Creative writing.


Without going into a self indulgent mode – telling a story.

With creative writing you do it in an imaginative way, and the story you are telling may have a different, usually ‘bigger’ message than the obvious events described. Fables about mice freeing lions from nets or tales of lions befriending people who pull thorns from their paws are not telling you about the behavioural characteristics in the animal kingdom. Rather they are making a point about mercy and connectedness in the world. You could make the point in an academic way but I doubt the message would have stuck with me as long as Aesop’s fable of the Lion and the mouse, or the tale of Androcles and the Lion have.

Practical writing is supposed to do things differently. Reporting – journalistic or other – is aimed at conveying factual information accurately and simply. Journalists get bored and wander into creative writing, understandably when they write novels and less creditably when they get ‘creative ‘ with facts. A few journalists used to get fired for making stuff up (including Prime Ministers in their early years), but in these days of ‘fake news’ its hard to see that anyone is too bothered by the idea. But a lot of journalism is still aimed at telling a factual story simply and accurately

And there remain other areas where accuracy, precision and clarity should still be the watchwords of writing. Jobs adverts for example. You’d think a job advert would try and convey an idea of many things; salary, location, who you report to, who reports to you and probably most important of all, what it is. But of course HR has got hold of this aspect of work life. In itself an obfuscatory term HR exists to hide unpleasant facts from employees. Gone are those simple early days of sacking people being called ‘downsizing’. Now we have ‘flattening the hierarchical pyramid’ (cutting middle management posts), ‘agile responsiveness’ (we can’t plan properly so you’ll have to do anything required without extra pay) and ‘multi-skilling’ (we’re not going to pay for properly qualified people so you can bodge it). The best is probably a ‘zero hours contract’ which effectively means indentured serfdom.

But in job adverts at the top of the tree you’d think there would be some link to reality. Some clue in the language used about what was being advertised. Wouldn’t you?

Then I found this for…well you tell me…


Service Delivery Director – Local Delivery Support Services

To work effectively to the Director of Operational Support Services (OSS also known as MO11) as a Service Delivery Director (SDD) within the Met Operations business who are responsible for delivering operational capabilities to reinforce Frontline Policing and Specialist Operations.  The role holder will lead and manage the Locally Delivered Support Services (LDSS) Senior Management Team and their staff. They will also contribute to the Senior Leadership Team of MO11 ensuring as a Department we contribute to the delivery of the overarching MPS Strategy and specific MO11 business priorities. As a Service Delivery Director, the role holder will be responsible delivering services to the agreed business Service Level Agreement’s (SLA), to budget and to deliver any recovery and improvement projects as needed.


That is the job description for a senior post in the Metropolitan Police.

I can only presume it is tailored for someone who already knows what the post is about and is designed to not tell anyone who isn’t in the loop anything useful that may encourage them to apply.

This is creative writing at its most creative but least honourable in purpose. It is designed to NOT tell you anything. And yet it tells you something very valuable about how the higher levels of nearly every organisation work. It tells you about how some forms of ‘communication’ are designed to exclude not include. This is why the concept of the ‘expert’ got such a bad press for a while –  because much (not most thank goodness) ‘expert’ writing is designed to protect the inner circle of knowledge not make it accessible to others.

That advert may seem like a joke, and it is, however unintentional, but maybe we should stop laughing at the implications of a piece of writing which ticks the box of legal requirement to advertise high level public posts but does all it can to subvert the spirit of that requirement and not tell outsiders what they need to know.

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