Last night I became pensive. It’s one of those words, like costive, that you don’t see often, and it generally isn’t a good thing. (As a subsidiary thought, I checked costive to make sure I had the meaning right, and was amused to find it had a second meaning, which seems descriptively appropriate – “slow or reluctant in speech or action; unforthcoming”).
This state of mind was caused by an ill-advised look at property websites. I’ve recently been forming an ambition to return to the East of England as my sister and all Julia’s siblings are there. The thought that formed in my mind was that I should sell everything of value to raise money and reduce clutter, and look for a cheap house in Norfolk.
There are two sorts of house in Norfolk – the ones that I can’t afford and the ones that I don’t want to live in (otherwise known as the ones I can afford). I would like the one I found that has several sheds and a private mooring on one of the Broads. Based on current estimates of my worth, including the jar of £1 coins and the stuff down the sides of the chair cushions, I definitely can’t afford it.
The ones I can afford are generally small, Victorian and badly designed. They normally have a bathroom that was added long after they were built, which is right at the back of the house (having been built as an extension to the kitchen). That’s a long trip for a man with a bad knee and a substandard bladder. They are, in short, great value houses to start in, but not that great when you are looking at somewhere for your twilight years.
At that point I started comparing my life to the one I had planned for myself as a teenager.
Compared to the life I had planned when I was 14, my current life is deficient in sunshine, palm trees, cocktails and bikini-clad women. However, as my bald head burns badly, I hardly drink and I’m married, I don’t really notice these things.
When I was 16 I wanted to be a University Lecturer in History. The dream, by now, featured sunshine, manicured college lawns, real ale and female undergraduates.
I suppose you are starting to form some conclusions about the way my mind worked as a teenager.
The dream came to an abrupt end when I was shouted at by a careers teacher. “Don’t waste my time. Teaching is what people say when they can’t thing of anything else to say!”
I’d said teaching because it seemed less pretentious that University Lecturer and didn’t want to upset him. I’m not sure it worked. To be charitable, it’s possible, as an ex-metalwork teacher who had been moved into careers advising (despite, I feel it is fair to say, a lack of talent for careers teaching) that he nursed a grudge against the profession and didn’t want me to end up like him.
By the time I was 18 I was working on a poultry farm, worrying about money and wondering where my dreams had gone. To a large extent, this is still the same today, though with fewer chickens and more arthritis.
That was what caused my introspection.
Fortunately these episodes don’t generally survive the sunrise and after writing about it (well, you need to write about something) and eating a bacon sandwich I am ready for the rest of the day. I’m currently watching an item on TV about a woman with a collection of 400 novelty teapots and reading the internet about more people getting into trouble for their comments on Boris Johnson.
This multi-tasking stuff is getting easier as time goes on.