The following story is an honest account of events which really happened in 2008 onwards and which remain ongoing. Having battled my way through every twisted turn I thought it more entertaining, if not therapeutic, to transport the events back to the medieval 13th century when such behaviour was probably more the norm than one would expect to find in the 21st century.
At the end of the story is the KEY to the actual names of the people involved, anagrams and words spelt backwards.
”THE MEDEVIL HISTORY OF CASTLE SANCTUARY” by Geoff McLaughlin
Once upon a time in the magical land of kernow lived the pixies of timber. The pixies shared six silver toadstools which were planted in the shared area. The toadstools were owned by the Dodgy Drolland from Noved and the pixies paid a weekly sum for the upkeep of them. The Wicked Witch from Noved was responsible for this being carried out and relied upon the Shortsighted One to keep her informed as it was she who regularly visited the pixies.
The pixies were a colourful bunch of characters and some, like legend, were not quite good enough for heaven, nor bad enough for hell. Most kept themselves to themselves and knew each other well enough not to upset one another. Others were more vulnerable for one reason or another but were never a problem to anyone.
Amongst the sixteen dwellings lived an anti-social Ogre, who’s voice sounded like thunder, and who damaged two of the toadstools. Fortunately a Good Knight reported this to the Shortsighted One, along with other issues, but the toadstools remained unkept and uncared for.
The Good Knight became unhappy with this failure and lodged a formal complaint with the clerks of the Dodgy Drolland. Although this declaration should have officially gone on to a second stage it completely vanished as if by magic. The Good Knight was unhappy with this disappearance so put forward another formal declaration but this too simply vanished like a dying flame from a dragons breath.
Around this time the selfish Ogre decided he would take an area of land belonging to all the pixies and turn it into his own private garden. By introducing plants which grew up and out of control branches soon began to interfere with two further toadstools leaving just two of the original six in use.
The Good Knight was unhappy about this and reported it to both the Shortsighted One and the Wicked Witch. The Good Knight also expressed his displeasure with being continually woken by the Ogre’s noisy late night and early morning anti-social gardening behaviour. To make matters worse the Serfs from Noved began neglecting the hedgerows, which the pixies also paid to have maintained, and they too grew up and out of control to interfere with the toadstools.
The Good Knight had had enough by now and forwarded yet another formal declaration to Noved. As if by magic his declaration was immediately escalated to stage two for investigation by the Wicked Witch herself.
Time passed and the Wicked Witch ruled the Ogre had only introduced a few plants so had done no harm. The Good Knight was unhappy with this and suggested the Wicked Witch put arrogant butt on broomstick and visit the magical land of kernow and investigate for herself rather than rely on the sightings of Shortsighted Ones.
Yet more time passed and both the Wicked Witch and the Shortsighted One journeyed to the magical land of kernow to investigate the problems properly. The Wicked Witch made many notes with sharpened finger nails and produced a ‘Witch Report’ no sensible person would ever buy. Startled by the Ogre grunting down to them from above they moved some distance away from his un-authorised garden, the overgrown hedgerows and plants.
On realising she had created one almighty cesspit of a problem the Wicked Witch decided not to release the toadstools from their incarceration and summoned the Slimy Serpent from Noved. He was in a perfect position to help and a dark and evil potion was soon bubbling away in the cauldron. From the very moment the witch’s brew was released the pixies continued to be robbed and deceived by this underhanded and unlawful plot.
The plot involved each pixie being given a returnable form on which there were a number of yay or nay questions. The purpose of the form was to deceive the pixies, including the vulnerable ones, into voting for the return of their neglected environment back to how it should always have been before the Shortsighted One and the Wicked Witch had neglected it. The ‘Deed of Deception’ was therefore the Wicked Witch’s solution to protect both herself, the Shortsighted One and others from Noved. More importantly it also protected the Dodgy Drolland from liability since it was he who was legally responsible for maintaining that environment. Apart from deceiving the pixies the Deed of Deception also wrongly punished and stole money from the pixies by extending the amount of time the pixies were denied all the services they were entitled to and continued to pay for each week.
The Slimy Serpent was summoned because he was responsible for an earlier survey which could be linked to the Deed of Deception to give it the degree of credibility it needed in order to satisfactorily deceive the pixies. The Good Knight was unhappy with all that had gone on and knew the devil was in the detail. Although the Good Knight questioned the validity of what they were doing he got few straight answers in reply.
Following the conclusion of the sinister acts the toadstools were replaced and the garden was levelled by the Serfs. The hedgerows were also reduced but later. The Ogre unhappy with losing his garden soon set about making another with everything the Serfs had left behind which was pretty much everything they had removed.
