2005

January 25th

Time for a bit of an update on The Case.

This is dragging on and on. I went to a meeting in Portsmouth in December to discuss the case with a Personnel Person and the Captain. I took along a friend who works on the boat, too, as I am entitled to do, for moral support (couldn’t take a Union rep; not a member). We talked through the report, and Personnel Person went off to begin her interviewing of those cited. Since they’re either on a ship or scattered to the four winds at any given time, this was expected to be a lengthy process, and so it proved.

Three weeks later my friend who went with me to the meeting got a redundancy notice.

Mere coincidence, of course.

I went for a follow-up meeting last week. I went into the meeting solo this time, for obvious reasons.

If I was expecting a capitulation along the lines of, “Yes you’re right, here’s a pay-off,” then I was being highly optimistic.

Some people have lied, some people ‘misremembered’. There were counter-accusations.

The Chief who accused me of ‘camping it up’ accepted that it was an unfortunate choice of words. He explained that he would not use homophobic terms because, actually, his daughter is gay.

This is obviously akin to making a racist comment preceded by “Don’t get me wrong, some of my best friends are black, but…”

He said that what he really meant was that I’d been:

  •  Blowing kisses at the Trolls
  • Acting provocatively
  • Behaving in an exaggeratedly female manner.

You may perhaps imagine my sense of outrage.

When I had cooled down a lot, I realised that this could mean that the Chief has shot himself in the foot again…

Personnel Person said that the outcome which P&O are seeking, is that I should return to work. She emphasised that they would not be awarding me compensation.

“That will be up to the tribunal,” I replied.

February 13th

I have measured out my life with coffee spoons

Time passes… I’m still waiting for P&O to finish investigating the harassment, and for my CX appointment to come through. All rather unsettling. I’ve been suffering bouts of depression, and thought I’d give up Cyprostat for a while to see if that helped. A week later, I certainly feel better, but that may also be attributable to other things, so I’ve started back on it; don’t want to lose any ground…

I found another job vacancy that looked like it had my name on it, sort of, ishly, in the City Library. Two references required; I can hardly ask my last Chief Engineer, so I wrote to Catherine, the publisher for whom I once worked… She phoned back, and said, “No problem with the reference; and can you illustrate a book for me?” Well, it’s work, and it’s creative, so… I’m now illustrating a book called Wildlife Rescue –“Become a wildlife rescuer- and make a difference!” Drawing foxes at the moment; fortunately, there’s a stuffed one at the Museum, so I’ve been sketching it from all angles. Stuffed animals are really very obliging from the artist’s point of view; they don’t suddenly get bored and wander off.

And then I phoned my old Super at Condor Ferries, and he also agreed to act as referee, and said, “Why not come and work for Condor?” –gosh, it’s nice to be wanted; and a summer in St Malo seems extremely tempting… not entirely sure I could bear to go back into an engine room, though.

February 14th

This morning at first light, I posted a letter to CX saying that I could come whenever if they had a cancellation or what….

Fast forward to an hour ago; I sit at my desk surrounded by mounting piles of scrap paper and old tea cups, my eyes wonky from drawing foxes…

phone rings….

 “Is that Drusilla Marland?”

“Yerrrsssss…”

“Gender Identity Clinic here….”

So I’ve got an appointment for next Monday.

Is this not wonderful?

Where’s the corkscrew?

February 15th

O God; it never rains but it pours…

Yesterday I get my CX appointment. This morning a letter from P&O. It’s their formal decision on my grievance. They admit that some of the trolls acted inappropriately, but don’t much fault them; it was down to ignorance, poor lambs.

What really hits, though, is the paragraph:

Some criticisms must also be made of your own behaviour. Both by your actions and your language, you have on occasion reinforced inappropriate behaviour on behalf of your work colleagues. On occasions you have demonstrated inappropriate behaviour to work colleagues by being flirtatious; by trying to catch an individual’s eye and by exaggerated pouting.

…this is in every particular entirely false. Since mud sticks when enough has been thrown, though, I’m collecting statements from my (female) co-workers to repudiate this nonsense.

Next stop the appeal….

 February 16th

Thanks for the comment, XX; I didn’t join the Union because the RMT engine room rep threatened me with violence… an unfortunate circumstance, really. I’m going to hang out on the doorstep of the CAB this morning, to try and get some advice. (I cycled down there yesterday, but they’re closed to callers on Tuesdays. V frustrating.) But yes, their comments are entirely inappropriate, and I’m sure could be used againt them, especially with the battery of evidence which I’m gathering in my defence. Here’s what someone wrote for me… I think it’s very well-written.

