A few weeks ago I went to a reunion of ex-Ottakar's booksellers and met people I hadn't seen for nine years. For a few hours, it felt as if I'd woken up from a bad dream and that we were all back together again.
To add to the feeling of discombobulation, nobody appeared to have aged, even slightly.
It was a bittersweet evening. It was lovely to see people that I'd once felt a genuine affection for, but it also made me sad that I'd lost an enjoyable and rewarding career. Working alone in a remote barn, for a slowly diminishing income, isn't what I envisaged I'd be doing at this age.
However, I'm not alone. Most of my contemporaries have either experienced 'burn-out' or been made redundant. The world of work is becoming increasingly cut-throat and it's hard to compete with someone who is half your age, full of enthusiasm and willing to accept a lower salary.
A friend of mine complains that there is nobody in her office over the age of 35. Where have all the middle aged people gone? I suspect that like me, quite a few of them are eking out an existence, some more comfortably than others, trying to juggle the demands of young children and/or elderly parents.
Next September, my son will hopefully be starting at a new, specialist school, which could be the making of him. I will be taking and collecting him by car every schoolday for the best part of two years, so any work I do will have to fit around that schedule.
At the end of it, my son will hopefully be independent enough to make his own way to appointments and lessons. Legally, he will be an adult and in theory, I'll be free to find a proper job. But what will I do?
Men of my age aren't exactly hot property in the jobs market.
After sitting alone in a shed for a whole day, I don't come home brimming with energy and my limited repertoire of work-related anecdotes usually involve birds, rodents or invertebrates. I feel bored by myself.
For my own sanity, I need to find something else, even if it's just a succession of temporary or part-time jobs. I can't imagine never working with anyone again.
But, of course, there are also positives to being self-employed. The other afternoon, when I ran out of work, I was able to come home early and go for a walk with my younger son. We stopped here and for the first time in years, I lay on the grass and watched the clouds merging into each other:
So I think that answer is to carry on as I am for two years, then look for a part-time job that doesn't involve wearing a green uniform or short trousers. But what, how and where? That is the question.