The idea was mine, the thought of freedom was too strong and all I wanted was to be left alone, isolated from the hum-drum of life for a while. It was time to hang up my overalls and stash my tools away, I was going to retire for a spell. Well that spell grew longer and longer and before I knew it my unofficial retirement became official. I had made it through the previous months without doing any paid work and it felt good. When working I was often asked about my retirement and when it would be, though people didn’t ask the question until I had revealed to them my age. The reason I mention that is I was also often asked how long I had been in the profession. When I revealed that information I wasn’t taken seriously at first because I don’t look my age. So in reply to their asking about my retirement I would tell them I had no immediate intentions to do so. That was true but I also told them that if my advertisement was missing from the newspaper then I was either on holiday, was retired or else I was dead. That always got a laugh but in all honesty it couldn’t be anything but the truth. It didn’t stop people phoning my number, at least for the first few months after my retirement which began last April last year. Occasionally the house phone would ring too and in both cases I would tell the caller I was no longer available for work. Eventually I stopped answering the calls just for the peace. In any case I often don’t answer the house phone because of the many nuisance calls we used to get and occasionally still do. I check the callers’ number after they have hung up and many, if not most of the time it has been a local domestic call. I am just not available but it appears the callers don’t read the newspaper because they have my business card. It doesn’t bother me as I don’t answer the calls. Eventually the calls will cease anyway. Today, Wednesday as I write, I received but two calls only and that is a blessing. One was a suspected request for work and the other was my next-door neighbour who wanted to know which wheelie bin should be put out for emptying the next day! She can never remember. She did however call me on my mobile phone so I knew who it was calling. Sometimes though and quite often I don’t carry my phone with me as I just wish to be left alone.
At this time of year I was always busy working but this year all that has changed. Since my retirement back in April I have not done any electrical work to speak of, just a couple of very minor jobs and some of them were at home anyway. From around September until the week preceding Christmas I was kept busy doing electrical work with little time for myself. I was used to the pressure but then again I worked better under pressure, still do. However over the last few weeks I have had very little work to do, certainly no contract work and what I have been doing at home wasn’t that taxing. Don’t misunderstand me here, I am glad the pressure has been lifted from my shoulders and that now I can please myself what I do and when I do it. It is simply that it feels a little strange having all this freedom. I have been occupying myself outside of any domestic jobs I do by taking walks and exercising more on what equipment we have accumulated over the last few years. I am currently getting to grips with the new elliptical trainer we purchased a week or so back. Having not used one before it certainly felt strange when making the first attempt! I am more used to the treadmill, that is my muscles are more used to it.
With the elliptical trainer however those muscles are exercised in a different way and other muscles not exercised much when running or even walking have to adjust too. I wake up in the mornings with a kind of joy in my heart knowing I haven’t any reason to rush into the day so in a way that too feels strange, though I am getting used to it. To be honest I rarely lie in bed for long once I am awake and half the time I have something in mind I want to do anyway. I never thought of it before but having one’s remaining years free to one’s self is often not appreciated until the time it arrives. I’ll try to make the most of them.
For the past year or two I have hinted at finally hanging up my electrical tools and retiring. In April this year, in fact at the beginning of the financial year and the same point from which I kept my books, I made the decision to cease work as an electrician. This November I shall be 72 years of age and although I am still perfectly capable of continuing, albeit in a very much reduced capacity, I told myself enough is enough. I needed to discipline myself and take the plunge. It wasn’t about the money, for me it was about the prospect of not having something to occupy my time if I did retire. I have to say now six months on that those fears were definitely unfounded, I have had plenty to do as my posts testify, in fact I don’t know how beforehand I managed to find the time to do anything at home whilst working as an electrician. Yes, I did find the time of course but had little spare time for myself as a consequence. Even that wasn’t a problem because I run on having a workload. Again, I have had to discipline myself to get used to more free time but now that I have done that I am happy I did. It is a little sad to have given up the electrical work though. No doubt there will still be some of that to do at home and in fact I have done some during the last six months already. On Friday morning after weeks of procrastination I finally decided to empty out the van leaving just a small toolbox for emergencies. I have always carried some tools in the vehicles I have owned. Here is the van before I emptied the stock..
And here is what was removed..As well as these….
I also removed reels of cable, trunking, plaster and other sundry items like drills and ladders. Those blue boxes contain switches, power outlets, mounting boxes, lighting fittings and a host of other things typically used in electrical installations. The van will be much relieved at the loss of all that weight! I was worn out carrying it all into the cellar!
In a similar vein to the words of the well-liked but now deceased comedianSpike Milligan who had written on his tombstone.’Dúirt mé leat go raibh mé breoite, Irish for “I told you I was ill.”…….I told you I’d get bored once I retired!
Spike was a favourite of mine along with comedians such as Tommy Cooper, Marty Feldman and others who never failed to make me laugh. They had my kind of humour. Anyway, to the point, I laugh and joke about anything and everything these days serious stuff included. Life is too short to be walking about looking as if the troubles of the whole world were on your shoulders. Speaking about retirement, I am getting used to it but very slowly indeed. I have had the good fortune to have found things to do over the last few months, that is since the beginning of April when I declared myself to have stopped working as an electrician. Even so some small jobs have since come my way. I get to go for walks which I like for two reasons, the exercise and the fresh air. The air around here certainly is fresh coming off the Irish Sea and walks along the seafront are very refreshing. So it was I went for a slightly later than usual walk on Monday. I don’t know about you but I get a little wary of people following me even though their intentions might be completely innocent and most folk’s are. I was walking along a local street on my way down toward the sea when I sensed there was someone following me or rather walking in the same direction as myself. Peripheral vision is wonderful especially if the head is turned slightly in the direction behind you. I could see that it was a middle-aged guy dressed as you would expect from someone out for a walk and complete with rucksack too. He made no attempt to pass by but kept his distance behind me. The trouble was that distance was a mere ten metres and it made me feel uncomfortable. For a half-mile it continued that way until we reached the seafront where he decided to walk on by. Now it was my turn to repay him the compliment by walking behind him. He must have thought he could outpace me but I kept pace without even trying, in fact it seemed a little slow if anything. He kept looking back to see if he had left me behind but I was still there. I sensed he was by now feeling a little uneasy himself but that was my intention. About another half-mile and we would reach a point where there were three routes to choose from all in the same direction. I waited to see which way he would go then I chose another path. I ran a little way (I was wearing running shoes) to put some distance between us then began taking the route homeward. I bet he didn’t think I could run! I could have chosen to walk along the pier but chose the road over the bridge which spans the lake instead. I walked the last few metres on the pier and as I looked back toward the sea guess who was walking toward me? I carried on through the town centre before turning toward home. It was probably all in my imagination but when I am out alone I take great care in keeping my wits about me and a careful eye on those who are around me.
So much for semi-retirement and taking things a little easier. I am approaching my 71st birthday and by all accounts should have retired by now but because I am not one for lazing about and living the high life (whatever that is) I am still working. Of course I am talking about my electrical work for there is always other work to be done at home. Officially I am semi-retired though as far as the electrical work is concerned, and I do try to limit what I do in that respect, it hasn’t worked out that way. Although I haven’t been doing electrical work every day this past week on the days that I have done so I haven’t had much of a rest from it. I am my own worst enemy I suppose because I don’t like letting people down. Even so I have had to turn down more work than I have actually taken on board. I need to remove my advertisement more often and I might just do that. I remember the last time I did though it made no difference, I still got phone calls. The price of being too popular I guess….well someone’s got to blow my trumpet! Although I enjoy my work I am getting more tired of it as the months go by so perhaps a proper retirement is on the horizon. I’ll have to weigh up that possibility though and it will depend on whether I can remain occupied more at home. I have to find things to do or go bananas. I suppose I am more tired because I have been doing work both at home and away and occasionally both on the same day. I said to myself that as long as I am capable I will continue to work and I have kept that promise but I also said that I will cut down on it. I haven’t kept that promise though but increasingly it is becoming more important that I do.
