Blog Search

Loading...

Saturday, 20 October 2012

What's in a number?

The number is 65 and the answer is there is absolutely nothing bad about this number!

 Me in Dad's helmet, aged 5

I was going to keep quiet but it would seem that quite a number of people somehow know (thanks for the good wishes guys - you know who you are) that I hit the milestone of 65 last Thursday.  Best to get in first and admit it before someone else writes a pack of lies in their blog!  In a lot of countries, this officially signifies OLD FART status as it's traditionally (not by law) the time to retire and receive national superannuation courtesy of the government.

Maybe there might have been a bit of introspection had I not deliberately retired at 60, thanks to a very good company superannuation scheme and some investments but at present,  I feel quite enthusiastic about frittering the government's forthcoming contribution on wine, women and song! Well, wine anyway..... I can't sing and pursuing hot chicks would see me sucking my meals through a straw in a hospital casualty ward at the very least!

Almost respectable, aged 20 or thereabouts

In all seriousness, I reckon birthday milestones shouldn't really influence how you organise your life.  Let me explain.....

Back in 1987 when I was 40, my best friend Alan and I were rising through the management ranks in one of NZ's biggest manufacturing companies.  Long hours, good pay, fulfilling careers with the downside being that perhaps we didn't spend as much time with our young families as we should - the classic dilemma.  Then everything changed.

Early one evening, we got a phone call from the police.  Alan had lost his life in a car accident and would I please go with them straight away to break the news to his family.  Putting it simply, having to do something like that once in your lifetime is once too many. I won't dwell on the incident but the impact was profound and from then on, the focus dramatically changed to never putting anything off in life so that we never had to say the dreaded words, "If only..........".   Since then, Jennie and I (and our kids) have gone out of our way to do all sorts of stuff and experience different things from pursing personal and shared interests, through to a bit of community voluntary work.  We've kept ourselves pretty busy but that doesn't matter at all when what you do is fulfilling and enriching.  And importantly, we've had fun and laughed a lot - particularly at ourselves!

In my late 50's - bottom of the South Island on the
Southern Cross round NZ in 5 days endurance ride

Back on a motorcycling theme, regular readers will be aware that last year, I joined the Institute of Advanced Motorists which arguably sets the highest advanced riding standards anywhere, based on UK police rider training.  Passing their full membership test and now hopefully not far off becoming an Observer has in all honesty been the highlight of my riding career (spanning 50 years next year) and I'm unbelievably proud to have met those goals .  More importantly, it's made me a much better rider which will hopefully extend my riding career.  It's also allowed me to put something back into a lifelong passion. It's challenges like this with more than a dash of irreverence and humour thrown in which will continue to make the number of years lived so far just a number, nothing more!  And definitely no "If onlys....".

Out on the town celebrating last Thursday
- both of us have the giggles!




40 comments:

  1. Where would you like your free bus pass sent to Geoff?

    Hearty congratulations and best wishes for your birthday. Yes, it is a significant age, but I suspect one that will not slow you down, but move you to do even more. You are one of the people who inspire others by leading such a fulfilling life and I thank you for that. Alan’s death may have just been the catalyst you needed to change direction and to spark the need to get things done while you still can. Nobody wants to look back at their lives and think “if only” and I don’t think you ever will.

    I think you get a huge buzz of enjoyment from the things that you and Jennie do, but you may not realise how much your friends and the occasional blogger enjoy hearing and reading about your adventures too. I enjoyed reading about you “Knocking the bastard off” with a pretty long ride back in 2010 and I read, with a huge smile on my face, about your thoughts and preparations for IAM. But, it is also some of the small things that make us smile about the two of you. Fishing, cats, driving around in soft top cars – the stuff of life that you seem to enjoy so much.

    Keep up the good work Geoff. Back in the old country, I will raise a glass in belated birthday greetings.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Gary,

      I had to laugh at the "bus pass" comment! I also received my government "Gold Card", entitling me to all sorts of transport discounts and discounts for other services. Trouble is, living in an isolated area of the country, there are very few public services so I don't think it will come out of the wallet very much!

      Thanks for the kind words, I'm genuinely touched. We really can't claim any credit but I think Alan would be pleased with respect to his influence. I'm also pleased to say that his 3 children are now 3 simply fantastic adults and his wife also has a wonderful life.

      Thank you again for the kind words Gary.

