Thursday, 9 June 2011

How was your day?

I had such ambitious plans for today.
I'd been sent the bucket list of a 15 year-old-girl who has terminal cancer. I was rather keen to get on with trying to make one of her doggie dreams come true - arranging for her beloved pet to be photographed.
But instead a policeman was standing in front of me in my office.
I have to say he was a very nice, polite and sensible policeman and I thought he seemed a tad embarrassed to be calling on me. But as he said, if someone makes a complaint they have to check them all out.
Someone had accused me of threats of - from memory - violence and intimidation.
Now those who know me well will be laughing long and hard at this point.
I was stunned. Was he actually a strippergram perhaps?
I have never thought of myself as a scary woman. Many people say I am far too soft.
So why was a police officer standing in my office? The woman who had sent him to me was someone I hadn't actually spoken to for months.
I have to go back a little to bring you up to up to speed with my unusual brush with the law.
It was February. I was driving the children to school at some ungodly hour when my mobile went off. A call before 8am from a number you don't recognise is usually pretty important.
It was a very excited woman on the line. "I live really close to you and it's a huge coincidence, but we both produce dog magazines! I have so much to do - could you help me - I've got so many articles to write, could you help me out...?"
I had never heard of this woman before, I certainly wasn't aware of anyone locally producing a dog magazine. And why was this stranger phoning me on my mobile before 8am? Who makes cold calls at that hour?
I was polite. I said I would phone her back later when I wasn't driving.
I returned home, still slightly puzzled by my early morning call. I googled dog magazines in Woking and there it was....
Surrey Dog Life. Surrey's First and Only Dog Magazine.
As it was Lizette Roux, the editor-in-chief and publisher, who had just phoned me I deduced that she obviously knew now that her dog magazine wasn't the first and only dog magazine in Surrey.
I wrote a very polite email pointing out that obviously it wasn't the case that her magazine was the first and only dog magazine in Surrey and could she please remove that claim? I also pointed out that as she was operating from a remarkably similar address to ours, making this false claim and having such a similar address may lead some people to imagine that she was in fact part of our outfit, which obviously wasn't the case.
The phone rang moments later and a very emotional Lizette sobbed that I was being 'all proper business woman-like and unfriendly'. I explained that I wished her well, but that as she had phoned me she must be now aware that hers was not the first and only dog magazine in Surrey and that as we had been in business for 20 years she really did need to acknowledge this.
She appeared muddled and distressed and claimed hers was the only dog magazine only in Surrey. But I pointed out that she should then state that instead.
But then she said that it would be on sale over the Internet and also in neighbouring counties, so it wasn't actually only in Surrey.
My staff will verify that I was very, very gentle on the phone and entirely non-aggressive. Very probably not very proper business-like at all. I didn't like having a hysterical sobbing woman on the phone line and really wanted her to stop.
She went on, "We're not a threat, we're pro welfare and anti-puppy farming and shops selling pets," and then in another breath, "We're got some great adverts. Harrods are probably going to advertise."
I felt I had to point it out.
That Harrods is a shop.
That it is a shop that sells dogs.
She was amazed.
She offered me a free advert in her magazine and I thanked her and said I would consider it.
I put the phone down and promptly forgot that she even existed.
The office berated me for not being tougher. I'm that scary that my junior staff tell me to be more assertive.
Until a few days ago I had forgotten I had ever spoken to anyone called Lizette. Or that anyone had ever tried to steal that previously unattractive crown of being Surrey's first and only dog magazine.
Someone alerted me to something odd going on Twitter. Someone was saying that female dog magazine editors were green-eyed Rottweilers or something or other.
I was intrigued and found Lizette tweeting this...

"Just having to get a thicker skin for these women - Sue Fearn (Dog Monthly) Jealous or what!! She is so threatening and hard. Not used to."

I phoned Sue up to alert her - call me a little monkey. She was stunned. She had merely phoned Lizette to point out that her fantastic launch issue actually contained two articles that had been copied out word-for-word from Dogs Monthly's March edition. (Well imitation is as they say the greatest compliment...) Sue laughed at the reference to her being threatening and I have to say she sounded really nice. "I couldn't get a word in edgeways!" was her retort to this allegation.
Lizette's next Tweet was:

"Does anyone else have jealous people sending or calling you with idle threats? Please let me know because I am getting them all the time.."

