On Achieving an approximation of Retirement. An approximation because there are many things to do.
Essentially I just want to note, more as an aide memoire for myself when at the age of 95 my mind starts to wander (and yes, I plan to be around still in 2043 so any young relatives counting on an inheritance will have to be patient – as they will be, being well brought up and thoroughly nice young relatives), that while my professional life did not turn out as I had originally intended and while I would have perhaps unrealistically preferred to have spent it as a tweedy biologist counting the hairs on spiders’ mandibles in some renowned academic institution, I have found rather to my surprise that Plan B worked rather well. Hard as it is for most people to understand (it’s the ‘ick’ factor activated by the squeamishness gene which, thanks to good fortune I don’t seem to have) pathology is a remarkably interesting field of study without which the world would be a less welcoming place and we would still be dying of the plague at a far too young age. It has enabled me to become a Canadian, to earn a tolerably decent living, which is not at all the same as being rich, and to attain some degree of professional recognition amongst my peers. Consequently I now can leave that behind with a clear conscience in the knowledge of a job well done (though, in fact, I expect to be doing some ad hoc consultancy work to help keep the wolf from the door) and go back to where things started by doing some real biology out in the open air with living creatures.
Although I have traded as a pathologist for the past 40 years I have never stopped thinking of myself as being primarily a biologist and I have tried to keep up with the more important developments. After all, I have all those hard-earned academic letters after my name which gives me an air of some confidence and moderate conviction … no point in not putting all that knowledge and expertise to good use, especially as we are recommended to keep the brain hard at work as a ward against dementia. A traditional quiet retirement spent growing fat in front of the TV or on a beach holds no appeal at all and I have plans already in place to get out there and do some serious rummaging amongst the birds and insects and flowers of my local “patch” west of Montreal. There is stuff to be learned, a wildlife garden to grow and J’s excellent cooking and other virtues, all of which should do very well to sustain me for the next 30 years. Cats are nice too, they figure in the plan somewhere, as do good friends, of whom I still have a few widely scattered around the planet. No riding into the sunset just yet, at least I hope not.
To answer the questions that everyone asks:
- Yes, we are staying in Montreal and have absolutely no plans to move back to England (probably couldn’t afford to anyway)
- Yes, you can come and visit but do give us warning of your arrival
- No, I will not be bored – plenty of things to do
- No, we probably won’t be travelling much more than we have been and we will certainly not be going to Florida or on a cruise when it snows here