Julie considered her transfer a promotion to the new Government Digital Services (GDS) Department.  As a Civil Servant for over thirty years, she had become used to the stuffy inner workings of Whitehall — posting nebulous management reports, making sure all the blah blah was accurate and polished. Within weeks, she had won ‘Employee of the Week’ when her online portal had shown a ‘green’ status against all her project milestones.

She believed her sensible attire gave her a mature demeanour, adding some decorum where her young and ambitious colleagues had none. To this new peer group, with their hipster beards and ironic stickers on their laptops, Julie looked like an irrelevant dinosaur. But the millennial staff that had replaced the dull grey suits of yesterday, produced only chaos with their energy, ideas and skinny jeans.

Ian Bassington-Threepwood had been appointed as Head of Department at the same time as Julie to steer the ship. Although their careers were similar in length, Ian had always been many grades above.

At the last weekly ‘Stand-up’, he talked impressively of how the Department was continually delivering to the business.

“We are continually delivering to the business – on-time and within budget. We are in danger of establishing ourselves as high-flyers…”

No-one chortled at Ian’s weak attempt at humour, except Julie in solidarity for old times.

While Ian was babbling on about ‘cloud and virtual enterprises’, young Paul Green who was stood near the front of the Stand-up, sat down on a beanbag. He was typing updates into a live feed to The Departments Social Media Channel for employees who worked remotely.

Paul had noticed the pink handkerchief in the top pocket of Ian’s jacket; it matched his tie and socks. As the meeting ended and carried away with the feeling of bonhomie in the room, he posted the following comment:

‘Great attendance today, thank you everyone. Great speech by Ian and great outfit!  ;)’

* Likes 147

Julie was one of those who ‘Liked’ the comment, as an attempt to appear cool and current; she saw it only as self-preservation.

In the First Class carriage on the train home that evening, Ian reflected on the posting and shifted uncomfortably in his seat. Why had 147 people hit ‘Like’? Were they mocking him or had they simply enjoyed the speech? He checked the list and was sad to see Julie’s name on it. Did he have a reputation for over-dressing? Was he out of touch with his young workforce? Was the move to GDS a good one or had he been moved sideways and one step nearer the door?

He sipped his tea and pulled the hanky from his jacket pocket as if the answers were secretly somewhere in silk.

The following day, determined to make the right impression and for the first time in thirty years, Ian appeared at The Ministry naked — without a tie.

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