When a person leaves the Staff of this - or any - organisation, feelings are expressed of such variety as to bemuse the average citizen. On the one hand, sighs of relief are raised of such intensity that trees are uprooted over a wide area; a small number (who found the departing member a "soft touch") may experience transient feelings of regret, but, the vast majority will view the event with total indifference. And, inevitably, the occasion will be marked by a panegyric in the next issue of 'Contact'.
Now these eulogies invariably raise several interesting points, not the least of which is that the subject may be hard pressed to recognise himself from the content. Apparently he has been an individual of such brilliance and erudition, loyalty and dedication, that his departure seriously harms the progress of the Bank and, in certain circumstances, would appear to threaten its very existence, For years his skills have been the envy of the lesser man, his charm all-pervasive, and one can almost hear the muffled sobs and see the stiffening upper lips as the survivors prepare to struggle on. To a totally impartial observer, it may seem strange that this repository of all things brilliant reached no great heights, and the individual concerned may wonder why nobody mentioned these talents during his term of service.
Now how does the retiring member feel? Well, I cannot, of course, answer for those who have preceded me into green pastures or who will follow, but I can tell you my own thoughts for what they are worth. It is quite irnpossible to work for any organisation for any length of time without some feelings of affection for it, and for the people past and present with whom one has worked. Rather like the affection one has for an elderly relative, I suspect, tinged occasionally by irritation and frustration. Irritation born of the fact that for many years the Bank has been cast in the role of the follower instead of the leader, and frustration that the distance between Head 0ffice and the Branches seems to have increased over the years. Since decimalisation in 1971 almost every facet of Bank work has changed, and now, even after a fortnight's holiday one returns to find that a baffling number of changes have taken place. Is not the difficulty of assimilating the impact of these new ideas that much harder for those whose absence from the "front line" has been rather longer than two weeks? This is purely a personal view of course, but I cannot help feeling that if one or two of the Gods descended from Olympus on occasion - and sometimes before the changes are mooted - the trip might be worthwhile.
It may have caused some raising of the eyebrows that my departure was not marked by the customary "junketing", presentation and a "few kind words". This is in no way a criticism of those who have found such occasions rewarding, or will do so in the future. It is because I feel that no one owes me anything - very much the reverse indeed - and that, believe it or not I am somewhat of a shy person and have a pathological dislike of public occasions at which I am the central figure. And let it be said, as some of you will know, that I have long cherished the ambition to leave the staff with all the pomp and circumstance that attended my arrival as a very green Junior on May 15th 1933 at Edmund Street. (Before your time laddie).
One thing that must be said, and it is the most important of all. I have the greatest admiration for the members of the staff who have worked with me and for me at a number of Branches over the years They have been asked to do the impossible and have done it. They have been placed under pressures of increasing severity and they have often been forced to work under appalling conditions, largely due to the laissez-faire years of the fifties and sixties, These obstacles have been overcome with, in the main, cheerfulness and dedication. I have been treated with a great deal of tolerance by the staff at Northfield, bless their hearts, and to them and all the others who have put up with me over the years, may I say a very sincere and heartfelt "thank you". I am greatly in your debt.
I once had an ancient Aunt, whose philosophy in life was "count your blessings", For over forty years I have enjoyed job-security, tolerance of my mistakes - many, varied, and in some cases unique - pleasant companionship and not a displeasing feeling of having made some small contribution to the well being of the people of this City. A lot of things I learned years ago are now, alas, valueless: but I can still count.
Thank you all, good luck, and - be seeing you.
NOTE: A regular contributor to the Staff's magazine under the nom de plume of REVLAC, Harry Calver wrote the above for the Autumn 1976 edition on the occasion of his retirement.
REVLAC ............ Retired Unhurt ............ 43
by Harry Calver