Jackson could remember when he was a kid and retired men were the old guys who tottered between the allotment and the corner of the pub. They had seemed like really old guys but maybe they weren't much older than he was now. Jackson was forty-five but felt much, much older. He was at that dangerous age when men suddenly notice that they're going to die eventually, inevitably, and there isn't a damn thing they can do about it, but that doesn't stop them from trying, whether it's shagging anything that moves or listening to early Bruce Springsteen and buying a top-of-the-range motorbike (a BMW K 1200 LT usually, thus considerably upping their chances of meeting death even earlier than anticipated). Then there were the guys who found themselves in the rut of routine alcoholic tedium—the lost and lonesome highway of your average beta male (his father's way). And then there was Jackson's own chosen path that led to the everyday Zen of a French house with its white stucco walls, geraniums in pots on the windowsills, a blue door, the paint peeling because who gives a damn about house maintenance in rural France?Kate Atkinson, Case Histories (New York: Little Brown & Co., 2004), p. 75.