Cyril Hilsum: retirement from the civil service to join GEC
Cyril Hilsum recalls how he retired from the Scientific Civil Service to join GEC in the 1980s.
It was in ’82 first of all that Derek Roberts who then had moved to GEC said would I like to come and join them and his words, ‘See what life was like on the other side.’ And I asked what he meant by that and he said that more or less, ‘You have criticised us for our performance and really given us a rough time in all our contracts and now perhaps you should come on the other side and see what it’s like.’ Well that sounded reasonable, I was then fifty-six I think when the offer first came so yes, this was an interesting topic and I put it to the system who … seemed quite upset. They – they really didn’t want me to go and I said, ‘Well I’m going to go fairly soon aren’t I because I’m now fifty-six and you retire at sixty in the civil service,’ and they said, ‘Oh no you don’t, no you don’t, you’re an individual merit,’ I said, ‘Yes,’ and they said, ‘You don’t have to retire, you carry on in your same rank as long as you like,’ I said, ‘What, seventy, eighty?’ they said, ‘Yes, yeah, no problem.’ And he did point to a man I knew, Dr Sayce who’d worked in the optics lab and I did know him, he was a very good scientist and he said, ‘He went on till his mid eighties so you can stay on,’ I said, ‘Oh, well that’s interesting, I’ll have to think about that.’ They said, ‘Of course,’ I said, ‘Well what’s the formalities?’ they said, ‘All you have to do is to actually each year write us a report on what you’ve accomplished in the year, you have to produce a report,’ and I said, ‘Well who does it go to?’ and they said, ‘It goes to headquarters,’ I said, ‘And what?’ and they said, ‘Well somebody sort of looks at it and says, ‘Oh yeah, you can go on.’’ I said, ‘Well what if they don’t,’ I said, ‘who looks at it?’ they said, ‘Well some civil servant,’ I said, ‘So my life is in the hands of a civil servant that I don’t know?’ and they said, ‘Well I suppose so,’ so I talked it over with Betty and we thought that wasn’t really a good idea. It seemed more interesting to go to GEC and also to move to London. So we said, ‘No, we – we – I’m going to go to GEC, I’ll keep in contact obviously but I’ll go to GEC.’
- Interviewee: Cyril Hilsum
- Duration: 00:02:48
- Copyright: British Library Board
- Interviewer: Thomas Lean
- Date of interview: 2/15/2012
- Shelfmark: C1379/69
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