Friday, 23 January 2009
Ignoring the hugely inaccurate and gloomy weather forecast, I've done a lot of walking today. And that means a lot of thinking too, as I never remember to take my little radio or ipod - somehow it seems more than enough having to check that I have my keys, dog bags, house keys of whoever's cat I'm feeding, gloves, the right shoes (or just shoes, as in not my slippers), some tissues, sometimes an apple, and, of course, the dog. Today we had a brisk walk over to Lynn's house, fed and fussed over her lovely tabby, and came home again. The birdsong is developing a distinctly different tone, almost Springlike, and Jesmond Dene is about to have a massive facelift to improve the woodland, increase its diversity, and improve the sightlines on the paths, to help us all feel safer. That will be good, as the dog is not the kind of beast one automatically feels safer with, more the type who runs yelping dramatically in the opposite direction from any perceived threat.
Then pausing only to change my shoes, I told the team the usual whopper, "Stay there, I won't be long", and walked into town. I loathe going into town, and only do it when I have no alternative. I collected the specs that have had their 3rd set of lenses put in (the 1st lot kept popping out, and the 2nd lot seemed to have been made to someone else's prescription), had a little mooch about John Lewis, totally forgetting that I'd intended to have a look at the vacuum cleaners, and went off to the bus station office to ..... wait for it!..... hand in my application for a bus pass. A pensioner's bus pass. After a jolly conversation with the staff in their dreary office, of the usual "You don't look your age!" variety (thanks to my genes, not some special skincare regime - but personally I would rather have had genetically-bequeathed longer legs) and hearing how one of them was waiting in dread to turn overnight into an aged person at 40, just like her dad did, I walked home again. The bus pass is unlikely to be used much, if ever, but it seems like a Good Thing to have handy, like umbrellas and flea spray. The sun shone, the students milled about talking nineteen to the dozen, the flower seller was there with her ancient knitted bonnet, and everything seemed bright and busy and rather cheerful.
Passing the Civic Centre, where I had worked for some years, and skulking slightly in case I was spotted, I watched hordes of staff pouring out of it in their lunch break. And how sharply it took me back! Trying to get everything done in a rushed foray into the city centre, including buying lunch to eat at one's desk, because the canteen menu, which often sounded adventurous, invariably yielded nasty school dinner-style food, queuing in M & S for something untroublesome for the evening meal, groaning at the queues in the post office, and landing back at work feeling distinctly unrefreshed, and dismayed at the number of voicemail messages that had accumulated on one's phone in the time away.
I walked for the remaining 20 minutes to home filled to overflowing with relief that I was no longer tied to a workplace regime. The team were all waiting for me, the dog at her neighbourhood watch spot in the bay window, the girls on their radiator beds, looking sleepy and pleased to see me. As I took off my boots, surrounded by a swirl of little animals, I could have wept with the sheer joy of being able to come and go when I pleased, to no longer dread Mondays, to take as long as I liked in shops and not feel resentful at precious minutes lost in queuing, and to be able to choose to go out walking, or stay at home with pets and slippers, exactly when I want. Retirement is wonderful, and I am so so lucky to be in it, bus pass and all.
Posted by rachel at 17:16