Towards the end of the morning on Friday last the academic year finally futtered to a close, the boys executed an Alice Cooper-esque exit from the premises and the teaching staff – dazzled by the prospect of several months of much needed downtime and recuperation – wasted no time in scurrying en-masse out of the School gates and – in some cases – directly to the airport.
I have known – by acquaintance at least – some of these individuals for getting on for a decade and I doubt if I will see many of them again. With a very small number of exceptions no goodbyes were exchanged. They were in a hurry to get away – I was busy trying to sort out an unexpected and unwanted communications problem.
I have no complaints…
A little more than a month ago – in conversation with my line manager (the Chief Operations Officer) – I expressed a fervent wish that I be able to avoid as much as possible of the usual round of farewells – dinners, speeches in the Common Room, mentions in despatches – and all other such discomforts.
“Good luck with that!“, was his assessment of my chances.
By my own criteria I have been remarkably successful at avoiding the worst of it, though a fair amount of ducking and diving has been required so to effect.
I can sense that some might be horrified by my attitude in this regard – indeed, a few have expressed such to me directly. I entirely understand that denying others an opportunity to express appreciation can actually be quite selfish, and it is not something of which I am particularly proud. Perhaps I should have ‘cowboy-ed up’ (as the Girl is wont so say) and got on with it.
I have no doubt that my experience as a child of any appreciation of achievement being expressed in only the most restrained of fashions was a generational one and I certainly hold nothing against my parents in this regard – but I can’t help thinking that this has probably played its part in my subsequent discomfort on finding myself the object of approbation. I know that Mother and Father were proud of some of the things that I did, because I have since heard through third parties that this was so.
I believe that my judgement is reasonably sound when it comes to determining which of the things that I have done have been of value, whether that be in my chosen profession or in my artistic endeavors. I find it very difficult to accept praise for things that I do not think have been done well.
In one extreme but illustrative example of the sort of difficulties I encounter I was once a small part of a production which received for its final performance an extended and – in my view – well deserved standing ovation – for completely the wrong reasons. The audience applauded the manner in which we dealt with an incident on stage rather than the quality of the performance. This upset me to a disproportionate degree.
The intensity of my feelings of embarrassment upon being the object of eulogy is apparently not confined to that which is said – but also can arise from that which is not… whether that be by the omission of reference to achievements of which I am quite proud, or through knowledge that some present do not actually agree with the sentiments that are being expressed… in which situation I have found myself in the past.
As will be clear from this diatribe I really am quite conflicted over this business, which should go some little way to explaining my preference for shying away from the whole kit and caboodle.
But then – maybe I am just over-thinking things…