Friday, 14 December 2012
Rik sent a beautiful bunch of roses and lilies in an enormous box. Catherine gave me a lovely long M&S jumper and scarf, and took me Christmas shopping in Buxton. She steered me through several purchases and supplied other ideas, but soon I found I just couldn't cope with all the choices and people and prices and shops; I screwed up with panting breath and hammering heart and had to leave off shopping, and then the train was cancelled... Being screwed up over shopping was just stupid. Later this evening it was her turn to get upset with much better reason over feeling so ill for so long: nothing seems to control the stomach discomfort and the acid reflux that spoils every meal. Five days in, the gluten-free diet hasn't had any result yet, but she has unexpectedly got an appointment for endoscopy on 22 January - a lot earlier than we expected, but it means she must go back to eating gluten until she is tested, which may mean increasing the damage.
One positive development is her application to spend a few weeks at Corrymeela, a place I found inspirational back in 1977. They replied to her enquiry with only 3 - 4 days' delay, and sounded both nice and interested in her; at least, they encouraged her to complete her application, which she has done with care and thoughtfulness as usual.
Saturday, 8 December 2012
Sunday, 18 November 2012
Dave ruined a ramble today by losing his temper at Di when her dog tripped him up in a bog. He swore and refused to walk with her; I rounded on him ; he totally failed to understand that whatever the rights and wrongs of the case, shouting at people ruins everything and toleration holds us together. Though if it had been a child knocked over in the bog, I'd have been angry too. When I told Catherine later, she just laughed and said he probably deserved to fall in the bog.
Tuesday, 23 October 2012
Saturday, 20 October 2012
But on the Shapira issue, it soon became clear that there is lots I - and JMA - didn't know about the man and his story, whereas Yoram is completely hooked on following up the leads, step by tiny step. Trouble is, they lead to more questions, not answers; eg where is he buried, and why don't we know - are his grandson Francois Perrault Harry, or his daughter Myriam Harry, hiding something?
Thursday, 11 October 2012
And now they say she's unlikely to get a placement until January. Despite this, she came back feeling a lot more positive, because now she can plan what else to do instead. The best idea seems to be to stop fretting over CSV until after Christmas and apply for a full-time short-term paid job, particularly with M&S, who are actually advertising for Christmas staff, and probably Debenham's, WHS or similar as well. Also, for the first time in 3 or 4 weeks she got through most of the day without feeling ill (we have now hit on food intolerance, as a possible cause of her chronic digestive problems, and need to check the idea out with a GP).
To update - she was offered the M&S job on the spot after a demanding interview - 29+ hours a week up to 5 January, which makes everything seem more positive.
Monday, 10 September 2012
Catherine spent Saturday evening serving 190 fish-and-chip meals at a wedding somewhere glamorous near Ludlow; then all Sunday doing burgers, hot dogs and mountains of chips at a family fun event + dog show in St Helens. "People kept buying sausages just to give their dogs. £2 a sausage - OK by us. One man, who was drunk, insisted he was 6' 5" tall and wanted to buy his height in hot dogs. He kept coming back trying to give us money but we wouldn't or couldn't serve him."
Thursday, 30 August 2012
For 12 hours she didn't know what to do. With my head in a tizz over things like CSV, Sheffield, deferment, etc., I had to go a walk before realising that yes of course she should go to Dublin either this year or next - it was the one place she really liked and to pass up the opportunity might be something she'd always regret. Dave felt the same.
But Catherine remained inexplicably, or stubbornly, non-communicative. She wouldn't phone TCD, wouldn't let me phone, wouldn't discuss, repeated only 'I haven't decided anything yet.' Only when we were driving to Rangers did it come out: 'I'm thinking to decline their offer.'
'I don't know that I want to do that course any more. French and Russian - it doesn't lead anywhere, does it?'
I said it most definitely did - excellent preparation for teaching/speech therapy/anything communicative, etc; whereas a vocational degree such as Speech Pathology would have narrowed her choices too much too early. 'Oh. You've confused me again. Thanks a lot.'
I went back for her at 9pm prepared for more battles. But fortunately Sue, the leader, had delivered a good dose of common sense, and said exactly what Dave and I had said with the big advantage of not being her parent. C had let herself be sorted out after all and has now written to request a deferment, but is prepared to go this year if they don't grant it.
Sunday, 19 August 2012
My reaction: (1) Oh no! When can I go and get her? To Skipton if necessary...
