Warning: I Am Upset

Well, college has done it again. I went in on Wednesday, thinking to have a look at my room and to figure out how best to pack it up, only to be met by one of the heads of Housekeeping, very embarrassed and apologetic on my behalf. They’d been given the order to clear my room, and all my stuff was now boxed up in the storage rooms. If they wanted the room for someone else (as a stiff little note informed me later on that same day) then why on earth didn’t they just ask me? I’d have cleared it out, and been able to send a mountain of documents for shredding and another to be thrown away, all of which would have been easier than having to do it at home (I have twenty boxes arriving in the college van this afternoon!). And it would have been a chance to say goodbye at some level. I feel like there’s a dignified way of doing this, but college is determined to be as clumsily punitive as possible.

I realise that I need to back up a bit here and fill you in on what’s happened so far this year. Early in January, I cracked and wrote to the Master, as I still hadn’t heard a word from college, no letter, no email, I’d even received a pay slip for the princely sum of £7 (what for, I have no idea). Mr Litlove and I had consulted a lawyer, but she wasn’t much help. She was very unwilling to deal with college, as the university is a law unto itself pretty much, and usually gets its way in the end. I would have walked out after two minutes, but Mr Litlove is made of much sterner stuff, and he kept insisting there must be some way we could signal our displeasure and sense of injustice. In the end, she remembered that we could instigate a grievance procedure. So when I wrote to the Master, I said that this was something I could do, although of course I would prefer not to. After about five weeks, he replied with a very conciliatory letter. This was nothing to do with my work, indeed the college would be very happy for me to continue to provide study support – only it had to be at the level of a College Teaching Associate, not as a Fellow. He was trying to big up the CTA position, saying some other Fellow had chosen it as a route. But the point, I guess, is that he chose it. By having the Fellowship taken away I had lost my research grant (£2,000 over two years), my book grant (£400 a year) and my medical insurance. I wouldn’t even have a pigeonhole in college any more. Not to mention the drop in status. The positions are not at all comparable, although the law doesn’t recognise the loss of a Fellowship, alas, so in providing some sort of alternative, no matter how shabby, the college had more or less covered itself.

Well, I admit I sat on this for a bit. Mr Litlove was all for me making a fuss, asking them to put together a proper proposal for a job that would show me how I’d make up the lost money and so on. But I knew I wasn’t going back. And eventually I wrote the Master a brief note, saying that I did not want the CTA role, and explaining why, and then wishing the college the best for the future and generally being my polite-beyond-all-reason self. A few weeks before I wrote this, I actually received a plaintive email from a student I’d seen last year, asking if she could come again. It cost me to turn her down, as I hate knowing that someone is suffering whom I could help. But yet again it proved that no one knows about this; there’s been no announcement, nothing in the council minutes. I suppose they didn’t really tell the students in the first place that I existed, so it’s no surprise if they don’t inform them I’m no longer there. They just want me to disappear, and transparency doesn’t come into it; they couldn’t come out of this looking good, after all. Then this morning, I heard back from the Master (it’s about a fortnight after I wrote), just three lines thanking me for the work I’ve done and wishing me the best for the future. Is it wrong to feel this is too little too late?

I’m considering writing an article about what’s happened for the THES, I suppose – I’ve never written for a newspaper before and don’t know how best to approach the subject. But is this unreasonable of me? I feel I’ve lost my ethical bearings, and I know my general sense when wounded is to feel that I’m probably at fault. Although I’m not. And I don’t want to go back. All I wanted was for there to be some sort of nice, mutually respectful severing of ties, which it seems I am not to get.

Anyway, on a different note entirely, let me draw your attention to the way in which I’m moving forward from all this, with an article of mine that’s just come out in Open Letters Monthly about Anne Morrow Lindbergh, a woman who had a great deal more to complain of than I have. In fact I became interested in her after reading her gorgeous book, Gift from the Sea, a gently feminist philosophical exploration of women’s lives and how they might be lived better, which is as relevant today as it was when it was written 60 years ago. Once I’d realised the author of the book was the same Anne Morrow Lindbergh who had had her son kidnapped and murdered, I became very curious to know how she had managed to produce such a beautiful, reparative, reconciliatory work after all she had suffered. And then that took me to the Lindbergh marriage, which proved to be a fascinating piece of biographical history. Well, please do pop over to OLM and read some of the other wonderful articles available there, too.

