The "R" word
Words by Geoff Shearer
A stalwart journalist for News Ltd for 20 years and a former TV Week Features Editor, Geoff Shearer is one the country’s most admired arts and entertainment writers. He’s taken a step into semi-retirement to concentrate on his ﬁction writing, while relishing the chance to share his unique take on life with My Halcyon Days’ readers
In my parents’ era, when you got a few years beyond the "life-begins-at" stage, you either worked or you were retired. There was no in-between, no semi-retirement.
Semi-retirement meant you’d given up driving trucks for a living.
But it is the way today for more and more of us. Sometimes continuing to work past the “official” retirement age is out of necessity to help fund the type of lifestyle you want; sometimes it is out of simply deciding that “work” remains part of your self-worth, a sort of need to remain connected.
For me, retirement came as an optional-extra to that other R-rated word: redundancy.
I was considering grabbing that option by its cheeky red cheeks and smacking a sloppy kiss on its forehead and yelling “yippee”, until my GP informed me I was in good health (how dare she) and not likely to cark it anytime soon (exactly how soon?).
You see, that’s when you start doing the mortality maths. What happens if I live to 100 and my retirement funds dwindle away to nothing by the time I turn 80? They say that between your kids leaving home to moving into a nursing home or some type of care, there are 8,000 days… That’s over 20 years to enjoy life and do all those things you never had time for.
It is the sort of thing ﬁnancial advisers love to rattle on about; whipping out graphs and pie charts with wild abandon. Good on them and good on the people who actually listen to them (they’re the ones reading this and going “tch, tch, tch”, before ordering another gin and tonic at the club), but I’ve always been one to ﬂy by the seat of my pants, even if I won’t be able to afford pants in 20 years or so (wouldn’t that be a sight? The very embodiment of redundancy right there!).
So, I’m not retired. Not even semi-retired when you add in all the free manual labour in the kitchen that invariably happens after you inform those smug MasterChef contestants on your TV screen that they should “toughen up, ’cause it’s not that bloomin’ hard … here, let me show you …”
Ok, I best stop, I’m starting to rave – which is the other R-rated word that seems intrinsically linked (in my case) to redundancy and retirement.