From first to second mountains and work-life balancing

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The Sunday Times Magazine published a piece by Matt Rudd last weekend that appealed to me. In it, Rudd notes that having written about mid life crises at the end of 2018, and continuing to write brilliantly about mental health, he had begun to recognise that he had not paid enough attention to his own psyche. As he riffed through stress and anxiety, and what it means to be a success, or at least to be perceived as one, he sadly (I thought) concluded that “as a father of three boys, my parental expectations are changing too. I want them to be happy rather than successful”. I thought it was sad, because I do not think the two things are mutually incompatible. I do realise that definitions of success are different, and that is a good thing, but I too am a parent of three and I think of them all as successes (one in a career, one about to graduate and start a Masters, and one partying hard and studying a little, in her first year at Manchester).

In the article he referenced US writer David Brooks. Brooks is the author of ‘The Second Mountain:The Quest for a Moral Life’. This is a book that defines ‘first mountain’ people as in pursuit of status and reward. ‘Second mountain’ people have shed their ego, lost their self and are journeying to a deeper spirituality. I have not read the book but some of that troubles me. There are very pragmatic reasons for having an early adult life focus on status and reward. One should not disparage anyone whose ambition is so formed. In my early City career, fuelled by Thatcherite drive, everyone saw themselves as in pursuit of status and reward. Certainly those of us defined as ‘yuppies’. Also, as I work more deeply on psychoanalysis studies, I do not recommend anyone losing their self or sense of self – quite the contrary; find it and be reconciled with it.

However, the first and second mountain thing seems to me to be about distinct phases of adult and working lives, which is precisely my experience and impression. It was what led to my definition of the Second Innings. Coincidentally, the article appeared just after my latest Occupational Health Psychology lecture, which was about work-life balance. The lecture/seminar generated the liveliest debate in my two years at Birkbeck and made me consider a number of things. First, it took on a gender splitting context, as maternity leave and its consequences, and unconscious biases were explored. Not altogether harmoniously. Second, it moved to a focus on generational impact. I think there are two elements to this as I shall explain.

I know from the number of views that my recent piece on Burnout attracted, that there is a huge appetite for shared experiences on work style impacts on lifestyles. The recent Mental Health Week coverage and supportive ‘likes’ and comments on social media was very revealing. I also know that demand for information on these sorts of topics is highly indicative of the number of undeclared cases of various stages of mental anxiety in the workplace.

Rudd’s articles gently address a number of these topics. In the most recent one he described a man who didn’t want to think about his own happiness because it might ‘set him off’ and that he might ‘spiral’. Soldiering on was the appropriate approach. Some of this is tied up with maleness and a need to not be seen as weak. I know how often I felt exactly like that in the days when I was labouring on the 05.37 from Colchester to London, being ultra sensitive to the inconsideration of any commuter who might dare to speak when I was newspaper reading, whilst I convinced myself it was all worth it.

Work Life Balance is now very much a ‘thing’, and I am impressed that it is. When I was starting out in 1982 though, such an expression was inconceivable. This was the age of Norman Tebbitt ‘on yer bikeism’, which was about seizing opportunity and glorifying in individualism. The only sense of understanding the divisions of work and life were to understand that the important goal was to work hard (certainly harder than your peer group) in order to get the best promotion opportunities and reward oneself with all the materialist joys that decorated magazine and tv advertising. I would have recoiled from any invitation to think about work-life balance.

My understanding was that one worked and life came later, because of the returns on all the productive work to which one was committed. One thing about the era was, it was in some respects, quite feminist. Partly because of who the PM was, but also because of the sense that anyone could achieve anything if they just worked hard enough. It is why Caryl Churchill’s play ‘Top Girls’, which is still running at The National, and is well worth seeing, is such a good take on the era. Its about women and sacrifice, but it also sums up the historic period as well as any play of that time. And it concludes with a brilliant intrusion of ‘life’ into ‘work’.

I explained to my lecture colleagues that in those days, there was no sense that women could not work alongside men, however my industry had only just begun to employ women in front line roles, and so, they were welcome, provided they knew how to behave like blokes. I remember the banter and the drinking and wonder how my daughters would have coped. Since those days workplaces have seen a feminisation of conduct and expectations, very much for the better. So work-life balance was something, and is something, which was anathema, and then the unfamiliar, to my cohort and may still feel like that to many of them.