      Delete
  2. Congratulations Geoff. 65 and still riding bikes and a Speed triple hoon machine to boot. If I make it to your age I would love to be still riding. Your posts are always intersting/amusing, informative and well written. Keep it up mate.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cheers Steve,
      I think that keeping active with more than a dose of healthy cynicism and laughing a lot isn't a bad recipe for growing older. No complaints whatsoever!

      Delete
  3. Geoff

    Congratulations and I agree totally with your views about putting things off.... (Easier said than done).

    It's still not too late for you to go for a spaceflight or a submarine tour of the Titanic - go for it!

    N

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Nikos,
      Have to agree with you that it's not easy and it's a shame that it's often events like the one we experienced which has to act as the catalyst.

      Paddling a kayak in Alaska is still on the bucket list. I'd prefer it to be in the Antarctic but getting there is a nightmare as well as bloody expensive - I've checked!

      Delete
  4. I am one of the bad ones who forgot your birthday so I shall say Happy Belated Birthday Geoff!!

    Your post bit regarding Alan is a good reminder that life is what we make of it and we only have one to live.

    Loved seeing the pics of you from back in the day and of course seeing you and Jennie with the giggles is always a pleasure.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Brandy!

      Yes indeed, why wait for things to happen as opposed to trying to take control of your life.

      Hahaha - it's really hard to keep a straight face when we hang out together, not that either of us are complaining :-)

      Delete
  5. Happy (belated) B-Day. There is nothing wrong with that number. You haven't changed a bit. As they say it is not how old you are it is how old you feel, and I am sure that Jennie has a strong opinion about your 'felt age' ;-)

    I wish you all the best, good health, and always enough strength and stamina for continued two-wheeled activities.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cheers Sonja!

      You KNOW that Jennie thinks I haven't progressed past 5 years of age!!!

      Thanks for the good wishes and fingers crossed for a bit of stamina!

      Delete
  6. Replies
    1. Cheers, Canajun!
      .......and still mostly behaving like a 5 year old. Trying my best to grow older disgracefully!

      Delete
  7. Habby Birthday youold bastard..bludgung off the government now are we?


    All the best mate..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks me ol' mate!

      Yeah, public parasite, that' me :-)

      It was only Mark and Ken with their implied threat to go public which triggered this post. How the heck they knew, and Bobscoot too is currently beyond me!!

      Delete
    2. Geoff:

      My ears were burning . . .

      Delete
    3. How did we know? - we have our ways...

      Actually, you told us last year - forgetfulness as well as old age setting in??

      From the cheeky young pup...

      Delete
    4. Mark,
      I'm more impressed with your excellent memory than any decline in mine!!

      Jennie is only 6 weeks younger than me but she's giving me a hard time. Since my birthday, I haven't beaten her in the Stuff website general knowledge quiz. She thinks it's proof of senility setting in.....

      Delete
    5. Geoff:

      you are being very gracious for letting Jennie win . . . You have to be smart to appear stupid

      bob
      Riding the Wet Coast
      My Flickr // My YouTube



      Delete
    6. It's you that is gracious Bob, I'm just plain stupid!

      Delete
  8. Happy Birthday Sweetie!! Wish we all had readiy accessible supersonic flight and could have a big birthday bash...

    Keep up the fun and laughs and wine and giggles. :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thanks Lori!

    Yep, wouldn't that just be great? I'm sure you could invent a teleporter if you put your mind to it :-)

    Will do our best and thanks again!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Happy(belated) birthday ... Hey there's absolutely nothing wrong with acting like your five sometimes, it keeps you young (is that your secret?) Here's to many more happy years of riding!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thanks Karen,

    I might agree with you apart from the fact that I don't know that I'm doing it which is a bit worrying :-). Cheers!!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Geoff:

    from one of the first to nearly the last but I had to wait until I got back to my computer at home

    Thanks for posting those ancient photos, you were such a handsome devil . . . back in the day. I wonder where you obtained those photos, were cameras invented yet ?

    I only wish I could be as active as you when the times come to discard "work". You would be a hard act to follow; volunteering, IAMs, travelling, fishing, riding, blogging . . .

    sorry about your friend Alan. When we are young we think we are invincible and think that we will conquer the world but in reality our time is shorter than we think in the scheme of things. Time stops for no-one and it passes faster than we think but obviously you have put your time to good use. Thank goodness for the internet for making it possible for all of us around the World to wish you the best at this stage in your life, and with your life partner Jennie

    I hope that one day our paths will cross and I get the opportunity to shake your hand and say thank you for all the delightful things you have posted and will continue to post about your NZ paradise. you are in inspiration

    Happy Birthday and best wishes for continued happiness & health (to the both of you)

    bob
    Riding the Wet Coast
    My Flickr // My YouTube




    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bob:
      There have been some odd things happening to the replies to this post - some of the earlier ones arrived way after some of the later ones. Really odd but it all sorted itself out.

