Found myself pondering stress, retirement and singing over breakfast this foggy morning. As usual for as long as I can remember - certainly since I was 12 - this time of year is a whirl of activity which is nothing to do with buying presents and drinking mulled wine in Christmas Markets (if only!) and everything to do with Keeping Well (because of having to sing), Very Important Rehearsals (because the gig is tomorrow) and What Shall We Sing at Midnight?
Add to that the deadline for a job I've been doing (before the end of this week) and you have, as near as dammit, the situation I used to be in when I was working. Then, in addition to the singing (remember - singers are the biggest hypochondriacs in the flu season) we tended to have exam marking to finish and the school magazine to get out before the customers started skiving in the run-up to the hols. And when I was a pupil we had the school concert - huge in Hillhead High School in the 60s, and multiplied by 4 the year the St Andrew's Halls burned down and we had to put them on in the (very much smaller) school hall on four nights one hectic week - so were trailing home after 6pm on the foggy Glasgow evenings after two hours of extra-curricular orchestral rehearsal. The choir, I remember, was never allowed to interfere with the orchestra, and had to fit rehearsals in at lunch time.
So I have never, ever, known a peacefully domestic festive season - have never understood when people have said "Just as well you caught flu/the cold/winter vomiting/bubonic plague before Christmas" - because, for me, Christmas has always come as a great "whew!" that I made it all (or didn't, as this year: I still haven't reconciled myself to the cancellation of last week's carol service). In a way, this mirrors my retirement so far - and that's where this morning's ponderings came in. Were I to chuck it all, to confine my singing to the shower (sounded great this morning) and my church activities to the pew on a Sunday; to refuse any invitation to practise my professional skills in retirement - would I turn into a placid, relaxed pensioner with time to visit friends and take little mid-week breaks in interesting cities?
Or would I simply die of boredom?