Truth, lies or Déjà vu!
Chapter1 A Man or a mouse… only time will tell! One supposes that if a person should wish to place memories down in writing, and be made accountable for his or her actions, does one always have to tell the whole truth, only to risk ridicule, or perhaps add a little licence to make the tale a little more believable, yet in essence it is the basis of a true tale, in fact a conundrum? Is it also logic that one must always start at the beginning, to introduce the tale, which could, or could not; be the truth, in a seemingly logic manner, in a clear concise manner, quoting facts and figures in a logical argument; at a random reading pace… so not to confuse? Moreover, if circumstances do not allow the logical start, to be at the beginning, and one is unable, nay powerless, to stop a sequence of events, that one has started without realising the implications of one’s actions, that on the surface would seem certainly not sinister, in fact; innocent, and on their own discriminated of any involvement, with this story, of my involvement and yours, as you read further, for now we are on the same path!
Should you at this point be confused and wonder where one is being led, I will try to show you, and try to follow the very strange path, that I trod, only too aware that there are strange forces at work, all the time, in fact twenty-four hours a day, where we live, work and play, and where there is good there is evil, a right or wrong, light and dark, or for every actionâ€Ś a re-action, that once started we are powerless to stop, even if we wanted, and normally common sense kicks in; by the time you reach this stage, you are powerless to stop, even if you could, then on the other hand; this is where the danger lies, you do not want to! There is little doubt that a thought has crossed your own mind, at some time in your life, you felt that you should spend time researching the fundamental background of your family ancestry; to establish the point of history that oneâ€™s surname originated from, at some point in your life; as when one can afford the time! Moreover, those with computers are always being targeted to join some system of tracing your ancestry, or perhaps you have done it the hard way, going to London on a special weekend, to Somerset House, and spent hours in active pursuit through printed records, or micro film, and making laborious notes. Even making the whole project, into a family holiday, and seeking Church records, Land Registry records, checking old addresses, and seeking remote family members, that one has never met, and in some cases never likely to
repeat the encounter, after a series of disastrous meetings and awful numerous cups of tea, their taste in décor, or the way they lived and conducted their own lives. Or perhaps, in this mad pursuit of the riches as well as fame, that the perception, that you and your family are paupers in comparison to their perceived standard of living, until; as you leave, that there is a suggestion that ‘perhaps you would care to donate a couple of hundred pounds to their charity’ and of course ‘leave the charity name off the cheque, as they will clip it to theirs when they send it on, as for the moment, they cannot remember who the next cheques are due to!’ Whatever the social level we now live in, why does one formidably believe there is a golden rainbow over the horizon, which in turn, so removed people from the perimeters, standards, toil, joy, sorrows, love, romance, you as well as I, observe in our daily lives, the truth may be simple… we would like better prospects without working for them, and we with several other people can name the individuals, can we not? There is always now be the challenge, that illusive pot of gold may be over the next hill, for one has a vision, the quest has now ceased to be of the status of a hobby… but now an all time consuming passion… dreaming of a life far removed from your hum-drum existence… from rags to riches, or was there a title… was it the Great Grandfather, or his father… had you not read it
somewhere, so the great name search started in all innocence, has it now become the search for the golden chalice of life? The easy ones; well perhaps, names such as “Smith”, carry a distinct possibility that they could have been the local Blacksmith, that was tied to one particular village or hamlet, for many years handing down the surname, as well as the trade. “Turner”, a wood worker fortuitously, then there is” Carpenter”, was he too a worker in wood, maybe he built furniture, erring on the domestic side, rather than on the industrial, fencing etc, in fact any one’s guess. The harder ones, ones whose names had been changed in the passage of time, or that they belonged to a tribe, or clan, as many of the Scottish names, also not forgetting the Irish, and Welsh… then of course we have been invaded, not so much as a war, but people seeking new lives, since time in memoriam, Picts, Vikings, Romans, then we did battle with many other countries, Crusades, battles against the Saracen’s, French, Spanish, Germans. Helpers in our hour of need, Australians, New Zealanders, Poles, Canadian, Americans, Barbadians, Jamaicans, French, just to name a few. All in total swelling not only our language, but our surnames as well, as with a modern populace, more and more foreign surnames are now accepted as normal inhabitants of our country, as indeed their styles, fashions, religions, colour and creeds, all intermixing in one gigantic swirl of individuals, making the populace we know today, sorry I digress…!
