Saturday, January 27, 2007


It is funny how the mood of a week can change in a day. The start of this week was all right, but after last weeks stress the horizon was a bit uneventful and subdued. Then on Wednesday afternoon we had a Team Meeting of all Crematorium staff. Now, this is only the second such meeting I’ve attended. My impressions are that they really aren’t that useful. People seem to use them to make helpful suggestions that are quickly dispensed with, by the management, as unworkable. They air grievances or make barely polite requests for others to stop doing things they find annoying or frustrating, or berate them for taking diabolical liberties. One of my fellow Chapel Attendants decided to make an number of statements about folk ‘getting off their arses and doing the work their supposed to do, rather than reading newspapers’ I was gob smacked by his audacity and sheer hypocrisy, as this perfectly describes of his own work style. Annoyed? I was livid.

On top of this, I am tired with the Crematoriums management style. It is so heavy handed, and forgive this please - ‘tight arsed’. If it moves, there must be a procedure written out which everyone must adhere to, to the letter. If funeral directors don’t do as they’re supposed to, which they inevitable won’t do at least some of the time, a letter will be dispatched with a new dictatorial instruction. A sign will be printed, aggressive in tone, telling everyone what they are ‘not to do’ It is accompanied by a strong tendency to come down heavily on simple errors people make in the course of doing there work. Rather than focusing on the efforts people are making, and encouraging people to take responsibility, they get blamed instead. As a consequence some staff spend half their time finding someone else to take the can, as a means of deflecting blame from them selves. The Team Meeting was full of this sort of tone. I left feeling pissed off and irritated.

By the time I’d got home I was despondent and angry. By the next day I was grumpy and depressed. Why am I doing this job? How can I get out of it as quick as possible, please? The job, simple as it is, is stressful. I’m dealing with recently bereaved families and burning their deceased bodies daily. This is not a neutral working environment. By Thursday night I was pretty low and deeply unhappy, with work, with me, and seemingly almost everything else. David and I were cleaning the flat in preparation for friends visiting us at the weekend. In the middle of all this I begin to feel tearful and upset. The emotion was a bit dark and melodramatic. It is best summed up as feeling as if I’ve wasted my life. Now, I think it could be said I’ve not always made the most of my talents, and often career strategies haven’t gone according to plan, but wasted? - Not really. Though it might not be true historically, it does hold truth emotionally. I’ve had a persistent feeling for most of my adult life that there was something I should be doing with my life that I wasn’t currently doing. Combined with this ‘wasted life’ response, I’m beginning to see that these have been the dominant emotional impulses behind my recent ‘mid life’ review.

The ramifications of this are not fully formed yet, but I can see they might be far reaching. After settling for a period of peace and quiet whilst my finances recover, up comes this. My first response is - I don’t think it’s advisable to make a long-term commitment to the Crematorium. This is followed by – what else could I do? To which I feel – Oh not that old chestnut again. Questions are arising, as are conflicting impulses, the re-treading of old rationales, going back over how things have reached this impasse and hitting my head against emotional dead ends. So generally I guess its best not to further commit things to blog just yet. Though I will keep you posted.

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