Then (insert dramatic music from a Hammer House of horror film... )

"Dogs Monthly, Dogs Today - whose next to try and bring Surrey Dog Life down? I am so excited with our issue. Lewis Hamilton is a fan!!!!"
"Why oh why are people so evil!"

Then the remarkable and I think my favourite of all Lizette's Tweets...

"Women with a greeneye! Just because I am good looking, talented love dogs! Got a problem? my solicitors are watching..SurreyDogLife rocks end"

Sadly, I had never met the talented beauty that must be Lizette. But her quality must have been radiating out from her gorgeous turn of phrase.

I don't know why, but I went on to her website to check and, what do you know?

Surrey Dog Life was still the 'first and only dog magazine' in Surrey. 

Gosh, I must have really intimidated her back in February, politely asking her to stop making that false claim. And come to think of it, why hadn't she come back to offer me my lovely free advert?
We had parted remarkably amicably with her claiming she wanted to be friends. But we'd drifted apart, there was no further interaction until I was being accused of being a jealous and evil woman all over Twitter.
It just didn't seem to make a lot of sense!

I decided to clarify. First I got some legal advice. No, I wasn't going mad, she couldn't claim to have Surrey's first and only dog magazine. And no, she shouldn't really be defaming me all over Twitter either. Or Sue from Dogs Monthly, either come to mention it!
But what to do? Legal advice was to calmly and clearly state the facts.
So I did.

"Calm down madam! You phoned me for help and then had the cheek to call yourself "the first and only dog magazine in Surrey." "

In my defence, I was trying to lighten the mood - I was alluding to Michael Winner in that terrible insurance advert with Bruce Fogle's wife Julia Foster. The subtlety of this may have been missed by Lizette, I accept that now that I know her a little better.

"We are, in Surrey, we have been going for 20 years and I was very nice and didn't sue you!"

The next day she Tweeted...

"No doubt will get abuse and threats from those rottweiler jealous dog mag editors today! Will keep you all tweeted on the best one.."

That to me sounded like a challenge, and how very un-PC of a dog magazine editor to use Rottweiler in a derogatory connotation. Tut tut.

I got our legal team to issue a 14 day notice asking for the misleading, untrue claim to be removed from Lizette's on line and printed formats. She'd not listened to me, so perhaps a more formal email would get results.

It certainly did. This email came screeching back and I promise you this is the unedited format, with all her own spelling.
(If only murdering the English language carried a custodial sentence!) (She didn't say that bit in brackets obviously - that was me.)

You are not Surrey’s only magazine.

I have taken abuse of the highest standard from ‘your boss’ and have handed this to the police. If you threaten me one more time I will get the police to caution you and Ms Beverley Cundy.

I have spoken to many professional people in the dog world and we are all happy to do a petition about ‘your boss’. I will do YOU for defermation of character. Ms. Cundy has been on my case since February. I have the evidence as do the police.

Jealousy comes to mind, Maybe if she produced a magazine that wasn’t cut and paste’ and was nice we would not be in the position.

I am fed up of your threats and disgusting abuse to me and my company.

Well I was almost speechless, or as someone on facebook wittily suggested, "speachless". I climbed back onto Twitter.

"Sigh. At least spell my name correctly. I don't hate you, I just want you to stop saying vile things & making false claims!"

to which she retorted...

"What is Ms Cundy's problem? First she subscribes then she sends a goffer to scare me. Everyone hates her. Why does she hate me so much?"

I try to explain my surprising desire to see her exciting organ...

"I subscribed to see if you really had copied two articles out of Dogs Monthly's March edition as alleged."
" I really was very nice to you back in February but your outbursts here have been most unprofessional"
"And as to the email you have just sent to our legal department suggesting you have called the police.... speechless!"

Then her next Twitter revealed that there had been a phone conversation between herself and our legal bod.

