WITH considerable sorrow and what distressed psychologists might term "a reluctant sense of emotional objectivity", I begin my final column.
Time and circumstance wait for no one – not Godot, Willy Loman, me or my departing colleagues. Despite a desire to soldier spartanly on, we have been deemed redundant.
In a gesture of great grace, the editor – a saintly and well-comported man – has given me an opportunity to indulge in a little abstract reflection in signing off.
Not that I am redundant, by gee! Arguably a luddite – never a lemming. Abstract? Undoubtedly – it's just that I won't work here any more.
Reluctant to heed use-by date stamps on processed food, the idea of proscribed retirement – determined by age or by others – stings. The enjoyment of modest – perhaps imaginary – relevance is difficult to surrender when fondness for the work is undiminished.
Politicians urge us to toil into our twilight years – an idea that makes amazingly rare sense by acknowledging experience and intellectual capital among veteran workers. Yet it's hard not to suspect pollies just want our taxes a little longer.
"A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough without ever having once felt sorry for itself," wrote D.H. Lawrence. I am no tiny bird yet I appreciate most creatures survive on their wits – without pensions. That's nature. That's life – and the more you live the less you have to die. No pity, no piety. Obviously, family responsibilities and financial considerations attend human survival equations. Ker-ching!
From inauspicious beginnings to an even less auspicious ending, I've long appreciated the privileges attending this work.
These columns have allowed personal interaction with readers – an appreciable element of employment that has, among other things, obviated any need for Facebook, Grindr and the seductive social media trends newspapers seem to be morphing into.
Instinct says stay and contribute to the next phase of the Herald's evolution. Management, like Little Britain's Carol Beer and her computer, says "no".
Regrets: I've had a few. Days off – very few. Insults? Yessss . . . well . . .
I've relished the sustenance of passionate, creative colleagues working together for common causes – principally, our readers.
An environment of symbiotic inspiration tends to promote an expansive range of views united by mutual denominators: Belief in the value of sharing information responsibly and appreciating an audience prepared to consider what is written in search of credence – whether or not they agree with the facts or our points of view.
Matters of awareness, truth and entertainment – of ventilation, illumination and provocation.
If you don't like your job you might as well club your dinner.
The intellectual ambience at the Hanging Gardens of Pyrmont provides a degree of camouflage such that – when no one is looking too closely – scribblers such as I can enjoy the illusion of competence.
It's been said the media makes the truth look entertaining and entertainment look like the truth. Alas, it's frequently true but working for the Herald has been a life-affirming experience. Criticism – of the arts particularly – when practised with integrity, is not an international conspiracy against creativity. We are all critics, walking the wire between objectivity and subjectivity. Concealing personal preferences is frequently necessary yet often futile.
Sometimes it makes reading between the lines more enjoyable.
My interests are many, my plans few but I profoundly hope the Herald survives in the spirit and with the culture that has sustained it – and me – for so long.
Rather than presumptuously echo Edward R. Murrow's sign-off, "Good night and good luck!", I'll just say toodle-ooh shrudlu!