What do Nicola Shaw and I have in common? Not a great deal, as it happens, but I calculate that leaving aside the period when posts on this blog were sporadic, I reckon I’ve been blogging on a fairly frequent basis about as long as Nicola’s been at First Group. That, dear reader, you can regard as pure coincidence.
By yesterday, First had managed to expunge Nicola from most of its website and introduce Tim O'Toole, who is not a direct replacement... but look hard enough and Nicola still pops up...What we definitely do *not* have in common is that Nicola is one of those people who is not scared to leave her job, even in these straitened times. The rest of us, well, we have little option but to stay put till we finally lose control of our destiny, as decisions are taken by others or the economy at large that result in our being swatted like flies. And there was me thinking the economy was here to serve *us* and not the other way around. Either that or people are so stupidly over-confident in the belief that nothing will ever happen to them that they are bordering on the delusional.
As Jerry Casale put it the other morning on Radio 4’s Today, we have “de-evolved”. We aren’t going forward with confidence and at best are treading water through sheer fright at not knowing from this day to the next whether we have a job. Here, Nicola has bucked that particular trend and she must have supreme confidence in her abilities in finding a new one. Till then, I see her lapping up the summer sun (if she’s got any) and watching the world cup with a glass of red, feeling cool and smug that the rest of us are still on the treadmill.
When senior people like Nicola and Dave Kaye (Bus chief operating officer) depart their employer First Group at the same time, the indications are that the organisation is in trouble. But their departures were actually a complete coincidence, even though Kaye was earmarked to replace Nicola. It did mean First’s officers spending enough time last week trying to convince the City that its ship was stable.
Nicola’s departure was planned. After five years of juggling her responsibilities between UK Bus and elsewhere, travelling the country & internationally with it, it would leave anyone jaded. She’s worked hard for the industry and for First, and deserves our appreciation and respect.
And that’s something Nicola and I *do* share in common. Not the respect bit but in feeling jaded. May be it’s the difficult environment in which we live, adding additional burdens to the rigours of the day job. May be its frustration with this stupidly slow laptop of mine. “Jaded” is a term I could easily apply to myself and I feel I need to slacken off the pace a little regarding blogging. It’s the 530th consecutive day, today, I’ve managed to post something on Omnibuses. That’s without mentioning years of posts beforehand almost every day. Quite a record and unsurpassed, I’d say. But daily posting can’t go on indefinitely, not single handedly. Regrettably, pleas for help have largely fallen unanswered though I am grateful to those who have responded. I simply can no longer keep this up, not daily, much as I may want to.
Meanwhile, Nicola’s managed to realise a long held ambition to run a bus company. That still seems slightly odd and decidedly unfeminine when you consider that all her peers and contemporaries who have that same ambition are middle aged (or older) men. But she did it. Tipped as successor to Moir Lockheed himself, who knows how long her wait would’ve been. Lockheed gives no indication of budging and seems another person at First who doesn’t live in fear. In a 2006 interview in The Guardian, Nicola said, “It’s nice to be in a place where you can influence things, makes things better. In a bus company you can do that.” Can you really do that at First? Nicola did.