On the Horizon

I really need to practice a socially acceptable answer to the question “How was your holiday?”


Deep breath. “No-I-didn’t-have-a-‘nice’-time-away-I-couldn’t-find-a-place-to-rest-just-kept-staring-at-the-horizon-waiting-for-a-nameless-dread. Since-you-ask.”


Too much?


My summer felt a bit biblical. A relentless stumbling over unpredicted obstacles, genuine insight gained through the humility of ordinary suffering, mixed in with the fear and loathing of what lies ahead. This is familiar turf for us, dear reader, but there’s something invasive about heaving this apocalyptic state of mind around in your hand luggage.


I’m calling August my Sarah Jeannette Connor period. Sarah was the mother of John Connor in the Terminator films. She saw a future of the war with the machines and predicted the Judgement Day for Human Resistance. Unable to persuade anyone of what lay ahead, she lost her confidence in a world that could protect her and headed to New Mexico in an armed jeep, with a dog.


This survivalist retreat is already commonplace in our culture as the Byzantine reign of performance data and management systems have become part of the every day. The jig is up.



In my case the imagining of what is to come next has involved a psychic tooling up, minus the headband and live rounds. I retreated into a sad inarticulate pause, just waiting for the world to catch up. Despite being someone who considers their consciousness to have been truly raised, I found myself facing up to some emerging home truths.


Truth 1: Belonging feels like a luxury I can’t afford. Public sector wages and all, and I can neither afford to stay or go. I do not look forward to another year of not actually being able to afford a thing called home.


Truth 2: There’s a dangerous pause taking place in our workplaces as we wait for the fallout of Brexit. This is leading to a falling away of genuine care and long term developmental work in the UK. Whether its higher education or the NHS, nobody is keeping watch over the bigger picture of the welfare of our society for the next generations.


Truth 3: I’m tired of trying to care in a degraded welfare system. The inhumanity of disability sanctions and grinding failure of Universal credit has been going on for so long I can’t remember a time when you could rely on getting support when you most need it. Even the United Nations – hardly a hot bed of United-Marxist-Leninists – declared the UK government to be denying human rights to its own people through welfare cuts. That we have not managed to stop a profound regression into a collective hatred of need and vulnerability means that honestly, I’m not sure I want to be part of this haves-haves-not system any more.


This emerging all-bets-are-off landscape does potentially offer something of the spiritual. A journey into what we actually believe rather than what we used to. I’m becoming more worried about climate change than the NHS. I’m genuinely unsure where the life blood of the future can be tapped. I don’t think it’s online or within institutional ‘debates’. I think it’s much more likely to be found in the rurals and will definitely involve goats. I now genuinely believe the state should be run by small children.


When the system becomes this bankrupt it’s hard to remember that things can not only get worse, they can also get better. A cosmic roll of the dice is underway. Time to stand our ground. So resisting the urge to put a match to my endeavours, over the next few weeks this blog will revisit the ideas explored in the Surviving Work eCollection. Love, psychopaths and death, time to wheel out some big-thought guns in preparation for what lies ahead.


In early November we’ll be launching www.thefutureoftherapy.org – with the results of the surviving work survey looking at working conditions in the therapeutic services. From the jobs gap to performance management you’re invited to prepare for what’s coming over the horizon.


Surviving Work will be talking on @BBC5Live on the 22nd September at 10pm onwards about working conditions in mental health services.



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