Isn’t it typical? Last week I wrote about cancelling Amazon Prime, and this week I get an e-mail from them about their new, “Exclusive to Prime” TV show, an adaptation of a Philip K. Dick novel, The Man in the High Castle. Which, of course, I’d really like to see. Damn you, Amazon!
One subscription I didn’t cancel was to the money magazine Money Week, which I still read on a weekly basis. I noticed, however, that they’re doing a free podcast, hosted by the editor Merryn Somerset Webb (the financial thinking man’s Beyonce.) I picked out the interview with Matt Ridley, a Times columnist and author of The Rational Optimist, an excellent book – although here he’s plugging his new one. It’s quite interesting listening and covers a lot of ground although some of it is pretty patchy to be honest. It jumps from why we don’t need central banks to vaping, to climate change, to Bitcoin’s blockchain technology, the evolution of Scottish banks and a host of other topics.
I was quite concerned with how I’d fill my winter days in retirement, but it’s amazing how they drift by. I’ve spent some time cooking this week, partly in the never ending search for the ultimate curry recipe. I tend to use this recipe these days to make a batch of onion base and then experiment from there. (November weather is made for curries.)
The stormy weather earlier in the week kept me in at night, trying to find something on TV I could get into. Like so many others I’m always on the look out for Box Sets* that I can swallow in big gulps, so I tried Fargo (Series One) which I’d heard was pretty good. And it is. But maybe not quite as good as it thinks it is. There’s just too many scenes and characters that prompts me to think that the writers and directors were just trying too hard to be witty, cool and left-field. I could imagine them sitting in a script room, saying “Okay, how about just after the car bursts into flames, we have a camel wander down the street past it? From nowhere! Wearing a pair of Ray Bans! Wouldn’t that be rad, or what?! I mean guys, Breaking Bad never did that kind of shit!”
Unless I become totally immersed in a drama, I do often find this kind of subjective barrier forming between myself and whatever I’m watching. I blame Holden Caulfield, the protagonist in the famous book The Catcher in the Rye (his voice has stuck with me from school days) who aims many of his caustic observations at actors and the movies. In particular, I recall this scene where Holden can’t allow himself to enjoy a Broadway show:
“I came in when the goddam show was on. The Rockettes were kicking their heads off, the way they do when they’re all in line with their arms around each other’s waist. The audience applauded like mad, and some guy behind me kept saying to his wife, “You know what that is? That’s precision.” He killed me. Then, after the Rockettes, a guy came out in a tuxedo and roller skates on, and started skating under a bunch of little tables, and telling jokes while he did it. He was a very good skater and all, but I couldn’t much enjoy it because I kept picturing him practicing to be a guy that roller-skates on the stage. It seemed so stupid.”
Holden’s observations have ruined a lot of entertainment for me over the years. I mean, I can admire Britain’s Got Talent as much as the next man….no, I’m sorry, I can’t.
One way to avoid the guy who keeps telling his wife “That’s precision”, and which early retirement allows, is to visit the cinema on a Tuesday afternoon. It’s cheaper too. The place is empty, even if you’re visiting, as I did, to see Spectre, the new James Bond. (It was okay, not as good as Skyfall, IMHO). I noticed in the empty foyer that the packet of Maltesers I’d just bought beforehand in the 99p Store was there for sale at £3.99. The same bag! Anybody paying that amount shouldn’t be allowed out. Mind you, my wife wasn’t too happy about me forcing her to buy a can of Coke in the same store. “No way”, she said. “I can’t drink out of a can without a straw.” Of course, anticipating this objection, I’d already brought one of those from home. I had to sneak these treats in concealed in my heavy jacket, as I daren’t risk suggesting using my wife’s handbag. That was already stuffed with bags of Sunkist popcorn (6 bags for 99p) versus £4.99 for the smallest bucket of popcorn in the cinema. Some may argue that it’s a shame that Early Retirement has forced such frugality upon us, whereas we, in the FIRE community, know that such frugality is what allows us to retire early.
When not watching telly or reading, I’ve been writing this and chilling to Camera Obscura’s Desire Lines which I hope sounds suitably trendy. Just because I’m retired doesn’t mean that I’m musically committed to James Last and His Orchestra. Manuel and His Music of the Mountains, well, that’s another story.
*Box Sets = Middle Class Obsession