In which I wonder where the frontline is …

Every now and then I try to run a self-diagnostic on how I’m feeling. Reading back over my posts is a helpful short cut into tracing my various moods. Yesterday’s post in which I took a swipe at a piece of internal communication tells me I am not yet fully past the ‘angry stage.’

The dignified comment from @paulpukka on behalf of all those corporate teams who have to manage the nuts and bolts of redundancy gave me pause for thought. And I have spent an uncomfortable night reflecting on what he said. My conclusion?

I’m still an angry man.

I’m surprised about that. But then, thinking about it more deeply I am surprised that I am surprised. Redundancy has been my constant companion for nine months now. I suppose I have just got so used to it being there that it’s very fact has ceased to be remarkable. I’ve learned to live with it.

But that’s different to being accepting of redundancy and all the changes it brings. However bright and cheerful my re-spray is below the surface I’m mourning still the many things I loved about my work. That loss and its random unfairness drives part of my anger.

But that cannot be the whole story can it? As I dwelt on this last night with the RPS household coming and going around me it soon became obvious what the other spring to my anger was: the impact of my redundancy on them.

All the time I’m conscious of the uncertainty and fear that has now arrived unbidden in their lives. You see the people you love hurting and you’re powerless to do much, if anything, about it. One of the foundations on which our lives was built is suddenly gone. No wonder they’re hurting. And small wonder this makes me angry.

But it’s wrong to give in to the impulse to take that anger out on folks who are equally caught up in this mess. There is no frontline here in this war on the deficit.  Attempting to draw distinctions between all of us who are embroiled in it is fatuous.

There is no frontline in this war on the deficit. The fact of that is becoming obvious with every new announcement of council budgets for 2011/12. And other public services are quietly following suit in setting their budgets. These will have their own impacts as the year unravels.

Our HR, IT and other corporate colleagues attempting to effect the orderly winding up of the businesses in which we work whilst seeing their own teams being made redundant do not deserve any sideswipe from me.

There is no frontline is this war on the deficit.

It is always good to lift up your eyes to the horizon and take in all that is happening around you. I have done so again these past hours and seen once more all the hurt and sorrow. The anger and the fear. They are no single person’s province alone.

Truly there is no frontline, there is only the poor bloody infantry of public service and their passing bell.

The trick of it is to use the way you feel to help achieve whatever new goals your family has set. Otherwise it’s just another piece of pointless self-indulgence. Now that is a waste …

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 bad news, CSR2010, kindness, Redundancy, rejection letters, saying sorry, war on the deficit and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to In which I wonder where the frontline is …

  1. bookworm221 says:

    Again RPS your wonderful way with words crystalises my thoughts. We are each fighting at our own frontline at the moment whether we are part of the gvt defined ‘frontline services’ or one of the ‘back office non-jobs’.
    As a member of the pointless bureaucracy (on a short term contract having been made redundant last year!) your blog is a must read for me. Keep writing!

  2. notjarvis says:

    As someone whose redundancy period was mercifully short (within 5 weeks of being told I was “At Risk” I’d found a new job and took the voluntary redundancy option), I feel incredibly lucky.
    I sympathise entirely though, with the feelings of impotence and anger, I am still irked 2 months later thinking about how my old role was cut.
    And the period before I found a new role was the most uncomfortable few weeks, where I felt lost, without anchor, both angry and sad.
    In a way it made it better that my boss was made redundant too, as I had someone to sympathise with.

    Thankyou for writing this blog though, I’ve found it fascinating, and something I can relate too – you have a lovely way with words, and the way you try to deal with this huge change with humility and humour is uplifting. You have my thoughts.

    • Dear notjarvis,

      Thank you for such a thoughtful comment and kind words.

      There is a great comraderie amongst all us rps-types however mighty our ranks might have been. An admiral in a lifeboat is just a sailor without a ship!

      Best wishes


  3. Mean Mr Mustard says:

    We have many enemies in the War on the Deficit.

    Corporate Boardrooms seeking to extort their customers, or avoid paying their taxes.

    Bank Boardrooms where huge profits and bonuses are based on massive infusions of, and underwriting by, public funds, combined with their own worthless assets ‘marked to model’.

    Cabinet rooms and the House of Commons, where we see braying and cheering at the hundreds and thousands of public sector job losses – these very same occupants grudgingly repaying public funds they have stolen, whenever that comes to light.

    Newsrooms, where it’s open season on 17k a year idle bureaucrats with their fat cat gold plated pensions, now being diluted.