"Her Goffer  is still threatening me and put the phone down. Can anyone check him out? Apparently the legal (!) side!x"


"Hi Guys! Feeling really good now. Getting over the 'idle threats'. Why or why can't people just be nice about other people setting up? x"

Well I think you're getting the picture now. So what went on in this phone call, I hear you ask?

Our email had encouraged Lizette to call to discuss a resolution to the 'first and only' tagline problem. When Lizette first called our office she seemed unaware that we had caller display as phoning from her office number she claimed to be someone entirely new called "Sharon" and when asked where she was calling from she amusingly replied, "Essex".  She was told that the person she needed had just left and was on the way to the station if she'd like to phone his mobile.

He was buying a ticket and the call went to answerphone and we have a lovely recording of the whole thing that I may make into an audioboo when I learn how to do that as it is rather entertaining.

I think she was shouting quite a lot and saying things like "Don't mess with me and my company," and "The police are on to your boss."

You get the idea. A rant of the first order. She demanded to be phoned back.

On a crowded commuter train, there followed a difficult call. Difficult in that Lizette was shouting so loudly that everyone could not only hear without speaker phone being enabled, but they couldn't help but giggle and make comments!

It went something along the lines of. "You're a Waaaannnnnnnnnnnnnnnkkkkkkeeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrr." There was the "C" word that got Sandi Toksvig in all that trouble. There was other words too rude for a lady like me to write in a family blog. Wanker was risqué enough, and I know I'll probably get letters.

Apparently everyone hates me, and that Roger Mugford hates me too -  and well lots of important people who are probably very dear friends of Lizette and really do love her using their name in a conversation littered with such colourful language.

I was just jealous of her. It's true she has a larger swearing vocab than I do...drat! And she is obviously very, very attractive. Must be - she said it.

The 'Madam' word just cropped up again. It was a politeness thing, but she certainly didn't like it. "Don't call me Madam, " she yelled in a very ladylike manner.
Seemed a little churlish to pick up our side of the conversation for being littered with the offensive 'm' word when she was f'ing and blinding like the editor of Fish Wife weekly.

Anyhow my legal Beagle was going to get the benefit of a family history lecture, unrequested of course. Lizette's son was allegedly a policeman (he was going to come around to 'do' me apparently!). and her brother a solicitor.
A chink of light.
Could we perhaps talk to her solicitor brother about the false claim of being Surrey's first and only dog magazine? We could come to his offices?
"Is that a threat you wankkkkeerrrr...."
No. It's not a threat. "You just threatened me."
No I didn't I asked you for a meeting at your solicitor's offices.
More swearing. A lot more swearing.
Red faces in the railway carriage.
Time to end the call.

The chap sitting opposite confides, "Your job certainly sounds a lot more interesting than mine!"

So, this morning, I was sitting at my desk when there was a knock at the door and poor Graham the PC walks in and becomes just another character in this surreal episode.

"Hello," I say. "Are you Lizette's son?"
He looks puzzled. "She said you'd be round."

No. He wasn't Lizette's son, but he wrote that down.
He later said he'd probably go mad if his Mum had said anything like that to a member of the public!
He looked at the email exchange, he looked at the Twitters. He listened to the answerphone rant.
I joked about leaving it a bit late for me to engage in a life of crime.
He didn't get his handcuffs out.

He said he'd go back and have a word with Lizette who had seemed a bit 'stressed' earlier, probably with all the worry of launching Surrey's first and only dog magazine.
I explained I bore the woman absolutely no malice and just wanted her to stop claiming hers to be Surrey's first and only dog magazine - because it wasn't.
I knew that those sort of things were best handled by the Advertising Standards Authority and the Office of Fair Trading and that these were the avenues we were already going down. I would not have thought to phone 999.
He said Lizette had said earlier that she was going to take down her claim to be Surrey's first and only, which made everyone happy, briefly.
(But it made us later question why she dispatched a lovely policeman to deliver this good news when he probably had murders to solve and paperwork to attend to. A simple email would have sufficed.)
I was almost late for my important lunch with the boss of Battersea Dogs and Cats Home. Now imagine how embarrassing it would have been in she'd met me at the office and caught me getting my collar felt for intimidating a sweet and innocent softly spoken business lady who was in no way strange.
All was almost well with the world, until later that afternoon when Lizette announced to the Twitterverse in upper case - so really shouty - that she was the boss of SURREY'S FIRST AND ONLY DOG MAGAZINE!
And then she Twittered again that she couldn't send out a copy of her gorgeous publication to two people on Twitter  because they were associates of mine ....

