Old Dog New Tricks


It’s easy to settle into a life of ease. We can be as lazy at work as we are in front of the TV. We find ways to cut corners, avoiding effort. We let someone else do it. When we approach retirement age, it’s much easier to let the young people get on with it and not to bother as we once might have. Sliding into dotage was once a given. But no more.

My generation is not lying down. We are tearing up the world stage with our activities. We shall not roll over and be forgotten. We prevail and thrive beyond anyone’s expectation of us. My generation is innovative. We produce. We never sit by and just observe. We move. More quickly than you imagine. We do marathons, climb things (high things like mountains, not just step ladders), skydive, keep old rock bands going and join protests to disobey civilly.

Some of us just go back to school. That would be me. I leave the mountains and skydiving to the others. And not just any old school either. This is an online school course that requires the use of modern technology. Take that. Never one to be content with the way things are in my life, I have taken on a new learning venture, the Tefl route, Teaching English as a Foreign Language. Teaching is second nature to me. I already am a music tutor to students in my studio, so how hard can it be teaching people from all over the globe how to speak my mother tongue?

I guess I’ll find out when I complete this course. It was fairly easy to sign up. Regularly it would cost £300 to take it. But Groupon had it listed for £49, so I couldn’t resist. I’m a sucker for a bargain, especially with one that has the potential to be a money-maker. The problem is, it’s a lot of work. 12 modules, each containing enough material to confuse the mind of someone who only has 3 university degrees. The lazy in me thinks I’ve done enough in life to last me, but the challenge side wants more. So I signed up.

Tefl has been around for a while now. It’s called Tesl in North America. A little more PC I suppose. A long history leads up to the present way of teaching English to those who speak another language. It’s a kind of melting pot of all the methods tried to date, going back to the 16th century. Tefl teachers have to be everything to everybody, accommodating all cultures, religions, learning and teaching styles. No big deal right? Easy peasy. Just please everyone and you’ll be a good teacher. I have to be aware of all the nuances from each student in the class and adjust accordingly. Right about now I’m thinking I’m glad the course didn’t cost me £300.

I know how to bite my tongue when someone says something really stupid. I know how to be tolerant (I was raised in Canada). I know that people learn differently with varying pace and methodology. I know not to belittle anyone, but praise them for the slightest effort and I know not to push my own ideas onto impressionable people. What I don’t know is how I’m going to get through 12 modules, a practicum and then look for work when at 64 years old all I really want to do is sit on a beach and stare at the water. That is the great mystery.

I also know you can teach old dogs new tricks. I’m learning how to steer a 58 foot narrowboat along a narrow canal. I’m learning how the damn boat works and what to press and what not to push and when, if at all. I’m learning how to open and close canal locks. I’m learning all the rules of the canal system. But can I cram another trick into this old head while absorbing new tricks on the Grand Union Canal. Have I taken on too much at once? This remains to be seen. For the moment, I haven’ much choice. I have to have a trade to support me while afloat. Teaching is my skill. It makes sense. I could never be a greeter at Walmart (ASDA in Britain).

It means I’m tired all the time lately. Even writing this takes a concentration beyond what reserves I have left today. And I still have to teach guitar tonight. Oh woe is me. Where shall I find rest and peace? When shall I be able to just sit on my boat and do nothing but contemplate life and drink beer all day? What shall I do? Oh, what shall I do? I know what I’ll do. I’ll stop this whingeing and just get on with it. I know the lot of you have already given up on me, so now it’s my turn. Get up and get on with it expatlarry and remember you’re at least still alive and kicking.

New ventures are always a bit scary if not completely terrifying. But to stagnate is worse. Even lazy people have to learn that. I have undertaken a few in my lifetime and each one has proven worth the effort, though a couple were short-lived. And as they say, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Risk taking is not a big part of most people’s lives. Most play it safe, holding on to conventional ways of thinking and doing things. Doesn’t matter what age we are. Safety first is what we learn early and often, applying it to everything we do. Throwing caution to the wind is seen as something tantamount to suicide. We hold on to our safety nets into our old age, never truly experiencing life. If you have to ask ‘what’s wrong with that?’, it’s probably too late to reinvent you.

Now, I’m not saying taking a Tefl course is necessarily risky or being rash. It may be spontaneous a little, maybe. I just think guys my age, one year from retirement, are either coasting in their jobs or looking for hobbies that are relaxing instead of challenging….like fishing (apologies to serious anglers). But if you knew me, you’d know I would rather have taken the easy route thank-you. Until now. Give me a good old meaty challenge any day. Just don’t expect me to be found in the extreme sports arenas. The canals are going to be test enough for my patience and skills. Tefl ought to be a trifle. I’ll keep you posted.


About geezerbluesoflondon

Writing and Music are my passions. I have been honing both for over six decades now. I was born in London, England but spent most of my life growing up and being educated in Canada. In 2006 I moved back to London, England where I worked at a music shop then taught music from my studio in Kent. I then sold the house and studio and moved on to a narrowboat on the canals of England. I presently live on the boat in a marina in Worcestershire, England. I have 2 published books available from Amazon and Kindle and am about to self-publish my 3rd. I have three grown children. I hope you enjoy what you read in my Blogs.

4 responses »

  1. Hi Lawrence,

    I didn’t realize your posts were attached to your blog page. Awesome! It’s true what you say about easing into retirement but with other exciting interests ahead not sitting back and letting old age catch up to us. We can only hope we have our health so we can do more interesting stuff. There is so much out there and I am looking forward to that time. Another stage in the book of life…

    Interesting that you are taking a course as an instructor for English. Good for you! I work at the TCDSB and look after payroll for our ESL Instructors. Amazing that we have so many classes that are free to Canadian citizens and permanent residents. Now we are offering FSL. If I had the time I would want to go to this class myself 🙂 As some of my friends would say ” Marie you should take ESL classes” lol….The reason being some of that Scots slang comes out every now and again.

    Also you could become a supply instructor and choose your own times whichever works for you. Oh, and your part time sailor on your narrowboat on the canals sounds so wonderful too. Have to take a trip like that one day!

    Wishing you all the best in your studies. You will do well as you have a passion for teaching as it is.

    Take good care,

    Keep posting and happy travels…

    Marie Hall


      • Oh that is exciting and risk taking! All the best. Please tell us all what it’s like living and cruzing the canals of London in your narrowboat as our lives are pretty much mundane compared to what yours is going to be like …
        Take good care,

        Marie 🎩🎩🎩 Off to you and yours in your new life!!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.