(2) Wash, food and drink to make you feel better, though sleep is what you mainly want...
(3) Surviving this means you can survive anything life throws at you.
Dave's reaction: 'Stop worrying. It won't do her any harm.' And a text to CA: 'Chin up. Mud doesn't harm you; it strengthens you.' She replied: 'Lol. Too true.'
Saturday, 4 August 2012
I said 'Then walk away. PNFS does not deserve you. Find something else to worry about.'
He said 'But I want to be membership secretary when Bill resigns next year. I'd be good at that.'
'No! Nobody will want you stirring things up again. You only want to get back at Rogerson.'
If only we could think of one stinging retort, he might leave it at that. Short of telling all the officers 'That's what comes of calling the chairman a liar,' which might cause a lawsuit, I haven't thought of anything suitable yet.
D spent all of next day as well chewing it over, with suggestions ranging from applying anonymously to be a volunteer at Taylor House, to slipping in there one evening and leaving a virus on the computer. I tell him that by letting Rogerson's wiliness get under his skin he is letting him win. Why can't he just write and tell him 'I have no wish to be associated with an organisation run on lines of deceit, vindictiveness and mismanagement. The key is available for collection by arrangement' and leave it at that?
Pride, that's why.
Saturday, 28 July 2012
Tuesday, 24 July 2012
Wednesday, 11 July 2012
Thursday 5 July, due to a cancellation. The op[ was quick and she was sent home at 2pm, feeling rather peculiar but with very little nausea. When the anaesthetic wore off the pains returned, in different parts of her belly and also down her leg, but so did her colour, appetite and argumentative attitude.
Then on Friday the IB results came out. She was nervy, but expectant. What nobody expected was that although she got 36 overall, an excellent mark, she only got 5 in each of her Highers. Disappointment floored her - that after two years' consistent hard work and high grades, and after beating her brains out since April to learn everything and after lasering all her learning and intellect into the exams themselves; not to speak of needing 6 in French for Sheffield and lord knows what else for Dublin, none of this effort or ability was reflected in the results. At least, that's how it felt - compared to most people's marks her 36 was a great result and it seemed peevish to be dismayed by it. She did feel better after talking to Geoff and Gillian on Monday - Gillian showed her the breakdown of marks, which showed she had only missed a 6 in both French and English by 3 or 4 marks; and Geoff said Sheffield were very likely to offer a place anyway, especially with the help of a letter from him pointing out her other achievements, and the standard of the IB compared to A-levels (36 would be translated as A* A* A A according to KWC). Whether they do or not, we are thinking about whether to apply for re-marks, in the hope of pushing up to a 6. It would be good to have her ability and hard work recognised, and maybe increase the chances of TCD after all, but sometimes C thinks it would be better to try and accept she got what she got and isn't as clever as she hoped she was; and I want to be sure I'm not pushing for a re-mark out of vanity or wounded pride.
This body-blow came on top of the tiredness and aches and pains and general unwellness that have dogged her for weeks and the effect was to completely knock her out - a wall of fatigue falling on her each day. I didn't think this very surprising, but C just felt rotten and being told her blood count was clear and everything was down to stress only made things worse.
Saturday, 30 June 2012
Our ladies choir concert at WB Uniting Church went really well for a change - helped along by a good turnout of friendly faces, and some compliments from Macclesfield MVC, and also because for all but one piece we felt confident enough to manage without copies. For me, I discovered that the top As and A flats were no trouble at all once I'd left off worrying about them. Also, when Dorian said at the interval, 'Judy, can I have a word?' I thought he was going to ask me not to attempt top soprano any more, but he said he was planning to compose a choral piece to celebrate the choir's 40th anniversary, and would I write the words?
Saturday, 16 June 2012
Wednesday, 6 June 2012
Friday, 1 June 2012
With unfortunate timing, the washing machine broke down and one of the guinea pigs keeled over dead this morning, but C intends to sleep rather than let either of those things worry her.
Sunday, 27 May 2012
I've had a wonderful but anxious day of sun and wind on Kinder - the amazing hot dry wind and stupendous views of blue and green and hazy moorland didn't entirely quell my worries about my knee and about trying to keep up with the leader Andrew, who kept up a relentless pace just a shade too fast for me. In the end he was far worse affected by the steep descent to Dalehead than I was, as he slipped and wrenched his left knee at the top, and pain and nausea brought him to a stop. Once he got down to Dalehead, Yvette bullied him into sitting down while I fetched my car to take him to his own, John bullied him into swallowing ibuprofen, and the others commiserated briskly over the random slip that had felled the leader at the end of a bold and brilliant walk. He had even arranged a touch of luxury for us at the hottest, most wearisome stage in the 20 miles - a box of ice and chilled drinks hidden behind a wall in Edale.
