Friday, 29 July 2011

Public Service and me

As you know it has been calling to work in the University sector since 1993. I have two recent reflections to make.

Firstly I have been battling all this last academic year to preserve a key programme in our raft of counselling courses. After 3 attempts in July, Autumn and February we finally appointed a new time limited member of staff. So at that point following the shuffle of tasks within the team I could plan to recruit a new cohort to the programme. I made the 'mistake' of telling a superior I intended to do this so that numbers could be tallied. All hell broke loose and suddenly the minor matter of me recruiting 6 part time students got snarled up into the mega HE changes in my institution. Programme recruitment on hold and promises of of aan early decision were made but deadlines passed other promises got made etc. Just before my recent holiday I got a meeting with the Head he said 'Yes' but on the basis that my course was subsumed into a bigger School wide one and out of my control. With a bit more ranting and raving from various quarters that was it. Well a battle not won, not lost and something salvaged.

What I am not telling you in the strain on me all this politicking took. But there's people for you, imperfect lovable - everyone with their own shadow and interpersonal history. But most of our hearts most of the time are in the right place!

Secondly, as some of you know my delight has been to explore therapy and spirituality and research and culture and healing. I dwell in this stuff and I teach around it and people come and research it with me and we talk about it. So wider society through taxation and student fees has supported me in all these years dwelling in these topics. I am profoundly grateful and have done my very best in all all my imperfectness to honour this calling and this contract.

And yes it all could have been even better if I had been just a bit more healed and savvy but maybe because of my failings and because of my colleagues failings, maybe some of this has been grit that produced the pearl? I dunno people including me are as we are.

And now as I look over the fence at life beyond working full-time here I am excited and scared. One question I regularly ask myself is: If I died today what would my regrets be if anything? There is little I haven't done yet apart from publishing a novel or two and a poetry book. I want more time with my children and grand children and yes to cycle from Vancouver to Santa Barbara! More time with friends, more time alone, more cafes, restaurants and bookshops to visit. The health to enjoy it. But who knows. I am at peace right now :)

Wednesday, 6 July 2011



When I leave
Inaccurate stories
Will be told
About me

And I must confess
I have enjoyed
Some of them

But no
I have never
Lived in a monastery
Spent a night in jail
Or slept with a best friend’s wife

I have
Seen the dawn rise gloriously
Over the motorway
In a hitched car
Slept in a park near Calais
Spent a cold night
Awake in a bus shelter in Ramsgate
Grafittied walls in Manchester and Notting Hill

Visited people
In hospitals for the criminally insane
Scary places but mostly not scary people

I have
Failed gloriously
And not so gloriously
With some mad schemes
Like the two headed match

And succeeded
Beyond my wildest dreams
At other things equally mad
Like weirdly academic writing and teaching

When I leave
Inaccurate stories
Will be told about me