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Think it's only spotty teenagers who want to drop out? Laurence Inman reached middle age before he decided to flick the Vs at the old 9 to 5. And boy, is he glad he did ...

Another distressing example of the sheer madness of modern life stuck its foot out and sent me sprawling the other morning.

I was taking Bill, my amazing border collie, down to the park for his morning scamper when I saw ahead of me a vast vehicle parked across the pavement. A very smartly-dressed woman was trying to entice a tiny child from the back seat. He didn't want to go. ‘I don't want to go Mummy! I'll be all on my own.' Mum shouted: ‘Dreadnought, get out of the bloody car now! I'm going to be late!'

The kid had a point. It was 7.45. Who was going to be in school at that time ? What was he going to do ? Mummy was having none of it. She saw me coming and decided on a different tack, just as the kid admitted defeat and was preparing to climb out.

‘Right! You can stay there now! You can make me late! And you can forget your bloody football on Saturday!'

She slammed the door on him, expecting me to squeeze through on the six inches of pavement left. But I was quite happy to walk round in the road; it was too early for speed-loonies. I strolled on, musing on the ramifications of what I'd just witnessed, trying to picture the tension of their morning up to that point, the jaw-clenching stress of Mummy's journey to work, the hellish lunacy she daily endured there.

And for what ? To finance a life of bill-paying, appearance-maintaining and, well, just generally aspiring- living in a cramped but prestigious house up one of those gated cul-de-sacs in Edgbaston, jetting to exotic corners of the world three times a year, where they meet people just like themselves and have to start competing again.

And think of the emotional cost to them both! The sheer waste of all this precious time! I just couldn't bear to dwell on it. I left mother and son grinding out their differences to their gruelling conclusion, which will probably occur some decades hence when one of them dies, if then, if ever….

Away melancholy! Off I went for my scamper with Bill, whistling with joy. You see, I have dropped out. One day, a few years ago, like Charles Lamb, I left work one day and went home, forever. I leapt clear of the hamster-wheel. I have, ever since, stuck a finger up to The Man.

I definitely ain't never gonna work on Maggie's Farm no more. I took the company van and drove it over Beachy Head….so to speak. I intend to grow my hair long, let odd bits of my beard do what they want, dye them scarlet and peacock blue. I will pursue my long-cherished projects. I might write a novel. On the other hand, what for ? There are enough novels. I think what I'll mainly do is learn to be and to stop wanting.

I was in my last proper job for eight years. Some of my colleagues had been there for over twenty. You could have cut the acrimony with a knife. I am not a violent man, but at some point every day I would fantasise about blowing the place up and machine-gunning the survivors as they tried to limp out of the ruins. I still don't know what any of it was about. The acrimony, I mean. I don't think it needed to be about anything. We were just rats in a cage and we'd had enough of one another.

That's all finished. I am presently in a period of my life I think of as Shining Sanity Part One. My time now is fruitful and satisfying. The only thing it lacks is pressure. My last project was with a dozen or so wonderful people, all of whom I grew to love. In fact, I am deeply in love with one of them. This love is marked by a singular sense of reality, in that I know it can never be requited, but it doesn't matter. It is better that way, because I am being and not wanting.

We all got together to work on this project for about five days at a time on about eight occasions between January and August. I would say we were like a family, except it outshone that. The balance between absence and presence was exactly right and I will always look back on the ‘spots of time' we had together with gladness.

At our last meeting one of the youngsters in the group jokingly suggested we should all live together in a house in London, like a real family. It would be great, of course, an older member countered, until someone forgot to clean the bog when it was their turn.

There are big lessons here, I'm sure. Perhaps someone can tell me what they are.

In the meantime, ditch the mobile, the car, the telly, the fags, the boozing, eating crap, go for a good run and stop financing the delusion-industry. See you down the park.


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