How to be resigned to your fate

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The Independent Online
RESIGNATION is in the air at the moment. Hardly a day goes by without someone's resignation being called for. Not many people, however, are actually resigning. In fact, apart from David Mellor, nobody is.

Often this is not so much that people want to hang on to their job in a recession as that they simply don't know the etiquette of resigning. We have therefore asked an expert on resignation to answer all your secret doubts and fears about resigning.

I am the Chancellor of a small island state near France who has recently been under heavy pressure to resign. I am unwilling to do so, as this would make it look as if I was in some way admitting blame for the economic mess into which I have allowed the country to drift. Is there a way of resigning without making it look like an admission of guilt?

Yes. Resign as a matter of principle over something quite different, preferably nothing to do with money at all. Say that you cannot in all conscience serve in a government which, for instance, treats old age pensioners the way it does, or resign over the mine closure package. In this way you will regain everyone's respect, except perhaps that of your colleagues. Still, as they will no longer be your colleagues, that hardly matters.

One thing that deters me from resigning from my present position (I am the head of a large national bank of an island state near France) is that although I have been heavily criticised in a recent report - quite fairly and accurately, I may say - I hate the idea of being out of a job at my age. What do you think I should do?

I think the phrase 'out of a job' has rather unfortunate connotations. After all, to cheer up the working classes, the Government tried to replace 'unemployed' with 'unwaged' (although this was never a good idea: it is perfectly possible to be working for nothing, and therefore unwaged, but in employment). Anyway, if you have been in charge of a bank, I wouldn't worry about jobs - you will float into half a dozen as soon as you leave. If you keep saying 'into a job' to yourself instead of 'out of a job', you will soon get things in proportion.

Sir Norman Fowler resigned from his cabinet post in order, or so he claimed, to spend more time with his family. Yet he is now back as chairman of the Conservative Party, and never off the telly. Does this mean he now wants to spend less time with his family? Or that his family wants to spend less time with him? Or what?

Post-resignation trauma can take many forms. For a long time you can lose all self-esteem. You may even go as far as to take on a job that says to the world: 'Yes, I have lost all self- esteem - I am even prepared to do this dirty and horrible job]' That is almost certainly why Norman Fowler has agreed to be Tory chairman.

I am running a small island state off the coast of France and, frankly, it's getting me down a bit. Well, basically, I've had enough. All I want to do now is jack it in and let someone else get on with it. I can tell you, it's not a bed of roses. Even a bed of nettles would be better than what I have to put up with. Honestly, I sometimes wonder . . .

Yes, yes, all right, we get the picture; don't whinge. What is your question?

Oh yes, sorry. The thing is, when I first got the job I was given instructions on how to resign if it ever came to that, but now I seem to have lost them. What is the form?

You write to the Queen of your country explaining that it is time to make a change and enclosing the name of your successor. You should also indicate what title you would like as a going-away present, and mention the name of the publishing house that has agreed to take your memoirs. If you are setting up a foundation, as some outgoing prime ministers do these days, you might like to tell the Queen how she can donate some money to it.

I am Queen of an island state off the north coast of Europe, and I have had it up to here with years of criticism and ingratitude, as well as being on 'Spitting Image' every blasted week. But, never having got out of anything before, I have no idea how one resigns - or abdicates, as one calls it.

The most exciting way is to wait until the next opening of Parliament. As you rise to read the Queen's Speech, glance silently through it, then loudly exclaim: 'What a load of rubbish] I refuse to have anything to do with this lot] I'm packing it in]'

Remember - you can telephone the Resignation Helpline any time of day or night.