The second take on generational impact on work life balance was something I learned through active engagement in graduate recruitment at two of my employers, and in mentoring programmes, in which I set great store. I got used to candidates setting out their own expectations of what the firm could do for them, even before they had been hired. My girls are one Millenial and one Generation Zer. What the Zer expects from her career in a couple of years’ time is not clear to me, but I get a sense of what she may be unwilling to countenance.

My eldest, the Millenial, is enjoying some success in the world of PR and is about to move into a new role. (yes, very proud dad). I have enjoyed hearing about her career development but I admit to wincing when I hear about the ‘drinks trolley’ Fridays and the flexi working hours. Much as I admire the business’s approach to being accommodating to its employees, I find myself having to not say “wouldn’t have happened in my day”, but more significantly, not thinking smugly that our old ‘disciplined’ ways were better.

Alain de Botton said “There is no such thing as work-life balance. Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life.” I like it. I like it because it suggests that having one’s life unbalanced, albeit not permanently, is not necessarily a bad thing. It is a reflection of the oft-used pitch to get people out of their ‘comfort zones’. Although I overworked myself to the point of something I think was Burnout, I know that the best days of my career were when I knew I had many, many plates spinning, but also, I was content that I could keep them spinning. Not all stress is bad stress, although all stress that goes unrelieved, that is to say the cumulative effect of stress, is unequivocally bad.

Now that I am embarked on a Second Innings, I think about work-life balance with the benefit of hindsight, but also with a sense of hope that it finds a tangibility in the careers of all of my three children. I tried to encourage more home working amongst my team but the organisation was uncomfortable with change. I see my daughter working at home and I sense that she is at least as productive as ever I was when at my desk. Not that I would know if a good PR executive was being productive or not, to be honest.

How her generation sits on the spectrum of work to live or live to work, I do not know, but I know that when I was at my most keen and ambitious in my twenties, I did not find work a chore. I simply wanted to ‘get on’, get recognition and improve my finances. As Brooks highlights that is ‘status and reward’, but it did not feel then like the hamster wheel it had become by the time I was a forty-something commuter.

That, I think, is important. Much of what mountain one is on, or how one is being affected by the work-life balance, or lack of it, is linked to the impact and pressure of what goes on outside the office. In other words, the ‘life’ bit. My understanding has come to be that WLB is often felt to be at its most unbalanced when ‘life’ intrudes by becoming a more mind and time consuming experience, such as dealing with an errant child or an infirm parent, or with a relationship infidelity. It is not always the workplace that is the bullet piercing the armour. In the WLB literature there is something called ‘boundary management’ and it is often when the ‘life’ bit spills over the ‘work’ boundary, that the most problems occur.

In my last role, a couple of team members were having to deal with serious health impacts on partners or parents, in one case complicated by the parent living in another continent. I had such admiration for those members of the team, who managed to handle these huge strains but never let their professional competence and commitment fall away, even when I made it clear that we could accommodate some changes to what was required of them.

I doubt either of them were familiar with the Employment Act of 2002 or the Work and Families Act of 2006, but they were both eligible to be able to request working from home, to changes to their hours, to changes to the times that they were required to work. In the context of Mental Health Week, and the reaction to my piece on Stress, all I would suggest is that those ‘soldiering on’ should consider talking to line managers and to HR teams, and exploring what can be done to provide the ‘balance’ they need.

It is important to conclude that WLB discourse, is just that; a discourse. It is not something to be imposed. The desirability of finding a balance is questionable, given that it may be very different for each employee. There is no universal achievable goal, but equally, pushing it away is to load up on the stressors in one’s life. Anyone watching the BBC documentary on David Harewood’s Psychosis (recommended i-player catch up) should be very wary of that (and also of not smoking as much cannabis as he was!)

For me, and the many friends I have, who are now sharing their Second Innings ambitions, expectations, and experiences, the wisdom acquired over a small handful of decades is that one should continue to value professionalism at all times, but never become so institutionalised that work has become dehumanising. That is what I see when I see some of my fellow hamsters spinning their wheels. And I worry not about their WLB, but about their overall mental health and happiness. My Second Innings still sees me spinning several plates but probably with more satisfaction than hitherto.

