Saturday, 17 March 2012

Friday 16 March 2012

Catherine had been screwing herself up for weeks to face today's driving test. 55% fail first time, and however objective the marking system looks on paper, it seems heavily dependent on a subjective interpretation of conditions; eg how to judge whether pausing at roundabouts is cautious, over-cautious, sensible, obstructive, decisive or indecisive. By last night, "There are man-eating butterflies devouring me from the inside out." Today she couldn't eat, couldn't sit still, but went off to college wearing her 'Keep calm and carry on' hoodie and holding to a resolution "not to be one of those people who break down through nerves".

The test was at 12.58pm. From 1.40 I was rigid in the kitchen, ready to pounce on either phone. Nothing happened; certainty of bad news trickled into my gut. At 1.55 I heard her come in. One look.
"Oh, darling, what went wrong?"
In the last minute of the test, coming up to the last roundabout, she had seen a car approach from a junction on the right, but because a van blocked its access to the roundabout Catherine judged it was safe to go on. She has been criticized so often for hanging back, 'dithering', in such situations. The examiner disagreed and slammed on the brakes - automatic failure.
It did seem bad luck, as she had done what any experienced driver would have done in that situation "in real life" as Rik put it - taken advantage of the gap. The blow seemed worse because she had driven an excellent test up till that point, earning only 3 minors and unwonted praise from the examiner, who said she'd been the best of the day's candidates up till then. She was of course upset and angry with herself, and it seems the more frustrating because several friends have passed first time and the college seems full of lads roaring around in uninsured old bangers while high on drugs and testosterone, who must also have somehow passed their test first go. Now we will have to go through the whole nerve-screwing process again, sickened by worse dread of another failure, not to mention the burden of looming IB exams.

It could be that in the long run one gains strength from such setbacks. She went straight upstairs to book a second test. She says herself, "I hate to fail at anything.  I want Dave to give me lots of lessons in our car. I don't know what I will do if I fail again. But I am not going to let it make me fall to pieces."

Tuesday 13 March 2012

Rogerson asked Dave to write a valedictory piece for the PNFS annual report. It was hard to think of anything to say that didn't sound bitter. Dave replied that he could not in all honesty produce the usual sycophantic slime about having enjoyed his time as secretary and valuing his colleagues' support, so he felt it prudent to follow his grandmother's advice: 'If you can't say owt good, say nowt at all.' He added, however, that if the trustees were going to print anything vindictive or condemnatory about him, he would feel bound to respond in kind.
Rogerson replied that he wasn't a vindictive person.
We didn't think that worth responding to, either.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Friday 9 March 2012

Dave has been fuming and growling all week about today's PNFS officers meeting. He wanted to demand all sorts of things - that the trustees keep to the accord of 10 February and let him resume work in the office and on the computer; that the trustees confine themselves to trusteeship and let the officers get on with running the Society; that Rogerson should face a challenge for chairmanship, etc. I told him to keep cool; to respond to but not initiate argument; and not to push himself forward for election or re-election (ie breaking his side of the pact) just or mainly as a way of getting back at Rogerson. He didn't promise.

He was home by 1.30pm.
'So what happened?'
'Nothing much.' Rogerson, smooth, suave and Teflon-coated, explained that as Dave would be leaving soon, there was no point in his resuming secretarial duties. Realising that arguing would get him nowhere, Dave did not persist. Rogerson and the chairmanship, ditto. It turned out that the officers had no appetite for running the Society and no wish for more frequent meetings. And absolutely no interest in seeing the dispute between DCB and CR resume.
'I told them that in my opinion the trustees had broken the terms of the accord, therefore I felt in no way bound by them, but for the sake of the Society I was resigning office anyway.' At which point David Bratt came and shook his hand.
'But it leaves me still annoyed. Because after all the effort Rik and I put into making their computer system work, they're letting it go to ruin. Rogerson has told people they don't need a complicated back-up system as long as they put their work on memory sticks. He told me he'd got a friend who was a computer engineer to look at it for free. I missed the chance to say "you get the advice you pay for." They simply don't realise that if the hard drive breaks down, they lose everything. Do I cause a fault and see what they do about it, or do I walk away and let them destroy my system?'
I said you walk away and let them stew. I also reminded him that having had to perform a massive climbdown over exonerating you, CR was likely to cling to whatever status he thought he had and to yield nothing more.
'Then he's won - he's succeeded in booting me out.'
'He hasn't won - he had to admit you were innocent and a fit and proper person after all. The officers know that, and next you can tell the members who come to the AGM.'
'They won't be interested.'
'The ones who matter will be. And the ones who came to the EGM and are aware of the dispute - they need to know the outcome. You can tell them you were completely exonerated but that you are resigning because the chairman has made it impossible for you to work with him.'
Dave grunted, but a bit less despondently this time.