For me, my surname was something of a intriguing mystery, where did “Peaceman” come from, the dictionary gave us” Peacemaker” a guardian of the law, like a High Sheriff, a Bailiff to one of the noble houses, landowners, Courts of the land, or I suppose to the Church itself; as a man who made peace, could it have been altered, or adapted, if so by whom or when; it would seem to be a misnomer, and intriguing, worthy of an in-depth investigation, one that I would wear the mantel, and tarry no more until satisfied, I had to have all the answers. Not only; but also; a historic piece of information was already at my disposal, and that was the Christian name, carried by the male side of our family, the first male child born had always been baptised with the Christian name of Richard, as I knew my father, Grandfather and Great Grandfather, were always baptised as `Richard`, then usually another second name, but always it would seem, paramount and as an act of compliance with the family folk law, that when I married, and we had a child, if it was the first born male, of our union, there was not any other name to be considered, it would be called Richard, the second Christian name was open to the parents interpretation, I hoped! So now at the tender age of twenty-four years, slim, dark hair, blue eyes, that I had been told twinkle, when talking to the opposite sex, not that I am complaining, for there is always the adage ‘a bird in the hand etc’, in a job that could be my life, providing I did not die of boredom first. For my sins, which I am sure there had to be many, I had entered the hallowed halls of the Civil
Servant, since I left the hallowed halls of Eton, with degrees that I would not actually show people, or be justifiably proud of, as I knew heart of hearts, I had not tried, there was simply too many distractions, women, or should that be women, drink, parties, and all night card schools, even my mother noticed the change in my appearance, the haggard looks, tiredness, what dress sense I was left with… permanently broke, so those rare excursions home, the prodigal son returns; bearing gifts, in the guise of very full black plastic sacks of washing with me, as even I had finally to admit, that with no clean clothes left to my name, and throwing myself on my mother’s pity, and of course her patience, and the unselfish use of the washing machine, there was no place like home… then like a child being ordered to take a bath, or no washing would be done… as it would seem… I was smelling a bit strong, and she would collect what I was wearing once in the bath! My father’s cast off’s would be worn by me, until mine were in a fit state to be worn once more, my mother’s final word, as she left me soaking in the bath, “Change your ways… or you will come to a sticky end, my boy!” She was right of course as I watched the clear bath water change to an off grey colour all by itself, and I had not even started to use the soap; mother was right I was an opportunist… as I watch the steam from the water cause my pores to open, and dirt trails of water cascade down my chest… as normal I started to
wonder when my last bath or shower had been… was this the cause of the fall off of available bed companions, you had to wonder? After the bath, and dressed in shirt, trousers, slippers on my feet, I had to clean the bath, the scum around the sides was disgusting, a task I was employed on when the bathroom door opened and mother informed me that when I had finished in the bathroom, she actually smiled, “When you have the bath back to the pristine condition that you found it… lunch would be ready… don’t plan on your clothes being ready for tonight, they will need to be washed again… those that are fit to wear!” I will swear it was a smirk as she left me to my labours… it must have been the scented soap I had just used. Over a lunch of bacon, egg, sausage, tomato, and chips, a side plate of buttered bread, mother tried to tell me about the women I was associating with, that “nice girls” simply did not behave in this manner, and the ones that were serious about careers and marriage would be repulsed by a gigolo, but what the heck, young and single, slim, and five feet nine, athletic, told that I had a nice bum, and my looks were not that bad either, as the notches on the bed would stand as testimony as recording achievements. Moreover; there was so many of them, all was there to be taken, and I was merely one on his own… but she was right, as mothers usually are; now as a nobody working in a scruffy office, with very
