It feels like an inordinately large number of customers and friends have been mentioning retirement to me lately. Mostly it's people in their forties and fifties, staring wistfully into the middle distance with a desperate yearning in their eyes.
Maybe it was all that lockdown shenanigans last year giving us all too much time to think, but it does appear that leaving life's labours behind has become a more concrete objective for many of us these days.
This, of course, has always been a quite understandable ambition if it's coal miners or factory workers we're talking about but on more than one occasion I've listened, agog, to the plaintive yearnings of school teachers, longing to chuck it all in and sit on a beach somewhere turning a comical shade of orange. Teachers! Would these be the same chaps who've spent endless weeks off each and every summer for the last twenty years, sitting on a beach somewhere turning a comical shade of orange? (Now, in order to avoid a postbag crammed with irate - and yet grammatically correct - letters from incandescent pedagogues, I should like to point out that I once was a secondary school teacher myself - you can't kid a kidder.)
And it's not just people with corduroy jackets and elbow patches we're talking about, either. Government office workers aren't exactly slow to vent their visceral desire to hand in their staplers and highlighter pens forthwith, in order to spend the rest of their days playing golf on a cruise ship or something.
Look here, people - you already get weekends and a seemingly infinite number of bank holidays off, plus four weeks actual holidays plus some other days that I can't even remember the name of except for 'asuntos personales' - loosely translated as 'personal matters' - which can be taken whenever it suits, without any need for further explanation. I once asked a rather tipsy gentleman who was drinking in the pub midweek and during the daytime if he was on holiday, to which replied, quite unabashed, that it was, in fact, a 'personal matter' day off.
(Actually, when you think about it, knocking back a few rum and cokes with your chums at 3pm on a random Tuesday almost certainly is a personal matter.)
To tell the truth, I can't really imagine retiring - there are only so many walls a man can paint and model railways he can build. No, actually, the more I think about it, the more I like the idea of working until I keel over in a heap one evening, possibly clutching a guitar or a pint, or both. Let's just say it's a personal matter.