The move to our new little bungalow home couldn’t have fitted the bill much better. I am so fortunate to have Lek and her daughter with me; they both bring much happiness and joy into my life and they minister to my daily needs with good hearts and smiles.
We certainly haven’t had a great summer here in Rutland, with incessant rain characterising the early summer, followed by generally lower than average temperatures and many days of cool, gloomy, sunless skies. We did have a mini-heatwave a couple of months back, and only last week we had three steaming hot days, but it wasn’t long before the familiar cloudy, cool weather returned.
Today is quite warm and sunny, which has probably put me in the mood to write this blog, but it won’t be long before Autumn rears its ugly head, and our cold-weather clothing has to be dusted down and made ready for use.
Snug as a bug in our little bungalow, one day is much like another. I struggle to recall exactly when it was that Lek returned to her job and Song resumed school – early Spring, I think. But we then had 6 weeks with both of them back home for the summer school holidays. Most of the covid restrictions were relaxed in mid-July, and things are slowly but surely getting back to normal.
Lek finally had to concede that her trip to Thailand this summer was a no-go, particularly as the pandemic finally hit Thailand with a vengeance, and the UK government put Thailand on the red-list. We are hoping that she may be able to travel in the New Year but shall have to wait and see how things are at that point.
Both Lek’s and Song’s passports expire in February 2022, and our original plan was for them to renew them in Thailand this summer. Now that plan is off the agenda, we have booked an appointment with the Thai Consulate in November for them to get them renewed. They will have to travel up overnight to be at the consulate by 10.00 a.m. the next morning, so it’s going to be an expensive business.
We did make a few trips during the school summer holidays, firstly to Tonbridge to see my brother and sister-in-law, and on to Worthing to see my cousin. We stayed at my brother’s for three nights and yes – Olly the dog came with us.
While we were at Tonbridge, we paid a return visit to Dungeness, a place we first visited a few years back on Lek’s first trip to England. She asked to go back there, as it brought back happy memories.
Then the following week we drove up to Birmingham for the day to visit with my eldest daughter and family – and yes, Olly came with us.
One of the big family events of the summer was when my youngest daughter, Julie and her family moved to Malaysia. She had been teaching at Oakham public school for several years and secured a teaching job at an English school in Malaysia. They were supposed to go in early July, but after much fuffing around with Covid restrictions and so on, they finally left for new climes at the end of August.
Julie was the reason we came to Oakham in the first place, and now she’s left us here all alone…. Never mind, we love this part of the country and are very happy here. We will certainly miss them, but they will be back next summer on home leave, and the contract is only for two years – but she may extend….
Although it doesn’t seem that much has happened since my last blog back in March, the pics (above and below) tell a slightly different story.
The cogitations of an old codger
The other day I was thinking that if I don’t update my blog before the end of September, then it’s pretty much on the cards that my sloth would presage the demise of Mobi and his blog.
After all, I turned 75 three months ago, and if anyone had asked me twenty years ago what I would be doing when I was 75, I would probably have replied that it would be a bloody miracle if I even make it to 65, let alone 75.
20 years ago, I was one year into early retirement, having been eased out of my high-stress job with failing health. The medics told me bluntly that if I didn’t start to take things easy, they doubted I would see my 60th birthday.
I took their advice, and as the new millennium erupted, I divorced wife number three and was a free man, with more than enough liquid assets to see me through to well past my theoretical 75th year.
But what a 20 years it has been!
I started blogging on July 7th 2009, so what with 12 years of this blog together with my stories and semi-autobiographical novels, (all of which have been published in draft form at various times in this blog), my most loyal readers will probably know almost as much as I do about my life since the start of the twentieth millennium. For those few of you who have read my novels, you will know my life for many years before I ever dreamed of writing a blog.
Not only reaching the age of 75 is a milestone that I had believed beyond me, but it is also one that now leans quite heavily on this ageing carcass.
When I met my wife Lek, some eleven years ago, I was in my ‘early’ sixties (64) and still believed there was a lot of life in the old bastard yet. I was still patronising the lively bars of Pattaya, still drinking to excess, and still trying to get over my disastrous marriage with wife number 4.
It all changed when I moved into a new home and a few days later met a new partner. Within 2 months of Lek moving in, I had forsworn alcohol, and to this day I haven’t touched another drop.
Meeting Lek changed my life for good, and without her, I probably wouldn’t have survived the trauma of losing all my savings in an investment scam in 2013. If I hadn’t met Lek, I wouldn’t have stopped drinking, and if had still been alone in 2013, that could have well have been the end of me.
