Saturday, October 10, 2009


Just occasionally, one sits back and looks at the way life is going. What's important, and what's not so important, or at least not as important as you once thought it was. A few months ago, I was employed (albeit on a One Day per Week basis), and a visit to the plant where I had been part of a team which had started the company some 15 years ago, was the highlight of my week.

Then the company, obviously lacking the firm direction I had given (!) since a medical “incident” 8 years ago, culminated in the Administrators being called in. About 95% of the workforce, including yours truly, received one of those “Dear John” letters which mark a turning point in one’s life – except mine was addressed “Dear Sir” which did not please me overmuch. Although I am aware there were reasons for it, it does not seem right that no-one could bother to ensure that they even called you by name when writing such a missive. For the first, and probably the last time in my life, I had been made redundant.

So what now?

As it happened I remained as a Trustee of the Company’s Pension Scheme, and the only noticeable change to my situation was that previously the Company paid for my efforts in this direction, whereas now it has involutarily become a Voluntary activity. But it remains a strange feeling to see oneself as unemployed.

Fast forward to tonight. It’s a Saturday evening and I’m sitting here pondering Life, the Universe and Everything. Great things have happened in our family in the last few days. My younger daughter has give birth to a little baby, the fourth of our grandchildren and the first girl in the family. She is of course the most beautiful creature on the face of the Earth, and everyone is doting on her unmercifully.

We are very lucky as a family in that both my daughters and their families live very close to us. A very pumped up John Daly could hit a Drive and a pretty decent 7 Iron in two different directions and each Second shot would land in one of the girls’ gardens. We can walk to both of their houses, and, in a situation like now, it is so much easier to help with what needs to be done. Given that much of it all is “Venus” rather than “Mars” stuff, my function is to look after the house and minister to our dogs while my wife is out on Grandmother duty. But the closeness of the extended family makes this all a good deal easier to orchestrate than if we all lived in different parts of the country.

It does of course have reciprocal benefits. My elder daughter, especially, is a very good cook, and tonight when I was sitting at home, one glass of wine to the good, watching the cricket from India and feeling like I couldn’t really be bothered to get up and make a meal, the phone rings and the gist of the message was that there was a portion of Shepherds Pie, and a chunk of Apple, Blackberry and Raspberry Crumble going a-begging if I wanted it. It took me about a minute to scoot down there, replete with plates and bowls to dish it all up onto. Talk about perfect timing.

It’s a pretty good form of symbiotic family co-existence. I keep a running tab for a sort of informal “Meals on Wheels”, paying, on a course by course basis for what I’d normally pay to construct a meal on my own. This pays my way, and salves my conscience regarding sponging off my children, which would never do. It also means that I don’t have to bother to cook occasionally.

On the other side of the coin, my daughter doesn’t have to worry about using up the left-overs from a meal, and, in spite of not wanting to accept money from parents, is forced to receive a tiny additional amount of revenue. Oh, and I get to eat some excellent meals. There’s probably a decent Carbon Footprint benefit somewhere, except I can’t be bothered to think where. I can’t even begin to see the first sign of a downside to all this.

Anyway, when I got there, my daughter explained that she was going to the cinema tomorrow with her two children to see “Up”, the new 3-D Pixar Cartoon. Now, ageing though I may be, I find most of these film to be absolutely brilliant and very witty - in my humble opinion, future Classics in the making. I’d read a couple of reviews about this particular film, and it seemed to get 5 Stars from most of the reviewers, so I piped up to say that I’d love to go along. So tomorrow, I’m off shepherding my two elder grandchildren to the local cinema, where we’ll no doubt hit the Popcorn and Pepsi, and quite possibly the Ben & Jerrys, stand, as part of the afternoon’s entertainment.

All of which makes the general problems of the world seem a fair distance away. It doesn’t mean they’re not there, because they are. Closer to home, a great friend’s Father in Law has just died, and another friend is recovering from yet another operation a few days ago. We’ve just been through a difficult period where one of our dogs has had a major operation and we wondered for some time about the outcome.

But, and this is the only reason for writing this piece tonight, it’s nice occasionally to see the other side of the coin.


Whitenoise said...

It sounds like you have a very nice arrangement. Good for you. :-)

Anonymous said...

A great post.

You are right to look at the positive. I started the year in hospital with a long recovery, but I know I got off lightly, so I'm happy. I didn't have work for a long time, but in this last month things have picked up, so I'm happy.

As you said, looking at the positive doesn't mean you're shutting out the more difficult stuff. The difficult and negative clamours for our attention every day and sometimes it wins, but if you manage to find something in your life that's working for you when everything else is trying to tell you otherwise, then you're doing well. That's why I call myself a fighting optimist.