Fellow fans of Douglas Adams will be familiar with the fiendishly cruel Total Perspective Vortex. A device developed by a man exasperated by his spouse’s constant nagging to get a sense of proportion. By clever use of fairy cake he was able to create a device that revealed to its victim their precise relationship as a single being to the whole infinity of creation. Naturally such a revelation is enough to fry the victim’s brain.
As I’ve been mentally gearing up for a different life I’ve been trying to get my feelings about my career into perspective too. It would be easy to let the emotions churning around inside me at the minute overshadow my twenty odd years of service. The hideous events that have shaped my family’s life over the last ten months should not be the epitaph on that service.
It’s not a question of not going gentle into that good night. Although there is plenty to rage at with yet another media offensive on council ‘non jobs’ today. For me it’s a question of not letting my service get defined by the manner of its end.
Out in the real world far away from the narrow calculations of political advantage that drive the drivel that’s written about public service I know we’ve done good. Lives have been better because of our work. I know that to be true.
Certainty is rare in the topsy-turveydom of modern public life where up is down and down is up, localism is guided and world needs to convulsed every five years. But I am certain in my heart that however abused my calling may now be I (and my colleagues) am leaving some footnotes in the history of our times that will recall the good we did.
There have been other reasons to look past the last ten months. Over the last few days I have had several messages from colleagues who I will be leaving behind. These have helped in getting a proper perspective on the part of my life now closing.
I have been privileged to work with people of outstanding character and talent. Individuals for whom public service is way of life not a slogan of first resort for scoundrels. To read their words of appreciation and know that you have the respect of your peers is worth more than any testimonial above the signature of whoever among the top brass happened to be available to sign it.
Of course in ending there is always beginning. The RPS family has a series of big decisions to take about our future. We are very lucky. We have some certainty. We have a little money. And, most importantly, we have each other. We trust that together we will prove greater than the sum of all our fears about the future.
You’ll have to excuse me right now though. I have some fairy cake to tidy up.