Best wishes from Smokey

Well it has been some time has it not? Two and a half years almost. Despite rumours I have not passed away nor just got bored with blogging. However, there have been some dramatic changes in my life. The first, being a very long run in with a pack of black dogs. The second was my prolonged attempt to escape from a job that I grew to hate; in fact hate is not a strong enough word to describe how I felt. The third was the sale of Chateau Gastonbury which took over a year and finally moving in with the Beancounter at Kastle Kastanbury which is where I now live.

The Black dog which was joined by some of his friends and became what seemed like a pack. Each problem I encountered only increased the size of the pack and I ended off work and under medication. Work was the biggest problem, I liked the place, I liked most of the people, I even liked some of the bosses and the work in itself was not really of huge concern although it did contribute to the overall problem. The main cause of my intense dislike was the system I had to work under. Government changes and a succession of bosses who had either never worked on the shop floor or it been so long since they had that they had forgotten what it was like in the “field” were my biggest problem. Salvation came in the form of early retirement and the day after I retired half of the pack of black dogs faded into the distance.

Between my home going up for sale and retirement being offered Beancounters house was burgled with devastating mental effects. It took some time to come to terms not only with the loss of possessions but the realisation that the home had been violated and despite our best efforts we had not made it in the safe and fortress like haven we believed it to be. Although the insurance covered all the material goods the sentimental value of some of the items were beyond price and can never be replaced. As I tried to figure out the best forms of security by way of locks and doors another couple of dogs joined the ever growing pack that was snapping at my heels.

Chateau Gastonbury went up for sale a few weeks before my retirement. As a general election was looming and people were concerned over what might or might not happen to the financial markets and interest rates, interest was flat for six months but after the election and the subsequent return to overall power of the Tories, viewings picked up and 12months after going on the market I finally left what had been the family home for well over 60 years. Feelings were mixed as I left behind a host of memories both good and bad as I shut the front door for the final time but I had wanted to go for many years and as I moved into Kastle Kastanbury the last black dog disappeared from view.

The past two and a half years have not entirely been gloom and doom and thanks to the many friends, most of whom have been mentioned in this blog at some point, I have managed to come through the entire episode with no permanent scars. Special mention must go to Ted Magnum, Commander Riker, The Driver, a new group the Merseyriders and of course Beancounter. All of these people have put up with my rants, mood swings irrational and sometimes completely unpredictable behaviour and rarely complained.

The Merseyriders are a group of motorcyclists of mixed ages, riding abilities and riding styles ranging from boy racer and throttle fiend to the tootle along and view the scenery to hardcore all weather all conditions rider that go beyond just riding, it is a social group as well. I have been camping with these people, ridden to Belgium to commemorate the centenary of WW1, ridden to Normandy to see the beaches of the allied landings and the liberation of Europe and spent a few days out (nowhere as near as many as I would have liked) on my bike in their company. I have also spent many an enjoyable evening at events parties and social gatherings with these people. I am proud of the fact they count me among their membership and one of them. During some of the darkest moments, thinking about what we were going to get up to and planning trips away took my mind of some of the more troubling aspects of my life. It would be fair to say some of my most enjoyable periods of the last few years have been spent revving the bollox off my steed either trying to catch up with or leading this diverse bunch.

Ted Magnum has been another rock upon which I have leant rather heavily, our trips to often cold damp and miserable campsites coupled with his insufferable moaning and pessimistic outlook has often meant at least someone was unhappier than me!

Commander Riker and his other half (they got married the weekend just gone) Rock chick, have perhaps understood more than most the problems I had with work as they both worked with me for several years. The three of us all had some issues with work and at least for a period of time we had each other to lean on. Commander Riker was the first to go and then Rock chick which left me feeling isolated at times. We have now all left the “firm” and it is fair to say none of us have looked back since.

As I mentioned earlier Beancounter has borne the brunt of all my misfortunes, trials and tribulations either real or imagined and seen me at my worst. She is still here and I am as surprised as many of my friends that she stuck it out and did not boot me into the long grass a long time ago but we are now living together under the same roof. I had sworn many years ago that I would never live with another woman so this is a learning curve for the pair of us. I am sure there will be mistakes along the way but it is fair to say I am not the same man I was a few years ago. Mature, mellow, wiser and more understanding are some of the words that I am sure she would like to say in any description of me, sadly that is not the case. If anything more cynical, more pessimistic certainly more immature and a lot less tolerant would certainly be closer to the reality, however I am back maybe not with a bang but I am back.

It has not been possible to describe all of the developments and events of the last few years in a single post so I will be trying to fill in the gaps over the next few entries along with what is left of my aspirations and dreams. Till then take care with best wishes from Smokey…..

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