Saturday, March 16, 2013

Appear friendly and helpful but agree to nothing - the past week at work


The offices were full of people today because of various planning meetings - planning Director Vijay Singh's contribution to Saturday's event; the official planning of the Institute's EGM next month; the unofficial planning of the EGM.

Mostly I managed to keep out of these meetings.

Aggressive e-mails from Anne Boswell-Urquart in Alec Nussbaum's office but I swatted them away (Alec Nussbaum had come up to the Institute to attend the planning meetings, so I was able to talk to him personally and neutralise A B-U). 

Mary McF from Head Office arrived to give a presentation to the official EGM planning meeting.  She waited by my desk until the time for her slot arrived.  I advised her that she should start by praising the Institute members and this she duly did ("I felt on edge all through her presentation in case she said the wrong thing" Vijay Singh told me later).

Callum Smith and myself went over our campaigns presentation which was reasonably received.

 Alec Nussbaum remarked that we would be hard pressed to fit everything into an afternoon.  At that point Vijay Singh told him the EGM was going to be a mini-conference over two days.  He seemed mildly surprised at this, not at all the explosion we had been fearing.

Then someone from Fund Raising at Head Office and a long discussion on how we should all work togther to raise money.


New accounts employee Jackie G has been given a temporary desk opposite me.  Very overweight, bright ginger hair, unsuitable glasses.  She talks non-stop, mostly about herself and her former life in South Africa.

The morning taken up by the management meeting.  We each had to say how we are achieving our annual objectives.  I had plenty to say, and there were no hostile questions.  Stan D and Tim Watts gave very pedestrian reports.  Callum Smith just clowned his way through, although several of his campaigns have fallen flat.  Lunch was brought in - sandwiches, orange juice, small cakes.

I was out of the meeting by 2pm.

John Johnson left today, and thank goodness Jackie G has moved into his desk - her talking and the noise she made was a serious distraction.


The computers down most of the day, which meant almost nothing got done.

During the morning I read through various campaign plans.

Then I took a long lunch.

Then I sat in the Reading Room reading an unpublished memoir (typed on an old-fashioned typewriter, the chapters held together with Treasury tags).

Assistant Librarian Gary had marks and swellings on his head and neck - he had gone to John Johnson's leaving drinks last night, had got very drunk, and riding home on his bike had hit a crash barrier.


The day of Lois Cooper's funeral so I wore a black silk tie.

As soon as I got to the office I was involved in a flap over a press release - luckily I could prove that Media Relations at Head Office was responsible.

Mid afternoon most of the office staff drove out to the village church where the funeral service was held.  Also there was the former Director of the Institute - I had heard so many stories about her that she seemed an almost mythological character.  The service was traditional (we sang Bread of Heaven).

Then we all drove to the crematorium and a much shorter service.


Up at 5am and a rush to get to London by 9am for an early meeting at Head Office with Media Relations (Mary McF and Kathy W).  They have a technique of holding review meetings then issuing e-mails copied to all and sundry detailing all the reasons why they cannot do any work because they are supposedly waiting for me to do something.  Wise to this, immediately after today's meeting I borrowed a computer in Publications and wrote my own minutes, copied to all and sundry, making clear what work they had taken responsibility for.

Then a meeting with Phillippa in Publications to discuss ways in which the Institute and Head Office can work together.  Obviously Alec Nussbaum is expecting the merger to go ahead after the EGM next month.  So this was one of those meetings when I had to appear friendly and helpful but agree to nothing.

In the afternoon I went to the hotel where Vijay Singh is staying and we talked over the strategy for tomorrow.

No comments: