The subservient female monkey has paused for a moment before grabbling the food being offered to her on the stick so she can check whether the dominant male monkey at the bottom of the cage is aware of what she is about to do lest he expect the treat to be handed over to him or he administer a cuffing because she has taken it instead of him. It was an fascinating process to watch as my godson fed the monkeys at a zoo near Jena when I was there, and I’m glad the photograph caught the moment.
Returning from the short break, and taking part in another of the meetings of the norther Rural Deans, has been a little depressing.
I’d asked for feedback from the Candlemas Convocation to be on the agenda in the hope of flushing out a timetable for receiving the analysis and the Bishops’ response. We were given photocopies of the raw material but told that the Bishops had no intention of analysing it since it had served its purpose in getting us to talk about the message they had wanted to give us.
I’d also had put down the issue of why incumbents hadn’t been copied into letters to Readers inviting those who wished to be considered for the permanent diaconate to contact the Diocesan Director of Ordinands. I was told that it had ‘worked’ since their initiative had provoked the conversations they had wanted to take place.
The days of being collaborative partners do seem to have given way to our behaviour being prompted and managed. It doesn’t much help that I find that my latest communications about processes they simply want us to follow through with the Diocesan Director of Education (13th February), Diocesan Chief Executive (27th April) and Diocesan Accountant (20th May) each remains without reply.
It was also depressing to be told that the new Government ‘vetting and barring’ procedure is designed to supplement and not replace the endless round of Criminal Record Bureau checks for those who volunteer to work with children and the vulnerable elderly. I had naively assumed that it was to be an improved CRB system the implementation of which would preserve what was important about the old one but reduce both its hassle and its failings. I discover instead that it is the next on the list of additional burdens.