My collection of ties

I have this collection of ties hanging behind my study door. A couple of observations: I don’t use them much anymore, and secondly – it doesn’t matter.

Long before I left regular work I had noticed that men’s ‘uniform’ for business was changing. Gone were the suited-and-booted approach with winged-tipped oxfords, gone were the vests and suspenders, gone were the extensive range of ties worn every day to work (matched against colour, or themed to fit the sort of environment – oh, and always try to slightly outdress the customer since going the other way was a cardinal crime). Even one of the account execs with whom I worked remarked that they hardly ever put on a tie to visit a customer now, and they would have mixed with CEOs and financial industry heavyweights much of the time.

So one of the things which I grew up understanding was needed to move into the world of work, then changed rapidly when the time came.

Men’s ‘costumes’ always seemed out of kilter with working women’s ability to chose between a range of appropriate attire. While they could chose dresses and blouses, we chose suits. While they could include slacks or skirts, we chose suits. While they could wear cardigans or sweaters, we chose suits.

Ties now seem limited to christenings, funerals and weddings. The “hatch them, match them, and dispatch them” mantra of the modern approach to ritual and ceremony. Beyond that, they seem consigned to the grave.

Two thirds


I left work almost to the very day when I had lived equal time on two different continents. The first half was spent growing up in different parts of Australia, while the second half has been spent getting married, raising a family and working in England. Is this my half-time, or do I have another third still to come?

I can look back at my early life with nostalgia, regrets, fond memories and laughter. The second seems to have been more of a grind, due perhaps to the efforts of raising a family and “doing time in the big city”. I didn’t enjoy work – not in the sense that I hated every minute of it and I had great colleagues and fun times, but the sense of purposefulness was missing. I really couldn’t see the point of it and the repetitiveness became a grind.

It was remarkable to realise that my life changed radically at exactly the same amount of time from when the first had occurred, and it was a moment of serendipity for me. Personally I don’t have great ambitions nor aims for what happens next; perhaps it will be the the third season of my life, the autumn before the winter or perhaps it will be a new era of discovery.

Whatever comes, I will examine it with interest.

Just One More Year

Financial Independence, Retire Early (or ‘FIRE’) is the domestic monetary policy that says when you have enough, you stop working. After all retirement is just earning money by other means.

I’ve gone the FIRE route and are stopping regular, salaried work. While I’m not sure that this will mean stopping all paid work (‘retirement’ itself being a concept that is changing), it does mean stopping any notion of a ‘career’ and simply getting money through anything that works – barring illegal activities of course!

A corollary of taking early retirement is the “just one more year” syndrome where you feel that you would like to stop working but think that one more year of a regular salary can help you pay off the mortgage, get the children through university, create a nest egg, or whatever. I encountered a quite few colleagues who felt this applied to them. Once I started planning and saw that my outgoings could be controlled and that I could achieve what I felt was a comfortable existence the idea of trying to make extra money seemed ridiculous. When would enough be enough?

You’ll never get as much income as when you are working and if you really cannot make your outgoings be less than your incomings, then you will never be able to stop work. As someone noted usually the event that gets you to stop thinking this way is something like a big workplace bonus, a buyout or redundancy offer, a friend’s health crisis or death, or a personal health crisis. For me it was a mix of redundancy offers which seemed to come around every couple of years (I personally sat through about five over the last ten years) combined with some maths that showed me I could survive outside the system. Once the next offer came around, I jumped at the opportunity and was the first to apply.

But it took guts to stop the job I had continuously for 25 years. I still have a very small mortgage (which will be paid off from my redundancy lump sum) and my grown up children still haven’t fledged yet. I walked back from posting my papers with tears in my eyes, and are still washing those decades of work out of my hair.

But the sheer energy and happiness I have now is amazing. I’ve helped with a week-long children holiday club, helped Syrian refugees in Europe, and gone on an overseas trip with my church. I’m looking at helping build houses with Habitat for Humanity, and exploring other things where my skills fit with a need. Every day I look forward with expectation as to what I can do and create without any feeling that I have to do tasks.

I’ll close with a quote from one of the early retirement forums:

“It’d be especially sad to work longer for more money while missing an opportunity to do the tremendously satisfying things that don’t happen to require much money at all.”


I stayed overnight in London for a work function, then off to see a friendly customer.

That went okay, other than the standard loneliness of hotel rooms.

In the morning I decided not to go to work but rather to ‘coffee shoppe’ my way over to the customer – dropping in to old and new places I knew on the way.  First problem: it was raining and cold outside so I took to a inviting coffee chain place to see if I could get some work done.  Second problem: loud, noisy and difficult to concentrate!  Third problem: nose started bleeding (I’m taking asiprin long-term to hopefully deal with some cancer issues in my family – so that thins the blood and I am seeming to get more nose bleeds than normal).

How do you bleed peacefully when in the open surroundings of a coffee shop?

The good part was that my phone battery was still alive having not rechardged it overnight it should have been flat (I had a spare) and my computer one is still singing as you can see.  Partly I wanted to do this to see if I can survive outside a big warm oganisation like my company, partly since I didn’t see the purpose of just rocking up to work to essentially sit in the same type of place there!  It remains to be seen if I can make it in the turmoil and tussle of the surrounds of a ‘non-stop’ city life.  And if my battery makes it!  Off to find another place to sit.

Pill regimes

Reading today an article from the BBC about the use of low-dose aspirin in those with either cancer predisposition or risk of heart attacks, and thinking how it might relate to me.  Both my father and mother had cancers – my mother dying of breast cancer – and one GP mentioned to me that that same type of aggressive breast cancer causes bowel cancers as well.  So I guess I am in line for it!  Hard to tell really and this is where some guess-work comes in.

My family doesn’t seem to be particularly affected by heart attacks nor coronary diseases such as angina; my wife’s family does but we’re not related, at least I hope not!  The weight of evidence would come down on the preventive effects against cancers of all sorts.  Crohn’s disease has been a family problem as are a variety of allergies such as milk and gluten – although these types may be affected by the patient’s perception my daughter’s strong anaphylactic shock from peanut allergy is no joke.  My guess is that aspirin would help so I’m beginning a course of low dosage (75mg) from now until … 75!  That plus more exercise, loving the wife, being more diligent, losing weight – the list is endless.  Oh, and letting my GP know of course.


All of us are consigned to death. Just yesterday there was an old man on the news enthusiastic about the internet and speaking of the changes he’d seen in a long lifetime. as I get older I appreciate the core difference between the young and old: when you are young every one who dies is older than you. When you’re older then the reality settles in that actually your own days are numbered.

So that’s okay – we all die.

But between now and then what should we do? How should we spent these days, hours, and minutes while we still have them?  Travelling home from London today by train I was amazed by the brief glimpses of life out my window.  Wonderful green fields and houses sped by and I gloried in the feast of senses flashed at me.  How can we be anything but moved by such amazing things?  Then I looked back at the weary commuters on the train with me and remembered that life is lived in the here and now and that wonder is mixed with sadness, grief with joy, and happiness with normality.  Back to that Linzer biscuit … nom nom nom.

Off for a birthday party – in the forest!

This afternoon we’re going off to the New Forest to celebrate my birthday.  It may be a little odd and hermit-like, but I felt it was best to do something different (I wanted to go off by myself and take a long walk!) while still including parts of the ‘family’.  We hope to enjoy bike riding, swimming, pizzas and lots of actively exploring and doing lazily nothing in particular!