The Desolation of Smug

Pausing to reflect at the onset of a new year may seem a bit cheesy, but I do think it necessary to take stock on occasion and the start of January seems a logical time to do it. So crack open the digestives and I’ll bring on the Dairylea.

A year ago today I was winding up my old job at Cornwall College and preparing to start a new one at Cardiff University.  Everything but the job title would be different and would involve a cultural and institutional move from further to higher education, a geographic move from a chocolate box coastal village in Cornwall to the middle of the capital city of Wales and an emotional move away from family and friends to a place where I knew nobody. Living arrangements changed more than geographically: having lived on my own for three years, after 6 months of living in Cardiff I had to adjust to living with my partner when he moved in over the summer. As living with someone means compromise on both sides, I’m still finding it hard to get through weekends without my (pretty selfish) 14 hour ‘Skyrim Saturdays’…

I realise now that the decision to move to Cardiff was, quite possibly, mad. The contract I was offered was for one year only, with only a small possibility of being kept on for longer than a year just that: a small possibility. I had signed a two year, full time contract at Cornwall College just weeks before.  And I lived here for God’s sake:


The day after accepting the job and handing in my notice I got a call from the university saying that because of issues with HR, my new role had changed from being full to part time, so it would be perfectly understandable if I decided not to take the role after all. Were I not such a foolhardy muppet I would have politely backed out, put down the phone and asked my boss if I could take back my notice. But….look, I’m not a spiritual person, I don’t believe in the ability to see the future or in any sort of sixth sense, but I knew that I wanted to work in a university, I wanted to live in Wales and that everything would be fine.

So, having left Cornwall, for the first two months of my time in Cardiff I worked for 3 days a week, enjoyed long weekends and lived very frugally. The department I worked for got the go-ahead to form a new School with a second department, and as a precursor to this happening, this second department employed me for 2 days a week, so I was now full time. Once the new School was formed, it was decided that everything should be built from the bottom up, so new roles were devised and job descriptions were written. All staff were invited, using anecdotal evidence, to match their skills to those laid out as part of these new job descriptions. I chanced my arm and matched my skills to those of the newly-written role of Learning Technology Manager and in November was told that my match had been successful.  So…promotion and a permanent role were both mine, meaning that there was no need to worry about being homeless in Splott after my initial one year contract ran out.

Here’s where I start getting a bit smug perhaps.  But this is a post for me, something to go back to when I feel like the village idiot of London (which is quite often, but probably something best discussed with a therapist) and will not be read by anyone else, so is as good a space as any to list my achievements so far in 2013.

  • ePortfolios
  • Electronic handbooks
  • Assignment Essentials package for all School students
  • Health and Safety training package for all School students
  • Online research module for all School students
  • Online palliative care module
  • Online genetics module
  • Electronic Multiple Choice Questionnaires (replacing paper-based summative exams)
  • Online and interactive Expert Patient materials
  • IPE digital hub

So here’s 2014 and as I adopt a Krytonesque level of smuggery, I can honestly say that working at a university is everything I had hoped for. I feel fulfilled personally and doors are starting to open professionally. I have been asked to present a keynote address at an upcoming conference and my School is paying for the dissertation stage of my Masters degree, which I made a start on in October. I miss my old home, but find city life exciting, colourful and incredibly freeing. I can indulge my love of live comedy, film and theatre and this year, on my birthday, I will be popping down the road to fulfill a dream of over 20 years: to see nine inch nails play live.

I still miss Skyrim Saturdays though…

2 thoughts on “The Desolation of Smug

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