There is something liberating about getting out of bed at four o’clock in the morning and not begrudging it. Apart from the babble of the BBC World News Service there is nothing happening other than the tick of the clocks. At times like this one is afforded the faultless luxury of dwelling upon those trifling matters which during the past week or so were either ignored or side-lined. Being so obviously outside the perimeters of commerce at this time of day, there is no preoccupation other than idle contemplation to distract one. I don’t know about you, but I find I need time to recapitulate. I suspect it is part of my make-up as a small business entrepreneur to see the need to reconsider the empire from time to time. Like it or not the hurly-burly of daily business makes it difficult to find time to see the larger picture and to allow things to percolate to the surface.
If there were any doubt about where we were going, the debate has now been removed. Winter is clearly on its way. I don’t know why, but every year at this time I continue to harbour the preposterous hope that somehow winter is not coming or that if it is, it will be perpetually green. But that hope has already been dashed with the arrival of the first snowfall. Last evening as we walked from a restaurant back to the car I noticed with disgust the collection of salt remnants on the sidewalk. It is the filth of winter more than the snow which revolts me.
Not everyone, however, is destined to face the bleakness of shortening days and dreadful weather. Several friends have already announced their departure for exotic southern climes. To compound the personal insult of this intelligence they have the cheek to expand so largely upon their removal to entitle them to call it “wintering” in the south, a nomenclature which clearly distances them from the peasants whose greatest hope in the year is a week at an “all inclusive” in Mexico. Anyway I would be less than charitable if I were not to share their happiness. It is so unattractive to be comparative in these matters. There is after all no other way to preserve one’s dignity.
There was a time when I held a Saturday morning office. While I no longer do that regularly it is still not uncommon for me to meet Clients regarding professional matters on a Saturday or even a Sunday. This, however, is generally speaking not a good policy. While I am among the first to support the Protestant work ethic, even Sir William Osler (renowned physician and educator) would I think agree that a time of relaxation is both prudent and necessary. Even if one were to argue that only on the Seventh Day shall one rest, the modern thought supports a more liberal view of labour law. At my advanced age, having practiced for thirty-five years, I am perhaps permitted the indulgence of a full weekend of retirement. Beyond that I see no need. I might add that I relish reading about other lawyers who are reportedly still trudging to the office after forty years or more. Living as we do within close proximity to the metropolis and capital of the nation it is inescapable that one is surrounded by mandarins who make a point of retiring in their fifties or as soon as possible. This trend is quite incompatible with the reality of the private sector. As a result, one such as I can be made to feel conspicuous by continuing to be clothed in the yoke of a yeoman. On the other hand if I were given the opportunity to close the doors once and for all I am not sure I would jump at it. Given that the popular movement in Europe for example is to increase the statutory age of retirement (purportedly because life expectancy has increased) I suppose you could say I am being thoroughly modern. The reality of course is that I have no choice in the matter and even if I did, I can’t imagine what else I would do to occupy myself.
It appears to be a natural consequence of aging that one becomes increasingly distant from one’s friends. Entertaining is no longer attractive to me. There was a time when I welcomed the chance to put together a meal with friends. Now I find it is too much work and I haven’t the energy for it. It appears that neither do my friends. Social gatherings are now inclined more strictly to immediate family and even those wear a bit thin after a while. My mother persists in trying to prove herself the matriarch by orchestrating large meals for ceremonial dinners at Thanksgiving and Christmas, for example. The task is becoming increasingly difficult. We have so far not been entirely successful in dissuading her from undertaking such extensive duties. Perhaps she too feels the need to go to the office.