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The hardest part wasn’t letting go, it was closing the door September 17, 2010

Posted by Phil Groom in Life.
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14 comments

The hardest part wasn’t letting go, it was closing the door.

It tore me apart. 2pm: closing time. I fetched the display stands in then went to the door — and couldn’t close it. The finality hit me: this was the last time I’d be closing that door and I’d never be opening it again.

I stood outside. I wandered back in. I went out again. I went over to the reception desk, just across from the shop doorway, and made some small talk with Juliette, the receptionist. I couldn’t tell her what was wrong, just sort of looked at her and looked around hopelessly, blinking back tears.

A student wandered by. He was unaware of what was going on. Juliette told him it was my last day. We shook hands and wished one another well.

Peter, the school accountant, came down. We were due to run through the invoicing procedures with Nick but Nick wasn’t back from his lunchbreak. I told Peter what was wrong and only just managed not to burst into tears. He put a hand on my shoulder but he looked as lost as I felt and said he’d come back later.

I stood just outside the shop doorway. This was it. But I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t bring myself to close the door.

Then David, my former line manager, came by. He understood. He came into the shop with me and we closed the door. At least, I think that’s what happened. Maybe he stood outside or in the doorway, but we agreed to keep in touch and the door was closed.

Another interlude from Coldplay: My song is love…

Now… how does it feel now? A deep sadness, with more questions than answers. I’ve wanted to leave for over a year now but still, somehow, it breaks my heart. I see my colleagues, brothers, sisters but above all friends and it seems that these beautiful people are set adrift on an ocean of uncertainty, thrown about in the wind and the waves.

In the midst of that uncertainty I ask: when Jesus was caught out in a storm, how many of the disciples did he throw overboard?

I ask: what is this institution, London School of Theology — and why? To me LST’s purpose can be summed up in three words: equipping God’s people. That’s what it’s about, that’s why so many of us down the years have given so much of ourselves to it, and what so many of us have gained from it.

And today, it hurts.

The Final Week September 13, 2010

Posted by Phil Groom in Watching and Waiting.
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6 comments
LST Books & Resources

LST Books & Resources

This is it. My final week as Bookshop Manager at London School of Theology. Just three days, in fact, as I’ll only be working Tuesday to Thursday and then it’s all over, left with my colleague and good friend Nick Aston to run the show.

It’s been an interesting time, these last few weeks, trying to tidy up as many loose ends as possible, notifying suppliers and others of my departure and showing Nick the tricks of the trade. For Nick it’s going to be a challenging time as he attempts to do all that I’ve been doing as well as his own job in less than half our combined hours: if you’re minded to pray, please keep him in mind as he’s going to need all the support he can get; and if you’re ever in Northwood looking for a book or a bar of fairtrade chocolate, please go pay him a visit.

It’s going to be a different shop and a different approach to running it when I’m gone, with the stock profile largely driven by faculty recommendations and course reading lists alongside a proposed increase in non-book product. Whereas I’ve always aimed to maintain an extensive backlist beyond the reading lists, perused publishers’ catalogues and met with reps to select new titles, it’s unlikely that Nick will have time for that, although time will tell, of course: who can say how things will pan out?

As for me, a part-time job in a local supermarket to keep a few pennies rolling in whilst I reorientate and focus my attention and energies on various web projects. There’s more than enough to keep me busy: the question is whether I can make it pay.

I also plan to devote some time to blogging in support of my madosphere friends: there’s far too much stigma and misunderstanding attached to mental illness where there should be respect and support for those who are battling these traumas. If you missed it, go read my post Meeting the Mentalists: awesome people, each and every one.

And finally: to all at LST, my friends and colleagues: it’s been a good ten years: I salute you. Or as the dolphins would say, “So long, and thanks for all the fish.”

Some of my web projects…

Into the Madosphere: Some Mental Health Bloggers I Admire

Tears of Joy in Northwood as Deranged Christian Bookshop Manager’s Ten Year Reign of Terror Draws to a Close August 18, 2010

Posted by Phil Groom in Knockabout, News.
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11 comments

From the Northwood and Pinner Herald:

TEARS OF JOY were shed in Northwood yesterday as news broke that Phil Groom, Bookshop Manager at London School of Theology, had handed in his notice. Hearing the noise from the street outside, our undercover reporter sneaked in to interview staff and students who were celebrating raucously in the corridors.

“He’s definitely insane,” said one student, who did not wish to be named. “He entices people into the shop with special offers then sells them something completely different. I came to LST with a healthy bank balance but by the time I’d visited his shop I had a massive overdraft and was walking with a limp caused by the weight of the books I ended up carrying. And that was just after the first day!”

“He’s a heretic,” said another. “I asked him a question about the Bible and he said, ‘It’s all true apart from the bits they made up.’ Then I asked him to to help me choose a book about the parables and he recommended Hans Christian Andersen. I said, ‘But that’s a book of fairy tales,’ and he told me to read between the lines. Then I asked him about the resurrection and he said, ‘Which resurrection?’ Finally I asked him about the story of Creation and he said, ‘That’s right, it’s a story.’ Every question I asked him, he dodged.”

“He was the biggest source of temptation in my life,” said a member of staff, who also requested anonymity. “It was terrible: I’d walk into the shop, planning to offer him some words of encouragement, but I’m sure he saw me coming because as I approached the counter he’d whip out a newly published book that was exactly what I’d been looking for. It was impossible to leave without buying it!”

“It was his jokes that were the killer,” explained another staff member. “Him and that other guy, Nick Aston, they sparked off one another. It was worse than the two Ronnies. You couldn’t hold a sensible conversation with them when they were on duty together.”

So why did he quit? No one knows, but rumour has it that he’s going to be working in a supermarket part-time terrorising the general public in much the same way as he used to terrorise the LST community, and when he isn’t in the supermarket he’ll be drinking coffee and working on some top secret web development projects.

A Bus for LST February 7, 2009

Posted by Phil Groom in Frivolity.
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This one’s for my friends and colleagues at LST:

Where Christian thought meets Christian Life

London School of Theology: Where Christian thought meets Christian Life

Bus image courtesy of the Atheist Bus Slogan Generator:

ruletheweb.co.uk/b3ta/bus | tinyurl.com/bus-slogan

Now it’s your turn…

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