Wednesday 20th. November, 2013 -- Retirement as I always imagined it 


Rachel has just added the final screw and the decking is complete


It rained all night and I wondered, as I lay in my warm bed and listened to the rain, whether we would be able to complete the decking as planned. But when I got up at eight, the sun was shining and there was a blustery wind. I walked Mix and breakfasted with Mum and Digger and while I was eating my toast (having enjoyed egg and bacon) Tom arrived to continue my apprenticeship as a deck builder. By lunchtime we had all of the decking cut and had installed the fencepost anchors at the four corners and we had ensured that everything was absolutely level. After lunch we screwed down the final lengths of decking and then were glad to get inside as the rain began to fall – in any event we were beginning to get extremely cold. But what a sense of achievement!

While Rachel went off for a hot bath, I walked Mix along the Kelso Road, back along Bramble Avenue, and back to the house by the Swinton Road. I cleaned my drill (and recharged the battery) and then packed everything away. Spent the next hour on the telephone as a number of friends caught up with me and then It was time for an early tea (mince and potatoes) before Mum was collected by a friend and set off for the Duns Guild. I came home and promptly fell asleep – partly because I have been out in the fresh air all day and partly because I was keen to have some sleep so that I could stay awake later in the evening to watch the start of the Ashes Test Series from Brisbane. I enjoyed the build up and watched the first hour in front of the stove by which time we had captured one wicket but Warner was scoring quite freely.

But this is how I imagined retirement to be – a day in the fresh air doing something I wouldn’t normally get to do and then being able to sit up and enjoy the cricket from Australia without worrying about whether I am fresh to do my job tomorrow. I’m looking forward to the whole of the Test Series and I’m looking forward to the next stage of my apprenticeship when the kit arrives and Tom, Rachel and I start work on constructing our summer house.

We have so many plans. Next to the Granary is our hen house. Eventually it will house a library and some more accommodation for those who come to visit. And then we will start on the barns .... Meanwhile Digger is developing the small holding and will soon start work on building the first of several domes which will be used to grow crops which require the assistance which such a dome will give. Life is incredibly exciting.

Should say that I am getting less aware of all that is going on in the world – watching the news and Newsnight is becoming less important – but I have been fascinated by the story of the Rev. Paul Flower, a Methodist minister, who became Chairman of the Co-operative Bank, and has got into trouble partly (according to what we are told on TV) through personal failings and partly through the failings of the bank. What has amazed me (and this will seem extremely trivial to many who read this) is that everyone is calling Mr. Flower ‘Reverend Flower’. I mean everyone: BBC presenters and reporters, people interviewed, the Prime Minister and so on. It is absolutely incorrect. ‘Reverend Paul Flower’ is OK but otherwise it really should be ‘Mr. Flower’. I know that the response will be – how inconsequential compared with what he is accused of having done – well, perhaps, but I have a thing about it and retired people have to have hobbyhorses.

All in all, today was a mixed day for the Church. The Scottish Parliament took the decision to allow same gender marriage (I believe that same gender relationships should have the same rights, privileges and responsibilities as mixed gender ones; but I cannot believe that this is marriage nor that parliament has the ability to redefine something which is so integral to human life around the world). However, today the journey towards women bishops in the Church of England took a big step forward at the meeting of the General Synod. It seems that this matter may finally be resolved in the next couple of years – I know it is still a long time, but at least things are moving forward. Talking about a couple of years, as I move from someone who has been working at the coal-face for such a long time to an observer with a growing element of detachment, I do seriously wonder if there is much of a future for the Church of Scotland. I am sure that there is a real future for Christianity in Scotland and I am sure that God has great plans for our country but now that I have time to look around I am surprised at how many ministers are on the point of retiring and at how tiny are so many congregations. There are, however, some really good things happening and these need to be celebrated by all of us. I’m looking forward to getting my summer house which will also be my office and where I hope to write. Another bonus of retirement for me is that things start to buzz around my head: fresh ideas and an enthusiasm to start work on the book I hope to write and, who knows, maybe that will make a contribution to the debate about where we are going?

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