Rather than inflict anything on you late next Friday night, when I may have had a glass of red too many – or worse, none at all – I thought I’d get the farewell business out of the way now.
No, this isn’t a posthumous post – ‘If you’re reading this I must be dead’ – although by the time you get to the end of this you may well wish you were.
Posthumous post – I like that…
On Friday afternoon (early lunchtime preferably), I will walk slowly for the last time down the health-and-safety-poster-strewn corridors of what has been my second home for the past six and a half years (especially on deadline). As I walk, the solemn HR person (who looks uncannily unlike Susan Sarandon) beside me, her hand ready to catch me should I stumble, will be quietly, gravely, reciting my last rites – And yay, though ye shall hand over your ID card and parking sticker, your iPhone and your News Ltd Style Manual, you shall fear no evil...
But I will not falter.
Instead, with head held high, mouth fixed in a steely, yet imperceptibly vulnerable smile, I will walk resolutely to the exit, ears ringing with the sound of my fellow inmates clanging their Pantone™ mugs against their office half-partitions, clad in their grim standard-issue micro-minis and 10-inch platforms.
One by one, they’ll shout words of encouragement as I pass: ‘Have you thought of local government?’, ‘Next time I see you, you’ll be CEO of Google’, ‘Remember the Alamo!’, always with that pathetic flicker of hope in their eyes that maybe, just maybe, if this dame can make it, we can make it, too.
But we’re hardbitten, battle-scarred. We know there’s no pot at the end of the rainbow; that we’re not in Kansas any more; that new publishing models ain’t as photogenic as they used to be.
We’ve seen this whole damn charade play out too many times to know for sure whether this dame will make it beyond next mealtime.
Especially on a school night.
But finally I’ll be at that door – that familiar, so frequently out-of-order, revolving door. With a wry smile and a brief nod of encouragement, HR will push me firmly but gently into the harsh sunlight.
I will not turn round. I will not show weakness as I stand alone in my shabby 2006 civvies, blinking in the light, back on the gritty mean streets of postcode 2015.
Farewell FPC/News Magazines/NewsLifeMedia (or whatever you’re called by the time I finish writing this sentence) and thanks – in advance – for having me.