HG work placement 2, aged 19, summer 2000

  • I returned to college in the late summer of 2000, I lived onsite as I tried to arrange another work placement in agriculture, in the meantime I worked for a local agency, working in the local watercress farm or meat factory, which was not primary agriculture and thus not really counted as a work placement for my course.
  • I had taken such a battering to my self esteem in Wales that I was very low and confused, especially about myself and why people found me difficult. I worked steadily from self-help books and JM started working with me and also getting me to come to her home and church again, while I had been in Wales she had tried to find a counsellor for me there, she said she had contacted the local Archdeacon where I was but out in the countryside there, there was pretty much no help.
  • Anyways, at the time there were two people with the initials JM helping me, one was The JM, the vicar, and the other was a man, who worked for the college and claimed to have authority, he was the first 'crank' of a few 'cranks' who got involved in my life along the way, the most notable being the churchwarden in Jersey, men looking for a vulnerable follower who can be manipulated and be their audience.

  • But I didn't know this and no-one was there to tell me, I was naive.
  • So, I had two mentors, one a female Vicar, who, while counselling me, was taking me home and integrating me into her family and taking me with her to church events and activities, now also encouraging me to help in church, and the other mentor, a man who claimed he was a gamekeeper, trained psychotherapist, Muslim, shamanic trained, college warden, and many other things, when in reality, he was the college safety man, he told me many untrue and misleading things and I believed him, he told me getting angry was ok, and I believed him, his 'lessons' to me were aimless, and other people were concerned about him 'teaching' me.
  • the Vicar came up with a work placement for me, and it was doomed from the start, and was a clear miniature picture of the Church of England, especially in what they are doing to me now.

  • The work placement was with a local arable farm, right, for a start that was no good, you can't put a novice on farm machinery on an arable farm, it takes a lot of training, and this farm was a one-man farm, hundreds of acres of land but one old tractor driver doing the majority of the work, one old tractor driver who did not have time to teach a young woman with learning difficulties work she had no interest in and would never do in real life, ie, I was only interested in stock farming and very few females want to be, or end up being, arable tractore drivers, because it is boys and their toys, not that I am sexist.
  • Anyway, the other thing, especially as JM set the placement up, as my counsellor and Vicar, was safeguarding, JM has spent years claiming I am a nympho who tries it on with men and defames them when I don't get what I want, but she wanted to leave me alone with a male tractor driver in the middle of nowhere all day every day, I shudder to think how much risk I was actually at! 
  • Anyway, back to the mini-picture of the CofE. Safeguarding was disregarded, I was also disregarded, this placement was arranged and detailed behind my back and between JM, my tutors, and the owner of the arable farm who happened not only to be a 'Member of good standing' in one of JM's church (think Bruce Willing! Think Bruce Willing! ok?) Yes, Oligarchy with an opinion and land and wealth and a place in the local church as a result of that and not his Christianity.
  • So anyway, in a minature echo of Jersey and the Diocese, and my first taste of how the CofE treat the poor as second class citizens and decide for them and take their voice, an unsuitable placement was set up, while JM decided every time I tried to tell her my concerns, that I was ranting and 'needed to let off steam'.

  • My biggest concern was that I would be remaining in college accommodation, just a basic room, no cooking facilities, and was supposed to get meals at the canteen before and after work, but had to leave for work before the canteen opened and thus no breakfast and return after it closed, thus no supper. It remained that no matter how I spoke to her and the college staff, this was never resolved, so I was in an unsuitable placement, under-equipped and unwanted by the tractor driver, and with no voice in any arrangements.
  • As you can imagine, this wasn't going to work, the wealthy landowner did it as a favour for JM, who he often invited round for sherry by the fire. The tractor driver didn't want a student and in general the farm didn't get on with the college, so the arrangement was a teeny bit like Jersey and Winchester, and I was the only student the farm had taken for years due to fall-outs with the college.
  • The tractor driver warned me at the start that his wife was 'mouthy and jealous' because she was indoors all the time, and what a stupid position we were all put in, a jealous wife, a female student and a male tractor driver, the wife objected to me early on, despite her husband behaving impeccably with me at all times. And I also behaved impeccably, because I didn't even think of such things, and was too naive to realise the risk. Thankfully, nothing bad happened except a jealous wife pushing the tractor driver and farm owner to get rid of me, and being very unpleasent to me.
  • It is a pity JM never includes this side of things in her maligning of me.
  • Anyway, so, struggling to get food, struggling to get to and from the placement and not really welcome, there as a favour, with no voice and no rights, could it get worse? Yes.
  • The farm had miles of conservation hedges, which they planted because they got paid by the government to, and I think the reason the farm owner took me on was because of these, basically I barely got to do any farm work but instead was left hand weeding literally miles of hedges alone in the hot sun day after day after day, the hedges couldn't be strimmed as that could damage the young trees, so day in, day out, I weeded these things, got blisters, got stung and scratched, my self esteem plummetting all the time. I was paid £50 a week for this soulless work, the millionaire friend of JM really did well out of this, especially as he also got repaid by the government for maintaining the trees properly, ie, I maintained them for £50 a week, not the high wage he would have had to pay a real worker, and he got thousands in subsidies.

