Not to drop things

Is it inevitable that as one gets on a bit, one’s ambitions change? I suppose so. In my last blog I wrote about goal-setting at the beginning of the year and I described a few of those goals – simplifying our lives in retirement, closing down the business, that sort of thing, sensible life-enhancing goals. This recent reference to my retirement targets made me smile when, last week, I came up with a very different kind of goal. You might call it symbolic of my retirement.

My goal was to go through a whole day without dropping anything. It may sound a little flippant in the scheme of things, you know with so many other serious aspects that a retirement can entail – money, self-esteem, well-being, the big things of life. And yet, in a way, this new goal encompasses all of the above and more in that dropping things, for me, is both constant and highly annoying and that’s putting it mildly. I’m continually amazed how many different ways there are of dropping things. Under the broadest heading it’s to do with clumsiness and that’s a retirement area that I wrote about a few years ago which is a kind of comfort in the sense that any deterioration is not recent and therefore rapid but has been going on for quite a while, a kind of slow decline rather than anything dramatic.

I suppose the fish and chip incident of a couple of weeks ago really brought it to a head. It made me realise just what the emotional cost of all this dropping business was. And on the above – self-esteem, well-being etc, you know the big things. I am very ashamed of the fish and chip incident and I’m only including it here in the hope that it may bring some kind of comfort to others who otherwise might have been thinking that such embarrassment only happened to them.

It went like this and it’s to do with items of food dropping off my fork before I can get them into my mouth. Sounds silly but it’s seriously infuriating. I don’t know whether to move very slowly, concentrating on keeping said item on the fork (either stabbed by or lying by on the fork, doesn’t seem to make much difference) right until the item is actually in my mouth or to move very quickly and hope that you can almost flick the food into your mouth before the food has time to think about falling off. Certainly none of these actions is helped by what my doctor calls my essential tremors which I also wrote about quite recently.

You can tell I’m putting off writing about the fish and chips incident and rightly so because it was very embarrassing. Here goes. I was trying to put a piece of fish into my mouth. Simple enough you might think. To cut the embarrassment short, it kept falling off my fork, after about 4 or 5 times, I lost the plot, completely and, in an uncontrolled rage, started stabbing the fish with my fork. Yes, you read that right. I went totally berserk. Out of control. Mrs Summerhouse who had the misfortune to be sitting next to me was strangely unsympathetic, which is not like her. “Stop it,” she said, which made me 100% worse. I stopped stabbing the fish, no I did not start stabbing Mrs SH but I did say don’t talk to me like that, I’m not a child (debatable I know), nor am I one of the dogs (a few hours later I heard her shout at the dogs – “Stop it.” I rest my case. It quite ruined my enjoyment of the fish and chips and I left the table.

The dogs on the other hand had their enjoyment increased because they got a lot more of the fish than they would have done had I not gone psycho. So it’s an ill-wind as they say and every cloud does indeed have a silver lining if you happen to be a dog. I haven’t stabbed anything or anybody since then but I have been continually reminded of my clumsiness and not exclusively by this dropping things on the floor business. Last weekend we bought a new stove for the barn based on the idea that if we sell the cottage we will use this place more often and in winter it can be bloody cold. So OK, so far, but the thing is you don’t just need the stove but also the Calor gas cylinder that goes with it. In case you aren’t familiar with these cylinders let me tell you they’re bleedin’ heavy. Took me all my time to lift it out of the Land Rover to take it into the barn. And here’s the thing, briefly again because once again it’s embarrassing.

The barn is on a hill so I had the bright idea of just taking the cylinder out of the vehicle and letting it roll down the hill. After all, how far could it go? Answer? A bloody long way, down to the bottom of the field, which is both steep and a long way from the barn. As I watched it disappear out of sight I mused who would have thought it could go both so fast and so far. That Peter was a clumsy decision. But after a short muse my thoughts turned to the tricky question of how to get it back. There was no way Mrs SH and I could lift / roll it back up the hill. So I would have to take the Land Rover down the hill / field and drive it back. Sounds simple enough but I know from hard experience that the odds were I would have both the cylinder and the Land Rover stuck down the field and then it would have needed a tractor to get them out. And that would be two clumsy decisions.

OK, I’m nearly up to 1000 words so I’m going to cut this short. I managed to lift the cylinder into the Land Rover and, against all odds, drive it back up the field to the barn where, in spite of its bid for freedom, it’s working well. Back to the main theme of this blog – goal setting. The goal in question, you will remember, was to get through a whole day without dropping anything, and I mean anything. You’ll want to know how I got on. I’m writing this blog on the day of the set goal and I got to 11.30 before I dropped an item. A used tissue since you ask, there were two together you see, I hadn’t anticipated that so as I wiped my nose with the first tissue (we’ve both had colds off and on for weeks), the second one drifted slowly to the carpet. How I laughed. Retirement can be like that, it makes you laugh (or cry), it makes you wonder.

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