Weeknotes S4 Eps 11

Katamari storytelling

Katamari computer game

Overarching feeling of the week

I’m struggling to know where to start because this week it’s been one of stories, telling some, hearing lots more and taking all that in.

Listening to people and listening and listening and listening.

Ewan McGregor is listening.

It’s hard to write weeknotes with all those stories swimming in my head because they aren’t my stories and I have no claim to them (though I feel them intensely). How do I separate my story, this weeknote, from other people’s stories?

I’m having to make a conscious effort to separate the other stories I’ve heard from my own personal one at the moment because my head feels full, and all those other stories are katamari-ing [1] into something which feels a bit too big and scary to contemplate.

I’ve also been away from home which is always really interesting but tiring, though I am writing this from my cool(-ish) front room and I don’t have to do anything today because it’s my compressed hours day, so yay.


Oh and I just wanted to say “Hi and thank you!” to all the people who reached out to me after my weeknotes last week to check in and see how I was doing. You know who you are, and some of you are even across the sea! So I would like you to know how much that means to me.

Thank you for all the support and advice you’ve given — this is why I weeknote!

Before I start

I’ve been thinking a lot about permission and empowerment and mentoring and career paths for various reasons, so I wanted to put a couple of things up front here which I think might help a couple of people who read this.

Having a Mentor is awesome and it’s something that anyone can do. Please don’t wait for your organisation to find you someone, there are other ways you can go about it. Mentor Match is brilliant and is used across the civil service:


Or you can find someone yourself. When I wanted a mentor I blogged about it, used Twitter, and asked people I knew to help me out. I’m happy to help anyone out to try and find someone suitable.

If you can wangle it, I also recommend Crossing Thresholds. It’s a paid development programme but it’s bookable via Civil Service Learning. It’s run over the course of a year and you get a mentor as part of the scheme (sorry women only):


I’ve had a couple of interactions this week where I’ve heard people describe what others think they need to do to succeed. It’s felt like square pegs in round holes and I’m honestly a bit fed up with people feeling like they have to shape themselves in a mould rather than celebrate and do what they’re good at.

Use a mentor to help you understand what you’re good at and what you can do to grow those things, not only to point out where you need to improve [2].

Oh and I’m so excited for this, this is exactly the kind of spin off One Team Gov needs and I hope it gets some wind behind it:

Less than five things that happened…

This week I’m including less than five things because I’ve been in Newcastle and that featured a lot of things…

ONE. Newcastle. I got up at 5.20am on Tuesday morning to catch a train to catch another train to Newcastle. The first train that I was supposed to catch at 6am was cancelled because trains 😡 [3]

Searching gifs for evil trains.

This meant I had to quickly bundle myself into a taxi and fork out £20 to get to the station on time. I could have done without that fluster at that time in the morning.

Still, it meant I was settled on the train and was able to start work at 7am, which was refreshingly good.

I had a busy day of seeing show and tells for HMRC and listening to what is happening. One team have been doing some really interesting research into assisted digital which I think could be really useful for other teams across government, I hope they share their findings with the research community and further afield.

In the afternoon I met colleague Steve and we went and found Ryan and Stephen to talk about the DataJam event they are putting together and to chat One Team Gov.

It was really nice to see Ryan properly after speaking briefly after One Team Gov Global (I was so tired I could barely see, and hadn’t been rejuvenated by gin at that point). I’ve missed Ryan’s weeknotes too, so it was good to catch up a bit. We talked about One Team Gov being a movement and way of working and how that can help to improve the DataJam.

Steve and I tried to get a Newcastle Breakfast One Team Gov meetup going but it was a bit late notice and so it was just the two of us. Still, it’s good to see the teams up there self-organising future events, I hope it takes off!

I also enjoyed spending time with Steve who kept me company in Newcastle by accompanying me for a Nandos on Tuesday night (they wouldn’t accept the black Nandos card that I had made out of a post it note)[4]. Steve is great, switched on and enthusiastic about doing great work.