So now, in my mid-seventies, I am finally coming to terms with the fact that I am old. My health is slowly but surely deteriorating, and every year I live from now on will be a bonus – a bonus I have no right to expect or hope for.
Travelling far from home is something I am no longer able to do, except in special circumstances, and since we moved to Langham village, I have been pretty much housebound except for a morning walk with Olly the dog. Lek has to take Olly out in the afternoon as I use up all my limited energy on the morning walk. The morning walks are becoming increasingly taxing on my fragile constitution, and sooner or later I will probably have to give up.
One morning, I was nearly home from my walk and was suddenly so exhausted that I had to sit down on the side of the road and phone Lek for help getting home.
I am well into my second year of waiting for an operation on my bladder. After several weeks of phoning every day, I finally managed to contact the hospital to check if I was still on the list.
Yes – my name is still on the waiting list – No – we don’t know when – possibly another year or even longer.
I have instituted a formal complaint against the hospital, as the prospect of going to the toilet countless times a day, (and night), including self-catheterisation for years to come is a quite depressing prospect. I’ll probably be dead before I get the call. I’m not expecting anything positive to result from my complaint – but it made me feel better to get it off my chest and… you never know…
I wonder how many people my age or older spend a lot of time thinking about their lives, and whether their life has been worthwhile, happy, productive, notable – something to be proud of? Or are more like me – looking back and thinking what a complete Horlicks I have made of most of it, and filled with regrets that I didn’t make better choices when life’s many crossroads were open to me.
My life has been full of ups and downs – some folk believe that you can’t have big highs without experiencing pretty bad lows. If this is true, then I can say my life has had some merit – but I’m rather dubious.
Certainly, I believe some of the biggest errors I have made in my life were largely self-inflicted. In a forlorn effort to break free of my father’s controlling yoke, I decided to leave school at 16, rather than stay till 18 and then go on to university. If I had gone to university, who knows how my life may have turned out?
The second ‘biggy’ was my choice of going into accountancy. I had no knowledge of, or desire to be an accountant; I did it to please my father, who was always going on about how accountants ruled the world.
I made the best of a bad lot and did all right as an accountant, and rose to pretty high office; and as my father had predicted, I made a heap of money. But I never really enjoyed the work – it was just a means to an end.
To be honest, I feel that I sort of sleepwalked through most of the big decisions in my life, including my first four marriages, and certainly the decision to leave school at 16. I never gave these decisions – and many others – the careful deliberation they deserved – they were just momentary impulses and ill-considered. Why? I guess I’ll never know but can only adduce that I was so brow-beaten and made to feel so worthless and lacking in self-esteem that I didn’t care what would happen in my life. I wasn’t invested in it.
It’s a shame, because ever since I was a wee lad in primary school, I had an urge to write creatively, and in my teens, I wrote three plays that were performed to acclaim in the annals of east London Amateur dramatics. All this was put to one side when I started training as an accountant, and it wasn’t until I took early retirement in 2000, that I finally turned my attention to my first love – writing.
I had plenty of material to write about, but over the past twenty years, I have concluded that I seriously missed the boat by not starting to develop my creative writing craft much earlier in life. And so it has proved, as none of my literary efforts has succeeded in attracting any interest in the publishing world.
My writing is about 40 years behind the times in terms of content and writing style. I have been too influenced by the great novelists of the 19th and early 20th centuries, and it isn’t a style that appeals to a modern, young readership. Nothing I can do about it – it is what it is.
But looking back – I feel there have been as many as many plusses as minuses. While life as a journalist/ author might have been a better bet than accountancy, which for much of the time bored me to death (and was one of the many things that in later life, drove me to drink) things could have been a lot worse.
After all, I did end up spending much of my adult life strutting across the world, and whether it was the Middle East, West Africa, North Africa, North America, Europe or South East Asia, I always immersed myself in the different cultures where I was living and had many real-life ‘Indiana Jones -type’ adventures. I became caught up in two wars, spent brief periods in jail on several continents, engaged in several life and death situations and, of course – the five marriages.
How can an accountant do all that? I hear you say. Well, being an accountant enabled me to work all over the world. My job always involved other areas of management to some degree or other and I was often the ‘number 2’ in the business I was involved with, and often strayed a long way from accountancy. I actually ended up as Deputy General Manager of a major international insurance company – so the kid didn’t do too bad.
Then, at the grand old age of 64, I belatedly found my soul mate who has taken care of me ever since…and I’m still alive…
It’s a ‘sliding doors’ syndrome – where would I be if I had made different life choices?