Celtic Illumination, part 411, The Devil is in the detail.
I had seen Delia erupt before, the worst time being at a social worker, who like myself was not expecting the outburst. Delia welcomed her in to her office, allowed the social worker to sit herself down and then, as if flicking a switch, went into a rant that shocked the pair of us. None of the bile was directed at me, even so, I was still amazed at the ferocity of it. When it was over it was once again as if Delia had flicked a switch and she was back to normal. So I wasn’t sure if the outburst that I had been on the receiving end of the previous day was a one off, a standard telling off, or if there was more to it. Delia did pretty much as she pleased. She would hire and fire people on a whim; in fact there was a rumour that she was behind the incident where Richard had been fired from North West Community Services. Some achievement when you understand that Richard had been put in place by social services.
So it was difficult to know what to expect, or how to prepare for the next onslaught, if there was to be one. I thought that I had mentally prepared myself for anything that Delia could throw at me, but once again I was wrong. She came in to her office the following morning and sat down at her desk. She then called me to come in. I did as requested and she asked me to get my company telephone, my diary and my keys and bring them to her. I gathered the objects as set them on her desk wondering what she was playing at when she said, “I don’t care who or what you are. I don’t like you. You’re not good enough to be my deputy, in fact you’re not good enough to be a service manager and I probably wouldn’t even employ you as a team leader. Get out of these offices.”
So many questions pop up inside your head that you are unable to think. I went back to my desk, threw my few personal possessions into my bag and left the office. I got in to my car and drove away, pulling over and stopping about five hundred yards away from the office out of sight. I really wasn’t sure what had happened to me, but I thought that I had just been fired. To say that I was confused would have been an understatement. No matter how many times I ran through what had been said, none of it made any sense to me. It took me a good fifteen minutes to settle my head down after which I drove home, still confused, wondering what I should do now. Everyone else I now spoke to seemed to know what to do and the advice started to come at me thick and fast ranging from a baseball bat across the temple to legal action.
Luckily Irene had some benefits where she worked, one of which was free legal advice and representation for the employee and immediate family, so we contacted the law firm and set the old legal wheels in motion. The solicitor I spoke to was Irish and filled me with confidence as she ran through a list of what Delia had done wrong and what they would be able to secure for me as compensation. It was nice to have the crooks on my side for a change. Two days later one of the directors from the Liverpool office telephoned me and asked me if I would attend a meeting with him and Delia in Manchester. I told him I would have to clear it with my legal team, which was just letting him know that I was no walk over. The legal bods said it would do no harm for me to attend the meeting but not to agree to anything and to immediately report back to them after the meeting.
It was a very strange and a very tense meeting. Delia was almost shaking with rage showing that she was either a great actor or off her feckin trolley. She stated that by not carrying out a proper inspection on the house, managed by the young Pakistani team leader, I had undermined the authority of the senior management team. I said nothing; there is no point in trying to put a sensible argument across when someone is fuming. She then pulled out a cardboard box which she had hidden behind her desk. “These!” she announced, were the company and individual household and personal financial accounts. “Thrown in a box!” If social services had implemented a surprise inspection they would have closed the company down due to the haphazard way I had thrown the accounts in to a box, rather than check them and store them in some sort of order.
Both these accusations were ludicrous. I could explain my action with the new team leader and the accounts actually were all sorted and checked and stored in individual envelopes. I still hadn’t decided the best way to store the receipts and accounts, but everything in that box had been checked, double checked and was in order. I waited my turn so that I could put my case forward but Delia wasn’t having any of it. She had lost all confidence in me, she had never liked me or trusted me, in her opinion I wasn’t good enough to be her deputy, in fact I wasn’t good enough to be a service manager. However, I would be allowed to return to the company as a team leader under her close supervision. I couldn’t believe that the director from Liverpool, who knew me quite well, was actually going along with this. The difference between my then salary and a team leader’s salary was twelve thousand pounds; this was no slap on the wrist.
The director acted as if Delia’s case was hard and fast, that everything Delia had said was true and that I had no option but to accept their decision. It was nice to say, “No,” to them. It was nice to inform them that I already had a legal team working on the problem from whom they would be hearing within the next day or two. I hoped what I was saying was correct. I stood and explained that I was not going to allow anyone to treat me as they had been doing and began to leave the office. Delia was having a fit screaming at me and the Director from Liverpool was stunned in to silence. I ignored the abuse and went to my car and drove home to be told that the phone had not stopped ringing. It was only a few minutes before it rang again. In an attempt to try and discredit me Delia had initiated disciplinary proceedings against me which they hoped would undermine my legal challenge to them. I was informed that I was suspended, on full pay and that they would be in touch with the date of my hearing.
I have to admit I was a little bit lost in the reasoning behind it all but I relished the chance of siting down in a formal environment and arguing every single point Delia might put up against me. I had to wait for them to prepare the official paperwork. I expected the two charges she had accused me of in our meeting but when the actual list of charges arrived, it nearly broke the postman’s arm. There were seventeen charges. The charge for not carrying out a proper inspection was one, as was the lies about the accounts, the others had been made up. A child with a sheet of paper and a box of crayons would have made a better job. I really couldn’t see anything coming from this but I was now determined to prove that the only reason Delia wanted rid of me was to give my job to her daughter, with a bit of luck I could have the tables turned on Delia and get her into some warm water.
To back up some of the ridiculous charges Delia had made there was a photocopy of my most recent monthly assessment where she had added a statement claiming that she had warned me about my poor performance and that she might have to demote me. The pen she used was a different shade of black to the original pen that had been used and even the director in Liverpool telephoned to ask me if I remembered this being written on the form. It was obvious that it was a con job and I hoped now that others knew too it might not go any further. It really was a ridiculous situation but I was concerned that the Liverpool office were taking it so seriously. The first charge was that as a senior manager one of my monthly duties was to carrying out a surprise inspection on a property that I did not directly manage. Delia claimed that I had never completed this task and therefore was being derelict in my duties. I made a note that the first four entries in the diary relating to surprise inspections were by me, regarding surprise inspections I had carried out and each with a brief summary. You didn’t even have to read any of the reports to know I had written them as I was the only person in the Manchester office to use a fountain pen. I think the motto was changing from Fight or die to come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough.