Some things don’t entirely change in retirement. Every year about this time Mrs Summerhouse goes away for a weekend with her sisters – there are four of them. This was the weekend just gone. This was, however, the first time she had gone away and left me with the pups and the first one as a retired person, so that makes this weekend a bit different. The only reason I can sit and write this blog is that after their breakfast, teeth cleaners, time outside, water bowls replenished and generally racing round the living room like over-wound clockwork rabbits, they are now sleeping on the bed next to me. I’m reluctant to disturb them by getting up.
In previous weekends with Mrs SH away I have always made the most of the ‘poor me’, ‘don’t worry dear, I’ll be fine, dear,’ position. Yes, that would be nice if you bought some tasty ready-made meals and a few bottles of Mexican beer and maybe just a few nibbles (diabetes has taken some of the fun out of this, but some elements are retained). This weekend there’s luxury sorry classic, fish pie and Mumtaz chicken curry and beer. We ate the curries Sunday night but the fish pie remains (see above). And no, Mrs SH hasn’t left me with a list of jobs to do in her absence. This weekend Mrs SH feels bad about leaving, not me, but the pups. I hope they’ll be alright she says, looking down at their little, puzzled faces as she goes out the door. Yes, they’ll be lucky to survive I thought but didn’t say.
As soon as she’s out of the door on Friday I relax into a weekend (why wait? Start early I reason) of indolence, let the nibbling begin. I look at the pups, they look at me and I say no need to worry about bringing mud into the house or eating soil from the garden, I’m in charge now. Off they go whooping, I think. Saturday night they didn’t go to bed until 11 o’ clock (normal cage time 9), we were watching a crap Tom Cruise film on the bed, actually they fell asleep it was so bad. Yesterday I sat and watched the test match for hours on untroubled hours while the pups ‘played’(created havoc), something I would never have done if Mrs SH had been at home (of course no great pleasure this watching England and to think a couple of weeks ago I very nearly wrote that it was thank God for cricket after we had been knocked out of the World Cup and lost 3 nil to the All Blacks and happened to have had a decent day against Sri Lanka) but I digress.
Laxity is the keyword of these weekends for me, no tidying up, dishes are left in the sink, beds unmade, you know the sort of thing, you don’t, well aren’t you the perfect little house husband then? All such things left undone until 5 minutes before Mrs SH walks through the door. Of course you have to have a pretty accurate ETA or this plan can badly misfire. I wrote in another blog about not feeding the children when they were young on these weekends. I wouldn’t dream of not feeding the pups, that would be simply cruel. Indolence is acceptable, cruelty to animals is not. Although there is now the possibility of me having missed feeding them Sunday lunchtime, whoops. There are standards you know and I don’t like to fall short. So how have things been, Mrs SH asks on arrival? I assume my brave little soldier face, ‘oh not too bad, we coped.’
Of course things have been fine but don’t tell Mrs SH this or I will lose all my brownie points acquired on a weekend like this – yes, of course you can go to the pub, go ahead and buy that new guitar you’ve been hankering after. This last in my dreams but the first one is a goer. So don’t let her know that I enjoy these weekends of self-indulgence. Of course the reason these weekends ‘work’ for me is because they are infrequent and the rest of the time I can count on the presence and support of my partner. A weekend like this one reminds me that I am lucky to be sharing my retirement with another loved one (me being the other loved one). Retirement together is generally a good thing but I did write in another blog that when couples retire together there are a whole set of challenges that might not at first seem obvious.
The thing is in some people’s world retirement is regarded as a time of permanent indulgence not to say selfishness and another person can spoil the party. You know the line – I’ve worked for this all my life and now I’m bloody well going to enjoy it – kind of thinking. Two people’s unrealised dreams can be tricky, one set of dreams too many. So, not all beer and skittles or, if I may permit myself a little sexist generalisation, all sewing and jam making.
So it’s Saturday morning (when I first started writing this blog) and I’ve been up since 5.30 attending to the pups every need. Something Mrs SH does every day incidentally but let us not dwell on this as it may spoil my sense of ‘go ahead enjoy yourself now, you’ve earned it’. What shall I do with the day? I could watch some more cricket. Of course the pups have to be taken for a walk which poses a bit of a logistical nightmare –we usually walk them separately (in the end I did walk them together, it was a nightmare). I had hoped that the children would help me out but number one son has buggered off to Ibiza on a stag weekend and number one daughter has gone off to Nottingham to watch cricket in the flesh. Bloody kids, where are they when you need them? Their absence does of course reinforce my ‘aren’t I wonderful, yes, I can cope with this tremendously challenging weekend’ mindset, and, my brownie point score would be much reduced if they were here.
But it’s not easy being able to / having to make your own decisions for a weekend and now with the pups it’s not the unbridled weekend of pleasure it used to be after the children left home that is, but that’s the way things are now. We retire and look forward to one long life time of weekends of self-indulgence and then we get the pups and, as I’ve written length elsewhere, our retirement is not what we thought it would be at all. In the past a weekend like this would have assumed greater significance, there would have been the children to feed, or not, and I would have been back to work on the Monday with a sense of what a bloody waste of a weekend that was. Now, in retirement, things are different. Shall I get dressed or stay in my pyjamas? Decisions, decisions. Retirement, it’s a tricky business especially on one of these sister’s weekends.
PS, the weekend ended with Germany winning the World Cup, bugger, I don’t want you to think I’m anti -European because I’m not, but of all countries football-wise did it have to be Germany? Makes our efforts look sicker than ever. So in retirement some things don’t change.
PPS. Today is my birthday, crikey I am really old now.