A wry view of life for the world-weary

Tag Archives: retirement

A New Day Yesterday – Part Twenty Two


How quickly we become yesterday’s men and how soon does the world with which we were so familiar change. Some pretty deep thoughts prompted by the realisation that I have been retired now for eighteen months. Fugit inreparabile tempus, as Vergil said – how irretrievable time flies.

I had to go up to London a little while ago to attend a meeting which was held at my old place of employment. What a shock to the system! My office had been consigned to the scrapheap and in its stead were serried rows of earnest young things beavering away at something or the other. The subject of the meeting was a dry as dust concerning regulatory matters, the sort of agenda that had me fleeing for the hills a couple of years ago. It struck me how young and, dare I say it, inexperienced everyone was, a sure sign that you are getting old.

My antennae detected a change in atmosphere in the City. It wasn’t Brexit fears, although everyone seemed to have contingency plans of some sort. No, it was more of a puritanical nature aimed at that City tradition of a good hearty lunch. If you are tucking into some good food in the company of some clients or prospects, it would be churlish, I always thought, not to enjoy a glass or two of vino. But it seems those days are fast disappearing. The Corporation of Lloyd’s a little while back announced that their staff were banned from consuming alcohol between the hours of 9 and 5 and this rather puritanical approach seems to be gathering momentum in the Square Mile. The popular misconception, of course, is that the underwriters and brokers who trade in Lloyd’s are employees of the Corporation – they are not and so fall outside of the ban – but we are clearly on a slippery slope.

And getting some decent tucker seems to be more problematic. I had arranged a pre-meeting lunch with a dear broker friend of mine. We had decided to mark my rare appearance in the Smoke with a trip down memory lane to my favourite fish restaurant, the Orpheus. It was located underneath one of the railway arches leading up to Fenchurch Street station and every now and again the gaff would shake as a train rattled overhead. But the fish was wonderful. There was a sense of occasion to the whole experience. The Maitre d’ would wander from table to table with a platter of fish, explaining the different types and cuts on offer that day. I had my heart set on Skate Wings but when I got to the restaurant I found it boarded up. A sad sight.

I don’t know whether I’m becoming a bit of a Jonah with restaurants but it has happened to me before. When I worked in the West End I had a favourite restaurant, PJ’s, which honoured regular clients by putting a plaque bearing their name on the wall. Mine was positioned between Liberace and Sue Pollard – a rather uncomfortable position to be in, for sure. Shortly after I relocated to another part of town it closed down. Is there a correlation between losing my custom and closing down? It is rather worrying, if there is. And I wonder whatever happened to my plaque.


A New Day Yesterday – Part Thirteen

drumand monkey

I seem to have broken through a psychological barrier in coming to terms with my new status as a retired person. I am now beginning to sleep through to a sensible time in the morning without feeling the need to stir at an ungodly hour to catch a train and, generally, I have emancipated myself from the slavery of time. Whereas previously my life had been ruled by those artificial divisions of minutes and hours, nowadays they don’t seem to matter a jot. It is a wonderful feeling.

What has also become very apparent is how little I know about the surroundings in which I live. Hitherto I have jumped into the car for even the shortest of journeys, to the newsagent or the local shops, oblivious to what was around me, just focussed on getting from A to B in the shortest possible time. Now, of course, accomplishing the most as quickly as possible is not the prime concern. In short, I have discovered the joys of Shanks’ pony.

TOWT and I went for a walk recently to sample the delights of the recently refurbished Olde White Hart which is at the top of Frimley High Street. I had always found the pub depressingly gloomy and, truth be told, a bit grubby but the alterations have made it seem considerably lighter. The furniture is that mish-mash of styles and shapes which seems to be all the rage at the moment and the pictures on the walls, on the whole, added to the ambience. Disappointingly, two of the four ales were not available but the fruity Greene King’s London Glory was very acceptable and the food well presented and edible.

On the way back to Blogger Towers we diverted down that part of Field Lane which runs along the perimeter of St Peter’s cemetery. In my two decades of living in Frimley I had never been down this lane. Almost as soon as I had stepped foot in the lane it seemed as if I was in the heart of the countryside, a rough stony lane surrounded on both sides by hedgerow. As we walked down the lane on the right hand side there was a row of cottages and one, number eight, particularly caught my eye.

It has a very distinctive weather vane attached to the chimney stack featuring a monkey with a drum. The signage above the front door of the cottage bears testimony to the fact that this was once a public house which was known as the Drum and Monkey. It appears, however, in the census of 1841 as the Queen’s Head, a beer house, and probably did a good trade from the mourners who used the side gate from the cemetery after burying their next of kin. It is possible that it was built on the site of the old church’s brewhouse. So there was a pub within two hundred yards of Blogger Towers and I knew nothing about it. Shame on me!

Field Lane today cuts a rather eccentric path between the church and St Katherine’s Way, joining the end of Frimley Grove Gardens and the start of Buckingham Way for a hundred yards or so before shooting off as an unmade lane again. Before the agricultural land was sold off and developed into a housing estate – where Blogger Towers is was once a mushroom farm which may explain why every now and again clumps of mushrooms appear on my pride and joy which is the lawn – Field Lane was the only thoroughfare. This discovery has encouraged me to find out more about where I live.