Tuesday, June 23, 2009

An invitation to the School of Life

I got a phone call a few weeks ago from Roman Krznaric, who I have met a few times - I once hung a radiator in his front room, and for several years I had a wood chest in my garden that used to belong to him and his partner K. He was calling because he is leading the 'Work' course at the School of Life, and he wanted to know if I would come and give a talk about becoming a Lady Plumber.

I was full of reasons why I might not be a good person to give such a talk - I am not really a plumber (or am I? I don't know), I'm still a 0.6 FTE NGO X wage slave, I actually bring in substantially less money that I did before I hatched this plan (though I grow my own salad leaves now, thus saving untold ££s), I don't really know what happens next - but he said no, that was all cool, and the course was just as much about questions as about answers. OK then, I said, you're on.

I was more nervous than I thought I would be, but maybe everyone is when they talk about themselves. Plumbing is quite easy to play for laughs, which helped, and there is a story in there - the Dark Days in the New Building, the inspiring if unpredictable presence of J the plumber, the urge to challenge a few stereotypes, and hell, to do something new. I don't think there's anything extraordinary about my experience, and nobody who finds it as hard to get out of bed in the morning as I do is ever going to change the world, but maybe that's the point.

And it was great fun. The best bit was the Q&A session... it was interesting to say out loud things that I have only really ever said to myself. Someone asked if I'd thought about going back to help out at the college, and wouldn't that be a good thing to do, and I'd sort of thought about it, but not for a while, and yes it would.

Generally, it was inspiring to be around such active thinking about the nature of work, what's important about it, and how it defines our lives. I'd like to have more of these conversations out loud. It's not an easy thing to do, so respect to the School of Life for starting some those conversations off.


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Anonymous jonathan said...

Hello Joella.. I don't think I have mentioned this before but you partly inspired me to do one of the most succesful things I've done at work... I arrange training courses for residents of our Housing Association and when the chance came up to put on a plumbing-for-beginners course (the local college was paying, I just had to get the people through the door) I jumped at the chance..it is still one of the most popular things I've arranged- and the attendees included a couple of lady plumbers in the making who still rave about their mornings with the soldering iron, maybe they will follow you into the ranks of the workforce one day...

1:24 pm  
Blogger Jo said...

Hey Jonathan, no, you hadn't... delighted to hear that the good people of Manchester are getting to know their plumbing. Demystification is half the battle. Nice work!

10:21 pm  

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