gardener as well. But the head teacher also got me
doing duties outside maintaining the grounds and helping with sports
day, the only problem was when he tried to get the old caretaker back to
help out as I was not experienced in schools, she and were not happy
with the situation and both left, one of the good things about the job
is that I had been a keyholder and responsible for security and locking
up at night, which was good for me and for my CV. I never failed with security there.
The privacy of
my bedsit was not great as there was a big skylight overlooked by the
main house, but all in all it was ok, I had satellite TV for the first
time, the man of the house had said when I arrived that I could always
come in to the main house and be part of the family, but his wife didn’t
agree, he was a big happy rugby player and coach, previously to
international standard, his wife was a swimming teacher who seemed
somehow unhappy, and their two children were sports fanatics.
started having debilitating problems with my periods, I had always had
problems, but now I was really getting ill, and it seemed difficult to
find a solution, but it upset my work, it was difficult to talk to a
doctor as when I had previously had problems like this in my old town and my
work had suffered, the doctor had snapped at me because she was too
busy for girls whining about periods and I felt so stupid, it had taken
so much courage to ask for help then, so now I went to the family
planning clinic and asked if there was a contraceptive that I could take
that would help as I had heard that that was what some women did, they
told me that they couldn’t help as I was not in a relationship and that I
should not think about taking the pill because of my migraines anyway,
they were also not polite and I was so nervous, I went out of there in
tears. So no solution. I can tell you it is hard to be a female
landbased worker under those circumstances, but this wasn’t something I
told MF with her prejudiced views.
I was in that bedsit for six weeks, I found
it hard to readjust to Winchester and the bedsit, after being cosily
hidden in the bedsit in the other town for two years, then while I was at the
new bedsit I was offered a job that I had applied for, it was 16 hours a
week gardening plus some caretaking in return for a two bedroomed
cottage, back then I didn’t know that you have to be strong to have a
tied cottage job, I have some friends now who I have made in the last
few months who were also victims of tied cottage syndrome (on call and demanded of all the time), but for many
years I have lived under the burden of JM’s judgement of me for not
making this and all other things work, it is comforting now to see the
bigger picture and to know that tied cottage work is the toughest and
that employers in big houses go through staff very quickly. Basically you have to have the mentality to be demanded of all the time, and I do not, my psychological state is such that I need low demands and to be alone a lot.
moved to the cottage, it was big and fairly empty, and sadly I put a
tremendous amount of money and effort into furnishing and decorating it,
and my friends, bless them, also gave a tremendous amount to me by way
of furnishings and oddments, it was too big a house for a young immature autistic
girl to have as a first house, and the work and energy it took
discouraged me and in the end left me with M.E. But that is jumping
And of course, even aged 24, I had not yet found the support and help I needed, so I was still carrying burdens of lack of support, diagnosis or clear understanding of my background.
But it says something that I managed to get that job when it was competed for, I was, by my own admission, a capable gardener by then.