Sent the following letter to a friend of mine who had last written that he was about to be made redundant. Having not heard from him in a while I sent him this:
Writing for no particular reason other than to see how you are and what’s new in your life. Last you wrote you were on the edge of redundancy which I can only hope has not come to pass, or if it did that you have found your way to something new and better. Our lives are getting so chancy and difficult. Today I went on strike for the first time in my life. Would not have had to except that the union called for a two-hour stoppage right in the middle of my class time so out I went. It was a funny business but in the end and what swayed me to join the strike was the memory of my Father, organiser for the Electrical Trades Union of Canada and a left winger till his last day. More pragmatically, there is no point in joining a union and expecting its help if you cross the picket line when they ask you to take action. I’m not particularly militant since I worry that the claim will do no good for employment prospects generally and mine in particular, but having duly voted against the strike and found the strike was overwhelmingly supported the die was cast.
The other oddity was that I ran into the oldest person in the department whose age I didn’t actually know but white haired he is and clearly of something like my vintage. So I said to him – which I had picked up on the grapevine – that I’d heard he was retiring and why was that? Oh, he said, he’d always intended to retire when he turned 60! Holy mackerel. There must now be at least a decade between me and whoever comes next after him. Where do they go and why do they do it? I’m going to write my own version of Father William, I think, that will begin:
You are young Father William, the old man said.
So what that your hair has turned grey?
There are still many years before you are dead.
Why retire when you can still stay?
A bit morbid perhaps, but the rhyme scheme is all. About half the people I know are still working, and the rest play golf. I don’t play golf so what would I do? I hope you aren’t able to fill me in on that.
Anyway, be well. Hope things are good.