People often ask if I’m enjoying retirement. It happened again last week. I have to rally myself a little, because writing every day, running workshops for adults, working in schools and hosting literature festival events doesn’t actually feel like the retirement they might mean. It mostly feels like fun, but not as if I have vast empty spaces to fill in my life.
I think that me being on the cusp of elderly confuses folk, as does the fact I left full-time teaching about twenty years ago. What I have done in that time is what artists often have to aim for [so they can write, paint, compose etc.] which is to balance their ‘art’ with a freelance career. For me as an extra bonus books and writing have always been at the core of what I do. And all that experience of teaching has never let me down in terms of a confidence in public speaking, preparing workshops, and the simple act of engaging with a roomful of complete strangers.
So in the past few months I’ve been in schools, worked with LGBTQ groups and with folk dealing with mental health issues, performed in public several times and written quite a lot.
Standout experiences amongst all these [and to be honest they all had their own magic] were working in the very lovely Benton Park School in Leeds with extraordinarily talented young people and handing out prizes at King James School in Knaresborough a few days later. I felt inspired by both occasions, which probably proves the old saying, ‘You can take the boy out of teaching but you can’t take teaching out of the boy’.
All in all, if this is retirement bring it on……