Friday, 18 May 2012
Thursday, 10 May 2012
Feeling ill hasn't helped - pains in back and belly, some headaches and nausea - but I think they are all stress related and try not to worry too hard as the symptoms seem fairly non-specific and don't stop her eating and sleeping reasonably well. As well as the monumental effort to study, she is managing an equally demanding effort to look up and out from time to time at the world outside, her forthcoming holiday, and the prospect of a job in a catering company for the summer (though this scares her).
The house seems unwontedly calm, as Dave is at Buttermere with the lads. He took the car, so we have rented one to help with getting to and from exams. It's a Toyota Aygo, small, cheerful and very blue, and suits us very well. We went for a spin up the bypass, but after topping 58mph on the downhill bit decided that was enough excitement and came home.
Saturday, 28 April 2012
I had prepared various pleas/retorts in case of provocation, but they were superseded by what happened. David Bratt started his report by stating the outcome of the dispute with Dave: that they had reached an accord under which DCB would agree not stand for re-election provided certain conditions were met: chiefly, that the trustees withdrew their accusation that he was not a fit and proper person; and that they admitted he was completely exonerated by the independent inquiry. In return Dave had apologised for upsetting them. It was hoped that a 'line could be drawn' and everyone could now 'move on'.
'Just say thank you', I hissed at Dave. Dave got up, and said thank you for that, and also thank you for the hard work you have done over the years as President. 'But', he added, 'there is one aspect of your statement that I cannot agree to. I cannot accept the matter is closed until the trustees have been held accountable for the waste of charitable money they have spent in pursuing this campaign of personal vindictiveness against me.'
Rogerson opened his mouth - but closed it again and moved on. When they got to the Treasurer's Report, Dave said 'You've got to challenge them on the cost of the inquiry. You do it.' So I did, because after all I won't be remaining a member after today. I asked the treasurer to clarify how much of the 'legal and professional expenses' had been thrown away on pursuing the criminal allegations against the secretary. It came to just under £1,000 and Rogerson maintained it was worth every penny to get the society's procedures in order. 'That's as maybe, but it wasn't why you initiated the allegations in your personal vendetta against Dave, was it?' He sidestepped, insisting the 'allegations' were no such thing and refusing to go back yet again to defend what they had done. Everybody wanted to move on; I bowed out of the exchange and Rogerson was left feeling in control, as ever. When it came to voting him back into office, we were the only two dissenters. All that was inevitable, and in truth I do want Dave to move on and sever links as he only makes himself appear peevish and bad-tempered (as I told him later). But to satisfy his honour we could have done no less, and we had made the (unanswered) point that the trustees' behaviour in pursuing Dave had been disgraceful. Yet Rogerson always comes out on top - whatever the morality of the situation he twists or overpowers or somehow asserts his power. Dave was still muttering tonight about 'I should never have agreed to resign', etc, and had to be told quite forcibly that he had made his point but would have got nowhere by fighting, that nobody wanted to know and nobody would have supported him, and that there was no option but to let it go for now, leave Rogerson to swagger, and wait for him to hand over to someone else. He is still threatening to bring about a computer failure at Taylor House that will lead to Rogerson's discomfiture. I tell him it won't; that Rogerson will bring in outside experts at whatever cost, and take the credit for putting things right again.
Well I for one will not be going to another PNFS meeting. If only we could find a scheme or job that would give Dave a purpose in life again, then he might be more willing to relinquish the battle with Rogerson, which is really not worthy of so much distress.
Tuesday, 17 April 2012
The first thing I realised was that everyone else felt nervous too. For one afternoon we were on stage in a different school play, wearing wrinkles and grey hair. But then the talking took over and we became a group of wise, interesting and interested women, each riding on the family and career she had built but turning briefly aside to rekindle other friendships. Faces and in some respects personalities were the same-but-different: kind capable Marjorie and sensible Marilyn, who had organised the event; dreamy artistic Hilary with the flair for cake decoration, who wafted back as a fashion designer under the same cloud of fair curls; short forthright Mary, who had spent the last 40+ years having five children and raising poultry and sheep on a farm near Flagg. Little Jane Gregory and tall Jane Clemson had quietly gone on being best friends at whatever distance, and worked their way through teaching careers with steady success.
