Four years ago my working partner of some 25 years, announced one Monday morning that he was going to take a permanent career break. In fact, the wheels had already been set in motion as he was already in the process of selling his home in Hove, and was going to head off to Bulgaria with his wife and cat. He was in fact, telling me this while looking online for cheap car hire to pick up a hatchback at Sofia airport in a week’s time.
When someone you’ve worked with for over 25 years announces that he’s going to pack it all in and move to Bulgaria, your reactions are likely to be mixed. At least mine were. Instinctively, my first thought was: how’s that going to affect me? And then: why Bulgaria? The first question was answered reasonably swiftly by my boss who wasted no time in teaming me up with another individual. In advertising agencies writers (copywriters) like myself work with designers (art directors).
And the second question was answered by my soon-to-be ex partner without any prompting. He’d done the maths and worked out that the proceeds from his house sale, once invested offshore, would pay him more than enough income to live like a king in Bulgaria without so much as lifting a finger. In fact, he reckoned that he and his wife would only need to use up half of the interest, so his capital would continue to grow. It’s a pretty compelling argument for anyone to up sticks for an easy life. Although in my case, I couldn’t very well have expected to persuade my wife and kids to live in the rolling Bulgarian hills for love nor money.
I have subsequently related the story to others; one of whom misheard me and thought I had said ‘Belgravia.’ “My word,” came his response. “He’s obviously done frightfully well for himself in the advertising game.”
For someone who has never spent more than four weeks in a foreign land, I have a huge admiration for those who do suddenly decide that it’s time to sell up and discover the world. I’ve actually known many people who have done just that. A year before my working partner made the dramatic announcement, a good friend and his family who lived near us casually announced to us over lunch that they were selling the house and moving to Sydney, Australia. Three weeks later, they’d sold up and had gone.
I have a cousin who has itchy feet and can’t sit still for very long. So it was not especially surprising that after graduating, he announced to everyone that he was taking a year off to go round the world. In fact, the year was extended to almost two, when he stopped off at Sydney, Australia and secured for himself a rather good job in the Civil Service.
And in my line of work I have come across numerous creative people (usually from South Africa or Australia) who are only over here for a year or so before heading for a job elsewhere in Europe or the US. And I suppose, if I’m honest, a little bit of me feels a twinge of jealousy. I wish I had the guts to get up and go. But then again, who knows?
Perhaps one day I will.
Alex Pearl is a freelance copywriter and author of the teen novel, ‘Sleeping with the Blackbirds.’ His royalty goes to Centrepoint, the UK charity for homeless youngsters. Alex also writes this blog: http://rhubarbrabbit.blogspot.com