Saturday, 2 August 2014

No Balls, Please

A few times a week, mid-trading session, I like to go out for a stroll to get some fresh air, stretch my legs and focus my bleary eyes on something more than a practically invisible tennis ball 12 inches from my face. I usually go to my local golf course. I hate golf but the course has lovely panoramic views for miles around and is lush and well tended. It's usually pretty quiet during the week, so I don't get in the way of too many old duffers out ruining a good walk. You get the odd dog-walker and runner or a stray school-kid on their lunch break but other than that, it's very peaceful and I sometimes get the entire course to myself.

One of the few regulars I see, is an old man. He usually just appears out of nowhere from behind a bush. No, he's not a flasher but he does like exposed balls. He collects stray golf balls. He spends all day just wandering around the course, picking up white balls. I presume he sells them back to the course owners in exchange for a few pennies. I suppose it's not the worst job in the world. You spend all day outdoors in a picturesque environment. But I always feel a sense of anxiety whenever I see him - because I'm scared that I'll end up the same as him. I don't want to be that guy - scratching around in the undergrowth in order to make a few pennies. Maybe he doesn't need the money (although from the scruffy look of him and always miserable face, I'm guessing he probably does) but then I'd ask the question "why isn't he spending his retirement time with family or friends?". I don't know why but it just scares me to think about how he has ended up in this predicament.

I first spotted him around the time I began tennis trading and the thought that I might one day end up like him if I didn't succeed, steadily grew in line with my own debt. In some respects, the ball collecting man drove me on to do well when I was feeling like jacking it all in. The fear of having to sink to collecting golf balls for a living, made me buck my ideas up and strive harder to succeed. Not that I wasn't already but it was extra spur.

I still get that nauseating feeling even now when I spot him, even though my debt worries are long gone and I will be comfortable for years to come - barring a disaster. But what happens if there is a disaster? I've lived on the edge for a few years now and have come through it but things can change. I think more and more about what I'm going to do with the money I've accumulated and how I'm going to invest it in future. At the moment, I don't need to do anything other than keep doing what I'm doing. I don't require vast sums of liquidity to make what I need to live off and to save substantial amounts but I'm thinking about what my next move could be. A new challenge perhaps? A new direction?

 Ana Ivanovic

The natural move is to diversify into other sports but none of them interest me; basketball, cricket, horses and of course, golf. No thanks. Only football would be able to hold my interest and long term readers will know exactly how bad my footy trading was! I don't think I could face going back into that after all the time I wasted on it previously. So the next move would be into financials. Again, no thank you sir! I'd rather bathe my eyeballs in vinegar than spend my days in the cold, stuffy, suit 'n' tie world of business.

So where to next? I'm still figuring that one out. But I guess I'm reaching an age where I'm starting to think about saving for retirement. It's still a long way off but you have to act a bit more sensibly when you are self employed! Maybe my trip abroad next year will bring some enlightenment on what to do. Spending so much time wandering around temples tends to make you think deeply and introspectively, even if you do believe religion is a complete waste of time. I'm doing plenty of that right now as you can tell, without the aid of a temple. Just a man with balls.

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