71 thoughts on “Warning: I Am Upset

  1. I’m sorry that this has happened to you. I always find it odd that these situations ever happen. Will the newspaper article really make you feel better? Would it truly be for the common good or would it just make you look like the wounded crying out? I don’t know the answer but I think the right opportunity will present itself. Have you considered that even though this situation has been unwelcome it may lead you to a new career that is more of what you really want?

    I wish you well. I enjoy your writing. You have a gift.

    • Thank you so much for your kind and encouraging comment. I think you’re absolutely right, that however I move forward I need to think very carefully about what will give me most satisfation. I think you put your finger on the point there!

  2. Colleges and Universities are full of people who were picked last for sports teams as children and who didn’t fit in as adolescents. Is it any wonder that nobody at any of them seems to have much human decency, after a few years of roiling around in that kind of anti-social mileau?
    I know what you mean about feeling you’ve lost your ethical bearings. I’m also sure you were not at fault. The least anyone could do would be to say goodbye, but no, they’re going to pretend you never existed.
    And the students are never going to know where you went, so that when they come back for alumni functions, they won’t see you to thank you–or if they do see you, as happened to me once by chance, they’ll thank you in person and no one else at the college will ever know about it.

    • Dear Jeanne

      Perhaps I can say that my general experience (I am a senior university academic in the UK) does not match your comment about a universal lack of “much human decency”. Many of my colleagues were not only picked first at school but played at county and national level in their chosen sports. I cannot speak, since I cannot easily be that detached, about whether I fitted in as an adolescent but clearly the vast majority of people that I have met at the universities I have worked at did. I’m sorry that your experience has been so negative.

      • I’d also like to say that being picked last at sport doesn’t equate to a lack of human decency! In my experience, the less popular kids at school are the ones who turned out to be much nicer human beings all round (and I probably am biased, but I hope I have some human decency too :))

    • Whatever the reason may be, there were definitely a whole lot of very odd people in my college! I don’t see why it’s so hard for them to be courteous, sigh. But there it is. I know you know what higher education is like, Jeanne – thank you for the solidarity!

  3. Hello, Dearest LitLove.

    I really do feel for you. I’m so glad you have this forum in which to talk through these types of issues in life. Since I’ve been reading older posts of yours, I can understand, Darling, why this recent experience has stirred up the entire emotional issue again, for sure. Exasperating

    After many years of experiencing alot of the anxieties you do, I’d like to share my (recent) maxum: “Feel first; think later. Act – maybe.”

    In frustrating times like these, following the lead of people like Jon Cabat-Zinn, Ram Dass, and especially the beloved Rilke, I find feeling the frustration, anger, sadness first, thoroughly and for as long as it takes, then thinking things through with a little clearer head, and then the decision to act or not and how usually, by then, presents itself.

    This all sounds so slick when I write it out. It isnt!

    And of course, it’s never a bad idea, when you do get to the thinking part, to be clear of the goal and then determine if the means you’re considering has the likelihood of producing the end you desire – and are you willing to deal with the fact that you may not attain the desired end – will the act itself be satisifying enough?

    I’m with you no matter what your chosen path!

    RLB

    .

    • RLB, bless you for such a lovely comment. Thank you. I love your maxim and have added it immediately to my collection of favourites. These things never happen with the delightful emotional clarity we might wish, but I’ve come to think that stumbling through the process in a slightly lame way is still quite okay! My temptation is always to plunge in with the mental strategies when – you are so right – feeling the feelings first is the way to go. I like what you say about choosing what will be satisfying in the act. That’s excellent advice.

  4. I am very sorry to hear that even at the end you are treated so shabbily. As a fellow academic I could ask lots of questions and make all sorts of probably pertinant comments, but now that your ties are truly broken I doubt if there is much point in doing so. Email me privately if you wish of course.
    As to writing up your dismal experience for the THES, I think you should indeed consider it. I do not see that you have lost your ethical bearings in any way. However you might wish to examine the reasons for writing such an article since that will surely guide you in the appproach and tone.