Remaining unhappy the Good Knight decided to continue his stage two crusade in pursuit of the truth. The Wicked Witch now moved the ghoul post and insisted the Good Knight exclude some of his complaint before it could even be considered for stage three. The Good Knight was unhappy with this since it appeared the Wicked Witch’s only interest was to protect herself, the Shortsighted One, the Serfs, the Ogre, the Slimy Serpent and the Dodgy Drolland, and not the pixies.
Realising her black and evil cloaking system had failed to prevent her true motives being exposed the Wicked Witch now had little choice but to summon Dick the Head Sorcerer from Noved. Dick the Head was not only her superior but was ‘the’ head sorcerer when it came to spells and potions and anything else which looked like doggy doo or smelt like bullshit.
Now that the complaint had risen to a higher level, but also decended into a darker more uncertain place, the Good Knight would now no longer directly cross swords with the Wicked Witch, the Shortsighted One or the Slimy Serpent. The Good Knight was not overly happy with this escalation because he knew his nobel skills would now be tested to the limit from every dirty trick and pointy weapon in the armoury of Dick the Head.
Since his birth in the magical land of kernow on the day of St George, the dragon slayer, the Good Knight had fought many fights and had shed much blood and knew from every cut and wound that the more highly paid the professional the less honourable the man. The Good Knight’s armour was itself a testament to this since most deep cuts and wounds from such opponents were inflicted through the back and not the front. The notion of a level battlefield and chivalrous conduct from such an adversary was the stuff of fairy tales and of political manifestos.
The Good Knight knew the higher he climbed to seek out the truth the more distant and cloudier the truth would become, but the Good Knight had come too far to turn back. With the flag of St Piran at his side with it’s white cross, the dressed tin, over the darker and more sinister black tin ore background reminded the Good Knight of it’s representation of good over evil and of the challenges ahead.
Having thrown down the gaunlet the challenge was soon taken up by Dick the Head in defense of all those from Noved. Athough he did accept some of the Wicked Witch’s spells lacked proper spelling he did not think this sufficient enough to ex-spell her to the vile dungeons of Noved for a spell. Broom Broom. He also accepted that some delays were as useful as a one legged Witch called Eileen.
One particular area of contention for him was the Good Knight’s use of colourful metaphors towards those from Noved. That in some perverse way those responsible for stealing from the pixies, cheating the pixies, lying to the pixies and deceiving the pixies did not deserve such language because they were in some way better and more honourable for having flushed so many of the pixies rights and entitlements down the sewar.
To put an end to the cursed deadlock Dick the Head proposed a tournament on neutral ground where both the Good Knight and an elected Knight from Noved, famous for it’s gory knight school and bloodcurdling knight life, would engage in verbal combat without the use of armour or weaponry. A level battlefield where an impartial mediator would impartially mediate to reconcile both camps.
The Good Knight was happy to consider this form of engagement but needed more information. Messages were sent and messages were received by messengers on foot and the Good Knight studied all that was written and offered. Turning the thumbscrew ever tighter Dick the Head then underhandedly proposed to exclude even more of the complaint, beyond that threatened by the Wicked Witch, if the Good Knight did not agree to combat by mediation, but would exclude nothing if he did agree.
A complaint to the Dumb Mason remained a possibility but Dick the Head had already made it quite clear he would personally influence any decision resulting from such a complaint. It was also highly unlikely the complaint would even have been considered by the Dumb Mason since the original complaint was still unresolved and at stage two. Obstructed first by the Wicked Witch and then by Dick the Head to protect all those from Noved from scrutiny and punishment for the wickedness they had brought upon the pixies of timber. Unhappy with such dark forces at work the Good Knight could already sense stabbing pains in his back so strapped on his shield.
An offer to meet the cost of the tournament was made by Dick the Head including a recommendation on who best to use, but some doubt surrounded this offer if the Good Knight did not accept his recommendation. Unhappy with this somewhat conditional offer the Good Knight despatched messages to the encampment of SPAT at Stenchmare, the recommended one, to seek their attention and guidance. Time passed and the Good Knight was then contacted by the Old Hag of SPAT at Stenchmare, head bull and stool consultant, who was also mediator for the domain of kernow and adjoining lands.
