I was going to make this retirement blog different. Interesting you say, how? Well, for example, as it’s going out on Christmas day I thought I would make it nothing to do with Christmas. Clever don’t you think? I was also going to write this blog on a typewriter like the one I’ve still got in the attic somewhere. OK, maybe not actually on an actual typewriter, but in a typewriter font. A bit of research indicated that Courier was the one I needed. So far so straightforward. But I should explain, before I go further, why a typewriter or typewriter lookalike.

When I was a child my grandma was forever saying to me, you’ve got to be different, haven’t you? Always trying to be different, that’s you, lad. Strangely many years later, when Mrs Summerhouse and I were an item, we discovered that her mother used to say exactly the same thing to her. Whether this was true of us both or simply the perspective of adults with some responsibility for bringing up we children of the sixties (when we know everything had to be different), I really couldn’t say but in the way these things do, it stuck with me and, as I grew older, I probably enjoyed embellishing this original criticism.

I can think of no better example of what my grandma called my ‘contrariness’, than the picture above. For you unenlightened I’ll just tell you that is an album / cover. Released in 1963 and an LP, as we called them then, costing, if I remember rightly, 27 shillings and 6 pence or was it 32 and 6? Never mind, the point is, it’s from a group called The Searchers hence the title, Meet the Searchers and possibly one of the weirdest images ever to grace this blog page.

And your point is I hear you asking? Well, the point is that I deliberately bought this album because every other sane teenager in 1963 was buying the Beatles first album, you know the one with them looking down from a balcony of a block of flats. But no. Not for me to follow the herd, I had to be different. I’ve still got the album, obviously, or I dare say getting a photo of it would be difficult. Still got it and it’s an on-going reminder of what a horribly poor choice I made in my desire to be different.

I made the same choice (to be different) with Betamax rather than VHS video machines. A choice my children have never let me live down. Every Christmas (and this is not different) the story about how I took the two of them excited beyond belief to choose a video from the shop, could it have been Blockbusters, to choose any film they wanted – from a choice of 4 – gets rolled out. They exaggerate the number available it must have been at least 10. The rest of the shop of several hundred being unavailable to them because they had a father who thought it was clever to be different. Still Christmas is a time for stories isn’t it?

And so to the typewriter. I believe I can honestly say that I’ve always loved typewriters, not to actually type on of course, that was a misery, but just the concept and the look of the machine. When laptops came along of course my typewriter was banished to the attic until one day I thought, you know I really like typewriters, I’m going to use one in my writing / art work. And then I found out that ten million other people had had the same idea. So back to the attic, for you until such time as using one makes me different. You see the thing is now, as a retired person, I still have that gene within me that needs to be different or at least when it suits me. An example of being different not suiting is as follows. This quote from last weekend’s colour supplement under the Self & well-being title and an article about ghosts :

“Scrooge was famously haunted by three spectral visitors at Christmas time, but the tradition of telling ghost stories midwinter goes back much further than Dickens. People have been gathering around the fire to tell stories at Yule, the pagan festival to mark the winter solstice for centuries … what better time for ghosts to draw near than deepest, darkest winter?”

I love the idea of reading ghost stories at Christmas (my own collection is still available either partially on this blog as That Which Lies Beneath or at a ridiculously low price, and in their entirety, in Kindle form) and I know I said this blog would not feature Christmas but I was wrong. I think this would probably, even despite the above quote, be a different thing to do but I can pretty well guarantee that none of younger guests would appreciate the tradition or the irony. So the tradition has become watching a spooky film on Christmas Eve. Here are the two ‘possibles’ for this year, one of which will already have been enjoyed last night. If I play my cards right, with the support of my son-in-law, I might manage the second one on Christmas day. That’s if we can persuade the ‘ladies’ to forgo the pleasures of White Christmas – again. It has one of my daughter’s favourite lines in it – “mutual I’m sure” (you’ll have to watch it but you’ve got to admit it’s a different kind of quote.

It’s not entirely straightforward as to what constitutes a ghost story, horror, thriller, ghost all get mixed in and I’m sure MR James is turning in his grave at my choice, but that’s quite appropriate under the circumstances. Anyway here are this year’s choices – Night of the Demon and Dead of Night in case you can’t read them.

which one to watch first?

What’s not different, this year, are my choices of presents – books and DVDs for myself and Mrs Summerhouse. I won’t bore you but, in summary, the pile is 10, I think, books, one CD and one DVD on the history of jazz from Ken Burns. Agreed it shows a paucity of original thinking vis a vis Christmas presents but what can you do when we buy anything we want, within reason, throughout the year without deferring our gratification until Christmas. Anyway retirement? What is it about? A time to seize the opportunity and be something different or to cling on to past certainties and comforts. Buggered if I know.

Oh and PS, season’s greetings to all my readers and thanks for reading

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