Sunday 20 February 2011

The unfocused focus group

The focus group yesterday reminded me why I deplore meetings at work. Thankfully, we have a "team chat" at the bank and no real "meetings" - these are just about updating us on how the procedure has changed, since it's very much in flux. I consider meetings a cardinal waste of my time. And they were, in 95% of all the cases. I'm much better solving my own problems or finding a work-around that allows me to function.

Yesterday, I ended up in a group of self-professed "experts", all of which were tremendously self-important. So self-important, in fact, that they spent 95% of the time talking about how great they were and what museums they were trustees of - rather than tackle the exercises we were supposed to tackle as part of the focus group. My complains about the museum - namely that military history was slanted very much towards vaguely nationalist "rah-rah" patriotism (quote: "The British Expedition Force was the best military force in the world." - I DON'T THINK SO) and the way the - embarrassing and ludicrous - mistakes at Gallipoli were brushed over. Oh my, I assume the Turks were so hardcore and somehow, those 200,000 Anzacs just kinda died. Ooops. No idea why or how. Oh, look, SHINY DIORAMA.

So, while the National Army Museum has a very impressive collection, the way it's presented in the WWI and WWII galleries is incredibly weird (this time, I actually stopped and read all the descriptions - which have typos and a TON of passive tense and lots of jargon and cross-references that nobody gets or cares about). And to the fringe nationalist element in the focus group: "Fuck you." And to the guy who said "I bet in Germany, they're saying the German army was the best in the world, too." - Fuck you. We may not have much military history left, but at least we look at it from a critical POV. Asshole. The British Empire is over, ok? And talking about why so much space is devoted to "non-English" soldiers - hey, you were shipping in colonial soldiers from half the world to fight YOUR enemies, the very least you can do is RESPECT their contribution. Look around - contemporary London is a very white, English place, innit? Idjit.

To sum up, I got paid nicely to look at WWI and WWII stuff and to be a smartass about it. I think the Saturday couldn't have been more perfect. I was still too ill and croaky to tell the self-important idjits in my group where to stick their trusteeships and planting patterns, but otherwise, I had a good time. Authors always have a good time, even in the company of obnoxious people. That small smile we wear? Means "you just made my book, buddy".

Then I spent most of the money in the museum bookshop (two histories of WWII) and donated the rest. Six hours well spent, overall. But also another reinforcement why me and "the general public" don't mix well. Especially when I'm ill and barely able to speak.


  1. You just gave me my new favorite quote - "Authors always have a good time, even in the company of obnoxious people. That small smile we wear? Means "you just made my book, buddy"." I can't wait to share it (giving you credit, of course!) I know many other authors will enjoy it and feel the same.

    PS Glad you're feeling better!

  2. Brenda - feel free to quote, I'm flattered!

    And yeah, it's getting better every day. I'm just the world's worst patient - I can't deal with being slowed down and taking my voice is NEFARIOUS.