Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Not-So-Retiring Friend

Neela is a friend from the running club; though she doesn't attend any more, we have loosely kept in touch. Her husband Pete is a former runner, but with another club; he doesn't run anymore either, but I gather he used to be pretty good. Neela is in the same line of work as Bill, a psychiatric nurse, that is to say, she was. We went to her retirement party a couple of weeks ago.

I was so glad I'd got out my trench coat and wore boots – it was ‘stotting’ down as we walked from the Metro to the venue.
There was an engagement party and a birthday party in addition to her retirement gathering and, like many of Neela’s other guests, we made the rounds before we found the right room. Neela was greeting her guests with a hug, though my dripping coat put her off hugging me! She looked great as usual.

We sat at a booth and watched the others arrive; it was like watching a fashion show so I had to take some pictures.

As is usual, the guys were much more laid back in their approach to dressing for the occasion. I often comment on this to Bill, but I'm getting used to it. In fact, I would think a guy wearing anything really dressy would look decidedly out of place now.

There was an official photographer around, but he was waiting for Neela’s other daughter to arrive from Carlisle and had some posed shots lined up.

Turns out he also went around the room taking pictures of the tables and offering the results up for sale for #5.
I actually bought our picture, we have so few photos of us as a couple, though I wouldn’t say I really cared much for the picture. I think I felt sorry for him having so much competition from everyone else’s digital and phone cameras.

In addition to the younger girls with their amazing dresses and sky-scraper heels, there was an older contingent, even older than us some of them, who were also dressed in artistic array and with interesting character-filled faces.
I do love watching people. Bill commented that from their clothing he wondered if some of them were Neela’s patients rather than colleagues, but I thought they looked fabulous.

Mind, I have always remarked on the fine line between psychiatric patients and their carers, much like has been noted about that between cops and criminals.
I am sometimes astounded that they let Bill come home. This is not because of his dress sense, which I think is excellent, but just because he's so daft at times. Of course that's one of the things that makes him fun.

There was a DJ playing music and I was looking forward to the dancing. I took his picture, too, just so he wouldn’t feel left out.

Neela gave a little speech at 9pm before the food was served.
She talked about having come across to England from Malaysia at the age of 17, a very naïve girl. Pete leaned over to the mic and informed us she was still very naïve, which is I think probably one of Neela's most endearing quality, now I think about it! Pete is a retired ‘civil servant’ from DSS (the welfare department); I expect he is as world-weary and skeptical as they come. Another example of opposites attracting, perhaps?

Anyhow, Neela talked about having parents who were supportive and gave her permission to have this grand adventure.

She talked briefly about her 38-year career and then called her two daughters and her 3 step-sons up on the stage with her and Pete. We all took a(nother) million pictures.

The food was excellent, with a spread of hot food delivered just before the buffet opened.
There wasn’t a single low calorie item available, so we just had to make do with what there was… Bill made do twice.

After Pete & Neela got things started, we did a couple of turns on the dance floor. However, the music catered more for the older end of the group and they did themselves proud.

Neela and Pete are off soon to Malaysia for a month. I know they are going to have a great retirement.

I know I took a LOT of pictures, but we were actually only there 2 or 3 hours. And then we made our way home

on the Metro...

in the rain.

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