Friday, 29 August 2008

I went to church yesterday

As a devout atheist, going to church is not something I regularly do, but yesterday was an exception.

I had a very pleasant lunch with the author Ronald Blythe. He's a lovely man who is still working, despite being in his mid 80s. I can learn so much from him about writing, England and life. He is a delight to be with.

After lunch we went for a walk. He took me to Wiston Church, which was build in 1135 and sits in the grounds of the local Hall. (He explained that churches were build next to the Hall, with the villages evolving later) Ronnie told me how he used to visit this church as a boy, and now comes here to preach.

On the wall is a painting of St Francis of Assisi. Ronnie explained how this was created around 20 years after St Francis died, so in about 1240. That's an awfully long time ago. How did the story of St Francis travel to this quoet corner of Essex? There was no internet, no Ryan Air and in fact nothing much at all - yet people travelled far and wide.

To be confronted with the past when you're rushing headlong through the present is so important. It puts your life in context - it reminds you how insignificant each of us really is!

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Retirement - rude word or something to shoot for?

I had a conversation yesterday with someone younger than me. He's a successful, professional fundraiser at the peak of his career.

We talked about our plans for the coming year and beyond. I'm starting a new business (a social enterprise publisher) and he's got the kind of heavy workload that people with a great reputation in their field always collect.

What bothered me was his announcement that he intended to retire somewhere between the ages of 50 and 55. He must be younger than I thought!

I was 53 on Friday and so am in the middle of his 'retirement zone.' When he is my age, he wants to stop working. I on the other hand am still trying to work out what I want to really do when I grow up!

Retirement as our parents knew it is not an option for many any more and thank goodness for that. The idea of deciding one day to stop working, stop earning and most of all, stop contributing to the world seems ghastly to me.

Today I'm off to meet author Ronald Blythe for lunch. He's best known for his book 'Akenfield', published more than 30yrs ago. He's still writing now, at the age of 85. Like me, he has not time for retirement, more the gradual change of lifestyle from' full on/flat out' to something more relaxed and perhaps introspective.

To me, retirement is a rude word . . . . !