I was so intrigued by the recently published novel, ‘My Resignation’ written in a rather ‘tongue in cheek’ style by James Hall, who prefers to be called Jim, I made an appointment to go and meet him at his modern, stylish home in Edinburgh’s Colinton.
Jim had originally intended the book to be published under his middle name, Rutherford, but this became lost in the excitement and so it appeared without the pseudonym. His wife, Christine made us a most welcome coffee and the three of us sat down to discuss the book, the motivation and how a series of ideas became a book.
Jim is now 88 and had a distinguished career as Head of the Post Office both in the UK and in Northern Ireland. By coincidence, one of his four sons, Mike, used to be my family vet! Jim went on to be heavily involved in Bield Housing in Edinburgh and undertook a good deal of charity work as well as being a Church Elder in Dirleton, the Halls’ former home.
Now to the book itself. The essence is that Jim became increasingly frustrated with the manner in which national government, the Scottish Government and local government were being operated, apparently without, in his view, the checks and balances on projects and expenditure which he had introduced in his earlier career.
‘It was the Edinburgh trams that finally got me started on putting the book together. Such a fiasco should never have happened!’
Very cleverly the James Hall of the book, written in the first person, describes with dry wit how, after failing to get into Holyrood, with the help of a wealthy benefactor he managed to become elected as an MP in Westminster. He had thoroughly disapproved both of the design of the Scottish Parliament building and the way costs had spiralled, in Jim’s view without proper checks and balances. He doesn’t actually say what he thinks of the design of Westminster, though the cover of the book depicts the front door of No 10.
In his imagined rapid rise to power and authority in London, helped and supported by Christine, he began to gather around him like-minded individuals until there were enough to form a new political party. He describes the new Prime Minister’s first Opening of Parliament with, again, humour, telling the reader the main topic of legislation for the new session would be Devolution.
Jim observes of the speech, ‘ Her Majesty read it well, as she always does. Then, like all good things this had to come to an end and suddenly it was tomorrow and the first day of the new Parliament. The very thought gave me goose pimples.’
The book covers a very wide range of areas of public administration, including Scottish Devolution and meeting the Queen for his first audience. He then goes on to suggest the solutions he and his colleagues found for energy, education, the health service, council taxes, transport, poverty and religion. I found it quite delightful how he manages in a self-deprecating manner to deal with these serious subjects. I can thoroughly recommend this as a good read.