I have known Dru Marland for the past 15 years – 12 of these years predating her decision to live as a woman and for the three years since she began transitioning. Dru has always had a very mobile face and expressive facial mannerisms which may be thought of as feminine – but these have always been part of her physical identity and have not changed or become more evident since she began living as a woman. It would be wilful misrepresentation of these to label them as ‘ provocative ‘. Neither has Dru changed any other element of her behaviour towards others – men or women – since she began living as a woman. I strongly believe that there is absolutely no possibility that Dru would have flirted with crew members or ‘camped it up’ – it would have been completely out of character before the change in her life and continues to be so now. It betrays a total misunderstanding of and prejudice against transexualism to suggest that she would have suddenly begun acting provocatively with members of the crew. A transitioning transexual is merely expressing his or her true physical identity and in no way assuming a new personality, way of behaving to others or even sexual orientation.

 March 11th

Being back on the team, as it were, I got invited down to the Old Vic for the launch party for the Bristol Books and Publishers website.

“A chance to network,” I said to my reflection in the mirror, though I knew that I was only fooling myself and I’d end up in the corner on my own… old habits die hard.

It’s downhill all the way, and on the bicycle borrowed from Suzanne (mine is dead, alas) I made it in ten minutes, where it would have taken half-an-hour in the car at that time of day. Too early, in fact; so I set off to cycle round the docks a bit. I eased the front wheel towards the kerb outside the Old Duke, and… –rather than surmount the kerb, it stopped dead. The back wheel came right up. I went flying over the handlebars, skirt up my back.

“Are you alright?” enquired some passers-by.

I was too consumed with laughter to reply…

And I did plenty networking, as it happened. It’s so much easier for the new me… people just came up to me. There’s the serious ones who work out in seconds that you’re no use to them and head off again; and there’s nice ones who chat away even if you are no use to them. And then there’s this old bloke with bad breath who butted into a conversation I was having with young Sophie from the bookshop, who’s about to head off round the world on her gap year. Bad Breath Bloke leaned against the wall, trapping me in place, and told me about his national service days in the Sudan. Sophie gave me the sympathetic look you give to someone who’s drowning, and tiptoed away.

And there was L****, who plagiarised something of mine once, and on being introduced to me, slunk guiltily away almost immediately. Ha.

And I met Vron; Veronica Smith, with whom I worked on a local history book a few years ago, just before coming out. She’s been in and out of Crohn’s disease; I’ve changed a bit, too. I stood in front of her. She didn’t recognise me. “It’s Dru”, I said. A few moments, and… it was a nice reunion. And her daughter Mandie arrived, late; she’d run out of petrol in St Paul’s –typical Mandie story. She’s working all hours in a call centre; last time we met, she was working on her own version of haute couture; chainmail dresses made of ringpulls, real concept stuff; unfortunately, the only outlet for it seemed to be fetish events…

A late night for me. A crusty called at me on Queens Road as I cycled home, “That’s a lovely smile you’ve got there, dear.” How right he was…

March 13th

Well, yurk.

Had to wash my hair again today. Seems only a couple of days since I last did. Probably because it was a couple of days.

Am I regressing? -I stopped taking Cyprostat a while back to see if it would ameliorate my lethargy and depression. And now I’m afraid to start back on it because there’s a Big Meeting coming up, and I want to be firing on all cylinders.

Got a letter from the HR Manager, P&O Dover yesterday. The final act of the grievance procedure is about to happen.

Think anglo saxon thoughts….

March 17th

The countdown’s ticking. Meeting HR Manager in Dover at 2:30 tomorrow. I put the finishing touches to my report, thirteen pages of closely reasoned vitriol, packaged in ring binder with those dinky little coloured cardboard dividers that stick out at the sides. And then I went to Debenhams and got yet another nice new interview skirt. And then to Waitrose and bought loads of comfort food; oven chips, bacon, cherry beer and red wine… the diet can go on hold for 48 hours.

Spring is happening full on at Schloss Marland, and the blue tits have taken up residence in the wall of the house opposite.

Bearwas blostmum nimað, byrig fægriað,
wongas wlitigað, woruld onetteð:

(The groves take to blossom, the dwellings become fair
The meadows grow beautiful, the world is active…)

March 19th

No charger have I, and no sword by my side
Yet still to adventure and battle I ride…

…So I drove to Dover, I went in there, I spoke well, they didn’t argue with the points I’d made in my appeal, they asked what outcomes I wanted, I told them acknowledgement of harassment and compensation for loss of earnings, harassment, injury to health, of hrumptytumpty pounds, mentioned I was all ready for a Tribunal if necessary, all went cordially and now I wait for a letter from them next week giving their decision…. they’d jolly well better come good this time… so. Back to the waiting.

An interlude…. watching big aeroplanes whizzing just over my head, and cars whizzing just by.

Me on the phone to The Other Parent.

