I’m writing this blogpost from my room in the Holiday Inn, Leicester. I’m here as part of a two day meeting of Faculty Operations Managers which is being hosted (spectacularly) by colleagues from De Montfort University. There was a time when regular overnight stays were part and parcel of my working life. I had a bag pretty much permanently packed and was able to get ready for travel almost in my sleep. I had thought that those old habits would automatically kick in. Unfortunately not. Whilst I have arrived with most of what I need, I did manage to overlook one critical staple. I forgot the toothpaste.
At this point in the blog, I should make a witty but critically insightful point about the lack of toothpaste being a metaphor for something profound and meaningful. You know the sort of thing. As with packing, so with life – we remember the iPad charger and the emergency paracetamol (both true, by the way) but overlook the routine but important things. Alternatively, I could bemoan the fact that in the bathroom there’s a sewing kit, shoe-shine cloth, and shower gel (none of which I have the least intention of using) but no toothpaste. And isn’t that like life – fripperies and luxuries available at the drop of a hat, but essentials in short supply.
The reality, though is much less philosophical and much more prosaic. I was too lazy to do my packing until late last night, and was too complacent to make a list and do the job properly. The consequence is a shame-faced trip to reception and a return with a tube of toothpaste that is almost microscopic in its tininess. Tomorrow morning, I will start cleaning my teeth with those that show most and hope that there’s enough toothpaste left to make it to my molars. And that’s probably as suitable a metaphor for my professional life at the moment as any that I could come up with. Smiling at the front – brushed, but much less shiny in the background!