little chance of advancement, save the cleansing act of a lustrate, that would sweep all the older members of our miserable band into coffins, and I would be senior by time served principals, that was just a pipe dream, not unless one’s pipe was filled with “wacky-baccy”, then one could dream, however, reality… was another matter! So that was it, a rampant youth… living at home with Daddy and Mummy, which as a statement alone effected one’s street credibility to a minus point, somewhere in the region of zero, plus, with very little money in my pocket, after demands for the car, petrol, repairs, provisions for the computer, and of course my keep at home, ruled out the luxury of purchasing a hotel bed for a single night, it was a step too far, could not even be considered, besides the awkward questions I would face on my return home the next day! Even if I met what my mother called “flighty birds”, they never had anywhere to go either, save the back of my car, a mini cooper, fun to drive and park, but to get from the front seat to the back, took guts, determination, and a lot of cooperation; but as an exercise in forming a strong relationship with the opposite sex, this was doomed from the start, once was an experience for the brave, twice never happened! I suppose that it was not all bad, I managed to make do with the odd moment of success, my parents home made up for discomfort I suffered, and more than thankful for allowing me to stay, even if I was something of a disappointment to
them, they never showed it… our house was large, built in the late 1950’s, part of the Evesham expansion for larger, dare one say costlier houses, for the business directors, managers, and owners, and still stood in a third of an acre of land, as all the other houses in the neighbourhood, each of which boasting a ushaped drive to the front door and garage, lawns and flower beds, while at the rear carefully tended lawn, fruit trees, sculpturesque flower beds, which gently sloped to the river Avon, at which point the ducks as well as Canada geese claimed their nesting rights in late spring and into the summer months. The interior was always extremely well decorated, warm as well comfortable in the choice of furniture, and we all had big bedrooms, Gran had the extension, formally the garage, that dad had converted when it was decide that Gran would live with us, which after some soul searching between my parents, and deciding it also gave Gran a little bit, or as much independence as she felt she wanted. Gran immediately called the converted garage her “granny flat”, and in fairness, the spare room upstairs had been changed from a bed room, and given to me as an office, on the understanding that it was kept cleaner than my bedroom, or else. So my computer, files and reports, were always in their allotted place, in a purpose built computer table, table lamp, side table, as well as a thick pile, multi coloured carpet on the floor. The only other piece of furniture was my large
black leather chair, which had the facility of tipping back, so with feet on the table, I have lost count of the hours I had slept in that position. Besides my twin speakers, fed from the computer that regaled me every time I switched on with a cheery “Welcome Richard”, and again when I switched off the same a sexual voice said “Goodbye Richard”, the only papers on the desk were in current demand, or I had no idea where to file them; just in case I needed them again, or felt that a contribution to my head of department, about the amount of paperwork that landed on my desk. I had signed the `Official Secrets Act` as all in our office had done, the only trouble was that there was absolutely nothing that had said `Secret` on it, had landed on my desk, or from observations no one else’s desk either. So what I could not be bothered to read at work I brought home, and out of sometimes complete boredom read the contents of the memo’s, many the time having laboured through the legal jargon to emulate my personal epistemology cells, to no avail; for I was none the wiser! It was about this period in time, during a very harsh part of winter, my room was warm, thankful to the central heating, and the blinds on the window, only allowing me a glimpse of the snow storm that was raging outside, when like most people I was attracted to a free offer, to source my family tree, only to discover that the name of “Peaceman”, or “Peacemaker” was not traceable?
Yet the man downstairs, my father, his name was Richard Henry Peaceman; my Gran had been married to Richard Edward Peaceman, his father was a Richard Albert Peaceman, my full name Richard Arthur Peaceman, which was four generations, yet this site, said there was no trace of the nameâ€Ś so wetting my appetite to find out more! My next clue, thanks to the wonderful memory of our Grandmother, that when it suited her to remember, for at times she could be most annoying, for to lend her money, she would never remember to pay you back, or verdantly reject the claim, she had borrowed it in the first place! For convenience of all, her granny flat was attached to our house, by a well-lit, centrally heated passageway, not only with windows either side, but strip lighting down the entire length of the passageway. However, in the passage of time, the use of this walkway was exhibiting a worn carpet, that was showing fair wear and tear, testifying to the amount of times the passage was used by both the family in the house visiting Gran, also Gran visiting us when she felt like it, usually for morning coffee, sometimes Dinner. Dad had placed a banister rail down the length of the passageway which had been varnished when it had been installed, shined by Gran used it for support with her left hand, while with the right she used her stick, not that she needed it of course. As a family we always visited Gran, every day, sometimes as a group, if there was family matters to discus, or singly if we simply wanted time out with her.