Messages flew to and fro with the speed of an arrow and the Old Hag then proposed to journey to the magical land of kernow and seek audience with the Good Knight. That the Old Hag would then, having left the magical land of kernow, later seek an audience with representatives of the Dodgy Drolland. Arrangements would then be made for both camps to meet for verbal combat by mediation. The Old Hag requested the Good Knight arrange a venue in the magical land of kernow where they both could meet and talk, and also provide some dates and times to agree upon. The Old Hag also requested details for horses Satus and Navicus.
Ye Olde Tea Room at Goent in the magical land of kernow was the chosen venue by the Good Knight because it was small and informal enough for a two way discussion. A date and time was eventually agreed upon and the meeting was set.
The chosen day was an ordinary sort of day for the Good Knight and he had already done a days worth of nobel jousting before entering Ye Olde Tea Room at Goent. The Old Hag was sitting by a window with papers a plenty and the Good Knight introduced himself to her. Once the discussion was under way the Old Hag then announced that a Knight representing the Dodgy Drolland was nearby and would like to join the discussion to seek common ground. The Good Knight unhappily agreed to this because to have disagreed would equally have disadvantaged him. The knight, answering to the name of Mare because she was a female Knight, appeared and approached the small table near the window. After formal introductions the Knight Mare seated herself opposite the Old Hag and with the Good Knight to her right.
Feeling somewhat vulnerable to attack and challenge the Good Knight had neither his documents, notes or even pen and paper with him with which to argue or defend his ground. Items which were a plenty before the Old Hag and the Knight Mare. It was becoming clearer to the Good Knight that a trap had been set many days perhaps weeks before which relied upon him being kept in the dark and unprepared for what they had planned.
As the meeting went on it also became evident to the Good Knight that the Old Hag was defending the Dodgy Drolland and those from Noved far more forcefully and loudly than even the Knight Mare. This itself was greatly at odds with her impartial role as Mediator. What possible motive could the Old Hag have had for deceiving the Good Knight other than to protect someone or something. The Old Hag had already let it slip that she personally knew Dick the Head in using only his first name in an earlier letter to the Good Knight. She also appeared to know some of the other warty toads from Noved as well.
Returning to this dilemma the Good Knight then wondered if the Old Hag had simply been bought, like one would buy a piece of meat from the butcher’s, to deliver whatever outcome was needed. Whatever outcome was needed by those covering the costs perhaps. Was this the reason why Dick the Head was so insistent the Good Knight accept his recommendation to use only SPAT ?
The deadlock issues, such as the Deed of Deception, which had led both the Wicked Witch and Dick the Head to block the stage 2 complaint from proceeding, could not be resolved because the Knight Mare had confessed she knew little about it. The earlier promise that the issues would be discussed and resolved if mediation took place was simply a lie by Dick the Head to entice the Good Knight into the trap which later followed. A trap which sought only to bury the issues once and for all knowing they could never be resurrected because of the terms of mediation. Terms which were not known to the Good Knight until after the mediation process had concluded.
Within a day of the meeting the Good Knight had sent word to the despicable Old Hag condemning what the Old Hag had done. That the Old Hag had acted neither impartially or professionally and ought to resign from SPAT. In return the Good Knight promised he would not declare war on SPAT itself.
Within weeks of that meeting the Good Knight received word by messenger that the Shortsighted One would be replaced by a one Will Seymore. The Good Knight immediately sent message to Noved demanding to know who Will Seymore would be accountable to in Noved. He was later advised it would be to the Wicked Witch.
Within a month of that meeting a report was received by the Good Knight predictably favouring the Dodgy Drolland and those from Noved. As white a wash of the truth as the whiteness of paper it was written upon. A report which sought only to highlight the trivial, avoid the difficult and exclude the serious.
Thirty pieces of silver (£225.00) were offered to the Good Knight to compensate him for the time that had elapsed without all six toadstalls and for the neglected environment. The actual calculation spanning a two year period. Athough the Good Knight had also fought on behalf of the pixies, and that both the Old Hag and SPAT of Stenchmare actively promoted “tenant empowerment”, no such offer of compensation was ever made to the pixies or even to the local authoritive rulers who had also been cheated by those from Noved.
The Good Knight declined the payment and also refused to legitimize a report of less worth than the ink used to write it. Ink which was as dark and as sinister as those who sought to dishonestly gain from it and avoid official scrutiny within it. A report so one sided that it sought only to protect those from Noved above those they were obliged to serve first, namely the pixies.
Around this time Dick the Head introduced a serial and vexatious complainant policy against the Good Knight to run for a period of six months. This was introduced under the guise that the Good Knight had continued to request some at Noved resign or be sacked. A more likely reason for it’s introduction was that it protected Dick the Head from any questions and scrutiny in the wake of the failed mediation scam for a period of six months.
Still pondering why the Old Hag had corrupted the mediation process the Good Knight also considered one other possibility. That a result in favour of the Dodgy Drolland would also help SPAT uphold and maintain the praise it had previously bestowed upon the Dodgy Drolland by way of the first ever SPAT Accreditation Award, and it’s Re-Accreditation in the same year as the corrupted mediation process. A double edged sword which delivered what both parties needed, and for the good of their industry, and one which also had a lethal tip with which to severely damage the Good Knight and his nobel cause.
Defending himself from further injury the Good Knight then launched a counter attack on SPAT itself and again insisted the Old Hag resign before the beginning of the new year. In order to achieve this the Good Knight sent message to the Chief Evil One, CEO of SPAT at Stenchmare, requesting the Old Hag be investigated. The Chief Evil One agreed to investigate the Old Hag as a matter of priority and promised she would report back to the Good Knight the second week into the new year.
The second week came and went without word so the Good Knight sent message to the Chief Evil One in the second month demanding to know why she had not honoured her promise to investigate the Old Hag. The Chief Evil One explained that the Old Hag was on leave due to serious illness of a close family member, which sadly resulted in bereavement, and that she would speak with the Old Hag once back at work.
Having already waited too long the Good Knight’s patience was now beginning to wear a bit thin as niggling questions began to replace the genuine sorrow he had for the Old Hag and her loss. The Good Knight knew that as human as professionals are they tend not to endulge in anything other than their careers too long. With this in mind the Good Knight began to investigate the Old Hag’s whereabouts since the beginning of the new year and discovered an association with the Ye Olde London Borough of Hounslow.
The Good Knight sent message to Hounslow Homes regarding a consultation period it had conducted during the first month of the new year, and received word back a few days later. It confirmed the Old Hag had been in attendance on behalf of SPAT during that consultation period and was available to speak and to respond to queries from tenants and from leaseholders.
This confirmed that not only had the Chief Evil One been lying about the Old Hag’s whereabouts but that she was also vile enough to use a deceased person, if true, to substantiate that lie. It also confirmed the Old Hag had not resigned before the new year as the Good Knight had hoped. When confronted with the evidence from London the Chief Evil One perversely gave her support to the Old Hag and upheld her conduct and her impartiality in the earlier combat by mediation.
With both the Old Hag and Chief Evil One now ducking questions behind the castle loopholes and Dick the Head and those from Noved cowering behind a parapet of complainant policy the Good Knight could proceed no further. The drawbridge was up and an eerie silence had replaced the noise of battle now that the guilty were protected within the sanctuary of the castle. The water in the moat was left to stagnate and turn rancid beyond a point of no return in the same way peace was no longer possible and that truth would slowly decend into an unmarked grave previously dug by smart suited professionals from Noved and Stenchmare.
Sanctuary within and the Shafted and Buried without. Though it has to be remembered that in medieval law a sanctuary was an asylum for felons on the run from the law, fitting, and which should not be confused with an animal sanctuary which is a place where animals live and are protected, no less fitting.
Without the enormous wealth and power the professionals had at their disposal the Good Knight was never going to bring the corrupt to justice using a legal system only available to the rich and the powerful. Nor was the Good Knight ever going to storm the castle and breach it’s defences and force them into admitting the truth without an almighty army he did not have.
Stumbling down from his horse and dropping his shield and sword to the ground the Good Knight felt drained and defeated for the very first time. As he looked up and surveyed the battlements towering above him and sensed the sheer mass of curtain wall before him extending off to the left and to the right without end, the Good Knight began to question how it had all come to this.
The notion of this fairytale castle protecting only the corrupt while the good and the vulnerable remained outside and without any true protection was not an ending the Good Knight had ever envisaged. Castle Sanctuary, as it was now known far and wide, now symbolised everything that had become rotten with this story and that which could deny it a happy ending.
This goliath of a structure, the system, had allowed the corrupt to control and abuse the rights of those outside without fear of penalty or punishment while they remained within the protection of it’s walls. Throughout the Good Knight’s nobel journey the system had plotted his every course because the system had always dictated the terms and the direction. There was no other system and no other path on which the Good Knight could have travelled.
The notion that the “truth” had in someway descended into hell because of something the Good Knight did or did not do in defence of himself and the pixies was a nonsence. It had descended into hell because the corrupt freely chose that crooked path from the very beginning. A path which became even more sinister once it had descended deep into the bowels of the boardroom and the VIPs, the Vile and Insidious Professionals, as they conspired to unceremoniously bury the truth without scrutiny, protect only the corrupt, and protect the rotten system which had made it all possible.
