The day after the job cuts

Well, that really was the week that was! I’m sitting in a graveyard of desks, grabbing a few minutes to record it. Plates of biscuits that were put there yesterday by teams now gone, bits of cake left over, even a bottle of white wine, which our team purloined as if picking the pockets of the dead. (As predicted! I already have a staple remover, thanks.)

The pub last night – a cavernous place with lots of large side nooks that make it perfect for a leaving d0 (and we had dozens of leavers) – was heaving. Every nook and cranny had a leaving do in it, it was like trying to have a drink in the rush hour tube, and the bar staff were completely taken by surprise. They had sweat pouring down their faces. Food was not served. We’re in an area with lots of the kinds of organisations that will have had their funding cut, NGOs and charities that needed to be near Parliament, plus government departments – so we’re at the epicentre (if there is one) of the national Day of Cuts.

Today, as in other workplaces up and down the country, we’re here in a half-empty floor trying to figure out how to get into drives no one thought we needed access to, or who to ask about a particular project, and quickly getting logins for things so they don’t go moribund just at this sensitive juncture – keeping it all ticking over while making plans for what plans we have to make next week to get our smaller, rearranged team up and running. Because, paradoxically, we have lots of work on. Which is a good thing.

One of the team went into the kitchen earlier to make tea. “Anyone want a cup of tea?” he asked.

“Sure,” replied my other colleague, “but you might have to empty the dishwasher first.”

Well, we laughed. Up till yesterday we had someone who looked after that whole side of things – the dishes, kitchen, milk and tea supplies, catering for meetings. “We’re in the Big Society now,” I said.


Simon R. Gladdish April 2, 2011 at 1:32 pm

Dear Katy

Speaking of cuts, I’ve just been reading in today’s Guardian about how the Arts Council cuts are impacting the poetry world. The Poetry Book Society is losing its entire grant whilst ‘other poetry publishers whose grants were reduced include Anvil (-42.1%), Bloodaxe (-11.1%), and Carcanet(-6.3%)’. Nobody has satisfactorily explained why Anvil’s loss should be seven times that of Carcanet. I have to hand it to Carcanet’s editor Michael Schmidt. He already gets far more money from the Arts Council than anybody else and always seems able to dodge the ‘cuts juggernaut’ with the agility of a much younger man. The phrase ‘friends in high places’ floats into my mind.

Best wishes from Simon

Rachel Fox April 4, 2011 at 3:40 am

Read a good piece on the B.S. today… maybe you’re already read it…

Rehan Qayoom April 4, 2011 at 7:17 pm

Yes, to those arts groups earning like £400k a year and being installed in multi-million pound complexes with non-jobs (all rather unreal to me) I say “This is your wake up call”. Sadly, all will suffer in the process of cleaning up the mess of irresponsibility that was created by the previous government.

This is not a dig at you, I sincerely believe that the government ought to stand up for the rights and in the interests of the national security of honest workers and this is where I think it needs to redraw the balance when thinking of cutting and slicing. Poetry editors could be their first point of reference.

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