Saturday, October 28, 2006

A Full Saturday

Whilst swimming earlier in the week, I managed to strain my shoulder. I took a night off, but swam again on the Thursday.

It felk ok as I swam and given I was in the mood for a good long swim, I did lengths for 2 hours. Yes, I know in hindsight it’s easy to perceive the lack of wisdom in that, but in my defence can I reittereate that my shoulder f.e.l.t f.i.n.e.

Of course by the time I got home on Thursday night, my arm was experiencing shooting pains and worse still, an aching numbness that just wouldn’t quit.

All day Friday this had continued and last night I got little sleep. Still I made it to the breakfast, where cereal and toast have replaced the anticipated full cooked affair of previous years and locations. Whilst there is some minor disquiet about this, on balance it seems the centre suits us in every other way and that comfy rooms and warmth more than compensate for the lack of bacon and eggs.

Next we move on to the meetings – we have so much to get through. Some sessions see the Festival Operations and Programming Group join forces, at other times we make good use of the centre’s various meeting spaces to split up and work separately.

One particular issue hangs over the Ops team a little and hovers on the minds of the Ops Mgrs in particular, but we can’t really get together to discuss until the ‘free afternoon’.

Last week, we who were ‘The Five’, suddenly became four.

It didn’t come as a great surprise to anyone that the party in question felt it was time to move on, but there is genuine regret at the manner in which it got to that point and definite shock regarding the suddenness of the withdrawal. It certainly leaves us with a rather major issue at the same time as we’re already very concerned about workloads on certain individuals and the evolution needed as a team to suit a 20,000 person affair. It would be nice to take the time to replan and review the strategy at this point, but we can’t afford to wait for that process to happen before we address the immediate issues of how we cover the departing party’s portfolio. On a selfish note I’m particularly anxious on this front as, in the absence of any alternative put in place, I can see a lot of it will drift in my direction if I’m not careful.

On top of all this, sadly there seems to be a lot of personal politics doing the rounds on the periphery of all this and that, more than anything, I find troubling, negative and counter-productive. This is frustrating at the best of times, but right now it’s more than feels bearable when people are already at breaking point.

Not for the first time however, once we actually manage to sit down (the four plus B the Festival Director) and talk about our concerns together, the light starts to break through. Once more I’m a little choked by the support of the other three Ops Mgrs and by B in particular (who I suspect has little idea of the impact her calm, supportive input has on dispelling our fears). Suddenly, I feel reassured that we’re all pulling together in the same direction and the problems start to feel manageable again (if still rather large). My trust is restored.

Temporary arrangements are agreed to address the immediate consequences (B is a complete star in stepping in to take the short terms issues on a number of fronts) and we commit to having an away day together to go into the larger and longer-term issues in more detail. However if this is to happen before Christmas (and really it needs to), then it will need to be a weekday. So breaking all my resolutions about “no more leave for Greenbelt things”, I decide the ass has rather fallen in to the pit. Ah well, time to make use of that ‘unpaid leave’ option I guess…

Doubtless there is a lot of work ahead of us, but we have the start of a plan now (if George is lucky it might even be a cunning one) and it’s good to feel hopeful and even better to be able to report back to the wider team later on that things are in hand, that the temporary arrangements are as follows, that no major shake-up is on the cards, that we’re talking evolution not revolution and that we’ll be back in touch after the away day. I hope that those that had concerns feel reassured.

At the very least, hopefully we’ll have things more fully resolved soon enough as to avoid the moniker of “the Four Horsemen of the Apocolypse” sticking. Though if we really must go down that route, I confess I’m quietly delighted to be ‘War’.


Following the evening sessions we all gather in the bar area (see Sally’s story about the ‘rather too much’ honesty bar) for the traditional pub quiz. Sally and DC have once again done a fine job of preparing this and it’s a good tool for getting the two groups to mingle a bit.

The only problem is that DC seems to have swallowed a management speak babel fish today.

Now I can hear what those of you that know him are thinking “but he’s always like that”, but trust me, today he’s channelling it in a completely unstoppable way. All day simple suggestions like “I think that within our teams we shouldn’t lose sight of what we’re about” has been translated instantaneously into “maintain the spiritual ethos of the micro-community”.

Which is amusing enough, but not exactly ideal when he’s trying to explain bonus points and joker rounds to a rowdy crowd. Bless. Fortunately Sally is there to translate and restore order.

Post-quiz, various small groups break-off to explore their own particular areas of interest: how to get red wine out of a carpet (a magical combination of dampened toilet paper and an empty bottle or glass scoring best), worshipping the various alcoholic derivatives of apple juice (vintage scrumpy, apple brandy…trust me don’t start a conversation with the culprits on this one unless you’ve got a spare hour or two), putting the world to rights, manipulating 1iz’s shoulder to release the amateur diagnosed ‘trapped nerve’ (actually, kudos to Shaun it may have started as an excuse to push my arm forcibly behind my back in a restraining type manner, but it bloody worked. Must be that pantomime horse wrestling experience paying off. Happily Z the physio gave him some tips before too much harm occurred – same basic principle she explained, but slightly less likely to snap one of my bones. Which is nice.), playing outside with sparklers or making balloon animals. The latter we can firmly blame on Caroline and her propensity for eccentric present buying (needless to say some animals produced did follow the basic mutant giraffe template).


Rob (the ergonomist). said...

We aren't the only ones baffled by the increase in management speak, as can be seen in this bbc news article...

There is hope for us yet...

Anonymous said...

Oh dear. Well I have spent the evening in torment. I could leave the finger pointing at D. But that wouldn't be right would it. So, here we go, confession time. That "spiritual ethos" thing, erm, sorry, that was actually me. Didn't need D to put any spin on it, that was what I said. Although I refuse to take the blame for the "micro-community", D came up with that by himself.