Having passed my sixty-ninth birthday almost two months ago I have been thinking a lot about my work, how much of it I want and for how much longer. I have spent almost fifty-three years in the electrical business in one form or another and I suppose I have worked in most areas of the profession. There is very little anyone can tell me about my work now that I’ve a lifetime’s experience. However I have been taking stock of my situation lately insofar as I don’t wish to be swamped with work but only wish to spend a few hours each week doing it. It is a fine balance at the moment for on the one hand it is costing me to advertise and yet if I don’t advertise the work will drop off almost completely. I need to work a minimum amount of hours just to pay for the advertisement and the other overheads associated with a business of this type. At the moment my workload is very low and actually insufficient to maintain my business if it were to last. If it doesn’t pick up I shall most certainly go into retirement but I don’t see that happening, the workload picking up I mean. Of course I am not getting any younger and will want to retire eventually I suppose. It may happen sooner than I think, who knows? I was discussing these things with E a while ago for at that time I told her that I was as bored as hell with nothing to do. I wasn’t referring to my electrical work though for at the time I didn’t have any, I was referring to a lack of opportunity to work in the garden doing those things I knew wanted doing. It was all down to the weather being so appalling but we sis speak about what I might find to do if I were to retire from my electrical work. The thing is I do get bored very easily if I have nothing to do whereas many others might find that doing nothing is fine. Some may find travelling is what they want to do or indulging in the high life or a hobby of some kind. I am less inclined to do those things too often if at all. I prefer to be working at something so I am hoping my work picks up before I am incapable of doing it!
I had been out working on Monday morning and on my return E told me that she had received an email from my youngest brother, I talk about my brother in ‘My Journey‘ page above. He is the youngest of my four siblings, two boys and two girls, though of course none of us can be called that way now. I am the eldest, I have a brother about eleven months younger than myself and two sisters younger than he. As I recall the eldest of my brothers retired some time ago but I can not be sure about that as he doesn’t keep in touch. The same applies to my sisters who are both past what would be considered retirement age but they too don’t stay in touch so I cannot be sure if they are retired. E told me that my youngest brother had mentioned in his email that he is about to retire and evidently is looking forward to it. He had contacted her because he had forgotten her birthday date which was on the eleventh of this month and wanted to wish her a belated happy birthday I suppose but I guess he wanted to let her know about his forthcoming retirement too. I must therefore be the odd one out in my family who, by my own admission don’t really wish to retire, at least for the foreseeable future. I am often asked if and when I shall retire but the answer has always been that I have no intention of doing so. The usual reply is that I should continue as long as I am able and as long as I wish to, both of which are true. I wish my brother all the best for his retirement and my other siblings too if they have in fact done the same, it just isn’t for me at the moment. I suppose it is just as well for my youngest brother to stop work and take things a little easier since his unfortunate illness earlier in the year when he suffered a stroke. At least he will not have the same amount of pressure to face each day once he quits work. The title of this post would naturally apply in my brother’s case and maybe for my other siblings too but for me, I prefer the pressure, to a point that is. I find I work better under a little pressure. I am being more sensible about things nowadays and am declining many offers of work that I would normally have taken even recently. I am also refusing to be pressurised into accommodating people when I know I need the rest.
