In any job there’s always a file some where with the ‘I’ll get back to that …’ set of tasks. The ones that never quite reach being urgent or important but bob around just about in the corner of your eye. A constant reproof to your inability to deal with everything in your in-tray.
Despite being on my last holiday I have, when Mrs RPS has not been looking, been delving through old files ‘just in case’. Just in case of what I am not entirely sure but old habits die hard I suppose. I don’t want to find myself being the absent nail, the want of which caused all sorts of bother.
So I also tackled my ‘I’ll get back to that …’ cardboard folder. As with most long-avoided tasks it was easier than dreaded anticipation had made it. Almost all the assorted bits of paper were notes reminding me to look something up, find something out or get hold of a book or article to read. I’m an inveterate note-taker and usually have two or three notebooks tucked away on my person at any one time. So a quick sort of what still remained interesting and relevant was all that was called for.
A couple of items cause me to pause for deeper thought. They were notes of ideas for development opportunities for some of my team. A couple were notes of things I had seen in local services that would be worth following up.
These latter points have been easier to deal with and have been forwarded on to where they may still be of interest.
But what to do with my feedback notes? After careful thought I have destroyed them. In one case I know the individual is off to completely change their life. In the other it seems gratuitous now to be offering ideas for personal development as we both step off into new lives. Like curing a headache but forgetting to put a tourniquet around a bleeding stump.
I’m also deleting all my files from the laptop. The virtual bonfire must be glowing red-hot with all the fuel I’m putting on. I make a mental note to think about my hoarding habits in future. Thank goodness freedom of information had compelled us all to be more systematic about archiving otherwise this bonfire would be getting to ‘visible from space’ proportions.
But if I had a smokescreen at least I might be able to slip in and out of the office for the last time without being observed. I have carefully enveloped up and labelled all my security fobs, access cards and keys. The lap top is packed into its bag – a suitable message penned for my ‘out of office’ response – and the mobile switched off for the last time.
The mechanics of leaving have lost their terror through sheer familiarity over recent months as colleagues all around have gone. No, what I dread is saying goodbyes. Or, the presentation. Not that I dislike either but I don’t know how I am likely to react. Will my upper lip remain stiff? I doubt it.
But would that be so bad? Again, I just don’t know. Still however much I fret about it tomorrow still has to be got through. Somehow. And after tomorrow comes whatever is next. The gate has to be negotiated.
It’s odd what memories come floating back as your mind races. My primary school head, a doughty Scot, insisted we memorised poems for high days and speech days. I’ve been plagued by one ragged memory of a poem about goodbyes over the last few days. In an inspirational flash caused by watching Disney’s The Jungle Book the other day – that’s a whole different post – it came back to me: Kipling.
It’s called The Roman Centurion’s Song and you can find it here.
This is the verse that’s been nagging at me -
Here where men say my name was made, here where my work was done;
Here where my dearest dead are laid – my wife – my wife and son;
Here where time, custom, grief and toil, age, memory, service, love,
Have rooted me in British soil. Ah, how can I remove?
I think I now, forty years on, have at last a small sense of what he was talking about. Time, custom, grief and toil, age, memory, service and love have rooted me but it’s time to leave. And, unlike the unlucky Centurion I am ready to depart.
I’ll get my coat (or should that be my sagum?) …