Thursday, 23 July 2015


It was my first office job. I was fresh out of university, and thought I knew everything.

What a twit.

My first challenge - and one that I've never succeeded in, by the way - was folding a letter so that it fitted into a window envelope, address showing. Two folds. Should be simple, with my background in origami flapping birds, but either the top, or the bottom, or perhaps none of the address showed in any of the letters. Occasionally I would rip open the envelope and start folding all over again, but this of course increased the creasage in each letter, proving that I was, in fact, an imbecile.

I blamed the Royal Mail for all the undelivered letters. I'd like to publicly apologise about that.

And then there was the forgetfulness. Sometimes, I would forget to post the letters, realising only a couple of days later, whereupon I would apply my franking machine expertise (self-taught) to turn back the date. Simple. Letter late? Royal Mail at fault. Again.

(They weren't.)

Even if you are never caught, everyone can tell that you're a blame-ducker. It's not a good thing to be. People can sniff you out. And the thing is, you'll never really get on. You won't be trusted. You won't be happy with yourself. You carry the blame like bricks in an invisible rucksack, and it will weigh you down.

I realised this after two or three years of working there. I can't really remember why - someone had caught me out, perhaps, and had just raised an eyebrow. Whatever it was, it was enough. I changed overnight. Decided that honesty was the best policy. Admitted that I didn't know everything (anything). Asked for help. Owned up when things go wrong. Suggested solutions. All of that.

And it's served me well at work. I've learned much, much more as I've been more open. I will take the blame where appropriate and will try harder next time. I understand that people fail - it's human nature - and so when it happens to someone on my team, I am more understanding. Most of the time.

Fast forward then, to Tween's recent accident in the playground. I've lost count of the parents who have said, "Are you going to sue?" SUE? That door frame had been in situ for at least 20 years. My idiot son was the first child to bang his head on it, and guess what? IT WAS HIS FAULT.

It wasn't the fault of the school. It wasn't the fault of the teacher. And I'm sure it wasn't my fault. It was HIS fault, because he mis-judged his own height - huge as it is - before he leapt upwards. It was an accident. Nobody else should pay for my son's split second error of judgement.

The US-led madness of our increasing blame culture is saddening. Britain has become the Compensation Culture Capital of Europe (whiplash claim, anyone? And not in a kinky way) and we need to step away from it. Now.

This article in the Daily Mail troubles me. We don't really know the ins and outs of what has gone on here but it just seems wrong that this guy is suing his friends for allowing him to sleep in THEIR house next to an open window. I know he's been through shit...but still.

I understand. Not all accidents are the same. There are degrees. If Tween had been paralysed by his accident, I might not be being so cocky now.

But this is more of a general statement about blame. We need to man-, or woman- up. We need to be honest and say, "Ah. I didn't see that slightly elevated slab in the pavement. I should have been watching. My mistake." There should be more of, "I know you crashed into the back of me. My neck did hurt like buggery and it was sore for a while after that. But actually, it's ok now and I suppose I did stop very quickly to avoid that cowpat in the road.."

We should just be nicer to each other. Accept that we all make mistakes. Take risks, but don't blame others if things go tits up. Admit that, sometimes, we are just being greedy.

Ease our own consciences.  Be better people.

Christ, I'm turning into a hippy.


  1. Great message,Lottie. I find when people make 'excuses' for things instead of owning up to what they've done (didn't do), it's really annoying. I have more respect for people who just admit they're wrong or screwed up. Hey, we all screw up sometimes. :)

  2. Completely agree with you. Hate hate hate the fact that nothing is an accident. Serious negligence is one thing (e.g the falling zip wire recently) but accidents happen and I still think the benefits outweigh the risks. Good on you - the40yearold.

  3. Amen! Not really much more to be said...

    Except that teachers at school (oh so many moons ago) were far more willing to give homework extensions and leniency if I just came right out and told them I hadn't done the work and I was sorry.


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