Monday, 10 March 2014

lets go back 22

I was very nervous of my new boss, she was kind in her way but very imperious and used to having staff who would do as she wanted, after all this is what they were hired for – this really is the big house and tied cottage staff attitude, she was very demanding and I was very nervous, this was not a good match. I quickly became nervous of her impatience, she wanted everything just so, she was a whirlwind of activity and I was slow, slow and thorough she said, which was nice, but I wasn’t eating properly and I am sure that slowed me down, but I admit I was stuck in slow motion, again undiagnosed problems may have been a contributor, I have exercise induced asthma, which can slow me down, but I know  that that can’t have been the only factor, as I have increased in speed in my work dramatically since then despite the asthma.
I was also still suffering psychologically from my old work placement, the one where the paedophile worked.

But the boss's  need for perfection was too much for me, she had been gardening her own garden for decades and I could not get everything just so for her, my self esteem was nothing anyway, and so my depression increased greatly, I felt useless, she also emphasised how I was ‘not really mainstream so I was lucky to have the job’, the biggest redeeming thing about the job was the old gardener, Ted.

 The lady of the house warned me about Ted, she said ‘I want you to shadow Ted and learn from him, but be warned he doesn’t like anyone near him while he is working, so be helpful ad don’t get in his way’. That made me nervous, but it turned out that Ted didn’t like her near him when he was working because she didn’t know what she was doing in the greenhouses and she wound him up a bit and she ruined his plants sometimes and upset his greenhouses.

 Ted taught me his way of doing things and got me watering things, he was very nice to me, and when his car came up the drive I would drop what I was doing and go and help him as instructed, working with the lady was hard and stressful, but working with Ted was a delight, he had a sense of humour and was fun to talk to as well as learn from, he poked fun at the gentry and their eccentricity, he poked fun at the lady and her political views, one day we used her posh labelling machine to label some of her plants with the name of her favourite local politician and roared with laughter at the thought of her coming across these plants, which we placed where she had been working with her labelling machine.

Ted became my friend when he came round when I was working on the driveway of my cottage, it was a lot of work to maintain but I had a load of gravel delivered and I was spreading this on the driveway, Ted  turned up and said hello, picked up a rake and started helping me, I had a friend!
Ted  was a Christian, but this was his best kept secret, he never mentioned it, he was a private man, Ted invited me round to meet his wife, Joan, Joan was also a private person and very selective of who she approved of, so I was a lucky girl, Ted told me of a woman back on his old estate who had a brain tumour and was a widow with children to bring up, Ted helped her, I know that, but he didn’t boast about it, Ted had no arrogance in him, he was pure hearted and my respect for him and Joan and their simple, honest way of life was tremendous. (Still is, but the diocese took them and all my friends from me).

I Introduced Ted to L. show as he had never heard of it, despite being active in a number of shows and an outstanding champion, Ted and I competed against each other in the show just as I competed against my friends as well, we did well, we had fun, and Ted still competes in L. show though my show days are over. It was at L. show that I introduced Ted to my friends (M&S) and others, Ted is still in contact with them though again my friendships with those people are over now, thanks to the Diocese of Winchester.

L. show as deeply beloved of me, I helped out with everything between the setting up of the showground to the Show service on Sunday every year, I helped with setting up, car parking, stalls, refreshments, everything possible, it was a long hard weekend with 4am starts and long days of hard stressful work, but for the company and camaraderie and achievement it was the most important weekend of the year for me.

The handyman at my workplace was an oddball, I was warned about him by Ted and others when I arrived, he had a drink problem AND  diabetes, and he would drink and drive, he had driven the last gardener out of the job and was proud of it and had treated the last gardener with hatred and contempt and had got to the point of physical violence with him, he even told me so himself, I also heard of the rampages he had been on when his drink and diabetes combination sent him mad, I didn’t feel safe with him, he was friendly and cheerful at first but he could suddenly flip, especially just around lunch break, he also said some weird things like telling me he would strip off and lie under the lamp on his carpentry table and sun himself.

 He and the man who came in to do the vegetable garden would sit out there on tea break or lunch for ages and ages, while Ted would mutter scornful remarks to me about them. Ted had been friends with the last gardener and kept in touch with him in his next job.

