Wednesday 29th April

Well. Sort of.  At last and after 46 years of working I am officially retired today.  In fact apart from one short spell of unemployment (about four weeks) I have barely had two week breaks in my working life.  When I started we worked five and a half days a week.  I was working at the Carlton Towers Hotel in Knightsbridge and used to eat three meals a day there in the staff canteen.  It was always a treat on the weekend when I would eat in a Wimpy Bar or take home, in real newspaper, fish and chips.  Holidays were only two weeks back then too.  But funnily enough work never seemed that stressful.  My first office job, Assistant Wages Clerk in 1972 was a revelation.  Nine to five rather than starting at seven and we had a quarter hour coffee break at 11, and the same at 3 in the afternoon.  No computers of course, so everything took far longer.  But you were given far more time to do your work too.

Gradually it has gotten busier, more frantic, more stressful, longer hours, lunch – a sandwich at your desk and if the phone rings you answer it between mouthfuls.  In the early nineties e-mail arrived, a novelty at first, now a nightmare.  Everyone expects instant answers, instant replies – well you have a computer don’t you, just press a few keys and the numbers come up.  We are all now slaves to our e-mails, and now they are on our phones there is literally no escape.  People are reading them in Restaurants, on the tube, on the toilet even.

I am keeping one Restaurant, doing most of the work by e-mail, producing a weekly report and coming back for two days of work once a month.  I have to wait almost another year until my private and state pensions become available so a bit of money will be helpful.

For a while I was a bit worried about it, but looking around Eymet, where I am flying to today, almost everyone is retired there.  And you know what – they are happy.  Relaxed and happy, so bring it on.