Thursday, 26 August 2010
I Knew Cat Woman. Exclusive!
Midway through my sandwich this lunchtime my jaw dropped involuntarily as I read the name of the infamous 'cat woman' of Coventry - the object of the worldwide Facebook hate campaign following CCTV footage of her petting a cat and then callously flinging it by the scruff of the neck into a wheelie bin where it remained imprisoned for 15 terrified hours and might well have starved to death had the owner not heard faint miaows just in time.
Fifteen years ago I worked with Mary Bale at the Royal Bank of Scotland in Coventry. Not surprisingly she was younger then - with long wavy brunette hair and quite a bit slimmer than now, which explains why I didn't immediately recognise her. Quiet but competent and pleasant is how I remember her. It was common knowledge that she had had a raw deal in life. The love of Mary's life - Alan - the slimy area sales manager had unceremoniously dumped her, impregnating another woman and marrying her within months - giving her the life that Mary presumably yearned for and felt should have been hers. Worse still their paths crossed on a regular basis when he visited our branch to berate us on sales figures and give us new unattainable monthly targets 'We're a retail outlet now' was his motivational catchphrase. I lasted 18 months. On bank picnic outings he was also in evidence with NEW woman and baby in tow, which must have been unbearable for Mary. In fact I recall her commenting so on at least one occasion.
Whilst what Mary did was horrific and awful (and I speak as a major cat lover), it also speaks volumes to me of someone who is treating another creature as cruelly as perhaps she herself feels she has been treated. She obviously lives a narrow enclosed life cosseted with her elderly parents (symbolic wheelie bin), presumably with no way out in her eyes until they die, no man on the horizon and she even seems to have given up her choir according to one newspaper article, which as I recall was pretty well her only hobby outside the bank.
Nor is Mary the first former colleague of that branch to go nutty and make the Daily Mail. Receptionist Cheryl ended up in court to be bound over for repeatedly harassing her parish priest with unwanted teddy bears and sexual overtures, despite previous warnings.
Strangely both are middle-aged spinsters who lived with their elderly parents and had had love affairs with bank managers go sour beforehand. In fact Cheryl had even tried to sue the bank when one affair with a married manager went wrong and was off work for many months on more than one occasion with depression.
Unforgiveable as Mary's cruel act was, she can little have imagined it would be caught on CCTV, let alone become world news within days leading to Facebook hate group campaigns and customers clamouring for her to be sacked. She is certainly in the process of paying an extremely high price for her moment of madness, even without the death threats.
Personally I think RBS should suspend her until she has completed a compulsory psychiatric assessment and any court should enforce a treatment order. I may not have known Mary that well, but I know her enough to know that the real Mary used to be kinder than bitterness and disappointment have evidently moulded her and her worst crime until now had probably been lousy taste in men and an inability to move on in life when things didn't work out. She was almost one of life's 'good girls' - ie 'if I'm a good girl, life will reward me' When their lifelong good behaviour does not reap the rewards they feel deep down that it should, it is not unknown for the Mary's of this world to snap.
Many criminology studies have also concluded that if cruelty to animals is not nipped in the bud it can soon escalate into cruelty to humans. Many serial killers have a proven background or even 'apprenticeship' of cruelty to animals which has eventually escalated.
Then again Coventry was a funny place. People, particularly without partners, tended to go either nutty or turn into alcoholics there. Luckily I got out in time. Just.
Meantime, the power of the internet can also have a funny side