Although in her early eighties, she was always dressed smartly, never one to remain in a bathrobe, although now of an age where one usually attributed she would spent most of her time looking after pot plants, for she seemed to know a lot about them, certainly none died while in her care, although I could not say the same about my mother’s plants. It was when I was looking at an unusual plant, a phalaenopsis now boasting three stems all with white flowers on them; I remember when she had bought it years ago, a sorrowful dying single stem plant, and now a beautiful specimen. It was not just the plant that had attracted my attention for it had an unusual supporting stick, well more of a piece of doweling, with a crafted button design on the top of it, as I was about to take it out of the plant pot, Gran placed her hand was on mine, stopping me. “Richard… promise me you will not touch that peg, ever!” “If you say so Gran, of course I will not, but can I ask why it is so important… it looks as if it has been hand made?” “It was Richard, one day I will tell you a story told to me by my Grandmother, or was she my Great Grandmother… I keep forgetting, when I remember I will tell you… then I might not!” She smiled to herself, as she sat down to recommence her knitting, as if she had orders from everyone, although in truth, we all had pullovers, cardigans, as well as scarves to last us a lifetime. But no, she may have lines on her face, lost all
her teeth, and her dentures; she claimed, were put on this earth to plague her, she was tall, slightly bent, as she had trouble with her back, which at times gave her pain, she never complained, although told all and sundry… she had shrunk, also claimed she wore a size eighteen dress, although I did hear mum explain that the Dressmakers did not give the same amount of cloth these days… so it did force one to go up one or two sizes larger! Gran had her outings, twice a week, at the Derby and Joan club, where she said, always smiling, she was off to see the old folk, and from all accounts played a mean hand of whist, was lucky at bingo, and from all her accounts, had several men friends wishing to pay her court, or simply admirers, who wished to know her better… just as soon as she thought them suitable as companions, in her interest to keep them at arms length, allowing them a small privilege or two! I had my ears boxed, when standing too close to Gran, that a flippant remark that I made without thinking… or perhaps a bit of devilment, suggesting that the family may need to vet any of these men she brought home, just in case they were unsuitable… my head was ringing for a good ten minutes, and I thought it prudent not to mention the matter again, or if there was a next time make sure I was not within striking distance! There were times when, boredom, something needed fixing or attention, she was at a loose end, Gran walked along the connecting passageway, you could hear the stick thumping on the floor, as she walked deliberately slowly to our
house, in order to visit us. We thought it might be a warning, for my parents to be prepared and stop whatever they were doing, also allowing her to select deliberately the chair she wanted, she sat down heavily, her stick held in an upright position between her knees, sitting in dad’s favourite chair, scowling as if she would take on all comers, if they thought would try to threaten her rightful position. Then finding no adumbrative attitude, smiled at all in the room, stating… yes to the offered cup of tea, and yes she would love to stay for a meal, without being asked, knowing all too well she would never be refused. Always amused, and never despondent, berating dad when ever she got the chance, and could be the life and soul of the party, especially after a few drinks, here again was an anomaly for she also claimed she could not drink because of her constitution! However, there was always an item to take to her, it could be washing, or fruit, sometimes books or papers, or even a flask of coffee, the good days when she perceived the present was not a bribe; that it would compensate her for the heartache of repeating her past memories of trials and tribulations, as well as the named horrors she was forced to face, as a child; while her mother had been in service to the “Big House” and what she was made to suffer at the hands of the “Master”, to make enough money for them to live on, Gran in the telling, did speak of it, more than once, and in the telling, suddenly start to shudder, as
sharp memories seemed to rush into her mind and contort her face, as she seemed to witness some cruelty carried out against her mother. Grandmother, when she had the mind; never told the full factual story… there was innuendo, subtle hint, a smile, or frown, as the memory became painful… yet it was all there, as if… there was danger… we could be hurt, more of the subject not being spoken about… it was as if she alone had decided… she would take all the past unspoken memories to her grave! Then without warning she would jump from one memory to another, and at last I was fortuitous in learning things of value from her, where the family had originated from, and according to her memory, her husband, Richard Albert Peaceman; in discussion with her, had informed her; that they as a family, thanks to their Great Grand-parents, several times removed; had been well placed on the social ladder, personage, it would seem, with a sound future, trusted by their peers, remunerations had been given, such as land, stock, and peasants; who were granted permission to build villages on their land ; while they were able to work for their new masters!. Moreover, in the telling of the story… there was sufficient implication, disjoined as the tale unfolded, of the work of one, or many petition principii, able to carry a convincing tale of pestiferous activity of this family, resulting in flight to save their very lives, leaving the serfdom, to fend for themselves!
