Monday, September 15, 2003

"Are you having a sea change, sir?"

I like windfalls. The change in the back of the sock drawer. The unclaimed raffle prize that’s been waiting at reception so long someone finally snaps and harangues you about not collecting your rotting fruit basket. That kind of thing.

In a series of misguided attempts to straighten out my financial affairs before leaving Australian legal practice for a return to student life in the UK, I called my former superannuation plan managers from when I was working with the firm in Sydney.

This wound up being a good thing. A much better thing, in fact, than filling in almost all of my e-tax forms for internet lodgement of my tax return, but packing all my papers away in my parents shed before realising I need last year’s notice of assessment to lodge over the internet had been.

And when I say “packing away”, I mean placed in a file in a box, inside a bigger box, wrapped in plastic, buried under other boxes, wedged between the spare fridge and table and buried behind my sister’s dining suite (she moved home again recently too, but for a longer spell than my two weeks).

Anyway, there was much confusion with the superannuation people who’d thought I’d left the firm a year and a half ago when I took extended leave of absence (given that the firm had not paid me a salary in eighteen months I suppose this was not unreasonable). The result being that an (on my part, completely forgotten) insurance policy I had through the firm had been paid out to me as a lump sum, and when the fund managers couldn’t reach me at my old Sydney address, it was put in some kinda managed investment thingee where it’s been compounding at a pleasing rate ever since.

It seems I’m a financial somnambulist, leading an unconscious life as an (albeit minor) investor. Sleep-investment, if you will.

Anyway, in the course of untangling all this, I had to explain my parents’ weird rural address.

“Where’s that?” asked the woman from the fund manager’s office.

“Um”, I replied, “I’m one of these people who live just over the border from Canberra. It’s a rural address, near Lake George if you’re driving to Sydney. It’s only about 30 minutes out of town.”

“Oh, are you having a sea change, then?”

I had to laugh. What does it say, considering that she manages the account for a very large law firm, about the state of the legal profession that she assumed at 27 I’d dropped out of the rat race to become a vigneron, or to raise alpacas or something?

Anyway, I’m having me a three-day holiday in Sydney before flying out to Rome. It was meant to be a low-key opportunity to stay with Rob, indulge in a little low-key madness and see a few old friends.

So, naturally, I wiped myself out staying out until 4 am on Saturday.

All right, I’m off to buy more luggage locks and window-shop digital cameras before I hit the airport duty free store tomorrow. I may post from the road, but Lyn – Sydney lawyer and occasional guest-blogger at fridaysixpm – may be posting some fresh material in my absence.

See you soon.

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