A Quintessentially British Experience

 Over the years I have had many British experiences—such as going to a Pantomime, being put on an NHS waiting list and watching Midsomer Murders—but none of these compares to the quintessential Britishness of being Made Redundant.

In America, I would have simply been “laid off” or, even worse, “downsized” whereas here I am redundant, which, if you take it literally, means “superfluous, unnecessary and outmoded.” Compared to that, I might prefer the old fashioned “fired,” but being declared superfluous in Britain is not an insult, it’s just—especially these days—an annoying fact of life, like the Council deciding to resurface the high street on the day of the village fete.
The biggest problem with being made redundant in Britain—at least where I live—is that there are no hot air vents to sleep on. Also, being a Welfare State, you have to get on a council waiting list for a spot under a bridge. Fortunately, like all good, corrupt governments, the right amount of money in the right hands got us on the short list for this baby:


 It’s in an ideal location—close to shops and right off a bus line—and it has bags of character. We’re sharing the left end with a family of four from Nigeria but there is still plenty of room for me to have a study, which we can use as a guest bedroom when we have company.
All right, now before you start feeling too sorry for me (but after you have felt sorry enough to buy multiple copies of all my books) let me explain how this all went down:
What happened was, I was offered VR, which is also uniquely British and which stands for “Voluntary Redundancy.” How this works is, your manager walks you to the edge of a cliff and, as you stare over the precipice at the craggy rocks below, says, “You can jump, or you can stand here until I decide to push you off; your choice. However, if you choose to jump, I’ll give you a couple of mattresses to soften your landing.”
I didn’t exactly get a golden handshake (it was more like a brass one), but it was better than a sharp stick in the eye. More to the point—and here’s the bit that will help you stop feeling sorry for me (you did buy my books, though, didn’t you?)—it was also what I wanted.
After getting the offer, I went home to discuss it with my wife and was pleasantly surprised to find that, even after ten years, she remains so blinded by love that I can still talk her into making some truly dubious decisions. I am, therefore, not going to seek another job but instead will look upon this as a promotion to full-time writer. Even in my office I am telling people I opted for early retirement instead of saying that I took VR, and right now (I still have three more weeks to go) I am the happiest person in the company.
It had always been my intention to retire early and devote myself fully to my writing; this is a great opportunity—perhaps my only one—and I intend to make the most of it. Lee Child made it work, so there’s no reason I can’t.
Just in case, though, if you happen to know of any hot air vents that are free, keep me in mind.


About the Book:

I want to thank all of you who bought Finding Rachel Davenport. That was really nice of you; thanks ever so much. Now I have another favor to ask: could you put a review on Amazon?
Reviews, I am told, boost a book’s visibility and, thereby, increase its sales potential. Having just lost my job (violins, please) I don’t have enough money to buy any decent reviews, and I lack the guile and organizational skills necessary to create “sock puppet” reviews, so I am falling back on the last resort—actual, real reviews from actual, real readers telling what they actually, really think about the book. And, yes, that means if you didn’t like it, say so; the only bad review is one that isn\’t posted.


No Sock Puppets!

 So if you could do me that favor, I would really, really appreciate it.
Thanks again.

17 thoughts on “A Quintessentially British Experience

  1. I always think that when Americans use the word \”fired\” all the time, it suggests that the individual has been caught stealing or fondling the boss. I must admit though, even though I worked in HR, I never really thought of being \”made redundant\” as all that sad. But you're right, it is.

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  2. Being \”made redundant\” sounds far less harsh that being fired. The former sounds like a business decision while being fired sounds like a vicious personal attack that comes as a crushing blow. I am pleased that you are pleased with being made redundant!

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  3. Ummm… Just as an aside Mike – having been in your situation myself 3 times in the past – make sure you know your rights as to the statutory redundancy payment from your soon to be last employer. Being over a \”certain\” age raises the ante somewhat (by a factor of 50%), also this payment is tax free. You can also sign on for the unemployment benefit, even if you are still being paid for time in lieu or holiday pay etc – though as you plan to write, this may not be a thing you would wish to do, but at least you know it's there, if for nothing more than a free bus pass!I bought the book, so will certainly post a reviewGood Luck mateSteve and 'erself…

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  4. Best of luck Mike! You can do it! Sitting here cheerleading for ya!!! sans pom poms…. x Patty Harrison

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  5. Yes, \”Fired\” really has a harsh edge to it, but \”Redundant\” means you aren't of any use to them any more, and that is sort of sad.

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  6. Ms Sparrow, as I noted above, \”Fired\” does sound harsh, but it is, in reality, a lot harsher than simply being made redundant; you're generally fired for gross misconduct or incompetence or criminal activity. \”Made redundant\” is more about the position you are filling (in theory). Still, the end result is you out of a job, but in this case it was a blessing in disguise.

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  7. Patty! How are you? I hope all is well with you and the family. Thanks for stopping by to wave your pom-poms (you MUST have pom-poms!) 😉

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  8. I'm delighted to hear you are happy with your redundancy and will be getting stuck in to proper writing. It's ages since we've had a real writer in the town – Mary Shelley was the last one I think and I've never seen her at a prestigious book signing so the town is obviously moving up in the world.I can now say I 'know' a writer. Cool, eh!

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  9. I think the American of \”made redundant\” might be \”laid off\” – although a layoff can be temporary or permanent and redundancy is always permanent. Anyway, congratulations on the early retirement – hope you get lots of writing done!

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  10. Yes, \”laid off\” and \”Redundant\” are pretty much the same thing–you are out of a job. And thanks for the congrats; I hope this doesn't turn out to be an expensive mistake.

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  11. I bought the book in the hope that it may at least buy you a woolly hat for under that bridge. Probably only the pompom on the top of it though. I've been meaning to for a while and you gave me a nudge. Yes, I have been made redundant and it is still rejection. Even if you like the idea of a change, it's still not a nice thing to happen. My most regular Tesco delivery driver was a busines executive and also one of our local town councillors until he was made redundant. He says that he vastly prefers his current job!

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  12. Thanks–I always admired those woolly hats with the pompom on top 😉 Sorry to hear about your redundancy, but it is inspiring to know that your ex-town councillor is now happier in his new job.

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  13. VRS is the term with us = Voluntary Retirement Scheme, generally an euphemism for IRS, not Internal Revenue Service, but Involuntary Retirement Scheme.I knew our very modern factory is running ill with seriously flawed management, tho' we were the largest private sector company in our field. It is better to escape early, before getting included in a failed team. But, my informal approaches to the my local Mgm for VRS was turned down. Then came a day, when the remote top brass came & shut shop with immdt effect. When a kingdom collapses, the king & ministers must go first. So, went I. Colleagues later told me, I hold the record of being the only 1 in the world, who danced on the shop floor, informing all & sundry my relief for getting chucked out.In keeping with my employer's stature, the handshake was quite golden. Wife told me I had enough of 15 hour days & must not take up another job. Slight difference with you – now I occasionally give 'technical & managerial advise' to people, who ask for it, for small gratuities. However, I like to call myself 'bishudhya bekar' = totally jobless, in my mother tongue.Thus, I have time to trawl the web and lo & behold! One day I discover here a blog written in English English, as against US English of all others. I shall be fast finishing reading all – so, pl produce more. This does not mean, I am delighted that you have now time to blog, since got chucked out too

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