  • I was left to weed a hedge on a steep bank one day, by the road, the bank was wet and I slid, scythe in hand, and thankfully without harm from the scythe, I fell onto the road and bust the already damaged tendons in my ankle, which was the end of a stable ankle for life. I was lucky no traffic had been coming as that is a fast road. I hobbled back to the farmhouse and before I could explain anything, thetractor driver's wife was shouting at me, asking why I had come back and why I wouldn't speak and why I was how I was. I was in tears and didn't even try to tell her I had fallen.
  • I did not do well on my ankle after that, which hindered the miserable placement all the more, and no-one would listen to me, discuss the problems with me or resolve things - a snapshot of the Church of England in all it's glory, this is how they treat me to this day, as JM and her oligarchy farmer did back then.
  • One day as I biked to work, the only way to get there as no bus ran that way in time and it was too far and dangerous to walk the main road to get there, I came off my bike and the bike was smashed up.
  • Now the only way to get to work was  for the tractor driver to come and collect me, this was getting silly and he did not want this and once the hedges were done, I was of no use to them.
  • I was put in grain trailers without adequate protection, to bag up grain for the game birds, all I was given was an old dirty and worn dust mask that someone else had used, with frayed elastic that did not keep it over my nose and mouth, hence I am asthmatic now! The dust in my eyes and nose and moth and hair was awful.

  • In the end, I often was told to come by bus later, I was not given much to do, the tractor driver was busy, and he complained, not to me  but to Juliet through the farm owner, that I didn't respond or take any notice when I was spoken to in the field, in my case, I couldn't hear him, later diagnosed as receptive dysphasia, but not once did anyone try to find my side of the struggles, I was indeed a Church of England silenced one by the age of 19.
  • And with JM's side of things coming from the placement and being spread round church, while she was not listening to me, the scene was set by my counsellor/vicar/friend, for the rest of my life.
  • In the end I was farmed off to the two male gamekeepers, who also behaved impeccably, neither had wives but neither had work for me, I miserably helped with beating, driving game birds to be shot by JM's farmer friend and his millionare associates, mainly from London, and I wondered in bewilderment why this man did the lesson in church while having innocent animals driven to slaughter in a way that terrified them, for his fun and pleasure - but back then I was not aware of how two faced the the CofE was, this placement and JM were the foundation of this terrible learning curve.
  • In the end, again avoiding including me, JM and the college and farm decided to terminate the placement, which was a relief, but left me again without a placement for my course.
  • But you never get forgiven and allowed to move on by a member of the CofE, so of course, JM and her farmer friend always remembered it over sherry and shared it with church members.

  • I continued my self-help work as JM's counselling was not achieving much, especially not on days when her husband was shouting, she always saw me at her home by now and usually I had tea with them. 
  • My self esteem had never been much but now I was very very unconfident, I felt helpless because I knew I wasn't deliberately doing wrong, I was not sciving, swearing, being awkward, or doing anything I shouldn't, but I didn't fit in. Lack of diagnosis was so harmful.
  • So here starteth the bad name by the CofE and local landed oligarchy in Hampshire, which spread, with not a single one of these people, not even JM understanding what was wrong, not a single one caring, just seeing me as troublesome, and none of them, not even JM, who went to private school, understanding I was as I was because of my background and lack of medical intervention and diagnosis and professional support. Branded, just as I still am, only now, after 13 years, it is a lot more serious but it does go back to these roots, to JM's interventions and her husband and friends and what happened starting in 2000.

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