It had to come. The P45 that is. I hadn’t actually thought about it but opening the letter and finding it in my hot little hand shouldn’t really have been a surprise. It was still a strange sensation though to look down and see the employment equivalent of the coroner’s release certificate for burial.
‘This extinct career is safe to bury, cremate or dispose of in any permitted manner … ‘
At Lindisfarne you used to be able to see a causeway path marked by freshly cut branches in the sand. Each marks the progress towards a hazy destination through a seascape that rapidly changes over a short span of time.
Communication has been like that during the irresistible march towards R-day. Official communications stick out in my memory. The ‘at risk letter’, the redundancy notice, the often contradictory dispatches from corporate colleagues wading the same route dealing with admin and, of course, the stark finality of the P45.
Around those waymarkers have swirled often weird and wonderful currents driven by events great and small. Buffeting you as you head towards the next reference point.
There was the coalition programme, the NHS White Paper, the June Budget, the Bonfire of the Quangos and the comprehensive spending review. All driven by the sound and fury of regular condemnation of public servants in the popular media.
But there have been other currents too. Stronger perhaps because they come from somewhere deeper than the imagination of the Whitehall Spinners and their chums in the media.
The good wishes and support of local leaders with whom I’ve worked – including many from the parties of government. Seeing reports of some of the good things that I and my team helped make happen although the reports are often about their scaling back or closure.
The goodwill and respect of your colleagues some expressed and some simply experienced through the handshake or nod of the head as you pass.
Then, of course, there’s been the wider support from readers of the blog and followers on twitter. Generous, honest and warm. How dearly I would love to have such words used about me. But they are exactly right for each of you.
All of these deeper currents have buoyed the RPS family up as we have headed from marker to maker across the treacherous sands and tides of the last few months.
So much so that each waymarker now assumes its proper place as just a point along a route rather than a destination in itself. Getting the P45 is as necessary to the journey as stepping through the gate and climbing down onto the shore.
Of course I ask myself how much my mood is altered by having work ahead. And the answer has to be – I can’t be sure. Obviously I feel a little more secure but I will never take anything for granted ever again when it comes to work.
I do think that greater security has allowed me to feel a little more of the anger and hurt I had buried deep. In planning for and chasing various options for a different life anger and hurt did not feel useful to me.
I’m not convinced they are that useful now. But they are there nevertheless. Suddenly lighting up an otherwise unremarkable scene. The opening of a letter perhaps.
But, as emotions, they should also assume their proper shape and size alongside pride, thankfulness and hope.