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Dear Office Staff:

It was thought that your half-term break was coming too close to the end of summer. The 90s might not have meant the end of holidays, but after constant reference to “back to school”, I might have come to believe it was imminent.

Not so. A couple of months ago we began talking about changing the return-to-work date for summer holidays. It would be less stressful for you (and me) to be walking straight into a school on a Monday morning, rather than having to wait until mid-September.

Of course you didn’t appreciate that change would be more painful for me. To put it politely, you’ve acted like snide schoolgirls when a gift has been offered, and one of you has suggested that – because this is work – you must be jealous of the “freedom” you will now have at the end of the school holidays.

Return to work dates are more like reference dates. I won’t be writing them again until September this year at the earliest.

And so I ask you: would you like to try something new this year? If not, so what? Even at the best of times, most jobs, workplaces and even schools – if not quite like this – rely on references.

And when they are needed most, life gets complicated.

As I ask you to resist the temptation to join in with the snarky comments, I still realise that we are at least not all dogs and cats together. I think that for many of you, there will still be more to do during the holidays than a Saturday and then a Tuesday. I think you could still be feeling the pinch when school resumes.

But the bottom line is that this has been discussed at length by managers and staff members, and the best advice now is that you get in line to change the summer holidays to September.

In that spirit, I also ask that you give me the time to find a replacement for the returning service desk! If not, it is no excuse for putting that ticket with your first name on hold, or calling someone from another department just so you can get through and ask why they aren’t answering the phone.

It would help if you could have been a little less impatient with me. And if that puts you off doing your first day of work every Monday morning, maybe that is a good thing.

Until next year, keep calm,


What we’re reading

Opinion: The delights of Britain in the 1970s in We Are All British to Ben Elton and Rupert Lloyd Webber (Guardian Bookshop).

Music: Love Junk is a new compilation (Shortlist Bookshop).

TV: A look at the lives of Mary Poppins and The Nanny is The Good Place to Steven Martin (Evening Standard Bookshop).

The best … in books and reviewing

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