Sunday, 13 November 2011

Tracey meets Liz, Outrage in Amsterdam and Chicken Pox Lollipops

Eccentricity, difference and even a little quirkiness have been on my mind this week. As those readers familiar with my published work will know, the drive towards universality, homogeneity and coercive specification is an anathema to me. Unfortunately, it is often these approaches that organisations seek to impose in a countervailing attempt to address organisational adversity. Such adversity usually arises from changes to an organisations economic, political and or professional wellbeing. However, as I have said many times before ‘the more precisely you specify a professional performance, the easier it is to measure and the harder it becomes to motivate’. For whatever reason, this week I have been more than usually aware of such approaches. It may well be that I have been playing catch up with emails and the concentrated reading of these might well have resulted in a heightened perception on my part.

So imagine my dismay on learning that the bad girl of art, Tracey Emin had met the Queen for a cosy chat last week. Dressed in a Vivienne Westwood suit (but it was highly tailored and grey !?!) Tracey met the Queen at an art gallery in deepest Margate, Tracey’s birthplace. The gallery was exhibiting a diverse collection of works depicting youth. Tracey, whose work includes installations that feature amongst other things used condoms and blood, even gave the Queen a curtsy upon meeting her. It seems the once somewhat eccentric, angry and outrageous Tracey has finally become part of the establishment.

I was in one of my favourite cities on Thursday. I first went to Amsterdam some 40 years ago, and for me it has retained an almost magical quality and appeal. I was there for a meeting with colleagues to plan another European project aimed at finding ways of improving the preparation of nurses for professional practice. Although the schedule was busy there was time to also walk around the city and to see how it had changed. The magnificent central train station had been cleaned up and was a fantastic testament to Dutch architecture, faith in the future, and economic prosperity.

In the city centre was a large anti capitalism protest camp against. These camps are becoming an almost ubiquitous feature of many cities. They have grown in number over the last couple of years and are to be found all over the world. The protest camps have as their inspiration the work of Stephane Hessel and in particular his essay, published in 2010, entitled Time for Outrage. Indeed the early protest camps (in Spain) were named the Outraged. Hessle’s concern has been on the increasing gap between the rich and poor in society, particularly where this impacts upon the provision of health, social and welfare services in society.

For me the most bizarre manifestation of this gap was the story last week of the so called Lollipox. These are the products of an online business in the US that sells second-hand licking lollipops from children who have recently had Chickenpox. The lollipops are sold through Facebook. Anyone who knows anything about Chickenpox knows that buying these lollipops is a complete waste of money. Chickenpox is caused by the Varicella zoster virus and is usually spread through the air and/or through direct contact with the fluid from blisters.

And blisters are where I end this week’s blog. Yesterday I spent a couple of hours blowing the leaves off the drive. Despite having a big boy’s toy of a blower, the task involved muscles not used for a while, and gave rise to blisters to both hands.