I am in contemplative mood as I sit high in the Sierra Nevada Mountains hiding from the afternoon heat and thinking about next year. It’s that dread thing: my last year in teaching – unless the Head offers me an eleventh hour deal I can’t refuse! And so, my contemplation is about retirement which at present is a puzzling state as I work out what it means – or more correctly what I am determined it won’t mean! Here, in no particular order, are the things that won’t define my retirement (I hope!):
As I take more notice of the people around me who are evidently retired I have noticed an alarming tendency for them to wear beige. A word here to clarify that stone, cream, sand and chino are NOT beige. We can all recognise beige – it’s colourless, soulless and even more ghastly when worn in double or triple style: top, bottom, shoes. Why anyone would want to wear beige is beyond me. It seems to suggest a desire to hide away or fade into the background as a sort of non-person. Not me. I’m with Jenny Joseph and wearing purple will just be the half of it!
Anything in Marks and Spencer labelled Classic, elasticated waists, shoes fastened with Velcro or similar, windcheater jackets (especially beige), tartan slippers, twin set and pearls, glasses on string. Enough said.
Tight perms and blue rinses
Well really, any hairstyle that shouts “little old lady”. And that includes grey!! I know it happens but we don’t have to give in to it. I have a horror of grey hair – mine started in my very early 30s but has never been seen. I think it’s a family thing – we go grey early and we never, ever admit it! My nana was 88 when she died and I never saw a grey hair on her head. Ditto my mum who died in her early 70s. My fear is that as soon as your hair is grey you are easily pigeonholed and then ignored as feeble-minded.
And the only acceptable rinse is the kind sported by the saintly and beautiful Helen Mirren.
I don’t really get golf and the rush to retire to get on the golf course. I am baffled and as one with Mark Twain in viewing it as a good walk spoilt. The game seems fairly pointless to me but worse than that is the whole golf club ethos with its Lady Captains, proper Captains (one assumes) teeing off ceremonies and an infinite set of rules governing conduct, dress and – for all I know – the way you hold your mouth when putting, not to mention who can go where and when!
See above – except for the walk bit. White clothes, voluminous skirts, hats, flat shoes and, of course, the ability to roll something in a desired direction for the desired distance. I can’t do that so maybe I’m biased!
Walking in swimming pools
What is that all about? I am lucky enough to swim in a pool that is a uniform depth and increasingly there are people walking up and down it. Now, I realise that this is not the exclusive domain of the retired – bald, tattooed twats do it too but as I’m not ever going to be a bald, tattooed twat that doesn’t count.
I mean, the clue is in the name “swimming pool”. It’s for swimming. If you have trouble weight bearing then swimming – proper swimming where your head gets wet rather than pokess out of the water like a periscope – is ideal exercise. No need to take up valuable space walking up and down.
Food Shopping on Saturdays
It’s for people who work all week and have to do their shopping on Saturdays. The retired should not be cluttering the supermarkets and Marks and Spencer – they have all week to do it and really, going on Friday won’t make much difference.
Seems that’s where the grey vote is. Well, not mine. Not ever.
I shall be away a lot – I hope – but can I really call that holidays when I won’t be working? Holidays are those things workers look forward to all year as a respite from the daily grind of toil and worry. Some of us have been lucky enough to be able to have multiple holidays or little breaks each year but from next September I won’t be having holidays. I’ll be having time out when flights are cheap! It’s not holidays and it feels like cheating. And I promise I won’t be gloating.
Room 101 awaits the above! But there is something else I want to put in there. Now the die is cast, I can’t hide from it and the dreaded “this-is-the-last…”. When we return in September, it will be last first-day-of-the-new-year and the last ever headteacher-state-of-the-union-speech. And so it will go on throughout the whole year with a series of lasts. No. The “lasts” are going in Room 101 to avoid provoking the melancholy that threatens to overwhelm me every time the R word comes to mind.