Without any friendly or official warnings, the whole family must have judged the mood of their peers move against them, so arrangements were made in the strictest of confidence within the family, not even it would transpire the servants were not even informed. The whole family, with only what they could carry, were subjected to a sudden move in the dead of night, which caused them to leave larger possessions, as well as their property. For some unexplained reason, Richard Alfred Peacemanâ€™s last known act was to seal and safely secure a crypt, for in it almost in a whisper, there was a secret past only to male gender of the family, for the window had to be protected, and never allow outsiders access, and be vandalisedâ€Ś Gran knew for certain that our deceased family was interned there, while they, looked after it, as originally they had owned it, but now she reminisced; it must be standing in the graveyard, uncared and unkempt in the Knutsford area; a tear filled her eyes, but I was certain she had given me my starting point, although as I almost begged for more information, and challenged her for more information, it would seem that I had inadvertently crossed that drawn line in the sand, Grandmother just changed the subject, only to add one rider, the family, never talked about that matter, and I was never to ask again! Later that day I had chance to talk to dad, who smiled, and put the conversation down to Gram's advancing years, and promised that his father or Grandfather
had never even told him of the evidence, nor the location of the family crypt… and he personally thought that Gran was losing it a bit, and not to give it too much credence! It simply got better; I was now fired up to start tracing our family line, mindful not to alarm Grandmother, by words or deeds, I surreptitiously wrote to Churches, and had copies of maps of the Knutsford area, from the eighteen hundreds, to present day, all addressed to me at the office, rather than my home address. This caused some aberrations, as the office was a sea of speculations, as to why I was receiving this amount of mail, and the rumours that I was being head hunted for a higher position, in another department, or a Minister was showing an interest in me, which in all honesty, I never denied, nor sort to clarify the situation, for I knew only too well I was infringing the company policy of a member of their staff, being subject to the breaking of office rules, which prohibited using the office facilities for personal mail! As a Government department we were restricted by what we could do, or not do, as the case may be, speaking to the press, television, about our Ministers, which was a shame, for some of them needed to be exposed for what they were claiming as expenses, as well as their trips abroad, from the public purse… one who cannot be named; took himself and his wife to America, on a study of the road system, roundabouts in particular, there was a very small snag, which he discovered after three weeks there… America has only one roundabout, and that
is in Texas, thousands of miles from where he was staying in one of the best hotels, added to which, as in one of the national newspapers, managed to find the story, it did transpire that the local inhabitants in a part of Texas, would take chairs and beers, to watch the motorist as they tried to circumnavigate this strange obstacle found in the road ahead of them, without being involved in a road accident, much to the delight of the watchers, some who always on the side of a fast buck… ran a betting pool! The list was endless… all we could do was note it and keep quiet, at times we wished one of the others in the office would be a “Whistle blower”! Although if you looked around the office all you saw was it was a sea of individuals, it would seem that the elder ones clung to outdated policies, and seemed to indicate it was the senior time-served personnel that always had notifications first, then when they had read them; and discussed them with their fellow seniors, to make sure they all understood them… they finally would allow us, the lesser mortals, to read the Home Office notices, so being made aware of the news/instructions, sometimes the gap between the notifications being received and all in the office being made aware of the contents, could cause hours of research, to be returned with a very angry note from the MP who raised the issue, and a severe reprimand from the office manager, Mr Bridges, who took the whole incident as a personal slight, as his department was seen to be less
