Saturday, November 25, 2006


[For those of you who are wondering: why does he put emails into his blog? The answer is simply that it makes the info easier to find for me. Within a day or two emails get lost into the 50 odd emails I get everyday. This blog archives info making all important stuff easy to find, and also archives information that may be useful in terms of making comparisons (in terms of training), or provide a legal background to a particular matter (which is like stating something for the record). In this sense timeframe becomes quite vital]

Hi Nick,

Thanks so much for sending these through to me. Your writing is very good – I particularly enjoyed the marriage myth piece. As you have suggested, I think the best thing for us to do is commission an upfront man piece.

Upfront Man: A one-page (650 words) column, written by a man for women. Should be funny and anecdotal but should also contain some new thought, perception, philosophy, theory or insight. Should have a ‘take-away’ factor, so that women readers feel they have learned something or seen something differently or somehow benefited, as well as having a good laugh. Should give women some insight into the way men think, does not have to be about relationships, although it often is.

I think the best avenue, would be for you to suggest a few ideas for this slot (just need two or three sentence explanation of what you think the story will be). We can then discuss the angle, etc.
Also, I encourage you to read through a recent COSMO. Get a feel for the tone and voice used both in the Upfront Man slot, and also throughout the mag. And keep in mind who a COSMO girl is:

€ She is bold, brave and SEXY.
€ She is 25 and single (or dating, not married).
€ She is a little wicked, flirty.
€ She strides.
€ She is positive and optimistic.
€ She is black AND white.
€ Sexually she is confident, having fun, and On Top.
€ She rules her universe.

She is not…
…winsome, a waif, an elegant lady. She is not a fashion victim, nor unfashionable.

Let me know your thoughts.

Kind regards,

Hi Nick,

Your soul story is currently on hold waiting to be attended to. I'm sorry to disappoint you but we can't publish Dr. Phil. It's the sort of subject where the readers could be referred directly to his website and book on

We have lots of story ideas here: Perhaps there are some that take your fancy?

We've also had two nice stories from Max Lin and Shannon McCann today. It reminds me you're very good at delivering a sense of place in your writing. You could try that again perhaps?

We've also put out an appeal for winter/summer themed fiction (actually for Christmas but we wanted to be inclusive). I could imagine that you'd be good at writing something about South Africa, Africans and religious belief.

Best wishes,


3:05pm - 3:10pm

My meeting with Proctor and Gamble was a silly waste of time. At least P&G were in agreement about this, they also said it was a silly waste of time for them. That's hard to understand. In my case, it was a pointless 5 minute meeting that achieved nothing. It's hard to imagine, when they have not honored their own procedures, but simply engaged in a sort of procedural nepotism, it's hard to see how they can claim I've wasted their time. They have wasted their time, and now have allowed this actually small problem to balloon into a bigger problem that will demand someone elses attention. Aren't I the one who sent in a complaint? Once again, did they offer me a single open ended minute to simply ask: what's happened, how did this all start, why are you unhappy, because, you know, we actually [are supposed to] care. They simply don't. All they care about is self-preservation; protecting their micro-domain.

Here's why. If you're sitting at home watching TV and a stone comes flying through your window, and you get up just in time to see who it is [someone from the local mafia], just how much good is going to the mafia going to be, to complain about what happened? Ergo: They're either going to make some excuse, or laugh at you, or simply get rid of you.

So it was unfortunate that P's* meeting started exactly as G's had two weeks earlier. She basically had a prepared document that she wanted me to sign. No attempt to start any kind of dialogue. No sincere attempt to try to understand the situation impartially. More like an immediate wall going up, a defensive wall. The document was obviously prejudicial (as in judged well in advance of the appropriate time to exercise judgement).
When she started reading her prepared document (which was all about how much she agreed with her colleagues, and how much she disagreed with me - someone I was meeting with for the very first time, and also someone who refused to speak to me on the telephone when I called her), I asked whether or not they wanted to hear what I had to say. All they seemed to want me to do is listen to a judgement and sign a document. Great, thanks for your help again. Does anyone remember that I actually wrote a letter complaining about something? They're trying to make this into them accusing me of something.

On my way out I pointed out that at no time had anyone actually called me to discuss my complaint. I still have not spoken to anyone about the complaint. They have had long discussions between themselves to get their case together, up and down, left and right. The last thing on their minds appears to be actually finding out what I think. Their focus has been this blog, and that's all they have focussed on. It's something to discuss (possibly) but only after we've actually addressed the issue at stake here: the complaint I made about rude and unhelpful responses that developed into a recognisable pattern.

Once again, the last thing they want to do is find out the actual state of affairs, because the last thing they want to do is have to consider taking any steps against one of their own. So now I am at the 3rd level in this hierarchy of entropy, and everyone is patting each other on the back, and still, no has even offered or attempted to listen to a single thing from my side. So much for student morale being something they care about. That went sailing out the window some time in August, and was already eroding well before then.

I was also really surprised to see Gamble there. All along his game has been to be uncommitted and uninvolved, apparently impartial (but actually not) and I think he was just hoping I'd forget about it. I visited him in his office subsequent to the complaint and he never insisted beyond a casual, weak inquiry, on gaining some background. But yesterday he started to get really excited (for once), taking his cue from P who kept interrupting me and forcing me into the scenario she'd prepared: I read the statement, he signs it. When I objected, she objected and so did he. Well this wasn't getting anywhere. I pointed out that there's actually a case to be made against how he has been running his department. This really woke him up. He quickly pointed to a recording device (which apparently was on anyway). Nice one guys, just another example of fair play.

This year, during both semesters, lecturers often - and I don't use that word casually - often have been absent, unaware of their own timetables, unable (or unwilling in R's case) to provide a timetable, it's been impossible to actually attend lectures with doors being locked and locations changed, and this Grievance procedure demonstrates to what extent a student, simply pursuing the resolution of something, is frustrated at every turn.

This meeting was a metaphor for the whole thing. Failure to listen. Failure to adhere to reasonable process. Failure to be accountable. Failure in the end, to care. Instead it was a demonstration of a top down, slapdash, one way hierarchy, which insisted on tersely telling someone their place, manuevering them into a position, rather than being open in order to discover the actual state of affairs (as most reasonable people would).

G tossed the word 'l' at me quite a few times. I said that I'd stand by every statment I've made, and I'd even consider publishing this fiasco of manners in a local paper. Both P&G indicated that they would welcome that.

Interesting. My blog represents an unacceptable 'public domain' for personal jibes but they're perfectly happy to accept a purposefully written report to a newspaper (this with a definite agenda - to accuse in the public domain in no uncertain terms) outlining incompetence at every level. How does that make sense? I wonder whether I am going to speak to a reasonable human being next, with a proportionate sense of what is fair and proper. Or am I going to have more documents read to me that I have to sign?

No comments: