Wednesday, 26 October 2016

The Grim Highwayman

You dont want to be visited by this Dick at night
Was it a dream or a visitation.  The Grim Reaper standing at the foot of my bed, all cloak and swagger, a skeletal figure looking like a cross between Norman Tebbitt and Dick Turpin. 

The Grim Reaper as a highwayman?  My fault, I had gone to bed sorting out finances on my ipad.  Two months living on a pension instead of a fat teacher's  salary (I know.  You can read that in one of two ways but only one is correct) was getting me agitated, "I simply don't have enough money to buy good gin every week," was one anxious realisation, "I have the time to go on a world cruise every couple of months but not the money.. how am I going to cope? "

That's how I went off to sleep, so it not surprising that the Grim Highwayman  (for that was how my amalgamated vision appeared) came into nightmarish view.He was holding out his bony hand which held a bunch of  £20 notes. He spoke, "Money or your Life?" 

Shocked and frightened I composed myself. I found inner strength.  I was not going to be bullied by an ephemeral figure of doom, "I refuse to accept your choice, Mr Reaper and I am certainly not for sale..." I was on a roll.  "I want money and my life, I want it all."

With that the vision evaporated and I realised that this was the question that had played in my head for the last few years before retirement, do you work and build up money or do you go for living the life you want? 

Of course it would be wonderful if we could have both. David Attenborough, Eric Clapton and The Queen are the lucky ones.  The love what they do and they get paid for it, for the rest of us it's a trade off. I need money to do things I want, but to get the money I have to give up the time that I would rather be spending doing the things I love.  Although I did love much of my work as a teacher, there were also moments when it did feel like I was losing part of my life that I would prefer to use doing other things.

So I worked until I was nearly 61 worrying about whether I had enough money.  Time v Money. The old conundrum.  My conclusion: I attached far too much importance to money.  

Time is finite and wonderful.  Doing things we are are passionate about is what life should be about.  So what if there's a bit less money? We tend to buy lots of stuff we do not really need anyway but you can never, and sorry for the cliche, buy back time.

Tonight I'm not going to go to bed worrying about money.  I'm going to read a good book, wake up and write the next big Christmas hit song on my ukulele, cook great food, play walking football and make a rude gesture to that uninvited guest if he appears again at my bedside. 

I'll take the "less money and more life" option please.

I dont like to use quotes usually but this one really does say it all

Right, I'd better get to Aldi and buy my cheap but perfectly acceptable gin  and cancel that cruise booking.

Sleep well


  1. Love the quote! So true. Less money and more life sounds good to me :-)

    You are on the blog roll at Sightings Over 60 blog! This will bring some readers your way. They are sure to appreciate your fine sense of humor.

  2. Thanks again Carole. I appreciate the support

  3. Hello,John, I popped in to thank you for visiting my blog.

    I found on retirement that everything adjusted quite quickly but I did have a husband so that made a big difference. Since he died, even though I worried lots, the adjustment seems the same. I guess I don't need or want so much now but so long as the wine is affordable I'm laughing!

  4. Hi Val
    Enjoyed your blog and your comment about the wine is spot on. When I was a struggling teacher with a young son and no money I resorted to making my own wine and I may start that again if the price keeps going up!

  5. "You can read that in one of two ways but only one is correct" ... it's a great line and I think you are off to a great start with your blog :D

  6. John, a very thoughtful post. In the grand scheme of things, money is pretty unimportant, once you've got enough for the basics and a bit extra.

    I love the way you write. I especially like this sentence: "I was not going to be bullied by an ephemeral figure of doom." It cracked me up.

    By the way, I would not choose to be the Queen. While most of have to work 35 or 40 odd years, her work obligations extend for her whole life. Plus she's always in the public eye.


    1. Hi Jude
      Thanks for the comments. The Queen reference was a bit tongue in cheek to be honest. She does a good job but boy are there perks!(sorry I'm a republican)But money, you're right, we don't need as much as we think. We consume so much more than we really need.

  7. Although having enough money to eat, pay your bills, and some extra for fun is important, you are so right about the importance of time. To me, the choice between living retired on a little less money vs. working years longer for greater financial gain, but less time to enjoy it is a no-brainer. I'd love to read more about your ukulele!

  8. Hi Janis yes the impoirtance of time has really hit home for me these last few months. I have managed do so many things that previously had been put on hold and any one of them is worth more than any holiday or fancy gadget. Also have loved getting into blogging and reading about other people's experiences. I wish I had started reading some of these blogs earlier. I feel certain that had I done so I would not have had the apprehension of facing retirement that I did experience. Right must go, I feel another post coming on.


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