It will probably seem to regular readers of this blog that our retirement is a fairly full one (the legendary missing link apart of course). In fact a friend, with whom I went for a drink recently, said just this. You keep busy don’t you? I admitted that this was mostly true. As we all know, for retired people this is an often-repeated mantra. You know the one, you must keep yourself occupied otherwise you will atrophy and wither away both mentally and physically, oh and go mad. And who can argue with such a basically common-sense piece of advice?
So yes, we keep busy, except that is in one key area – going out in the evenings. We never have gone out a lot at this time of day and since my jazz class finished and even more or should it be less since I’ve been on my diet which precludes, at least in the short term, going out to restaurants, we’ve hardly gone out at all. It’s not that we’ve not talked about it, planned it even, but if it doesn’t involve meeting with other human beings, then it’s all too easy to blob out at the last minute. When you typically head for bed at 8 o’clock (we read for an hour and get up early so some excuse) it doesn’t leave much room for manoeuvre. But all that said we aren’t good at going out in the evenings.
Which makes the fact that we / I have been out twice in the last week all the more remarkable. The first was an evening of music by an excellent band called The Hollow Men. The bass player is a friend of ours and the charitable event for whose benefit they were playing, is a good one. So we felt obliged really, otherwise we’d definitely have blobbed at the last minute. Going out on the bus at 7.30 on a Friday night, thanks but no thanks. But Noblesse oblige as they say.
The band were gratifying to watch / listen to musically and for the fact that, despite their collective ages, they were still performing. Well mostly. The front man was too ill to show up at all. An infection that he didn’t want to give to the rest of the band, he said. The guitarist, who suffers from arthritis (tell me about it), told me that the drummer has vertigo and won’t last much longer before he falls off his stool. The pianist has bad knees and followed me down the stairs and told me I had bad knees, which is true. Which left only the bass player and the accordion player in reasonable health. My kind of band.
The second occasion was stranger. It involved no actual music but rather talking about music – jazz in case you hadn’t guessed. One of the people in my own modest jazz band (3 more live gigs lined up, but don’t get too impressed because one of them is already cancelled – no bass player or saxophonist – and the other is while we are in Ireland, so just the July gig for me, at this point in time) had suggested I might be interested in the evening and, as I’m still trying to ingratiate myself to the rest of the band, I thought I’d go along. Interestingly she didn’t show up. Hmm.
The evening is part of a regular series of meetings under the banner Café Psychologique. I understand from the introduction to last night’s talk, which was by a retired psychotherapist about how jazz provides for four therapeutic needs (don’t care for this premise but hey, it wasn’t my evening), that what started out as Café Scientifique (That’s the original image that goes with this group, see photo above), has a long and honourable pedigree. You’d have to look it up if you wanted to know more. On the evidence of last Tuesday night it’s a talking shop for people, some of whom clearly like the sound of their own voices. I was glad to have done it but I won’t be rushing back, refusing to give the lady on the door my email address so she could send me details of future events. Frankly, and I know this makes me sound a bit curmudgeonly, it turned out to be the kind of evening that convinces me I am right to stay at home.
Tuesday nights are Mrs Summerhouse’s yoga night which is why I was on my own. Her absence meant I had nobody to make sarcastic remarks to. This removed most of the potential pleasure from the evening. There was a lady sitting next to me but, as I didn’t know her, I thought it would be poor form to make sarcastic remarks to her about, for example, what a pillock that bloke was (oh, that’s my husband, you never know it could happen). Not all the audience were pillocks by any means but my predominant feeling was that, whilst this kind of group is typical of what some retired people do (most of the audience were in my age group), I’d rather stay in and watch Salvage Hunters. Yes, sad I know.
So having made an incredibly pithy comment about comparing Test cricket to jazz – basically it helps in enjoying both if you have something of an understanding about what the performer is trying to achieve – to be greeted with an impressed (I think) silence, I left at half time. We’d done an hour by then which seemed quite long enough for this kind of activity, retired or otherwise.
So maybe time for reflection about the role of this kind of busyness as part of the average retirement. That would give a focus to this blog but, beyond the above mantra of keeping occupied and the mind continually exercised, with maybe a little leaning thrown in as a bonus, I don’t think I have anything new to add. And frankly I’d be quite happy to have these things happen in the daylight hours, no need to go out after dark. Yes, retirement is an exciting time but no need to go crazy.