 “Here’s a question for you: where is the worst possible place in the British Isles to break down?”

“….ahhh, …the M25 in the rush hour?”

“Bingo!”

…just got in after a ride in an AA truck. 22 hours after setting out…

Thank you all for the messages of support. I felt fortified in my resolve, stepping into the Heart of Darkness. It helped. Yes. No pasaran!

 April 2nd

I am angry and sick.

The letter from P&O came yesterday.

At the meeting the HR manager was not interested in discussing my case; he merely asked what I wanted.

Yesterday’s letter simply reiterates the previous decision, saying that I have not provided any further evidence… so I am invited to return to work. Either in my previous job or, since I get on so well with the people up top, as a stewardess.

So I’m now going to apply for an Employment Tribunal.

This farrago has taken six months. Six months of procrastination and duplicity.

Nice things are happening in my life, too. But I’m not going to mix them up with this posting.

April 9th

…there was a letter sitting on the doormat for me when we reached Bristol. It was a letter from the Employment Tribunal, acknowledging receipt of my application. I got a warm glow from the embossed notepaper with the royal crest and the words ‘Employment Tribunals’. The sort of glow that would no doubt have been felt by hard-pressed pioneers, trapped in their stockade for ages by savage Native Americans insistent upon teaching them Ancient Wisdom and Dancing With Wolves, when the tantivy is heard announcing the imminent arrival of the Cavalry. Sound the charge, bugler!

April 20th

It’s a lovely day today, and whatever you’ve got to do,
You’ve got a lovely day for doing it, it’s true…

I’m happy.

Why am I happy?

I’m happy because I’ve got a Nice Letter from the Employment Tribunal.

They’ve accepted the case.

So now I can go back to P&O and say, “My dad’s bigger than your dad…”

…which I shall be doing next Thursday, armed, as always, with the Sword of Truth and the Pickled Gherkin of Odd but Rather Tasty Mixed Metaphor…

This isn’t the end. It’s not even the beginning of the end. But it may be the end of the beginning of the middle bit of the beginning of the end… or something.

And I did my tax return online, and am now awaiting a large (how large? -oh, medium sized large) refund, some of which is going to go on a new bicycle. I could be financially responsible, but hey; life’s too short, y’know?

Organic Cumberland sausage for dinner tonight, and hang the consequences.

May 21

Right, it’s time to reclaim the diary thread. I’ve been avoiding it because the prospect of mentioning P&O yet again fills me with a combination of ennui and sick dread.

However, life goes on.

So I went to Dover yet again, and was faced with the same smiley HR Manager, who yet again expressed no particular interest in hearing my appeal against his decision on my grievance, and simply asked again what outcome I was looking for; but I foisted the document on him anyway, and went away (though not before he sought reassurance from me that I didn’t mind his playing a dirty game (not quite how he put it, but… after all, that’s how people do things, isn’t it? …in his world, evidently.)

And then last week I got a letter from some lawyers telling me that they were applying for a pre-hearing review, requesting that my Tribunal claim be declared void as it was served out of time. Sneaky little rascals. I wrote to the Tribunal, pointing out that the last of the incidents cited was later than the date that the lawyers stated, and therefore the claim WASN’T made out of time; and so I wait for the next move. More bloody delay and obstructiveness.

And that’s enough of that. Except to quote that bit of Shakespeare. You know, Dick the Butcher in Henry VI part II: “What we do next, let’s kill all the lawyers”

 May 25th

Well, I’ve been hitting depression on and off fairly hard lately, and the other night was really quite bad; I looked out of the window and there was a full moon low in the sky and I thought, “ah-HA…”

Yesterday afternoon I was down at the medic’s, picking up a prescription and giving him a sitrep.

The waiting room was absolutely chocker. When finally I went in, Dr C was looking somewhat harassed. I mentioned the huge crowd.

“Coughs and sneezes?” I ventured (I had spent some time sitting next to a lout in a rugby shirt who had emitted an endless succession of marshy sniffs)

“Full moon,” he replied. “We get all the psychiatrics in…”

Hoping I wasn’t included in this grouping, I went to Boots the Chemist, playing Spot the Loony.

First remove the plank from your own eye, eh?

June 8th

It’s been a busy week for the legal people.

In short order, I got the final decision from P&O on my appeal against their first decision on my grievance.

It’s pretty much the same as the previous one, they’re not admitting anything.

So I guess this is the point where I resign, claiming constructive dismissal.

Also I’ve got a date for the Tribunal pre-hearing review. This was called for by P&O who are trying to argue that my claim was made out of time. At least it’s sooner than I might have expected; 7th July, five days before my next Charing Cross appointment.