Friday, 2 March 2012

1 March 2012

From trustees 1 March 2012

“We shall all miss the applications of your talents…etc.
So, despite reservations and reluctance, we have concluded that we should switch the emphasis of the Society’s style to that typical of (but, we hope, more relaxed than) a scheme of delegation system in a business. There, the individual is free (and expected) to act proactively in accordance with the scheme of delegation and his role description, but not to step outside their limits, except to make sure, in close cooperation with his colleagues, that role descriptions and actions bridge gaps and do not create them. Otherwise, the individual must look upwards for authority rather than assume it. As luck would have it, your role up to the AGM is the first to which we have to apply this change of emphasis.

…Before you cease to be an officer, we think it wise to do everything we can to complete the process of learning to do without you in your pivotal role as secretary. Accordingly, it is our collective wish and decision that your duties henceforth shall be confined to those set out in the job description for LPC coordinator as already agreed with you. In so far as not already done, other arrangements will be made in respect of the work you wanted to finish off.

This means that, with the exception of LPC data, you shall not have access to the Society’s computer systems, data or documents, except as expressly agreed with any two of the five trustees, in respect of the specifics of occasion, purpose or duration, other than as an ordinary user of one of the networked PCs at Taylor House. As such a user, you will not have the rights of an administrator, it being the trustees’ security requirement that, among other things, there shall be no access from locations remote from Taylor House.

Whilst detailed, these requirements imply nothing in respect of you personally: they are merely the manifestation of our change of emphasis and of basic security procedures, the fundamentals of which are clarity of responsibility and capability. They will enable us to hold properly accountable the successor to your role as IT guru.”

Initial reaction – discarded as just sounding peevish
Thank you for explaining your thinking on the roles of secretary and computer consultant at Taylor House.

You have made it clear that the role of secretary will be limited to doing exactly what the trustees say, and there will be no place for applying initiative, developing ideas or acting on the sense of personal responsibility that used to be inherent in the work I did.

Regarding the computer system, you have decided you want an IT manager, not someone able to develop and implement systems, write programs, choose equipment, anticipate and rectify problems, and do all this in consideration of the long-term and financial interests of the Society.

On deliberation:

Tone – both patronising and domineering, with hard decrees ineffectively garbed in circumlocution and sweet pacificatory nothings. Also downright rude, considering they are addressing a senior officer and the Vice Chairman of the Society.

Substance – the decisions outlined here breach the agreement issued to Dave on 10 February 2012 with regard to computer access.

Meaning – Rogerson wants rid of DCB. He also intends to establish iron control over all Society business [back to the power theme]. Under this regime there will be no room for ideas, initiative and sense of personal responsibility.
The last paragraph is a lie: it is all about getting rid of Dave.

What to do – possibly consider writing back in term such as: ‘Thank you for your letter. Discounting its verbosity and disingenuous patter, I gather clearly enough that you wish me to keep away from Taylor House. However, your “requirements” are in blatant breach of the statement you issued to me on 10 February 2012, in which you assured me of full access to the PNFS computers.’
I’m not sure about adding ‘As you have broken the agreement between us in this respect, I may seek advice on whether its other conditions remain valid.’

I was tempted to add ‘I also wish to put on record that I find the tone of your edict downright discourteous to myself as a senior officer and the Vice Chairman of the Society’ – until it occurred to me that they would say Dave was in no position to complain about rudeness.

As to the implications for any other officers with ideas, initiative and a sense of personal responsibility, these may be best raised at the officers meeting on 9 March.