    Best wishes, DP

    • Dark Puss, thank you so much for your support and solidarity, I appreciate it enormously. You really capture how I feel right now, sort of chomping at the bit to get things off my chest and then feeling, oh really, why bother? Why not just move on? I think if I write anything, the approach needs to be very carefully considered. If it comes to that, I may well take you up on an email chat.

  5. I will pop over and read your article in just a bit. Gift From The Sea was required reading for me in, I think, high school. I loved it. I think I still have that slim paperback volume somewhere. My dad always called me “Lindy” after Lindbergh, and would sing a song that went something like “Lucky Lindy up in the sky, lucky Lindy flying so high…” as a sort of lullaby to me. (He hated Lindbergh’s politics when he finally learned about them, but it was too late since I was already named.) Now, on to more important matters. I think you should write the article about your experiences with the college. You will, of course, have the legal department of the newspaper review it if you’re going to identify people…oh, hell…you know all that. You have been treated with total disregard and professional disrespect, and I am willing to bet that you are not the first nor will you be the last. My friends in academia have encountered similar slights. What is it about the atmosphere in a large university that makes such behavior not only accepted, but pretty much the norm. It’s almost a “kill or be killed” attitude that is more ruthless than what one finds in a large law firm. And that’s saying something! Write about it, Litlove! And maybe you should get a second legal opinion. The first one sounded a bit wimpy. You might need a bull dog.

    • Grad, such a dear heart as always. Now you hit on the reason why I do feel that speaking out might be useful. I am most certainly not the first and I doubt I’ll be the last. The way people are treated can be pretty appalling, and part of me thinks that unless we bring it into the open, nothing will change (and of course it might not in any case). As you say, I can always get legal advice (which is a good idea!). Oh and Lindy was called Lindy in the early days when he was curiosity and bravado wrapped around a steel spine of courage. So you were named after the good times!

  6. Oh Litlove, I am so sorry! What a crappy way for the college to handle things. Whatever you decide to do about it, I hope it brings you the closure you are looking for. Big hugs!

    On a brighter note, I saw in my OL email newsletter that you had written an article. I haven’t had the chance to read it yet, but my congratulations to you!

  7. Oh dear, dear. What a shitty way for the College to behave. And now you’ll have all the time it will take you to deal with the 20 boxes to brood on this. I’m so sorry. I’d guess that the failure to let you know and give you the chance to come and empty the room yourself was motivated more by their embarrassment and inertia, than by intended disrespect to you, but the effect is the same, of course.

    What I observed when working for an elite UK university was that a position there is so sought after and seen as so desirable that they don’t have to make any effort to treat staff well. Many resentful ex-employees, but always many more eager to replace them. Grr.

    Re the possible THES article, I’m sure you will sit with your feelings first, as others have advised, and balance any sense of obligation to share your experience (see above) with your need to move on and expend your talents and energies on more creative and fulfilling things.

    Can’t wait to see your article in Open Letters Monthly, of which I’m an enthusiastic reader,

    • You’re quite right, Jean, that there are so many people ready and waiting to take over what I do – and for even less money than they paid me – that it’s all too easy for college to behave as badly as it wants. The decision about my room was taken by one particular academic, however, who was the person who managed to get me kicked onto a lower rung in the first place. I don’t know what I did to him, but I do hope it was something really bad. I couldn’t agree more that whatever I write, it needs to be something properly fulfilling. Hugs to you.

  8. If I were in your position I think I would feel exactly as you do, so I understand your wish to be (and to have been) treated properly and professionally and with the courtesy and respect you deserve, and to have those loose ends tied up.
    I am surprised that the lawyer was not more helpful (was she an employment law specialist or a ‘general practitioner’?), but I sense that while you want to do something to air your grievances and knot those ends, there’s a reluctance, too, and that may be because whatever you might do might not give you the desired result and might also cause stress and anxiety in the process, and you’ve had enough of that.
    I’m sure you want to move on to greater things in your professional life (I have no doubt that you will), and to reach a point where you can walk past the college or see some reminder or reference to it without painful feelings surfacing. On balance, I’d say leave it and move on, though that’s not easy because it is still like a piece of grit in your shoe. The college has made many mistakes, and while it seems unjust that they would ‘get away with it’ (I recognise the unfairness of the situation and the possibility that others may suffer at their hands as you have done – not to mention the students who are left without your help), you deserve to be fully free of them and the whole business once and for all.

