Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.
Posted: December 18th, 2009 | Author: admin | Filed under: About retirement - Howard Croft | Comments Off
I first started thinking about retirement in the early 70s, being an enthusiastic forward planner, when I decided that I would like to move to rural North Yorkshire not far from where I grew up. The only turd in the water supply of this pipe dream was that the climatologists of the day were with great confidence forecasting an imminent ice age, when the Plain of York would become an arctic tundra and polar bears would roam the streets of Pickering and all because I had been using the wrong type of deodorant for men and had a spare fridge for my white Burgundy. Now, after thirty years of armpits smelling like a dead badger and drinking tepid wine, I have turned things round; the boffins are now predicting, with the same certainty, that my neighbours will be cultivating vines (again), malaria will be endemic (again), and North African insects will make life uncomfortable. Perhaps I overdid the self-denial in the 70s. But so far I am enjoying the harsh winters for which I yearned all those years ago.
It is often advised by experts that , when retiring one should not make major life-style changes such as moving from London to the rural North as this can lead to loneliness, isolation, accelarated aging, psychosis and varicose veins. I have not found this to be so. North Yorkshire is vast, the largest English county, but home to fewer than 600,000 people, whereas London is, well London. There is no Groucho Club here, no Notting Hill Gate, but the social life is less narrow than I had been used to, and less competitive. I mix with farmers, brewers, soldiers and even an economist and a lawyer, whereas before I mixed with, well, publishers. And here, where there is an umcomplicated attitude to drinking, there is a wine club that holds monthly tastings at which spitting is forbidden, and conveniently located opposite my home there is a pub where every Thursday night is pie night where we buckle to with honest enjoyment.
This hints at another benefit of retirement – the freedom to drink wine on a school night without worrying about work tomorrow. Whilst it is true that there are many young people overdoing it in the streets at night and making a mess of their suits, the real hooligans, and there is a vast army of them, are concealed behind their front doors steadily working their way through cases of whatever is on offer at Tesco this month (and retirement gives you time to monitor such things) while watching re-runs of The Antiques Roadshow. All too soon, I fear, officials from the Council will be bursting into the homes of the grey voters armed with warrants, breathalysers and ASBOs. But not yet, not here.
Posted: December 18th, 2009 | Author: admin | Filed under: Grandparents, Miscellaneous | Comments Off
Much has been written about the “sandwich” generation, people who are looking after their aging parents whilst bringing up their own children. However, according to a new report by the Institute of Public Policy Research, the increasing numbers of people surviving into their 80s and 90s means that there are also many grandparents who they themselves are in a caring role. This group of people who are combining the care of their elderly parents with looking after their grandchildren were dubbed recently by The Daily Telegraph as “the club sandwich” generation.
How did this happen? In the past 20 years there has been a huge demogaphic shift, with better health care and higher standards of living resulting in people living longer. This means it is now possible for people in their late 60s and 70s to still have their parents alive – something unimaginable a generation ago.
The big question is how are families going to afford these layers of care. Again, the “club sandwich” grandparents are likely to be asked to step up to the plate. Newly retired, they may be first choice for childcare whilst the children’s mothers return to work. Also these grandparents are most likely to have accumulated capital which can be released for care of older relatives. Houses will have to be sold and intergenerational living will have to become more common. Now is probably not the time to be an only child.
Posted: December 17th, 2009 | Author: admin | Filed under: About retirement - Howard Croft | Comments Off
Most retired people tell you that they are busier than when they were working, but I have not found this to be so.
What struck me when it happened, and strikes me still, is the desert of time ahead with so little in the diary into which I drip feed small tasks to give each day a purpose. Need a ball of string? Won’t do it today, it’ll be something to do on Wednesday. But it was an opportunity to turn to things that I had been putting off – denying, my children say – for some time because I was too busy.
The first and most pressing was my deteriorating hearing in my right ear. For several months visits to hospital ENT departments and audiology clinics became an important part of my social life during which my deficit was exhaustively investigated with a confusing range of explanations. You have a perforated ear drum (my GP), we’ll send you to ENT. Maybe there’s a neurological cause (London teaching hospital), we’ll send you for a brain scan. Brain scan clear, not even a mildly aggressive tumour to be seen. I suspected that this test was ordered was simply because they had an MRI scanner (to a man with a hammer everything looks like a nail). You have spent too much time in aeroplanes (second ENT specialist). And so? At each consultation I humbly suggested that I might have an ear infection, a piece of impertinent self-diagnosis that was loftily brushed aside.
