In 12 months time my working life, and that of my wife Kate, will come to an end. For me this will be just 43 years after it all began, although to be honest there were a few gaps during which various people tried to squeeze some rudimentary education into me. My preparation for this unique event ought perhaps to be some deep reflection, either on what I have achieved or on what is to come. Or again maybe there really is no point in looking back, no point in trying to fathom out what if this or that had happened. It simply won’t make any difference. The fact will still remain that I am here now and in March 2009 I begin a new life.

I shall be the same person, of course, that I have always been; bearded for as long as I can remember, ears slightly smaller than standard for a human and a long, straight, nose that has never been broken despite all it has been through. The thin legs that have carried me up mountains too numerous to mention and the sun or wind burnt skin that fades to pale every Winter. Little of what is external to me will change as I move from being a working man to a retired one, from a contributor of effort to one who benefits from the efforts of others. No, it is the radical shift in outlook that I must adapt to, acclimatise and learn to live with as I join the league of retirees, this is what concerns me. And there is no gradual run-in towards this, no gentle slope into relaxation and freedom from cares. I can expect no mercy as I am plunged from my world of target driven mayhem to enforced idleness, with only memories lingering on.

OK, that’s the scary bit. Now for reality.

Retirement does not come as a surprise and nor should it be unplanned for. In fact if it does come along with no forethought, no imagining and no preparation then I really can’t see why I should want it at all. If I were just to let the day arrive and awaken (despite the absence of the usual alarm clock) then roll over in bed and suddenly begin to think about the ‘what next?’ then what a waste this would be. All those years spent tipping the pension pennies into the jar just for a longer lie-in. No, I don’t think so.

Malcolm

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