112 Living in the presents Part II.
“One of your tasks,” Miss Bradbury tells me, “is to order retirement gifts. You send the retiree the catalogue three months before their L.D.S. There are different catalogues, depending on their L.O.S. They tell you what they want; you order the gift. Is that clear?”
I try to look intelligent. Twenty-one, and in my first proper graduate job, working for what had been the Civil Service, and then the Post Office, and would shortly become British Telecom. I’m an Executive Officer in a Superannuation section. Pensions, to you and me. I have, under my supervision, two Clerical Officers and a Clerical Assistant. They are all unbelievably old – at least fifty – and I am now their boss. It is important that I appear competent.
Should you have a stick to shake,
I guarantee that the quantity of presents
Would defeat you; and the quality
Would have you running
For the hills.
“So, any interesting presents?” I pass on the Quality Street and add my sweet wrapper to the pile in the middle of the staffroom table. Destination – the sticking area for next year’s Reception Class, the last of this year’s children having finally, finally left the building for the summer.
Mrs Berry shakes her head as she sends the chocolates on their way. “Vouchers. And some really nice letters. Nothing useless at all. ”
“I once got last year’s diary, partially written in,” says Mrs Acorn. “And some used British Airways complimentary earplugs.”
“I was once given a packet of condoms,” muses Mrs Berry. “But at least they weren’t used.”
“I once got given a chocolate thong,” pipes up Mr Headteacher. A shiver of horror passes around the table.
“I really wish you hadn’t shared that,” I say. “Right, best tackle that classroom.” As I haul myself up, a text comes through on my phone. YoungLochinvar has thoughtfully sent me a photo he’s just taken in Smith’s. Back to School, it says. My soul shrinks a little.
The following day, I set off to buy some holiday odds and ends. I need some summer shoes for traipsing around Rome but Marks are putting out their winter boots already. Any minute now, I expect to hear carol singers.
It can’t be good for us, this rushing towards the future at the expense of the present. Not good for me, anyway. Nowadays, I work best on a very short focus.
There was a time last year when I was almost paralysed with worry about how my Parkinson’s might progress and how miserable life would become. It takes very little imagination to conjure up a pretty depressing future.
But I’ve had brilliant support from family and friends including my own ActorLaddie. And I’ve talked with people who are living positively with Parkinson’s and MS, amongst other conditions. And it’s helped me to realise that right now, right here, I am very lucky – my life is good and to be enjoyed. I am very content, despite the start of the football season.
DearHeart is currently learning about Mindfulness and has been sharing with me her discoveries. Her recommended book (here) arrived in today’s post so you can expect all future blogs to be vastly serene. And, as she reminds me, we do only have the present. I’m trying really hard to be grateful for that present. Even if it is a chocolate thong.