Thursday I went to watch Yorkshire v Somerset at Headingley (see photo of ‘new’ pavilion under glowering skies – no surprise that the game finished early, there are no floodlights, we’re a bit backward) . I could be mentioning this because this is, in part, what I thought I might do when I retired. It’s the kind of thing old folks round these parts do, but the fact is that I haven’t done this, so that’s not the reason. In fact the only reason I bring it up now is because it has, what you might call, a back story. It went like this. My daughter’s partner has a mate who plays professional cricket. He – the cricketer, offered to get me in to the game for free. See picture of tickets below. I wasn’t that bothered about going, Yorkshire having already won the championship, I could take it or leave it. But, even though I’m only an adopted Yorkshireman, I couldn’t resist the lure of a free ticket, so I said I would go.
This particular cricketer, who I shall not name, is close to retiring. As I was walking the dogs I had, what I thought was, the brilliant idea of interviewing him for my blog. You know the sort of thing – retirement from the angle of a professional sportsperson. For such people it is a well-documented fact that retirement poses some additional problems, more than we ‘normal’ retirees might face. Because they are elite athletes inevitably more of their self-esteem is tied up with their sporting persona, they’re good at what they do, so it’s harder to let it go. Second, they retire younger than us so the challenge of what next is less academic and a more, not least from a financial point of view, serious proposition. Financially, they tend to earn, even cricketers, more than the average person so the financial implications are greater. All in all their time in the spotlight is harder to walk away from.
So I had the idea that interviewing this person would make an interesting blog and I thought that maybe, given my situation and experience as a psychologist, I might even be helpful to this person. My daughter and / or her partner thought not. Yes, he was struggling to come to terms with being retired and no, I was not the person he needed to see. Oh, ye of little faith I thought. Nothing quite like a member of your own family showing zero confidence in your ability to help a fellow human being to boost a fellow’s confidence. Still never mind.
Therefore I didn’t interview my man which left me with the cricket itself. This was as follows. A classic county cricket day beloved of us purists – cold, grey weather, a rather slow batting performance and the one man and his dog in the crowd with the dog being the wittier of the two. In truth there were quite a few people there. They looked a lot like me – grey-haired retirees. See photo for evidence. It wasn’t just the weather that was grey. I have to say that, not for the first time, I thought, these people are not my tribe. Which is probably why this is only the second time (Test match against Sri Lanka being the other) that I have been to Headingley all season. I suppose the fact that I am at heart a Derbyshire supporter (yes I know I support Notts Forest but I was born in Derbyshire but lived slightly closer to Nottingham, so that’s my rationale) makes a difference here. I had a friend who, before he died of prostate cancer, said what he wanted to do when he retired was to watch cricket with a few mates. Unfortunately that didn’t happen for him and yesterday I had a little thought that he hadn’t missed a whole lot. So strike this as a retirement activity.
The only thing that really merits a mention is my purchase of a missing 1950s Wisden, the one in the photo right (probably looks a little dull?). This ’55 Wisden has eluded me for a while now in my quest to have a collection of all Wisdens since the year of my birth – 1948. Maybe the cold affected my brain. Did I mention that it was bloody freezing? I checked the price inside and offered the man who owned the stall, £55. He pointed to the price – £50. I thought it said £60. What a negotiator I am. Then he pointed to the sign on the wall which said all books half price, i.e. £25. I was offering him £55. Yep, the cognitive decline continues a pace. So my cunning interview plan didn’t come about, the cricket itself was a little dull, after all nothing rested on the game, but I did get an important book for my collection, after careful negotiation, at a knock-down price. A mixed bag.
To sum it all up. Maybe one of the surprises this last year in retirement has been the things I haven’t done – travel I’ve mentioned, playing golf has been another, even reading on a more planned basis and now this one, watching cricket, after all I only live 10 minutes walk from Headingley, so what could be easier. But it hasn’t worked out like that and truth be told I haven’t had time to fit in another activity. My four main areas – guitar playing, dog walking, grape growing and blog writing plus my charity work (I mean of course my mother) have more than filled my time. So this then is my retirement.
PS A few years ago I wrote a book about cricket for Americans explaining the game with reference to baseball. It’s another of those bottom drawer projects. I wonder if I should revive it? Here’s the then cover, I think I would change that if I made it an ebook. What do you think?
PPS I have no idea why some of this blog has come out in an entirely different font and none of my efforts to change it have made any difference.