Poem first published in the ACES ‘The Terrier’ magazine in Autumn 2004
The Last Public Servant
When I came into service in seventy four,
I remember reading a sign, pinned to the door.
‘Don’t enter if you’re not ready to serve,
For only the best is what the public deserve.’
That memory’s stayed with me throughout my career,
Although the message delivered is no longer revered,
For what was once a most laudable aim,
Is beyond recognition, no longer the same.
Bob was a worker of the old-fashioned kind,
Prepared to do more than the nine to five grind.
He considered it his duty to deliver the goods,
He could see past the trees as far as the woods.
If a member of the public had a problem to solve,
Bob moved heaven and earth so to resolve,
And if he was ill, forced to his bed,
He’d make sure someone else resolved it instead.
He rarely took full use of his annual leave,
Never missed days unless for relatives to grieve,
Always arrived early, not long after dawn,
Always stayed late when most others had gone.
Always gave more than was ever his due,
And always politely and honestly and true.
Public Service was a thankless job,
But was always made better by people like Bob.
But people like Bob no longer remain,
And Public Service is now an Audit domain.
And that sense of vocation they try to erase,
With tick-box initiatives put in its place.
Wasting time accounting for more than they do,
Than ever providing the service we knew.
As the last public servant retired,
Public Service, as it was, finally expired.
But don’t reject this as some old man’s whine,
As Council Tax rise’ and service decline.
You can test it yourself. Just pick up the phone,
And ask a Council worker if your problem he’ll own.
Then you’ll get the answer you don’t want to hear,
‘If it’s not in the strategy, I can’t help you I fear.’
And when you’ve spent your frustrated rant,
You’ll regret that we’ve lost that last Public Servant.
©David Lewis Pogson 2004