So then...

About Me

Welcome to my blog. My pen name is Eva James. I'm an aspiring writer paying the bills working as a legal secretary. Relentlessly bullied by my former boss, I looked for another job but the recession hit. Feeling trapped, I recorded everything in this blog, which serves as a revealing insight into workplace bullying. WEEK 1 starts the story and, as the weeks progress, you'll note what starts as banter soon spirals out of control. Sadly, it's all true. Whilst along the way I've found alternative employment, my passion for blogging about workplace bullying remains. Trevor Griffiths, legendary theatre, TV and film writer said at the outset, "I like the writing a lot: smart, cool, placed. If you were prepared/able to take your prick of a boss on, you'd marmelise him."

Saturday, 25 September 2010

WEEK 101 I Heard it Through the Grapevine

I’m going out more.

Mid week, meeting my best friend for a drink, I wasn’t at the bar two seconds before being tapped on the shoulder by a legal stationery supplier guy I hadn’t seen in ages. When I asked him how he was he looked appalled and said, “Haven’t you heard what happened to me?”

For the next 20 minutes I didn’t get a word in edgeways as he told me this awful story about how he’d delivered an inordinate amount of new equipment and paper to a large law firm. On the way out the door he’d taken a single chocolate from a complimentary tin sitting on reception. The Office Manager, having witnessed this, wrote a stern letter of complaint to his boss. He was sacked for gross misconduct and theft. The funny thing was, I’d heard the story of his Tribunal claim on the grapevine, but I had no idea I knew the guy myself.

Then last night I went to a wedding party for a girl I’d worked with a long time ago, years before I’d worked at HOWARD'S firm. It had been a good company and I’d made many a few long standing friends. I was soon catching up with them. I’d heard from one of the secretaries there more recently, however. She was the secretary approached by the Senior Solicitor for a discussion about me after I walked out. She’d got word to me about it on the grapevine. (Swimming with Sharks blog) Guessing I’d had serious problems, she knew I’d understand the similar problem her sister had had. I listened until she stopped talking and sat up with a start.

“You know what you should do?” she said, “You should become an employment lawyer! You know everything there is to know. You’d be brilliant.”

Nice idea, but for now I’ll continue what I’m doing. I’m still learning, but I don’t need an ILEX or a trip to law school to further my education.
I just need to keep listening.

Best wishes


Friday, 17 September 2010

WEEK 100 It’s a Man’s World (But it wouldn’t be nothin’...)


Can you believe it?

In the last week or so, I’ve found myself dwelling less on bullying and more generally on how vulnerable working women can be, especially when we’re living on our own. There are so many stereotypes heaped on us; awful assumptions made by colleagues and society at large. It’s still a man’s world. HOWARD’S not the only guy to find the joys and miseries of working women one big joke. He simply took it to the next level – finding past examples of the rape and murder of women quite hilarious.

It’s a sobering thought.

Still, how can I be sad when this is my 100th blog? It’s such an achievement. And how I wish I could tell HOWARD that to celebrate my milestone – I’ve donated some of his settlement money to the Suzy Lamplugh Trust.

See you soon


Wednesday, 15 September 2010

WEEK 99 Can you keep a secret?

I hate secrets.

And I can’t remember what life was like without them.

My world has revolved around workplace bullying for exactly two years. Back then I wasn’t sure if it was bullying. Everyone said he fancied me. I believed them at first – all those childish insults, impressions and his negative attention seeking. It didn’t take me long, however, to realise I was in trouble. I didn’t know what to do...

So I secretly began reading about workplace bullying.

As the bullying cranked up a notch, I felt something no one wants to feel at work - genuine fear. One day the guy would say sorry and make me laugh, the next he’d be back to scaring the living daylights out of me.

So I secretly began writing about workplace bullying.

As things got even worse, I lost control of the situation; ended up walking out and trying to take them to the Employment Tribunal. In the end, I signed a Compromise Agreement swearing me to confidentiality.

So I secretly began writing my anonymous book on workplace bullying.

