My father had many strengths but made a dreadful job of retirement. In his sixties, before he gave up the roles, he had been headmaster of a local school and deputy leader of the City Council. He enjoyed exercising power and had no wider interests, nor did he seek to develop them. Once he retired he simply sat at home getting in my mother’s way and made it difficult for her to carry on doing the things that she enjoyed. It was a salutary role model and I was determined that, when I retired, not to make the same mistakes.
Now that time has come for me. I am no longer doing any teaching or professional writing on learning, training and development. I have also completed 100 blogs on this WordPress site. Almost all the previous blogs have been about Labour politics. However, given the catastrophic performance of Jeremy Corbyn, even thinking about this subject makes me hopelessly depressed, so I will take this column in a different direction. It will focus on the challenge of ageing and, in particular my generation’s responsibilities to those that follow.
A starting-point must be a recognition that we baby boomers we very lucky, but have failed to make the world a better place. I was born in 1946. I had the full benefits of the National Health Service and free university education. I was too young to be conscripted into the army as a national serviceman – thus avoiding wasting eighteen months of my life to no good purpose. Moreover, the year that I graduated, 1968, was the only year in modern times when no British soldier was killed on active duty. I cannot help but feel that those of us in our late sixties and early seventies have become smug and complacent in comparison with those who went before.
Those of us who were in a position to do so will have consolidated our financial position and should now enjoy a comfortable existence living within our means – and we should stop whingeing about public expenditure designed to help the less well-off. Secondly we should take care of our health and ensure, where we can, that we do not put avoidable burdens on a strained health service. Thirdly we should keep active and seek to develop new interests and activities. These topics, rather than the inexorable decline of Labour under Corbyn, will be the subject of (God willing) my next 100 blogs.