I have traded more autonomy over my time, for financial income. Previously I tailored my time to match the generous income that came my way. Whichever mountain you are on, make the best of your climb, but know that there is much to which you can look forward. My studies have taught me that WLB is not really gender neutral, and senior male managers need to think about the implications of that; that WLB is not really about ‘individual choice’, but about the way work is structurally organised and valued; and that WLB stretches into other life phases including education and semi-retirement.

On stress and burnout. A personal perspective

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In Monday’s FT, Elizabeth Uviebinene has had an excellent piece describing burnout, and suggesting how to thrive in the office, published. She defines it as overwhelming exhaustion, accompanied by feelings of cynicism and detachment and a sense of lack of accomplishment. “A prolonged response to chronic stress that can lead to…depression”. I can tick all of those boxes, and all for the last eight or nine years of my career. Perversely, as defined by title and salary, they were most successful period I enjoyed, with one rather tricky interruption, that I think was catalysed by my burnout. Her article brought a number of things flooding back to me. 

I have thought long and hard about this. Not about writing it. It is quite cathartic. I am sure I suffered burnout, and I tried hard to think about my team’s individual risks of burnout, when I had managerial roles. What I thought long and hard about, was pushing the ‘publish’ and the ‘send’ buttons that make my experiences more public than I have ever thought they might or ought to be. Things, however, seem to be aligning for me. 

In my Birkbeck degree course in Business Psychology, I am about to study a module on mental health in the workplace. It covers everything from stress to work-life balance to neurodiversity. My continuing learning with both the British Psychotherapy Foundation and the Institute of Psychoanalysis, is making me more sensitive to the foundations of mental anxiety. And, I am now some months into my own analysis, which is making me a little more comfortable with sharing experiences, and trying to understand myself. 

In my City career, I had a number of demanding roles and I liked to put myself under pressure. In 2002, I topped a poll for being the best in my field in equity sector research marketing, thanks to working with a brilliant analyst, and being prepared to travel everywhere, and frequently, to ensure our clients had the best and most personal service. Only now do I realise how manic that period was, and how much pressure it put on my family life. 

At other times, I have had the privilege, but also the pressure of handling substantial financial capital (I was a proprietary trader from 2004 through the start of the Global Financial Crisis into 2008) and handling human and intellectual capital (I headed sales teams at three different investment banks and had responsibility for staff in London, Paris, Dusseldorf and Madrid, at different times). 

For the first thirty years of my career I was confident that I could handle any stress that I might have been subject to, and that, by contrast, I thrived on it. It appealed to the competitor in me, and I knew that I could outperform any rivals because of a capacity for hard work. It was a typically thoughtless, macho approach. I heeded no warning sign when the in-house doctor at the US bank employing me, responded to a regular visit from me by sending me to the Priory. I was told that I was not ill, but that I had a far from unusual streak of perfectionism and I was over-working. I was introduced to CBT and after a handful of sessions, I was on my merry way again. 

In 2012, my work style and the demands of my role, intruded on my life in a way that fundamentally altered me, my sense of trust and my relationships at home. After a thirty year, near-exemplary career, I made a mistake. I was at my desk at 5.56am (yes, I know; absurd), having left the office some time after ten pm the previous evening, with the memo that I had prepared about a corporate client’s major announcement. As Head of Sales, I was ‘over the wall’ with privileged information. I sent an e-mail. I sent another at 6.15am. The announcement was embargoed until a 7am ‘go public’ time. Trouble. Even when someone said to me about 6.30am, ‘did you mean to send that?’, I did not smell the trouble. Cognition break down. Probably stress.

Even today, I have no sense of why I pressed ‘send’ and what, if anything, was in my mind. But I was culpable. The upshot was that I was fired. Worse still, I was fired with the taint of ‘gross misconduct’. I have little doubt that the accumulation of stress contributed to my aberration. Perhaps, in today’s less stigmatised environment, I might have been treated differently and given a sabbatical and help. Instead I had a new world of financial devastation. (I still had a mortgage, my two youngest children in boarding school and no income, but also the ‘gross misconduct’ label meant that my years of accumulated worth of shares was wiped out. It cost me hundreds of thousands.) Financial devastation was joined by social humiliation and by emotional destruction.

I strongly suspect that the episode contributed to the subsequent break up of my marriage and to my divorce. When I read the FT article I found myself wishing I was back at my desk, but that I had decided that I had done enough preparation on the prior evening, and I would walk in at 7am. I might still be working for that same US bank – after all it was only my second employer in over thirty years. The City, though, is a remarkable place, and years of hard won respect can yield great benefits. A former colleague, now ensconced in a managerial role with a large French bank got in touch. Despite a CV that I thought would now exclude me from working again in banking, he interviewed me for a role in his sales team. I got back on the horse, albeit a little unsteadily. 

