For as long as I can remember in my professional life each January 1st found me without any great curiousity about the year to come. If you think the world will keep turning and keep its same old shape. If you’re happy and those you love are happy and healthy too, introspection seems pretty self-indulgent.
January 1, 2010 was different though. A year ago I was a mightily worried man. Mrs RPS had been ill since September with no specific diagnosis apart from it possibly being cancer, her heart or something neurological. For the first time in ages we began a year with more fear than hope.
Wonderfully all came right and Mrs RPS was fighting fit again – sort of – by April. Just as we were finding our lives returning to normality a new shadow appeared. The election was coming and everyone was talking about deficit reduction. (Albeit in coded ways that would make Bletchley Park veterans proud.)
The election came and all that has since flowed from it for us as a family and, we know, for many of you.
My point is, I suppose, that what you are worried about now may well not turn out to be the ‘thing’ you really should be worried about. Events, dear readers, events.
So this morning while I am obviously worried about my employment situation or, more accurately, my soon-to-be-unemployed situation a small part of my grey cells are whirring on a different track. They’re wondering what is lurking out there in the undergrowth of 2011. What will leap out at a most unexpected moment and take a big piece out of the RPS trouser seat?
If I have learned anything from 2010 it’s that it is all too easy to become complacent. To fall into the trap that because something has always been this way it will continue to be so. For many of us in the public service and the people who have depended on us times will be changing quickly.
Without wanting to get too apocalyptic about the future it seems to me that four horsemen will stalk our year. Each bearing the banner of their creed.
Here is, ‘In this economic climate …’ the parent of whole tribe of irrational decisions whose progeny will haunt the years ahead.
Here is, ‘There is no alternative …’ the rationalisation of first resort of any creature damned by its nature to prey on the weak and vulnerable.
And look, here is, ‘Think the unthinkable … ‘ advocating change that touches no one close to them, only people seen as categories rather than individuals.
Finally, bearing the gaudiest banner of all is, ‘We are all in this together …’ The brightest banner for the daftest claim.
At least with the orginal four horsemen you knew exactly where you were: conquest; war; famine; and, death. They really do what they say on the tin, don’t they? With little room for spin or ‘interpretation’.
Despite all of this I begin 2011 with the jaunty air of a bloke who, while hoping for the best, is very much planning for the worst. My only worry is that even my fevered imagination hasn’t conjured up an accurate picture of what the worst might look like.
Give me time though.