Celtic Illumination, part 383, Worship the trousers that cling to him.
Bemused is, I think, the best word to describe how I felt. Most other people within the company gave their impression of headless chickens, panicking and worrying about what had happened to Richard. The three service managers withdrew to their offices and refused to speak to anyone, everything was now double top secret hush hush. No one knew why Richard had been fired, but dismissed he had been. Rumours abounded about what was happening next and who would take over steering the ship. All we knew was that someone new had been put in as boss in Manchester and for a week or two Richard had not controlled the Manchester operation.
This was good for the company, I felt, because he was playing scrabble with the service managers. Guys from the Liverpool operation were being asked to manage houses and teams in Manchester, without knowing anything about the people they were supporting, the associated teams and of course the local infrastructure. It was plain to see that Richard thought that a manager could manage wherever, and they probably could, but there was still a huge piece missing from the equation. The new person in Manchester had been a gossip feature ever since she arrived, but for me something more important was happening. NWCS was a private company owned by two individuals. Because social services were still ultimately responsible for the people supported they, so we were told, had stepped in, told the owners that they were putting a new senior management team in place or else the company was to be closed.
This was a believable and acceptable scenario. So how now could the owners turn around and fire Richard? All we knew is that it had something to do with the new person in Manchester. Many of the team leaders would have worn sackcloth and ashes given half the chance, they were all so sorry to see Richard depart, especially the born again Christians. I hope you all don’t think too badly of me but I saw an opportunity. Richard still had his other job as a highly paid consultant, and with his reputation wouldn’t be hanging around at home for too long. The corridors were quiet, people kept themselves to themselves. The gossip soon moved from having Richard as the focus to the new person in Manchester, Delia.
It would also appear that the two owners had a different interviewing technique than Richard, no ten minute presentation or practical scenario for prospective candidates there, not even an application form. It might also have been a little difficult to give a ten minute presentation in the back of a car. Rumour control had it that the new person, Delia, had been interviewed in a car park in Manchester and had subsequently been given the job of running the Manchester operation. All we knew about Delia was that she had been a senior nurse at the Calderstones mental asylum. She had also been the lead person responsible for placing all the people supported by NWCS in the actual community. The whole thing stank to high heaven of back scratching and returned favours, which you may think would annoy me, but it didn’t.
I could see that the two guys who owned the company were not that interested in the welfare of the people supported they were only interested in the cash at the end of the year. There was nothing any of us could do but wait and see what happened. The small clique who had always ran the company were now getting their heads together and putting people in positions. I assume there was no scientific management technique, lauded by Richard, that would be used in this process. Nothing could be done or said to effect what was happening, everything would be determined by your past performance. For me the opportunity of moving up to service manager was the best that could happen so fingers and everything else was crossed and locked in place.
I was asked to report to the Manchester office, which I did, all I was told was that Delia wanted to meet me. Garry had been put in charge, on a temporary basis, in Liverpool, meaning that there was a vacancy in the Liverpool office for service manager. I didn’t need to be wasting time in Manchester I needed to be in Liverpool getting that service manager position for myself. I have to admit that I didn’t take to Manchester, Liverpool to me was a warm welcoming place but Manchester was just a collection of houses and buildings. I reported to a day centre and met Delia. There had just been a meeting for the team leaders so the place was full of people. I was given a mug of coffee and shown in to Delia.
Her name was Delia Murphy; she was surrounded by little plastic dolls of Our Lady of Sorrow and Jesus. On the wall beside her desk were prayers and poems, images of Christ and other Holy icons. I immediately knew not to trust her. She was at pains to tell me that she was Irish, like me. Whereas I had wanted Richard to meet me toe to toe as an Irishman, Delia seemed to be going over the top to secure my trust or friendship. Delia now asked if I would be interested in becoming a service manager for her in Manchester. I believe it is what you call a sticky wicket. Was I really being no different than Joe had been, was I just in the right place at the right time? I knew the people in Liverpool, not just the staff but the people we supported. I didnt know anybody in Manchester.
Delia wasn’t interviewing me, she had made inquiries and it was understood by those in power in Liverpool that I should have been given the service manager job. I had only been a team leader for ten months and I was being offered a guaranteed position as service manager. I could return to Liverpool, turn down the Manchester offer and fight half a dozen other team leaders for the job in Liverpool. Knowing that the recruitment and selection procedures used by NWCS were as scientific as flipping a coin I accepted Delia’s offer. We shook hands and she told me that I would be starting the following Monday morning at nine o clock. Had this happened to anyone else, for example the way Delia had been given her position or even Richard for that matter I may have raised a concern but now that it was happening to me I knew it was the correct method of selection. These people really knew what they were doing.
I returned to Liverpool and knew that I would have to leave my four houses in worthy hands so that the guys supported continued to receive a good service. I went to see Garry who was now running the Liverpool operation. I explained that I had two people in mind that I wanted promoted to team leader to take over the houses that I managed in Liverpool. Garry had been sitting at Richards lap for far too long and insisted that the people I recommended could be put forward and he would consider them, but there were other people that Garry might want to put in to the mix. For my new house I had chosen a woman, Linda. She was a married girl, mid-thirties, and could do the job with her eyes closed; everyone liked her which was a good start. She had a small tattoo on her wrist so I had always called her my biker chick.
I had a meeting with her and asked if she would like to take the job. She was excited and said yes. I explained that I would have to submit a report along with her application but I would also do whatever else I could to make sure that she got the job. Not only did she deserve it she would be good at it to. Not as good as me, but then there never will be anyone as good as me. Jimmy and Andrew were special cases to me. I cared about them and knew that the only fellow who could really take over would be Tony, the big black fellow from Bootle. The unfortunate thing is that there were two other chaps on the team who would have made good team leaders, I felt that I was letting them down but I decided that I would write reports suggesting that they be considered for any new team leader position that might come up. I felt it was the best that I could do for them.
I took Tony to one side and sat him down. I explained that I was putting him forward for the team leader slot. I further explained that I was putting in a report that would support his application and that together we could make sure he got the job. Tony seemed to be a little reluctant and I was concerned. He began talking to me and explained that although he was pleased that I was putting him forward he didn’t want to let me down and would prefer it if I withdrew his application. This didn’t make sense to me so I pushed further with my questioning. Tony explained that he didn’t want to embarrass me, that it was all very nice for me to support him, but there was something in his past that would hold him back. Something I knew nothing about but which would hold him back forever.
Tony and myself had spent many a night trying to drink each other under a public house table in Bootle and even one memorable evening in my private club in Bootle and I was surprised that something this big could be lurking in his past. I pressed him to tell me what it was and he said that he had once had a problem with customs. He had been caught with some marijuana once and there had been a police report and a customs report about it. I laughed at him and asked if he had been stopped by the police and customs at the airport with a couple of joints in his pocket. It’s not every day that someone tells you they were arrested and jailed for four years for smuggling six tons of marijuana into Liverpool. I drove away having convinced Tony that it really didn’t matter, it was all in the past, he had paid his dues and he knew it. But that’s what niggled me, I was surrounded by all these people and I didn’t really know any of them. Told you at the start of this piece, bemused, that’s how I felt, and it wouldn’t be long before that turned in to the old song, Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered.