Saturday, January 19, 2013

A good image is as valuable as a good narrative - the past week at work


The office was quiet today as our Director Vijay Singh has once again been summoned to Head Office.  As well as being quiet, the upstairs floor was cold.  I spent the morning trying to make some progress with various projects including drafting campaign letters (a task that has been hanging around for ages).

In the afternoon I continued with the supplements for various key reports.  This involves trawling through the questionnaires and looking for patterns in the data.  Several times when an insight occurred to me I rang down to Abi Reed in the Tele Surveys team and they rang up five or six respondents to test whether the hypothesis might be correct.

I rang Maria B at Head Office and got on with her quite well, although at all times I have to be careful what I say - she is one of Alec Nussbaum's attack dogs.

Before leaving for the day I proof-read the latest version of the Training Course Guide.  This meant staying until 5.30, but at least I had the relief of knowing the booklet was on the way to the printer.  I also looked at databases of volunteers, trying to work out who to send it to (probably we will send it to people who have requested our publications in the past, as that probably indicates sympathy with our aims and objectives).


Tedious and time-consuming task of sourcing images for the supplements.  A good image is as valuable as a good narrative.  Always I am torn between using stock images (which are immediately available, but often look a little unreal) and commissioning photography that is authentic, but takes ages to happen.

Despite the cold Gary from the downstairs reading room continues to go running in just a t-shirt and shorts at lunchtimes.

We became aware of various inflamed discussions on the internet criticising some of the projects the Institute has been involved with.  Vijay Singh called an emergency meeting to consider whether the criticism could be an "inside job".  We reached the conclusion that the opposition was not organised and nothing really to worry about.

The temps in Admin made so much noise I could hardly concentrate.


I spent the day refining the database for distribution of the Training Course Guide.  The intention is to pre-select volunteers we think are broadly sympathetic, invite them to a free training course and then use the occasion as a covert interview of their suitability.  Those who pass Vijay Singh's personal vetting (he is attending every course) will be offered membership of the Insitute, the subscription paid for one year by our backer.

As the AGM is in April we do not have much time to get all this organised.

A telephone call from Sweden about photographs for the supplements - it comes to something when Swedish scenarios look more British than the British do.

More of the flaming messages on the internet, the references just a little too particular to be dismissed as the usual hothead ventings.


"We need to understand the trends that are controlling society" said Vijay Singh, greeting people as they arrived.

The first of the training days, held at a motel so bland and featureless I am unable to describe it adequately.  Ten people plus Abi Reed, Vijay Singh and myself.  The attendees were already known to the Institute, and as long as they are agreeable we have already decided they will be offered membership.  The training was delivered by Vijay Singh himself, in a little room off the main Reception area.  The window had a view of a hedge with, in the distance, the motorway and the traffic constantly moving past.  Despite the snow everyone managed to get there on time.  

At lunchtime we went through to the hotel's dining room, and our table was the only one that was occupied in the hour and a half we spent over the meal.

Instead of going on until 5pm we stopped at 4, which I think was a great relief to everyone.


Hardly anyone in the offices today.

I decided it was time to tackle the huge backlog of e-mails that has built up over the last few days.  I printed out the most urgent, about forty or so.  Then I worked through them one by one, mostly ringing people up to resolve things quickly.

Hints from Abi Reed that a key research project is going badly.

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