Retirement – permission to misbehave?

Suggested by Debra Hall Thursday 18 March

It’s not so much what you can do, when you retire, but how much you can’t do before you do.

From before memory what we hear is: “No” “you can’t have that” ”do what I say” “this is the way we do things here” with sub text “and if you don’t then we are not for you”.

So one would think that retirement would be like letting go of a wound up elastic band: Twwwaaangggg!!! Don’t stop me now…!

Thinking about what you’re going to do when you are free to do it is quite fun. No-one said it better than Jenny Joseph in her “Warning”.

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple

With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.

And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves

And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.

….and learn to spit

But she didn’t really know, she was only 29 when she wrote the poem.

It isn’t like that, immediately anyway. Stopping the engine from continuing to run at working speed takes time. You can’t just start sleeping in because you are retired. The dog still wakes you at five, your eyes open and your heart starts fast and you leap up to get the day on the go because you know if you don’t you’ll be late for work…. Oh, Duh!. 

Retirees struggle to fill their day. Retirement is a new job; you have to start from scratch again. Finding things to do when you’re used to trying to find time to do things is the world upside down. Getting things done when there is no structure and deadlines is difficult.

Learning to sit and relax and read or do nothing without guilt only comes after years of practice. When you can have cake everyday, it doesn’t taste so good.

You don’t have to shave, but you do. I wear my comfortablest (and tattiest) old clothes quite often. 

I say things which I expect to provoke, but they don’t! Somehow it seems to be expected from the older generation. Anyway what we oldies think is provocative or challenging is not seen as so. 

As we grow older and age, so do the values and attitudes we held. So being provocative is not easy. Its not easy to find that you have not moved with the times and whilst you might have been progressive or even radical when you were young, you find that you are far more conserv ative now.

 I mean I wasn’t quite  a Trotskyite but I was threatened with deportation once. (Mind you that was South Africa in apartheid heyday, so the bar was not very high…) Bit like Australia: if you are naughty we’ll deport you …plus ca change plus c’est la meme chose?

So I am not going to dye my hair (haven’t got enough left) or get a tattoo (so common these days and they look ghastly on flabby old bodies)

But I do have a floppy tatty hat which I love and a canary yellow waistcoat and salmon pink trousers and blue vellies!

I am such a rebel!

Orson Welles suggested: I don’t say we all ought to misbehave, but we ought to look as if we could.

That sounds good to me.

Author: manqindi

Post imperial wind drift. Swazi, British, Zimbabwe-Rhodesian, Irish, New Zealand citizen and resident, now in Queensland, Australia. 10th generation African of mainly European descent. Catholic upbringing, more free thinker now. BA and Law background. Altar boy, wages clerk, uncle, prefect, student, court clerk, prosecutor, magistrate, convoy escort, pensioner, HR Practitioner, husband, stepfather, father, bull terrier lover, telephone interviewer, Call Centre manager, HR manager, grandfather, author (amateur)

3 thoughts on “Retirement – permission to misbehave?”

  1. When those who have eagerly crossed off the 360+ months of their “working life” and retire, many dont last six months doing nothing . You can only be a professional gardener for three months before becoming bored. But the history of “retirement” shows that it was Hindenberg, Hitlers predecessor who started it. “Let our 85 year olds only work to 80 “….and the rest of the world ripped the ass out of it —- 55 years for some. So, “Retitrement” is less than 100 years old and we were never intended for retirement. It is such a waste of good brains to retire. The only organs that keep on growing in ones body as one ages are our brains and ears and face in general. But sadly many folk nuke their brains with a tipple or seven. Or worse, they seek out that Boom tree. The sun does not even get to the yard arm before they continue with the destruction. “I’ve done my bit” they say……. And there is such a need for mentoring in the world today. Its easy, just get onto a smaller horse and carry on. please…..my Book tells me I will work “all the days of my life and there will be thorns thrown in for good measure”. It’s the thorns that make you useful…

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  2. Retirement creates conflict. We can’t wait for it yet dread it. What to do with all that time! The truth is it’s liberating if you ever had a boss. Now you are free with no mini Hitler to tell you to shape up or ship out. They never really understood the magic of your talents anyway. Too busy pretending they knew it all.

    A word to the wise, we retire still feeling 25yrs old and finaly get let out to play. We can add in misbehaviour but for the first time we have a retirement pot to dip into. We can travel, we can attend events, learn new things, discover new talents without care about anyone appreciating them, as its all for fun and of course connecting to others.

    I have used my retirement to paint colourful images, write short stories and more seriously, become a coach. I discover a talent for lighting others up to themselves and I love it. My only wish is that I had learnt some of what I know now sooner. Instead I tell myself there is a right time for everything, crumbling body and shoddy memory or not!
    Thought provoking piece Mal.

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    1. You could always light people up! Its lovely to see the born again butterfly take glorious flight. Fly on Rubes and leave a silver vapour trail across the sky!

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