Retired Life Journal

Sunday, June 25 I ORDER three books – two hardback and one very large paperback – from second-hand booksellers via Amazon, for the grand total of three pence (plus packing&postage, but you cannot have everything, I say). A good deal for me. Should I feel guilty? I recall attending a literary prize giving event where the chairman of judges described Amazon’s large distribution depot in Swansea as “The Death Star.”

I still spend plenty of money in High Street booksellers, so decide not to feel too bad about it.

Wednesday, June 28 WE are in a Debenhams store, where The Current Mrs Feeney points out a very small child having her nails varnished at a nail bar. I am not sure this is a good idea.

I buy two pairs of long swimming shorts, if you get my meaning. I now have six pairs of shorts, of varying length, as I seek the perfect marriage of efficiency in the pool and comfort at the poolside. Life was much simpler when I could wear Speedos without looking like somebody who was trying to get a pair of small songbirds past customs.

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THERE is a story in this morning’s newspaper about a verbal spat between former tennis star turned commentator John McEnroe, and Serena Williams (left), who must have a decent claim at being the sport’s greatest female player. McEnroe has said that Williams would be ranked around 700 in the men’s game, reigniting some old arguments about gender equality in tennis.

I have a small contribution to make to this debate. A few years ago, a neighbour who had enthusiastically taken up the sport, knowing that I had played a bit in my twenties, invited me to a game on our local courts. She regarded my protests, that I hadn’t picked up a racket for decades, as gamesmanship. She assured me that she was stepping onto the court with some trepidation.

As I recall, I was losing 4-0 when I tore a calf muscle and hobbled off home. The racket has remained under the stairs since.

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Thursday, June 29 VIOLINIST Nicola Benedetti (above) has come to the defence of those of us of a certain age who enjoy going to classical music concerts. In response to suggestions that symphony concerts should focus on attracting younger audiences, at the expense of older enthusiasts, the 29-year-old musician told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation: “I can’t believe how offensive it is to categorise a group in that way and encourage a generation gap.”

Even better, Stephen Hough, the classical pianist and composer, added: “With old age comes wisdom, patience, subtlety, contemplation.” The Current Mrs Feeney says this is absolute proof that I cannot yet be old. I’m not sure this is a compliment.

Saturday, July 1 WE go to an antiques fair at the National Botanical Gardens. At one of the first stalls, I quite like a painting, but am not sure if I want to buy it. At the end of our visit, I buy myself a double-scoop ice cream cone (vanilla and fruits of the forest ripple, since you ask). TCMrsF says I have five minutes to eat my ice cream and decide if I want to buy that painting. Ice cream consumed (delicious), I decide against the purchase.

“You’ve kept me standing here for five minutes. We could have been walking back to the car,” says TCMrsF. Baffling, yes?

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