Retirement, whatever that is!! I can see the old bedraggled blackbird must have dropped something sweet on your head whilst you were dreaming and your equipage was not up to the job. Semi retired, I don’t think you should get away with that!
Meanwhile, back in the boardroom, I would agree with you – our cleverness and stupidity are infinite in their mutually self-cancelling effects and unintended consequences. But it’s not easy focussing on something enough to make a difference and at the same time keeping an eye on the bigger picture. As we peep into the knockabout, Punch and Judy world of politics, seeing the impossible positions politicians find themselves in as they wriggle and blag, skewered by some version of the Paxman. We know they don’t know what the hell they are doing and we know that they know that we know . . . yet we all (mostly) have an interest in maintaining some sort of belief in the show because the alternatives are probably worse. We “want to believe” in the virgin birth, at the same time “knowing” that it’s a bit of nonsense – a dream, a hope, a metaphor.
Retirement (dream, hope or metaphor) is, of course, a giving up, a giving in to the overwhelming challenges of life at a time when the energy is not what it was and the wild energies of our children and their mates are swirling around, mopping up . . . in other words doing exactly what they should be doing: taking over.
Maybe we should be kicking and screaming at this imposition of retirement but we may feel a little weary and we are rather in love with the idea of permanent holiday. No longer do we have to look forward to a holiday in so many months: it’s here right now.
There is a brilliant description of retirement (without ever using the word) in Georges Perec’s, Life A User’s Manual. Winckler, an extraordinary craftsman, gradually gives up his craft – the project that he has been involved in – making fiendishly difficult jigsaw puzzles for the millionaire Englishman, Bartlebooth, has come to an end. He gives up going out to his regular restaurant for meals, gives up playing backgammon with his friend Smautf. His world contracts until he doesn’t move from his armchair. Neighbours make sure he has food and is generally looked after. I suppose it’s a giving up and waiting for death, but in Perec’s hands it has a sense and a dignity. The stages of retirement no doubt are dependant on health, wealth and the condition and facts of our familiar relationships.
We peer into the mist trying (stupidly) to second guess our fate.
The river is moving,
The blackbird must be flying.