Friday, January 03, 2014

The Year of the DoDO - 2013

The Year of the DoDO
Warning: This blog contains overt references to Doctor Who - those of a nervous disposition should hide behind the sofa!

The recent 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who - ‘The Day of the Doctor’ - may have been a global hit, but much more important to me was my first year in retirement - The Year of the DoDO*.

* For new readers - DoDO stands for Director of Domestic Operations - a flash title that helped with with the transition from worker to retiree in January 2013.

In Series 3, Episode 10 of Doctor Who entitled ‘Blink’, the key message was ‘Don’t blink… whatever you so, don’t blink!’ - and that certainly seems entirely relevant to my first 12 months with ‘nothing to do’!!! I really don’t know where 2013 went. One moment, I was de-registering from VAT and in the next, I was wrapping Christmas presents. It was almost as if I blinked and missed about 10 months somewhere. I can honestly say that in all my years, my first year has passed the quickest!

So, what was my first year in retirement like? Well, the biggest surprise (to me anyway), was how I coped without a car. Ever since I can remember - and increasingly, that period gets shorter! - I had wheels to get around. I was lucky enough to pass my test first time, and was driving to school in my final year. In the years that followed, apart from short periods of time where I was ‘between’ vehicles, getting around was never a issue. Fast forward to early 2013, and saying good-bye to the Insignia with a tear in the eye and the spare key in the glovebox - this was a pivotal moment - me, without a car - some mistake surely!!!?. From that point forward, getting around was going to be difficult.

Except it didn’t turn out that way.

First of all, I discovered a new past-time called walking - and although I’m not obsessed by it, it is do-able!
Smile

Then there’s my good friend and fellow retiree, David, who, being the great guy that he is, acted as my personal taxi service whenever I needed to get about. I the same vein, our good friend Lee was always on had for that impromptu shopping expedition at short notice.

Finally, there is the train. When I used it for business, the fares always seemed so expensive - almost £100 a day to get to London and back - and I couldn’t always recoup that with the job in hand. In retirement, I have discovered an alternate universe - the universe of off-peak! Now, with a bit of planning, I can get to the capital and back for less than £30 - and when I get old enough to get my senior citizens’ rail card, it’ll be even cheaper! Perfect!

Have I missed running a business? getting up at silly-o-clock? writing proposals at all hours? chasing payments? and working with (some) delegates who clearly don’t want to be trained in the first place? Well, yes and no. I certainly miss the interaction of meeting new faces and building the relationship, but when it comes to ‘up-front’ training, increasingly, like the Dodo, I think the role is becoming an endangered specie - and much less valued!

Time for a rant! The demise of the classroom trainer has been predicted since William Hartnell entered the Tardis in the 60s - but through it all, the role survived, against a world that would become obsessed with moving most of training and development online. Knowledge, YES, Skills/Behaviour, NO! Would someone explain to me how a subject such as Body Language can be taught anywhere other than in a classroom, where two people can interact with each other and receive feedback in real-time? Well, some think putting it online is a good idea - and plenty of this sort of training DOES exist out there. Anyway, rant over, I do genuinely believe that during a time when this country, still in the grip of austerity, where many organisations have been without external training advice and input for so long, they’ve forgotten the benefits that knowledgeable external Trainers can bring. But I’ll leave it to my younger colleagues to put things right, whilst I concentrate on what online is really all about - finding coupons for cheap lunches!

And of course, none of this would have been possible, if my wife, Ann, hadn’t got the promotion into a role she so clearly was made for. The hours may be sometimes long, and there’s quite a lot of overnights away, but I guess that’s all part of the cut-and-thrust of modern business - the part of the job that I least enjoyed!

So, let me finish by saying thanks to all of you who’ve been a big part of my first year as a retiree. Thank you for making the transition completely pain-free!