I rose at 6.30, handed my car over for MOT at 6.45, decided to use my time wisely (reading blogs) and just went to answer a knock on the door. It was the car – returned with its new MOT Certificate. That is what I call service. If you ever need a car fixing in Nottingham, try Hillcrest Garage. I’ve been using them for years, and though they recently had to move, they are still a great garage.
I’m feeling a lot more alert than I was last night but have hit a new challenge -now that the car is back, should we go for a drive in the countryside or should I stay and write. I know what I should do, but Julia deserves a day out and we do have air conditioning in the car, which is more than we do in the house.
Decisions, decisions . . .
That was easy. We’re going out.First stop – McDonalds for breakfast, then I’m not sure what. If we go anywhere too nice it will be full people. If we go somewhere that isn’t crowded it’s probably not worth the trouble of visiting.
With six submissions in the pipeline I deserve a day out, but if we all took that sort of view nothing would ever get done. I have another submission in the bag and then there will be a bit of a struggle getting more done by the end of the month. I’ve been a bit lazy and haven’t kept up with the haibun writing – just done the haiku and the tanka.
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.
Mencap Garden April 2019
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.
Mencap Garden April 2019
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.
There are of course the obvious ones – I regret ever starting smoking, I regret eating so much and exercising so little and I regret not being better with money.
I regret being an indifferent husband, a bad father and an ungrateful child.
Most of all, in this miserable, whining list, I regret not being able to make Julia see my marriage potential when we first met. It took me nine years to persuade her, though as she points out, it might have been easier to persuade her if I’d adopted a life of seclusion, sobriety and celibacy. I, in turn, point out that if she’d married me I wouldn’t have needed the wine, women and song to dull the pain of rejection. I am not by nature, introspective or pale and interesting.
To this day, after 30 years of marriage, she remains unimpressed by my explanation.
Two of my favourite things…
I was born too late to drive a Bentley Speed Six or fly a Sopwith Camel and I didn’t realise you could use a metal detector to find gold in Australia until it was too late. On the other hand, in the absence of parachutes and decent brakes, my regrets are tinged with a feeling of relief.
As for Australia, my suspicions about snakes and spiders mean I am not fully committed to the idea of wandering round with a metal detector, regardless of the possibilities.
You can, after all, find gold in Scotland if you are prepared to brave a cold river.
Finally, I confess that although I did many things I would come to regret, my main regrets are about chances I didn’t take, challenges I ducked and opportunities I missed. There is probably a good quote about this somewhere on the net, but at the moment all I can think of is “A man who never made a mistake never made anything.”
It doesn’t quite fit the subject, but it does provide a good place to break off. And it’s probably a good place to put regrets into perspective. It’s all very well looking back, wondering about “what ifs” and plotting different courses for my life, but it all points to one thing. Destiny needed me to be in Preston on a particular day in 1980. I was there. And I’ve never regretted it.
I’ve decided to adopt a single resolution for this year. I am going to fill my time by doing more things.
While we were on the farm, I thought about taking qualifications in Fund Raising, as it seemed a decent career, and something worth doing. For various reasons, including laziness, I didn’t do it. Two years later, after we were ejected from the farm, I regretted not having anything to fall back on.
My career trajectory has been somewhat downward in the last few years, and had been level rather than upward for many years previously. Though I managed over 25 years of being self-employed, a lot of that time was spent in a variety of pursuits which included “getting by” and “surviving”. These do not look as good on a job application as being a highly motivated self-starter with a degree and a range of expertise in things I’ve never heard of.
I also thought that blogging would be a good thing to do, and would add to my range of digital skills. I’ve just been looking at the job requirements for a Communication Officer, and find that writing a blog about age, idleness and life in a shop, does not really qualify me for the job. What they seem to be looking for is a PR Professional or journalist who has a great personality, stellar track record and financial skills (because the jobs seems to include finance too) and is prepared to work for an hourly rate which is probably the same as my current one. I would admittedly get more hours but I would have to drive further to get to work.
I fear that life, employment and the modern world have all passed me by.
Those of you who have read the blog for a while will know all this and may have picked up a hint in the last paragraph but one. Yes, I have been thinking of applying for another job. It would be full time so I’d be paid more and it’s with an organisation that I admire, but it sems like a lot of hassle to go through just to be rejected in favour of a young person with better qualifications.
Yes, I know I’m being negative, but being negative doesn’t mean I’m wrong.
And that’s why I’m going to work harder. It won’t get me a job, but it will go some way to redressing my 61 wasted years.
Photographs today are banknotes. We did a lot of banknotes today. I will probably write more about banknotes later. And then I will go to bed and dream about them.