Opening doors

In the last fortnight, two people have told me that I have opened doors for them. This is such an amazing thing to be able to do for people, and I feel very lucky and privileged. Oh. Perhaps I should add that these were metaphorical doors, with words as (I suppose) the door furniture. I wouldn’t feel quite so lucky and privileged if I were just opening real doors, although I could quite fancy the uniform with lots of gold braid.

But – what happened yesterday? Why did so many people decide to read my blog, all on one day? I wish I knew who they were, and what’s going on. I feel pressured now to make this one worth reading.

The fantastic rewards of my work easily make up for the fraught train journey to Manchester on Monday, and the meeting which finally convinced me that the world has gone mad. Does anyone out there know about all the indicators used to signify local government targets and obligations? This is service by numbers, bureaucracy on the verge of lunacy.

Now, I don’t mind a bit of bureaucracy. I’ve never seen the point of complaining about filling in a census form, for example, although I know people who do. I’m about to settle down and write an evaluation of the project with adult literacy students, and I’ll quite enjoy doing it, being one of the world’s greatest completer-finishers. Again, I know people who complain about evaluating projects, but it just seems to make sense to me. Nearly everything I do is paid for by public or charitable money, and I think the donors have a right to know how their money was spent, and whether the project worked; or, if it didn’t work well, what went wrong and how the problems could be avoided in future. (I do, however, object to evaluations being published in glossy booklets and sent out everywhere – this just seems like waste.)

Anyway. I went to the meeting, shook my head and sighed a bit, and wrote the minutes. My two days in the prison were the usual joy – brilliant work from the guys; the newsletter well on its way; a bit of social work with one of the guys who had had a bad phone call. And a comment: “Last week, after you helped me, it was one of the best days of my life – just experimenting with words. I can’t stop writing.” Wow. The fact that the heating wasn’t working in the office where I am based didn’t seem to matter. I just put my coat back on and got on with it.

The only problem with being away for a few days is the avalanche of emails I come back to – I still haven’t shovelled them all away – but none of them was unpleasant. And I had an entertaining phone call with my TRA line manager, who is always fun to talk to. Oh. I agreed to do some more work. I know I said I wouldn’t, but it’s only a few days, and it involves – yes! – a nice bit of analysis and evaluation. Sad, I guess, but there we are.

I ran a rehearsal on Thursday night for Pygmalion. It was ok, but if I were the director I would be a bit worried. And I wondered – why are rehearsals always in icy places? Is it supposed to stimulate the performing urge? I feel really sorry for the cast of my play, OTWAP; we’ll be starting rehearsals again in February, in a freezing hall, and two of them have to take their clothes off. We (the OTWAP cast and crew) went out for a meal last night. It was very pleasant, and I can especially recommend the Wetherspoon’s sticky toffee pudding; but, tough guy that I am, I refused their request to keep their clothes on for the first two rehearsals.

And yesterday was the last day for the adult literacy project (hence the report). They have been terrific – a joy to work with, making me forget my headache and tiredness and the email heap. I really am lucky. And – continuing the coldness theme – I called in at Argos after the session, and bought a small fan heater for next to nothing pounds, so now I will close my office door, turn the heater on, build up a nice warm fug, and evaluate to my heart’s content. And then do everything else I’m supposed to do.

By the way, dear readers, do please feel free to leave comments…

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