Sylvia had never seemed particularly happy at school and tended to resent the accident of money that gave our family more advantages than hers, until she discovered the violin at 15, fixed on a future in music and became a professional cellist and strings teacher. I couldn't work out whether the challenge in her gaze was reflecting that resentment or my concern over it.
Georgina I have seen and corresponded with on various occasions and we could take up where the last emails left off, on our children and her 102-year-old mother of course.
Susan Morley had defied the teachers by training as a nursery nurse instead of aiming for university, and reported with satisfaction that she was now outranked them as an early-years Ofsted inspector.
Helen, who always seemed big and determined and made me feel small, had married a farmer and spent 35 years on the dairy at Chelmorton.
Susan Evans had worked steadily and sensibly through secretarial and administrative positions since leaving school at 18, and had been school bursar at St Anne's since her children started there 30 years ago.
Several had become teachers, with great success; some were civil servants, one a librarian, few if any were scientists, apart from Georgina - less surprising given the atrocious science teaching at the school (except for Mr Richardson in Biology, whom everyone liked).
The person who had done most and travelled farthest was Linda Phillips, now a charity organiser in South Africa running orphanages and AIDS clinics in a life so vivid with colour, warmth, needs, demands, rewards and frustrations that coming back to Buxton must have been like re-entering a frigid cage. But her best friend Belinda, along with five others from our class, had died years ago - a thought that cast a chill, as the rest of us neither looked nor felt our age.
Georgina and I had left after O-levels and to some extent missed out on the special bonds that linked survivors of Cavendish sixth form. It was disconcerting to find that people remembered me first for being a year younger than most of them - as if that should make a difference at 59/60 - and less surprising that they remembered my father's name. Maybe I came over as the shy anxious second-former I always felt I was, a late-comer and late developer - but I hope not, as for me it was a day of realising the warmth and supportiveness of women and the value of keeping up friendships over the years and miles.
Tuesday, 10 April 2012
Sunday, 8 April 2012
Sunday, 1 April 2012
Something remarkable: CA, who spent the last 6 years trying to be invisible, has finally booked a holiday in Majorca for four girls (Rozzy, C, Natasha and Erika) and appears to be organising them as well as it with extreme efficiency and decisiveness.
Also remarkable: C went to Marjorie's party on 24 March, had fun, posted photos of herself and the girls having fun onto Facebook, got home on the last bus at 12.02 am without being intimidated by the drunks, wasn't pleased to be picked up by me in car, and was up again by 7am to walk the dog despite BST losing her an hour's sleep. Tonight she's at Erika's party, having made her a beautiful cake iced with a picture of a sailing boat - though she has requested a lift home at midnight.
Rik is in line for promotion already. He has been asked to help with interviewing job applicants, and is to become a team leader i/c security operations, with a view to further advancement to a senior post by next year. I said 'Talk about meteoric. If it weren't you, it would be unbelievable.'
Saturday, 17 March 2012
The test was at 12.58pm. From 1.40 I was rigid in the kitchen, ready to pounce on either phone. Nothing happened; certainty of bad news trickled into my gut. At 1.55 I heard her come in. One look.
"Oh, darling, what went wrong?"
In the last minute of the test, coming up to the last roundabout, she had seen a car approach from a junction on the right, but because a van blocked its access to the roundabout Catherine judged it was safe to go on. She has been criticized so often for hanging back, 'dithering', in such situations. The examiner disagreed and slammed on the brakes - automatic failure.
It did seem bad luck, as she had done what any experienced driver would have done in that situation "in real life" as Rik put it - taken advantage of the gap. The blow seemed worse because she had driven an excellent test up till that point, earning only 3 minors and unwonted praise from the examiner, who said she'd been the best of the day's candidates up till then. She was of course upset and angry with herself, and it seems the more frustrating because several friends have passed first time and the college seems full of lads roaring around in uninsured old bangers while high on drugs and testosterone, who must also have somehow passed their test first go. Now we will have to go through the whole nerve-screwing process again, sickened by worse dread of another failure, not to mention the burden of looming IB exams.
It could be that in the long run one gains strength from such setbacks. She went straight upstairs to book a second test. She says herself, "I hate to fail at anything. I want Dave to give me lots of lessons in our car. I don't know what I will do if I fail again. But I am not going to let it make me fall to pieces."
