I had a message from an avid reader of my blog, Bipolarcoaster yesterday; they had been reading about Verruca Almond, the first in a series of parodies, I had written about my ex boss, bully and sociopath, Vera Lynham. This was the woman, who I reported to on a daily basis, the person who I trusted and someone I looked up to, She had worked for Oxfam for about fifteen years and is still there today, in the same region I used to work for. By all accounts she is still up to her old tricks, bullying her way through peoples lives, left unchecked and confirmed in situ by the charity I used to work for.
Verruca Almond first appeared in my blog, Bipolarcoaster, on 20 July 2015, a little over two years ago now. I had recently found out that Vera was a sociopath, or to give it its medical term, she suffered from 'Anti Social Personality Disorder;' I needed a way of expressing my feelings about this person, who I had worked for, for five plus years, choosing to write a parody, referencing her role in my life, not as my employer, but as a carer, teaching me her sociopathic ways, helping me through a difficult time in my life. Of course Verruca, like my Manager wasn't helping me at all, nothing could be further from the truth.
Who is Vera?
In order to understand Verruca, one first has to understand Vera, so I will try and explain what I know about her, through conversations with those who knew and worked with her, including her superiors and colleagues; as well as my own experiences.
Vera became my Area Manager in 2009, replacing a man I had always admired, someone who had helped me much during my time at Oxfam. At first I believed she was okay; she was friendly, personable and always fun to be around, at least to begin with. She had been moved from another region, for reasons none of us who worked in the South West, fully understood. Vera used to manage an area in West London, moving down south for dubious reasons, the truth covered up, buried, hidden away. She had always been a bully and was constantly moved from area to area, as her deviant nature became known and other victims stood up to her.
I was attending a 'New Products' meeting at Oxfam House, shortly after she had been installed as our new Commander in Chief, when her name first came up in conversation. I was sat on a table with other colleagues; all of us were discussing our jobs and managers, as part of an introduction, a team building process, as they call it. As soon as I mentioned my Manager, I was immediately confronted by sad, almost sorrowful faces. A lady took me to one side, someone who used to work with her and quietly gave me some advice. I was told to be very careful of her, she wasn't a nice person and I should watch my back.
I was a little confused at the time. Vera was great, she was doing what she could to help me and my career. She reminded me of Mary Poppins, very quietly spoken and always there offering advice; she did feel more like a friend, than an employer. At the time I dismissed comments made by others as just personal grudges from people who were jealous of her success; I didn't recognise this woman they were describing to me.
Vera reminded me of Lady Campanula Tottingham, the cartoon character from Wallace and Gromit, certainly in looks.
I had no reason to doubt her sincerity but then as I am frequently informed, I am a terrible judge of character; this woman was just another terrible person from a long list of bad people in my life, but she was more than that, she really was a deviant individual, working right at the heart of Oxfam. All along I should have been walking away from her, not being drawn in to her web of deceit.
Eventually, I began to realise who she really was, but just couldn't bring myself to quite believe it. Vera Lynham had given me the responsibility of interviewing new Managers with her, helping to employ many. On one occasion, we had to travel to my old home town of Fareham, sitting in a cafe in the shopping centre preparing questions, when she asked for my opinion on a position that had just arose in the area, that of mentor for new Managers. Three people had applied for the position; Dan and Hayley from Hythe and Petula from our Romsey shop; she asked me who I would choose. Immediately I mentioned Hayley; I had heard good reports about her and thought she would be perfect for the job. As soon as I communicated her name, Vera looked up from her notes, scowling at me. 'I would never employ her, she has too many issues, that rule her out. Not even in the running!' I was so shocked at how she spoke about a colleague, stopping all discussion in its tracks, informing me of sensitive information, that I certainly can't print on my blog. As I know now, these two feisty women were at logger heads, constantly, battling one another, working against each other, trying to ruin reputations. These two were very similar individuals; it was likely they were both sociopathic in their behaviour.
As I became ill, through the negligence of Oxfam and growing attacks by Vera, I was signed off work. I was persuaded to take action against Mrs Lynham by Head Office and of course Hayley, who helped myself and my partner draft a series of complaints against this woman, speaking up on our behalf when she could. Hayley was put in place to help me and Darrell, because she was a thorn in Vera's side, a person who was her equal and match and like her had no morals when trying to destroy another person. They both had no conscience, they were both sociopaths, used by Oxfam to try and discredit each other, in order to remove Vera from the organisation she worked for; after all the only match for a sociopath is another sociopath. At the time I found it all very odd, confusing behaviour; today I can understand why everything happened as it did.
The photograph above is a depiction of Vera, as I saw her in my dreams. When I became aware of who or rather what she was, I frequently experienced nightmares and still do to some extent, This 'BLOODY WOMAN' would haunt me day and night. She was a dangerous individual, who had complete control over me, for many years and I never knew it, she will always be there, waiting to finish the job she started.
Writing about my experiences with Vera at the time, when I was removed from work was a difficult undertaking, to say the least. I was still employed by Oxfam and didn't know whether or not I would continue working for them in the future; what I was doing, was a sackable offence. I came up with the name Verruca Almond, the carer, who cared a little too much. just like Vera had claimed, looking out for me, attentive towards my needs. Vera became a great tool for offloading my anger and frustration, putting a lighthearted spin on a situation that was horrendous and horrific in nature.
My housemate at the time, Jay, who also worked for Oxfam would dress up in a ginger wig and thick glasses, he was the spitting image of my nemesis and we would come up with the most bizarre stories associated with this wicked woman. Anyone who knew her, would be under no illusion about whom we were referring.
Many people from our region did read my first and second blog, many still do, following my life, living in Spain away from the ghosts of the past. I was contacted by numerous colleagues who understood just who Vera was, through my muses, stories and recollections. I was a person who had suffered at her hands, but used my writing and Vera to overcome my difficulties.
Vera still pops up from time to time, contacting me when she can; you can of course read all about her, in the Verruca Almond section of this blog. Vera Lynham, my sociopathic boss, will always be in my life because of the crimes she committed. Vera, helps ease the trauma and deal with the pain she caused, because we still need each other; everyone needs someone like Vera in their life; she and others like her are a warning to all of us, to pick those we associate with wisely!
I first started writing about Verruca Almond, in my fist blog Bipolarcoaster. Verruca was a parody of my then boss Vera Lynham; the woman responsible for bullying, harassment, homophobia, lies and attacks against myself, my partner and other good members of staff. I created Verruca as a tool to offload my frustration and anger at the time and it worked.