He was working 3 days a week at the stables, with 2 young … females. I was going to say ‘ladies’, but as you’ll see, their behaviour was far from ladylike. To begin with, the 3 of them got on really well, and I was happy that he was making a new set of friends. They even came to his last band concert in the summer to show their support. Soon after that, however, for reasons still unknown to Liam, they started to change.
I won’t name names, instead I’ll call them A and G; A is about 21 now, I think, and G is 18, just a couple of months older than Liam. He didn’t tell me straightaway when things started to go sour. But I noticed that he was getting less and less enthusiastic about going to work. He mentioned a few things, usually in the car on the way home, about how annoying he found them. But he also talked about some funny stuff. One thing I myself found off-putting was their preferred topic of conversation, which I usually heard snippets of while waiting for Liam to finish – boys (obviously, given their age) and sex. Lots of sex! And clubbing, and drinking. Again, lots of drinking. Which, at the end of the day, was none of my business.
Then Liam started to tell me more - the scolding (!) for turning up 40 minutes late, with them insisting he had to start work at 08:00, even though Richard (boss) said his work hours were 08:30 – 16:30, because he knew the drive took me about 40 minutes, sometimes longer, depending on the traffic. They belittled his work, especially around horses, regardless of the number of times he said that, unlike them, he hasn’t had much experience around horses – as far as they were concerned, that was no excuse, he should just know! They compared him unfavourably to guys they fancied, in front of him … In front of me, however, both A and G behaved ever so sweetly.
For Liam, the worst part was to do with one of the horses he was especially fond of, and she seemed to be quite fond of him too. He’d spend time with her, and found her presence calming. She belongs to Richard’s ex-wife (all get on amicably) who would always tell Liam to keep an eye on her horse, and look after her in the lady's absence. A and G started to ‘forbid’ Liam to go anywhere near the horse, trying to stop him spending time with her … A said if he didn’t listen to her, she would make his life very difficult. He wanted to know how, but she couldn’t give him an answer so just repeated that she would make his life difficult.
Anyway, the bullying got to the point where he phoned me, which he never does when he’s at work, only ever texts. He was in tears, and just wanted help to calm down. He said he’d finish his day at work, and I said I’d get there earlier. We had a long talk on the way home. He hadn’t told Richard because he was trying to work it out himself, and he didn’t want me to say anything to them either. As things were getting worse, he decided he wanted to leave. And I didn’t talk him out of it. This was back in September.
I know he could have spoken to Richard about it, but I thought he’d been through enough, so I phoned Richard and explained the situation. Interestingly, he wasn’t surprised as the girls, especially G, apparently had a bit of a reputation. Liam, bless him, said he’d work the Friday, and that would be his last day, and Richard was fine with that. Nothing was said to A and G about Liam leaving, until the end of the day when he said ‘bye, telling them that he was leaving. Talk about surprised! They had no idea why, and when he finally told them, they turned it right around, and said he couldn’t take criticism. At no point did they think they’d anything wrong.
I was particularly angry with them as their behaviour had put Liam off working at stables. So, after about 2 weeks of Liam wondering what jobs to apply for, he finally realised that he still wanted to work with horses. We were perusing other stables when, out of the blue, Liam got a call from Richard asking if he’d like to return to the stables, and that both girls had left. Well … !!
Richard said that after Liam left, A and G knew that Richard was angry with them. Gradually, the truth leaked out … some of the other girlies who helped at the stables admitted that they’d stopped coming around so much because they didn’t like A and G’s behaviour; people who came for lessons weren’t impressed with them; other people who helped out at the stables or boarded their horses there didn’t really like them either. So, it looks as if Liam had done Richard a favour.
Liam started back mid-October, and now works with 2 ladies, and he works 5 days – Mon and Thurs mornings, and all day Tues, Wed and Fridays. And he loves it! Vicky, who’s there full-time, is wonderful, and so is Hayley, the other lady who only works the mornings. They’re both in their early 30s, have small children, and are just so very nice. Liam especially likes Vicky – he says she’s sometimes like a mother-figure, and other times like an older sister. And she looks out for him, which, of course, I adore her for. They both know the ‘story’ of why Liam left, and he’s found them supportive. Especially as he still sees G sometimes; she keeps her horses at the stables over the road from where he works. But no words have been exchanged.
Without any fuss, Richard has given him more responsibilities. Vicky and Hayley have school-age kids, and need to get the school run out of the way before work. So Liam is the first one there, he opens up and is responsible for giving all the horses their breakfast – about 17 of them. He moves horses between fields on his own – riding bareback and leading 2 or 3. He does a walk-out with a young, disabled man (with his carers accompanying them). Goes into a field full of horses to ‘catch’ one ... One time the mist was so heavy, he couldn’t see too far ahead of him, and stood there, unimpressed, as he had to find and get a grey horse! And there are about 5 or so grey horses in that field! And yesterday, the horse he had to get was lying, flat out, in the field, enjoying the sun!