Weeknotes S06E06

Read the poem on a computer screen. It needs the ‘Verse’ formatting but it looks bloody awful on your phone. Sorry.

Edit: or just turn your phone landscape. Thanks to gregthobbs for noticing and kindly commenting

1. A better week this week. I’ve made small bits of progress here and there with things, and at the same time I’ve been thinking about going back to development. This work is tough, tougher than anything I’ve done before, and unbounded in a way I’ve never experienced. Discrete, well-scoped, highly remunerated work calls to me with a siren song.

I keep getting to the end of the week, writing these notes, and wondering why I’m doing the job I’m doing. There are loads of great moments, but there’s also a lot more rough ones than I used to have. I am influencing at a higher level, and I am making change, and I am helping people to get work done. I enjoy those challenges. At the same time, I had high hopes of going part-time; of learning the piano; of writing my novel. None of those things happen at the moment. Taking a step back might be good for me.

Mind you, I had a call with someone that was a reminder that not everyone thinks like me: that ethics are not necessarily foremost in the minds of those building tools that connect the footprints folks don’t necessarily know they’re leaving in the world.

So maybe not a…total shift in culture.

2. [SPOILERS FOR CYRANO DE BERGERAC] I saw a very free adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac by Martin Crimp, produced by the Jamie Lloyd Company and streamed directly into my eyeballs by the modern miracles of the internet and big-screen cinemas. It was so good – so good – that I bought the script in the interval. It is perhaps the most bougie, the most fanboy thing I’ve ever done but it’s incredible. It’s so good I don’t have words yet to describe it. It’s so…hard, so perfect a tragedy, that I can’t really talk about it yet.

The adaptation keeps the spirit of the original, which is written entirely in verse, but brings it aggressively into the modern world through translation to beat poetry. It’s a work of pure beauty and has re-inspired in me the desire to be good at poetry; to write effectively, epically: to inspire love and adoration and fear in all who read me.

The characterisation of Cyrano is particularly good; brash and brawling and completely broken inside. The casting of McAvoy as “the ugliest man in the world” is presumably done to evict early the members of the audience whose ability to see beyond the obvious will be to their detriment – since this is a play about not what is seen but meant.

This play has been converted to a modern setting before for the film Roxanne staring Steve Martin. If you’ve seen it, beware: it is the Disneyfication of a story that has no happy endings for anyone. This story ends in death and, for all the laughs, will still make you cry in the end.

3. I had a hard time teaching this week. One of my students hadn’t done the homework, and I didn’t know how to deal with it. I’m enthusiastic about people learning their own way, and I don’t want to assume everyone learns like me – but if my teaching style is set up to demand a certain style of learning, am I failing in my pedagogy if I only take certain students? I think I’m feeling this way about managing at the moment – management styles differ, and a light touch, outcome-based style might be preferred by the manager but not work particularly well for the line report. Who’s to blame?

Nobody, is my screaming gut instinct, because I genuinely believe in blame-free cultures and root cause analysis. If a relationship between two people doesn’t work – professionally, romantically, sexually, all three (do not try this at home) – then I don’t think there should be blame, just a mutual recognition that on this occasion the pieces of your respective puzzles do not entirely fit together. In a market where there’s plenty of supply you ought to be able to go somewhere else – the frustration comes when the only supplier of education/management has monopolised the means of production. And so what do you do as the receiver of this behaviour? Try to bend yourself to it? Resist, and expect the provider to bend to what you want – since, after all, you are the customer?

I don’t know the answer yet. Your thoughts would be welcome.

4. I wrote another poem because of a single tweet sent by someone who is embarrassingly half adopted sister and half muse, but listen, being proximate to pure joy personified in a person brings out something creative in me. Surely that’s better than the traditional approach of industrial scale drug consumption and drowning in gin. It’s less fashionable – I fully accept that the sober aesthetic is dull – but my poetry is shot through with sunshine and all methods are valid.

This is what punk looks like, yeah?


If my leg had gangrene and, sinisterly purple and yellow,
threatened to poison me:
I would trust you to tell me
to cut it off

And if my liver grew wild; grew teeth; grew hair;
tried to replace my body with itself
You would hold my hand and convince me
to remove it

But when my job laced hands around my throat 
squeezed the breath from my lungs
You remind me of the danger
of career suicide

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