A crooked path which also prolonged the Good Knight’s tortuous journey from weeks into months and months into years.
From the very moment Dick the Head freely chose to defend only the corrupt and placed the black helmet with single engraved “D” (your call) upon his head he became their saviour. His contribution in denying the Good Knight passage through the official complaints procedure, thereby also unfairly denying the Good Knight access to the Dumb Mason, and unfairly using his influence at SPAT to unfairly deny the Good Knight a fair and honest passage through Mediation was the stuff of legend throughout the dungeons of hell. ‘Dastardly Dick’s Dirty Tricks’ became the chant of the day as Dick the Head became a role model to all aspiring professionals and was accredited, jointly with SPAT, for perfecting the lowest moral standards throughout the industry.
Surveying Castle Sanctuary one last time the Good Knight’s eyes were distracted by two wavering flag set high above the battlements. On one flag was a motif of deadly knightshade leaves and the words ‘Investors in People’, and on the other the words ‘Tenant Empowerment’ both of which confirmed the overpowering stench of bullshit in the air was definately coming from the castle, from the system.
Riding off and leaving his sword and shield where they had earlier fallen the Good Knight had already begun to plan one last defence of the truth and everything you, the reader, would expect from a proper fairytale ending. A level battlefield where the corrupt would no longer dictate terms, would no longer be able to lie and cheat and would no longer be allowed to hide behind a facade of respectibility provided by SPAT, the industry wash and spin machine.
Remembering the pen is mightier than the sword the Good Knight then spent many months near Lostwithiel, his birthplace in the magical land of kernow, creating the level battlefield you now see before you. A battlefield which acknowledges the professionals have unfairly won many battles but will not be allowed to win the war.
Intellectual Property of G McLaughlin Copyright (C) April 2011
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or used in any form without prior permission of the author or Geoff’s Cameras. Posted 19th April 2011.
All the characters are real people who work for two large charitable organisations. Sanctuary Housing, Exeter, and T.P.A.S., The Tenant Participation Advisory Service.
I look forward to the day when Sanctuary Housing Association’s Complaints Procedure will truly protect the customer/tenant from the abuses and failures of it’s employees.
Silver toadstalls = Rotary Driers
Pixies = Tenants
Drolland = Landlord (Anagram), Sanctuary Shaftesbury
Noved = Devon (Backwards)
Wicked Witch = Janet Swales, Area Manager, Sanctuary Shaftesbury *
Shortsighted One = Service Delivery Officer, Sanctuary Shaftesbury
Ogre = Anti-Social Tenant
Good Knight = Author
Serfs = Maintenance and Gardeners, Sanctuary Shaftesbury
Slimy Serpent = Michael Howarth, Community Developement Officer, Sanctuary Shaftesbury *
Dick the Head = Richard Keeley, Regional Director, Sanctuary Shaftesbury *
Dumb Mason = Ombudsman (Anagram)
SPAT = T.P.A.S., Tenant Participation Advisory Service
Stenchmare = Manchester (Anagram)
Gonet = Tengo Tea Room, St Austell
Old Hag = Oonah Lacey, Mediator with T.P.A.S., Tenant Participation Advisory Service *
Knight Mare = Diane Parsons, Business Support Manager, Sanctuary Exeter *
Will Seymore = Rob Carnon, Housing Officer, Sanctuary Shaftesbury
Chief Evil One = Michelle Reid, Chief Executive Officer, T.P.A.S., Tenant Participation Advisory Service *
Simon Clark, Sanctuary Housing Group Director – Housing and Communities, admitted in writing almost a year after Mediation that I had never formally agreed to Mediation and that the Scam was a “genuine misunderstanding”. Unfortunately his letter of 7th October 2011 failed to explain why a number of senior officers with TPAS and Sanctuary Housing failed to realise this “genuine misunderstanding” when asked to investigate my complaint shortly after it happened. My complaint to Sanctuary Housing remains uninvestigated.
Apart from rubbishing TPAS CEO Michelle Reid’s own investigation into Oonah Lacey and upholding her role in mediation, Mr Clark’s confession has raised more questions than answers.
In 2012 I was arrested by Devon & Cornwall Police for harassment of Oonah Lacey online and which proved to be unlawful. Following a 15 month investigation by the IPCC 2 Sergeants and 2 PCs were reprimanded. Unfortunately the IPCC failed to investigate more serious allegations involving Sanctuary Housing and failed to determine if the 4 Officers were ordered to do what they did or they were bribed.