Weeknotes S6 Ep04

“Squeak! Croak! Croak! Squeak!”

Overarching feeling of the week

Hi, hello, how are you? I have been brewing a cold for a little over a week now and as I write this I have little to no voice left.

As a result my week has felt a bit foggy. I feel full of snot. I haven’t slept well. But given those circumstances I think I’ve managed pretty well.

Some good things were; meeting people, having some really good conversations and feeling like people in my team are all batting in the same ballpark. It’s useful to hear the things I’ve been thinking about echoed thoughtfully back to me and to know that my logic isn’t way off.

On Monday I worked from home again which was good and I felt like I got a lot more done, some reading, some more good thinking time and organising. I also joined a call with Linda our User Researcher and some others about Wellbeing in the department which I’m looking forward to being involved with.

On Tuesday morning I met and chatted to someone from the Cabinet Office about the Future Leaders Scheme (FLS) and some discussions that were happening around the time people found out if they’d made it onto the scheme (just before Christmas). We spoke about opening data but more generally just being open about the process, explaining the work that goes into the creation of the scheme and administrating it.

Blogging essentially. I’m wondering if the answer to everything is blogging. 🤔 I’m hoping that we can work together to do more thinking on this soon.

The rest of Tuesday was basically dedicated to my corporate induction. It was useful in places and less so in others, but it was nice to meet some people from outside of my department. Almost half of the people there were entirely new to the Civil Service, and two people on my table had joined the department straight out of A-Levels. There were a lot of graduates or younger people there which made me feel incredibly old but also grateful that there was such a range of experience in the room.

On Tuesday evening I skipped drinks with my team, because: this cold. (Also: a big dollop of feeling sub-optimally sociable).

On Wednesday I also almost didnt go along to One Team Gov Westminster Breakfast, because of the above.

Since writing about GovCamp I’ve been noticing that there are times when I have an internal voice screaming “retreat! retreat! hide!” and I start turning down offers to be sociable because I just don’t feel strong enough (even though I would love to).

Part of me knows that meeting great people perks me up, but I have to build back up to it. This might be in part due to feeling a bit run down (no voice) and also feeling a bit emotionally like I need to hibernate.

After breakfast I rushed back for stand up but was late and I felt bad. I got on with some emails and bits and pieces and then had a chat with Ben. We haven’t chatted properly before so it was really useful to see that we are thinking about the same kinds of things – I felt pretty confident that I can do this job well with him.

Then I realised that Rich had in fact been going on about Wednesday afternoon’s showcase when he had asked me to do a section on Tuesday. I had somehow thought I had a week to think about what I would say (like I said, I’ve been a bit foggy). Thankfully I felt pretty confident about the things I’ve produced recently so I just had to provide the links and Rich put them in the slide deck for me (thanks Rich).

I met Dan for coffee which always makes me feel more ok with the world. Lots of laughs and listening (though the laughter may have contributed to my lack of voice in retrospect).

Then back to the office for our showcase with the Digital Land team. Somehow, I have managed never to have done a show and tell before (though I’ve watched many) and while I was sat whatching others in my team I found my brain going “I’m not nervous” over and over. I was nervous about not being nervous which is ridiculous and is also the story of my life.

The showcase was also live-streamed via YouTube and I would be lying if I told you I didn’t watch my section back to check my body language and see if I’d said anything totally random. I feel exceptionally vain in writing this down here, but it means a lot to me that I communicate effectively, and I always worry that I’m not explaining myself enough. This might be a me thing, an imposter thing, or a woman thing (or all of the above).

I really love the pic above because I remember being so pleased and grateful that Ben offered to hold up my canvas so I could talk. Small things, big impact 👍🏼

Afterwards I had a meeting with Rushi, our new economist. Which again felt like a really good and constructive conversation. Really excited to have an economist on the team because I’ve never worked directly with one before. I’m excited to see what kind of case we can build with his help.

Then I travelled to Whitechapel, met Simon for a very very quick coffee, peeled all the stickers off my old laptop and gave it back, then headed to Product People.

On Wednesday evening I also bailed on attending Kit’s leaving the Civil Service (for now) drinks (see previous explanation).

On Thursday I had to travel to the town next to mine to get a blood test and as I don’t drive this meant catching a train for a journey that took less time than I had been sat waiting at the station. It meant I started work later and finished later.

I did some rereading on GDS’ 7 Lenses of Transformation ahead of a catch up with Morgan later in the day. I had a call with one of my funded teams which was… fun? without a voice. And I did some more thinking about metrics and measures.

I started to have a look at this pattern library that Brighton and Hove have produced and which have a crossover with some of the work that our team will be thinking about in this quarter.

And what else?

I really loved this tweet by Fitz and will need to remember it ahead of my SDinGov presentation in March.

The images here are absolutely amazing / insane.


It kind of reminds me of this crazy Jamie XX video of an abandoned building development in China which I think is supposed to be an approximation of Paris (and other European cities)

It was really interesting to read more about LBBD (London Borough of Barking and Dagenham) in the Guardian this week.


And then to see that several of my team had been to get an update on the work they’ve been doing this week, which I am sad to have missed.

I went to LBBD in 2017 as part of Cabinet Office Policy School when this work was just getting started. You can read more about that (if you’re interested) here:




…and (yep there’s more) here:


As a side note it’s really interesting to see stuff that directly relates to your work on a regular basis in the news (good and bad) which is a definite upside of working in the civil service IMHO.

I also read this great Medium blog about flexible working and which includes a lot of things I’m personally thinking about at the moment.


I’ve been listening to lots of old Adam Buxton podcasts and working my way backwards in time. They are all pretty much gold and I loved Adam Curtis and Marc Riley.

Sara Pascoe gives a great definition of mindfulness, here:


And I also listened to the Caitlin Moran one and there was lots of talk (understandably) about feminism. Caitlin said something about feminism being about “Tools not Rules” which struck me as being an excellent sticker and also chimed a bit with some conversations we’ve been having recently about bureaucracy.

And while we’re on feminism, here’s an interesting New York Times article and accompanying short video:


Anyway, Dr Buckles podcasts mean I’ve inadvertently been consuming a lot of David Bowie Related content, which in turn, reminded me of this great (read: ridiculous) video of Bowie and Peter Frampton wandering around Madrid looking for a pub…


No playlist this week because of the music videos and podcast recommendations above.


I started plonking stuff into a Medium blog on Monday, and added to it throughout the week. This was most of the stuff you’ll see in the And what else? section. I started writing weeknotes proper at about 3.30 on Thursday and probably spent 2 hours writing and fiddling about with it.

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