The writing has been on the wall for some time. It was in red, in parentheses and had minus signs out in front. The public sector purse has run dry. The money's all gone. It was fun while it lasted, but like a sailor on shore leave we blew through it all on fripperies and whores (i.e. consultants)*.
Of course, it's not actually as bad as all that. Projected spending cuts are only taking us back a few years in terms of public sector spending. And let's face it, when certain regions of the UK have over 70% of their GDP as public sector spending something is seriously unbalanced. It isn't sustainable.
But where I work, and I work on the public pound, they are taking an axe to the payroll. I haven't had my P45 (pink slip) yet, but let's just say I don't see where I fit in the new organisation. Which is a shame, as I'm doing some really good work and I am excellent value for money (I would say that, wouldn't I). That doesn't mean things can't change or that there maybe still isn't a place for me where I work, but it does mean that I'm not there for just any job. No individual is indispensable, but staying on the same path isn't the only way to achieve what you want.
So what will I do with time on my hands:
1. I will take a step back from public life to concentrate on spending more time with my family. And I mean that with depth of sincerity of any politician...
2. I will become a kitten farmer**. When we were in the market for a new cat, I couldn't believe how much a regular old cat went for in London. Or how hard it is to get a cat from a shelter. We had to go through a RIGOROUS interview process and pay for the privilege before we got our (excellent) cat from Battersea. All I have to do is drive to the regions and pick up a breeding pair and in a matter of a couple of months, I'll be raking in the cash. Plus, there will be an infinite array of cute kittens which I shall capture on video and post to my blog for advertising revenue. I hear that the Internet loves kittehs.
3. I will become a reality tv star. With more and more channels all the time, there's more and more need for reality tv. And I'm more than ready. The Vol-in-Law thinks we may be a bit boring for a reality show, but I don't think so. I'm sure we'll learn to play up for the camera. And we have a cute kid who I can teach some cute catch phrases - he's already saying "Watchyou talkin' bout?" and "Go on, go on" - two catch phrases that have worked well in sit-coms. Plus, all those kittens!
4. I will finally take the plunge and pursue my dream career of country music star. I will not let my lack of musical talent hold me back. I will be wearing a lot of fringe and beaded shirts and exotic skin cowboy boots. Oh yeah.
5. I will market my skills elsewhere. My passion for better governance is unabated. And since I love what I do and love working with a lot of the people that I work with - the passionate and inspired ones anyway - both inside and outside my current organisation, I want to keep on doing that. And I'll find a way.
* actually that isn't entirely true - there was some genuine improvement as measured by the targets and PIs which were determined centrally as well as some good local stuff, too. But this performance was often bought at a high price without much in the way of sustainability if the money's all gone.
** an ethical kitten farmer, not a news-at-6 type kitten farmer.