It’s Just A Number

Funny thing, birthdays. They keep turning up, like the man who regularly knocks on the front door and tries to sell me horse manure. ‘Lovely stuff, Mr Le Pard. Nice and friable. Good for the roses.’ Like my birthdays.

This one, today, is my sixty-fifth. Back when a Johnson was a slang term for a penis and not a Prime Minister (though the analogy remains apt), turning 65 meant you would retire from your paid employment, come what may and receive your state pension. Neither are any longer true. I retired from the law a while ago though I dislike to concept of retiring, as indeed I think do most people. In part that is because, when the state pension was first a thing, you weren’t expected to live much beyond receiving your first instalments whereas nowadays, with a following wind (and, let’s face it, at 65 you really do not want to be facing your wind) you have a few years to indulge whatever it is that is your passion.

Dad was about 65 here; like father, like son…

When Dad retired, he turned to poetry. he’d always written poetry but he began to generate a lot. I couldn’t find one of his about turning 65, but he wrote this of growing old..

Life In An Old Dog

When a man grows old and the fire goes cold

Down in the boiler room,

And he can’t remember how to fan the embers,

He’s inclined to lapse into gloom.

*

But such melancholy is unnecessary folly,

And may easily be cured,

By bearing in mind the solace he can find

In the warm, and the ripe, and the matured.

*

For a roll in the hay, in the month of May,

Though exciting, was not always a success,

But a delicate affaire when the trees are bare

Can be rewarding – and a lot less stress!

And there is this one he wrote for his mother-in-law’s 90th.

To Gran – Ninety Years On (October 7 1986)

On October 7 1896 the Wright Brothers hadn’t yet flown

Women were not allowed to vote, Victoria was still on the throne,

Oil was something you put in lamps, the railways ran on coal,

Titanic was just an engineer’s dream, Scott hadn’t raced for the Pole.

*

The map of the world was still half red, men always stood for the Queen,

And a blacksmith’s forge, not a garage, looked out on the village green:

Horses were used throughout the land by baronet, bishop and brewer,

And though no-one choked on exhaust fumes, city streets were choked with manure.

*

Two World Wars were horrors undreamed – except by HG Wells

And on Sunday mornings the only noise in the land was the ring of bells.

Space travel and nuclear power were a million miles away

But a letter cost only a red penny stamp and delivery took just one day.

*

No-one had watched television, or flown, in six hours, the Atlantic,

The countryside lived by the seasons – and the pace was scarcely frantic.

Twopence you needed for ten cigarettes, or a gin, or a pint of beer,

And in the pub you could talk to men who had fought in the cold Crimea.

*

That’s how it was ninety years ago, in an England long since gone,

So it’s good to know, in this transitory world, that one thing is still going strong

I refer to Grace Lillian Francis who all through the years, bad and good,

Kept her powder dry and her head held high as an Englishwoman should.

*

But this is no time to be serious, too deep or too profound

This is your special day, Gran, with your family all around.

We wish you a Happy Ninetieth Birthday – and bright tomorrows, too,

Gran, with all Our love and respect, we raise our glasses to you.

Mind you, she never retired…

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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34 Responses to It’s Just A Number

  1. Great works of your Dad’s, Goff. Congratulations that you are now an Official Old Git. Have a lovely day

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well, young man, welcome to the club! Loved the poem of your Dad’s Smile! It looks good on you.

    Like

  3. Ruth says:

    Happy 65th birthday Geoff! 🙂

    Like

  4. Happy Birthday Geoff. Great to share your Dad’s poems.

    Like

  5. noelleg44 says:

    Great poem – I see where you get your talent! And Happy Birthday, Geoff. Welcome to the club!

    Like

  6. Happy birthday and many happy returns! I wish you a lovely day of celebration and a year filled with wonderful people and happenings. The photo is dear – the two of you look so comfortable and in sync with one another. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  7. willowdot21 says:

    Great poems Geoff the Old Man had a great turn of phrase.
    Happy Birthday 💜💜

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Darlene says:

    Wishing you a very Happy Birthday. I retired at 65, sold/gave away just about everything and moved to Spain, wrote 5 more books and got two dogs. Life begins at 65!! Enjoy.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Happy birthday Geoff. May it comfort you to know I’m older than you (by about 6 months), but we shall both get our state pensions next year. Hurrah!! Have a lovely day.

    Like

  10. Happy Birthday, Geoff. When I was Seventy, I finally decided to quit organized commerce. I didn’t want to go, but there was no point hanging around. I had accomplished all I set out to do. That was ten years ago, and I still have not retired. I wish you the best.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. JT Twissel says:

    Your father was a great poet. Happy Birthday! Writers never really retire ,,,, they just don’t get paid as much as they used to!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Suzanne says:

    Your Dad lives on via his poems. Happy birthday, Geoff, enjoy the birthday cake.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. trifflepudling says:

    Hope you had a happy day!

    Liked by 2 people

  14. KL Caley says:

    Happy belated birthday, Geoff! Hope you had a wonderful day. KL ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Jennie says:

    Happy Birthday, Geoff! You father’s poetry was a pleasure to read, especially the one to Gran. Love the photo!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Chel Owens says:

    I’m not quite as many birthdays along as you but view them much the same. 😀 In light of that, happy day anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

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