It was in my early months of retirement and I was sitting next to him at an end of the year work function. He was a doctor at my lovely Leigh’s place of work; the practice where she plied her profession as a nurse. At a glance I’d say he was older than myself, but who knows? We chatted away haltingly, as you do with someone you don’t really know all that well, looking for common ground. I probed away with cricket, footy, travel and even the weather, but eventually what we had was the end of our working days. He was obviously thinking about pulling the plug, I was still feeling my way into it after doing so. Breaking free from the nine to five was strange at first, but by the time I was sitting next to Jack, I was starting to feel pretty good about it. And the notion was our starting point through which, as the evening proceeded, we began to get to know each other in a bit more depth.
After reading Ms Coslovich’s column, I returned to my own private phobia of the colour. Of course, these days, if I had a grandson, using ‘too girly’, if he had of picked out ‘…the glittery pink journal’, would not have passed my lips, but would I have still discouraged him from buying it? I suspect he would find out soon enough in any case. But I wonder if it would have been the same way back when my own cherished son was a little tacker? It’s so long ago now, but maybe. I know I’ve an illogical aversion to the hue and the male gender. I’d happily buy pink for my equally cherished granddaughters. Unlike, though, the sartorially elegant Michael Portillo, with his pink jackets and strides adorning his person as he gads about the English countryside on his trains, I could never wear it. I’ve even fallen short of buying a book by a favourite author because it was too pink for me to take to the counter, let alone to be seen out in public reading it. There are some advantages in e-books.
He asked me how I put in my time; how did I fill up the days? I replied that, so far, my post-teaching days had been full and rewarding – and that wasn’t just idle chat. That was decidedly the case. I explained I could now see every movie I aspired to, read every book that tempted me (that may have been just a little fib I was to discover), catch up on all the old tele series I was forced to miss during term time and go on to wholly enjoy what we now know as the golden age of the small screen. And I confided to him that I wrote. Jack took an interest in that, asking what I put pen to paper about. ‘Whatever comes into my head,’ I responded. I told him about my blog, the Blue Room, my digitally savvy daughter had set up for me. He told me he was totally ignorant of blogs, so I gave him some more detail about how they operated.
I like Gabriella C’s short piece ‘Handle Messages with Kid Gloves’. I liked her yarn about the two men, the contrast between the guy learning Spanish and the one disappointing his son over the pink diary. I guess, if anything, with my scribing, I fancy myself as a columnist like Gabriella – or a Bernard Salt, Martin Flanagan, Tony Wright or Wendy Squires, just to name a few of my favourites. That is, writing for a wide public consumption. But I know, particularly at my age, that’ll never be the case. But does that matter? In no way is it a burning ambition.
Then Jack asked the inevitable question – the one I knew he would ask. ‘Well, what’s the point if nobody reads it?’ I could add,’What’s the point if few ‘like’ my Facebook or ‘heart’ my Instagram posts?’ I counted the medico’s query with words akin to that first father’s out with his lad – ‘And not everything need(s) to have a purpose; you could do something for the pure enjoyment’. Just as he did with his foreign language lessons; just as I do with my writing. Like the comparison with the truck driver, I know I’ll never be a writer. But it is important to me that I can write. That few respond to my blogs or anything I place out into the ether is of little concern to me. It’s the process of doing so that gives me the utmost pleasure. Isn’t that enough?
My Leigh now works elsewhere, in another medical practice, although I still go to her previous place of employment as my own terrific doctor still hangs his shingle there. I hadn’t seen Jack around the place in quite a while, but last week I had reason to again visit and there he was. He breezed through whilst I was waiting for my consultation, gave me a cheery wave and greeting before continuing on his way. Perhaps he was now part-time; perhaps he’d decided retirement wasn’t for him, that he wasn’t ready. It doesn’t matter. He’ll know when the time’s right. Back in ’11 I knew it was and have never regretted the decision, even if some might feel what I do with it might be indeed pointless. I love my life today and that’s good enough for me.
Ms Coslovich’s column – https://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/m19columnist-20180509-h0zv6x.html