After a weekend spent with folk a quarter of a century (and more) my junior, I sought balance by spending a week away with a couple who are twenty-five years my senior. In fact, this latter is a tradition that has been going on for the last five years – and lest you think I am abducting pensioners against their will, I should make clear that I share close blood ties (and, in theory at least, all of my DNA) with this particular couple.
I am brought along as a sort of travelling chef, as a back-up for the satnav (I can read an OS map – younger readers may have to ask a grown-up about OS maps, but they work where WiFi and 3G do not) and as a token (comparatively) young person (just in case one is needed). I am also brought along for my writing skills (no laughing at the back!) so that I can fill in the visitors’ book. In return I am chauffered around and so can visit places that would be quite a challenge using public transport (obviously, I could drive myself – but this is something I try and avoid except under extreme duress).
As is traditional, the parents (mine, in this case) found a holiday location completely free of modern, manmade sources of electromagnetic radiation: no wifi and not even a hint of a mobile phone signal on at least 3 of the UK’s 4 networks. As a result, I can tell “the man” in all honesty that I was not available by phone or email during my week off.
I partook in activities suited to those in the early stages of their eighth decade, and so my National Trust membership card has rarely seen more use. While I enjoy these more sedate activities (well more sedate than form part of my usual thrilling lifestyle – W Mitty has nothing on me), I have found my calves struggling to cope (I presume the muscles involved in slow mooching are underdeveloped) and I have also needed to go do bed earlier than normal and have been sleeping very deeply (which is not like me at all). It would seem that retirement is much more exhausting than I had anticipated. I did gain brief access to the internet towards the end of the week (in a gorge of all places) which allowed me to retrieve my work email and thereafter my insomnia returned to normal.
So, it seems that I will need to undergo significant training before I will be able to operate successfully in my seventies (I seem much better able to cope with life in one’s late teens or early twenties: I am apparently better adapted to my mental than physical age). Still, I do have a little time to prepare as the current government seems to be working hard to ensure that my retirement date is receding at an accelerating pace.