Is there something about retirement that makes spontaneity more desirable? Is it true that because we have less structure (theoretically) in our retirement lives that we can afford to make impromptu decisions without any great need for a consideration of the consequences? Going on holiday would be a classic example, I guess. We can up and off on a whim, any time of year, any place, irrespective of costs, no that’s going too far but certainly we would appear to have more flexibility in our decision-making when we’re retired. Whether this appeals to a person will depend on the kind of person you are. This lack of structure, restriction even, has been known to drive some people crazy. What day is it? No idea and what does it matter anyway? No definitely not for everybody.
We do lean more towards spontaneous decisions these days although we have booked our autumn holiday and we’re going to Wales and renting a cottage on an actual vineyard, but more of this in a later blog. But generally we make our decisions closer to whatever deadlines either exist or we perceive to exist. Take this last Saturday for example and the Nottingham Forest v Leeds football match. The fact I made the decision to go to the game only a couple of hours before the game started wasn’t entirely an example of my cavalier attitude to decision-making more common in retirement. A week or so ago number one son said, dad, I was going to take you to the Leeds game (he’s a Leeds supporter and I am a Notts Forest supporter, have been for about fifty years) but unfortunately I’m going to a stag do in Dublin that weekend. If I thought any more about it, it was only to vaguely register the thought that the game was obviously in Leeds as he was offering to take me.
We on the other hand would be at the Derbyshire cottage, a mere 10 miles from Nottingham. Pity the game wasn’t at Forest because then I could have gone to it. So here’s the irony, funny how these things go, on reading the sports pages of the paper on Saturday morning, I realised that the game was indeed at Nottingham. I made a spontaneous (that word again) decision to go. And that is where my troubles began and my admiration for off-the-cuff decisions declined.
My first problem was finding a telephone number to call to order my ticket. I did eventually find a ticket office number on-line but on calling it I got an answering machine saying there were tickets available (that’s good) but the ticket office was closed (that’s bad). Closed on a match day even though the game was not a sell-out. Hmm, that’s a puzzle. I tried to buy a ticket on-line. I don’t like buying on-line if I can speak to a person but I need not have worried because they wouldn’t let me buy on-line either.
I found a general number for the football club and, to my surprise by this time, they answered. I explained what I was trying to do. The man said he would put me through to the ticket office (the one that was closed) but he doubted they would answer the phone as they would be too busy dispensing the tickets that the lucky people had already bought. After a very long while another man answered the phone. Ah good now we’re getting somewhere. Wrong.
I explained I wanted to buy a ticket. He explained he couldn’t sell me a ticket unless I was on their system. Had I bought tickets before? Yes but about three years ago. What’s your postcode he asked? I gave him my Leeds postcode. That’s a Leeds postcode, he said. True, said I, but I am nonetheless a genuine bona fide Forest supporter. He explained that their security man had determined that only people on the system were allowed to buy tickets and this was to stop Leeds United supporters buying tickets in the Forest sections as the away team section was sold out. And by the way, no, I wasn’t on the system. Oh, the beautiful irony. I felt like saying, ask me a question about Forest who I have supported through thick and thin for the last 50 years. Go on ask me anything. But I didn’t and he didn’t. And no I could not even turn up at the ground and buy a ticket over the counter. It used to be quite simple going to a football match. You went to the ground, assuming it wasn’t all sold out (which you will remember this wasn’t), you handed over your money and they gave you a ticket, you went into the ground, watched the game and went home, possibly sad if they’d lost, but you had seen a game.
After a small attempt at emotional blackmail – I’ve been a supporter to 50 years and Stewart Pierce is my hero. An even smaller attempt at logical thinking – I’m hardly likely to buy one ticket in the middle of a whole lot of Forest fans if I’m a Leeds supporter – I gave up. I called my sister-in-law’s partner who is a season ticket holder and asked if he could buy a ticket on my behalf that I could pick up at the ground. The irony ratcheted up a notch. He was in a caravan in Grantham and wasn’t going to the game and I could have had his season ticket if only I asked earlier. But no he couldn’t help on account of his not being there and he couldn’t contact the ticket office either as it was shut. Spontaneity, I spit on you.
So plan C is it? I would watch the match in one of the local pubs which turned out to be my local of probably 50 years ago. The pub where I had first tasted beer at the age of 17 and hated it but that’s what young people my age were doing way back when. So I watched the first half of the game, they were terrible, 15 minutes of the second, they were no better, gave up, left the pub walked down the hill to the Derbyshire cottage, a walk I hadn’t taken since I left school so many years ago. Forest lost the game 2 – 0 and I gave thanks that I hadn’t spent £30 and gone to a lot of trouble to get there. So maybe a lack of planning does have something going for it, it helps you avoid pain. I texted my son in Dublin and congratulated him on his team’s victory. Was life always such a funny old business or has it gotten funnier since I retired?