Bluebirds Over The White Cliffs Of Dover
George felt overwhelmed
with helplessness. It was the 3rd
September 2004 and he calculated that a further
five years, six months and eight days of
pointless, twenty-first century, employment-related
stress remained before retirement.
He recalled his grandfathers
description of this identical feeling when,
exactly sixty-five years before, Churchill had
announced the declaration of war. A brief
calculation confirmed the further coincidence
that Georges remaining servitude precisely
spanned the duration of that war.
He found himself humming
Therell be bluebirds over the white cliffs
of Dover as he devised a plan to emulate the
coping mechanisms that had sustained his
grandfather through those previous dark times.
In Georges mind, the
recent departmental reorganisation and sudden
introduction of new management mingled with the
Nazi invasion of Poland. That weekend, he
constructed an Anderson shelter in his garden.
Though wartime rations were meagre, he was
relieved that Tesco had all commodities in stock
and there were no significant queues.
He sought reassurance in
recorded speeches by Prime Minister Churchill.
The Blitz, however, was relentless: Government
guidelines and EU directives rained down with
devastating effect. Jones from Finance and
Richardson from Highways were both assisted from
the council offices in straightjackets - a tragic
loss of brave comrades. George reflected that had
he not spent every night in his Anderson shelter
wearing his gas mask and taking solace from Vera
Lynn recordings, he too might have gone mad.
His blackout curtains gave
passers-by the impression of great commitment to
energy conservation. Neighbours also commended
George on his environmental awareness as he dug
his garden for victory. The park railings were
He ordered facsimile copies
of a wartime newspaper to be delivered on
corresponding days. Each morning he avidly
scoured the pages for news of Allied success.
The challenge by the Local
Government Expeditionary Force against
destruction of pensions and conditions of service
gave hope. Although a military defeat, the heroic
evacuation of Dunkirk rallied morale and allowed
Union activists to regroup to fight another day.
The newspaper maintained an
optimistic stance, although George knew morale on
the Home Front was low. Increasing numbers of
colleagues remained on long term stress-related
sick leave. Mavis in Supplies enquired how George
maintained his optimism. Its the end
of the beginning, he enigmatically replied
- reflecting on that mornings news of
Montgomerys victory at El Alamein.
Heinrich Bauer in Highways
was clearly a German spy. Brazen too - he made no
secret of being a native Berliner. George
commenced covert operations by feeding Heinrich
subtly inaccurate information - leading
ultimately to the new M27 link road being
constructed over a cliff, into the sea.
The success of the Normandy
landings encouraged George that the end was near.
As the Second Army crossed
the Rhine, work colleagues enquired about his
preferred retirement celebration. All
enthusiastically supported his suggestion of a
street party reminiscent of VE day.
The 7th May 2010 was the
greatest day of his life - a marvellous
retirement party and Germanys unconditional
Now was time for rest, but
not for too long. Experience with Heinrich had
given George a taste for covert operations, and
he had already compiled a list of those locally
with Russian sounding names.
The Cold War had begun.