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Changes in the line-up

It’s tricky to find the right title for this one. This January has been affected by new arrivals, and an unexpected departure.

Many of my colleagues came back to work on 8 January, to the news that one, K, who also worked in education, had died the previous weekend.  K had beaten cancer once, but it came back over 2006.  She worked right up to late November, and wanted to be treated like everyone else.

We also came back to news of two babies, one born to a colleague now on maternity leave, the other to the wife of a colleague who works in Aberdeen.  In the last few days, we’ve also heard about the arrival of a second child for friends of ours down south.

It’s a strange feeling, particularly finding out that this second child was born the same day that K died.  We know that people are born and people die, daily, even every minute – we’re perhaps just not reminded of it so clearly.

This particular week is seen as one of the least cheerful in the calendar – post-Christmas blues, not yet pay day etc.  I’m grateful at least that there is new life to encourage us at this time.

The order of service from K’s funeral also included verses which suggested that we should look forward – new arrivals help us do that, but it proves more of a challenge to work out how we look forward when someone is essentially missing from parts of our lives.

Gherkins are good for stress

What does your workspace say about you?

Mine has a postcard in Polish, claiming that gherkins are good for stress.  I haven’t actually tried eating them at work.  But probably it’s just the sight of a silly postcard, and a link to Poland, that cheers me up.

I work in an open plan environment, which has pinboards separating desks from each other. Occasional gifts from visitors can make their way to a desk or pinboard, looking for a home.  I also have a flower painted by a friend’s child.  A copy of another friend’s poem.  Nostalgic advert-style wrapping from some German chocolates a colleague brought back from holiday.

From time to time, we’re encouraged to clear our pinboards, and start again.  As a teenager, I used to find it very hard to change displays of cards, ornaments etc – what record would remain of that stage of life?

I’m less precious about it now, but perhaps keeping things the same around my desk is a way of standing still, while the work shifts and changes around me. A way of saying who I am, a snapshot to accompany the name tag on the edge of the pinboard. In these days of hotdesking, it’s nice still to have a space to call my own.

Playing with worms

For the squeamish, no, it’s not that bad. It really means playing with words.  Any excuse for a pun.

We all know that we grow up thinking that everyone lives like our family does.  At some point or other, we realise that not everyone does, which can be a bit of a surprise.

In my family, playing with words goes on to what others may see as a dangerous degree.  There is repetition of phrases from comedy shows (The Goons being a particularly frequent source).

Repetition of childhood words and phrases for things – not just mine or my brother’s, but going back to my parents’, or even their brothers’.  Literal pronunciation of words that are actually said differently, or puns with similar sounding words where we can possibly fit them in.

After over seven years, Dan has come on well in this area.  He can play word association games with the best of them.  He also beats me at Scrabble (this is not so surprising, given that he knows how to play strategically and I just like to make nice words).

The further gain is that now we have taken on each others’ families’ phrases, those of our friends’ children…So send yours on, and I’m sure we’ll find a place to incorporate them.

Blogito, ergo sum

“I write online, therefore I am…”

No, it’s not that bad, honest.  I’m just writing lots of posts now to account for the last year.

I’m not a diary keeper on the scale of Michael Palin, who somehow seemed to keep a diary every day, amid the dead parrots and tropical fish called Wanda.

Nor am I a notebook keeper on par with Robert Crampton, writer for the Times, who has bike ride stats for several years at least.
But yes, I used to keep a daily diary.  I do have a notebook a year, with info on visits, meals out and the like.

I promise not to put the back catalogue online. But a little light writing is fun, particularly when: 1) it’s not required for work  2) I don’t have a quota and 3) the evening’s TV is less appealing.

I’ll see how much I keep writing when we’re into the New Year, the evenings (finally) get lighter again, and there are rival claims on my attention (spring bulbs to look at, perhaps?).

Landscape of the Imagination

A friend of mine once said that everything in the future was in the landscape of the imagination.  I always loved that phrase and thought it might be a good title for a book one day.  For now it has to make do with being the title of this post.

Why blog?  Well, we’ve been humming and hah-ing about putting together our Christmas newsletter [2006] and I suggested that we do it bit-by-bit, let it evolve in the run up to Christmas.  So here we are and you never know, we might continue this after the big day too.

Being people who like to make a good impression, this blog is likely to change in style [both visually and in terms of tone] over time, but this is it for now.

Dan