A happy retirement; Men and Their Toys

Don’s Diary (Men and Their Toys)

There have been volumes written on the way to have a happy retirement. Foremost has to be your health closely followed by financial security. It may seem odd to those who have not faced retirement in old age but there are so many problems that simply cannot the solved with money: health, happiness, loneliness to name a few. It is hard to be happy without health and financial security however personal relationships should be placed high on the list and the activities which occupy your time.

Waking hours in retirement, after those spent on domestic chores, can be used productively to improve one’s wellbeing. The best activities will tax the mind causing it to be resourceful, problem solve and recall information: there is the saying “use it or lose it”. (Jimmy Connors, b.1952) The best activities will require some physical exertion and will also require an involvement in a social group. Implementation considerations are important too: can I afford the activity, do I have the necessary skills, and do I have the space to pursue the activity?

As much as I enjoy Freemasonry, it alone does not fulfil all the objectives any more than being a “couch potato” does sitting on a lounge all day with a “stubbie” watching TV. Our eldest son, WBro David in Canberra, has recently taken up pendulum clock repairs and construction. He could put his watchmakers lathe on the kitchen table. It is mentally taxing, requires special skills, little material, physical movement and keeps him involved with one of ther many amateur enthusiasts groups where members help each other, an Australia wide, indeed a worldwide fraternity.

An interest in clocks also has the dimensions of the historical development of timepieces and the people involved. Arguably it was the innovation by John Harrison (1693-1776), an English carpenter who manufactured a precision clock that facilitated longitudinal accuracy in navigation that gave the British the edge for over 100 years in navigation at sea. It helped to facilitate naval dominance and the creation of an empire. James Cook had two of these clocks with him in his voyage to observe the transit of Venus and then on to New Zealand and Australia. It involves an appreciation of the fine arts too. For example, we own a number including a French sculpture clock c1872 with a neoclassical figure of a veteran carrying a child after the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871). For the enthusiasts, it probably originally had a silk suspension.

I was motivated by enthusiasm than thought when I resumed a youthful interest in classic motor vehicles. Their restoration satisfies all of the criteria for an active retirement hobby but it is expensive, requires space, special equipment or extensive outsourcing and the development of new skills.

I have two very rare classic cars in restoration at this time. They are:

* A 1927 AA Vertical 8 Stutz with an original Brewster saloon body, and

* A 1930 25HP Sunbeam saloon with an original body made by Diskon and Molyneux, Bexley, Sydney.

and the Sunbeam is currently the focus of my attention at the moment.

Remember, as they say, “The only difference between men and boys is the price they pay for their toys (or the size of their toys)”.

Yours fraternally,

Don Paterson