than perfect, although in hindsight, he was useless, his pet name being `Teflon`â€Ś nothing of blame could ever stick to him! Moreover, it would seem that management were also interested, in my sudden moment of notoriety, as I secretly squirreled away all the packages and letters, into my brief-case, which I would only dare to open during my lunch hour, should I find myself alone, which fortuitously was often, and allowed me time to plan and scheme, ready for what I perceived as a grand adventure, well in truth anything away from this environment; would be an achievement. Then one day, a week from my forthcoming holidays, I was called into the floor managerâ€™s office by his pretty secretary, all legs and a body to die for, but a face like last weeks washing, hard and crusty, as yet untouched by any of the men in the office, for all those had tried, none had succeeded for we barely rated a smile, yet today, I was escorted by her to his office door, smiling, as well as a wave towards the door, of no lesser person than Mr Bridges. Chantelle, this body beautiful told us mere mortals was her name, tapped on the door and opened it for me, announcing me, and then showing me to the vacant chair on the opposite side of the desk, to a scowling boss, who without looking up at me carried on reading the last few pages of a report. This was the man who now held my future in his sweaty little grubby hands, minutes past, as I now sat nervously waiting for some form of reprimand; only too aware of the shoddy state of this office, all of it from the decoration to the furniture was well
past its sell by date, thoughts flashed through my head, as I assumed that my plans for the research I was conducting had been exposed. Mr Bridges, long thin frame of a man, with a face to match, was still wearing the same old suit, now dog-eared with cleaning and ironing, even his shirt collar was frayed, and like his personality… never known for being pleasant, or good humoured, but caught out several times plagiarising other’s work by removing the sender’s name and transposing his own! He was now sat, almost humped over his desk, looking as miserable as one usually found him, pretending to be reading a memo, and then satisfied he understood the dictate of the memo, or made his point, that he alone was in charge of all our destinies; replaced it on his desk, clasping his hands together, and smiled… as a cat does prior to killing a cornered rat! “Well Richard, what have you to say about your conduct, did you expect me to turn a blind eye… well?” His smile exposed blackened teeth, and his breath was of a sharp malodorous exhalation, that was repugnant to be so close to. “I am sorry Mr Bridges…” Play it cool, and do not let the bastard fluster you, I thought… ”Have I let you down; in either my work, or indeed my conduct within the office… I have not been late, or left early, on some shabby excuse…!”
“That has been noted Richard, we… that is the management… have come to a consensus about your future with this department, if you agree… we would like you to take the position of under manager, for a period of six months, in this office, and then should the board be satisfied with your progress… then you will assume my position, as my advancement to the board has already been announced, and management in their wisdom… well… they are looking for me to find my own successor… will this offer be acceptable to you?” “…Of course Mr Bridges, I do not know what to say…I had no idea that I was being viewed for advancement…” I sat back in the chair, my fingertips of both hands touching, as in a pose of consideration; in truth I was making a gap between us both. “…So no more letters will be arriving for you…” He looked at me, he it would seem had studied method acting, and this glaring pose was copied from the film, “The Godfather”. “No Sir, no more letters, on that you have my word… and by the way congratulations on your promotion… there is one small matter, I am due to go on holiday next week…” It was a sudden panic, I thought of my planned adventure, and despite the offer of advancement, nothing I hoped was going to rob me of that pleasure. “We are aware of that matter Richard, also we have decided…”
I noticed the emphasise on the royal “We”, as his part in the management team decisions, could not be ruled out, after all he was now in a position of importance… until the management found out that he was a fake, and he never had a thought of his own, and no doubt hoping that I would be his new brain… how little did he know me! “Not… that I have to postpone my holiday?” “No Richard… you will clear out your desk today, and leave as soon as you can, your holiday has been extended by another week, also your pay has just become salary, with an increase two weeks Monday. In the meantime, any ideas on how you would like to reform the office, or saving ideas that you would like to implement, feel free to ring me, and who knows… they could be implemented, if agreed of course, by senior management. However, I will see you, appropriately dressed for your new position, at nine thirty sharp!” I wondered if my new position would mean the attendance at several charity shops, in order to dress like him, and with his promotion, would he opt for a bespoke suit, to impress his colleagues upstairs, and of course I was going to be stupid enough, to tell him any plans I had, for the future of this office, yet I smiled and nodded, but that was all he was going to get from me, one point I was certain of!
