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Saturday, 11 November 2006

"Is Jim R_______n always grumpy?" I asked Olga, my colleague, as she picked up crumbs from beneath her desk. "He's got a reputation," she said. "He's always like that." I explained what had happened.

What had happened was that I'd written an article to go in our monthly portfolio newsletter about a big project we are in the middle of. The project is going well. Jim had sent my piece to a senior manager to read, and he had replied (I saw the e-mail) that it was "well written" and that using quotes was a good idea. Obviously, since the quotes had been so enthusiastic, and our unit is trying to regain the confidence of our user base, this manager wanted to run the story. Was Jim jealous?

He'd sent the story back to me to be checked, after he'd shortened it (removing my lovely lead, alas) and made a few judicious changes. The bulk of the story was untouched, I was pleased to see. I added a few URLs (it is published online to all staff) and made a few corrections to the punctuation. I don't know what background Jim has, exactly, but obviously he's never been a sub-editor.

On the day he sent the newsletter around to those people who were quoted in the article, plus some senior managers, I wondered if he was going to include the photo I'd taken of the software developers, which was to accompany the story. It hadn't been included in his first draft. So I sent an e-mail asking him if he intended using it. There was also one punctuation error I e-mailed him about. Then, wanting to run a similar story in a newsletter I personally edit, I telephoned him.

"I'm trying to make all the changes you didn't do, and I don't want to be badgered with questions," he replied to my question about distribution (was the newsletter sent to all staff?). Hence my question to Olga.

A few minutes later an e-mail from Jim arrived in my inbox, responding to my questions. "Sorry to be so short on the phone," was what he closed with. "Tell Kim," Olga had said. "I will," I replied. I'll tell Kim, our manager, but I'll still be sending another story to Jim for next month's publication. Grumpy old bastard.

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