As I vainly look in the mirror I wonder where the time has gone. I compare myself, not to a summer’s day but with the image of me leaning up against my grandads shed with my brother. I guess I am a bit bigger now, certainly uglier and I am less temperate. I like to think that not everything has changed though. I could say my hair is the same, fairly long and ash-blonde but that is one hell of a stretch. My face is covered in an ‘ash-blonde’ beard that needs trimming and I have bags under my eyes. But I am still a little boy at heart with the pleasure of a good fart nearly always giving me a chuckle depending on the tone and volume. Even at seventy-two I still cannot stop competing. But I am not that fresh faced little boy anymore. What happened to all those years?
Like most people, throughout my life I have had good times and I have had bad. I prefer to think more of the good though. There have been good times that only last a few moments but remain with you forever, like the time when Jane and I lived in Spain and Evie (the eldest grandchild) would make an effort to get up at 06:30 in the morning to go for a walk with me. I cannot remember what we used to talk about but those were special moments for me. Evie’s conversation seemed totally uninhibited and she just loved all the wildlife around where we lived. The lizards, snakes and birds were plentiful out there. The flora wasn’t too bad either even though it was generally in the summer when they visited and pretty hot and dry.
In fact, I have very fond memories of all my five grandchildren. Pete with story telling and imagination, James being the puzzle and Lego master, Alice with her enthusiasm and ability for dance and not forgetting Max, of course, whose honesty and straight talking can sometimes get him into trouble. I love them all dearly and they are all special in their separate ways.
I have many personal achievements the memories of which stay with me. Scoring tries in Rugby were special as I didn’t score many. Completing the ten full marathons over the period of about twenty years is something I am reasonably proud of. Not forgetting of course the cycle ride in celebration of my seventieth birth. The End to End or LEJOG as it is commonly called. LEJOG meaning Lands End to John O’Groats. I suppose that is higher up in my memory as it is more recent. The time it took me to do it was nothing special – twelve days – but the discomfort and, at times, sheer agony of that ride especially in Scotland was completely forgotten as I reached the top of a rise and suddenly looked down on John O’Groats. I had a big smile on my face as I freewheeled down to meet Jane.
I have had other ‘magic moments’ like the time in my work when we were trying to implement an ERP system for the company. The software that was purchased could not handle the complex pricing we had in operation. Even the company that we purchased it from failed miserably to find a solution. It was about this time I had a bout of the flu and whilst lying in my sick bed I had a Damascus moment and figured out an incredibly simple solution. It took me a couple of weeks to write the code and a further few days convincing everybody that it would work. It did and the project was saved. I was officially a hero in my own lunchtime. That felt good. Alas, it was soon forgotten but I did go on to create a complete manufacturing system that integrated with the main ERP system. They were heady times and not long after that I was promoted to the IT manager.
I have many, many more memories that remain with me, like the two week trip my brother Richard and I took around the south west of the USA. I could tell many stories about that one. But the constant in my life which has grounded me for the last forty six years has been Jane. That is not to say it has all been plain sailing but we have managed to work through our problems. We both have pride in our three children and there is a plethora of good memories there.
As I vainly look in the mirror again and see the haggard old codger looking back at me, I realise I have been lucky. With all life’s ups and downs that cherubic little boy is still in there somewhere albeit a little jaded.