When you’re retired you have to be very thoughtful about how you spend your time. There are two main reasons, first the obvious, you have less of it to spend and you don’t want to be squandering what you have if you can help it. Second, you don’t want to spend time engaged in activities that cause you stress. Apart from the fact that the experts say stress reduces your life span so see above, you want your retirement years to be happy ones if at all possible and for yours truly that equates with being in control of what you’re doing and I suppose this comes from being something of a control freak. So taking all this into account let me say again, don’t make your retirement happiness dependent on sport.
Sport is the ultimate ‘happiness is out of your hands’ activity. Go to an Eagles concert and you can be pretty well guaranteed what you’re going to get even if you hate the venue. Not so with sport. I’ve written this before and I’m prompted to write it again as a result of my experience last Saturday. For the first time in a long time I went to a Test match (that’s cricket for the less well-informed). England versus India for those who care about the details. It was Mrs Summerhouse’s idea and that’s the first pointer, don’t let other people make your decisions and that’s a warning to myself in that, as I get older, I find myself delegating more and more of life’s decisions – oh, you decide I can’t.
Mrs SH thought it would be nice for me to go back, after 53 years, to the ground where I watched my first ever Test match in 1965 and this was England versus South Africa at Trent Bridge the ground that was then my local venue. I guess I was 17 and went with two school friends. Going to this game kind of fitted with my back to your roots theme I’ve written about before. We were visiting the ancestral pile and Mrs SH, as I say, thought it would be nice. This is what you said you’d do when you retired she reminded me. So I allowed myself to be swept along with the idea on this vaguely nostalgic basis. What do they say, you can never go back? As you will see, these are wise words.
I went on line and bought from, what I now know, too late, to be something called a secondary site. Viagogo, avoid it it’s a rip-off. The price was eye-watering. As I found out when I picked up my ticket the face value was £60 (the site said the cost was £84) and I paid £128. Double the price simply for sell-on fees, booking fees, admin fees, rip the poor fool off fees. As I sat there I just could not enjoy myself because I felt I’d been conned. I hadn’t really, I’d been stupid but that just made me feel worse. So not a good start and then I was moved out of the first stand I’d been wrongly directed to by two stewards. A bit embarrassing but then it was that kind of day.
The next flaw in the ‘be happy’ plan was going back to a location you haven’t visited for 53 years. Surprise, things have changed which means you’re buying a pig in a poke viewing wise. The view was OK although not £128 worth, I hadn’t bought the whole row or a VIP box, but it was OK but it was side on to the wicket ( I realise this might not mean much to some) and I’d forgotten how little you can see, you just see the ball go past at 80+ mph. I had to keep looking at the ‘big’ screen to see what had happened. Bloody hell, I thought, I could have stayed at home and done this for free.
Agreed my viewing wasn’t helped by having lost my bi-focals, my long distance glasses, prior to the game, the binoculars I borrowed from my neighbour didn’t help and nor did the fact that, for long periods, I’d lost my sunglasses, something I’ll return to in a moment. Oh and did I mention that somebody knocked my phone out of my hand and it broke although I later mended it. Just the way of things, a complete accident but quite annoying nonetheless.
What else could possibly be wrong? Well, I’m increasingly becoming claustrophobic and moving around the tunnels at the back of the stands was unpleasant. Not a good time to find out this slight problem. That was going to the toilet which in itself was a nightmare. Standing in a long line when you’re bursting for a wee wee is not helpful to one’s already damaged self-esteem. Which brings me to another problem. I had asked for an aisle seat but for £128 that wasn’t forthcoming so I sat in the middle of a full row which meant I had to restrict my drinking. Unlike every other person in the ground or so it seemed. Other fans constantly walking backwards and forwards with trays of lager, beer, even wine, did not help my sunny disposition. The result being everybody in the ground seemed pissed except me and you know what it’s like when you’re the only sober person at a party. Yep, that was me.
Oh and just by the way the cricket was fairly dire from an England point of view (although nowhere near as bad as it got a day later, some kind of negative blessing that I wasn’t there for that day) which again reinforces the principle of you losing all control over your well-being when you go and watch a sport at least one where the result is important to you.
OK I know what you’re thinking, you’re thinking God he’s a miserable old bastard, why doesn’t he just shoot himself and have done with it but no, that would be too easy and of course I’d miss all the good things in my life. And, much as it pains me to end this moaning blog on a positive note, I will, I mentioned that I had lost my sunglasses – an expensive pair of Ray Bans as you ask- and that I had been relocated in the ground. Obvious conclusion, I left them in my previous seat. I walked back round the ground through the claustrophobic tunnels with very little hope of finding the glasses. But what do you know the young man who had sat in my seat had found them and kept them and gave them back to me. What did somebody say about a good deed shining out like a candle in a naughty world or something like that. This was my candle on this naughty day. When you’re retired you have to keep naughty days to an absolute minimum and keep noticing those candles.