September 20, 2003

Golden Neighbours

Yesterday was the 50th Wedding Anniversary of our neighbours and good friends Pat & Les.

That single sentence encapsulates a whole story. We have the ability to choose our friends and where we live, but our relations and neighbours are thrust upon us and there is little we can do about it. With relations it often evokes the old saying, “Blood is Thicker than Water, but Twice as Nasty”. We have all also heard of “The Neighbours from Hell”, they have even made a TV show about them.

Nina and I are, however, twice blessed in that we have this wonderful couple living next door who, over the years, have become very good friends. As opposed to being driven to move by dreadful neighbours, we have frequently rejected the thought by asking the question, “where will we find neighbours like Pat & Les”?

One of the delights of having them just the other side of the fence is that on a warm summer evening we can just call over and say “Come round, we are just opening a very nice Chardonnay”, a visit that can then go on way past sunset.

Today their daughter Christine and her brother Michael and their spouses and family arranged a delightful celebratory luncheon at Hertford Castle and we were privileged to be included with their family and friends. This feeling was enhanced by the fact that we were seated with their friends from the Woodford Bowling Club. Isn’t it wonderful to realise that you live in an area populated by such naturally friendly people? In the troubled world we live in today this was an oasis of happiness and celebration.

God Bless you Pat & Les, how glad we are that 26 is next to 24!

PS - A confession – I took the battery out of the stupid camera before I downloaded the pictures! Christopher, rescue me and email me some of yours so that I can put them in this item! – PLEASE.

Posted by jeff at 07:56 PM | Comments (0)

September 05, 2003

Twenty Twenty Vision

I had a visit from my cousin Lorna, who lives abroad, and we were discussing various aspects of life. She expounded the theory that we live our lives in a series of tranches, each of twenty years. Here is my version.

The first up to the age of 20, we are concerned totally with ourselves. Our education is foremost, particularly as we have to cover the fact that we are convinced our parents are embarrassingly ignorant. We are slightly relieved to find that over the final three or four years of this period, their understanding of our problems have improved – but only slightly!

Stage two, from 20 to 40, at the time seems the most traumatic. We have completed our education and are now aware of the fact that our parents had acquired knowledge throughout their lives that was far superior to anything we had learnt. We do not of course admit this to them. This oversight is probably due to the fact that we are far too busy working, marrying and having children who, in turn, also have to be educated. On reflection, perhaps we should have subdivided this period into two tens. It doesn’t really matter because this is the time that we are at our most energetic and can cope with anything!

Stage three is where we begin to enjoy life. Our children are growing up and, if we are lucky, they have married and are no longer our responsibility, even though we don’t admit to them that we will never stop worrying about them. Hang on – in an earlier stage we were not admitting certain things to our parents weren’t we? Yes, from our busiest stage, we have now reached the “sandwich” one, where we feel responsible for both our children and our parents. We are experiencing what it is like to be torn in half. Did I say that we could begin to enjoy ourselves? Yes of course I did, because it is also during this period that we acquire a new plaything – a grandchild! The cream on the cake is the ability to have your children and grandchildren to visit, and after a couple of hours of pleasure, turn to them and say, “Thank you for going”!

The next stage is 60 to 80, and I face commenting on this with some trepidation as I am not quite half way through it and I do not know what lies ahead. All I do know is that the grandchildren are no longer playthings; they have grown into young adults and I delight in seeing a reflection of my own teen rebellion brought up to date. It is a wonderful thing to view a changing world through their eyes and to realise that one of the best things about this period is that we are becoming adept philosophers.

I can only conjecture that the pleasure of the final stage, should we be so lucky as to complete it, is that we will have achieved the ultimate in selfishness by thinking only of ourselves. We will be able to say whatever we like about anyone and anything. It will not matter how rude or inconsiderate it appears as no one will take any notice and will think of us as totally eccentric and senile. A little twinkle in our eyes will indicate to the perceptive that this is not the case, we are just having our last bit of fun – and also the last laugh.

Posted by jeff at 01:30 PM | Comments (1)