Another friend’s contribution. From Glenhem (age 78)
Because you’ve spent all your working life doing what other people want you to, the only other option on retirement seems to be hibernation. The friend who took an exhausting job in a charity shop had to go back to work for a year in order to escape the commitment honourably. Needless to say the second retirement around, she hibernated. Giving back to society on your own terms is different from having to work for your pension. When it comes to teaching throughout old age, I don’t see how seventy year olds have the energy for boisterous teenagers, but ghurka wives should be different.
In retirement I did easy things on the fringes of committees or running workshops until I could hand over.. Then I found a request in a village newsletter for teachers to help Nepalese women with their English. ‘Once a month only a possibility’ – that was the attraction. I’d always felt that men who were prepared to die for us deserved to retire here with their families.
We assembled at the meeting to find out about things; most of us teachers and most of us willing to be helpers. I sat next to one of my first A level students, now a pensioner, ‘Aren’t you going to be a teacher?’ she asked. She still can’t/won’t use my first name; I’m trying to get away from all that. One who volunteered to be a teacher said she’d never taught before, but would like to try. The rest of us rolled our eyes…eighty students, a dozen helpers and you conducting it all from the platform singing ten green bottles or one finger one thumb keep moving. No thank you
Working in the team with my ex-pupil made me careful not to take too much initiative, but when an older helper took charge, there was a tiny flicker of ancient hierarchy. I’d really like to be one of those CEOs who go incognito to help with the washing up in one of their branches and then say ,’Do you know who I am?’ before promoting the nice ones. My ex-pupil didn’t know I’d retired as deputy head.
Will we be expected to carry on working with down-sized status as well as down-sized houses?
Teaching Ghurka wives is fun. ‘My name is Ka ‘ one was writing – ‘No ‘, I said, ’La for Lakshmi,’ but she carried on writing Kali. I’m a bit muddled on Hindu goddesses and not half as clever as I think I am. You can’t stop yourself assessing their intelligence as in the old days, but then nobody dared poke you to be sure you attended to her next and nobody got up at the end of a class and did a little dance. Was I too dignified to join in? No – after two hours I was so exhausted, I could barely stand.