Half-term. After it school returns to almost a semblance of normality. I have my classroom back. Room 14 with its view of Leckhampton Hill. After the last of the students had left this afternoon, I rearranged the classroom furniture and I began to move books back to my room.
There was almost a sense of relief in not completing the task, in needing at least another two or three hours to ready everything for 7th June. It will mean going into school one day next week.
Walking down a corridor, I passed one of the assistant head teachers. I asked about a summer scheme that had been mooted for mid- July and for which I had volunteered, it is going ahead, it will take five days out of the summer holiday.
Of course, I look forward to the weekend and to the holidays, but when they arrive, they fill me with dread. At sixty, I do not have the energy I had when I was fifty and am weak equivalent of the person I was when I was forty, but I realize that I need to keep going as long as possible. I wonder sometimes if I could keep a job until I am seventy-five, the maximum age permitted by Gloucestershire County Council.
The thought of retirement would fill me with dread. The activities of retirement existence are never things that have attracted me. I have no hobbies. Golf seems pointless and gardening never had any appeal. There seems something bleak in the thought of Saga holidays and diamond discount Tuesdays. I do not want to become a “twirly,” one of those older people who get on a bus before the off peak fares have begun and ask the driver, “am I to early?”
Retirement seems empty and rather purposeless when compared with workaday life, no matter how wearying the workdays may be, and they have recently been very wearying.
There is a poem by Charlotte Mew called Old Shepherd’s Prayer. The lines articulate a hope of an old man that even in a life to come he might carry on his work:
. . . I wud like to wake to they same green places
Where I be know’d for breakin’ dogs and follerin’ sheep.
And if I may not walk in th’ old ways and look on th’ old faces
I wud sooner sleep.
I am what I do. I want to be known for continuing to do the things I have always done – for as many years as possible.