Retired Life Journal

Wednesday, July 5

I have ‘connected’ on a social media site with somebody who was a fellow student at Swansea University College in the mid 1970s. I have lost contact with everybody I went to university with; he, by contrast, is still in touch with all of his old crowd. This does not make me feel any better about my poor record in keeping up friendships.

Tuesday, July 11

We are in a pharmacist store; while The Current Mrs Feeney is looking for holiday supplies for our forthcoming trip to Spain, I wander down the Men’s Styling aisle. Hair gels on sale include Clay, Fibre, Gum, Paste, Putty, and Wax. We’ve come a long way from the days when my father would set off for work each morning with a gleaming head of Brylcreemed hair.

Back home, TCMrsF is trying out outfits for Spain: “Does the pink in this top go with the pink in this skirt?” she asks. This displays touching faith in the colour co-ordinating senses of one who, yesterday, she chastised for wearing purple socks with brown chinos.

Wednesday, July 12

The Welsh Government has announced plans to get a million people to become fluent in the Welsh language. The number of children attending Welsh-medium schools is to increase by a third, to 30 per cent of all seven-year-olds. I am sceptical about Government targets, but acknowledge the sea-change in official attitudes to the language. When I entered my grammar school in Swansea, in 1962, our form-master informed us that Welsh lessons were compulsory in our first year, “but after that you can drop it for something useful.”

Thursday, July 13

On the plane from Cardiff Airport to Spain, to stay with friends in their villa in the hills above the Costa Del Sol. As we ascend, the man sat directly in front of me clamps on a pair of earphones, and starts playing the first of what turns out to be a series of electronic games on his Playstation, leaving his wife to deal with the needs of their small daughter for the duration of the 150 minutes flight. I look quizzically at TCMrsF: “He’s an arse,” she responds.

Friday, July 14

Spain is enduring a heatwave, even by its own high-summer standards. The mercury sticks stubbornly above 40 Centigrade (that’s more than 100 Fahrenheit in ‘old money’). We meet up with a group of British ex-pats who gather in a (blessedly air-conditioned) hill village bar every Friday afternoon. One of them strokes my hand and tells me that I am lovely. “She says that to all the men,” my friend informs me later.

Monday, July 17

Malaga. TCMrsF and I spend three hours looking at the collection in the Picasso Museum. At the end, I have a slightly clearer idea of what Cubism was ‘about’ – but cannot shake off the suspicion that modern art is a practical joke played on gullible rich people.

Friday, July 21

Back home. TCMrsF and I watch a dvd of The Lobster. It is set in a future when single people are given 48 days to find a partner or be turned into an animal of their choice. Those on the run from this fate are called ‘loners’ and are hunted in the woods. Every loner slain grants the hunter an extra day in his or her quest for love/compatibility. It’s a film about love, loneliness, and social pressures to conform to the accepted norm. I thought it interesting; TCMrsF’s view changed, from “quirky” initially, to “rubbish” by the end.

Saturday, July 22

We are joined by The Daughter to watch a dvd of I Daniel Blake. I was the only one of us who had seen the film before. Re-watching it only reinforced my initial view; as a piece of political propaganda, it’s powerful; but as a drama, it’s one-dimensional.


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