We’re approaching the end of the¬†staff report season. I got the reports for which I was directly responsible out of the way some time ago. But I am also appeals assessor, and so I have had a series of appeals hearings squeezed into the cracks in my schedule. It’s always a delicate role to play. The appeals assessor surely must not lightly undermine the authority and considered opinion of his management. At the same time, though, the assessor, by being one step removed, is also there to ensure not only that rights are respected but that the greater good is served. These are moments of supreme responsibility and I find them humbling, since my decisions must thereafter be respected. In a lighter vein, I have also met a few retiring officials this week to thank them and wish them well. One made me laugh out loud when he solemnly assured me that he simply didn’t have time to work any more – no fear of empty days there, then! And a Portugese colleague taught me the saying ‘Ter mundo’. The French also say ‘to have the world within (one)’, but in Portugese it means somebody of wisdom who has travelled widely and has great knowledge of different cultures and traditions. He told me the story of such a wise man who retired, in Candide fashion, to the countryside to tend his vines. An English traveller passed through his village and the wise man conversed with him in excellent English. ‘Why?’ said the traveller, ‘What is this country where even in the middle of the countryside the vine workers speak English?’