Celtic Illumination, part 370, You say goodbye and I say hello.
It began to occur to me that I might be leaving Natural Breaks, which was a shame in a way as it was a really good company to work for. Once you had proved yourself, you could work as many hours a week as you wanted. To get paid for accompanying someone to the cinema still tickled me. Of course there were the dark hours, the violence and stress, but no one got that badly hurt and we can look back on those times now and have a laugh about them. I can assure you that you would not be laughing or smiling when you walked in to a room where you knew that for the next twelve hours you would be locked with an unpredictable character who would be in such despair, that he could only express himself through violence.
I only worked with a couple of other people, one, a black fellow who was a really nice chap, but had to shake hands with you every five seconds. He was following a catering course at a small college in the centre of Liverpool and the teacher made me put on whites so that I would fit in. I could see that the fellow was getting some racial abuse and that his attempts to shake hands with everyone didn’t go down too well. When I raised the point that he might fare better in a different institution I was told that he not only had the right to go there but he wanted to go there. I’m sure if he had been shown a nicer place, friendlier, less abusive, he may well have changed his mind. But who was I and what did I know. This equality of rights bullshit was a double edged thingy, far too many people were using it as an excuse for shoddy workmanship. I was getting really frustrated at not being able to do anything positive so finally and thankfully the letter came through and I learned that I had been accepted as a team leader with NWCS.
Some of the guys at Natural Breaks were furious, one team leader at Natural Breaks complained that he had been support staff for two years before he could even consider applying for team leader while I had the audacity to apply for the position after six months. He was a bit of an idiot, Jan, the boss of Natural Breaks, would take each team out for a day socialising, now and again. Everything was paid for and it was basically a pub crawl. We were in Blackpool and drinking quite heavily when this fellow decides to tell everyone his thoughts on homosexuality and how it was against the word of the Lord. No one joined in or even began to discuss the subject with him as Jan’s son was gay and none of us wanted to get involved.
He did try to apologise when he learned about Jan’s son but of course the damage had been done. We even learned that he would take the violent fellow along to his church meetings hoping for a miracle from the Lord. I suppose having a few idiots around makes the world a more interesting place. But they were a good social crowd at Natural Breaks; luckily there was a novelty type of pub close by. I think it was called the Liverpool Steam Beer Company. They had four large copper vats in the window and their claim to fame was that the beer they sold was brewed on the premises. It was a real ale sort of pub, bare wooden floors, and available beers written on a blackboard, I’m sure there would have been a bucket of sawdust behind the bar too. A group of us gathered there for my farewell session.
Jan was away for a few days so didn’t attend but her deputy was there. Stan and myself knew each other quite well, so I settled down beside him and explained that there was an old system we used in the armed forces that I would like to employ now. If you were posted to another unit, you had to go around each section on camp and sign out of that section. You had a card which each section had to sign proving that you had been there and were clear. Many of us would pass the card around the crew room and have our friends sign it but the theory was good. The final stop would have been Station Headquarters where you would have been signed off the camp strength, however your second to last stop was your boss.
You were always, well depending on how you got on with your boss, nearly always, invited to sit yourself down, have a brew and tell him what you really thought of him and his squadron. This was no slanging match, or avenue for you to let off a bit of steam for a long held grudge. You were allowed to speak your mind as long as it was constructive. I explained to Stan that this is what I would now like to do with him. There were incidents that I had witnessed in Natural Breaks and I felt that I had to pass this information on, so that something could eventually be done about it. I think that Stan thought I was joking but as I began to speak he straightened himself up and began to listen. I told him all about the theft through the accounts, how two people would be down to work one shift but only one person would actually attend. I gave him the whole low down on what I had experienced and hoped that he would do something about it. Happy that I may have done something positive for the people supported by Natural Breaks I moved over to NWCS.
I arrived at their head office and was brought in to an office by a fellow called Joe. Joe introduced himself as my service manager; he was a small man, but had that Liverpool wit about him. Garry, the other service manager who had interviewed me along with Richard came in to join us. They explained to me that they had a problem. They wanted me to take over a house where two gentlemen lived. They were supported by a team of six, but two of the six were brothers. They were also ex-army and it was thought fiddling the accounts at a serious level. As I was ex forces I would be able to handle them. I was to go to the house, inspect the accounts and if I found irregularities, fire the pair of them on the spot. Oh and by the way, we have told them you are coming and why you are coming.
Not exactly the sort of situation you would want to start your new job, but it was all a part of the good fight so I rolled my sleeves up and set off for my new house. I arrived to find the house empty. It was a huge place, six bedrooms with a separate self-catering flat attached. The staff team had left me a note to the effect that most of them had gone to Spain for a week with one of the fellows supported. The second fellow hadn’t arrived yet. I hadn’t been there that long when the telephone rang and Joe, the service manager, told me that the two brothers, I had been sent to deal with, had resigned and left the company. That was good news for me. What was also good was that the house was nice and quiet and I could set out all the accounts before me on the dining table and work my way through them.
It was quite obvious that someone had been fiddling the books but with the two main suspects having gone and not feeling that there was enough evidence to actually point the finger at anyone, I drew a line under the affair and began to inspect the house. It was in good condition but needed a lick of paint so I bought some paint, some extendible rollers and set about the place. There’s something about manual repetitive work that I find very soothing and so was quite content to keep painting. When the telephone rang at five to five in the evening I was surprised to hear Joe who was checking up on me, making sure that I hadn’t left early, as I was employed to stay there until five o clock. My only thought was that this was a little bit petty, surely in a company that supported people to live in the community you would have more pressing problems? Richard had brought his three service managers with him when he took over the company, Joe, Garry and Nick. They told everyone that they should be called the apostles, which I think, was a loose sort of link to Richards strong Christianity. It wouldn’t be long before I would be submitting dipshits instead of apostles.