One thing we know about retirement is that watching day time TV is the kiss of death, just one step away from dribbling senility. I’m very clear on this, so how to explain that for the last two days I have sat in front of that same TV dribbling and being senile? Answer, I’ve been watching the Ashes (that’s a game of cricket lasting five days (or used to) for the uninitiated. I’ll come back to this). The point is that Mrs Summerhouse suggested it was time I wrote a blog on sport. I haven’t done this for quite a while and no better time than the beginning of a new football season with my team – Nottingham Forest – losing their first game. Sport, same old, same old, but then, no. OK, the football might have a familiar air but my other main sport (at least until the Rugby World Cup in September), cricket, is going remarkably well. Specifically the test match series between England and Australia, billed as the oldest international sporting contest in the world I believe, i.e. The Ashes. If you don’t know why they’re called the Ashes, this is no time for explanations, Google it. So is watching sport on day time TV an OK thing to do for a retired person under such circumstances? Judge for yourself.
I’m told that we have beaten Australia for 5 out of the last 7 Ashes series in this country (theoretically they alternate between the two countries every two years until recently when the whole world went to hell in a handbag in terms of the predictability of things, but that’s another story) , so I suppose the odds were on us winning this series except what is freshest in my mind and, I suspect, most England supporters of a fanatical mind-set, is the fact that only 18 months ago the Aussies thrashed and I mean thrashed, embarrassed and humiliated us in beating us 5 – 0 in the Ashes series in Australia. I wrote about it at the time. That’s what lingers in my aging mind. I’ve just received an email from a chum in Australia asking whether it was over yet as he’d stopped watching his team’s humiliation. I told him it was and I was also able to remind him, without any hint of smugness, of his advice to me, when we were getting stuffed. He suggested then I was being foolish to allow myself to be pulled out of shape to such a degree by what happens on the sport’s field. He was of course correct and any control freak, such as I have admitted to being in these pages, is undeserving of the name if he puts his well-being in the hands of others. But, but, but, while theoretically he’s right, in practice he’s wrong. Anyway now he’s got a chance to put the theory into practice. For me, when England win, I’m happy, when we lose I’m very, very sad. So in retirement, as in my life before retirement, cricket is central to my well-being. I probably wouldn’t have written that had we not just won the series. Oh, and I played cricket for over 30 years, so yes, it’s important. But at the root it’s just another of those peaks and troughs that make up this strange world called retirement. If you read these blogs you will know what of I speak.
And while we are on the topic of cricket and its centrality to my well-being, Mrs Summerhouse has just reminded me that one of my retirement goals was to watch cricket around the world. It’s quite a few years ago (about 2005 I think) but I remember, at the time, reaching for my Wisden Almanack (as in photo left) which, at that time, had the up-coming international games for every team around the world for the following several years. Looking at the latest edition this information no longer seems to be there but maybe I’ve just missed it. Probably all too complex these days. I had planned to write a book about our adventures and, true to form, I had a great title. It was to be called something like Cricket round the world from Z to A, this based on the fact that the first game would be in Zimbawe, and the last, fittingly, in Australia. Brilliant, but then buggered up by the fact that Zimbawe got themselves banned from international cricket, they’ve kind of been replaced by Bangladesh but the title from B to A doesn’t have the same resonance. Looking at my latest Wisden it appears Zimbawe have been reinstated on the international stage so maybe I should resurrect the concept. Just to give you an idea of the importance to me of cricket at the time and its anticipated importance when I retired, some years off then, this wasn’t a simple fly out to one country each year and return then off to the next country the following year. Hell, no, this was a plan to be on the move, in some cases by ocean liner or cargo ship, for 2 or 3 years. This was no stroll in the parks of the world. This was a serious plan. It didn’t happen of course.
I did write an actual cricket book though entitled something like Cricket : the insider option for the baseball fan (see right for working cover), It was written for Americans to help them understand the complexities of cricket by explaining the game in terms of baseball. Another excellent idea and another excellent idea that, whilst it was actually written, didn’t actually get published. The round the world one didn’t even get written. My daughter and I have a competition going about how many countries we can visit to watch international (Test) cricket. I was winning, probably still am but now she has the freedom we don’t have because of the pups, she and her husband will probably run out winners. So cricket and sport, are ongoing theme in my life and in my retirement. And here we are with this blog. So much better to write a blog over which you have total control, if I decide I want to write and publish something well then I can (and will) bloody well do it. And while I’m writing I can’t be watching day time TV.
I suppose, given this is a blog about retirement, I should ask a question about sport and retirement, return to the theme of this blog if it has one, something like does sport (the supporting not the playing, obviously the playing becomes less of an option unless you take up crown green bowls) become more or less important to a retired person? Now that theoretically, although not practically, I have more time to devote to watching sport is that what is happening? A friend of mine, who retired before me, became a member of Yorkshire County Cricket Club and went to Headingley, just down the road, to watch county games. I always thought I would do the same but, no, I haven’t done that at all, well other than the one game I wrote about some time ago. No time it seems. So overall the answer is no, sport hasn’t figured to any greater extent than before I retired. This, on reflection is a surprise. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again retirement is just full of surprises, some good and some not so good. They say a person should plan their retirement before they retire, so you know more or less exactly what you’re going to be getting into. Hmm, as I wrote in a recent blog – gardening, golf, cricket, all vaguely anticipated, none of them happening for me. So yes, plan your retirement if you can, but don’t expect your plans to actually work out.