Celtic Illumination, part 378, The function of freedom is to free someone else.
What is it they often say? “Be careful what you wish for, as it will come around and bite your arse!” Well they do where I come from. I can remember driving in to Liverpool on that first morning, the first morning that I had four houses to manage. I wanted more, but I was terrified. I wasn’t playing a game; I knew that I was actually dealing with individual lives and just how important that was. I wasn’t out to prove that every social worker in the United Kingdom was a waste of space; they were doing a pretty good job of that themselves. I felt that with the approach I had learned at Natural Breaks and my ability for coming up with weird and wonderful solutions, I could actually do some good for these people we supported.
I think it would be fair to say that I felt lost, there was just too much to do, but I knew this was the environment where I functioned best. If I had to sit around with absolutely nothing to do I could be dangerous, ever wonder why they called me the Newry Bomber on the Desert and Mountain Rescue teams? I checked in with Jimmy and Andrew, like touching base, looking for a bit of reassurance and then with the standard deep breath taken and expelled walked my way over to my new house. I suppose I only considered myself having two main houses as the other two, both requiring six hours per week, were more of an irritant that an involvement, like spinning plates on poles. One of the fellows at the new house, John, had a Motability car. Many disabled people in the United Kingdom are given a financial benefit by the government for help in getting around. Some people use this to buy into a scheme where they are given a brand new, taxed and insured motorcar every three years. All they have to do is put fuel in it.
I was surprised to see that the car was missing, but not as surprised as the staff were to see me. John’s car was missing but John was sitting at the kitchen table eating his breakfast. John’s car should never be used unless he was in the car; after all, it was his car. I asked where the other member of staff was and was told that he was doing his normal morning run, which was picking his girlfriend up, from her home, in John’s car, and dropping her off at her place of work. He would be back soon. I think in the armed forces, the moment you are promoted in to a position where you can take disciplinary action against another person you promise yourself that you never will. Here I was finding myself feeling that a paperwork disciplinary exercise would not be enough, behind the bike sheds with baseballs bats kept springing to mind as an alternative.
The missing member of staff came back in, his name was Kev. I took the car keys off him and went out to give the vehicle a quick check. It was a nice little standard run about, brand spanking new, although I cannot remember what flavour it was. I do remember switching it on and noticing that there were only about fifty miles on the odometer and the petrol tank was empty. I knew that the other member of staff would not admit to having snitched on Kev so came back into find him, in my face, saying that he had a personal emergency that he had to deal with. Normally he wouldn’t have used John’s car but he had no alternative, it wouldn’t happen again. By the way, could I give him twenty pounds as, here he hands me a receipt for twenty pounds, he has just put twenty pounds worth of petrol in the car. I promise you I was screaming at myself inside my head not to rip his face off.
I retreated to the office, which was a converted front bedroom, and told them to bring all the paperwork in the house to me. I am now of course in geek heaven, working my way through all the accounts and diaries. I wasn’t impressed. I trusted my original staff with Jimmy and Andrew implicitly, even though Tony would always be whispering in my ear, “Do you want some knock off gear?” Tony lived in the Bootle area of Liverpool which kept up the age old tradition of looting from the docks. I knew that if I wanted to buy guns, or drugs, or knock off booze, or even half a dozen flat screen televisions Tony was my man. He didn’t steal the items he was just one of thousands of middle men in Bootle. But I also knew that I could trust Tony with the accounts in the house, a strange dichotomy, but I really do believe that when you are fed a diet of how corrupt our politicians and supposed leaders are every day of our lives and they see that they take no responsibility for their actions many people think along the lines of what is good for the goose…….
Well, I certainly thought along those lines, not exactly, I thought what is good enough for a sneaky little shit who steals from disabled people is to be fired, publicly humiliated and never ever allowed again to work in this environment. I began to build a case against Kev but I was worried in case he wasn’t the only one involved in corruption in the new staff team. Where I had seen corruption in Natural Breaks and obviously wanted to stop it, I was now in a position to do so but wasn’t really sure where to start. I knew that the whole affair would have to be presented to Richard, so understood that everything would have to be provable and in black and white. It was only because I managed both houses that I discovered another con that Kev was involved in and I have to say that it was so cheeky I was impressed.
I mentioned some time before that Gordon came from his house every Friday evening and sat with Jimmy in his house watching films. It was always Kev who dropped Gordon off and who returned to pick him up and escort him back to his own house. I had been there once or twice and could see that Kev was always in a real hurry to get back to his house. Now that I managed both houses I could see that there were always two people on duty every Friday night, specifically for this visit. However Kev was supposed to stay with Gordon. We, in Jimmy and Andrew’s house thought he was running back to Gordon’s house, the staff member in Gordon’s house thought he was with Gordon in Jimmy’s house. He was in fact working for another company and took a fellow out every Friday night to a local pub for beer and darts. So while the rest of us were busy dealing with Gordon, Kev was in a pub somewhere being paid an hourly rate by two companies to drink free beer.
Now apart from being so cheeky you have to admit that it is quite a con. It was the only provable fact that I could record against him. Richard as an accountant agreed with me that the receipts for fuel and beer were quite obviously not genuine but we couldn’t prove that he had fiddled money from the company. Richard didn’t impress me. I didn’t expect Richard to hold Kev across his desk while I battered seven bells out of him with a pair of brass knuckle dusters, I’m sure Tony could have found me a set. But an indication of indigence that the people he was responsible for supporting to live in the community were being ripped off didn’t come, absolutely nothing. Richard went through the disciplinary process and fired Kev. He refused to inform the other company that were being ripped off on a Friday night what Kev was up to, which I couldn’t understand.
In fact he didn’t speak to me about the incident until I was summoned to his office a week or two later. I hoped he would turn in to a human being and say something along the lines of, ‘I know where Kev lives lets go and get him,’ but no, this was born again Richard. I was now under investigation as he had received two written complaints about me and my treatment of the people I supported to live in the community. Despite the fact that we could open the house diaries and match the hand writing in the letters to various entries in the diaries and with the fact that they belonged to the old team leader and Kev, both of whom had just been fired, Richard insisted that he would have to follow the investigation through.
I couldn’t believe it; I had never met a boss like it before in my life. Richard was a proper civilian manager, he knew nothing about leadership. I often remembered Jan in Natural Breaks putting the violent fellow in the front seat of her car to take him to a family barbeque at her house while Andrew would ask me who Richard was and what was he like. The problems I faced in my present position were difficult enough without receiving what I considered to be the proper support and encouragement. But as I was aiming for the top, I knew that once there, there would be no support, so I may as well get used to it now. They say that it is lonely at the top, but no one ever mentions how fecking lonely it is as you begin to make your way up the slippery pole.