It seems that people are leaving Land Registry Stevenage Office every day now. I don’t work Tuesdays or Wednesdays, and this week I missed several leavers who slipped out without the chance to say goodbye. Thanks heavens for Facebook, where many of us are managing to keep in touch; someone mentioned recently that she’s now talking to former colleagues far more than she ever did when she still worked here. Today I hear of another three or four on their way out. Tomorrow, as it’s a Friday, I expect even more. When people used to leave there would often be a bit of a fanfare. Usually a whole- office collection for a leaving gift, often a presentation by a senior member of staff. None of that now: there’s just too many going. And the longer you stay, the fewer colleagues will be left to sign even a leaving card. Sad times. Also, exciting times. Also, daunting times. Lots of emotions going around.
Anyway, the one thing that is happening is that most leavers are sending round an all-office farewell email. Some are short and sweet, some give mini biographies, some details future plans, several moan about the way we’ve been treated. This one was worth reproducing:
Sorry to bore you all, I know you’ve seen enough of these.
Today will be my last morning at what used to be called THE Land Registry (before we paid someone a fortune to remove the THE, design a tie and produce a plastic light for the side of the building. Bitter, me, no).
It seems incredible to think that, when I arrived here in 1969 as an eager, long-haired, flair-wearing, mini-jumpered, stacked-heel-strutting 17-year-old, I’d still be here 41 years later. Like a lot of us, I thought it would do until a proper job came up.
I can honestly say that for about 39 of the 41 years I’ve had a great time. I can look back and smile at the time we were all issued with candles during the energy crisis in the 70’s. It may have presented a fire hazard but, with most staff smoking at their desks in those days, there was no more danger than a normal day. If a waste bin caught fire you just put a parcels book over it and, Bobs yer uncle, it was out.
I enjoyed the plans versus legal football matches, rounders matches and snowball fights. I loved using the epidioscope (ask an old planny if you can find one), mounting the filed plans on holland (canvas) in the basement, using crow quills, ruling pens, tint blocks and parallels, wielding the electric rubber and loads of other fun, “specialist” duties.
It was like a cottage industry and everyone seemed like “family”, where plans people were classed as hippies and legal people were studious and serious (neither of which assumptions were necessarily true).
I blame the change in our way of life here on decimalisation. I knew where I was when I was earning seven pounds and sixpence a week as a Clerical Assistant and I knew that “going “foreign” was the beginning of the end. No, really, I think the rot set in with vectorisation and the “that’ll do” attitude was encouraged. Like many of the old Dinosaurs, I preferred life when we had experts in both disciplines and we weren’t expected to dabble in things that were alien to us (plans doing legal?!) and when The Board all knew how to map or draft a case and had an interest in our core business: registering land and not simply looking for ways of selling our data.
What has never changed has been the fantastic people I’ve worked with, some of whom I’ve known longer than I knew my family. It’s really been a pleasure working with you all.
I wish you all what you would wish for yourselves and I really will miss all of you.
Regards and good luck in whatever the future holds.
(Slightly edited to remove personal references. And, yes, I did get permission before publishing it.)