Over the past few months I have written often about retirement. My attitude is one of fear, not having anything to do would drive me nuts so if and when I retire I would need plenty of things to occupy my time. I say ‘if’ I retire, it may be that I end up dying on the job! Well that wouldn’t be so bad but I’d rather go to sleep one night and simply not wake up the following morning. I guess most of us would like it that way, painless and without worry. At this moment in time I have only my work to keep me occupied for the majority of my day but even that is usually kept to the morning only with just the odd days work lasting into the afternoon. The jobs I have planned at home are on hold. Yes I play my guitar to keep myself occupied but that is for pleasure and is limited to between one and two hours each day depending on how I am feeling. I exercise on my treadmill and go for walks sometimes. I go to the pub to socialize or go out dining once or twice weekly too but these things are not done every day and there is still an enormous amount of time left. If I was to stop working I am not sure how I could fill all the extra hours. I don’t live to work but I do like working and after almost fifty years doing so it will be difficult to simply stop. I had two colleagues die soon after they retired which may have been due to the sudden change of lifestyle but that isn’t what I fear, it’s the possible boredom! I do get bored very easily at times which could be due to my age. I never felt this way when younger. I know people who are retired and their days are spent in a very routine way. They do the same things day in and day out seemingly without much change. Now that would drive me nuts! I like spontaneity and that is why I like my job, it is different each day. I like doing things on the spur of the moment and when I am in the mood. That is how I write my poems and songs, spontaneously. Like everyone else I do have a routine of sorts but it does vary each day. I never get up or go to bed at set times, I never eat at set times either and do things when I need to or want to. The only exception to that is where I have to keep appointments either for my work or to see the doctor or dentist for instance and they usually upset the best of any plans I might have made anyway. So whether I retire or not is partly irrelevant, it is more important that I am kept busy so that I don’t get bored.
Ecclesiastes 2 (NIV)
24 A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God,
Toil Is Meaningless
17 So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. 18 I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. 19 And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the work into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless. 20 So my heart began to despair over all my toilsome labor under the sun. 21 For a man may do his work with wisdom, knowledge and skill, and then he must leave all he owns to someone who has not worked for it. This too is meaningless and a great misfortune. 22 What does a man get for all the toil and anxious striving with which he labors under the sun? 23 All his days his work is pain and grief; even at night his mind does not rest. This too is meaningless.
24 A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, 25 for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? 26 To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
Yesterday I went to the electrical supplier for some materials. They were closed. I should have realised that they have an extended break because new year‘s day fell on a Saturday which meant an extra day off on Monday by way of compensation. The Government declared new year’s day an annual holiday some years ago so it if falls on a Saturday or a Sunday we get Monday off in lieu. That meant that I couldn’t get the materials and therefore couldn’t proceed any further with my job at home. As I have no occupational work as yet I am in a sort of state of limbo. I decided to do other small jobs around the house and garden instead. Having holidays is great but there remains in me a desire to go out and work. People look forward to retirement and some achieve that desire quite earlier than what was considered the normal official retirement age of 65 for a guy and 60 for a woman. Those ages have since been changed although many folk resist retiring because they have reached the official age for retirement. Some employers allow them to retire later. I am not looking forward to retirement at all unless I can be gainfully employed at least part of the time. As human beings we are not designed to just loll about doing nothing, it is in us, most of us that is, to be actively doing something. For many, giving up work means giving up life! They don’t have any interests outside of their occupational work so when that goes they seem to fall about the seams. I like my work but I do know I shall not be able to continue doing it in an official capacity forever, so I need another outlet for my need to be actively occupied.
Once upon a time people in this country, that is the menfolk, who had reached their 65th birthday could retire from work and women could retire at 60. I could never understand the logic in that given that on average, women live longer! I suppose it had something to do with the cost of paying out pensions. Well I reached the retirement age for women five years ago as it was my 65th birthday yesterday. The retirement age has since moved up a notch to bring it in-line with the retirement age for men. It matters not to me because I am even passed that age too now; not that I am about to give up on work; it gives me something to do in my life, and the money is good too! On Saturday evening I had promised myself a workout on my treadmill and I let that pass because I was enjoying a few glasses of wine but I got up reasonably early on my birthday and spent some forty minutes on it. My day went by unnoticed although I did get one phone message from a friend who hadn’t realised it was my birthday; in fact when she sent the message I had to ask who it was. The reason for that was that I didn’t have her number listed in my new phone; I was unable to transfer my contact list from my old phone because it was damaged. Today, Monday, I am back at work for a couple of hours. Meanwhile E will be at home supervising the guys erecting the scaffolding in order for the leaking roof to be repaired; actually she will be making the tea! One of these days we will be rid of workmen around the house for a while. Being 65 is great as was being 64, 63, 62……LOL. I can pretty much please myself what I do at last where once I had it all to look forward to! Life goes on.