    • Dear Karen, you are so kind and insightful. Yes, I do want to be free of it all now, and in a funny way, when college behaves badly, it does make it easier to leave. I would have liked the polite and courteous goodbyes, but that isn’t going to happen, and on balance, I find I can live without them. The lawyer I saw was actually working for the firm who deal specifically with Cambridge employment law problems – ouch! What I felt was how tied up people get when they are close to the university, how restricted in their thinking. If moving forward means a liberation for me on unexpected levels, that would be wonderful. I do hope so.

  9. You can always write the article, getting content and steam out, and then decide what to do with it. It’s certainly worth warning people about. Maybe the _LRB_ blog would be interested in it.

    • Dear Jeff, on the money as always. Yes, writing to clear my head and then seeing what’s left is a good plan. And LRB blog a very good idea for a recipient.

  10. Dearest Litlove, if it will provide catharsis of sorts then you should for sure write the newspaper article.

    No matter, I’m going to trust that somehow, somewhere this will all work out magnificently for you – I’ll hold this space for you till you get there yourself. Hugs.

    P.S. I’ve read snippets from Gifts from the Sea and as you said thought it gorgeous. Can’t wait to read your article on OLM.

    • Dear Juhi, I can’t think of any pair of hands I’d rather have holding my hopeful space for me – thank you, my friend. I’m so delighted you liked Gift from the Sea – it’s a special book, and it was a lot of fun to write about. Anne Morrow Lindbergh knew all about reinvention too! Hugs.

  11. I agree with Mr Bursey. I think it would be a very good idea to write the article. You could then sit on it for a while, decide whether you want to submit it as it is, amend its tone or file it away as a useful exercise. I’m sorry for the lack of professionalism and basic human consideration that you’ve experienced. I was made redundant when I was on maternity leave with five-week-old twins from a television company that was always winning equal opportunity awards. Organizations can be so crass.

    • Oh Jane, what a dreadful thing to happen – thoughtless, stupid and cruel. I do hope you feel better off without them. And it’s always the big institutions, isn’t it? They do lose touch with their humanity. I very much like the idea of writing something and sitting on it. Catharsis and good sense in one package!

  12. I agree with those who have said write the article – you can decide how you feel about it and if you want to see it published when it’s written. Good luck with everything that comes next, not all employers will be so rubbish and who knows, maybe one day soon you’ll look back on this and see it as a good thing.

    • Thank you so much, desperate reader. I really appreciate your thoughtful and encouraging comment. I think it really WILL be a good thing, and if they could just refrain from doing stupid things, I will get the feel good factor!

  13. Oh litlove, how awful, they have behaved shabbily, haven’t they? I don’t believe you’ve lost your ethical bearings for a moment; you seem to be very forebearing and thoughtful in your response.

    I have no idea about an article really. I suppose I’d ask myself what I thought might be gained from writing it, and whether that outweighed any potential fall-out, but I am pretty sure that you’ve done all that anyway. If it’s any help/consolation, you know that a bunch of strangers on the internet will be behind you all the way whatever you choose!

    I am looking forward to reading about Anne Morrow Lindbergh, and I hope you have a happy weekend!

    • Or of course you could write it thinly disguised as a novel; throw a few knives in and turn it into a whodunnit (the litlove character would be the sleuth, natch). Then you could thumb your nose at them and become wildly rich at the same time!

    • Helen, you always make me laugh so! I can’t think of a better bunch of strangers to have behind me, and I love the get-rich-quick scheme. Who was that author – oh that’s right Sue Grafton – whose first novel told the story she’d been playing over in her mind of killing her ex-husband. She said she knew she’d bodge it and get caught, but she could write it with only good consequences! In retrospect, I think I’ve been lucky up until now and had people treat me very well, so you know, in the great scheme of things and all, it’s just balancing karma.

