Irrespective of the consequences of retiring from paid employment, I now need to discover some new interests. The two great passions in my life outside my family, the Labour Party and Cardiff Rugby Club, are in sharp decline. Both have hit hard times and have acquired new leaders. Given time, results could improve for Cardiff under coach Danny Wilson – I hope that this is the case. By contrast the longer Jeremy Corbyn stays in office the worse the prospects are for the Labour Party. In both cases there is nothing I can do to influence events and my role as spectator simply makes me depressed.
Fortunately, as well as writing a blog, I have developed a new hobby: Scottish country dancing. I have joined a group at Blakeney Scout Hut every Monday afternoon between 1400 and 1600 and thoroughly enjoy it. It came as no surprise to me to discover that I was no good at it. I have never had any athletic ability: I was always the last boy to be picked in the school playground and the one left out if there were uneven numbers. I have now discovered yet another activity where, however much enthusiasm I display, I will struggle to achieve competence. However, and this is the nice thing about it, everyone who attends tries to help everyone else to get to the right place in the sequence at the right time. The better dancers display immense patience with those who are struggling since, as our excellent instructor, Eddy, puts it ‘it is a team activity’.
This contrasts with another hobby of mine – cryptic crosswords. Here I have some talent but not very much; I am good enough to know that I will never be good enough. Having more time on my hands I have started to tackle the famously difficult Listener Crossword that is published in The Times on Saturday; I find I can complete about one in six puzzles. This can be frustrating on occasions but there are websites (for example answerbank) where you can ask for help from other solvers if desperate. This is often effective but there is a downside. The better solvers use the site as an opportunity to say how easy they found a particular crossword (often ones where I have made no headway), and hope that future puzzles will be made more difficult. I prefer the approach of the Scottish dancers.