Then a breakthrough. I moved from London to North Yorkshire where my GP niftily diagnosed age-related deafness, dismissing non-evidence-based infection theory. Simple as that. Off you go to York to see ENT man who looked in my ear, told me I had, and for some time had, an ear infection. This was cleared up in a week, a week later I was assessed by the audiologist who prescribed two digital hearing aids, which work, and which are like having a prawn tucked behind each ear. The effect it striking and at first startling – the first time I flushed the loo I thought the roof was falling in, and for a couple of weeks I thought I was constantly being followed until I realised it was my own footsteps I could hear.
There’s not much to be said for being deaf, and hearing aids, unlike spectacles, do not fully correct your deficit. But there is one thing to be said – for the purpose of concessionary railcards you are classed as disabled. The bog standard OAP railcard costs twenty six quid a year and you get 30% discount on any journey. The disabled card costs on eighteen quid and – here’s the kicker – anyone travelling with you also gets the discount as your carer. But beware. To prove your eligibility you either have to produce your NHS battery register (not been used by NHS for at least 15 years), or get the form rubber stamped by social services, no small thing. I had to produce evidence of identity and of deafness, and evidence linking the two, only to be told that they had no rubber stamps. I didn’t believe them, and don’t you.
Posted: December 17th, 2009 | Author: admin | Filed under: Life Stories | Comments Off
Ronnie Fox has been a City lawyer all of his professional life. Having already founded one law firm, Fox Williams, and at an age when most of his contemporaries had already been pensioned off, he left to set up new firm, Fox.
“I am determined to have fun and enjoy what I am doing. The most exciting period of my professional life was the couple of years after starting Fox Williams and founding Fox 20 years later reignited that excitement. Just doing this makes me feel ten years younger.
Besides, by comparison with US lawyers, the British stop far too young – it’s a great waste. People are starting to want to work longer and I feel that I am part of this new trend”.
Ronnie Fox is one of the leading employment and partnership law specialists in the UK – and for good measure, an expert on age discrimination.
Fox lawyers – http://www.foxlawyers.com/
Posted: December 17th, 2009 | Author: admin | Filed under: About retirement - Howard Croft | Comments Off
Let me introduce you to Howard Croft (a cousin of sorts) who has kindly agreed to send regular (ish) dispatches from the front line of retirement.
- Born: Hull, East Yorkshire
- Lives: Old Malton, North Yorkshire
- Pre-retirement occupation: publisher mainly in UK but also in Africa and USA
- Educated: Hull Grammar School, Bristol & Manchester universities
- Age: 65
- Hobbies: reading cheap fiction, training a dog and winking at shop girls. Also conspiring with his grandson to undermine the authority of his father
- Retirement activities: school governor and prison visitor. Advisor on publishing to the Royal College of Psychiatrists
- Distinctions: Member of the Groucho Club; CRB checked; never been nominated for an OBE or any other Honour
Introductions out of the way, Howard’s first dispatches will be hitting this blog over the next couple of days.
Posted: December 6th, 2009 | Author: admin | Filed under: Miscellaneous | Comments Off
The Daily Telegraph this week reported that Warwickshire County Council had spent £3500 on a scheme which teaches people aged from 50 how to wear their slippers safely.
Whilst “sloppy slippers” are no doubt a real hazard, many of my friends were surprised to be told that they had somehow failed to learn this life lesson in their first half century.
Posted: December 1st, 2009 | Author: admin | Filed under: Designing for the Future Competition - University of Brighton, Inclusive design, Press coverage | Comments Off
Design Week today picked up the story of the exciting new design competition which we are running with the University of Brighton.
Staff and students at the University’s Faculty of Arts and Architecture and School of Environment and Technology are being invited to submit designs that not only address one or more of the challenges associated with ageing but which are also attractive and aspirational.
Judges include the University’s Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Architecture Anne Boddington, Age Concern and Help the Aged consumer markets policy adviser Gretel Jones and BBC Two’s Design For Life finalist Mike Cloke.
The deadline for entries is 3 May, with the winner to be announced in June.