Sunday 2 January 2011

Wistful eyes

"What are you going to do when you retire?" they ask. "Let's get there first", I think.

Normal question to a busy person, I suppose, especially one who keeps his innate laziness relatively well concealed (except from his wife). Do they assume that you can't do "not busy", that without it you'll get the mental or physical shakes?

Among other things, older brother number 1 had developed a hobby restoring books, and began acquiring grandchildren at just the right time. Older brother number 2 already restored pianos for a hobby and an income (retire at your own pace), and had been successfully practising serial grandfatherhood for several years. Younger brother has a useful sideline performing and teaching various forms of music. No danger of boredom when his turn comes. Clearly not a family that survives well on mere tick-over.

Perhaps it's another assumption – that retirement marks a transition to the abhorrent realms of non-productivity. Won't your stock drop unless you're making a tangible contribution to the cause? Five years as honorary adminstrator of a Christian literature trust is quite an example for your own much-loved father to leave you.

"We've bought a narrowboat", I say. Responses, depending on a person's mixture of knowledge, experience and imagination, range from a blank look, through "How lovely!" or "Whatever for?", to "When can we book a week?" Some of those not totally confused by the name, or mixing it up with "longboat", think that restoration must run in this branch of the family as well and envisage weekends up to the elbows in creosote or vintage diesel parts. Weekends, mind you, because you will obviously be wanting to spend the greater part of your time being productive in some more self-evident way.

"It's an adventure", I say. "We're going exploring. Don't quite know where we'll end up or who we'll meet along the way. There'll be time enough to find out." Then I confess that it will probably be for only half the year, so we can doubtless find something productive to do during the winters. They look relieved, except for the ones with the wistful eyes.


  1. We have also bought a boat in June last year, The Great Escape, moored at Great Haywood.We retired in July 2009 and have never been so busy in rather self indulgent, hasten slowly kind of way. Last summer we drove Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles. We then spent a total of about 9 weeks afloat, on ands off, throughout the summer ansd autumn months. Looking forward to bumping into you at the marina, although not literally we hope! Enjoy canaltime.

  2. @Mo Wood


    Thanks for the comment. Look forward to seeing you sometime.