      You're far, far too kind - have never been a chick magnet, apart from the time it really counted and I still wonder why :-)

      Well, some of my joints give me a bit of grief now and then but there's no point in complaining, is there? Might as well get stuck in....

      Yes, you simply never know what's round the corner and as you say, we're all bullet proof when we're younger.

      I sincerely hope our mutual wish will be granted in 2014 - that's still the plan. It might only be a couple of days in the Vancouver area but it would so sad if we weren't able to meet in person, even for a short time. Thanks so much for the moving comments my friend.

      Delete
  13. Happy (belated) Birthday Geoff!!

    OMG that's not old, old is when you cant get the leg over anymore ... the bike I mean!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cheers Brenda,
      Hahahaha - priceless (on either count) :-)

      Delete
  14. I'm delighted to hear you celebrated your birthday. I'm glad my tardiness in wishing you well didn't impede the festivities.

    It is a fine balance isn't it living for today and planning for the future as well. It is easy to be too much one or the other. I, too, was kidnapped by "the classic dilemma" of allowing my career to gobble up too much of my life. Life handed me a big do over and I stumbled on the life I always wanted, but didn't know. Luckily I'm much younger than you (all of three years, he says laughing). Sadly it took me longer to wise up, and fortunately I did.

    I've appreciated your reflections on aging and riding, as well as your commitment to skill development. Thanks for that.

    Again, congratulations on getting to 65.
    ~Keith

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hi Keith and thanks - took it fairly easy with the festivities, a glass or two of wine and a single malt is all it takes to send me to sleep these days!

    Totally understand and even the best employer isn't likely to admonish you for the long hours you put in! Mine would tell me to take leave and whenever I planned more than a few days off, something always seemed something urgent they needed to stop me!

    Very pleased you stumbled on the good life whilst you're still a young fella :-). David Hough's latest book has an excellent chapter on ageing.

    Thanks again.....

    ReplyDelete
  16. Happy Anniversary of your birth. We were all so upset awhile back when we heard you weren't going to be writing your blog anymore and such relief when you came to your senses and started posting again. We enjoy your stories and posts so much, your photos and your journey with IAM. Thank you so much for sharing and we look forward to your upcoming summer posts to carry us northerners through our cold, wet winter.

    Happy Birthday!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hi Brad,
    Thanks for the wishes and kind words. I guess it's kind of fortunate that some of the anticipated IAM commitments have been slower coming to fruition than originally thought so there's a bit of spare time at present. It will still be coming though. For what it's worth, I'll slip the odd post in but I'm conscious of trying to do too many things and ending up doing all of them poorly.

    All the very best....

    P.S A new IAM newsletter out next week, hope you'll enjoy it!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Happy belated birthday greetings Geoff, ...wow what a journey from a respectable 20 year old to a 65 year old hoon - fantastic.
    Loui

    ReplyDelete
  19. Cheers Loui. Yep, growing older disgracefully comes highly recommended! The other saying we try to live up to is 'Live long enough to be an embarrassment to your kids'. I think we're doing pretty well on that front too!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Happy Birthday Geoff!

    Great post and a great philosophy on life.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Thanks Jules,
    The correct philosophy I think bur one which I wouldn't have followed without the circumstances which prevailed. I think Alan would be pleased.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Very belated Happy Birthday! I was going to comment earlier but your post really got me thinking of my priorities. Thank you for the Andy story. Lots of food for thought. I'm not that far behind you...

    ReplyDelete
  23. Thanks Richard. I think you mean Alan. Do people retire in Alaska or move south?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Alan. Sorry about that. People do retire and stay in Alaska. Many leave but a surprising number return after a few years as they discover that they really do like it here in spite of the weather.

      Delete
    2. The people who retire in Alaska put me to shame. Before I retired, the place I lived and worked was at an altitude of 1200 ft and winter temperatures dropped to a nightime minus 5 degrees C. That was one of the reaons we didn't want to stay **blush**

      Delete

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.