WHEN I retired, The Current Mrs Feeney and I promised that we would treat ourselves to lunch out every Friday.
I retired three years ago. We’ve managed about a dozen Friday lunch treats. What’s the problem? Life, in short; life, as somebody (it may have been John Lennon) once said, being the thing that happens to you when you were busy making other plans.
This week, however, we made it out. As an extra treat, we were out with a former work colleague; and when I say “former”, I mean thirty years former, when I was dipping a cautious toe into the turbulent world of being a newspaper editor.
TCMrsF and I met up with my former colleague and his wife at a wine bar for a couple of pre-lunch drinks (pints of lager for the men, gins for the women). Then it was on to the restaurant, where two bottles of Chilean Merlot and a small bottle of South Australian Sticky Chardonnay dessert wine suitably complemented the food (two hake, two belly pork, and sponge puddings all round for afters.)
I am delighted to report that, despite three years away from the world of the long business lunch (which was rare enough even back then), I was immediately back into mid-season form with the cutlery and glassware.
It’s true that, on returning home, I found it beneficial to lie down and simply rest my eyes. For four hours.
I digress. What I had meant to say was that, when we were comrades in print those happy days ago, my ex-colleague was a figure of general admiration on account of his sartorial elegance. Nobody’s suits were more suited; nobody’s neck ties were more tasteful.
So he turns up for lunch in a pink blazer and bottle green trousers. A man who clearly has made the transition from thrusting executive to bohemian man of re-discovered leisure.
I diplomatically enquired as to the whereabouts of his fabled suits and accessories of yesteryear; all gone to the charity shop of retired careers. I had to admit that this was very different from my own case. Three years on, and my wardrobe is still hosting shirts (double-cuffed, single-cuffed, plain, striped, checked) and racks of ties (plain, striped, etc).
Well, this plainly wouldn’t do. So the following day (a quiet day at home; out of choice, you understand, nothing to do with the previous day’s exertions) TCMrsF and I decide that The Time Has Come to have The Great Retirement De-Clutter.
We remove the shirts from the wardrobe. We put them on the bed. We survey the scene.
“Hmmm,” I say.
“Hmmm,” TCMrsF responds.
“Hmmm, ‘mmm?” I suggest.
“Mmm, ‘mmm” TCMrsF concurs.
And we put the shirts back into the wardrobe.
But we are far more ruthless with the ties. We carefully fold them all up and – a neat touch this – put them away in a box. Well, you never know when your future happiness and security depends on having a snappy green and red striped silk neck adornment to hand, do you?
Who knew getting rid of former work clothes could be so difficult? I’m sure a therapist could read much into this episode. Then again, a therapist could read much into any episode.
Satisfied with a job well done, we settle down in the evening to watch this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. Ukraine’s entry was a song about Stalin’s ethnic cleansing of Crimean Tartars in 1944. It wasn’t one of those numbers you catch yourself whistling in the bath or over the sunny morning cornflakes. Sombre would just about cover it.
TCMrsF and I agree that, while it was no doubt admirable as a political statement, especially with things being a little delicate in Europe at the moment, it was unlikely to garner a single point from either the competing nations’ voting juries or the phone-in votes from the People of Europe.
It won. Beating the Russian favourite into third place. The runner-up spot went to that well-known European nation, Australia.