Last Sunday I met a man in Meaghar’s pub in Dublin before the All Ireland final. Meaghar’s must be the biggest pub I was ever in. As happens all too often these days he said hello to me and called me by name. I said hello to him without the slightest idea what his name was. He told his ten year old son that I had taught him to play Gaelic football. The little guy seemed impressed but I had the feeling he thought I was probably the oldest man he had spoken with in his entire life. The father asked me if I had retired and I assured him that this was the case. He also confided that he had a spare ticket if I needed one but I told him that I had one already in my pocket which had been posted to me from Bilbao in Spain. I had no idea why I should receive an All Ireland ticket from Spain but I later found out that Mickey Lemon is working there. (Nothing wrong with Mickey’s memory)
I have tried to recall this man’s name without success. I remember a similar incident in Celtic Park in Derry some years ago. This guy chatted away to me and I couldn’t figure out who he was. It was the following Thursday that I realized who he was. Given that he was a retired policeman I have to be excused as he was the last person I expected to meet at a GAA match. Later that year he came over and said hello at a Wolfe Tones concert in Dublin! That’s what retirement does for you. You can pick and choose what to do.
Most people look forward to the day when they retire. Some retire more than once. Bawnmore man Hughie Donaghy retired three times while Charlie O’Kane, who is more than a few months older than me, has yet to give up. In The Bellevue Arms at nine o’clock every Sunday night he announces that he is going “to shoot the crow” because he has to get up early for work. The man is otherwise very sensible.
I was reminded that there is one establishment where there is no retirement. Until now the only way to leave the House of Lords is to pass into the next world. I watched a debate from Westminster some weeks ago when the Lords debated a proposal that peers who have had enough of the place should be allowed to quit. They even discussed whether the House should have a retirement age. One female lord (I forget what they call them) said that while we could simply "wring our hands" about the house being too large, it was in fact high time to "bite the bullet, grasp the nettle and accept that you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs".
Another ancient Welsh lord declared that while it is always true that people who act in haste may repent in leisure, it's perhaps even more on the nose that a stitch in time saves nine, and they who hesitate are lost. One lord made the point that to sugar the pill a lump sum might be paid to those who had passed their sell-by dates.
The leader of the House, Lord Strathclyde firmly resisted this idea saying that many a mickle makes a muckle! The Lords (and Ladies) decide to strike while the iron was hot and rather than kick the proposal into the long grass as they usually do, accepted the proposal. They might have a debate about the use of cliches one day for there’s no other group of people who can “waffle” for hours on end without really saying anything.
I overheard a conversation today where two ladies were deciding how to mark a former colleague’s (a teacher) recent retirement. They discussed going out for a meal but this was kicked into touch as one of them stated that she had trouble with a tooth and wouldn’t be able to enjoy a meal until the dentist had treated her. The appointment date is late October. Either she is “long in the tooth” or should see the tooth fairy. If they wait that long the poor soul won’t even remember working.
Some people like everyone to know they are leaving and to have a presentation and a bout of mutual backslapping. Others prefer to slip away quietly. One guy I know recently did just that but he was heading to a rival company. He sent a little e-mail to selected ex colleagues:
“I know you’ve all heard the rumours, I know you’ve all dreaded this moment, but I’m afraid it’s true…Today is indeed my last day at (present company). Now before the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth begins (especially from the ladies (and Robbie) I just wanted to say goodbye and thanks for all the fish. I’d like to say it’s been a pleasure to work with every single one of you, but I won’t. I’d be lying if I said I did…
I am moving to arguably (present company’s) main enemy and competition in distribution design. Should we meet in the future, please don’t approach me as a friend, we will be mortal enemies and will be forced to fight to the death using weapons of our choice (I prefer chainsaws!). Have you ever seen Mad Max 3 – Beyond the Thunderdome? It’ll be like that, except I’ll be Mad Max and you’ll be the guy (or gal) that’s chainsawed to death.
To all the good guys in (my section) and beyond, I always liked you and will cherish your memories and bring flowers to your graves after I’ve slaughtered you in battle.
To all the others…no flowers for you. (Ps I put laxatives in the coffee, hope none of you had any?!?!?)
So I’ll leave you with the words of one of humanity’s true philosophers, a forward thinker, philanthropist and scholar…Bear in the Big Blue House. “Goodbye, Goodbye dear friends goodbye…”
PS – remember…if you can see me, I can see you. If you CAN’T see me, you may only be seconds from death.
It’s Thursday already and I still haven’t remembered the name of the fella I met in Meaghar’s. However, if he’s there next year I’ll grab the bull by the horns and ask him.