Sunday, 19 April 2015

This "getting up early"

business is not the Senior Cat's "cup of tea" as the saying goes. He is, for the very senior cat he is, an early riser I suppose. He is usually out in the kitchen looking for breakfast by about 7:30 to 7:45am. 
But this morning he is being picked up by 7:45am to go to a meeting with a friend. So it was, "Please wake me at six."
I did it.
He appeared in the kitchen a short while ago with his pullover on back to front. (This one has "V" neck so one would have thought he would have noticed.) We have now rectified the situation. Nevertheless it raised a question in my mind, the question of "retirement".
The official retirement age is rising as people live longer. That's fine with me if the work is there, people are able to work longer and willing to do so. I recognise that the economy cannot support the growing number of older people without some input from them. But I also wonder who will do the work that  "old" people do now? 
When the Senior Cat "retired" he did so before my mother. He did the cooking for a while. It wasn't terribly successful and he was glad to hand the responsibility back to her. He also did the housework. He made magic apparatus for his fellow magicians - something not readily available here before the internet age of on-line shopping. He also volunteered as a minor maintenance man in a women's shelter - the only male allowed to enter the shelter in question. It meant that locks on doors, drawers, chairs and other furniture were mended, light bulbs were changed - and on one occasion a small and precious box of one of the women sheltering there was mended. 
He taught study skills and essay writing to students who were motivated but struggling. He ran his Neighbourhood Watch group, took his turn as President of the Soil Society (an organic gardening group) and did two turns on his church council. 
If he had still been teaching full time none of those things would have happened. He used to be at school by 7:30am and home around 6pm. He would often go back to school an hour or so later for another meeting or he would bring work home. Any good school principal would work the same hours. 
So, who would have done the things he did? Another retired person? What would have happened though if they had all had to work another five years? 
And now there is the added problem that grandparents, the supposedly "retired" generation, are expected to do much of the childminding. Not all children go to day care and not all of those that do go do not go full time but if both parents are working full time then someone has to care for the children. 
The "retired" childminding grandparents can no longer do the other things they want to do. Their days are tied to the school timetable and the after school activities. They transport and feed and entertain.
"It will be different when the kids are old enough," someone told me only yesterday. She is in her 70's. Her husband had taken the two older boys they care for to play their soccer match. She had brought the girl and the boy toddler to the meeting with her because, for once, she both wanted and needed to be there. Her husband will be almost 80 when the toddler starts school. They have given up on their dream trip but they'd still like a holiday. 
And they are still getting up early.


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