As I slog through my ninth month in the job a clear pattern is emerging. With very few exceptions now, I spend each working day in meetings of various sorts. And so, either before the working day starts or after it finishes, I then have to do my ‘real’ job. Last week, for example, I spent my working days in the Budget Group, in recruitment panels and in various other smaller meetings. They were long days, too, so the ‘real’ working days were even longer. It reminds me of the standing joke in Jacques Delors’s Private Office, when he was President of the Commission. ‘We believe so much in the 37.5 hour working week,’ they would say, ‘that we do it twice.’ This week has been galloping by in similar fashion: Directors’ meeting, coordination meetings, working lunches virtually every day, the Bureau and preparatory meetings before it, more job interviews and, of course, the plenary session (I’ll be doing separate posts on some of those). It reminds me of the hackneyed devices that film directors used to employ to indicate that time was passing: dates falling off a calendar; a prisoner marking days on his cell wall; the seasons changing rapidly; or, in my case, editions of the Economist and the Bulletin piling up unread on my desk (I daren’t add ‘and the European Voice’ because the deputy editor sometimes reads this blog). In the beginning, it feels a little claustrophobic and you can get into a sort of daze. The only way to deal with it is a sort of ‘Zen’ relaxation into the pattern, as though all of those engagements and busy weeks were like particularly well-cushioned armchairs. I hasten to add that this is not a whinge. I am a truly lucky man in a fascinating job. Part of that fascination is about these sorts of patterns that I am detecting and describing (like all the files arriving just before the weekend – see 7 November 2008 post). That said, I am looking at tomorrow with some trepidation; job interviews for a director’s post from 08.30 in the morning until 18.30 in the evening. Gulp.