This week’s writer is a council policy officer

Doesn’t retirement mean anything any more? My recently retired
colleague has got herself a new job, in a consultative capacity
with the local authority she has just retired from. When some
redundancies were required my colleague felt enough was enough. It
was time to work for herself, at her own pace. I had clenched my
fists in envy while I wished her the best of luck. After a short
holiday she’s now back. I ask her what she’s being employed to do.
“Not sure yet – apparently there’s a number of things that need
some working on,” she says. I’m astonished because I can’t remember
her being so in demand when she worked here.

There is an atmosphere of outrage and scandal in the office this
morning. The beans have been spilt on an office relationship, of
the amorous “after-office-hours” type. A social worker had to be
moved from his team because he was having an affair with a
colleague. Upon discovering this, the colleague’s husband took
matters into his own hands at the area office. Apparently this
isn’t the first time the social worker has been “transferred” under
such circumstances. My other colleagues think it is in poor taste
when I ask whether his removal was for his own safety.

I’m interviewing all day today. It is a thankless task. We’ve had
dozens of applications for our information officer post. I’m
struggling to tell each one apart. They’re all excellent – highly
qualified and awesomely confident. I decide to turn to the
recruitment and selection rule of thumb: inspect their shoes if in
doubt. Style and condition are key indicators, and I make a mental
note of each applicant’s footwear. At the end of the day we reach
consensus over the best candidate, who happens to be wearing a pair
of gleaming loafers.

On my way to work I hear a staggering statistic. One in 100 of the
world’s population live in the UK. When you consider that there are
still some parts of the country that are pretty underpopulated, one
can only assume that London and the South East are packed to the
rafters. No wonder there’s a recruitment crisis and a shortage of
resources when we’re dealing with such a high percentage of the
global population. How can we possibly believe that we have
adequate provision to be able to manage a statistic of that

In answer to my question on Monday, retirement seems to mean an
open door to lucrative earnings. My “retired” colleague dropped
into my office today and told me that one of the things she’s been
asked to become involved in is the fostering panel. She says this
with a smirk and I am sure she detects my bafflement. As an
employee she refused to sit on the panel, saying it was not her
area of expertise and that she’d had quite enough of
“money-grabbing foster carers” in her career. Is it any wonder we
get such a poor press when we shoot ourselves in the foot at every
possible opportunity?

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