The new bank had a style that did not suit me. It was hierarchical. When I had my exit interview, I accused it of harbouring a culture of ‘institutional bullying’. I am sure it would dispute my perspective, but that was what I felt. Hindsight has taught me that I took out my anger at my previous employer’s actions on my new employer, which had rescued me from the scrapheap and may have wondered why it had bothered. Certainly, I tested the judgement of the man who offered me the job, in his peers’ eyes. I regret that. Generally, I behaved stroppily, and complained about all the iniquities, as I saw them. 

I did, however, try its in-house ‘Stress helpline’. It gave me a second introduction to CBT and a remarkable therapist who helped me understand my striving, and my compulsions and how destructive they could be. That helpline structure is confidential and kept from one’s managers. It is a brilliant resource. My managers could see I had demanding standards, but also that I was undermining what they had in place. They needed to think about how to utilise me. Thoughts about my mental health and welfare would not have come into it. 

The solution, after I had suggested that they simply decide that I had failed my six-month probation, was to promote me. I was back in charge of a sales team. I continued to chafe against the prevailing culture and was encouraged to consider a move to Asia, to set up an equities business in Singapore. As that played out I was being headhunted by a London based bank. Its office sat directly opposite the employer who had destroyed my wealth and reputation (as I saw it). Asia was of no interest now – this was my chance to show what had been missed by treating me unreasonably. 

My new employer was very bureaucratic (and still is, I am assured), and it had an inner cabal of decision makers. Management was remarkably narrow for such a large business. Promotions were in the gift of those who liked to promote people in their own image. Groupthink was rife, and contrary opinions were sometimes humoured, but rarely welcomed. Despite my extraordinary good fortune in being back in such an exciting, well-remunerated and responsible role, I believed that I had been employed as an ‘agent of change’ and started to try to improve where I could. I relished not being a ‘yes man’. Basically, ego getting in the way. 

In Elizabeth Uviebinene’s article are a number of recommendations for dealing with burnout. Sensitive to my past, I had promised myself that no job was going to prevent me putting my health first. When I joined the French, I made sure that I gave myself regular gym visits in my schedule. My self-discipline is poor, so the only way to ensure that is to commit to having a personal trainer. Then, you feel that you cannot let someone else down, and ensure you turn up on time. Post-gym I was always more enthused and dynamic. I felt the benefit, physically and mentally. 

My old industry suffers with a curse of presenteeism. Worse, when people are sat at a sales desk from pre-7am to 5.30pm or later, they are often unproductive for most of those hours. I wanted my team out of the office, seeing clients and freshening up their views. We started exploring the capacity for creating personalised sales packs to have on portable tablets, and working increasingly remotely. Above all, I wanted to give some staff, especially those exhausted by child care and longish commutes, the chance to work from home one day a week. They had to commit to read a couple of lengthy research pieces and to distil them for the purposes of their colleagues. Clients read little research, but read more than the people selling to them, who drown in daily output and who often restrict themselves to a summary from the front page, and a couple of salient points and charts to highlight. 

I wanted the ‘best informed about its own product’ team, and I wanted staff who would be invigorated by breaking their routines, and inspired by sharing their work with their colleagues – competing for how best to sell an idea, and to show some unheard of creativity. My seniors gave me plenty of rope. I was told that any sort of working from home was anathema, but that I could go ahead with the plan provided I never claimed I had authority for it, and if I could handle any of the likely negative consequences to come. 

I was encouraged to redesign the sales roles and to consider new specialisations working more closely with the other asset classes, with derivatives, and trying to drive greater consideration of ESG investing. My contention was it was a space that any bank could dominate given it had been badly covered until then, and I was convinced the ‘G’ bit – Governance – was where we could establish our eminence. It became clear that for all the pretence of looking for fresh ideas, thinking and strategy, really what was wanted was conformity and as little impact on the status quo as possible. Cognitive dissonance kicked in. Stressful. Equities was a small business in a group context, and should be seen but little heard. It was not a petri dish for culture change. 