  14. How shamefully they have treated you, Victoria. There’s no excuse for them going about things so rudely (brief, late notes, and boxing up your things) whatever reasons they might invent for changing/removing your position.

    As for writing the article – I think we’re quite similar in the way we deal with things. Deeply hurt; wondering over every possible way we could be to blame; polite to the perpetrators because politeness seems such an essential part of human interaction (however little other people concede this); writing out our feelings and venting a bit in order to feel a bit better, and convince ourselves that we really AREN’T in the wrong; wishing we could turn a switch so that none of it had ever happened, and we could never think about it again. Does that sound at all recognisable? I could be wrong – but if it DOES ring true, then I wouldn’t try to write the THES article. I just know, if I were to write something like that (though entirely justified in doing so) I’d get even more nervous and anxious about how it might be received from the person with whom I was upset, and everything will spiral on.

    But I can only say what *I* would do, which isn’t necessarily, of course, what *you* should do!

    a big hug x

    • Dear Simon – could you possibly be part of triplets, do you think, separated at birth?🙂 Only yes, that does sound very familiar as reactions go. I am always horrified at the thought of upsetting people, even if they’ve upset me first! It’s a curse, I know. And thank you for the big hug – very much appreciated!

  15. I’m so sorry you have been treated so appallingly. I suggest you think carefully about what you would hope to achieve by writing a newspaper article. If it is to get the powers that be in the college to realise they have treated you badly- I suspect they know that already as there seems to be an element of embarrassment in their treatment of you. If it is to prompt an apology it seems unlikely you’ll get one at this stage. If it is catharsis you are after then I think the suggestion of writing the article and seeing how you feel after that is a good one. Ultimately a dignified silence and determinedly putting it all out of your mind and getting on with your life might be the best policy for your mental health. Sometimes the best revenge is living well. And, maybe it’s wishful thinking, but I believe that what goes around eventually comes around- the students that you helped at vulnerable times will not forget you and the universe will see to it that the people who treated you, and no doubt many others, with disrespect and carelessness will reap what they sow in one way or the other.

    • Dear Ms Make Tea, I do so hope you are right – I am always very keen on the idea of natural justice and I do hope it works. It would be so much better if it weren’t me, personally, who had to wreak vengeance. I am not good at it. You make excellent points about the article and it’s absolutely what I’d have to think about before going in to it. I completely agree that moving on has to be the main aim here, and it only makes sense to do whatever really supports that goal. BTW, I really appreciate you dropping by here sometimes, I know you don’t blog much these days but it’s nice to hear from you.

  16. I’m so sorry to hear about this. Just when you think you’ve gotten to a point where you can perhaps move on they do something else that’s not only unprofessional but simply rude considering the time and service you have given them. It amazes me sometimes just how things can work in academia–I always think it should be such a nurturing sort of environment–but it just doesn’t always work that way, does it. Now it sounds like the ties have truly been cut–maybe you will be able to move on to something more positive now that will offer you more opportunities. I can completely understand your frustration and the desire that writing about it will help put it in some sort of perspective. On a happier note–I am looking forward to reading your work in OLM!

    • Danielle, it really surprised me, because I thought there wasn’t anything else they could come up with to offend me! How wrong was !? Still, I’ve been cracking on with the boxes and I’m actually enjoying the life laundry, bring the two halves of my life together. So there’s always a silver lining (if you look hard enough…..). I know you know what academia is like, and it isn’t pretty, is it? Still, I hugely appreciate the support of my good friends – makes it all much, much better. Thank you!

