That's how long I've got until retirement. Assuming the bastards don't raise the retirement age. I wouldn't put it past them. Or I drop dead. Also not beyond the bounds of possibility.
I'm already planning for life after work. I started soon after I started working. As a teenager, my ambition was to be on the dole. For the whole of my life. Well, at least until I retired. My noble principles soon lost out to greed. At the tender age of just 22, I already had a job. Apart from a few brief, happy interludes of unemployment, I've been working ever since.
I have all the things I never imagined I would - children, a mortgage, my very own shed. What would my younger self think of mortgage-paying, shed-owning father me? "You've sold out, man". We all spoke in pseudo-hippy speak when I was an university. It was easy for Tym. Coming from the Northeast, it was natural to stick "man" on the end of every sentence. What do I think of the younger me? "Take a bath you smelly, longhaired hippy." I think we're even.
There are definitine advantages in marrying a German. For a start, beer-drinking is a natural part of life to Dolores. Everyone drinks beer in Germany. Even her granny did. There are others. Give me a few minutes and I'll remember them.
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She knows how to make Klose, that's one. And Yorkshire puddings. Hang on, that's not a German attribute. You're just going to have to believe me. Being maried to a German is great. It should give me someone to practise my German on, but Dolores refuses to speak it to me. She says it feels weird. I spoke no German when we met and we've always communicated in English. Did I mention that I didn't understand my wedding ceremony? I did catch the word "Sozialistische" a couple of times, but that was it. The official could have been sending me to a socialist gulag for all I knew. "Do you want to spend the rest of your life banged up in a socialist concentration camp?" "Ja". Dolores had taught me that word, "ja". When it was time to say it, she gave me a discrete kick.
Our wedding was fun. A photographer that we hadn't ordered turned up and took photos of all the guests. Very considerate of the authorities, making sure the event was recorded for posterity. A group of my family and friends came over and stopped at Dolores's mum's house for the best part of a week. She laid on a barrel of Eisenacher Pils for them. Her stepdad was worried it wouldn't all get drunk. He hadn't met many English people before, or he would have known better. A second barrel had to be bought before we'd even got married. That ran out a couple of hours into the post-reception party. We went over to the local pub to get some bottles but they'd none left. Instead we had the landlord fill a bucket with draught beer.
But I'm supposed to be telling you of my retirement plans, not my wedding. There's an advantage to Dolores being German. Especially coming from Thuringia. Not because it's a beautiful part of the world (which it is, by the way). But because of where it is. Just above Bavaria. It has much in common with Bavaria. The half-timbered villages look just the same. Even during the Happy Time (DDR period to you), it retained many small breweries.
When I suggested retiring to Franconia I'd anticipated some resistance from Dolores. "You just want to spend all day in the pub, Ronald." I expected her to say something like that. She knows me far too well. But she didn't. "That's an idea. I would be much easier to visit my sister. Plauen isn't far, either. I could see Elke." The financial aspects attracted her, too. For our three-bedroomed flat in fashionable Amsterdam Oud-Zuid we should be able to buy a Franconian castle and still have enough left over for me to sit in the pub all day. For me to continue my research, that's what I mean.
Forchheim could be a good choice. It's pretty and cheap. I can picture myself getting up at 08:30 and walking down to Neder for opening time and breakfast. Old me will fit in perfectly with the other customers. The lifestyle would probably have suited young hippy me, too.
The formative beers of my teenage years - My teenage beer drinking involved plenty of quantity – I was a regular pub customer from 16 onwards, pubs being the place to meet my mates, and girls – but...
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