Rogerson replied that he wasn't a vindictive person.
We didn't think that worth responding to, either.
Friday, 9 March 2012
He was home by 1.30pm.
'So what happened?'
'Nothing much.' Rogerson, smooth, suave and Teflon-coated, explained that as Dave would be leaving soon, there was no point in his resuming secretarial duties. Realising that arguing would get him nowhere, Dave did not persist. Rogerson and the chairmanship, ditto. It turned out that the officers had no appetite for running the Society and no wish for more frequent meetings. And absolutely no interest in seeing the dispute between DCB and CR resume.
'I told them that in my opinion the trustees had broken the terms of the accord, therefore I felt in no way bound by them, but for the sake of the Society I was resigning office anyway.' At which point David Bratt came and shook his hand.
'But it leaves me still annoyed. Because after all the effort Rik and I put into making their computer system work, they're letting it go to ruin. Rogerson has told people they don't need a complicated back-up system as long as they put their work on memory sticks. He told me he'd got a friend who was a computer engineer to look at it for free. I missed the chance to say "you get the advice you pay for." They simply don't realise that if the hard drive breaks down, they lose everything. Do I cause a fault and see what they do about it, or do I walk away and let them destroy my system?'
I said you walk away and let them stew. I also reminded him that having had to perform a massive climbdown over exonerating you, CR was likely to cling to whatever status he thought he had and to yield nothing more.
'Then he's won - he's succeeded in booting me out.'
'He hasn't won - he had to admit you were innocent and a fit and proper person after all. The officers know that, and next you can tell the members who come to the AGM.'
'They won't be interested.'
'The ones who matter will be. And the ones who came to the EGM and are aware of the dispute - they need to know the outcome. You can tell them you were completely exonerated but that you are resigning because the chairman has made it impossible for you to work with him.'
Dave grunted, but a bit less despondently this time.
Friday, 2 March 2012
Sunday, 26 February 2012
There were a few unplanned stretches, such as bounding over bogs and tussocks where I mistook a sheep-track for the footpath and, memorably, happening upon Red Brook and scrambling up it instead of keeping to the path. The river with its boulders and deep orangey-brown pools was more fun.
Di Denvers said Sheffield had been wonderful for her daughters, both of whom went there and loved it - friendly, go-ahead, excellent teaching, excellent employment prospects. Andy said the same, as he'd studied electronics there himself. I passed this on to Catherine, but she was feeling and looking blitzed after a day of maths and English. She said 'I just don't get some of the maths questions. I spent hours working out what I should be doing.' 'Do you need to ask the teacher then?' 'Oh no, I worked it out for myself, but it took so long, and now I have English to do as well.' Poor girl; she has another three months of this constant mental battering. There seems no way out but through, and the best to hope for seems occasional days or half days off for the sake of sanity. As she says, it's the same for everybody, but with Mocks next month and coursework piling on as well as revision, it must feel like facing the Berlin Wall.
Friday, 24 February 2012
Wednesday, 22 February 2012
It's Catherine's turn to come under the spotlight, and for a change she is coping well with the attention. Her progress report and parents evening reports all praised her to the skies for her intelligence, diligence, contribution to class, "the ideal IB student", "a pleasure to teach", etc, and instead of squirming and hotly denying the compliments she accepted them with quiet satisfaction and asked if I was proud of her. Not that she needed to ask. So far she is coping sensibly with the pressure of impending exams too, working steadily and knowing she'll do her best and can't do more.
Sunday, 12 February 2012
On Tuesday evening David Bratt telephoned. This was the first time he had spoken to Dave since October. He told him that the dispute was tearing the Society apart, and for the sake of the Society he wanted to avert the 'brutal' and bloody' showdown on Friday. He proffered a solution: that he would resign as trustee and president if Dave would also resign as officer.
Dave replied that he didn't want to see the Society torn to pieces either, but his first concern was to repair his honour and reputation; he was prepared to resign but first he wanted a public apology, exoneration from all charges and all suspicion, and his legal fees refunded. And David Bratt agreed. Dave also apologised in full for being rude to Bratt. He said that if he got those concessions, he saw no reason why Bratt should resign either post; in his opinion the wrong trustee was resigning.
