Why sell your soul to the devil in the grey suit?
How do you leave school, university, the pub, wherever and say "You know what? I'm going to actively pursue a career in Local Government...". Does anyone say this, either out loud or even under their breath? If your calling in life is to be a social worker, or care manager, or transport policy maker, then it's possible. But how do some of the people that I meet in my day to day duties - the ones who are bright, sharp, very good at what they do - end up having an email address with .gov.uk at the end?
I guess it's all about security, the idea that, like teaching, a job in local government will be a passport to working anywhere ("you know what, I'm moving to Orkney, I hear they're crying out for mid-level administrators there"). But teaching is about all sorts of challenges which seem to make half of newly qualified teachers realise, a year or two in, that they can't take it any more. I saw a newspaper ad today which said something like Work with the most exciting people in the country above a picture of a couple of keen schoolchildren. I guess that's true in some ways and I can see the appeal of shaping young minds, etc. etc.
But to drown under a mountain of headed paper, stifled by a level of conservatism which squeezes the creativity, innovation and will to leave out of the most bright-eyed job applicants who post their applications off to Your County Hall with anticipation? Hmm.
And so it was that I came to Buckinghamshire County Council, and it wasn't long before, like the reader of Dickens' A Christmas Carol, I heard the dragging of chains...