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September 28, 2006

Final days .....

It is interesting how the time just seems to slip away as the final day as a full time employee approaches. Even more interesting is how much work which I have been beavering away at reducing, finalising or simply passing on to my successor has suddenly assumed the importance of "life or death" and must be completed - or completed as a "consultant" post retirement. It begins to seem that, far from retiring, I shall be doing more than ever for my soon to be ex-employer, but at a higher rate of pay for each day! And they tell me that this is good economics.

Well, my bank manager would certainly agree that the economic balance is in my favour - but surely someone should have identified that, if I go, there will be a need for some continuity and a successor? Apparently not, for every time I have raised the issue I have been told that it is "in hand" or not necessary. Amazing how the perspective has changed as the scope of what I have been carrying on their behalf has emerged with the handover. I feel quite sorry for my successor - since he will have to shoulder my workload and the load he is currently carrying as well. No wonder there is stress beyond all reason.

I noted with interest Mausi's piece the other day setting out how much time she devotes to "administration" and how much to her "real" work - the science which she is supposed to have been hired to do and to manage. I know the feeling since my job up to now has been sinking into a similar quagmire of meetings and paperwork. It never fails to amaze me how all these "support" staff seem to exist only to check the forms that I have had to fill in so that they can file them. I still have to do the work of organising everything that I filled in the form to get anyway! And each form seems to require at least three people to handle it before a fourth files it. I think I could be excused for thinking that in reality my job is only there to create full employment for people who can't do anything productive anyway - but that would, I suppose, be unfair to most of them since it is not their fault that their jobs are so unproductive.

One thing I will certainly not miss is this constant paperchase. I seem to spend a disproportionate amount of my time writing "business cases" to spell out in Janet and John language for our "management" the blindingly obvious. "If we don't do this - our customers will go elsewhere" should be sufficient, but no, we are dealing with civil servants here. I am more than ever convinced that there are two qualities that are absolutely essential for employment in the civil service - the absence of any ability to actually think independently of the hive mind located in Whitehall, Berlin or any other capital, and a determination to make sure that nothing ever actually happens that would change their cosy little grip on the levers of power. I was once told by a very senior civil servant that, to survive in Whitehall, it is essential that you find a problem and make it your own. You must under no circumstances ever solve it - that would be suicide - you simply make it your own and you become indispensable as you are the only person who "understands" it. For that they get paid between £100k and £300k a year. Oh, and get a Knighthood and a pension with perks you and I pay for.

Well, I have less than five working days left at this particular duck factory - and I plan to start the wind down from tomorrow. My office is slowly being stripped of anything that is mine - and the rest can go to the shredder or the bonfire - their choice entirely. Roll on the 4th!

Posted by The Gray Monk at September 28, 2006 12:22 PM

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Gorse Fox must buy you a pint to celebrate.

Posted by: Gorse Fox at September 28, 2006 05:07 PM

I shall gratefully accept the offer!

Posted by: The Gray Monk at September 29, 2006 01:02 PM