New tricks

I’m not one to say I can’t do something, not if I can help it.  I’ll generally have a go though quite often, even if it goes reasonably well, I may not choose to do it again  – playing the music at a wedding and giving a … not a sermon, but a talk in the sermon spot in church come to mind.  I prepared assiduously, but I feel no need to repeat either experience.  Oh, and I knitted myself a scarf and hat three or four years ago.  The hat was shaped very nicely at the top, but it proved impossible to do the ribbing at the bottom.  2 purl 2 plain was too much for me.  I kept forgetting which came next.  So I unravelled it and just made it stocking stitch all over.  But it fits, it’s neat enough and it demonstrated that I don’t particularly need something to do with my hands in the evening.  I used to like tapestry and a bit of sewing, but that would have to be done by daylight nowadays and I gave it up when I discovered that I could no longer see subtle graduations of colour by artificial light.

I’m not planning to take up any sort of artistic endeavour.  This daily drawing thing is just one of my whims and it’ll pass within days.  It’s just that I’ve had time on my hands this week, which has been very pleasant.

Oh darlings, I wrote a whole lot more and then the internets went down and it was all lost.  Al and Dilly and the children came in and then we had dinner and then I wrote some more, and then it all went belly-up and I can’t remember it all because I was just typing.  I’ll do my best…

I was musing, as I do in my Z persona, about how and why one learns something quite new in later years.  A friend whose wife died when he was about 80 set out to learn to cook, very successfully.  After all, he needed to feed himself.  She had been an excellent cook and he wouldn’t have been too happy to rely on ready meals.  He used to invite friends in for dinner: usually a casserole followed by stewed fruit, with a bottle or two of excellent wine.  And I’ve written already about my 94-year-old friend who bought an iPad and has learned to email and use the internet.

The Sage’s father, on retirement, took up golf as many people do once they have time on their hands.  I can’t imagine ever having quite that much time on my hands, not with the energy to spend half a day on the golf course, but plenty have.

And then there are those who take up writing, such as Mary Wesley whose books were all published when she was knocking on a bit, and there was the headteacher of the girls’ school at Southwold – her name was Ann and I’ll remember her surname in a bit – who took early retirement and cycled pretty well around the world, in stages, coming home in between major bike rides.  Not that this was learning something new as such, but she certainly did something quite unexpected and very different.

Me … no, I don’t think it’s likely.  If I manage to persevere with the clarinet that’ll be fine.  If not, I’ll be disappointed in myself.  But we do what we can and it depends on the circumstances whether one should blame oneself.  For now, I just wish I could remember the point I started off wanting to make.

PS – Ann Mustoe.

5 comments on “New tricks

  1. Z

    Yes, but when does the point come when that’s the decision most people make? And there’s a difference between a new skill and a new, possibly one/off, experience.

  2. mig

    I think learning new skills as you get older is a very good thing. And often essential – as with your cooking friend and many people who have to learn skills that have been provided by partners or friends who are no longer available.
    Learning itself is a skill (and a pleasure) that I wouldn’t want to lose through lack of use.

  3. Mike and Ann

    I don’t think we’re ever to old to learn (well, I hope not anyway), and I can quite see Mig’s point about learning practical skills. Anyway, I shall have to brush up my engraving skills quite soon, but brushing up is not quite the same as learning new skills. I think I must stick to my original point about broadening and improving those things we are good at.


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