Alan's Blog




My Forced Retirement

When I completed my last contract on 28 March 2019, I never foresaw that I'd be unemployed two years later. Even though I was only three months away from the age of seventy I hadn't envisaged retiring. Now, almost two years later, I've been forced to accept that this is my lot. The confusion over Brexit and the Coronavirus pandemic have played their part, of course, but two years is still a long time to be on the rocks. I cannot say other than that these two years have been very difficult to cope with.

At first, I expected the telephone to ring with job offers, as had formerly been the case. No rings! No e-mails! No job adverts worth applying for! Nothing.

Of course, compared to many young people, I'm having it easy. Grace has two part-time jobs, we have our own home, a (old) car each and no debt. I also have money coming in from pensions so we can still live reasonably comfortably – mainly because we've been careful not to overspend or waste money during the twenty years we've been together.

However, life isn't only about money – or lack of it. Life is all about what we can DO with our life – the quality of life that we all need to have. Of course, one can argue that it takes a certain level of wealth to live life in a comfortable style, and that is certainly the case. And of course, we all have our own idea of what comfort level we wish to attain.

We're all now in the most awful situation with this pandemic where we've hardly been able to go anywhere for almost a year – and there is still no end in sight for when (or if) we can travel freely again. Of course, the powers that be will make it as difficult as possible for us to regain any freedom at all because they want more and more control over the general populace. No doubt once this pandemic subsides and fades away another disaster will take its place that will bring about even more restrictions.

So, how is this forced retirement affecting me at a personal level?

As many of my readers will be aware, I'm a gypsy at heart so being unable to go travelling is a big problem for me. Of course, the winter months are always difficult for me but they have usually been months where I've been going to work every day with the 'social' contact that brings. My social life is now limited to taking Kanga for a walk two or three times a day when I may, or may not, meet people for a brief chat – and not much of that when it's tipping it down with rain as is often the case here. Grace has the benefit of still being able to go to work but not me. This is really a 'role reversal' as it's always been me that has been the main worker in the family with Grace staying at home. Now, it's the other way around.

The effect on me has been, and still is, very considerable. After working for around fifty years (I left school in 1965) it's been a considerable shock to stop going to my place of work every day. The result is depression, brought about by boredom and loneliness as well as the sheer uncertainty of what the future holds, both for me and my family. I know I'm far from being the only person suffering in this way. In fact, I know without any shadow of doubt that there must be huge numbers of people in the same situation – or worse, because they may well have financial difficulties too.

I have been making a fair effort to keep busy and, more importantly, trying to keep my brain functioning during this time, but there are limits to what I can do whilst being stuck in the house all day, every day, for months at a time. I can't even get out to take photographs! All I can do is get some of my old photographs uploaded to my various websites and do some planning of tours for when (if!) we ever get to travel again – and try to do a little writing.

Of course, my depression in compounded by the absolute total misery of having to live in the UK, a country having one of the worst climates on the planet. Why anyone actually chooses to live here is a mystery to me. The Romans must have been overjoyed to leave this awful place around 1600 years ago – no wonder they never tried to return except as a few tourists on the rare occasions we have a little sunshine. The lives of Roman soldiers along Hadrian's Wall must have been a miserable existence – small wonder they invented central heating. I frequently regret that my parents never overcame the emotional blackmail applied to them by my paternal grandmother when they said they were off to start a new life in Australia when I was a young boy. How pleasant life would be to live in such a pleasurable, amenable climate. I just wish I'd taken the steps required to live there when I was a much younger man than I am now.

Life at present must be really, really bad as I've even been contemplating the possibility of going back to live, at least part-time, in the Philippines – a country that I never wished to set eyes on again as long as I lived (I've spent more than six years there in total so know what it's like). At least it's warm and sunny for most of the year even if there is nothing else going for it. Maybe October to March in the Philippines and April to September touring Europe with our caravan is the way to live. Or, caravan all year round spending the winter months in Morocco as an alternative. Anything other than staying here in the UK. The hard part is getting Grace to live in our caravan for more than just a short holiday as she hates caravanning!

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