“This is the End, my only friend, the End”
And finally, the time came when I had to face the end of my Civil Service career.
The words to Jim Morrison’s song, The End, which was used as the theme music for the film Apocalypse Now, seemed appropriate at the time. Expatriates were becoming an embarrassment to the government, particularly Expatriate Confidential Assistants. In fact, the entire reason for our existence would cease to exist on the 1st of July 1997 so it was with a heavy heart that I faced the music and the shenanigans of the hierarchy.
When my contract was coming to an end, like many people I applied for another. There was no chance, the Secretariat told me. However, they had failed to consider something that they had insisted upon on my first day of work.
Tucked away in my Personnel File in the Secretariat of the Central Government Offices was a document they had insisted that I sign. It was a statement that said, quite plainly, that if I were still employed at the time of the handover I would agree to work for the SAR government. I, therefore, requested permission to transfer to local terms and when this was denied I reminded them of the document. However, there was something amiss, afoot alas. The report came back that no such document existed in my file. They wanted me out and I was going whether I liked it or not.
Having resigned myself to the fact that my days in the government were numbered I started looking for work and was pleasantly surprised when I was offered a fairly well-paid job almost immediately. Employment problem solved but eleven years in the Civil Service had left me soft and unaware of the realities of living in the real world.
When I received a telephone call from the English Schools Foundation to inform me that my son’s fees hadn’t been paid, things came to light. Hadn’t been paid? Why ever not?
Then I realised that the government had always deducted the money from my salary and paid it on my behalf. Then I realised that the rent hadn’t been paid either, they used to do that for me as well. And the gas, and the electricity!
My God, I was back in the real world.
If life can be described as a journey I was now faced with one similar to that of Captain Willard in Apocalypse Now and Colonel Kurtz’s final words rang true.
“The horror, the horror. “
About the author
Stewart Sloan has lived all his life in Hong Kong and much of his childhood was spent on the outlying island of Lantau.
In 1986 fed up with working for a living he joined the Civil Service where he remained until May of 1997.
He lives in the New Territories with his wife, son and a floating population of cats. He is the author of several books most of which are all set in the territory.
On a historical note, in December 2001 Stewart was presented with a Commanding Officer’s Commendation for “Attention to duty of a high order displayed in the pursuit of an operation of major security importance”.
Some pre-publication reader’s comments:
“Don’t give up your day-time job” C.B.
“What’s really frightening about this book is that it’s all bloody true!” Anon.
“Ah, those were the good old days”.
A retired police officer who also wishes to remain anonymous.
Copyright John Stewart Sloan – 2007 – Not for Publication