  17. Your moral compass seems to me to be pointing true north. Trust your own judgment, Litlove. And good luck with those boxes! Sounds exhausting. xx

    • Oh bless you, Tricia. I’m tackling the boxes and don’t mind throwing stuff out that I don’t need. Although I know I’m going to be a little old lady who hoards in anticipation of catastrophe…..! xx

  18. What a horrid experience. It always hurts to be badly treated but this experience becomes worse when you do your best to act with dignity and respect and its not reciprocated. Its so natural to be angry and upset and to want to act. The article may be a good idea but right now I think is not the time to submit anything for publication. You need the distance of time. Fine to write it now but don’t submit it. Use it to vent if you feel like it and it helps. But then lock it away and go back to it after at least a month and see how much of it still makes sense. And send it to someone whose opinion you trust before you submit so you get an objective point of view.

    • Kheenand, I think you are very wise indeed in your suggestions. Distance is the key to saying something of value, rather than just ranting! And getting a second opinion sounds like a very good idea. Thank you for being so helpful and sensible!

      • If you want someone to read your piece before you send, just let me know. I’m an ex journalist and now work in corporate communications so do a lot of reviewing and editing. Don’t feel obliged to say yes though.

      • That’s extremely kind of you, and on the contrary, I would be rushing to take you up on that offer – thank you! I’m still mulling over the way to write it, or indeed whether to write it at all….

  19. Dear Litlove,

    I am so sorry to hear about this latest episode and such incredibly insensitive, shabby treatment from the College. It’s absolutely no surprise that you feel just as you do about your experiences. It’s also abundantly clear that this whole episode is no reflection on your wonderful skills and expertise, as you of course know, but despite that, one of the hardest things is to prevent a situation like this from eroding one’s self-worth and self-belief.

    A year and a half ago, my husband was finally made redundant from his Research post at a Welsh University. In fact, by that time, he readily accepted voluntary redundancy. This was somewhat frightening in terms of the uncertainty for the future, but the alternative of staying and trying to fight it out was even worse. Some things really aren’t worth it, and his confidence had hit rock bottom. The whole process leading up to his redundancy was soul-destroying, and the response of his line manager was inhuman; it beggared belief. However, last June, my husband finally secured a job, and it is one that he has wanted for a long time. He is now really happy, his colleagues really value him and he is in an entirely different and much more positive place mentally.

    It was a painful experience but time and circumstance can bring about powerful changes. I can’t add to the excellent advice given in other posts here, but please do not let this awful experience erode the high value that you should place on yourself and your skills. You are doing wonderful things in your blogs and articles and are an inspiration to us all!

    • Mrs Doyle! It’s wonderful to find out more about you, although I could wish that your husband hadn’t been obliged to go through similarly horrid experiences with his university. I am SO glad to hear that he has now made just the move he wants. It’s awful and inevitable that this kind of event rocks the confidence, but in a way, college behaving so badly makes it easier on me. I certainly feel less guilt about blaming them completely for what’s happened! And I do now, and even more so as I hear about other people’s experiences in other institutions. Bless you for such a supportive and encouraging comment – I appreciate it so much.

  20. Great article on Anne Morrow Lindbergh! I read it with great interest and pleasure. I had no idea Charles had had such pronounced Nazi sympathies. I am always so disappointed when an intellectual or artistic figure I admire turns out to have this darker side. Why were so many of them attracted to Nazism???

    As for the people at college, they sound like right pigs. Good luck dealing with them!

    • Miss Darcy, awww, thank you! I knew very little about the Lindberghs when I began, but they turned out to be one of those couples who had lived big, big lives, full of drama. The research was fascinating. And thank you for the good luck wishes – they are lovely to have!

  21. I’m going to pop over there indeed! I think you’re in the right, I think you could write an article about it, but as others here have said, waiting would be wise. Personally I don’t think they deserve the energy. It could be better and more joyfully spent as you did with the piece about Anne Lindbergh, moving on, leaving them and their pettiness and their world unto themselves to themselves.

    • Lilian, you are very good at getting to the heart of the matter with great economy! It really IS a question as to whether they deserve my energy or not… I’m thinking very carefully about it. And looking forward enormously to writing about Shirley Jackson, who is the next author in my sights…

  22. It sounds like a very distressing experience, hurtful and unecessary. I keep on being surprised that people in universities handle employment issues so badly. I don’t know why I am so slow to learn that, mostly because I want to believe that intelligent people would behave better. Hope you recover soon.
    I’m new to your blog, but can see how valued you are by your readers.
    Congratulations on article.

