Bitch on the Blog

November 5, 2016


My life has been populated by many of divergent vocations. The “artistes” – musicians, painters, writers, an actor or two. Journalists, politicians. Indeed, as recently mentioned, a spy. Spies and journalists are exciting. Artistes – on the whole – are exhausting. It’s not their fault. They don’t mean to. They just are.

Enter one of the most scary people into the canvas of my life – and John of Going Gently may relate to this: THE SOCIAL WORKER. To understand: Once upon a time, and to this day, I was/am one of those people who feel compelled to look after others. My father who, at the best of times, has a truly astonishing disdain for mankind poo pooed my idea from the word go. You wouldn’t last a minute, he said. Why? Because apparently I take everything not only too seriously (whatever that means) but to my HEART. So, naturally, and at the time my father’s word gospel, I didn’t become a social worker. Fast forward, say, two decades. The mother of one of the Angel’s friends was a social worker. At the time I met her she was not so much at the forefront of dealing with day to day misery of the unfortunate, but in a managerial position. Sweethearts, this woman was one of the most hard nosed, cold and unforgiving people I have had the fortune to meet in my life. Breathtaking. Awful.

Where am I going with this? Mainly, you may have ideals. Only for them to be blown out of water into the cold ice and wind.




  1. They can be very hard nosed…. and so convinced that they are right…. some are lovely people though and really do care for and about their “charges”.
    As a Primary techer I met a few and taught a few offspring of same…. varied is the only way to describe them. However, the ones in positions of supervision are probably, like very many headteachers, failures at the “coal face”…. “chalk face in the case of HTs. When they cockup then it is the poor overworked field working socialworker whose career can be ruined. One thing these “leaders” have in common is that they consider teachers as incompetent ….. Didn’t a teacher raise the (ignored) alarm about Victoria Climbié?

    I wonder how you would have got on as a social worker……. I once expressed a desire to be a psychiatric nurse…… idea poo-pooed bitterly by my mother… I wonder how I’d have done?

    Comment by magpie11 — November 5, 2016 @ 21:05 | Reply

    • Doesn’t matter about the “social worker”. There were so many things I was interested in (when I was twelve I wanted to be a nun).

      However, maybe both your mother and my father were right, respectively. One thing I have noticed, and maybe it can be learnt, is that many professions do need that (to me elusive) detachment in order to be efficient and effective. Think of the extraordinarily high rate of suicide among vets, doctors and journalists. Though, admittedly, the vets’ did surprise me. After all, they are “only” dealing with animals.

      I do not regret my inability to be detached – however, I do realize that sometimes it’s vital to be able to keep a distance. There were a number of other career paths I’d have liked. All vetoed by my father (and later by FOS). All of them “hard” options where both of them always advised soft options. My father once suggested costume designer (on the strength of my interest in history). Made me laugh.

      Looking back over my life I am amazed at all the things I let myself be talked out of. No one’s fault but my weakness.

      Maybe scant comfort, Magpie, no matter what they say, you fulfilled a vital function in society, namely that of being a teacher. if ever there was the devil’s job. I can’t remember how old the Angel was (maybe ten or twelve, fourteen – no idea) when one day he came home from school and declared that never ever ever ever in his life would he become a teacher. Thus spoke true compassion, acknowledging one of the most difficult professions ever.


      Comment by bitchontheblog — November 5, 2016 @ 22:47 | Reply

  2. To the best of my understanding, the Social Worker in the UK is part of the NHS establishment and thus a government employee. That should make the most idealistic person to become a hard nosed and unforgiving person anywhere in the world, particularly in Managerial positions.

    Comment by rummuser — November 6, 2016 @ 11:55 | Reply

    • Whilst hospital trusts do employ social workers the main body are probably employed by local councils as part of Social Services:
      This from the BASW website (British Ass’n of Social Workers)

      Social workers work in a variety of organisations. Many work for local authorities in departments that provide services for children or adults. Some work in NHS Trusts and many others work in the voluntary and private sector. A new development is the creation of social enterprises, whereby social workers set up their own company, or work with others to contract for work.

      I have a feeling that most managers within the NHS are not actually practitioners (or else are failed practitioners)… this is why there is a call for the reintroduction of Matrons to head up hospitals…… and I beleieve it is part of the reason that the NHS is broken…..

      Comment by magpie11 — November 6, 2016 @ 12:42 | Reply

    • Yes, the much maligned NHS, Ramana. I haven’t had many encounters with their services but would spring to their defense. Apart from two encounters which were appalling – nothing to do with the institution of the NHS, all to do with the ATTITUDE of two “professionals” – I can’t fault the NHS. Sure, there is a lot of room for improvement. But on the whole … they will stitch you up, give you morphine to deaden the pain and generally make you comfortable – as long as you are prepared to wait. Waiting is good for you – it gives you time to reflect. Reflect on how good and shite life is. Reflect on how useful pain is. If only to make you – some time in the future – so happy once it’s gone.


      Comment by bitchontheblog — November 7, 2016 @ 10:59 | Reply

  3. The first thing that pops to mind on the social worker topic is a person I know who has received their full attention. The social workers drop by periodically and interview the children to make sure that the parenting is according to the Government Guide to PC Parenting. Anything that deviates from this is deemed “child abuse” and the children can be taken from the parents.

    Comment by Looney — November 6, 2016 @ 15:40 | Reply

    • It’s a dastardly subject. “… the children can be taken from the parents”, you say. Indeed. My thinking that unless physical violence (or sexual abuse) is involved a child is best off with their mother. I am not saying I am right. It’s just instinct. But that parent may need support to do best by their child. And for that resources are lacking. So, in the end, society’s fallout and failings hit the weakest link – the child.

      I remember the first time I came across true human tragedy when I was about seventeen. I was still at school but needed to earn money to support myself. There were many options – those were the days when employment was still easily available, paved with gold and promise, and I chose to work with children of deprived families, Yes, so there I was. Teaching the youngest of the young (eight to ten years younger than me) to read, write, add two to two and with a bit of luck arrive at less than five and more than three. One little girl in particular took my heart and my imagination. She was so sweet, so trusting, so interested, with a distinct independent streak yet in massive need of physical affection – and then, one day, she took my hand and asked me to walk her back home. When we arrived it was a shock to my understanding of the world (my own teenage years not exactly grounded in a stable background either). it was a mess if ever I’d seen one. And yet, that little girl’s mother clearly loved her children. With social services hanging over her. God knows. It’s such a long time ago – yet one of those encounters firmly anchored in my mind and memory.


      Comment by bitchontheblog — November 7, 2016 @ 10:44 | Reply

  4. In my experience, it’s common that someone who as an ordinary employee is friendly and easy to get on with changes into a tough-minded authoritarian when they ascend into the managerial ranks. Which is one reason I always resisted any possible promotion into a management position.

    Comment by nick — November 7, 2016 @ 22:29 | Reply

    • Nick, your comment reminded me of hearing my father sing one of several versions of The Red Flag: ” The working class can kiss my ****. I’ve got the foreman’s job at last.”……………… oh so true.

      Comment by magpie11 — November 8, 2016 @ 14:53 | Reply

  5. Some will be hamstrung by the system – they will be following guidelines set by some other body (who may never have met a problem) rather they are academics with theories…guided by a stringent financial forecast…and as they have been in the system for so long, come across as hard nosed because their bosses are breathing down there neck.

    Anyone who gets too involved, probably finds their prospects of moving up the chain thwarted to a point where they find themselves “leaving” or even being shuffled sideways

    Comment by cedar51 — November 8, 2016 @ 19:22 | Reply

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