Richard was, until his retirement a few months ago, a warder at the prison just across the fields from here. Probably less than a mile as the crow flies.
One day not too long ago, Sadie the German Shepherd and I bumped into him on our walk.
"Hi Rich", I greeted him. "How's things?"
Richards normal morose expression changed to exceedingly morose. "I'm bloody well annoyed."
As Sadie, and Richards black labrador Jack, conducted a detailed analysis of each others rear quarters. He told me that he was so fed up, he was seriously contemplating selling up and moving away from the area. The thing which had brought about this thinking on his part, was that every day when he looked out of his kitchen window, he was confronted with the sight of one of his former clients, sitting on the grass verge opposite his house. In this hyper sensitive politically correct age I knew that when he used the word 'client' he was in fact referring to an ex prisoner.
Due to client confidentiality Richard was not able to go into any more detail. I commiserated with him. Said goodbye, and Sadie and I went on our way.
Two or three days after this exchange, Tricia, my friend and former partner, told me that she was thinking of employing someone to come and help her in the garden for a few hours a week. On hearing this I went through my usual speil of telling her it wasn't necessary to employ someone, as I was always available to help. Having heard this before, she laughed, thanked me for my kind offer, and told me she was going ahead with her plan anyway.
I didn't like the new gardener at all. He seemed a bit smarmy, and a bit too familiar if you ask me. He was there more than a few hours a week too. Once I overheard him tell Tricia to make a cup of tea for them both and come and have a sit down. The cheeky b-----d. Added to that, he never even had any garden tools of his own. Always wanting to borrow mine. Normally I have this maxim. If you need to borrow something more than three times then you probably need to buy one for yourself. In this case though, because it was helping Tricia I let him get away with it.
Move forward a few days. I get a phone call from Tricia. She wants me to call round to the house. It is urgent. She sounds upset, so of course I hurry round to see what the problem is.
Richard has been around. He is concerned for her. The new gardener is one of his former clients. The one who has been sitting on the grass verge outside his house every day.
The new gardener is out on licence from prison. The new gardener is a double wife murderer!
Understandably Tricia has changed her mind. She doesn't want anyone helping in the garden. She is worried and frightened and doesn't know what to do, how to get rid of him.
Gallantly, and with extreme heroism, if I do say so myself. I offer to tell him to go away.
"No"! She says. "He might kill you"!
"He won't kill me". I tell her. Adding thoughtfully. "He only kills women."
"You mustn't say anything to upset him. He might come back and stab me in the night".
After I have reassured her with the thought that he only kills women he is married to. We hit upon the solution to this somewhat tricky situation. Tricia will simply tell him that her financial circumstances have changed, and she cannot afford to pay him.
It turns out that this man uses a technique known as passive aggression to get his way. He is extremely good at it. It is a technique which a well mannered person, such as Tricia would find hard to resist. It relies on a person being simply unable to know how to tell the aggressor to go away. It is somewhat similar to the methods that might be used by a high pressure salesman.
This man is now back inside and awaiting trial for the attempted murder of his new partner.
To conclude. If you are thinking about employing someone you don't know to prune your roses, I offer the following piece of sound advice. Think again!