Many years ago (1985) Mrs B. was a uncivil servant. However she saw the error of her ways after a few years and set off to the temples of mammon, for which I remain very grateful for wholly selfish reasons. Now she has landed a new job with an outfit that requires for entirely valid reasons full references from every single job a prospective employee has ever had. No problem, apart that is one: getting any form of reference from her Civil Service days long, long ago. She has this afternoon been getting the royal run around from her old department, who eventually said that the whole thing has been outsourced to an outfit called Civil Service Resourcing, so nothing to do with them. And they cannot give out any contact details. WTF?