Bratt, however, insists he is determined to go. We think the rift with Rogerson may run deeper than we know; he certainly hinted at that. Or maybe the letters from at least two other officers, saying they wanted no part in such a blatantly unfair 'trial' that would only bring shame on the Society, made the trustees realise their madness. All sides are bruised by the affair. But Dave now has a statement from the trustees, as follows:
Saturday, 4 February 2012
The trustees can do just as they want, since they have all the power. Dave alternates between bombast and despair. But the time for roars of righteous rhetoric are past. There is no doubting what the outcome will be. But he has this one chance to make it clear how irrationally and vindictively they have acted, and how expensive, destructive and unnecessary this whole episode has been.
Wednesday, 1 February 2012
Dave tells me not to get so bothered; he's beyond caring and they aren't worth it. He knows he can't win - only one and possibly two other officers will stand up for him if they are told the alternative is to lose all the trustees. But the blatant unfairness, the ruthless bullying, stupefies me.
He wonders whether to bother attending, or just to resign now. Catherine says he should walk away; the sooner he goes, the sooner we'll all get over it. For now, he thinks he may as well attend; he has nothing to lose and it will be one last chance to confront Rogerson with some home truths.
Tuesday, 31 January 2012
Instead I think he must keep asking the questions - insist it is impossible to move on until all sides understand the real reasons behind the suspension and inquiry; insist to Rhoda that CR's explanations are less than half the answer; insist she explains what really made all five of them abandon common sense, decency and rationality. Otherwise the whole debacle could happen again.
The central questions are:
- Why did they have those suspicions?
- Why didn’t they try to discuss them with you?
Friday, 27 January 2012
At 12.15pm I was waiting for Catherine at college when a blitz of hail and snow struck. We waited a few minutes for the worst to pass before she drove off. But the worst hadn't passed, and the road quickly became slushy and slippery. She kept driving, and managed very well, and snow had eased to rain before we got to the long long traffic jam caused by interminable resurfacing works with interminable temporary traffic lights at Bridgemont.
However, another snowstorm struck later, and the casualty was Mrs Harling. Dave rang while I was out walking to say she'd had a car accident and was unhurt but in a tizz. She had skidded on Silk Hill and embedded her car in brambles. I got to her house before 5pm to find her trying to cope with pupils but confused and shaken. Over the next two hours she gradually calmed down, phoned her insurers and daughter, and let the insurers arrange for the AA to collect her car and take it to the repairers at Dove Holes. She got scared and shaky again trying not to think of how she'd manage if it was written off, and, worse, what would have happened if she hadn't steered it onto the bank. She kept saying bravely, 'I'm perfectly all right, I'm really very lucky'. I said drink you rtea, make some toast and keep warm, but it wasn't much to offer after such a shake-up.
Thursday, 26 January 2012
- Trustees have and must accept ultimate responsibility for directing the affairs of a charity
- Avoid undertaking activities that might place the charity's endowment, funds, assets or reputation at undue risk.
- Consider getting external professional advice on all matters where there may be material risk to the charity, or where the trustees may be in breach of their duties.
Wednesday, 25 January 2012
So he will have to rely on briefing David Morton, Bill Bailey and anyone else willing to support him. But how willing can we expect them to be, given the dominance of the president and chairman, and the fact that the officers are heartily sick of the whole affair?
Back in November, friends said walk away; they're not worth the bother of fighting; nobody gains. Three months later, Dave is still fighting; he has the moral high ground but the trustees have all the power. Dave says he would willingly resign, but not before publicly clearing his name. I know he is right.
Tuesday, 24 January 2012
There was reams of it. Pages of vitriol, spelling out to everyone why he did not consider Dave 'exonerated' at all, how he flouted the Volunteers Handbook and the trustees' authority, how having fallen out with two senior officers of the Society he deserved to be asked to leave, how business had proceeded much more harmoniously at Taylor House without him, etc. Dave spent the next 3 hours refuting each paragraph, pointing out the lies and distortions, and informing CR that he was a bully who could not cope with anyone disagreeing with his point of view, in what was for him remarkably restrained language. By 7.30am there was yet more e-sewage from CR, and Dave decided he had to go to Taylor House and face him in person - CR had after all invited officers to bring him their questions at the office today.
In the end, nothing happened. The trustees took themselves into a locked room and wouldn't come out; the officers and volunteers who wanted answers were frustrated; one of CR's minions asked Dave to leave as he was suspended and was told no, he wouldn't, and he wasn't formally suspended; several officers said they backed Dave but didn't see what they could do about it.
