Tuesday, 10 September 2013

On Not Being A Team Player

You can tell I'm Not A Team Player because, quite literally, I'm not wearing the t-shirt. What t-shirt? 

Paunch model's own. 

Perhaps I should start at the beginning. This morning at 0830 I sloped along to catch a coach from outside the football ground to the other main campus to miles away for the inaugural meeting of the new Faculty of Arts. Yes, we have pointed out the inevitable abbreviation and management are Not Amused. Shame they couldn't call it the Faculty of Humanities and Arts, which would scotch the sniggers.

The coach, of course, didn't turn up because it hadn't been booked. One hour later, one of the campus shuttles turned up and I had the pleasure of standing up all the way to Walsall. Once there, we were all presented with a colour-coded t-shirt denoting up departments. I'm in two departments so I got to choose. However, I've worked in fast food production, data entry and any number of other jobs where the word 'team' was bandied around as a cheap way to disguise the true nature of the relationships involved. I am not, therefore, wearing the shirt. It brings to mind two situations: the Star Trek security officer who wore red shirts, never got named and died in the first act, unmourned. I worry that the Orange Shirt academics will be jettisoned from an airlock before the first semester is over. The other gag springing to mind is this: 'I went to the Faculty of Arts and all I got was this lousy t-shirt'.

The Dean's just posted a slide reading


And now I want to die. I am creative. I don't work for a business. I don't want to make money. I want to teach students new ways to think about literature and culture. This is the slogan of the estate agency or the boiler room, not a seat of learning. As I was saying, Not A Team Player.  Although quite frankly, why should I be when my own employers can't even spell my name correctly on the bloody name badges?

The agenda today includes several sessions of 'speed-dating' and only one (the last of the day), devoted to the actual structures and operations of the Faculty. (Having now undergone the 'speed-dating', I can say that my new colleagues are lovely, interesting people, but I'm not sure what collaborations will arise between my English department and the chaps who design suicide-proof furniture for prisons). So here we are, many in their t-shirts, having had a lecture about positivity, emotional intelligence and we're being asked to enunciate our hopes and dreams. What HASN'T been mentioned is academic integrity.

A little later, we're being dragooned into a Scratch Choir. There are two songs listed, one of which is 'Come Again Sweet Love' set to music by renowned madrigalist John Dowland.

Being a literary critic, I'm now wondering whether the Dean is playing a sophisticated joke or sky hasn't read them, because it's a classic tale of unrequited love and the sufferings imposed on the gentleman involved:

Come again! sweet love doth now invite
Thy graces that refrain
To do me due delight,
To see, to hear, to touch, to kiss, to die,
With thee again in sweetest sympathy.

Come again! that I may cease to mourn
Through thy unkind disdain;
For now left and forlorn
I sit, I sigh, I weep, I faint, I die
In deadly pain and endless misery.

All the day the sun that lends me shine
By frowns do cause me pine
And feeds me with delay;
Her smiles, my springs that makes my joy to grow,
Her frowns the Winters of my woe.

All the night my sleeps are full of dreams,
My eyes are full of streams.
My heart takes no delight
To see the fruits and joys that some do find
And mark the storms are me assign'd.

Out alas, my faith is ever true,
Yet will she never rue
Nor yield me any grace;
Her eyes of fire, her heart of flint is made,
Whom tears nor truth may once invade.

Gentle Love, draw forth thy wounding dart,
Thou canst not pierce her heart;
For I, that do approve
By sighs and tears more hot than are thy shafts
Did tempt while she for triumph laughs.

As a metaphor of our relationship between staff and management, this really can't be bettered. 


Andy H said...

Your 'redshirts' comment reminded me that this was the (slightly surprising) winner of the Hugo this year... I'm reading it though a quick google search to get the URL gave away one of the major spoilers unfortunately... http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0575134291/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creative=19450&creativeASIN=0575134291&linkCode=as2&tag=twcuonmi-21

The Plashing Vole said...

I really enjoyed Redshirts! Though it got a bit too clever for its own good later on.

Alistair Brown said...

Oh dear God. You've gone on holiday and come back to find yourself inhabiting a David Lodge novel...

The Plashing Vole said...

Worse than Lodge. His gentle good humour is no match for this stuff!

Anonymous said...

Great overiview of the day. I had similar qualms regarding the content of the day. I'm instantly uncomfortable with forced ice-breakers. It is my right to remain aloof.

I think the income generation message is likely to be something handed down from above rather than something the Dean has cooked up.

And he does seem at least human and prepared to poke fun at himself.

I didn't have a t-shirt allocated to me. I'm not sure whether I should be upset or scared that I am about to be rubbed out.