I arrived a little early for my train today. Rather than waiting on the station I crossed the road to admire the sunny coastal vista. It would seem my local council are slowly and quietly reclaiming some land at this end. The land in question was going to be transformed as part of a new build project. You know the deal, developer builds big ugly building and renovates something in return. As is sadly common in these things the developer mysteriously went bust just after the easy, and profitable, carbuncle bit was built, funny that.
But that is all background, what I saw gave me some cause for reflection. In particular this reflection and the questions that it raises are directed at Dave because he has walked a similar road. There were 3 or 4 guys working on assembling beach huts on the newly released land.
For those that are unfamiliar with this thoroughly English concept a beach hut is a shed. Lining the coast these sheds provide basic accommodation normally with an electrical supply. Water is available from a nearby standpipe, with the hut being purchased and a ground rent paid to the council. It is testament to the English love of the coast that these huts are so popular. Having travelled from home to a caravan people are keen to trade down to an even smaller box for the day. It all gets you closer to the coast after all.
Anyway back to the observations. I watched these guys enjoying the sun on their back as the toiled at a leisurely rate on the new huts. Working against a stunning backdrop on a gorgeous day, what could be better. I remembered those days. Days when you finished work, wiped your hands on your jeans and went to the pub. Lazy summer days watching the world pass and building a surfers tan. These were the best days of work, well paid? No, but so rewarding.
I know we had no cares then and no real responsibilities except a bar tab. But as I looked there were guys older than me still enjoying the task at hand. Have we done something wrong, were we mistaken in ‘growing up’? These guys don’t stress share prices or margins. They don’t spend evening worrying about strategic direction, policy or profit and loss. They have a few pints, then home to dinner and football.
I berated myself for leaving the young world of carefree work. For growing up and engaging with a society that hasn’t always been fair or kind. For striding out determined on a road that has many twists. We all left a little something behind in those halcyon days but maybe the clever ones didn’t leave.
Having become thoroughly disillusioned with the rat race I turned to walk back to the station. As I turned I saw concrete piles, shuttering and rough ground awaiting finishing. This was the real evidence of labours and toil. With the sun on my back I had recalled the world through rose tinted glasses. Now in the concrete I saw the freezing cold, the mud, the blisters and the pain. It was here that my old body ached in memory of tasks performed. Now the happy go lucky carefree labourers were crippled old men dreaming of hot baths .
I guess the truth is we all have a burden to carry in our toils. As to growing up, hey maybe its seasonal. The sun comes out I want to be riding a lawnmower or building decking reliving my youth. But the winter, well I think my muddy days are gone.