    • Caroline, that’s how I feel! If you’re intelligent, then surely it’s quite simple to see what needs to be done with other people in most situations? I’m delighted to have found your blog, btw, and look forward to more of your book club posts!

  23. I haven’t anything really to add to the excellent advice here, to give it time. Whatever you do, do it for you and remember it’s not worth adding to your burdens on their account. I’ve already spoken about the nature of institutions, here or on email, and will only add that the more elite the institution the less they have to do to ‘prove’ how good, caring, successful they supposedly are – the old take it or leave it approach!
    Very kind wishes.

    • Dear Bookboxed, I know you’re there at my back, which is a very comforting feeling! NO more burdens – I should write it on my forehead, shouldn’t it? Or more sensibly, on a post-it. Cambridge is openly non-nurturing, so I’m not really sure why I was hoping for better! Still, well out of it now.

  24. You have certainly been treated very shabbily, here, from everything you’ve said in this post and previous ones. It’s always a difficult balance to strike – how much to fight, how much to move on? I tend to err on the side of fighting, because even if it won’t help you directly, it may set some things straight and stop this from happening to someone else. And it may help you simply in terms of expressing yourself – simply saying publicly “This happened to me and it was wrong”, and having it acknowledged, can be very powerful. But of course writing an article will also take you back over the events and suck up energy, so that’s where the balance part comes in. I’m sure you’ll decide on the best way to handle it. I’d certainly like to read the THES article if you do end up doing it!

    • Ha, you have to watch comments like that or I will pester you for beta readings! I hadn’t put you down as a fighter, but I like that about you. I’m still not sure where I want the energy to go, or indeed how cross I still am (less so, of course, as time passes and other things take their proper place of importance). It’s the ethical angle that gets me – the thought of other unsuspecting souls who will end up in my position. But,… oh well there are always buts. I’m still thinking, but everyone’s insightful comments do really help!

  25. Sorry to hear that you’ve had to suffer more incompetence and thoughlessness from the college. Yet another example of why you are best rid of them. Thankfully you have found a path which will be much more fulfilling and will bring you the respect that is your due. Therefore I think it might be better just to write them off by, as it were, not writing about them. They keep adding new hurts, and fuel new anger, and in so doing continue to cast a shadow over your new life, making it very difficult to “move on”. It is bruising to be treated so. But, to repeat what Lilian and Bookboxed and others have said, I think devoting further time to them would not be worthwhile. Anyway, I hope the feelings of hurt and disappointment subside soon.

    • Dear Lokesh, I AM feeling much better, thank you. I’ve been unpacking the boxes, and bringing both sides of my life together, and having a life laundry and all those positive and useful things. I’m really glad to be free of college, and it is time to do something different with my energy now. I’d like to see what I can write, given space and time, and not many people have that opportunity. I think I’m very lucky to have it, and I do want to do the best with it I can. Hugs to you, my friend.

  26. I really resonate with you when it comes to being wounded – I always imagine it must somehow, someway must be my fault. It is an a terrible personality trait and one I am working on daily. I am so sorry you are going through this with a place you loved – it’s terribly unfair. As for writing about this I say, why not? If it comes across as unfair or biased the newspaper will let you know – how else would situations like this get addressed otherwise?

    • Courtney, bless you, we are often very alike in our reactions I think! We’ll keep working on our self-blaming personalities, holding virtual hands across the Atlantic. It’s funny, it does feel like I’m going through some sort of divorce, or the ending of a love affair. But seeing as I still get to write about things I love, well, it could be a lot worse!

  27. Great article on Anne Morrow Lindbergh by the way. Oh, and please write the article. I know that you are not looking for an apology or redress at this late stage but the broader issues are important ones. I’d love to see the connections you make with education more generally. I know you would treat the College fairly and it is the lessons learned that I would be interested in. Why do Universities (and schools) think that they are corporate entities and treat their employees so badly sometimes? Our school has just demoted their headmaster after four years for doing absolutely nothing wrong. They admitted as such but said it was all part of a leadership restructure. It wasn’t the restructuring that we as staff were unhappy about, it was the grossly insensitive way they did it.
    Anyway, it would make a great memoir and so however you want to write it up, let me know and I’ll order it for sure.

