A little light musing, interspersed with pictures of the garden..
I was digging up a tree yesterday.
It’s the sort of work that I used to love when working at the legal coal face.
It meant I couldn’t actually think about anything else.
Hard work with a purpose, unlike a treadmill or a pain machine in the gym, took my mind away from wherever it wanted to go, whether I wanted it to go there or not.
And as I dug, and huffed and sweated, I listened, half heartedly to the radio.
There was a lot of chat about that poisoned pillock, John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons and his bullying, and how, given his position there’s not a lot that can be done about it.
Which made me think about some of the bullies I’ve worked with, or more often than not, for.
And one in particular. This person terrified me for many years. When I was interviewed for the job I sought, this person, alone amongst a panel of five, put me under some real pressure, with the questions posed.
The others, clearly, felt uncomfortable with what was happening and, jokingly tried to diffuse the atmosphere. Later I learnt the others desperately wanted me for the job, not so much because I was the right candidate but because, just then, I was the only one. They were prepared to scale back their questioning; number five was not. In their eyes, I still needed to be up to the job.
In future years I worked closely with this person and, on several occasions, my competence was publicly questioned.
Sometimes there was justification, some times not so much. I learnt to be very expressive with my facial expressions.
It was not the done thing, back then, to interrupt a briefing, but I learnt the hard way that not to interrupt at the point I was lost as to what we needed to do, meant I would probably never catch up and a public humiliation would probably follow.
So if I could look utterly discombobulated, the briefing would stop, I could ask my question and we could move on.
After five years working together, my nemesis told me, laughingly that they had told others to adopt my technique, since it was clearly working.
As the root emerged from the ground, it occurred to me that this ‘bullying’, for that is what it was, was in fact, for me, a harsh but effective proving ground.
It was a place where, if I let the standards slip, I was told so in an uncompromising way.
So I learnt to be well-prepared, on the money at the start and ready for as many contingencies as I could think up.
I also learnt that constantly breaking the china eventually leaves you without any plates and I was determined I would never be so lacking in empathy as was my old boss.
And as is the way of these things, I became a partner, I became the head of the department we both worked in and it fell to me to tell this person they had to go, because their contribution was no longer what we needed.
I lent on my spade and felt rather sad.
I needed those many kicks to become the tougher nut that I became; by instinct I avoid confrontation and am too willing to compromise, probably.
I learnt when to go one way and when the other, so I could function in the rough and tumble of city life.
Sadly though my tutor failed to learn that they too needed to adapt.
Much like that bloody tree that had to come out.