It’s been one of those days which makes me want some heartwarming escapism at the end of it (and, let’s face it, when has that ever been a bad way to end a day?) so I thought I’d bring you my favourite among the old books I’ve picked up in recent years.
How to Live Well on your Pension was written by a gentleman called W.P.A. Robinson and, according to my Googling, was published in London in 1955 (the year my parents were both born). As you might guess from the title, Mr Robinson describes the means by which he has achieved a satisfactory quality of life during his retirement in spite of his income now being considerably smaller than when he was working. Just the book’s cover makes me grin (once I’ve set aside its message that smoking is integral to a hard day’s work).
I find fascinating the sections of the book where Mr Robinson describes in detail his everyday routine, both because of the differences – and lack of – that fifty-six years have brought about, and the simple pleasure of learning the mundane but intimate details of someone else’s life. Here’s one of my favourite sections:
Early morning tea is fun because one has the kitchen to oneself. Personally, I always get the things ready overnight and shave while the kettle’s boiling, which fits in very well later. I then go up with the tea and a small battery wireless set, and we drink our tea and hear the ‘Weather and News’ – seven o’clock in the summer and eight o’clock in the winter.
Then, after listening to a lot of clotted nonsense talked interminably at conferences by ‘The Minister for Bubble-Blowing, who was accompanied by fourteen experts and six interpreters’ we discuss items of real importance such as sowing sweet peas, ordering more hen food, or planting out tomatoes.
I’ll be going to sleep with a smile on my face after that.