    • Pete, I love the way you talk about the article; you manage to touch on all the issues that would be really important to address. I wouldn’t expect an apology from college, and I don’t want to go back. So it is about getting eyeball to eyeball with the culture of education for those of us teaching – and that isn’t pretty, is it? I’m really sorry to hear about your headmaster, and then not surprised. It seems par for the course, though why it should be, heaven only knows. I hope your case study is coming along, btw, can’t wait to read it!

  28. Dear friends, thank you SO much for all your wonderfully supportive and helpful comments here. I want to reply to you all individually and will do so over the course of today and tomorrow. For now, I’m feeling a lot better about this, and will be taking your sensible advice – I’ll quite probably draft an article and see what it looks like when it’s done. I completely agree that it’s better not to act in anger! As for the 18 boxes, ouf! I’ll deal with them in a bit….

  29. Sorry to come to this late, blame BT! Well, as you know it’s a case of been there, done that, got the tee shirt, although in my case I did get twenty-four hours to clear my office which two good friends did for me as I wasn’t up to it myself. At least having the boxes at home you are less likely to throw out something you actually want later on the spur of the moment. I’ve had to replace a number of books that I would never have got rid of if I hadn’t had to act so quickly.

    As for the newspaper article, I would say only go there if you’re feeling very very strong indeed. The College won’t like the publicity and the backlash could be hard to take. Of course what they’ve done should be exposed but they will react and you should be prepared for that before you make a decision. Take care of yourself at all cost.

    • Dear Alex, I’ve been emptying boxes this afternoon and trying to tread a sensible path between the oh-I’ll-never-need-that-again reaction and the maybe-this-will-be-useful. All the deconstruction has gone, and the weird books I was sent for review and lit crit in French that I know I’ll never be bothered to read. It’s been very cleansing, I’m sure! You’re right that there could be backlash and it alarms me. I promise that whatever I do, I’ll think VERY carefully beforehand and get all my defences firmly in place. And of course, I might just let it all go – that’s quite possible too.

  30. Dear Litlove,

    I’m so glad to hear that you’re feeling a little better about things. Your kindness in wishing to reply to us all individually is so much appreciated (and totally characteristic of your generosity) but you lead a busy life with your many literary pursuits. So, while it is always lovely to read your responses, I am sure that I am not the only one here who will completely understand if time does not allow for this. The main thing is to take the time you need to overcome the unpleasantness of recent events, so please – at least on my own account – do not put yourself under any pressure! I am looking forward to catching up with your review of the Diana Athill book, but meanwhile, please take good care of yourself. (And of course you know what Mrs Doyle’s advice would be: ‘Will you have a cup of tea? Go on now….!)

    • Litlove, I’m with Mrs Doyle on this. Much appreciate your intention to reply individually but no need when you have so many comments and so much to sort out. Best, Jane

    • Dear Mrs Doyle and Jane – you are SO lovely. It’s taken me a while to get here, but I am so very appreciative of everyone’s comments and so fond of all the people who leave them, that it’s been a pleasure. I’ve been able to feel all that support and hear all that good advice a second time. What a blessing!

  31. I’m upset too reading how callously you were treated. I also admire and respect how in turn, you’ve dealt with them with grace and restraint. Litlove, the way I see it, of course this is from someone from afar, not knowing anything about labor laws in the UK, or university practices, or … but just a personal, instinctive feeling: consider this a release. Now you can be free to have time and mastery of your own passions and choices. I’m so glad you wrote the article on the Lindberghs. Yes, Gifts from the Sea is a gem, I read it decades ago, will reread it, but first to your article. I’ve saved the page, and will go back to read and reread. All the best in your future endeavours and pursuits!

    • Dear Arti, I think you are perfectly right. I am indeed considering it as a release. To think I have all my time now to write is a wonderful feeling, and I know I’m a very lucky woman. Very few people get that opportunity, and I’ll be doing my best to make the most of it. Thank you for your lovely comment!

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