A photo of the old Swindon College; my saving grace during a difficult time. Alas, she is no more…
In this post I will endeavour to tie up the loose ends from this stage of my journey, and I’d also like to give you a gentle reminder that I am trying to write these articles from the standpoint of my understanding at the time of the events. So, I was now on the right track but I wasn’t quite out of the woods yet. I was still off work ill; and it would be roughly another three months before I went back. At the request of the HR department I went to see the company doctor. I had already, off my own back, attended counselling (which was a waste time) and a stress management course. I wanted to be seen to be pro-active; after all, I didn’t want to be off work, I just wanted to be in a job where I was treated fairly.
Due to a past experience whilst at Royal Mail in the early 1990s I went in to see the company doctor all guns blazing! I felt quite stupid when he assured me that he wanted the best outcome for both sides. We had a constructive chat; the outcome of which was that I believed that he genuinely wanted to help me get back into work, and he believed that I wanted the same. He wrote a letter to HR recommending that I be redeployed back to Swindon. Once again, I will add that the finer details are not relevant so long after the event, and it will waste blog space by explaining why redeployment would be the best fix for me.
Unfortunately, the HR department were completely and utterly insensitive to what I was going through and their treatment of me while I was off work almost amounted to torture. My mind was in a terrible state. In hindsight, I don’t believe they did this on purpose, it was just that they were oblivious to what I was actually experiencing. They were meant to be sending me weekly lists of vacancies in Swindon through the post. But most of the information they sent was for jobs in London and Reading. At the time my tortured mind believed they were doing it deliberately in an attempt to drive me crazy. It never occurred to me that someone in an office somewhere in Reading was simply sending me a general list of current vacancies. There was also the farce of me having to go in to the Customer Service Centre in Swindon, believing I was going to have an informal chat with an HR representative on how they were going to help me back into work. It turned out I was going in for a job interview that I knew nothing about. Needless to say, I didn’t get the job. So, they were making me go through the recruitment process to get me back into work! I eventually went back in March 2001, working on a temporary project. While I was doing that I continued applying for jobs and eventually bluffed my way back into full-time employment. Meanwhile….
My lovely flat above the hairdressers, that had served me so well, would soon be confined to the past. Lorraine, who had bought the whole premises soon after I moved in, decided to sell the hairdressing business, whilst maintaining ownership of the shop and flat. After buying the property and business, Lorraine had stopped working in the hairdressers. But, during my time as her tenant we maintained a fantastic relationship. Unfortunately, when I was ill and my paranoia was at its peak, my relationship with the salon in general did sour somewhat; again, the details are not relevant. So when Lorraine sold the business and the new hairdresser took over, naturally her priority was to build up her own business. This meant that she was there much more often than I was used to the other hairdressers being there. It didn’t matter when I was out at work, but when I was off sick and going round the bend it was a nightmare. I could hear everything downstairs. She would stay late on Saturday evenings, she would be in there on Sundays and she also opened on Mondays, which had always been a day when the shop was closed. I was going crazy and decided to look for somewhere else to live.
During this period I had started a couple of courses at Swindon College (but not at the same time). Unfortunately, due to my state of mind I left both courses before the end. However, for a period I was still technically a student at Swindon College, so as long as my student ID was valid I continued to use the facilities. This was a Godsend while I was off work as it gave me a reason to go out in the air every day. I would walk into town to the college and use the computer facilities. It was during one of my visits that I saw a sign on one of the notice boards, “room to let”. It would be a step backwards for me as it was obviously a bedsit, however, I was desperate to get out of the flat in Gorse Hill. Enter Steve…
I made a note of the telephone number and rang it that evening. Steve answered and said that he was no longer wanting to rent out the room and that I had obviously seen an old card. But, in the next breath he said I could come and have a look. He was such a pedantic person that I nicknamed him, “Sad Steve”, but he was harmless really and the rent was so unbelievably cheap that it was almost as though HE was paying me to live there. I had only been there a matter of days when he took in another tenant; a Slovakian girl named Dana. In Steve’s head, because he had taken in another tenant, he felt obliged to reduce my rent even further! In his world he wanted a certain amount of money for the two rooms each month, and simply split the cost between us. I seem to remember Dana’s room being slightly smaller than mine, so she was paying even less than me. In the space of what seemed like no time at all, Steve went from, “I’m no longer looking to rent out a room”, to having two tenants.
He was a man of record keeping, lists and filing cabinets. He only worked a short drive away, but he was up every morning at around 05.30 or even earlier, and would always be at work at least one hour before he was due to start. It was a very strange hotchpotch of people in the house, but we managed to bumble along. Dana and I both knew that we couldn’t stay there too long. Steve got us to sign a contract in which it stated that we were not allowed visitors after 9:00 pm. We both thought that he was an incredibly strange man, but we both felt sorry for him and the rent was ridiculously cheap, so we put up with his peculiar ways. However, it didn’t stop me feeling ashamed and embarrassed that at the age of 45 I was living in a bedsit in a strange man’s house and I wasn’t allowed visitors after 9:00 pm. I was the first to go, but that’s a story for the next post.
In March 2001 I started back at work and also moved out of the flat, and by now my spiritual development was making good progress; in November of that year I would stand up as a medium for the first time. But now it’s confession time! In Part Nineteen I said was going to elaborate on my strange experiences in the night “in the next post”. Well I’m not going to. Instead I’m going to dedicate a whole separate post to it, having decided that it would have made this post far too long. I’m estimating that there will be another seven parts to my journey. One on my “strange experiences in the night”, one on my experiences with Sai Baba, another four to bring us up to present day, and finally, a summary post. Hope this hasn’t been too long-winded for those of you who have stuck with it from the start! See you soon!