Tag Archives: sacked

Pause. Press Play.

Pause. Press Play.After more than three weeks off work with a lumpy haematoma on my leg, I am finally off my sofa and raring to go.

When I tell people I work for my builder friend, they raise an eyebrow, look me up and down and say, ‘Oh, really?’ They might have visions of me driving a large white van, chucking plasterboard around and fitting worktops in my spare time.

Years ago when I helped my friend set up his company, this was probably true. He taught me how to use a drill and I became an excellent tiler. Those days are long gone, although I can still tile if I sit on a bench and the boss applies the adhesive for me first. It’s a bit like mosaic craft work. Until the tiles fall off.

My boss is the Patron Saint of Hopeless Causes and reluctantly agreed to let me work with him after I was sacked from my job. I begged, cajoled and consented to listening to commercial radio all day long. Obviously MS has put paid to most of the things I used to do, so we have ‘adapted and overcome’. Well, I have. The boss may well disagree.

So now, my duties consist of – making tea and coffee, putting the radio on, tidying up the boss’s toolbox (not very well, as you can see from my picture), sweeping things in to little piles everywhere, gossiping, yelling out a countdown to lunchtime, making more tea and coffee and spending hours nattering to the owners of whichever house we are working on (or ‘skiving’, as the boss calls it). I call it good PR. If there’s a job where my presence is more of a hindrance, I work from home, writing up quotes, sourcing materials and helping him with his website, so I’m not completely useless.

When I asked the boss if he had missed me when I was off, he looked bemused and paused mid-way through drilling. ‘Missed what?’ I flounced (limped and stumbled) off, but he has a point, I suppose. He rattled off the facts – ‘you keep dropping the nails, you trip over everything, I find you dozing off in quiet corners, you can’t lift anything heavier than a hammer, and you talk non-stop. What’s to miss?’

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Transformation. Complete?

When your world is turned upside downTomorrow it will be exactly a year since I was unceremoniously ushered out of the MS Limboland waiting room and into a whole new world of clinically definite multiple sclerosis.

MS has had an impact upon every area of my life. Everything has been transformed and I’m not the same person I was last May, but for my MS anniversary, I am going to concentrate on the positive changes.

I’ve done my grieving, I’ve cried myself hoarse. I could either live out a sad, bitter life, railing against the injustice of it all or seize this opportunity to change my life for the better.

I’m full of gratitude for the support network I have – the family and friends who stuck by me through the dark times. The ones who made a swift exit? Probably for the best, eh? I’m indebted to all the healthcare staff who pulled me through and who continue to support me and I’ve made a whole new circle of brilliant friends.

Being bullied at work and subsequently sacked simply for having MS showed me that when I’m pushed into a corner, I can still come out fighting. Ironically, as my colleagues were trying to crush my spirit, the whole experience made me stronger, braver and has restored my self-esteem.

Probably the biggest transformation though, is within my own character. I’m no longer willing to live a life according to what is ‘normal’ or what is expected of me. I am choosing my own path. For far too long I have gone through life reacting to the whims and actions of other people, forgetting in all the chaos that in fact, I had a choice all along.

It took something far bigger than those people to turn my world upside down and to put into perspective just how fleeting and how beautiful life is. MS is here to stay, for now, and as long as it does, we have to learn to get along. It’s part of me, so I can’t hate it. I have to keep learning to adapt, take the good days with the bad. Is the transformation complete? You betcha. Phase One at least….

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Backing The Bullies

This Summer, The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill will be introduced with Vince Cable, the business secretary, stating that ‘people who work hard and do the right thing (will be) rewarded.’

Sounds fair? Dig a little deeper.

Staff who feel they’ve been unfairly sacked will find it much more difficult to raise a case – there will be a cap on compensation for unfair dismissal and new charges for bringing a claim.

This is on top of the time employees have to work for their company before they can file an unfair dismissal claim – a shocking rise from one to two years.

As many of you will know, I was unfairly dismissed from my job last Autumn for having MS. Thankfully, I had worked for just over two years and recently the case was settled in my favour. However I know of people in low-paid jobs who are routinely ‘dismissed’ from their jobs right before the two-year cut off, only to see those same jobs quickly re-advertised.

Until now, taking a case to a tribunal has been free. Once the bill is passed, the proposed new fees will be £250 for lodging a standard claim and a further £950 if it goes to a hearing. How many people who are sacked can even contemplate these charges? And with legal aid being drastically scaled back, few will be able to fight back.

Even more Orwellian is the introduction of ‘protected conversations’, where an employer can take you aside out of the blue, offer to pay you to leave and you won’t be able to use anything said in the discussion as evidence in an unfair dismissal claim (discrimination cases are exempt from this). This protects your employer, not you. Presently, employers only have this protection once a formal dispute has already been raised regarding your performance.

For people already fighting to keep their jobs in the midst of a recession, especially for those with a disability, this is devastating news. Bullying bosses have been handed even more power, and this time it comes government-backed.

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A Friend Comes to the Rescue

The Teenager was away for the weekend and after the week I had just been through, I would have been quite happy to have locked my front door, closed the curtains and set up a standing order with Domino’s.

One of my good friends had different ideas though. He scooped me up on Friday night and delivered me back on Sunday afternoon, rested, all talked out and ready to take on a fresh week. On Friday, he had booked tickets for a live comedy show. We turned up, got settled with wine to break my catatonia and waited for the crowd in the bar to pick up. It didn’t. We checked. There were over a hundred seats in the venue and only 29 tickets sold.

I just couldn’t watch a comedian die on stage, so we decided to go drinking instead. Excellent plan. On Saturday he bundled me into his car and took me back to his place where I lay sprawled on the sofa all evening, watching ‘One Day’ again and putting away chocolate at an alarming rate. Finally, on Sunday, he booked us in to see ‘Skyfall’ in the Gallery at the local Odeon, where we scoffed tortilla chips, Quality Street and popcorn before we even sat down to watch the film. Nothing like a Bond film to put things in perspective.

Friends are great, aren’t they? He listened while I ranted and raved and swore far too much. He calmly put some excellent points forward and gave me an A3 pad so I could write down everything that had happened, in proper, chronological order. So the weekend ended on a high. I kind of know where I am now, compared to the mess I was in on Friday. I don’t feel so alone.

As an added bonus, I don’t have to go to The Office of Doom any more, so I didn’t have that awful Sunday night feeling. Every cloud…


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A Recipe for Changing Your Life

happy housewifeThis is best for the novice cook – the less experience you have, the better. But do make sure you choose your ingredients carefully!


  • A good few relapses – drop into mixing bowl, one after the other in rapid succession.
  • One firm diagnosis of multiple sclerosis – this could take you a while to obtain, so be patient.
  • Two evil bosses. If these are difficult to find, check under stones, where they are fond of crawling out from.
  • A liberal sprinkling of heavy-grade bullying at work, of the nastier  and more vicious variety.
  • For added panache, throw in an unfair dismissal along with a copy of the Disability Discrimination Act.
  • Finally, a good dash of steroids, MRIs and a lumbar puncture.


  • Mix all the ingredients together well. You are aiming for a gloopy, gungy consistency
  • Simmer at the highest temperature for just over a year.

Best served with

This recipe can be hard to stomach so make sure you have the following:

  • The best friends you can find (you know who you are)
  • A darn good support network – http://shift.ms/ and http://www.msrc.co.uk/  are amongst the finest
  • Copious amounts of wine, chocolate and laughter

After digesting, pick yourself up, dust yourself down and get out of the kitchen. There’s a bright, shiny new world waiting for you…



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