Monday 4 July 2016

On The Importance of Morale

Graham Todd, Fabulous Shopkeeper
Sad and uncertain times domestically mean that heroes of high MORALE have meant more than usual this week. I am an advocate of morale-raising as a principle. It can win wars against impossible odds and transform seemingly unendurable situations into moments of grace.

On Friday I did my own version of Retail Therapy. This consists of wandering with a tenner around the charity shops of either Cheltenham or St Andrews, depending on whether I am nearest my self-generated or original, natal family.

This week's window at Emmaus Cheltenham
I laughed for half an hour in the incomparable Emmaus shop in Henrietta Street, Cheltenham, served by the morale-boosting Graham Todd. There is always a comical tableau at this shop's entrance: this week a vast teddy bear sat on an ancient plastic mannequin holding a scimitar in her hand, threatening to execute him.

I bought two pairs of jeans, a kitchen utensil jar, a book, a colander and some lovely big plates for pasta. Emmaus is an admirable charity for the homeless;  its Royal Patron is the only member of who appears to give a toss about poverty--Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.

What I love about this branch of Emmaus is that it is crammed high with stock and untouched by daft concepts of tasteful High Street colour-themed presentation. The staff always have time for a blether. Rock on Graham: I will be back.

King's Great Hall on 2 July
Then on Saturday I welcomed for a day of festivity at King’s College, London, forty+ teenagers studying classical civilisation at state schools/6th-form colleges in Kent, Worcester, Milton Keynes, and Lewisham. They get to be thrilled by the ancient Greeks and Romans because their dedicated teachers work their socks off. They are true Morale Heroes of our time—Paul Found, Simon Beasley, Stephen Dobson, and Eddie Barnett.

Nat Haynes, Superstar of Morale
Natalie Haynes (comedienne, novelist, journalist, broadcaster and Renaissance Woman, in fact pure Morale in a Bottle) kicked off proceedings. Others who participated in a day of joy, including poets Caroline Bird and Caleb Femi, know how grateful I am.
Kent Classical Civilisation Contingent

My retail life doesn’t get better than Friday and my working life better than Saturday. Morale is one of my obsessions: on interview panels I ALWAYS ask how aspiring lecturers would contribute to departmental good cheer. A good response would be e.g. that you can play the bagpipes. But if you look like you don’t even understand the question it might be better to go off and be bleak somewhere else. 

The ancient Greek for high morale is euthumia. It is definitely my Word of the Week.
Conspiring for Pleasure and Edification in Classics!

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