"just nervous of your link with B.Cuddy as she is under police investigationx"

Well you just couldn't make it up could you? Even if you were Jeffery Archer and Enid Blyton's love child you could not construct a plot this unfeasible. On the positive side her spelling had improved.

So I phone the poor police. No, of course I'm not under investigation. No, I can tell people I am not under police investigation. The desk sergeant will phone me back when he gets a moment and they'll probably pop around and see Lizette and ask her to stop.
Good luck with that!
Tomorrow is another day, and hopefully I'll get a chance to sort out that little girl's bucket list.
I have to say I feel a lot better for writing this all down as in a few years I think I'll have trouble believing that all that actually happened!
Thank you for listening if you got this far... and DO NOT EVER send me a strippergram in police form as it will bring all this back. No I mean it. No.


Emma W said...

You poor thing. My mouth fell open when I first stumbled upon this on Twitter. Talk about unprofessional. Think you've shown remarkable restraint in the circumstances - she's obviously as mad as a box of frogs. Here's hoping tomorrow will be a better day.

Anonymous said...

From what little I'd gathered on Twitter I came to the decision that she is a 'bunny boiler' Reading your blog has just absolutely confirmed it but Beverley you really have to get this nipped in the bud - she is the type of woman who will not let this drop. You're going to have to go against your better nature and get really tough straight away - don't let it ride. Good luck!

DK said...

As of now, (21:27), her site states at LEAST 3 times that her magazine is the FIRST and ONLY dog magazine in Surrey.

The mind boggles!

Louise said...

Priceless, I'm glad I made it through to the end, even though there were a couple of times that I'm sure my razor blade was winking at me ;)
You're right to put it down, as you definitely couldn't make that up! Look forward to further instalments :)

Anonymous said...

The posts on twitter shocked me somewhat (as I follow you both) and I must say after reading that those and certainly after your blog I certainly will NOT be buying the only mag in Surrey lol! Have a nice cuppa and a hot bath you deserve it sweetie after all the explesitives you have heard!!

Anonymous said...

sounds like Dog eat Dog in the publishing world...or should that be Bitch eats Bitch?!? add in that Ms Harrison is now to be shoved between repeats of 1976 Top of the Pops on BBC4 and it seems like you both have been rumbled at last

Lynda Cain said...

Oh Beverley, what a laugh... well it probably seems that way now..and not quite so over the period of this. Keep strong... we've all had our nutters to contend with believe me..!!!

Anonymous said...!!!! That woman is a nut job!!! Kudos to you for staying so calm! It kinda sounds like she's obsessed with you. I really hope people stop reading her magazine, oh wait, I mean YOUR magazine under a new name. Ha! What a joke she is! Couldn't you sue her for stealing your articles and for slander?

Regardless, keep doing what you do because it actually matters in this world unlike her.

Anonymous said...!!!! That woman is a nut job!!! Kudos to you for staying so calm! It kinda sounds like she's obsessed with you. I really hope people stop reading her magazine, oh wait, I mean YOUR magazine under a new name. Ha! What a joke she is! Couldn't you sue her for stealing your articles and for slander?

Regardless, keep doing what you do because it actually matters in this world unlike her.

Anonymous said...

Hi there

I did get to the end. Just wanted to share my observation which is Dog's Today might be based in Surrey, but YOU are NATIONAL whereas this Surrey Dog Magazine or whatever it is called is LOCAL and looks like it will remain so, by virtue of its title and unprofessional Director. And Robert Mugeford - For people who know there stuff, he's doing a dire job of repositioning the Pet Corrector into something more acceptable. I hope your post has been cathartic.

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness, what a day! What a shame that lady couldn't just calm down and talk it though sensibly - what a waste of time and stress for you all. Dogs Today is fab and i'm sad to hear what you are coming up against.

