I had worked for Mettis Aerospace since I was 16 and had stayed with them for 42 years until, at Christmas, I was forced to leave. The company made blades for Concorde and we supplied Boeing and Airbus. It was never my plan to give up working that early. I'd saved all my life, been careful, and was going to retire when I was 60. Then I had a disc go in my back! I was in so much agony I had to give up working. They told me I might need an operation, but the waiting list on the NHS was so long my daughter said, “it doesn't matter how much it costs, you're going to see a private doctor”. The doctor put me on tablets and I was straight away with the fairies and I'm fine now.
My wife is a nurse and works three nights a week, so I've left her in bed today. In summer we sometimes walk up the Tardebigge flight together and have lunch at the Queens Head pub. Where my wife works, the head nurse said I shouldn't sit around all day now I'm retired because it's good for my back to keep walking the canal. So that's why I'm here today.
I've heard the Canal & River Trust say that it's not very good to feed the ducks with bread, so I don't. I spend about £500 a year on bird food - I buy it in bulk to get it cheaper. Last week I was in Worcester with my wife and daughter and while they went to M&S, I took 5 bags of pellets to feed the swans on the river. They clustered all around me, there must have been hundreds of them! It was amazing.
I like to watch the wildlife and birds here. Do you know the saying that goes, 'you've got to be in the right place, at the right time'? Well, about three weeks ago I walked up the canal as far as the reservoir and saw a great crested grebe on the water with its youngsters - and then I just wandered up as far as the sluice gate and saw a kingfisher! How good is that?
John, by bridge 55, Worcester & Birmingham Canal