But two of them posted emails that at last shone a beam of common sense onto the issue. Brian Hamilton said that as Dave had been cleared of financial wrongdoing but CR still hadn't apparently exonerated him, nothing added up so there was obviously some other motive behind the suspension; that the officers and volunteers were sick of the matter; that Clarke was deluding himself about the harmony in the office; that the whole matter should have gone to mediation months ago, avoiding all the expense, time-wasting and bitterness; and that neither party was behaving like civilised, adult officers of a charitable society. And Bill Bailey said more succinctly: "Cool it, guys!"
Dave isn't going to get his officers meeting brought forward from 10 February (the date set by CR). I would like to think that this further delay would give CR time to reflect on Brian Hamilton's points, but I think it more likely that it will give him time to bolster his own unwillingness to accept the examiner's conclusions and entrench his animosity towards Dave.
When Jackie asked what was bothering me at choir, I outlined what had happened and she said 'I have heard that so often about people involved in charity work. The dispute is usually financial, involves one or more dominant personalities, and is based on suspicions not facts. It poisons everything for everybody if it gets out of hand.'
Sunday, 22 January 2012
Strong stuff. Dave warned him to take care, as he will have burnt his boats with the Society once CR gets to read it. Also, we're not so sure the fuss started with CR - Bratt is equally involved. But as well as provoking anger on Dave's behalf, the affair has galvanised the officers into realising they can't let the trustees bully them any more and must come up with a form of governance that restores rationality and good will among the officers and curbs the power of the trustees. 'The trustees are at best a useful backstop or safeguard, a second chamber.'
DM will sound out the other officers at Taylor House tomorrow, and DCB will try to get a meeting held next Monday, whatever CR's response to the suggestion. However, his resolve sputters and falters: 'I don't know if I do want to go back. I'm tempted to leave them to flounder.' I get cross at him for continuing to moan even when he is getting support. 'I acknowledge it would be hard to work with Bratt or Rogerson again. But just see what comes of the officers meetings. You don't have to decide until the AGM.' As usual he fixes on the worst-case scenario. 'They won't apologise. They'll find some ruse to keep me suspended.'
Saturday, 21 January 2012
More seriously, CR informed Dave that they would be meeting Ms Hudson to consider his request to clarify the report on 1 February, but did not intend to hold an officers meeting until Terry Norris returned from holiday on 10 February. Dave replied that the delay was unacceptable and unnecessary, and proposed an officers meeting for 30 January. He'll go ahead with one anyway, with or without CR and Bratt, as he feels he has them on the back foot now and needs to get the officers talking, both about his position and about the trustees' proposals to re-jig the constitution.
Thursday, 19 January 2012
But it seems to have left him more bitter and downcast than ever.
I summarised the 30 pages into 3. This is my summarised summary:
- DCB’s expenses claims from 1 January 2010 to 28 October 2011
- items of expenditure authorised by DCB from 1 January 2011 to 3 October 2011
- whether any matters relating to these expenses and items of expenditure should be reported to the Charity Commission or other agency.
In our view (DCB and JAB):
Dave is writing to all the officers initially, and probably to the inspectors and other volunteers, in these terms. He wants to do it asap to forestall any attempt by the trustees to send them a twisted version, but he has also asked Ms Hudson to revise certain parts of her report as it didn't state these points nearly as clearly as it could have done, so he may manage to hold himself back for a day or two. What gripes him at the moment is 'I don't know how to get back at Bratt. I don't know what could hurt him unless members and affiliated bodies resigned from the Society over the money and time he has wasted by attacking and humiliating me. I don't suppose they will.'
Perhaps we will move on eventually from pure vengeance, but if you call it, instead, the conviction that justice is worth doing, that wrongdoers must be held to account, then Dave's fight is worth fighting. Bratt and Rogerson are, after all, president and chairman, as well as trustees and officers, of a worthy charitable society.
There must be some motion of censure, at least. They have destroyed the capability and esteem of an experienced, dedicated and efficient officer, and the cost is to the Society as well as to the officer. They will have spent hundreds of pounds of charitable money on an investigation and legal fees which were wholly unnecessary. All the examiner's findings were there to see, if the trustees had thought to look - they keep the accounts, they have worked with Dave for years, they ought to have been aware that there were no formal rules or procedures for anyone to breach. All they had to do was talk to him. They have proved through this episode of maladministration that they are unfit to manage this Society.
