We (or rather “they”) have appointed on £60,000 a “Knowledge Manager” – whatever that is. He (it was always going to be a “he” wasn’t it?) is very smart, very sure of himself and very 29. He is PowerPoint on legs. Targets this, outcomes that. He knows where he wants to go (and so, less charitably, do we now) and he has the flow charts to prove it. I know things weren’t perfect when I qualified as a social worker in the 1980s, but I never saw this coming.
He exudes a confidence normally the reserve of public schoolboys or badly gel-haired 22 year olds in Sales. I used to be a teenager, so I know what it is like to know everything. At Poly, on my sociology degree, I was unstoppable: social secretary of the Wimmin’s Group, cropped hair, denim dungarees, dissertation on why men are crap, secretly fancying the only (male) lecturer without facial hair, secretly copping off with the only (female) lecturer without facial hair, camping at Greenham (younger readers, ask your parents), Anti-Nazi marches, meat is murder, sisters are doing it for themselves, if you can put a man on the moon why not put them all there?, and necking pints of lager top (well, I was in London).
I often wonder what happened to that 19 year old who knew everything, feared nothing and wanted to be something. How did she turn into the forty-something who knows increasingly less, is marinated in anxiety and who just wants to keep her once pretty head down? What did happen to her? Life happened, that’s what.