Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Sunday, 6 October 2013
I just looked out of the window and saw my American friend walking by, so I shouted down to him and he shouted back up.
"I got a phone-call this morning," he bawled, "I'm going into work tomorrow. That's good, because I'm starting to hallucinate and talk to myself."
Normally on a weekday, he would be out of the house by about 5.30 a.m., but he is one of the thousands of government workers affected by the Republican's childish tactic of shutting down the entire US government by throwing their toys out of the pram.
In the brief time that I have known him, the conversation always reverts to his plans for retirement, and how he hankers for the few years of service to be over so he can sit around all day doing nothing, with the odd fishing-trip adding texture to his leisurely existence. This enforced period of leisure has caused him to rethink his plans, even though it has only lasted about 4 days.
On the rare occasions that I have spent a weekday at home at the same time as H.I., the notion of 'retirement' has become even more unreal than it ever was - and I have never had any plans to retire, even if I was due for a massive pension. I am expected to make myself 'useful' during daylight hours in our compact but adorable city apartment, and it - even after one hour - becomes clear that H.I. likes her solitude just as much as I do. I 'get under her feet', I think, and this is before I have even started to wear matching beige, drip-dry, stay-pressed, two-piece outfits bought at Marks and Spencer.
He - like me - tends to start pulling the tops off beer cans around midday if he has nothing else to do, and the fishing-season only has a few more days left to run.
I think that the isolation of working from home - or just not working at all - could explain all those recipes put up in the blogosphere, because food becomes somewhat over-important after retirement as well.
I have known many retired couples (including my parents) whose lives are solely punctuated by mealtimes. No sooner has the breakfast washing-up been done, than the table is laid for lunch, then after that has been cleared away, dinner is prepared - after the 4 o'clock tea and cake.
Ramblers associations usually have an average age well over retirement, because it gets them out of the house.
If pushed, I will always grudgingly admit to actually enjoying working - eleven and a half month's holiday and two week's work is always going to be the wrong way round, and living in Bournemouth is bound to lose it's appeal after a while.
I just looked up 'retired couple' on Google to get the above photo, and the images are 99% people standing next to the sea. Seaside existence is still the idyll, it seems.
My parents always planned to move to Christchurch after retirement, but they never made it. Probably just as well.