We've received a letter about you

This is a retropost. It was written in July 2021, but published after I had left the Civil Service.

An MP has written to the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster asking about some work our department is doing. This is all rather usual for Government business.

In the letter, the MP mentions me. By name. This is decidedly unusual!

Civil Servants at my level are anonymous, interchangeable cogs in a vast machine. Those in charge of the machine want information - they don't usually care who gives it to them.

I now have various people asking me how I caught their attention (official blog post, probably?), why they mentioned me (no idea!), whether I'm in trouble (doubtful…), and how much attention needs to go to the reply (the usual diligence).

And so a little flurry of excitement disrupts an otherwise uneventful day. The response gets written up, then rewritten by others, then checked, rechecked, and formatted correctly - whereupon is disappears into the æther. No doubt it will manifest in a Red Box somewhere.

The problem with proximity to power is that it is seductive. The little vicarious thrill of being in the room next to the room where it happens! Perhaps a little bit of the glamour and prestige will rub off? Maybe my name will be spoken in higher and higher circles until someone says "let's get that Eden chap in here to sort this mess out!"

It is nonsense, of course. My ego enjoys the brief allure of being puffed up, but then safely returns to a more manageable size. But I can see why people like it - and why it drags down so many otherwise upstanding people.

Share this post on…

One thought on “We've received a letter about you”

What are your reckons?

All comments are moderated and may not be published immediately. Your email address will not be published.Allowed HTML: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong> <p> <pre> <br> <img src="" alt="" title="" srcset="">