As you leave my side after 17 years of working together, I dedicate this blog to you, Phil Tongue of PZ Cussons, and here is why;
How do I love Phil let me count the ways… I could talk about his unending generosity and the work he does for charities, I could talk about his dedication, how he describes himself as a stick of Blackpool rock – cut Phil in half and you’ll see PZ Cussons written through and through, I could talk of his kindness to every living person and creature, of how in helping 2 American ladies over the Giant’s Causeway, he hospitalised himself. I could talk about his love for Northern Soul, his master bakery in the kitchen or the endless cruises around the world … but I’m going to talk more specifically, more personally;
We met in 2001 when I needed help settling into my desk. Phil’s was the friendly face, at once courteous and polite – incredibly helpful and friendly.
Through the years he was my go to IT person, I always knew I’d be met by a smile and instant response, he made my IT issues go away…. Something that would continue for another 17 years.
The Manufacturing Standards Department had their ups and downs, people joining, people leaving, managers coming, managers going. One Friday I heard that a new person would be joining and told that I would be very happy about it. I was intrigued – who would I find sat next to me on Monday?
I was greeted by a smiling face, Phil was beaming back at me … and so it continued for 11 years.
The ups and downs of the department now actually transformed into physical ups and downs… I had just lost 2 and a half stones on Slimmers World, and joined a gym… Phil arrived and soon lost 7 stones on SW and when we moved over to new offices at Aviator Way he asked me to show him the equipment in the gym…
Shortly after, I fell pregnant and my weight soared – Phil continued to work out and shrink.
When I returned from Mat leave Phil asked me to help him set up Uncle Phil’s bakery…. My weight soared… Phil continued to work out and shrink.
Our little team absorbed every challenge that PZC threw at it – the keepers of data integrity, we created all NPD SKUs, absorbed new brands, created new 3rd Parties, spread our networking wider globally each year. Throughout it all Phil and I formed a dynamic little team – the word “agile” doesn’t even begin to do justice for how we’ve ridden the waves over the years.
I would figure out ways of working, Phil would provide the systems support to back up every move, suggestion and recommendation. If I needed data – Phil knew how to extract it and manipulate it with hocus pocus and black magic.
We were Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson, usually just figuring out “what the hell was going on“, and at times I think we can admit to being the hecklers Statler and Waldorf from the Muppet Show – you have to be as old as us to understand that, so apologies to the Millennials
At times pressure would build and we had our strains – that beautiful smile and accommodating service that I loved from Phil’s IT days – I now wanted to drag out of him so he would stop saying “yes” to everyone, … I even created a new ID badge that said “Spartacus” to remind him now and again to “just say no”…his agreeable nature was increasing our workload and making me fray at the edges..but then..when I did start to come undone… Phil would be there to say the code word… if I was in a discussion that perhaps was becoming a little heated… Phil would walk over touch my arm and say “ Is it time for a cup of tea?” and I knew immediately I’d become too loud and bolshy and needed to reign it in. And that illustrates our relationship; we’ve grown so close over the years, we can read each other like books.
Speaking of books, when I decided to start writing, Phil was my number one supporter, when I began poetry and had to overcome nerves for an open mic session, he was there saying “knock ‘em dead” .. so it was an absolute pleasure when Phil asked me to help him write his own poetry. We took on the Napowrimo challenge last year, writing a poem a day for the whole of April… Phil joined in and when I stopped, he continued. He has published a poem a day ever since – without fail, so the odes he emailed out on Mondays to support his baking aren’t the only form of poetry he writes, he has his own blog and Twitter Page– oh yes, us oldies can keep up with you Millennials on some levels.
It’s a huge wrench to say goodbye on a business level to my sidekick and partner. Phil’s taught me that friendship isn’t the big things it’s a million little things and I’d like to thank Phil for every one of them.
The pen to my paper
The key to my board
The sugar to my spice
The butter to my toast
The Yin to my Yang
The Northern of my Soul
The Wallace to My Gromit
The rock to my roll
The guns to my roses
The ink in my tattoo
The Wingardium to my Leviosa
The rhythm to my blues
The peach to my pear
My umbrella on a rainy day
The music to my ears
The smile on my face….
For all of which, Phil, I’d like to thank you.
You can find out more about Uncle Phil and read his poetry, on his own blog page here