Home Articles A Visiting Fireman in Africa A Visiting Fireman in Africa. Chapter 4 - Page Nineteen
A Visiting Fireman in Africa. Chapter 4 - Page Nineteen Print E-mail
Written by Ray Critchell   
Sunday, 05 July 2009 23:37
Article Index
A Visiting Fireman in Africa. Chapter 4
Page Two
Page Three
Page Four
Page Five
Page Six
Page Seven
Page Eight
Page Nine
Page Ten
Page Eleven
Page Twelve
Page Thirteen
Page Fourteen
Page Fifteen
Page Sixteen
Page Seventeen
Page Eighteen
Page Nineteen
Page Twenty
All Pages

However, I learned a lot about human development during those years and looking back at it all, I think I must have come across, or heard about, just about every conceivable form of difficulty that can beset the human condition. Add to that the situations that my Fire Service days showed could accidentally befall anyone at any time, and I find myself constantly reminding myself how fortunate my life has been. I look back over the preceding chapters and see how often I have used the phrase 'good fortune smiled down on me' or something similar, and count my blessings. If, at the end of my days I was to be asked to describe my life in one sentence, it would have to be, I was one of the kids from the orphanage that got lucky. [ And you would need to read the prequel for that to make sense.]

I retired in July 1992, having spent my last two years in Care Management, and was given a wonderful send off with just about everyone I had worked with over the years attending a party held in the local hospital day centre. Totally different to how I left Zambia after a quarter of a century there. The situation back then was almost like that line from a play, 'Will the last one to leave please switch off the lights', with me in the title role.

Because my working life in the UK was just 17 years, I only qualified for a two thirds state pension. As the Africa pensions stopped years ago, the Kent County pension, also based on my 17 years, was to be our lifeline to old age security, although the UK government did make a small fixed pension to compensate the former Central Africa civil servants. However, that small sum will never increase. And so into our autumn years of retirement.

On advice from people who knew, we prepared for this in advance. Living for so long in Africa, we were already used to switching roles if one of the other of us fell ill etc. so either one of us could do any of the basic household chores, and we could now share this in order for each to have time to enjoy our particular pastimes. Marjorie, with her artistic flair took up cake making and decorating, in addition to her sewing, knitting and tapestry making and gardening, and was in great demand for making and decorating wedding cakes.

I went to night school to learn calligraphy and took up wine making and beer brewing, and later on, wood turning. Until quite recently I managed to do any necessary house repairs or maintenance. With advancing years however, my abilities fall away as bits of me drop off, fall out or just plain stop working.

I gave up driving, and the car, when I retired because of arthritis in the neck which made looking over the shoulder difficult. We don't go away on holidays and don't miss them one bit. We still maintain a foot in the wider community to keep in touch with the world. I served on the Committee of our local Age Concern for a number of years and was an active member of the local Coast Watch station. And so another seventeen years of peaceful tranquillity have drifted by. We enjoy the quiet life and have no wish to go a-wandering or adventuring. We live comfortably and, despite the dismay shown by the estate agent at wasting our money on buying a house for cash, it turned out very well. We have not had to pay rent or a mortgage for all those years, and its value has increased at least nineteen to twenty fold. Our reduced pensions and savings enable us to live a life of comparative ease and comfort.