I was also keen on the marriage of physical health and mental health. I encouraged gym visits (the bank had one on the site) and let it be known that I had regular yoga classes (not just because I found it beneficial, even though I do, but to make a statement). It did not take long before desk absences and gym visits became the negative topic highlighted in senior management’s ‘Town Halls’. References were made to ‘holiday camps’. This is the sort of cultural challenge that helping employees deal with chronic stress and anxiety, struggles to overcome. My petulant response was to keep trying to be a little different.

That manifested itself in resisting the creation of KPIs for the team. These are acute stressors. In a contracting industry, staff know that a redundancy round is never far away. The madness of KPIs is like ‘teaching to the test’. Creativity, which sales teams need, is smashed, and staff learn how to ‘game the system’ to protect their seat. Encouraging teamwork; it does not. It is another example of an obsession with scoring systems and of treating employees like engine cogs. It is back to Taylorism.

My argument, which fell on stony ground, was that the regulatory change that Mifid II presented the industry made most of the things that we thought we should be recording, redundant. Encouraging gym visits and ‘working from home’ could be just about tolerated as the mad thoughts of a delusional head of sales, but woe betide a man who does not love a KPI or several. A battle was underway and I lost it. Happily. 

Now I am eighteen months distant from my City career and I can think about what I learned and what I might have done differently. The thing that is most striking since my first day in 1982, is the changes in the length of the days and the disappearance of lunches. I am not convinced that the sandwich at the desk trend, is better for a business and its employees, than the often boozy lunch hours I grew up enjoying. I tried to encourage my sales team members to join me at a wine bar for short lunches rather than have interminable and frequent internal meetings fuelled by bad coffee. 

According to Michael Leiter, an Australian academic studying burnout, its prime cause is “a mismatch of how people want to work and the actual conditions of work.” See above for presenteeism. As Elizabeth Uviebinene highlights, we are victims of an apparent desire to ‘optimise’ our lives (see above re KPIs), and quotes BuzzFeed writer Anne Helen Petersen, who wrote “we’re deeply in debt, working more hours for less pay and security, struggling to achieve the same living standards as our parents, operating in psychological and physical precariousness”. 

I am proud of my City career, but wish I had been more sensitive to the mental demands it was making on me, and how that affected my relationships outside of work. If anyone thinks I can help them through their own feelings of stress, burnout, anxiety, I should be delighted to hear from them.  Selfishly, it may help me with my university module, but my primary motivation is because I would not want anyone to lose a career (and some of their financial security) for the sin of being at the desk at 5.56am and sending an untimely e-mail. 

On Status and Lucy Kellaway

Lucy Kellaway was one of my favourite FT journalists. I miss her wry bemusement at the madnesses of corporates culture(s). She left the journalism profession to start teaching. I am sure she could express it much more impressively and elegantly, but she seems to represent to me, someone playing through her own ‘Second Innings’, very much as I hope to do with my life.

In an article in the Financial Times she revisits her First Innings performance and gives some wonderful copy about career change, but with particular reference to how it impacts social status. She reminds the FT readership that “in most of the world (teachers) are seen as only a little ahead of police officers and far behind doctors and engineers”. She repeats the “sneery old saying” that these who can, do; those who can’t, teach. After that the article becomes altogether more positive.

First, there is a walk through ‘status’ and a Cambridge dictionary definition about it being the amount of respect, admiration and importance given to a person. Now, I know I am not alone in respecting and admiring the nursing profession, so I think the issue of ‘social status’ is something unsubtly different to ‘status’. She does note that the level of interest in what she amusingly describes as a ‘post-status’ career, is significantly higher and has had similar reports back from former civil servants, doctors, consultants, lawyers and investment bankers.

In fact, only one of her 120 sample of trainee teachers reported feeling a drop in ‘social worth’. That was from a political journalist. Perhaps that is less to do with the career change and merely a reflection that politics is so fascinating and increasingly absurd, that to be a major member of the commentariat feels like one of the most compelling careers of today.

I know my own experience is not so much that my new career plans confer lots of social status, but they do excite more attention and interest than when I could discuss managing equity sales teams. I very much doubt I will ever earn a penny from my playwriting, but many of my old friends and former colleagues want to know about my plots and especially the characters that I am writing. Many more of them are intrigued by the worlds of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy and some even airily say things like, “I would be interested in doing something like that”. Others want to know if studying Business Psychology is going to be a career door-opener, and if they should be attending evenings at Birkbeck. (They should, just for the sheer hell and pleasure of it).

