I did not, but long before the Richard and Judy Book Club was a thing, long before I even became Jane Green, I worked for Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan. I was a young publicist who was burnt out from working in entertainment PR in London, when I got a call from a man I adored, offering me a job as the publicist for the television show This Morning, presented by Richard and Judy.
I jumped at the opportunity, even though I didn’t really know anything about the show, nor, in fact, about Richard and Judy. But I couldn’t think of anything better than a fresh start in a new city, and my boss would be someone I got on incredibly well with. Within two weeks I was packed up and on my way.
I found a large, shabby chic flat in Didsbury, and spent most days driving from Manchester to Liverpool in my little Renault 5, which died so often, the men from the AA and I became friends. I eventually replaced that Renault with a Volkswagen Golf, which turned out to be two cars welded together (a “cut-n’shut” as it’s known in the dodgy car industry), which was in fact the most reliable car I have ever had.
I loved my job. I loved the people I worked with, many of whom are still close friends, twenty five years on. I loved the camaraderie we had, and the laughs we shared. I loved that we were able to sit at one end of the open-plan office smoking ourselves into an early grave, and if anyone complained, we all ignored them.
We were a happy bunch, apart from the fact that my boss, the man who had employed me, turned out to be something of a Jekyll and Hyde. I had thought he was wonderful, but within weeks of me starting I would watch as he routinely picked on one of my colleagues, bullying and abusing them to the point where grown men were almost in tears. I remember being shocked at this behavior from a man I had adored, and – oh how naïve I was – thinking that because we were already friends, it would never happen to me.
The day it happened was the day I stopped loving my job. One day he decided it was time to put me in his firing line, and my life was miserable from thereonin. He stole my ideas and presented them as his own in meetings where I sat there mute, disbelieving. He would regularly phone me in the early hours of the morning, screaming at me for some newspaper story about Richard and Judy that had appeared, that I knew nothing about. He diminished me, mocked me, screamed at me and bullied me, to the point where I would have a Pavlovian reaction every time the phone would ring, terrified it would be him, screaming on the other end.
When “me too” was flying round the internet, I kept quiet. I did not write about the times I have been scared or uncomfortable, the times I have been the victim of inappropriate behavior, sexual or otherwise. But I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the time I was bullied mercilessly at the hands of a man who held all the power.
I hope things change. I have no idea what happened to that man, but I hope Karma has done its job, and that wherever he is, he may have changed. I wouldn’t write me too, because – and I fully support all the women who did – but because it makes me feel like a victim, and I don’t ever want to feel like a victim again. But to all the women out there who have ever experienced anything like this, I know what it’s like. And I hope that if it ever happened again, I would have the fortitude to walk away.
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