‘Sometimes it’s important to work for that pot of gold. Sometimes its important to recognize when its time to finally retire – a period in life when the most imperative decision you shall be left to make, shall consist of choosing which color of the rainbow to slide down’ Douglas Pagels.
I embarked on a train journey recently, (my first in several years) a detestable early-morning excursion, one which [somewhat reluctantly] transported me from my delightful home in leafy Berkshire, directly through to Waterloo Station, a renowned railway terminal situated in the very heart of that cosmopolitan, thriving, sprawling metropolis, otherwise known as London-town.
I had been invited to attend a seminar on military training implementation – although now retired, my former employers stirred me from my ‘difficult-to adjust-to’ retirement slumber, this primarily to assemble some thoughts on the proceedings to ensue – and then to produce a detailed report on my findings.
I never failed to remind myself that I could still keep up with the best of them – retirement came too early after all – cut-down in my prime for sure…but this egoistic and wholly inaccurate reasoning was soon to alter.
Unaccustomed as I now am to the demands of the alarm clock, this experience proved to be something of a culture shock – retirement has many distinct advantages – by no longer being an active participant in the ‘rodent-race’ – one ponders on how some retirees still yearn to be part of it all.
My first thought as I set-off to catch my train, “how can traffic be so heavy at this God-forsaken hour of the day?” It was bumper-to bumper en-route to the station car park, a irritating and lengthy journey – made all the more unbearable by the ‘lava-flow’ of brake lights, those that iridescently reflected an incandescent trail of luminosity ahead of me.
“What a dreadful manner in which to live” I mournfully mused, “why would anyone of my vintage, possess a yearning to be reunited with such trauma”? – My pulse was racing before I had even alighted from the car – “Ye Gods, welcome back to the cut-and-thrust of the contemporary world” thought I.
Once parked-up on the station forecourt – and having parted with no less than £4.00, ($6.00) for the questionable ‘privilege’ of doing so, I soon sensed that I was actually swimming in my double-breasted suit against a very hefty tide of regular daily commuters, most with paper coffee cups in one hand, and what can be best described as the unhealthiest start to one’s day, perched limply in the other, ergo: Soggy, unappealing bread rolls filled with a slice of nearly raw bacon, grossly inedible and highly priced fare it was too.
This ghastly excuse for edible gastronomic sustenance was provided by the so-called, ‘Station Breakfast Bar’ – I have since re-named this outlet as ‘Greasy Lil’s’ – the antiquated female vendor, complete with her thick-thatch of blue-rinsed hair, struck me as a ‘Lily-type’ lady – and she was certainly up to her eyeballs in low-cost cooking oil – this new designation therefore – seemed wholly appropriate, to me at least.
When eventually finding an unoccupied seat within my carriage, it became all too apparent that I was the only man who was adorned in a respectable, pinstriped suit. Times have amazingly altered since my official retirement of 2008, it appears that most wear T-Shirts and denims to work these days – how tragic!
No need for even a modicum of sartorial elegance in the eyes of their lax employers, the plethora of people who surrounded me, were adorned in clothing more in keeping for attending a BBQ or football match!
As I intermittently gazed at most of my fellow passengers, I became a little unsure as to what type of work they actually do…or whatever they call work these days.
Sitting at a flickering screen, hunting and gathering data, no doubt, this struck me as a poor substitute for the thrill-of-the chase, the joy of the kill and/or the kiss of conquest as I once knew it.