Lucy Kellaway’s most interesting point is that social status may be more affected by age and life experience than by career. She concedes that having had a “certain amount of success” doing something else may have gone some way to satiating one’s need(s), and the definition of success changes. One of her examples, formerly in Marketing, highlighted Maslow’s hierarchy and targeting self-actualisation. He refers to a life well spent, or not, and choosing something, in this case teaching, that confers a status that appeals to those pursuing second or third careers. A former documentary worker is quoted talking about how one learns that status comes from within, and is not truly conferred by others. Sounds like the wisdom of age.

A couple of weeks ago a former colleague of mine posted something on Linked-In about the challenge of leaving jobs in which one was unhappy. He asked “how many people are stuck in jobs or careers they are not happy in?”. He too, like me, had reached Managing Director status at more than one investment bank and is also now exploring fresh opportunities. His post stimulated a great deal of activity, and he thought it signified some underlying concerns about the level of mental health deterioration in City workers, and the appropriate levels of support.

All of which makes me optimistic for my future in analysis and therapy. I think, though, it said a little more about personal values. Banking has been described as ‘socially useless’ and I think for many people, once they have met their financial obligations, and perhaps even their financial aspirations, it is time to “put a bit back” and think about something that may be perceived as having more value to society. Does therapy count?

His post generated over 50 responses and his subsequent follow up post a week later got similar levels of engagement and response. What struck me was the need people felt to respond. I was one of them. Many of the comments were more about status and structure than financial reward. When I worked in banking, especially once I began to manage people, I was very aware of the number of people that said they wanted to leave “but I have not worked out what I want to do”.

I think many of them meant that they have a hunch about what they want to do, but do not trust themselves to take on so much personal upheaval, and of course, there is the need to accommodate the needs and wishes of spouses and offspring, so sitting tight is the default position and puts off difficult decisions.

It is why redundancy is so often the catalyst. Talented people know that they were living a career life that was unsatisfying. They have been a little dishonest with themselves for some time and they know they cannot be dishonest in a fresh round of interviews. Selling oneself to rejoin a profession that has long felt unsatisfying is heroically demanding. This may be the curse of the post Big Bang era structural shift in remuneration and compensation.

In the early ’80’s it was still possible to join as a keen, hungry A Level school leaver, but now the City is stuffed with the highest levels of academic achievement, but not necessarily people drawn to the industry itself, merely to its potential rewards. Of course, aspiring to a comfortable or even a luxurious lifestyle is no bad thing in itself, but it does manifest itself in strange work motivations and behaviours.

Does social status matter? Self actualisation and Maslow aside, what is it? Social psychologists would highlight the work of Henri Tajfel in the 1970’s, whose theory was about intergroup relations and group processes. I am not sure that covers it. More modern interpretations (Hogg, 2016) consider “the role of self-conceptions and associated cognitive processes”. I think that is better. This is something that comes from within, as the fifty year old in the Kellaway teaching sample have suggested. Social status is more often way we perceive, than the way others perceive us, although I accept that some professions are routinely disparaged and others exalted.

Some of this is about the security of the ego, and some of it is related to Bowlby’s theories of attachment from the 1950’s, (I think those unfortunate to be insecurely attached probably correlate with those most focused on ‘social status’), but it is true that our career preferences can dictate other people’s perceptions of us.

In the brilliant film ‘Green Book’ Tony Vallelonga says anybody can play Beethoven but “what you do…” . He proceeds to make Don Shirley realise that he is exceptional. Shirley reflects on Tony’s clumsy compliment and notes the perceptions of his record company, which told him that a black man could be accepted as the most gifted of entertainers, but would not be accepted as a classical music performer. He wistfully tells Tony, picking his preferred composer, that actually “not everybody can play Chopin…not like I can”. Of course, the film is set in 1962, and Shirley’s genius and career did not help his social status – he was exempted from dining with the very people he was entertaining, and from sharing a bathroom.

Whatever we do, we need to keep learning, to keep our minds open to the world. It is the essence of being alive – fresh experiences and a ‘Second Innings’. I have taken guard and think I can defend the best deliveries coming my way. I think Lucy Kellaway and her fellow teachers have done something wonderful and whether or not the ‘social status’ of teachers changes, she certainly has my respect and admiration and I regard her as important.