Friday, 16 March 2018


On top of the world.

I think I am in the process of retiring. What does that mean? Within context, in novels,
when a character is going to, retire, for the night, the meaning is that they are going to bed, to sleep,
“perchance to dream.” An army, retiring, from the field may be defeated and escapes from the
battlefield. Retirement from a job, means handing in a notice to your employer to end your 
employment with the presumption that you are going to stop working.  There is also the idea that the
person retiring has the opportunity to do whatever they want with their life, going on
long holidays, reading and relaxing at home, writing their life story; the possibilities are endless. But
what if you have plans and the plans turn out to lack depth and provide little fulfilment or satisfaction?

When Marilyn is not working, on Thursdays and Fridays, we use our National Trust membership and go out for the day on trips. Once in a while I write a blog post for my blog, London Calling. I run nearly every day for thirty or fourty minutes.   I read novels. I cook the evening meals for Marilyn, Alice, Emily and Abigail. I have a go at baking bread and cakes once in a while. There are walks with friends;The Thames Path and the Capital Circuit. All this is great. I like it.  

 I read recently an interview with the actor Ian MacKellen. He has no plans to stop acting.He is nearly 80 years old. Other famous actors, Judi Dench and Maggie Smith continue working and show no inclination to stop acting or making films. Musicians, artists, writers; they don’t stop what they are doing and retire. They may do less as they age, but they don’t stop. It seems what they do is so much a part of them. To stop is unthinkable. I have friends who don’t talk about retirement even though they are my age. There is more an attitude now that people can continue indefinitely at what they do, if what they do doesn’t retire them first of course.

Here, in Britain, I can do supply teaching to punctuate my  retirement. It is something I have been doing for about five years since I decided to stop full time teaching at the age of 59. To begin with I wanted to earn extra money, beyond my pension, to help Alice and Emily at University with their living expenses.  I soon discovered that I  enjoyed supply teaching. It doesn’t have the pressures of a full time job. I can work when I want to. I can also choose to not work. Some schools asked me back and I was offered short term regular employment at some schools.

Until the end of January this year, I was working two days a week, Monday and Tuesday, at Cranmere Junior School, Esher. Katie, the teacher I replaced for three months, was on maternity leave until the end of January. I always had an end in sight. I knew I was going to finish at Cranmere in the last week of January. I decided, in my mind, to stop teaching completely  when the Cranmere job finished.

Every day at Cranmere needed total concentration and hard work. Teaching has always taken me out of myself, often to the point of exhaustion and created uncomfortable levels of stress at times. But, there is no way I could say I was not fulfilled. That adrenilin rush, that feeling of, giving it your all, using every ounce of energy, is alluring and addictive. I want to have purpose.

This morning I received a phone call from E-Teach, the teaching agency that finds me supply work. A young lady asked me if I would like to teach today. I turned the offer down saying that I had requested no work until further notice. However, it got me thinking. Do I really want to persevere with this idea of, retirement? Can I make  supply teaching fit my needs and requirements even more now? 

I have been accepted to do volunteer work at The Geffrye Museum in Shoreditch. I took part in a training day, with Fran, the volunteer coordinator and Eli the curator, along with two other new volunteers. I have been once, since, to observe another volunteer, Peter, lead a tour of the almshouses. He was very good. I am going to The Geffrye Museum this Saturday to observe artefact handling. I know I will enjoy doing this sort of work. It involves talking about interesting things and socializing.  I wonder if it can provide the depth of engagement and the fulfilment teaching a class provides? I have a fear that it could become repetitive.

Perhaps what I am leading to is, do I want to continue with some teaching? I have mixed feelings. I need to find a new way.


  1. Tony, supply teaching sounds like what, over here, is called substitute teaching. Maybe you could continue doing a bit of that, but passing on the long-term jobs. Along with the volunteering and occasional baking, that should keep you out of trouble! :-)

  2. Robt. T Simons Sr.1 June 2018 at 14:10

    As someone who is myself "retiring" from government service in a couple of months and moving to full-time Language Arts teaching in an American secondary school, I particularly enjoy your blog and the literary destinations you visit. My two trips to England have yet to get me the haunts of Austen, although my spouse would love it. Our next trip will be mostly in Wales, where my family came from to the States. I look forward to teaching, something I've always loved and wished to do from the outset of my working life, but didn't... I'm going to make up for it now at age 50. Keep up the excellent writing - you've fans this side of the pond.

    1. Your new ,"life," sounds brilliant, Robert.Teaching art and languages is such a special thing to do. Since writing the post above I have been approved as a fully fledged guide at the Geffrye Museum. My first two jobs there were to take a class of junior school children, on two consecutive days, around the almshouses. I felt that nothing had changed. I loved it. The Geffyre Museum is a special place. It developed ,"education in museums," during the 1950s and 1960s. Many museum throughout Britain use ideas developed at the Geffrye. I would love to know which part of Wales your family came from. My wife comes from Tenby in Pembrokeshire. Two of my daughters went too university in Wales, Emily at Cardiff and Alice at The University of Wales, Newport campus. All the best, Tony