June 14th

The offensive has begun. This morning my letter of resignation on the grounds of constructive dismissal will hit the doormat at P&O Dover, along with demands for information from both them and the (hocchh…ptuiii) lawyers. Fix bayonets!

July 5th

Home to a rather disappointing letter; the Tribunal are unable to force P&O to divulge contact details for the people from whom I’d hoped to obtain witness statements. I was hit rather hard by that; all part of the current emotional roller-coaster.

On the other hand, I got a call from my ACAS conciliator yesterday. It seems that P&O are making quiet noises about coming to a negotiated settlement before the Tribunal. So I wrote a letter about how much I wanted and why, and made noises about being confident about my chances if we should go to Tribunal, and posted it last night. So…

 July 7th

There was a flurry of phone calls yesterday; P&O offered x pounds, and I said it was a risible figure. An hour later they offered double. I refused. I know what I’m worth, and it’s a damn size more than that…

Latest sitrep; today was the Pre-Hearing Review in Southampton, so I was up all night and set off shortly after dawn, because that’s such a nice time to travel, and it reminded me of how beautiful Wiltshire can be on a summer’s day, and if there’d been anyone hitching at that ungodly hour I’d have picked them up for old times’ sake, having crisscrossed that area by thumb and other means so many times in the distant past… on the way to Stonehenge, sleeping in fields, creaking along on rickety bicycle, bouncing over the tops on old MZ…

o get a grip.

-so I was plenty early in Southampton, and wandered around for a while looking for breakfast. Found a Big Shopping Mall, West Quay, and was checking out the sales when news about the bombs in London came through. Considered likelihood of West Quay being blown up… considered bargain sun dress… no contest.

Found proletarian cafe for fry-up breakfast, all in for £3.80 and very nice too.

And then it was time for the hearing.

P&O are now admitting ALL the harassment that took place. So now the issues left to decide are:

What harm was caused to my health? (I am claiming compensation for both damages to feelings and health). So my GP will do a report, and then they’re presumably going to ask for an independent examination. No probs.

How much mitigation to the harassment can be claimed by the fact that I ENCOURAGED it, as they continue to maintain. I look forward to hearing the evidence for that one. It went along the lines of: trying to catch someone’s eye (sic), blowing kisses and exagerrated pouting.

 July 12th

So today was my fourth visit to Charing Cross, and the first time I’ve been when it hasn’t been raining. Very much not raining, in fact. Total scorchio situation. Dressed in flimsiest summer dress, and off down the M4. Nearly pranged on the Hammersmith roundabout, parked up by the hospital and walked back up into Hammersmith along the Fulham Palace Road playing Spot the Tranny (wonder how many people clocked ME?) to find some lunch… pounced on by cosmetics salesgirl in the mall. She buffs away at nails with Patent Device. She looks at my face and smiles.

“What do you use for the bags under your eyes?” she asks.

“Sleeping pills,” I reply, “But they don’t help…”

Appointment with Dr L, covering the usual bases. Same bases, in fact, as I covered with Dr C,  five months ago. Dr L is under the impression that this is my first pre-surgery referral. I had been given the impression by Dr C that hers was the first pre-surgery referral. “Are you quite sure?” I ask. She is, it appears. O dear. Must write some letters.

July 30th

…we slowly move towards the Tribunal. I got a letter from P&O’s lawyers, with a consent form for me to sign, authorising release of my medical records to P&O’s Occupational Health Physician, as they are querying the extent to which my health suffered in consequence of the harassment. They list the people who would see my records

  • the medical expert
  • the respondent and its solicitors
  • the insurance company for the respondent
  • any other person or company officially involved with the claim

….which is pretty much Uncle Tom Cobbley and all. I replied that I was prepared to have the records scrutinised by a nominated health professional, and no-one else. I await their response…

Consequent on the pre-Hearing Review a couple of weeks back, I got an Order from the Chairman. The issues have been reduced to these:

  • Amount of compensation to be ordered
  • Whether I have properly mitigated my loss of earnings
  • Whether the treatment by the respondent has been the cause of any illness on my part.

…which appears to indicate that the allegations by P&O that I’d been acting provocatively, have been dropped. Which, if this is the case, is perhaps a pity; I would have liked to hear the Very Proper Lawyer describing, nay, demonstrating how I had Attempted To Catch Someone’s Eye and Acted In An Exaggeratedly Female Way… a scene worthy of Gilbert and Sullivan…

 Aug 27th

the Tribunal have written, at my request, to P&O asking why the heck they haven’t responded to my SD74 questionnaire, sent to them back in April (this is a set of questions which you may submit to the respondent in discrimination cases, and which they are obliged to respond to, unless they want to appear at the hearing with egg all over their faces. Mind you, some of the questions are Total Stinkers).

And I now have a medical report from my GP to present to the Tribunal.

Wait. Wait.


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