On Wednesday I headed to NHS BSA with Hannah, Warren and new intern Mary Diana. That was good because I haven’t worked with Warren before and I also got to meet Mary Diana properly (she started on the day of One Team Gov Global so I missed her introduction to the team) she was confused when I spoke about my little boy because she thought I was much younger, as such she is my best friend now.

It was interesting and really useful to hear about the work NHS BSA are doing and how it directly affects citizens. I really enjoyed puzzling through their problems and it made me pine a bit for being part of a delivery team and helping to solve them.

I got home at about 8pm on Wednesday night, so it was a long (but rewarding) couple of days.

TWO. Hangouts and hanging out. On Thursday I had a number of meetings in my diary which I did via Google Hangouts. I was really worried about one of them because I was expecting it to be a difficult conversation but it actually turned out to be useful and proactive.

I had a quick hangout with James about One Team Gov stuff which was nice, and I saw Morgan for lunch. As we were both working from Horse Guards we sat together and got stuff done, it was nice and less lonely than when I usually camp out there.

I’m not lonely. I have me.

I briefly met Salma from MoJ as she was down in London for the day and we shared a lovely hot beverage together. Salma was really helpful when I put out a request on twitter for examples of Codes of Conduct for something my team were doing, so I owed her one, and it was nice to chat in person.

Awesome fellow weeknoter Louise was also up in London from Bristol and we shared a cold beverage together, we talked about many things including academia-based imposter syndrome (me), I didn’t know any Drs until I started in the Civil Service (and I didn’t know any people called Rupert either, I guess that’s social mobility…), sea creatures (Louise), working inside or outside of the civil service (me) and digital dude bros (both).

Flapjack Otopus FTW

THREE. Stopping. I’m not good at this and I’ve spent a couple of hours today pootling about and writing these weeknotes even though it’s my compressed day and I should be doing something useful or resting.

I am unable to take my own advice…


Now that Global is over there isn’t much to speak about this week. I managed to write our Thank you letter to attendees and Debbie created the feedback form for people.

I started collating all of the blogs about the day in one place which is here:


It is an ever growing list so please keep checking back! Oh and I also slightly helped out James with the start of a series of posts detailing what we learned about the day.


Finally, the team at Companies House created a lovely video:

In other news…

My black and white photo challenge ended and I felt a little disappointed about it if I’m honest.

I absolutely loved this blog by Ben the Illustrator about luck and privilege which I have been thinking about a lot recently:


I loved this thread and responses by Dan, especially the response from DavidBuck but it feels like a shame that conversations have been turning to this kind of thing recently:

And following on from that:

I enjoyed this piece in The Guardian by Emily Reynolds because this is the other side of my black Nandos card-worthy tweet:


I tried to persuade Emily to come and talk to us at the Cabinet Office last year as part of Mental Health Awareness week because I love her writing and her book A Beginners Guide to Losing Your Mind, but she politely declined.


Finally, weeknotes got a brilliant new voice this week in the form of Emily who wrote a stonking first weeknote, I’m looking forward to more.


This week I’ve mostly been listening to old Adam Buxton podcasts after reminiscing with colleagues about Adam and Joe’s radio show on 6Music. But I did still find some time to make a playlist, enjoy:

[1] Welcome to the first niche reference of the piece. Katamari is a Japanese computer game where you roll a ball around and as you roll over things you pick them up. You grow bigger and bigger and can pick up bigger and bigger things. Here’s a video which offers no explanation whatsoever:

[2] As I write this ex-weeknoter Ben Cubbon has got in touch to ask about mentoring which is lovely serendipity. Hello Ben!

[3] OMG the ongoing saga of trains (BORING!). I’ve just discovered that I should be getting a full month’s ticket paid back to me in compensation (Still boring but OMG YES IT IS THE LEAST THEY CAN DO).


[4] This was a very funny joke I made last week about a tweet I did which has garnered over 100 likes (it had 70 then). I should have a black Nandos card because I am clearly a hit viral sensation in the realm of identifying signifiers for toxic work culture.

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