Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Conflicting Interests All Over The Place

It's one of those days. First Mr Meeurghn phones, screeching about one of his neighbours picking on him. When I enquire a little further, it seems as if the neighbour objected to Mr Meeurghn ordering him to help carry a stereo and sofa up the stairs to Mr M's flat. Mr Meeurghn has no concept of the notion of asking someone nicely.

Now he says he can't go outside without the neighbour looking at him as if he wants to kill him.

"You write him and tell him," he yells.

"Tell him what?" I want to go home already. And it's only 10:30am.

"You tell him be nice to me, because I am refugee," says Mr Meeurghn.

I sometimes long for just a small part of the vast influence that Mr Meeurghn believes me to possess. I know who I'd use it on first - but that is just wishful thinking. In the absence of any meaningful super-powers, I spend ages trying to tell him that it is really up to him to improve his relationship with his neighbour, but he loses his temper and slams the phone down on me. I can't say I'm sorry.

Greg says, "He's on our list for the next DIY CRB check. Once bloody Recess is over."

I don't think we need to go and spy on Mr Meeurghn to know that he is a total nutter - not since the letter from the Home Office - but I suppose we could check out whether his neighbour looks like a reasonable person or not, just in case Mr M is telling the truth for once. You have to try to keep an open mind, after all. Though that's sometimes a bit of a tall order.

Then John Fuk-Yue phones. He tells me - for the umpteenth time - that the hospital have got his diagnosis wrong: that he has epilepsy, and not a personality disorder. He says that he needs an urgent meeting with me to discuss this in person, as he has to look into someone's eyes to trust them. I don't say that the problem with this idea is that I don't trust him, but I do agree to write to his doctor and express John's extreme disquiet.

"Remind me of the name of your GP?" I say. I can't remember everything off the top of my head, but John takes this as a personal affront.

"I've told you before," he says. "How many bloody times? I don't have a normal GP. I have that bastard that was allocated to me."

"Ah, yes - now I remember. Tell me again what reason they gave for that?"

"That I was too dangerous to be seen by anyone outside the secure medical centre," he says. "And all because I accidentally punched that nurse."

I take the name of the doctor, and agree to fax my letter to speed things up. I am instructed to include a long list of the specific symptoms which John believes signify epilepsy, and I am to point out that if he did have a personality disorder, his self-medication of paracetamol and alcohol wouldn't work. For Godsake - is everyone going to think they have the right to tell me how to do my job today?

I'm almost embarrassed to send the stupid letter, but John scares me more than a loss of dignity does, so I type it up quickly and fax it straight through. Half an hour later, I get a phone call from the medical centre. Doctor Granger would like to have an off-the-record conversation with me. I hate these - they are never good news.

"About our mutual acquaintance, Mr Fuk-Yue," he says. "If that's what he's still calling himself this week?"

"Yes," I say. "He hasn't changed his name for a while now."

"Well, you mentioned that he'd asked for a meeting with you. I'm phoning to tell you that I think that would be most inadvisable."

"Why's that?" I ask, though I have a horrible feeling that I already know the answer.

"Because he is an extremely dangerous, manipulative individual," says Doctor Granger. "You are aware of the special arrangements for his medical care?"

"Ye-es," I say. "He told me there was a misunderstanding when he punched a nurse by accident."

"Regrettably, there was a lot more to it than that, my dear. Suffice to say that, despite the guards at this facility, I myself will not see Mr Fuk-Yue without wearing a stab vest. I strongly advise that neither you nor your MP meet with him without security  - under any circumstances."

"Oh dear, I don't think Mr Sinclair will be happy about that. He refuses to have security, and doesn't believe that anyone should be denied access to their MP. Or to the MP's staff."

"Is Mr Sinclair there? I think I need to speak to him myself," says Dr Granger. God, he's masterful. I'd be quite turned on, if I wasn't so stressed. He reminds me of Johnny, apart from the Scottish accent. Or even Max, when he took control of the Josh situation yesterday. What is going on with my hormones?

The Boss is out of the office, trying to smooth over the situation with the St Helen's Road residents, so Dr Granger tells me to ask Andrew to call him when he comes back. I'm not very optimistic about the likely result of their conversation - realistically, as it turns out.

The Boss goes nuts when I explain what the GP wants. He yells at me, then phones Dr Granger and tells him that he has never had a problem with a constituent being violent, and that that is because of the way that he speaks to them - "soothingly and with respect."

I can only assume that Dr Granger demurs, because then Andrew says, "Unlike some people," in a rather offensive way.

There follows a lengthy argument, and then Andrew slams out of the office, glaring at me as he passes. I wait a few minutes, and then phone Dr Granger myself.

"I'm sorry to bother you, Doctor - but I just wanted to thank you for your efforts to ensure my safety, and to apologise for Mr Sinclair's manner," I say. "He is under rather a lot of pressure today."

"Between you and me, lassie, I'd say he's not under enough pressure. The man needs a reality check. How many times have you been threatened or assaulted?" he asks.

"Um, quite a few," I say. "But then I see constituents rather more often than Mr Sinclair does."

"Exactly the point I made to him, before he hung up," says Dr Granger. "You be careful, my dear. And do not see that man alone."

Considering that John likes to "just pop in", and has frequently been found hanging around in the one corner of the lobby that is not visible from the security door, I'm not at all sure how I'm going to manage to avoid this. But it is nice to know that someone cares.

Greg decides to add John to the DIY CRB list before we go home. In the process of noting down the address, he realises that John lives in the same street as Mr Meeurghn. How did I miss that?

"Great," says Greg. "We can kill two birds with one stone and check 'em both out at the same time."

"That's if they haven't killed each other first," I say.

This leads to the uncomfortable realisation that, if Mr Meeurghn's neighbour is John Fuk-Yue, then Mr M may actually have a valid reason for his paranoia, for once in his life. And I am smack in the middle of a conflict of interest. That'll teach me to gloat about Andrew's cock-up with the St Helen's Road Hostel.

Mind you, I suppose that if Mr M and John did kill each other, that'd be two less scary people to contend with on a regular basis. Or maybe I could suggest that The Boss offers to arbitrate and pays them both a home visit. Then we'd soon see how effective his supposedly soothing voice really is.

I'd better not mention this idea to Greg. He's so cross with The Boss that he'd probably set up that appointment straight away. I wouldn't mind paying Dr Granger a home visit, though. I really need to get a grip on my hormones.


  1. This is probably a stupid question...but are you not allowed to tell constituents where to get off with the more ridiculous suggestions? BG

  2. Not at all a stupid question - but answer depends on whether your MP will back you up or undermine you ;-)