Apart from a few strings of plastic bunting, noisily flapping in this week’s strong winds, there is little trace of the Jubilee. Last weekend JP and I battened down the hatches and deliberately shut ourselves away from anything resembling a flag or a street party. It was somehow telling that in this particularly staunch royalist area there was neither a street party to be heard nor a flag seen flying. Did the BBC get it all wrong then? Was it purely a Londoncentric Jubilee after all? And surely those numbers of street party revellers declared by various television reports did not actually tally with the numbers of party-goers appearing on screen? Did any regional BBC reporters subsequently get their knuckles rapped for mis-reporting? I doubt it. At times it was difficult to find anything but ‘the latest Jubilee celebration updates’ on television or radio but we survived with only occasional snippets, on a menu of pre-planned recorded programmes and DVDs . Thank goodness it’s over now and we can listen to and watch real news, including the international stuff, reporting of which was sadly lacking during the whole shebang.
On the work front, another horrible week has passed. Had the week been five and not just three working days long, I suspect that my line manager would have dissolved into tears much sooner than Friday morning when she was seen to be weeping openly at the desk of her line manager.
Including our immediate manager we are regularly no more than five, expected to do a volume of work that formerly was shared between eleven or more staff. Our pleas over the past year for additional staff are met with excuses that we are actually above complement, even though senior management from Whitehall to local level have confirmed that this complement level was derived from the results of a now almost three years old questionnaire which was not compulsory for staff to complete and whose true intent was denied at the time.
Nonetheless, we are still expected to deal with all work correctly in a timely manner and meet whatever targets have been set. I am yet to be told how to explain to a member of the public that the letter he sent us in February was relegated to the low priority pile where it still remains, moving ever downwards, so he shouldn’t expect an answer any time soon. It also doesn’t help to be told by a caller that we obviously don’t have enough staff because he’d been trying to get through on the phone for more than an hour. In actual fact, most calls had been answered that day before the phone managed to ring once at our end but this particular man began speaking at somewhere around 7 on an agitation scale of 1 to 10 and continued to rise ever upwards no matter what I replied to his questions. When the call ended nearly fifteen minutes later, I was informed by colleagues that several senior staff had spoken to this particular ‘gentleman’ in the past and frequently put the phone down on him mid-sentence! When I suggested that we should do the same in future, my manager was horrified. This is obviously a classic example of ‘Do-as-I-say, not-as-I-do’.
I have just eighteen more working days to go before I happily dive into retirement. And yes, I am counting the days. My young colleagues are immensely jealous of the fact that I’m leaving without having to look for another job. I know that losing another full-time member of the team will have a devasting effect on them. However, that will be a battle for them to fight, not me. I’ve fought all the work battles I’m going to (and there have been plenty). My mantra is now ‘It’s not my problem!’ which I delight in saying at any given opportunity. What can they do? Sack me? I can honestly say that I have never felt so happy to be leaving a job. Roll on my own Independence Day on 4th July, which will be my last working day EVER! I think I might be flying some bunting of my own that day.