    And lately, City Council Chambers, where decisions are made that it’s actually OK to cut off their local Citizens Advice Bureaux at the knees, while simultaneously, the Treasury cut current the central funding, forcing immediate mass redundancies among debt counsellors. Now, those folks really are on the front line.

    In short, look for the empowered and their many abuses – they are the enemy behind closed doors. The rest of us – why, ‘We’re All In This Together’. Take care.

    • Dear Mean Mr Mustard,

      I think you put a well-directed finger on one of the malaises with our public life. Those at the top of it now have more incommon with eachother that with the poor saps they rule!

      Now that’s not a recipe for social contentment …


  4. Kit Harbottle says:

    Thanks for this – I agree that the grieving we think we’ve passed does lurk and surface with minor provocations. In my case I’ve just made a wonderfully calm woman on the IT helpdesk listen to my concern about our HR department and IT department giving different instructions by different routes about handing in the gadgets.

  5. TC says:

    As someone who was out of work for 2 years with a young family, back at the beginning of the century, I still carry some of that anger with me.

    You learn to live with it and relalise that whilst work has and will again occupy a significant chunk of your life, it is your loved ones that sustain you and remind what really is important.

  6. A says:

    Much as I always look out for the next RPS posting, I’m with Mean Mr Mustard on this one too. Bar stewards the lots of them… and the nearer the House of Commons bar they are, the bigger the bar steward. Who’s the Chief Bar Steward?…. could be Clegg, could be Pickles…. I propose a fight to the death for the title.

  7. stilettosandprams says:

    Dear RPS

    First and furthermost, I would like to applaud your blog. It is really insightful and informative, yet never loosing sight that there are others who are going through the same situation, there are useful hints and tips. Great blog.

    It has also been a godsend to me, a very recent casualty of local government cuts.
    I worked in press and pr for a high profile London council and very much enjoyed my job.

    The deepest hurt was that I had only been back from maternity leave for only a week when I had to re interview for a post in the new structure – I was no successful and so had to work my two month notice period.

    The other hurt was that the motto was that ‘posts not people’ were the priority cuts which was very true in my case, because three people took voluntary and then the remain colleagues who were on the hit list found posts in the new structure when two officers left.

    This meant I had to work out my notice being in ‘effect’ the only one who was a compulsory redundancy. It became insufferable, the pitying looks and constant concern. Because no matter what your colleagues say, when they still have a job they do not know what it feels like to be on the other side.

    As you say, there is no way to avoid the feeling that it is personal and the crush to your professional confidence.

    My feelings during the two-month notice period went up and down. Of course I put a cheery face on it all and smiled along with all the, ‘you’ll get a better job somewhere else!’ or ‘Think of all the time you can spend with your son.’ or ‘This will be the best thing that has ever happened to you – you’ll see.’

    We’ll see indeed.

    But underneath it all I veered from angry to teary to just very very sad. Worse still it happened over the Christmas and New Year period.

    The walking dead period at work is a funny time – people stop giving you work, but you carry on clocking in for work each day. Even though you are going.

    The job market in my field – communications and PR is very tough and on top of that I need to try and find a flexible workplace that can work around me looking after my young son.

    Also you are left reeling with how it affects your family, financially and emotionally.
    Job centres cannot help professional people at all – so I spend every waking hour on the job hunt, and three weeks into unemployment not much. Agencies have come up with very little. Any ideas anyone? Any leads? Linkedin has been quite useful.

    This blog has really helped me to work through negative feelings and know that there are lots of or people going through the same thing. If cutting my job helps keep frontline jobs going then that will be something I suppose.

    Thanks for remaining so positive RPS – this has inspired me to set up my own blog about experiences being a young mum juggling career and life!

    Thanks RPS strength to you and your family the two weeks will go past very quickly – but Spring is coming…

    • Dear Stilettosandprams,

      What a fabulous title for a blog. Juggling family and career is damn hard as Mrs RPS can confirm. I;ve pointed her in the direction of your excellent blog.

      Thank you for your kind words. I’m glad that you’ve enjoyed the blog and found it helpful in some way.

      I know exactly what you mean about support structures for folks from professional backgrounds – it seems self-help is the only way. I think you’re right in thinking about the potential of networking through social media. Almost all the interesting stuff I’ve got involved with has come through this route but it takes a lot of effort to think about the world of work differently and, frankly, find a way to earn any sort of living. If you can separate the personal from the professional it’s a fascinating time. (Sounds a bit like the Chinese proverb that.)

      Anyway, thank you again for leaving such a thoughtful comment and good luck with your blog and all your endeavours.

      Besr wishes


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