Retired Bloke and the murky past

YOU know the feeling when the life you led as a lad sneaks up behind you and grabs you by the ear? Welcome to my week.

I exaggerate. The past I have revisited over the last few days is of far more recent vintage than the far-off days of youth. Those “blue remembered hills” disappeared over the horizon years ago.

It all started when the company that emerged when another company merged with the company that owned the newspaper I edited in Swansea (clear so far?) was taken over by a company that owns newspapers in Cardiff.

For those of you unfortunate enough to be reading this outside Wales, I should explain that Swansea and Cardiff are separated by 40 miles and every mile is paved with mutual suspicion and antagonism. Hence the news was as welcome as a cat at a dog show.

The BBC called to gather my thoughts on the takeover. And so we found ourselves stood outside my old office building, offering pearls of wisdom to the new owners. All of which, of course, they will have carefully noted. “Better follow Retired Bloke’s advice,” they will have thought.

As it happens, I had arranged to meet my old picture editor the next day. He’d left the newspaper and I wanted to interview him for my series on men who have finished full-time employment and what they do next.

We met in a local coffee shop. It was startlingly revealing. I knew he was a brilliant photographer, and an excellent editor. But chai latte? With cinnamon? Who’d have thought it.

A good chat and a large Americano later I was back home when the phone rings. It’s my former deputy editor, who busies herself these days in the glades and groves of academia.

She’d seen me on TV talking about the takeover. Would I mind talking to some journalism students of her acquaintance on Friday? About mid-morningish if that’s ok with me?

After some slight confusion on my part (I thought she meant Swansea University; she meant Cardiff University) it’s all agreed.

I roll up yesterday, impart my thimbleful of knowledge and experience, and the students are kind enough to stay awake and ask intelligent questions.

So that was my week of remembering what was past. It was great fun, while it lasted.

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