Just noticed the Jemima Harrision comment from 'Anonymous' too - I think it's great that she's going to be on BBC4, that's the thinking person's channel with serious, quality programming isn't it? Glad her thoughts will be put across to the sensible public. And bring back Top of the Pops!

PBurns said...

Offhand, I would say this is a classic case of narcissism tied with bipolar disorder.

Not much to be done about the narcissism, but there are very good medications for bipolar disorder and she should see a doctor about those.

And yes I am dead serious and will sign my name. Bipolar disorder is a medical issue, not a moral one, and it needs treatment and it CAN be treated. Poor thing!

Sadly, twitter and the internet in general attract narcissists and people with mental disorders, many of whom act as trolls simply trying to stir up chaos and controversy because it gives them a sense of power. "Look at me," they scream, "the world is revolving around my every move."

So what do you do?

You stop playing.

This post, for example, will be read by her and simply feed her narcissistic fires. "I am so important everyone is talking about me." In fact, no one had heard of this no-account loon before, and no one cares about her now. Let her say she is the Queen of England if she wants -- her reputation clearly precedes her wherever she has gone; you cannot steal, lie and slander without the word going out pretty quick.

And get a police report simply to have and to hold. Above all, however, I would stop playing. You do not have conversations with the babbling mentally ill in the street, do you? She is one of those.... only with a cell phone and a twitter account.


BH said...

Amazing! As you say, you couldn't make it up! Sadly, the world is made up of sometimes strange people, of which Lizette appears to be one !

Tracy said...

I'm sure the police see lots of cases like this and can tell who the guilty party is. I wouldn't give her the satisfaction of replying to her Twitter posts in future - it sounds like it will only fan the flames. You might need to monitor them and keep a record in case she gets really nasty though. I really don't know what goes on inside some people's heads.

BH said...

Amazing! As you say, you couldn't make this up! Sadly, the world is made up of some strange people, of which Lizette would appear to be one! Suppose we should all really feel sorry for her, she obviously has one or two screws missing!

Brenda H said...

Amazing! Sadly, the world is made up of some strange people, of which Lizette would appear to be one! Suppose we should all feel sorry for her as she clearly has one or two screws missing!

Jemima Harrison said...

Thank you Anon! I love BBC Four so very happy that PDE2 will be shown there. We'll have a smaller audience but we'll be able to use really big words... like, say, homozygosity...

Bev, what a horrid day for you. Makes me want to go round and bop Ms Roux on the nose. (This not a REAL threat, Ms Roux, just a reflection of how irritated I am that you have wasted the time of someone I'm not only proud to call a friend but who is one of the nicest people in dogdom.)

Anonymous said...

And I thought my problems were bad, (ongoing 6 yrs now, with someone totally opposite, they just DON'T communicate!)
Lets hope with you, things are sorted and the silly person suddenly has the penny drop that it's her in trouble, and its her that faces a harrasment charge via the boys in blue.
Good luck, I'll watch this with baited breath, just you remember to take a deep breath if she contacts you again, (and don't forget to have that tape going so its all there to show those PC's that this woman isn't PC!

biskieboo said...

How awful to have to go through all that nonsense. Whatever her problem is, it has nothing to do with bipolar disorder - don't listen to PBurns. I have it and I don't steal articles and threaten other people! Nor do the other people who I know with it. It's all to easy to say someone is "mad". Some are just bad.

Beverley Cuddy said...

Thank you BiskieBoo, I do agree with you. I think it is important not to confuse 'mad' with 'bad'. Some people are just born awkward and I know many people who juggle the challenges of mental illness with bravery and good heart without causing all this drama. I hope Patrick's remarks didn't upset you. Bx

Coni said...

Wow! What a nut job! I would say tell her to "talk to the paw!" She is not worth one second of your time or energy. Live on forever, Dogs Today, the best dog mag in the WORLD!

PBurns said...

You might read my comments again "Biskieboo". I said bipolar is NOT a moral issue and I clearly indicated that theft is.

