APOLOGIES AGAIN - THE LINK IS TOTALLY SORTED NOW - VOTE FOR MY FRIEND MICHELLE - ONLY DAYS TO GO!!
I am coming to the end of my six week work stint and just about over the culture shock. The picture above is of my colleague Michelle Epstein who is a finalist in the ‘Council Worker of the Year Award’. I have to say the quality of the colleagues is a good deal higher than my usual. I wanted to tell you a bit about Michelle and how you can join in the fun of voting for her. You see, you don’t have to live in Redbridge or even
Michelle is one of those refreshingly no nonsense action-type people that you sometimes think have been purged from local authorities along with the people who know how to buy the right kind of computers and speak in whole sentences. The faith agenda, I have mentioned before, leaves me cold. It often seems like a mechanism for re-empowering the oppressive religious interests that we spent the better part of the last century carefully unpicking from public functions, for very good reasons. But when Michelle facilitated the setting up of the Redbridge Faith Forum, it was with the intention it would contribute to debate about practical problems that affect people’s everyday lives. In 2005 the Faith Forum debated ‘God and Global Warming’. Now that is what I call pulling your weight.
That year, Michelle was diagnosed with breast cancer. She did the unthinkable and dared to defy doctors – choosing to refuse to continue with treatment she didn’t feel was making her better. Doctors don’t like to be disagreed with and were not best pleased, telling her ‘you will die’. She didn’t and she has been in remission for nearly two years now. One of the great and admirable things about Michelle is that she has faith in herself. She’s also incredibly superstitious – like me. Michelle even knows superstitions that not even I have heard of, like the one that says if you make a pronouncement and someone sneezes straight afterwards, it must be true. And here was me thinking I just know a lot of people with hay fever.
So, after six weeks of sitting in a lovely quiet office in a three star council, working with people who appear to be in possession of a full set of marbles and flitting off across the road to the Oxfam bookshop, (I know I said I don’t do shopping but books aren’t really shopping – they’re more like a permanent loan from the library), I’m ready to park some money in my dwindling account and get back to the serious business of getting this novel finished. For the first couple of weeks, I managed to rewrite a couple of pages a night but then I was writing reports during the day and I was more or less written out when I got home. All I could do was shuffle around the marshes and throw on a DVD in the last couple of weeks.
If this was my last working experience in
I’m glad I met Michelle and Roisin, Aslam, Numan, Tony, Mike, Tracey, Lin, Jackie, Carla, Sylvia, Colwyn, Kamlesh, Peter and Claire and, of course John, the lovely man whose seat I’ve been keeping warm for the last six weeks. Oh, and my friend John at the train station and Linda who brings around the tea trolley – yes they even have a tea trolley, and the lady at the Oxfam bookshop. It’s not so bad going to work. Of course, it’s much better not to and I’m quite looking forward to getting back to my life…
Photo from Redbridge Life