What have the Romans ever done for us?
We are approaching the start of the formal investigation into the complaints made about me a month and a half ago. I have been summoned to an interview to determine my response to the allegations made against me. This blogpost is to share my knowledge of events as they should unfold in the hope that others may find them titillating. It is also to vent some of the pressure that is building up.
It’s no fun being accused of something that you really believe that you are not guilty of. It’s not helped by the difficulty in finding advice online that is aimed at people in your predicament. Most of the writing available about dealing with complaints is written with the complainant in mind: if you feel that you’ve been wronged, do this; be reassured that…; make sure that your company does this; the law says that you have a right to this; if you are the person being complained about, there isn’t very much available at all.
But God bless the University of Cambridge. They have a wonderfully clear set of HR procedures and they operate under the most beautifully-named principles of natural justice. And God bless the Romans. Thanks to their efforts, the principles of natural justice became part of our own legal system. Unfortunately, in the intervening thousands of years, the principles have yet to seep through to the consciousness of my managers.
Close to two months after I was informed that my colleague had made a grievance against me, I have yet to hear any details of what that grievance might consist of. I have informally been given some indication that I may be being accused of bullying, but this has yet to be confirmed. As bullying rightly amounts to gross misconduct, it is not the kind of thing you would normally wish to have to deal with over the festive period. Still, it helped me justify the excess consumption of wine and chocolate to myself and others.
Yet the principles of natural justice would expect that a person accused of some wrongdoing is given the opportunity to know the details of the accusation and the time to prepare a response to them. One might also consider the principles of natural justice to include a swift approach to dealing with the causes of any injustice – for the sake of all concerned. In the intervening weeks between complaint and investigation, I have to work in the same staffroom as my accuser and I cannot imagine that she finds it any easier than I do. I would say, God bless her, but I imagine that it would not take a particularly astute reader to spot the facetiousness of such a comment. What I really mean is may the crows eat her eyes.
Another piece of advice that I would offer to those awaiting the call to the witness box is not to read any books about cognitive dissonance in the meantime. Very interesting it may well be, but the chapter that I have just finished reading that explains how memory is a bunch of hogwash is making me question my own understanding of events as they unfolded. I recall having sat down with my failing team member and explained gently, understandingly and comprehensively the standards that she was falling short in; but then I would, wouldn’t I? My memory is self-serving; it’s hardly going to remember exactly how many times I swung the kilos of oranges wrapped in a stolen hotel towel down onto the poor cowering young woman in the corner, is it?
The whole area of memory is truly amazing. We like to think of our memory as a repository for experiences. They happen to us; our brain stores them; we wheel them out as and when we need them. Yeah! Right! Memory might better be thought of as Keyser Soze. It has a quick look around the rather sparse environment of the brain, pulls out some key features and weaves a plausible story that then starts reinforcing itself the more it is told. It also starts changing itself around this time too. All those faults that your mum and dad passed on to you, and the extra ones they added on just for you? In all likelihood, just your brain looking for a plausible explanation of why you are so fucked up. Forgive the profanity – it’s poetry. The brain has two possible options: it’s all your fault or it’s all someone else’s fault. It hardly comes as a surprise which option it plumps for.
This concept of the memory as a lone individual piecing together narratives and stories from prompts dotted around the environment is a truly mind-boggling one for me. Memory has always been described using the metaphor of the day and this metaphor has often been defined by the prevalent technology of the day: with the development of writing, memories were considered to be written documents, filed away in the vast libraries of the mind; then came printing and they became like books; with video technology, they were considered to be like films that could be replayed over and over again, and of course, with this new-fangled digital technology, they are like hard drives which store data that is input by an external source. The metaphor that I am putting forward (the metaphor that I am plagiarising shamelessly having stood on the shoulders of giants to get at the cookie jar) predtaes all of this technology and goes back to the time when the storyteller would earn his (always a man?) supper by telling a tall tale to the people gathered in the meadhall or around the fire. With this in mind, those of you of a certain age may remember the video attached here. The idea that the storyteller is your brain should make you reconsider that last line; not so bloody inspiring now, is it? And always a happy ever after…always? Always!
No comments yet.