June 2015 and I received my state pension, and at that moment I decided to do no more work in schools. So no more teaching or lecturing. But I did not stop work, for I continued with various economic activities. I also maintained some areas of interest, quite significant ones. But as the first three years have now nearly elapsed I need to reflect on where retirement has taken me in the light of the way in which my life has developed.
Three Years On: how retirement is now
After a few years you can reflect on your retirement and what it has meant for your life
No Going Back
My career in education lasted from 1974 to 2018, and I still keep up a bit of work even now. But in 2015 I began to run it down. The truth was that I had been running down work in schools for about a year, but that I had maintained my private work and examining. I had already scaled down some examining work. I had received a verbal message from the principal examiner for philosophy of religion, the message being that if I apply for a position on the marking panel I would be accepted. Hint,hint! But I was already feeling that I did not want to add to my load, so I ignored the hint. I allowed my private tuition business to gently wind down until June 2017.
However, some retirees nurse a dream of returning to the work that they once did if they need it. I suppose that this was at the back of my mind.But events make you move on.In Spring I received an apologetic email from the exam board stating that as one of the syllabi that I mark was short of candidates my offer of marking work was being withdrawn. I knew that this was coming, but then I discovered that the employer had been dispensing with older examiners but retaining and employing younger ones. This was not to save money, but to adjust the age of the workforce downwards. I cannot prove that this was what happened in my case, but I am suspicious. So now I am down to one syllabus and I was not well pleased.
Added to this, when I inquired of the tuition agency from whom I got clients, the very lovely old lady who ran it informed me that age and ill-health has led her to wind it up. So no going back there. I toyed briefly with the idea of setting up my own agency to fill the gap, but the bureaucracy involved is daunting. So there is no way there, though I can continue to sell my tuition services as a private trader. Going back to teach in schools after a few years out is unappealing, and anyway, several years out of the system makes me not very attractive to a head teacher [principal] seeking younger talent and up to date training. Anyway, the colleges want to know applicants' last three years' exam results, and I have been out for four.
So these events have led me to realize that the only way is forward. There is no return to what I did in the past. The challenge now is to grow the activities that I currently do and to find and develop new opportunities for worthwhile activity. I say worthwhile, for while there is always scope for monetary profit, worthy voluntary activities have an important place in a retiree's life. The aim is to make my life profitable and emotionally rewarding.
Other Worthwhile Activities
It is important to realize that wealth is more than money. If you were stranded on a desert island a box of matches is more valuable than a wad of banknotes, unless you want to burn them! Money is just a way of acquiring real wealth in a trading system. I augment my real wealth by growing vegetables. Making use of the time that I now have as a retiree, I have taken on second allotment, a half plot on which I am currently growing potatoes, onions, peas, blueberries and rhubarb, and I have a lovely damson tree. Finding the time for another plot would not have been possible while I was working. I am now able to go to the allotment most days now [not today though, the rain is pouring down.] When you have free time, you can plan, so I am making decisions about revamping the flower bed on the main plot this winter. Moreover, I sometimes make my own bread and am considering re-starting wine making, which has been on hold for some time.
I let go of my position as chair of a society of eight allotment sites after a stressful situation in which I had to rescue the society by dismissing the treasurer for neglecting his responsibilities [not dishonesty, I stress.]. Not a nice thing to have to do, but a necessary one. But I have taken over as chairman of a parish refugee project, which is preparing to provide sanctuary for a Syrian refugee family chosen for us by the United Nations in conjunction with the Home Office. We meet every two weeks, and my role is to steer the discussions. It is a pleasant job working with nice, good Christian people, and I thoroughly enjoy it. I have also volunteered for an easy role as parish representative for the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, which involves mainly delivering leaflets to the clergy and any other occasional business that the charity requires.
Being a grandparent involves me in looking after my grandchildren at times,but generally this is in conjunction with my wife. My nearly three year old grand-daughter has clear expectations of her grand-father: she likes me to entertain her.Grandmother for comfort, grandfather for entertainment, that's how she divides up labour.
There is also Wizzley. Writing for this site is a positive activity that provides me with much happiness, contacts with friendly and interesting people and a little cash, not much, but I write for love and any gain is an extra. So my retirement has been a very positive and fruitful time, which I am enjoying greatly.
One of the United Kingdom's stupidest politicians [ we have plenty of them] last year suggested that after our idiotic decision to leave the European Union the ensuing shortage of immigrant labour that threatens our food production could be made up by employing pensioners to do farm work. Silly! Pensioners can work, but they need to pace themselves. I like to work for three to four hours on the allotment, but I need to take breaks. The ideal day is spent partly gardening and partly writing for Wizzley or doing some reading. Certainly a full day's labour at a fast pace , for example on a farm, is not ideal in retirement.so the rule is "pace yourself and do not over-exert."
If I am ever asked what is the ideal age to be, I say that it is the age that I am now. Once you say that you would rather be, let's say, twenty three again you are on the way down. True, I would like to have retained the speed and agility that I had at that age, but the compensation is that I have more wisdom than I had at twenty three and have made emotional progress since that point in my life. Thank goodness! You need to embrace the present.
I have talked over the next decision with my wife, and this is when to give up examining. She suggests that I continue until I am seventy. But she finally retires this year. She has cemented the decision to retire by booking us a holiday in Italy in September, when she would previously have been working in school. So there is no going back! But she wants to spend more time with our grandchildren. We have three at the moment, though one lives in Wales, and we see him less than we see the other two. I must admit that I am looking forward to her retirement and it is very likely that we will get some more walking done. Maybe there are some Wizzley articles in this.