I was talking yesterday to a friend about being looked at when you go into a village pub. You know how it is, all heads swivel as you open the door and you’re greeted, smiled at, eyed up and down or turned away from, depending. In our village pub I get a welcoming ‘hello’ at the least, though I don’t get down there very often nowadays. It used to be my post-church excursion where I was bound to find a few mates, we’d have a couple of drinks and then go home for lunch. Not all the wives turned up because they were cooking, but I allowed for it in my lunchtime planning. However, once we started to serve coffee after the service every week, I never had time. I was churchwarden at that time and stayed until the end and was in the last group to leave. By the time I arrived at the pub, my friends were about to leave so I didn’t bother any more. I always meant to start again but, in the way of the world, that group of people don’t necessarily turn up regularly either, and I can’t really leave church without having a cup of coffee because it would be unfriendly so I’m still on the late side. So John’s sales have diminished by a pint or two a week for several years now.
Some time ago, I chatted to the sister of a friend, whose son was married to a Japanese girl. They’d met when he was working in Japan, married and were living in London. She wasn’t finding the adjustment all that easy, especially when they visited his family. The previous weekend they had come to visit and gone to the pub and she was very self-conscious. “Everyone looked at me when I walked in the door!” she said. “It’s not so bad in London because it’s so cosmopolitan, but I stand out as a Japanese woman and I’m stared at.” They explained that she’d have been stared at anyway, not because she was Japanese but because she wasn’t a local, but she didn’t believe it.
I’ve noticed that on many occasions though, that someone thinks that their experience is because of their particular circumstances when actually it’s what is likely to happen to anyone. I expect there are times when it occurs with me too (because that is a logical conclusion).
I was going to give an example there but I’ve completely forgotten it. The Sage just came and asked me for help in sending an email. It turned out that he’d put a comma instead of a dot in the address so it was quickly sorted out, but I’ve lost my train of thought so will go on to another one.
The interviews yesterday were both very good and it was one of those awful occasions when you’re going to have to disappoint someone whom you would be very happy to appoint because there were two applicants and only one job. The worst things about all the interviews, and we’ve had about twenty new appointments to make (I’ve not been involved in all of them), is that the reason is the closure of the middle schools. So there have been and still are a lot of teachers and other staff facing redundancy. We are so conscious that someone we do not pick might find it hard to get another job in the area, especially if they would prefer to move to a secondary rather than a primary school but do not have GCSE teaching experience. We can ease them in – after all, some of our teachers have no recent experience of teaching 11 and 12 year olds – but schools not involved in the reorganisation would expect them to just slot in and not being able to do so could count against them. So it’s quite upsetting to think about. And I turn up, do the interviews, discuss the applicants with the other interviewers and we come to an agreement, but I’m not the one who has to tell the unlucky ones that they haven’t got the job. So my sympathy was with the Head too, because that was his job yesterday afternoon.
I did once have to do it, actually. I rang the successful person first, who was very pleased of course, and I asked for confirmation of acceptance (I’m not the biggest fool in the world, though not the brightest spark either, and if that person had said ‘no’ then the other one would have been offered the job, they were both good) and received it, and then I phoned the other. And she cried. I wanted to as well then.