Let’s just pop a word in here about JM’s niece and her partner, while I was in my old town and job and on my low waged supported employment, JM suddenly came up with a bright idea, she told me about her great-niece and partner who ran a gardening business at (West Sussex), she wanted them to take me on as an employee, and she got really involved and worked up about it, I knew nothing about them and was a bit worried – how could I travel that distance?

 JM said maybe I could find somewhere to live out there, but when she phoned her niece, her niece told her that they could only afford someone a day or two a week and not straight away as they were restructuring, JM was deflated, but eventually an arrangement was made for me to go there one day a week, they were offering a very decent wage though, so I would trek that huge distance on a the little 100cc bike, I can tell you from experience that the A272 is a very dangerous road, this journey was a huge one for me and the bike, and then a hard day’s work as well.

 It was good quality work though, big private gardens, lovely to maintain, and we worked for (a famous person), JM’s niece was a bit scared of him, but he was always nice to me.

Anyway, this day a week progressed to extra days here and there, and I passed my driving test in the meantime, which made this treacherous road slightly easier, but there were troubled undercurrents in this apparently happy home of the niece and partner, there were rows and the niece would come out to work with me crying, she was also trying to reopen a case against her ex-husband, and she had a teenage daughter at home as well as a stepdaughter who stayed over some weekends, I stayed in the stepdaughter’s room one time when I was doing a few days work for them, she had absolutely everything in that room, playstations, DVD player, fairylights, loads of high quality stuff, and it was only her room part time, I had none of this stuff ever.

 I was uncomfortable with being there in a strange house, JM’s parents were going on about this family once and they were saying that the niece’s stepdaughter had two holidays a year while her daughter had no holidays and that was her childhood going to waste, I said nothing, I certainly didn’t have two holidays a year in my childhood or even in my adulthood!

But this was how it was with JM’s family, they could not begin to imagine how things were for me and so they misunderstood and were sometimes very unkind, don’t misunderstand me there, talking about holidays was not unkind, it just shows the huge difference between my world and theirs.

  JM’s parents were staying at the niece’s house one time while the niece and partner were doing a stand at an Chelsea or an exhibition, the parents kept holding me up from the work by talking, and I was struggling with the work, I think that either anti-depressants or the exercise asthma were getting me down and it was heavy work and I feel guilty to think I was not getting enough done though I was trying, I remember JM’s mum saying something about poisoning FM by feeding him all the foods that were bad for him because he liked them and would eat them anyway, when I tried to repeat this back to the niece, who also hated FM, it came out wrong and sounded wrong though, as if I was accusing granny of murder, an autistic bloop.

 In the end the gardening business was restructuring into a hen house and garden toy? Furniture? Business and the distance was too much and they didn’t understand me or didn’t have much work for me, they did give me references that helped me though.

FM had one last little misbehaving incident, this was by now some time after I had told JM about him, and the rows about it had cleared though I was still uncomfortable about it and JM’s blame of me. St. Mary’s C. became twinned with St. Mary’s Sholing, to Sholing’s delight and most of C’s disinterest. People from the poorer parish of Sholing came to C. events enthusiastically, C. were less enthusiastic about going to Sholing, JM verbalised this, but JM would take me with her to Sholing events ‘as an extra C. representative’.
C. was a very very rich village, Sholing is a not very rich suburb of Southampton.

 One day JM asked FM to take me to Sholing, I think it was because she was coming straight from a meeting somewhere. On the way FM lost the way and stopped to ask some prostitutes for directions to the church, one of them came up to the car and bent down to speak to FM, revealing most of her chest, and was disappointed to find we were just a man and a girl looking for a church. Anyway, when we got there, FM wanted to sit in the car and talk, he seemed a bit flustered and he talked about how he had been feeling a bit excited and anxious about this journey and did I feel the same, I was not sure I comprehended, and I asked what he meant, he said ‘you know’, and I said to him that if he was too anxious or excited then I would find another way to get home so that he could drive safely, but he calmed down and behaved himself. Another time I went with JM, someone threw an egg on her windscreen while we were in the church, I tried to clean it off and at the same time JM put the windscreen wipers on and nearly maimed me.

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