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Hm.  I have been asked these questions rather a lot in the last few weeks.  I should stay in more!  No, that’s not the answer … and I doubt if a quick blog post on the topic will solve the problem either.

Why do I find it difficult to answer that question but also feel picqued and a bit irritated by follow up one (from people who know I helped create CORE: Clinical Outcomes in Routine Evaluation)? I sometimes make evasive jokes about not yet watching day time TV or just say that I’m a lady of leisure now I’m clinically retired.  However, the reality is that I am, as I have been for much of the last three decades, probably working 60 to 70 hours a week.  You’d think that’d mean I could say what I do but I’ve been hopeless answering that.  I think I ought to do better.

Well it’s true that I continue to work on CORE.  I maintain the CORE System Trust web site (https://www.coresystemtrust.org.uk/) and answer questions that come to me/us through that.  Most weeks that’s not a lot of work though lately, through some very irritating and I think unforeseeable technical problems, the site has consumed a lot of time (and the problems still aren’t fixed) and some of the incoming questions have required several hours not just a matter of minutes to an hour to answer.

Though the site and the Emails are a job, my main work is undoubtedly still CORE or CORE related, and some weeks probably eats 60 hours or so. Most of that is around the fact that I decided nearly 20 years ago that getting our questionnaires translated into other languages fascinated me and was a worthy job of work.  Now I’ve coordinated 25 of the 26 translations of the CORE-OM and all the 9 to 10 translations of the YP-CORE (nearly there with the Arabic YP-CORE).  However, I’m guiltily, shamefully, persecuted by being overdue with much work related to many of those translations.  Those collaborations take me into challenges doing statistical and psychometric analyses if/when sufficient data are collected with the translations to make that possible and when my collaboration has me doing that work (I’m usually the one most qualified to do that).  They also involve a lot of Emails and coordination and sometimes a trip to the country involved to sit and listen to people discussing the differences between many independent forward translations. Another little challenge is making up nice PDFs for the measures.  If the language requires different male and female versions, and often a “M/F” version then there are 18 different PDFs to make up as we have five shortened forms of the CORE-OM for different purposes.  Doing that is challenging enough for languages that use the “latin” alphabet and no accents, but when you get into accents and letters that don’t exist in the English alphabet things get fun, and copying and pasting right to left languages into InDesign is a horror, at least at first, I’m just about on top of that now though.

That’s the top of CORE-OM in Icelandic with at least one letter that used to be in English but is long gone. This next is the top of the Arabic YP-CORE and it’s still draft as it’s now in qualitative field testing (huge thanks to Sulafa for that).  You wouldn’t believe how difficult Adobe have made it to achieve that right to left type.

I’m proud of CORE and the translations though I am guilty and ashamed to be behind by months to years with things and one embarrassment answering this question is about that historical mess and how slowly I am getting back on top of it.  The other frustration is that I do want to do more than CORE before I pop my clogs (for non-English speakers, that’s a typically British euphemism for dying!)  A post or two about those other developing bits of work and as yet unstarted aspirations in the next weeks.

I hope unpacking this helps me clarify things in my own head.  Ah well, enough for now: I must get back into the slag heaps of shame and pits of deadly despair and guilt and nudge some of the overdue stuff onwards and stop other little things starting to build into new backlogs.

    2 Comments

  1. Oh snap!

    On Saturday, while at a choral course, someone in my choir, who I’ve known for a long time and to whom I was talking about her work as she’s often stressed by it, suddenly said to me, ‘But what do you DO all day?’ Well it made me very uncomfortable in my ‘not able to work in a paid job’ situation, and drained all conversational enthusiasm beyond a grudging, ‘A fair bit of voluntary work’. As so often happens, I thought afterwards I wish I’d said something like, ‘I live life, how about you?’ The pressure to be box-able is a hard one to challenge both internally and externally.

    ‘What do you do?’ it’s a conversation opener, a getting to know you question or perhaps seeking common ground. Somehow though it does seem value laden (in the personal, financial and moral senses of that word).

    Maybe my friend was envious or simply intrigued, and the problem with it was mine! I want to say the protestant work ethic lives on, but my friend might be offended as she’s a devout RC of the Latin persuasion.

    The gutter press ‘benefit/disability scrounger’ propaganda – that sneaked into the early few minutes of Have I Got News for You a couple of weeks ago (Unacceptable, Lee Mack!) – might be another compounding factor (for me).

    You and your colleagues have given so much to mental health around the world with CORE, Chris. Extraordinary really.

  2. Thanks. I really resonate with the scenario you describe with your choir member. Years and years ago I went to a party with someone with whom I had a very brief relationship. I didn’t really like her acquaintances who were there and felt awkward. Afterwards she was very reasonably angry with my gawkishness and said “All you said to people was ‘What do you do?’ and that was all you and they talked about. Why don’t you ask what matters: ‘Who are you?’!”

    I was hurt but knew she’d hit something full on the head: my rather insecure head. We didn’t last much longer and there were umpteen other reasons why that was right but I’ve never forgotten her message and that she was right and it does have that horrible side you describe.

    I am proud of the CORE system (thanks!) and perhaps that should simply be less complicated for me but it isn’t and I know that one great thing from doing the “pelerinage” was creating time to think more about who I am than about what I do. Hard to hold that space to think that way back in the hurly burly of both being and doing!

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