The end of October brought sad news. A dear friend, who had suffered bravely for a long while, passed away. As I guess it often does for most people, such events put things in perspective. For me, this has cut through the daily grind of working in a system, which lost its heart and soul to number crunching quite some time ago. Yet, being aware of this has not affected the fact I have, somehow, over the past few years become a total slave to it. A loss of soul on my part. Never has it been clearer that I have let the bastards grind me down. For a start, I did not visit my friend enough, although my husband did. Too busy working at home, as well as working, at least temporarily, crazily unsocial hours. It's not that I dislike my job, only that it has become so relentless that my line manager, who is around 17 years younger than me has quit without another job to go to.
So...how do I keep my soul in the 'relentlessness' of my occupation, which is not seen as a problematic by those who govern but rather as the correct state of affairs endorsed by those whose role it is to oversee us?
Well, this weekend I only did one small job and rested. I've also been reading Alan Bennett's 'Keeping On Keeping On' - Diaries and miscellaneous writings 2005-2015. An apt title that applies to everyone really. As for me, I can't just throw the towel in, not for another 4 years at least, unless I am made redundant with a reasonable pay off. But keeping on keeping on need not be as bleak as I have let it become lately. I need to remember to take time out for myself and for others. Because if I don't one day they (and me) just won't be around any more.
I also took some time out last week to write a little Eulogy for my friend for the facebook thread his cricketing pals have set up to mourn his passing.
His funeral is on Thursday and I think it will be quite special. I hope his memory will remind me not to be such a slave to the system and help me to tread more of a middle course and get something of my life and my soul back. I also hope and pray that he is now at rest and in peace in God's timeless embrace.
Meanwhile, here on Earth, I take comfort from what Alan Bennett wrote in the introduction to 'Keeping On Keeping On ':
In the ten years covered by this book politics has impinged more than I care for...I fear that there will be a Tory government for the remainder of my life. And with it England dismantled...As the government continues to pick the state clean...why should it stop? If there is money to be made out of the probation service why not still exhibit the insane? Is there any large corporation nowadays which one wholly trusts and which doesn't confuse honesty with public relations?
Some of these sentiments I more moderately voiced in King's College Chapel in 2014...I could have suggested then that taking a leaf out of the government's book the Church of England too should run solely for profit, parson's given targets and made to turn up at Epiphany with statistics of souls saved. Except the trouble with such jokes is that they are a joke no longer and in this senseless world in which even the bees find the government arrayed against them, moderation is hard to hold on to. (Bennett A, 2016)
Why take comfort from such bleakness? I guess it is because when someone I admire as much as Alan Bennett is able to articulate so well what is going on, it seems to me, caught up in the world of the whoever it is I work for, squeezed beyond belief by the government yet still expected to meet the highest standards, I know that he speaks for many alienated souls. I listened to my colleagues the other day comparing working in this sector with fighting J.K. Rowling's dreadful dementors
I began this blog by taking about getting my soul back but maybe it is not that my soul is lost, merely that it is alienated by the soul sucking Voldemorts who currently run the show.
How to unfreeze my alienated soul:
Step number one: the oppressors do not own me.
Step number two: take time out.
Step number three: remember at all times who I really am.