And now these same trustees are proposing to give themselves more not less power to tell the officers what to do. An oligarchy of five, no independent chairman, which in effect becomes a dictatorship of two, since the other three are there for a quiet life. Fewer officers meetings, far less responsibility allowed to the officers. The Society's constitution needs a fundamental overhaul, but in terms of formalising financial procedures and defining roles, rather than re-jigging the trustees' job description.
Can these issues wait until the AGM in May? I think Dave needs to get the other officers in the frame as soon as possible. Today he is now saying 'I want to be reinstated. I don't believe they had the power to suspend me in any case. If I am to resign I want to do it on my terms.' Which is more positive than railing about being powerless to get back at Bratt.
He wants me to go on Bratt's walk with him on Wednesday. I said I wasn't sure he should go himself, as a confrontation with the leader wouldn't do him any good in the eyes of the members. He says he's not going there to pick an argument with Bratt, but I suppose I'd better go to make sure he doesn't. (Or to fight for him if he does.)
Sunday, 15 January 2012
The independent examiner's report on the PNFS fiasco isn't now expected until 25 January. I have been looking out for it it since Christmas and Dave now tells me not to be so impatient and bad-tempered over it; he sighs 'it won't make any difference, whatever it says'. But he is the one who has been seething for weeks, and fretting 'what shall I do if they say this? what shall I do if they say that?' until all I can say is 'I don't know!' and scurry away - so the whole business is making both of us feel frayed and sound ratty.
The hens are foolishly moulting, and consequently cold and grumpy. At night all three cram into the one nesting box, so at least the one on the bottom must be toasty warm. Their water dispenser froze overnight, and they appreciated having it refilled it with hot water this morning - a pot of tea and bowl of porridge would probably have gone down a treat as well.
Friday, 13 January 2012
Dave rang the ISP about it. He went through about 6 levels of automated response, until he finally got a voice that said, 'All our offices are closed until 9am. However, if your query concerns failure to access the internet, why not try our help section at www. ...' Two minutes later the internet came back on, starting with BBC weather, so everyone cheered up again.
Tuesday, 10 January 2012
The doctor had put her in her place.
GP: I'll just listen to your chest.
SH: There's nothing wrong with my chest.
GP: Do you want a job here?
GP: Have you been watching Downton Abbey?
GP: And Tea with Mussolini?
SH: I've seen it.
GP: You're in both of them.
GP: The Maggie Smith character. Dowager Duchess type.
He also informed her she had tracheitis and acute sinusitis, so what she was doing taking hour-long adult lessons next day I don't know, except she adamantly insisted on doing so. Bored with being ill, I suppose.
I'm content again for a day or two, Sarah having sent me another international economics article to edit into more fluent English - except that nothing could turn the mathematical formulae in it into fluent anything. Also Vicky Keen sent back the Review article on Taxal School, saying she liked it but adding some amendments to be worked in. So I swung off down Whaley later, greeting everyone with a big smile or cheerful 'Sorry!', depending if I was in their way or not, and thinking how friendly the place was, instead of grey/mean/hard and noisy as it seems when I'm feeling down.
Monday, 9 January 2012
Even the cat would agree with the first sentence, and she's hard to please.
Meanwhile, today is another waiting day. Dave is waiting for the independent examiner to report on his dispute with Peak and Northern Footpaths Society, as he has been since the row blew up in October - a senseless and totally needless waste of time and charitable resources, which should have been sorted out before it started by four simple words, Talking To Each Other, but which has left him, as the wrongfully accused party, feeling humiliated, angry and underemployed.
I am underemployed too, and waiting/hoping for work. Plain Language Commission work has dwindled as our public-sector customers are suddenly penniless - another collateral of the economic crisis. Academic editing only happens sporadically. Ostensibly there are hundreds of freelance writing jobs on sites like Freelancer.com, vWorker or Gumtree, but most of them turn out to be article spinning for internet marketing purposes, which is foreign to me (being middle-aged) in every way. And I am naively surprised at the number of people wanting to buy ready-made theses and dissertations. I do keep applying for anything that looks more interesting/ethical, and I sign up to job-search sites, but I find it difficult as self-marketing doesn't come naturally to me, and nothing has come of it so far. I've had it too easy for too long with Plain Language Commission, as demand had come in steadily over the past 12 years without me having to do anything but deal with it.
However, there are thousands of people in much more critical states of unemployment.