We had a very stressed time just before Christmas, what with moving house, ceiling falling down, exams due and stuff like that. It’s just about bearable now to look back on it – what a difference a month makes. I have to confess that at the best of times, I’m not really a systems woman. I like to describe myself, rather, as spontaneous and creative. But a month ago, spontaneity and creativity didn’t serve me very well and it’s all thanks to the Troubadour and one or two others, notably our local butcher, that we came through it all in one piece.
Picture the scene: we’ve moved in but not unpacked, and we haven’t given up the keys for the old place yet. My guilt is curdling up my insides because I have to go to Dundee and prepare for an exam, leaving the Troub and other good friends dealing with stuff which I ought to do myself. Grotty stuff, like cleaning the kitchen and bathroom of the old place. My mother would turn in her grave, I suspect. Most annoying of all, I can’t find my mascara … I know, I know. Pathetic.
Anyway I accept the Troubadour’s suggestion and drive off down the street, stopping at the chemist to buy a new mascara before inflicting my pink eyes on the rest of the unsuspecting world. They don’t sell mascara! I stagger out into the street and bump into another friend and in response to her simple ‘how are you?’ careen off onto my tale of woe. And as I do so, realise I’ve forgotten to put my contact lenses in, and am not wearing my specs. Blind to my own blindness! So I stagger back home, collect my specs (marginally more essential than mascara), explain to the Troub, and head off back down the street to pick up the car. By now my mind has leapt ahead to the forthcoming exam. I have to do a presentation on the processes involved in meat pie production. I’ve done the powerpoint with the all-important diagram, showing the HACCP critical control points, but I’m not entirely confident I’ve got it right.
Next door to the chemist is the local butcher’s shop. It’s an excellent shop but I’ve used it only rarely because of the Troub’s eschewal of all things meat. I peek in the door; it’s quiet. I wonder if he could help me figure out my CCPs but I’m a bit shy. Anyway the day has been so chaotic so far that it could only get better. I enter swiftly and accost the poor man with a hysterical account of what I’m trying to do. He looks at me with great kindness, stretches out a hand, and pulls a folder from a cupboard. He opens it up to the right page and calmly pulls out three pages, showing his CCP diagram for meat pies. It’s beautifully clear and logical, and what’s more, it’s pretty much what I was expecting to see – in other words, theory appears to be matching up with practice. I could cry.
I’m back in the car and speeding off to Dundee, thanking the gods that be for logicality and systems, those calm delights which have eluded me all my life. And I get to thinking what the process map for my brain would be like if I tried to put it down in a diagram. Here is the edited version:
Let us all give thanks for butchers. And buy their hallowed products. And wonder at the near-miraculous B+ I got for my presentation. Yes, there is a God!