Life on the mouldy side

2009-02-10 00:00

This taking an early retirement lark is just the job. There is many an advantage and it is not only that there are no meetings.

People stop you in the street, pat you gently on the shoulder, speak to you kindly and softly offer advice that is genuine and well-meaning. The timing, of course, was horrible, thanks to those Yanks' banks, but otherwise the plan has come together beautifully.

Some advantages of entering my years of dotage have become patently and quickly obvious, but there are several which are not immediately apparent.

Kidnappers, I was reliably informed last week, are not interested in you. If you do find yourself in a hostage situation, you are the first to be released even if you have to toss aside women and children on the way to freedom.

If anyone telephones you after 9 pm (or before 9 am), they are embarrassed in case they have woken you. When you go shopping, it is for keeps. Nothing you buy now will wear out.

People no longer view you as a hypochondriac and there is nothing left to learn the hard way. You also find, and please keep this to yourself, that you can live without sex, but not without your glasses. In fact, you quit trying to hold in your stomach no matter who walks into the room.

But possibly the best piece of advice that I have been given is never, under any circumstances, take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night.

Still, I have slipped into the new life rather easily. The office is 12 steps away from the bedroom, there are no meetings, the dress code is a T-shirt, there are no demanding and abusive phone calls, there are no meetings, there is peace and quiet, you don't have to sweat the small stuff and there are no meetings.

The downside is that I have another, more demanding boss and there is a job jar. It started well enough for someone who can't even spell DIY. I glued some things, the changing of light bulbs was a cinch and I thought I did that in some style, considering past history, and fitting two plugs to the end of wires went swimmingly.

With confidence at an all-time high, I progressed, ambitiously, to the drip in the kitchen. (No, the other one). Now this hot tap has been dribbling away for about a year, as I have been frequently reminded, and suddenly it was the sort of challenge which excited me. I had the time and the motivation - and I succeeded beyond my wildest dreams. I not only stopped the drip, but I cut off all the water to the house.

I don't really want to talk about it, and anyway the plumber who, incidentally, provided the sympathy I so desperately needed, did come quickly. My wife's book club can look forward to the longer, unexpurgated (fs and bs) version of my latest flop, but, in the future and for the record, I'm going to let my fingers do the walking.

I could write a book about my spectacular failures as a stop-start handyman. Once, as a distraction and at a particularly tense moment in a World Cup cricket match, I climbed a ladder, unaided, and set about changing a light bulb. I had just completed the job and I was admiring my handiwork when a South African wicket fell with a clatter. Moments later the bulb crashed to the floor. Blame it on superstition, but I saw that as an omen and it was many months before I again tried to fix anything and then only when it was out of season.

There are other chores which I handled this past month with a good deal more aplomb.

In my view, and I admit this is a subjective assessment, my cooking is coming on famously, I know my delicates from my darks, I hang a mean load of washing, I've joined the mums' taxi union, I have reorganised the fridge and my hands are going all funny from the washing-up liquid.

I have only to perfect the sudden onslaught of the nightly headache and my new role will be complete.

* John Bishop is the recently retired former Witness sports editor.

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