I retired from full-time employment one week ago, almost exactly 40 years after receiving a PhD in rock mechanics. Over half of the intervening period was spent scribbling weekly articles for Mining Journal but I also squeezed in a spell underground with Anglo American, consulting work with SRK and Golder Associates, a brief stockbroking dalliance with Schroders and, most recently, a stint with S&P Global Market Intelligence — and previously two of its constituent parts; Intierra and SNL Financial.

I had thought it a fullish working life to-date, but a recent report suggests it was a good deal less exciting than most; I gather the average career in the U.K. includes 812 workplace rows and six office romances. These are two of the findings of a working-life study commissioned by The Association of Accounting Technicians. Based in the U.K., AAT is a professional body for accountants, with over 140,000 members worldwide.

The AAT study found that the average working week in the U.K. is 34.5 hours, which equates to typical careers of over 80,000 hours. In that time, according to AAT, the British are likely to spend 14,000 hours commuting, think about quitting their jobs 16 times a year and take a total of 94 days off sick.

The average life expectancy in the U.K. is currently just over 81 years (79.2 for men and 82.9 for women), ie some 710,000 hours. Only 11% of that is spent actually working (even if you include the rows and romances), with another 2% spent getting to/from work. Even allowing 30% for a lifetime of sleeping, that leaves us with 57% of our waking time outside work. If we say that the average working life in the U.K. starts at 18 (mine was 25) and ends at 65, 'pre-work' (awake) equates to 16% of our lifetime and 'post-work' some 14%. This means that fully 27% of the average U.K. awake lifetime is spent during our career away from work. It is, I suppose, why so much gardening, or golf, gets done.

Next Stage

This division of life into stages is popular, with classifications varying in number from three to 12. A seven-stage classification has provenance, with mediaeval philosophy in the U.K. being based on the seven deadly, or cardinal, sins of Christian teaching. King Henry V (1386-1422) had a tapestry illustrating the seven ages of man, and two centuries later William Shakespeare (1564-1616) also went for seven stages of life.

Shakespeare's seven stages of life are explained in As You Like It. Act II has the melancholy Jaques comparing the world to a stage and life to a play, and he catalogues the seven stages of a man's life. In a classification that must fit very few lives, Shakespeare listed infant, schoolboy, lover, soldier, justice, Pantaloon and old age. (Pantaloon was a comedy character in Italian theatres in the 16-18th centuries and is associated with money.)

I don't recognize my next stage from Shakespeare's list, but it will be with Mining Beacon. I will be helping the Hong Kong-based company with its existing suite of events, which include the Mines and Money (M&M) conference series, and with the launch of a new service to the mining industry.

I was involved with the launch of the M&M event in London 15 years ago, so it is nice to be back on the conference circuit. The company now has six conferences in the calendar; M&M Americas (Toronto, October 15-17), the International Mining and Resources Conference (Melbourne, October 29-November 1), M&M London (November 26-29), M&M Asia (Hong Kong, April 2-4, 2019), M&M New York (in May) and M&M Australia (Brisbane, June 11-13).

I am looking forward to helping at these events, and to seeing you at one, or more, of them. However, in a digital age, we no-longer need to wait until the next get-together to be inspired and better informed. Mining Beacon is establishing an on-line platform for the mining community to share their ideas, and network with other experts. In a world of fake news, we will be creating a platform for anyone, and everyone, in mining to find the real answers; and I promise to stay awake.

My new employers will be hoping that any rows and romances were got out of my system years ago.