A Different Kind of Cheese

Allow me to begin at the ending.

I’m in my early 50s, I have my health, some savings, and this day next year I plan on leaving full-time work for the Very. Last. Time. Ever.

People in my circle are starting to retire. Long-time colleagues are finishing up work for good. I’ve made a career of renting out my days to others, and I’m tired of it. I want to stop for a while and I don’t give a damn about gaps in my CV. It’s high time I started making my days mine. I feel too old to be playing career games and company hop-scotch. Time to stop wasting time on all that jazz.

I think there’s plenty of people like me out there, people whose parents worked and worked, and never thought much of the world beyond. But I think this generation, my generation is the first of its kind (in Ireland anyway) with the means, the motive and the world-view to get out there and live a little; travel, learn and break the chains of a full-time job.

This blog – ‘NextUp‘ – is primarily to document my attempts to scramble over the wall of our communal rat-run, my whiskers twitching for a different kind of cheese.


And, aside from wanting to go, I have other assets that I realise I could be making more use of:

  • I’m 51 and married. Two guys, no kids, no family expenses, present or future. (And where does our non-existent kid’s college money go, I wonder?)
  • We’re both in grand health, and we love to travel.
  • They only large debt is the mortgage, for whom the bell tolls; more on that in a future post.
  • There’s savings, access to a small passive income (more to come on that too), and I have skills that can work well from home or from an office.
  • I have a pending, decent redundancy payment which forms a big part of my plans.
  • I’m interested in history, art, languages, photography and architecture, and I could happily fill a few decades cheerfully tipping around Segovia and the Sud-Tyrol. Those region’s younger generations are stampeding for the cities, leaving in their wake cheap rents in beautiful, empty villages; score!

So I’m leveraging those points above and I’m starting to retire early, and as of today I’m writing it up, right here, right now.

I expect this will be a year of learning about renting abroad, freelancing, TEFL, training, language learning. I’m going to track where every penny goes. I’ll suss out villages, I’ll be an expert in gateway towns and bus corridors and rail connections to major cities. How do season tickets work on Renfe and Tren Italia? Is it cheaper to rent a GoCar or stick to public transport? And how will I find a supplemental job that will let me skip off whenever I want? I have no ideas; but finding out is my next job.

And now, the beginning!

Sound familiar?

Pop! 1970, Ireland, home. Neighbour’s car is a sky-blue Ford Anglia. Prayers at bedtime, eyes closed so I can’t see the dark. Mr. Benn, Trumpton, my washing-machine obsession. School, nuns, plasticine, green Lino. Spilled Ribena makes schoolbooks wrinkle. Raleigh Choppers have a gear lever.

Tayto cheese and onion crisps. Big Time bars, candy lipstick, sweet cigarettes. Saccharine gives rats blood-clots, I hear. Charlie’s Angels, Ch’i’ps, The Tomorrow People, Doctor Who. Swap Shop and Sesame Street. The Daleks scare me, so does Children of The Stones. Bombs in Belfast up the road, black and white and far away.

...The sky is just space lit up by the sun!
A girl in school died and I wondered if she saw the Moon on her way up to heaven, like an astronaut...?

Confession, communion, Christian Brothers – trauma! The Famous Five, the Six Million Dollar Man. Sunday homework is the worst. Mass on Sundays, 99’s. ABBA and the library. Star Wars. Confirmation and arcade machines; Defender and Scramble, wow.

Secondary school, Radio 2, Tomorrow’s World. I don’t like denim jackets and I don’t like punk. I do like The Future, computers and computer games; more of these, please! Virgin Megastore on Aston Quay. Top of The Pops, Duran Duran, Inter Cert –blink– Leaving Cert and Wham! I’m off!

Summarise thirty-two years in nineteen words; work/learn/go/do/see/hear/watch/seek/find/meet/fret and lots and lots and lots of stuff


…and then it’s Now. Basil Fawlty was right, it does go ‘whoosh’.

So here I am in the future, with all the gadgets that 70s kid dreamed so hard about. I’m writing this on 31.01.2021. And come 31.01.2022 I’ll leave my current employer, and I want that date to be the end of my days of full-time working.

And so time’s up; let the ending begin!


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