My next blog will be my hundredth. I’ve written my book on workplace bullying. It feels like I’m at the crossroads. Is it a good place to stop or a good place to really begin? I know I’m going to continue on regardless.

So now I secretly wonder if I’ve gone a little bit nuts.

See you soon


Saturday, 11 September 2010

WEEK 98 Stranger than Fiction

At my old firm, when events took a surreal turn, my secretarial friend used to lean in and and whisper, “You couldn’t write it, could you!” The irony was I was writing it, but she meant you had to see it to believe it.

This happens all the time. I often question whether I should blog about something when events sound unbelievable. Will people think I'm making this stuff up? And these serendipitous moments are starting to spook me out.

A few weeks ago a meeting was called with some new clients. I didn’t know what it was about – but I delivered the coffee and biscuits and thought no more of it. Later, I learnt that they’ve invited our firm to participate in a large corporate conference relating to employment law. Our firm’s role is to set up a mock Employment Tribunal and role-play a fictional ‘Day in the life of a Tribunal Hearing’.

I thought it was strange. It’s the experience I missed out on – and now I’m likely to have the whole procedure acted out in front of my eyes. The cast is assembled; my boss is the Respondent, another colleague is the Claimant, the Tribunal panel, witnesses etc have all been chosen. It’s going to be set up exactly like Court.

I’m supposed to be organising the details for the day in question. That’s right. Me. It gave me goosebumps – so I checked in my personal diary just to be sure. I was right. Underneath the Tippex you could still make out the ghost words ‘TRIBUNAL HEARING STARTS’ and arrows spanning the six consecutive days.

Is this the weirdest overlap or what? It’s exactly the same time as my actual Tribunal was scheduled to start and my new boss is playing Respondent.

They say truth is stranger than fiction, and fiction – in the case of mock
Tribunal hearings – is going to be just as informative and a million times less stressful.

See you soon


Saturday, 4 September 2010

WEEK 96 Dragons' Den

Do you ever watch Dragons’ Den?

I love it, all those hopeful inventors - with their questionable gadgets and even more questionable business valuations. It’s so risky. When they walk up those stairs with their ‘original’ product, I almost peep through my fingers. The Dragons usually end up tearing a strip off them, snapping that no one else has invented it already because no-one wanted it in the first place.

The ‘uniqueness’ of the invention is pointless if it has no unique selling point.

This resonates with me. I have a chapter in my book called ‘Suggestions from the Blue Sky.’ It’s a collection of my practical ideas about how to deal with bullying, or prove it, while it’s happening. But here’s the thing I find strange. I’ve never read similar proposals anywhere else. Why hasn’t anyone else done this? Where are all the other books with such concepts? When I read ‘Blue Sky’ through, it seems defiant and rebellious. But it’s not subversive, it’s just written with such lack of guile, even I find it disarming when I read it back.

Mr Fan noted a couple of weeks back in the comments section that bullying is the ‘silent nightmare.’ So true! Have we so been so cowed by our work dragons that we are reluctant to talk about it at all, let alone admit we’ve learnt anything that could help others?

I really am planning to walk up those stairs, face the publishing Dragons and tell-it-like-it-is.

Let’s hope I don’t get burnt up.

See you soon


Wednesday, 1 September 2010

WEEK 95 No Pain No Gain

I’m nursing a nasty case of sciatica. All this writing about workplace bullying both in and out of work has electrified every nerve in the base of my spine. After a few days it spread to my knees and calf. Finally, with the tension tying my tendons in knots, my Achilles became inflamed. Cue ice baths, Co-Codamol and a great deal of limping. I’m typing away with an ice pack tucked into the belt of my jeans.

Looking good!

The agony may be self inflicted from hours typing, but when I think about what I went through to create this book, it’s a fraction. I’ve written about workplace bullying every day for over a year and a half using the energy from a battery fully charged with emotional pain. I think it's finally beginning to discharge itself.

Sciatica is a walk in the park. Not literally - that would be a limp in the park, but you know what I mean. If you’ve been bullied, you’ll know. And if this sciatica is the result of writing too much about workplace bullying, I welcome it with open arms.

See you soon

Eva x
Bottom Swirl