In which I’m running out of time …

In any job there’s always a file some where with the ‘I’ll get back to that …’ set of tasks. The ones that never quite reach being urgent or important but bob around just about in the corner of your eye. A constant reproof to your inability to deal with everything in your in-tray.

Despite being on my last holiday I have, when Mrs RPS has not been looking, been delving through old files ‘just in case’. Just in case of what I am not entirely sure but old habits die hard I suppose. I don’t want to find myself being the absent nail, the want of which caused all sorts of bother.

So I also tackled my ‘I’ll get back to that …’ cardboard folder. As with most long-avoided tasks it was easier than dreaded anticipation had made it. Almost all the assorted bits of paper were notes reminding me to look something up, find something out or get hold of a book or article to read. I’m an inveterate note-taker and usually have two or three notebooks tucked away on my person at any one time. So a quick sort of what still remained interesting and relevant was all that was called for.


A couple of items cause me to pause for deeper thought. They were notes of ideas for development opportunities for some of my team. A couple were notes of things I had seen in local services that would be worth following up.

These latter points have been easier to deal with and have been forwarded on to where they may still be of interest.

But what to do with my feedback notes? After careful thought I have destroyed them. In one case I know the individual is off to completely change their life. In the other it seems gratuitous now to be offering ideas for personal development as we both step off into new lives. Like curing a headache but forgetting to put a tourniquet around a bleeding stump.

I’m also deleting all my files from the laptop. The virtual bonfire must be glowing red-hot with all the fuel I’m putting on. I make a mental note to think about my hoarding habits in future. Thank goodness freedom of information had compelled us all to be more systematic about archiving otherwise this bonfire would be getting to ‘visible from space’ proportions.

But if I had a smokescreen at least I might be able to slip in and out of the office for the last time without being observed. I have carefully enveloped up and labelled all my security fobs, access cards and keys. The lap top is packed into its bag – a suitable message penned for my ‘out of office’ response – and the mobile switched off for the last time.

The mechanics of leaving have lost their terror through sheer familiarity over recent months as colleagues all around have gone. No, what I dread is saying goodbyes. Or, the presentation. Not that I dislike either but I don’t know how I am likely to react. Will my upper lip remain stiff? I doubt it.

But would that be so bad? Again, I just don’t know. Still however much I fret about it tomorrow still has to be got through. Somehow. And after tomorrow comes whatever is next. The gate has to be negotiated.

It’s odd what memories come floating back as your mind races. My primary school head, a doughty Scot, insisted we memorised poems for high days and speech days. I’ve been plagued by one ragged memory of a poem about goodbyes over the last few days. In an inspirational flash caused by watching Disney’s The Jungle Book the other day – that’s a whole different post – it came back to me: Kipling.

It’s called The Roman Centurion’s Song and you can find it here.

This is the verse that’s been nagging at me –

Here where men say my name was made, here where my work was done;
Here where my dearest dead are laid – my wife – my wife and son;
Here where time, custom, grief and toil, age, memory, service, love,
Have rooted me in British soil. Ah, how can I remove?

I think I now, forty years on, have at last a small sense of what he was talking about. Time, custom, grief and toil, age, memory, service and love have rooted me but it’s time to leave. And, unlike the unlucky Centurion I am ready to depart.

I’ll get my coat (or should that be my sagum?) …

About redundantpublicservant

A redundant UK public servant looking for work, sharing his experiences and providing a space for others to do the same.
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11 Responses to In which I’m running out of time …

  1. A powerful post as ever. Wishing you huge amounts of luck as you get through your final day and to all that lies beyond. It’s been a privilege to share some of your journey with you through reading this blog – thank you.

  2. cinderella says:

    good luck RPS – it’s been such a delight reading your postings. Pls come back in a new guise!

  3. chrisconder says:

    hope all goes ok, tomorrow is another day and I am sure there will be something really good round the corner. All that experience will come in handy somewhere else.

  4. Loulouk says:

    I wish you well with all my heart. Go well, live well, come back and tell us about it?

  5. Christine D says:

    Thank you for sharing. Best of luck

  6. Safe journey and looking forward to welcoming you back to your online community of friends.

  7. alysonbrenchley says:

    Will be thinking about you tomorrow.

    Life is a shipwreck but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats. ~Voltaire

    Still awaiting Andrew Lansleys finalisation of the demise of my nursing career.

  8. webcowgirl says:

    Thank you so much. I’ve been watching from the side of the guilt-ridden as one after another of my colleagues has left the office, watching knowledge and skill walk out the door into a frankly crap economy and wondering just what is this country coming to. Best of luck and I’m really hoping something wonderful is waiting for you.

  9. Troodles says:

    I will be thinking about you next week and your colleagues. We never know how we will react until it happens, but I shed a tear for you today after reading this. Good luck. Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more, ….

  10. Betty M says:

    Hoping it is not all too much tomorrow. Good luck!

  11. Mean Mr Mustard says:

    Uncertainty and running out of time all round, for sure. What will become of RPS, and the blog? Just when it’s going to be most needed by the public servants newly ejected onto the scrap heap?

    “A survey this week shows most large companies and 70% of small ones won’t employ public sector staff, no doubt prejudiced by the daily Eric Pickles and Francis Maude anti-public servants hate campaign.”

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