Friday, 30 September 2011


Father Ted: Now concentrate this time, Dougal. These
[he points to some plastic cows on the table]
Father Ted: are very small; those
[pointing at some cows out of the window]
Father Ted: are far away... 

(with acknowledgement to the writers)...

See, that's perspective. I've been thinking of it in a different way this week, and particularly yesterday. I spent the day helping to resolve an issue for someone else, and t'eldest daughter also spent her day doing something very similar, and the contrast between the inputs and outputs is too great to let go by uncommented on. 

To elaborate, without going into any of the gory detail, I'm currently the investigating manager in a case of alleged harassment at my employer. Whilst the alleged victim of that harassment has undoubtedly been affected by what's happened (regardless of what did actually happen and the reasons for it), the HR consultant handling the case and I have now between us spent at least 8 full working days, with probably the same again to come, working on this case. We're doing things properly, morally and technically, as indeed we should be. But at the end of the case the costs to the employer of the absence, the investigation, and the outcome will be substantial. I can't put a figure on it, but if I were to it would comfortably have five digits. 

T'eldest, meanwhile, this week started work as an advisor at Citizens' Advice (you don't do the Bureau bit these days). After one and a half days of training she was thrust into dealing with her first live cases, totally unaccompanied save for a panic button under the desk. She's allocated 20 minutes to deal with each client. Her first three cases were, respectively, someone whose soon-to-be-ex-wife is denying him access to their child, someone who's being denied their final month's pay by a rogue employer they resigned from, and a drug addict who'd had his benefits withdrawn and so hadn't eaten for 4 days. I've over-simplified those cases, but you get the idea.

I have no doubt that she dealt with them coolly and calmly, and by all accounts they went away happy. But these were people with serious life problems turning to the very last line of support (and possibly the only form of support) available, and getting 20 minutes of time. The contrast with the time and effort expended in my case on an essentially professional-based problem just seems extraordinary. And so, when I was bemoaning the fact I'd endured 6 hours of difficult interview yesterday, and no few tears (not mine I hasten to add), it was a reality check to listen to what Daughter 1 had been dealing with. (I'm very proud of this by the way).

Back to the banal - riding a bicycle. (That said, I do think if more people rode bicycles just for the hell of it there'd be fewer problems in the world - I've solved countless previously-intractable issues in the saddle). Only one outdoor ride this week, on Tuesday night, but I packed many, many hills into the 100 minutes I was out before darkness descended. Weird this week, by the way, having mega-temperatures into the evening but it still being dark by 7 pm; like being somewhere equatorial. I've felt a bit rubbish since actually - think I'm going to ease off the high intensity training for a bit after the end of next week, there's been too much for my poor old man's body this year.

It's the Cat & Fiddle Challenge on Sunday, not a long ride, nor indeed a particularly interesting one, but I'm going to do it anyway, and the first reports will be here.

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