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."

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

WEEK 123 Learning Curve

I’ve been thinking about some of the changes I made in 2010.

Instigating any kind of change when your confidence is at rock bottom is unspeakably hard. And the longer we work in toxic environments, the more we come to believe we are powerless to improve our position. We hang our heads and tell ourselves we can’t change our situation because a potential employer will spot our lack of confidence a mile away. We tell ourselves we’re trapped because of financial considerations, or because we haven’t the strength to retrain. We remind ourselves of our obligations and promise ourselves we’ll make that leap when we’re feeling braver or when a new job somehow finds us.

It’s understandable, but when we break it down – it’s the philosophy of defeat. If this is how you are feeling, then it’s time to start job hunting today.

If I learned anything from changing jobs after workplace bullying, it’s that we won’t feel any braver until we do something brave.

Good luck for 2011.


Saturday, 11 December 2010

WEEK 120 Letter to Santa

Stephen King wrote in his non-fiction book On Writing that you can tell if your book is up to publication standard by the kind of rejections you get from publishers. London publishing houses are too busy to give feedback to everyone who writes in with a proposal. There are many reasons why they might not wish to publish it, including changes in their chosen genre, marketing concerns and finances etc.

The two main types of rejection are as follows:-

Bad news rejection: A standard letter with a photocopied signature.

Good news rejection: An editor who liked it enough to write back personally.

I’m only telling you this so you understand why I’m so happy that my workplace bullying book proposal has been rejected three times this week. I’m celebrating because, although those publishing houses rarely publish self-help, here are two examples of the feedback I’ve been getting:-

“I found the writing to be compelling and inspirational...Please do continue to send us any ideas you think we might find appropriate.”

“I really loved your eloquent writing style, and you have a lot of really interesting things to say about workplace bullying – a topic which, as you point out, is not mentioned nearly enough in this country.”

Obviously, they’re still rejection letters but I’m even more hopeful that my book will get there. In fact, I’m thinking of enclosing all these letters to Santa and telling him all I’m looking for is a YES on the bottom.

Come on, Santa. BBTB has been a VERY good girl this year.

Best wishes


Wednesday, 8 December 2010

WEEK 119 Christmas Cracker

Getting more and more panicky about the work Christmas party, I thought it best to have a chat with my boss and explain I couldn’t go. He knows I get nervous sometimes. I apologised and, again, said it had nothing to do with my new firm.

“What if you knew you had a friend going?” he asked.

OLLIE’S secretary has accepted the job. I instantly felt better. Even though she didn’t witness what I went through at the last Christmas party (having been bullied out months prior) she hadn’t been surprised to hear the jokes I’d been subjected to. There were so many jokes at my expense, I recorded only a handful in last year’s Christmas party blog. There were gems I left out, such as my taking my place in my best party dress as HOWARD told people:-

“Appearance wise - she’s the equivalent of a street van burger. Okay from a distance but close up its disgusting, the fat content makes you feel nauseous and you’re forever sorry you ever went near it.”

He’d also gone through a production persuading people to swap seats because he couldn’t eat whilst looking at me. Apparently - I put him off his food.

Thinking it was hilarious, a property lawyer exchanged chairs with him.

That’s why I didn’t want to go to the Christmas party. I’ve more than paid my dues in respect of pretending I’m having a good time when, inside, I want the ground to swallow me up. But there’s something about Christmas; and there’s something about goodwill to all men and all that jazz. I’m going to try and put it behind me. I told my new boss I’ll give it a go.

I’m just praying the only bad jokes I hear this year are pulled from crackers.

Best wishes


Saturday, 4 December 2010

WEEK 118 Word of Mouth

On Thursday, I was delighted to hear OLLIE’S secretary was called in for an interview. My boss had a chat with me about her. I said how hard working she was. He called up her CV.

“Seems she’s following you around. I didn’t realise she was working at your old firm. For some reason she’s used the company initials instead of the firm name.”

“I can’t imagine why,” I replied. I couldn’t help smiling.

I’m cagey talking about my old firm, even though my boss has heard a number of unpleasant things on the grapevine anyway. He said once the interview was over I could pop down and see my old friend. As promised, he came up with his colleague at 4pm and said they were done, if I wanted a quick chat. His colleague stopped me and said she couldn’t believe what she’d heard about my old firm; PHILIP’S swearing, his terrible tempers and his throwing things etc. I didn’t say too much.

I ran down and saw OLLIE’S secretary. She explained they’d asked about our old firm and, not bound as I am by confidentiality, she saw no point in lying. My boss asked her if the things he’d heard were true. She agreed – PHILIP’S management style was similar to Basil Fawlty– and he allowed other fee earners to behave how they liked.

It’s not my word of mouth, or OLLIE’S secretary’s, that shocks people – it’s PHILIP’S own word of mouth and HOWARD’S own word of mouth. I’ll stick by the confidentially clause I’m bound to, but these firms that promote swearing, abuse and bullying don’t seem to realise how badly it’s their own word of mouth damaging their companies.

The subsequent confidentiality agreements keep the wrong staff silent.

Best wishes


Wednesday, 1 December 2010

WEEK 117 Candid Camera

The only thing that still bothers me, psychologically speaking, is that HOWARD’S left me with rock bottom self esteem concerning my appearance.

I’m not very good at analysing what’s in the mirror. It’s like it’s been airbrushed by HOWARD. A-symmetry is accentuated. I now have a borderline phobia about how I may or may not resemble a Springer Spaniel.

This may sound weird, but when I’m in those moments when I’m really paranoid about how I look – I’ll take a couple of pictures on my digital camera to see my real image. It’s not as crazy as it sounds. The camera shows me someone pretty normal. Not conventionally attractive granted – but I’ll happily take normal over HOWARD’S awful exaggerating.

I trust the camera.

Then my IT friend, who helps me with website or blog restructuring, popped in last week. He’s a good guy, you know, the kind of person who’d put themselves out for anyone. With me, he’s always concerned about my lack of confidence and he hit on a bright idea to give me a boost.

“You should try working as a TV and film extra!” he said.

He was certain it would bring me out of my shell and be tons of fun. So yesterday I signed up for two casting agents to work as a film and TV extra. It’s a brilliant idea. Even if I get the very occasional bit of work – it’ll be worth it for my confidence.

It takes a bit of work to bounce back from workplace bullying, but who’s to say that work can’t be hanging around on a film/TV set, bringing in a bit of money and giving you a self esteem boost at the same time.

And the best thing is - they say the camera never lies. Now that’s refreshing.

I’ll keep you updated.
Best wishes
Bottom Swirl