I WAS driving The Daughter to work yesterday; it’s something I do occasionally when she is working an awkward shift (there is limited car parking at her offices).
As usual, she was looking at her mobile phone. Suddenly she said: “You retired four years ago today.” The anniversary must have shown up on her phone; don’t ask me to explain.
On my way home after dropping her at work, I bought my usual daily newspaper. Leafing through the news pages over breakfast (yoghurt, granola and prunes – very New Age, I’m sure you’ll agree) I came across a report on why – and how – people in their fifties should already be ‘training’ for retirement.
According to a European Union study, the fifty-somethings should be thinking about how they can be useful to society in the future.
According to the article by The Times science correspondent Oliver Moody, the EU study “raises the prospect of state-sponsored virtual ‘academies’ for workers over the age of 50 leading to online ‘warehouses of opportunity’ where they can pick up new skills.”
It would have been difficult for the EU to make the prospect sound less attractive or more bureaucratic.
Fortunately, the organiser of a pilot study involving 50 to 70-year-olds put it in more human terms. Victor Pinta, vice-head of the Permanent University scheme at the University of Alicante in eastern Spain, encourages over-50s to look at work such as teaching or volunteering, or hobbies like computing, learning languages or studying the history of art.
“The idea is to provide material for people to remain active,” Moody reports him as saying. “People retire and can live in quite good condition for 25 years. We want to make sure these people enjoy that period.”
I’m not sure if “quite good condition” is the summit of us retired blokes’ ambition, but thanks for the sentiment, Señor Pinta.
Anyway, it got me thinking. I can’t say I spent much time in my fifties thinking about retiring, let along ‘training’ for it. So, four years into it, how is retirement going for me?
Apart from (belatedly) starting this blog, where I interview other blokes about their retired lives, I’ve taken council-run lifelong learning courses in photography and drawing-and-painting, I’ve helped the local business club set up a couple of projects, I’ve launched my own crime fiction and wine tasting projects, I’ve joined the University of the Third Age (U3A) and I’ve started researching my family history.
I’ve also been able to use whatever journalism skills I still retain to help U3A and Citizens Advice publicise their work.
I’ve even got my own Twitter and Facebook accounts (“Fine, just don’t Friend me,” said The Daughter) in the somewhat fuzzy ambition that they will help spread the fame of this distinguished retirement blog.
I’m not sure whether any of this is “useful to society.” But it’s (mainly) been enjoyable. So far so good.