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