It was almost as in a dream, I rose from the chair, leaned over and shook Mr Bridge’s hand, as I did, noting not for the first time; the resemblance to a dead fish, cold and wet. Chantelle, his very own smiling secretary, right on cue, was already holding the office door open for me, so I could leave… the same woman, who last week would not give me the time of day, now I was someone of importance; in fact her new boss… she could afford to smile at me, for if a single thought passed through her head, and she now realised her job could be in danger, if I so deemed it, all of a sudden she was reachable, but I decided there and then… I did not even like her! The trappings of power, you could feel the surge, the excitement, I wanted to shout it out, that I had been given promotion over the older ones who had been in this office a lot longer than I had, but I was the one management had chosen. There was a sea of blank miserable faces as I walked slowly to my old desk, and started to fill my briefcase with the vestige of my very small power base. I noticed the sadden faces of colleagues, who tried not to look at my face, averting their eyes as I looked to make contact with just one of them, so I could tell them about my incredible good fortune, and exclaim to them all, as an extoller, blowing my own trumpet, and watch the reactions; then on second thoughts… was it worth it, on reflection there was not a single person in this office who was a friend, nor had we gelled as a group, to go out for a drink or any meal breaks or snacks, each and everyone was carefully defending his
allotted space, so on my return I could expect that there would be hostility, I would be talking to them from a more assertive position; as their manager! Looking around, there were possibilities for changes, not for change sake, but practical moves, there were savings that also could be made with such aplomb, and the backing of most of the staff… why had no one else seen it, it was so self evident. Instead as I held my prize mug, one of the few without a chip in it, even this was special… for several attempts had been made to purloin it, and make it their own; but now, with malice of forethought, dropped and smashed in the steel waste paper basket, making the odd so called companions, jump in surprise. I know I was smirking I could not help it, as thoughts cascaded through my head; off with the old and on with the new! Grandmother… you and your tales of our family, this is all down to you, I felt as if I was standing alone on a precipice, knew that I was about to leap into the unknown, and without a parachute… worse still… I did not care! My new job, on my return… there were certain moves that I could do, without finalisation, incentive ideas, with panache, and without a trace of injudicious judgement; so when the credits were handed down, they would come to the correct person…ME!
Mr Bridges had been in this office for far too long, what was needed was the dreaded “New Broom”… management knew it; and now they were looking at me, for this was only the first step, the Boardroom beckoned, and when the invite came I would be more than ready! “Bridges,” was a yesterday man, me I was this department’s future, perhaps my work being recognised, and there was a chance of a sideways move into the Government! The surge of power was still in me, all those unread letters, and a mystery to solve, then to return to work as an under-manager, with an enhanced salary, with six months to prove myself, to get my name on the door of my own office, the future was there for me to take, mould, assimilate ideas, evolving standard practices into a shared policy for all, not one or two individuals to ‘Lord it over the rest`, these were going to be the ones I anticipated the problems with… but for now, I was on holiday. As I walked away, I was saddened; there were no calls of “good luck” or any indications that I had worked there for so long, of any help I had freely given, when a colleague had fallen behind in his work… I turned and looked, not one of them returned a stare or even a wink, as far as the whole lot of them were concerned I had been sacked, their only worry was who next… for I had not been the last one into this office, and if that was the case, all those who had
joined later than I; were on the way outâ€Ś all they needed to know was when, and what other jobs would be available to them, if any?
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