For the purged
‘So,’ he said, ‘What makes you feel angry?’
I looked at him with the kind of face you pull when you really can’t believe that someone has asked you such a silly question.
‘You know better than anyone what makes me feel angry.’
He laughs. ‘I know what I think makes you feel angry but I don’t know if they are the same things. Tell me? I really want to know.’
I shrug and take a deep breath. I hate these word games but we have to play them so I might as well get it over with.
‘Child abuse, adult abuse, domestic violence, abuse of power – particularly when it is well-paid MPs and greedy members of officialdom taking money and services away from those who desperately need them. Let’s face it – abuse makes me angry – in any form.’
He nods calmly, infuriatingly calm in fact.
‘So how does it feel when someone who doesn’t even know you accuses you of ‘abusive behaviour’ then?’
That makes my hackles rise.
‘The alleged ‘abusive behaviour’ was accidental and it was not aimed at any individual, and doesn’t meet any prescribed criteria of abuse anyway.’
I can feel my face getting hot and red.
He nods. Still calm.
‘But somebody felt offended by that behaviour. Somebody felt strongly enough about the abusive behaviour to complain about it, didn’t they?’
‘No. It wasn’t like that and you know it wasn’t. The powers that be were after us because they disagreed with us. They were frightened of the power that we held due to our numbers and so they sought to cut those numbers down – by using underhand – and I think illegal methods.’
He frowns. ‘Illegal? How do you mean?’
‘I never gave anyone permission to go trawling through my social media accounts. I only gave them the details because they said that the information was needed to communicate with me. I don’t think that the person who originally made the form thought that the data would be used in such an underhand way. That kind of Machiavellian process comes from someone with a particularly devious and hateful mind.’
He is still frowning and I can see that I have him on uncomfortable ground. So do I press him or back off? I look over at my lovely friend; the one who supported me when I had to battle against authority before. She gives a very slight shake of her head and I back off. He looks down at his sheaf of papers again.
‘I need to ascertain whether or not you feel any regret over your actions – and whether you would be likely to make this kind of comment again.’
This really makes my blood boil. My friend is desperately trying to catch my eye and calm me down.
‘All I did was retweet something that someone else said – and unfortunately that same person added hash tags on the end of the tweet that I hadn’t even noticed. I subsequently found out that the words in those hash tags were banned from use three weeks later. I regret not noticing those words now but as they were banned after they had been used, I had no control over the action. Would I be likely to make that kind of comment again? No. Nor would I be so foolish as to allow anyone to have access to my social media accounts.’
‘That wasn’t quite what I was asking for.’
‘That is all you are going to get from me. I am the person whose reputation has been defamed, I lost my vote as a consequence of this underhand behaviour and now you expect me to grovel and apologise? Forget it mate!’
It is at this point that my friend puts her hand on my arm and turns to the young man.
‘Please don’t take it personally, we both know that you are trying to sort things out but I don’t think the people who started this realise how much harm has been done – or what a horrible position you are being put in having to go round and sort out issues that are of someone else’s causing.’
Although I am angry, I know that she is right. This earnest young man is not responsible for causing my anger. The people who did that are too frightened to face us because they know what damage they have done. It was intentional. All part of a noxious plan to put the wrong person back in power. I am still seething but I am back to a simmer rather than a boil.
‘I can offer you membership but this incident will stay on file.’
This is not fair but there is a bigger picture here. This ‘staying on file’ is intended to insult me and make me feel so angry that I stand up and walk away – if you don’t want me then I don’t want you. But that is exactly what they want. They failed to get rid of enough of us to win at the first attempt, so now they are trying to alienate us with this additional slight.
I look across at my friend and she nods.
‘Okay. Do what you want. I want to be a member so that I can help to get rid of the people who are attacking the vulnerable people and making them suffer.’
His shoulders slowly sink back down to a normal level and he seems surprised that I have capitulated so easily.
‘It isn’t just about me you see. I have to remember that there is a bigger picture. I really don’t care about what your boss and his deluded friends think of me. My thoughts are my own and will stay that way if there is any chance that they’ll be used against me again. There is one thing though…’
My friend looks worried and so does the young man.
‘Not only do I love the Foo Fighters, the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and the Stranglers, but Lemmy from Motorhead will always be my hero. So ner.’
It ends in laughter and more than a little relief. I don’t see it as stepping down. There is work to be done and I need my freedom in order to support others.
And then I stepped out of the shower.