In which we all hold our breath …

There’s a moment before any action when you take that deep breath to calm your nerves and fuel your muscles. The pause before whatever has to come next. I’ve felt a similar sense of tingling expectancy out in the woods before a storm. A sense that the world around you will shortly change dramatically in ways you cannot control.

I’m not given to supernatural wonderings but I have often felt a brooding sense of unease at battlefields I have visited. A feeling that a whole settled pattern of existence was irreparably shattered. Its pieces scattered and ruined beyond recognition.

The inhabitants of RPS Towers have similarly been holding our breath, ahead of the storm to come. It struck me that many of our conversations hinge around the calendar flicking over to 1 March, 2011. In many ways that’s progress.

Last year, at the start of this redundancy Odyssey, all I could see was nothingness at the end of it. Not darkness really but rather an absence of light. A void.

Now, there’s a bit of a plan. There’s a list of things we want to do. And, in lots of ways, the pause we have – this holding of the breath – is about being poised to get stuck in to whatever comes next. It’s no longer the brooding silence before the storm.

One by one I’ve felt the threads attaching me to my old life parting. That’s been disorienting and upsetting. Early on I re-wrote the lyrics to The Human League’s Don’t you want me baby with imaginative use of knowledge of the Anglo-Saxon tongue. It was something to sing to myself in times of angst allowing me to express my anger. I haven’t sung it for a long time.

I wasn’t even tempted when, unexpectedly, I got yet another HR missive dealing with the mechanics of my departure. There’s stuff in there about IT kit, learning materials, ID badges and so forth. There’s even, and this is my favourite part, a link through to an exit questionnaire. I don’t think I will be spending time on that. Sorry. I’ve got some other stuff to do. LIKE EARN A LIVING!

Sorry about that. Sometimes my good humour gene fails me.

We are working out, as a family, how to practically manage my last few days at work. My last working day is a Monday but I’m inclined to do all the admin tasks the Friday before. And start the week unencumbered by the paraphernalia of my old life.

I’ve been trying to visualise that last day in the office. And that’s where I do still draw a blank. I struggle to make that last leap of imagination between where I am now and where I will be after R-Day. I never ever thought that I would be asked to pile my goods and chattels on a meeting room table, sign a form and be escorted off the premises.

In truth I haven’t prepared enough for those few short steps. Actually I’ve been avoiding thinking about them. I think it’s almost time to take that breath and take the plunge.

About redundantpublicservant

A redundant UK public servant looking for work, sharing his experiences and providing a space for others to do the same.
This entry was posted in fairness, HR departments, memories, Public sector, Public service, Redundancy, rejection letters, rules and regulations, war on the deficit and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to In which we all hold our breath …

  1. Joanna says:

    I wanted to laugh at that part about the exit questionnaire but really it is in the realms of the absurd that stop being amusing and start feeling terrifying. I was thinking about the breath-holding this morning too. ‘The end of life as we know it’ is usually used ironically but the further the coalition gallops down this insane path, the more it sounds like a realistic assessment of where we are heading.

    • Dear Joanna,

      Thank you for your comment. The more politicians try to downplay the impact of deficit reduction they’re pursuing the more suspicious I get. It looks very much like they neither know or care what is happening out here in the real world where ordinary people live.

      It’s all very worrying and depressing,


  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention In which we all hold our breath … | A redundant public servant's blog --

  3. Troodles says:

    Mr RPS, I have to say our HR and CEO worked very hard to ensure stupid stuff like an exit questionnaire were not sent out. We had a staff council with reps which helped us reeds blowing in the wind, feel at least a little empowered. Although we had warning of redundancies, unlike you I only had 3 days from when I was told I was going, to actually being out of work. I’m not sure which is better the quick exit or the long drawn out process. However, having now been redundant for 3 months I can say that the world does not stop, but there is some major readjustment to do. Even relationships where you have always had your own space, independence at work, financial security, that does change and it is not always easy to adjust. Before you go straight into something else, take a little time for yourself and your family. I have thoroughly enjoyed the school run, a silly thing really, but something I have never been around to do. I think it has taken me this 3 months to wind down from the stresses that the last few uncertain months put upon me. The best thing is that you are no longer in harness, look forward to kicking over the traces and no more silly missives from on high.

  4. S says:

    I can relate, and will probably very soon be following your footsteps. I hope that things go well for you.

  5. Mean Mr Mustard says:


    Steady now. No visualising departures and other unpleasant stuff. Still time for some tea breaks, in best Civil Service style, very important now that the pressure is on. If you think taking it easy at this point would be foolhardy, let’s refer to an extract from his personal account of the Battle of Goose Green, by Major Philip Neame, 2 PARA, (Mention In Dispatches).

    “By then, we’d been on the go for eight hours, and it seemed obvious to me that we wern’t going anywhere for at least half an hour, so I decided the most sensible thing would be to get a brew on, because it looked like it was going to be a very long day. Stopping in mid-battle and having a brew was met with complete amazement by my blokes. It is not in the book of rules, but there seemed nothing better to do.”

    from ‘Above All, Courage – Personal Stories from the Falklands War’

    For your last day, I would suggest a Bowler Hat and Brolly would be in order. Polish your desk, push a pen, do something with a bureaucratic flourish, look out of the window for something to do… and as many more Civil Service myths and traditions as you can muster. Especially the tea break.

  6. Betty M says:

    They aren’t seriously going to escort people from the building are they? That is totally crass.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s