This Ain’t Just Business, It’s Personal

Last thing yesterday, before I got into bed, I read Sara’s blog.  This morning I woke up realising, that for all my Grannie wisdom, in the past I’d been wrong.

You see, I’d always hoped that the whole sorry Sloven business wasn’t just aimed vindictively at one person.  I’d very seldom come across such actual malice during a lifetime’s experience of working in various branches of public service.

I’d come across plenty of bad practice – sloppy procedures, chaotic administration, hopelessly out of their depth managers, arrogant trend-driven consultants, sheer basic incompetence and plain simple idleness.  All of these were bad enough, but at least they were open to remedy, given the will, the time and the determination.

And of course families caught up in such Kafkaesque nightmares suffered, but they weren’t targetted.  They were a sad, innocent part of a big mess that needed sorting, and at one time many people entered politics, or the public services or local government, in the hope that they could help clear it up.

My Dad was one of them. He wouldn’t even accept a bottle of whisky at Christmas in case it looked like corruption.  Having taken on the job as a young man in the Depression, largely because it offered security,  he faced up to a career of sorting out corporate mess. He never made a song or dance about it.  He went about it quietly and steadfastly, simply because he believed it was the right thing to do.  

As I read Sara’s latest blog, I had to admit that my Dad’s world was dead.

A public service, part of the NHS, could whine about criticism from a bereaved family, and seriously cite this as a reason for not carrying out their own procedures efficiently. It was this that finally forced me to see that the principles my Dad lived by have become things of the past.

Nowadays, like some D list celebrity complaining about her Twitter following, a public body states  (and presumably believes) that social media coverage of a preventable death is somehow unfair to them. 

They choose to home in on a single blogger, one honestly outspoken citizen, as the unacceptable cause of their staff problems and their procedural difficulties.

So I apologise to Sara for ever doubting that the treatment of her family was more than awful indifference, maladministration and incompetence. I finally have to admit that the only rational explanation for the intransigence of the Health Trust in consistently laying their failings at her door is that they seriously believe her to be at fault.  They resent her stubborn unwillingness to be silent in grief, her friends’ determination to meticulously research and record corporate failings, the support of all who campaign and fund raise on her behalf.  All these people must be in the wrong and Sara Ryan is the wicked ringleader who stirs them up!

This isn’t just business, it’s personal.

Welcome to public service in the UK today!



Lesson 98 Family

Lesson 98 on Remembering who’s important


Seeing as I’ve reached the last ten blogs for #107 days, I thought I’d highlight a few memories relevant to Sara, LB and all the other dudes and dudettes. This is one.

The teenage girls I taught seemed to be perpetually involved in some sort of dispute with their mothers. Regardless of the nature or quality of the mothering they actually received, there was always some grudge or injustice to be aired.

It was easy, as a young woman teacher, to be flattered into thinking yourself superior to all those awful mothers out there.

However I never had the luxury of being able to feel better than anybody else, because I was so useless myself.  (For instance, I once came home to find my latchkey child sitting on the doorstep in the snow because she had left her front door key at school.)

A professional person without such shameful experiences in their past can all too readily overestimate their own importance.  They forget they are just transitory figures on the timeline of their pupils or clients.

When my teenage pupils moaned about their Mums, I used to let them grouch on for a little, till I asked them.

“How do you see yourself in the future? Would you like to have children?”

“Oh yes, Miss,” was almost always the reply.

“But I suppose you’ll still want a bit of time for yourself?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, you might want to go out with your friends now and again.”


At this point they would look at me as though I was mad. Of course they would want to go on girls’ night out.

“And who’s going to baby-sit?”  They began to see where this was going.

“My Mum?” 


Professionals, however important their role for a specific purpose at a certain time, aren’t there for the duration.

They’re the hired help.