That said, untreated people with bipolar disorder DO go up and down as this lady appears to do -- and they are not in full control when manic, which is why medication is useful. I suspect this lady was "up" in the first stroke, down during the long period of silence, and is now manic again. She needs medication.

Narcissism, unlike bipolar disorder, is not easily treatable, but it too is severable from theft and lying (though a sense of entitlement that comes with narcissism makes is a bit more common in narcissists). In any case, I am not sure that theft and lying is the issue here -- unmedicated mania appears to be the issue. This lady simply cannot stop.

One of the great things about the modern age is that a great number of issues that were once serious are totally treatable now. Among those are bad eyesight, bipolar disorder, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Of course, not everyone seeks treatment for these disorders even when diagnosed with them!

As for "mad," I do not consider bipolar disorder madness, but rather mania tethered to depression. It is a simple chemical imbalance and millions have it and live entirely normal lives. That cannot be said for many other kinds of mental disorders like narcissism.


PBurns said...

Here's a similar case of an unmedicated bipolar on twitter.

This sounds like your person in so many ways, and it too is an amusing story....

"'Lesbian nutter' stalks magician, 73"

is at >>

Darren@DogsMonthly said...

I'm sure I've seen that fishwives picture in our other title Family Tree magazine! Right I'm send the police round!

Linda Ward said...

I thought you might like to see this.

Hi Linda,

Unfortunately, you have been brought into this case regarding Beverley Cuddy. The Surrey Police are monitoring any links with Ms Cuddy to Surrey Dog Life. So you will be called and contacted next week regarding your comments. (The Crime no. is 0H112820)

You do not know myself or Surrey Dog Life to give an ‘opinion or judge’ and am sorry you have been brought into this case. Maybe if you want to chat I am happy to do so next week on : 01483 755505. Ms Cuddy has brought this all upon herself and has used every angle to try and bring our magazine down including threats from her staff through jealously.

I do not know you and I do not know how you can call me Mad or a Troll.

Life is difficult enough and running your own business is daunting. I wish you well but as I said the Surrey Police will be contacting you shortly.

Kindest regards

Lizette Roux
Editor in Chief & Publisher
Surrey Dog Life
01483 755505

Anonymous said...

Linda, you got a letter from her--wow! I expect the rest of us will all be green with "jealously".

I have to say that this is the one thing that's managed to get me logging in to Twitter regularly.

Linda Ward said...

She doesn't like me calling her a troll (I never called her mad although I did wonder if her rocker was off) but was quite happy to call me dumb, so I can see double standards here.

I may frame the email. Or laminate it, at the very least.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it time everyone grew up?

Though I doubt that you will publish this comment.

biskieboo said...

PBurns - I have read your comment again, and I think actually you are right. Apologies. I just don't want people thinking that bipolar disorder = bad behaviour (or an excuse for it).
Thinking about it, phoning someone up before 8am *could* be a sign of mania, as can non-stop talking, grandiose ideas, excitement, paranoia.
I too think that engaging further is a bad idea.

Peter Eglin said...

Hello Beverley,
Peter here, my dog Ben and I featured in February issue's Good Boy Good Dog award. I had to "put pen to Paper"so to speak just to offer support to you for the VERY professional way you are dealing with this very disturbed lady. She obviously has a rottweiler sized chip on her shoulder. I have met her type before. It is almost impossible to talk reason to a person like this. Good luck in all you do and don't let the ******* get you down. After all, you are in the right, Kind Regards, Peter and Ben.

on behalf of the rottweiler breed! said...

wow i do not follow twitter and i'm so glad i don't! this woman sounds like said in a previous comment a bunny boiler! it annoys me when people refure to others as rottweilers! i have owned rottweilers and other breeds(bulldog at the moment and a rottie pup in 4 weeks time) they are not bad dogs so stop trying to give them a bad name! i want to tell this 'person' aka nutter to get a new job never heard of her mag and would not use the copied trash for dog toilet paper!!! put my breed down like many others we will not have the time of day to give you! stupid woman she is! i hope you are ok! keep up the legal team and sue her for whatever you can and give the money to charity! i look forward to your next issue-and sorry to rant! rottweilers are not the devil dog! :)thank you for taking the time to share this!