(This article was written in December 2016)

This is a departure from what I use this blog for, but events at the weekend have left me numb, shocked and very scared.  Everything seemed to be fine. I was with a “good friend” from the office. We went to a foot-stomping concert, then for dinner and I went back to his apartment for a drink, and also to see his adorable cat. I knew that another mutual friend would be there and he is so lovely. All in all, I had moments of inner happiness that I have not experienced for a very long time.

We were giggling like schoolchildren in the restaurant because he just could not stop eyeing up the waiters (he likes olive-skinned, dark-eyed Mediterranean types). Each time I tried to start a conversation, his eyes were just glued to the bar and kitchen area. I am used to it. So, nothing new there.

We paid and went back to his old and lovingly furnished apartment. The ceilings are super-high and overall, it has a sincere feeling of warmth there. I have never had any qualms about visiting. In fact, I filled in as a cat-sitter the one time when he was on holiday and I always take beers over for him when I visit. He also often invites me for dinner at his place. Overall, he is a kind, considerate, funny individual who has me in hysterics. He even chased me around a public open space a few months ago, threatening me with an ice cube ready to be plunged down the back of my T-shirt.

No. I am not telling you how old we are.

Sitting at his dining table the other night, we were talking, well, about nothing really. We were listening to music and I was playing with the cat. All normal.

“A little bird tells me you voted out”.

It was razor sharp and sudden. Accusatory. Spat out in a low voice. Threatening. Confusing. A verbal guillotine.

“Who told you this? Please don’t say it is someone in the newsroom?”

He continued.

“A little bird tells me you voted out”.

I replied, “Please don’t tell me it was XXX or XXX. It can’t be them spreading lies about me, surely? Talking behind my back in the workplace about such a sensitive issue, which is obviously intended to damage my reputation. It wouldn’t be them, I know that”.

He said it again, but this time it was extremely threatening and he was puce.

“A little bird tells me you voted out”.

I was utterly bewildered, confused and scared by his aggressive nature.

Suddenly, the penny dropped.

“It’s XXX, isn’t it? Of course it is, he is notorious for doing this. Is this why you haven’t spoken to me for a month? Why would you listen to malicious gossip, believe it and then take it out on me without even coming to me first?”

He said it once more.

“A little bird tells me you voted out. NOW GET OUT!”

He threw me out of his apartment and down a flight of steps. I thought I was going to die. I was panicked, afraid, and alone in the German capital in the early hours. I tried to call for a taxi, but it wasn’t until the very kind gentleman on the other end of the line told me that I needed an address to book a car, that I realised I had forgotten where I was. My mind had been wiped clean with the shock of not only being bullied and shouted at, and then thrown down a flight of stairs, but also with the realisation that I had been set a smiling trap, and had walked into it many months prior, never imagining that people could be so cruel and quite frankly, evil.

The individual whom I highly suspect told others I had voted out is well-known for this kind of behaviour in the workplace. I understand it has been going on for decades. He enjoys ruining lives.

The UK referendum was a private and legal vote. How anyone votes is no one’s business and it most certainly should not be used against them in the workplace or otherwise.

The point is, why have I been attacked, physically and verbally over the so-called Brexit? Someone who I thought was my friend has turned out to be part of a prolonged campaign in the newsroom to oust me out, but why use the Brexit vote to make allegations against my good character?

It all adds up.

Many expats at the office are applying for German citizenship in response to the “yes” vote. My former friend is one of them. They claim to be disgusted with the UK and no longer want anything to do with it. So-called Brexiteers are also associated with racism, xenophobia, and a strong anti-EU and anti-migration sentiment.

I have lived in Germany for nearly five years. An association with the “out” vote could lead people to believe that I am anti-German and also anti-migration. For all of the damage that a certain individual has done, I may as well lead the next Pegida march through the streets of Dresden because it couldn’t get any worse right now.

By using the Brexit as an excuse to tarnish my good name, one individual has achieved maximum impact very quickly. What’s done is done and once something is said, it cannot be taken back.

I never imagined in around 20 years of journalism that I would ever go through such a horrendous experience sparked by someone rubbing their greasy hands with glee as they told my colleagues about how I allegedly voted.

What little trust I had left in my soul has now disappeared. It is spent.

For me, this is the hardest part.