I’ve dreamt of retirement every day since the 6th of September, 1965. This was the 249th day of the year 1965 in the Gregorian calendar. There were 116 days remaining until the end of the year. The day of the week was Monday. More importantly, this was the day of my first tentative step into the world of Ryton Infant School. Not quite my first, my parents had taken me there for a visit some weeks earlier, theatrically waving their arms and waxing lyrical about the coloured bars above the classrooms that you could see from Main Road. If memory serves correctly I think they’re still there, I’ll have a look when I drive past later. Much enthusiastic mention was made of the climbing frame in the yard, and there was breathless praise for some putrid green metal playing apparatus in the main hall. The very uninteresting pegs in the cloak-room were “marvellous” the little wooden desks “fabulous,” and the lawns outside the greenest in Ryton – possibly even in Europe. I couldn’t quite see the attraction myself, but happy to humour my parents I let them drone on for an hour, and this was before they’d even set eyes on the brass bell. It was a shock when I had to go back to the school on another day, and then another one, and another one after that. Lots of other days in fact, until 1976, though not all the same school.
I didn’t want to leave the education system, reasoning that working life would be every bit as bad, just longer hours and umpteen weeks holiday whittled down to a few days per year. Work had peaks and troughs, occasionally it was bloody awful, but overall, averaging out over the years, it wasn’t too bad. Retirement was always the pint at the end of the long country hike however.
I caught myself in a generally different approach to things the other week during a conversation with a senior lady (a professor no less) at the Dental Hospital in the RVI. My dentist had discovered something nasty during a routine X-ray and thus despatched me to be prodded by someone higher up. I was never one to take sick leave during my working life, struggling through numerous ailments and enjoying (if that’s the word) an unblemished sickness record lasting for periods of years at a time. Illnesses involving invasive surgery and hospital stays were viewed differently by those in authority however, sufferers were treated with compassion, therefore sick leave involving a surgeon was viewed in a guilt free, perfectly justifiable way by me. If a medic told me I needed an ‘operation’ the thesaurus in my brain converted the word to ‘holiday’.
Having examined my X-ray the professor poked around my mouth and the site of a previous operation on my jaw, and declared;
“That must hurt.”
“No,” I replied truthfully.
Two years ago I would have shrunk from her touch and said, “Well you know, a bit, but I am trying to put up with it as best I can, it is very awkward for me, but I don’t go on about it I don’t suppose there’s anything you can do to help me is there?” Things have changed.
“It’s a growth just above your dormant wisdom teeth, it must hurt sometimes.”
“No, never noticed.”
“Not even when you bite down hard?”
“No, it’s fine.”
“Well it’ll have to come out, and to do that I will have to take out your wisdom teeth, so you’ll have to come into hospital, but I’m going to bring you in for a CAT scan first.”
Once I would have beamed like a slice of melon, but I’m retired now.
“Should we not just wait until it does begin to hurt me?”
“No we’ll do it now, shortly anyway, sometime after Christmas.”
A serious medical procedure is no longer a happy oasis in a mundane grind, but an irksome interruption. Interruption to what?
All kinds of things. A little bit of film extra work. A request for a female to work on Wolfblood dropped into the mail box the other day, and I knew, just knew, I was going to get it. “1 x Female needed. Middle aged and fat.” Obviously they came straight to me, and it’s the perfect excuse to postpone my diet —- again.
Then there’s the Ryton Tri It Gym above the garage opposite to the Co-Op which I’ve mentioned a few times before. It’s a lovely friendly, happy place, and Heather has upgraded my membership to full-time. On a Tuesday evening it’s spinning with Sue. Every week we navigate one of the world’s mountain ranges in the space of an hour. We’ve never actually encountered a Sherpa, because we don’t really leave the gym you understand, it’s all just pretend, but we follow the contours of say, Tour Du Mont Blanc, but not the flatter regions of Bordeaux, Burgundy, or Dordogne. Sue doesn’t do flat, she’s very keen on hills. I don’t see why we can’t just go round them. Incidentally, as I type, I am listening to a couple of excellent CD’s of songs composed by Rytonian Mike Soanes; he gave them to me at spinning last night. The CD The Watch is arranged and performed by Jammshed, the band formerly known as Sleeping Dogs. Visit Jammshed Facebook Page. Heather and I went to see them at the Porter’s café in Tynemouth at the weekend and they were excellent. Their best number, to my mind, is Red Dust Ghost. It’s hard to describe the genre but they really are brilliant and provide an entertaining evening out, and it’s great to support local artists.
Quite often on a Monday morning I help with Rhyme Time in Ryton Methodist Church which is run by the community library volunteers. It’s for babies and pre-school children and it brings to mind the olden days and a sensation of golden simplicity, with songs, stories, a break for fruit, nursery rhymes – and general fun. I’m enjoying running this blog too of course, and now I love going back to school. Over the course of December I’m at St. Agnes in Crawcrook several times to see their pantomimes and nativity plays, and to take copious amounts of photographs, so I’m looking forward to that. Please come and say hello.
Now that I no longer work weekends we are getting to see more football. My nephew (he’s forty) accompanied us last Saturday. I mention his age, because in Heather’s eyes he’s still just little. A refereeing decision she disagreed with elicited the response, “Well goodness me.”