Monday 24 October 2011

The Swinging Sixties

I am not big on birthdays and I never have been, but I have just had a big birthday. A landmark birthday. The biggest since I was 21. I had planned to spend the day hot footing it down to the town hall to collect my bus pass. However, back in June I had decided to investigate what would be necessary by looking at the local council's website. I suppose that I was only mildly surprised to find that the goal posts had been moved by the previous government, in April 2010, just before the election and conveniently swept under the carpet. I do not now become eligible for a bus pass until I qualify for the state pension which is 19 months away.  Some councils have chosen not to implement this change and have decided to absorb the cost. I know why our local council has implemented it. The chief executive is paid more than the prime minister plus five figure bonuses for poor performance. That is where my bus pass has gone! Discovering that I would not collect my state pension when I expected to was, again, something that I found out by lucky accident when shortly before husband hit 60 I decided to investigate my state pension situation. I do remember murmurings, by the previous government, about changes to the pension age but they kept quiet about the decisions that they made. At the very least they could have written to those affected by the change. The Cameron government are being open and honest about the changes that they are making. So hopefully there should be no more nasty surprises.

I am not really in any hurry for my bus pass and state pension. I do not feel old and I do not think that I look old. Although the last time that I visited my mother in the nursing home one of the residents asked me if I was the new lady, meaning a new resident. 'No' I quickly replied 'I'm a visitor'. I thought 'do I look like I belong here?' Most of the residents look as if the got dressed in the dark, in crumpled unco-ordinating clothes. I was wearing a white blouse, blue striped cardigan and denims. (Note to self - wear a mini skirt for next visit to the nursing home).Sadly there is a lady in the nursing home who does not look much older than me.

Some perks have been left unchanged. Eye tests and prescriptions are now free. However, I am hoping not to be ill. Then there is the B&Q Diamond card that offers discount on Wednesdays and Boots health club which offers discount on their own products and I'll get myself a Senior Railcard if I am allowed. There are probably some other schemes that I am not currently aware of. I am not looking for something for nothing, but it is sheer stupidity not to claim your entitlement. I have worked hard for the last forty years. I know that I have not had forty years of paid employment. It was forty years last month since I started university. For those who think that university is a skive and a doddle, the life of an applied science undergraduate is a hard one. We had a 9.15 am lecture Monday to Friday three terms a year for three years and some evenings we did not finish our practical session until after 6.00 pm. Then the practical had to be written up.  During the three day week of the winter of 1973-4 the university buildings were unheated and we regularly spent four hours sitting in an unheated lecture theatre. In those days students lived on the breadline in grotty flats which were nothing like the luxury that the students of today expect. We had no central heating, fridge, telephone, television or stereo. I had a battery operated radio and contact with home was via a weekly letter and a weekly phone call from a phone box. We were happy. We considered ourselves to be in a privileged position. I would not have missed it for the world. It is undoubtedly the one of the best things that I have ever done. After graduation I did one year's pre-registration training and for most of the last 36 years I have worked as a pharmacist, initially in hospital, then the pharmaceutical industry and now in retail.

Recently husband and I have spent some time reinvesting and deferring my pensions in the hope that they maybe worth more when I do decide to take them. Yes, pensions not pension. I know it sounds as if I am rolling in it, but nothing could be further from the truth. As a result of being badly advised and poor investments by the pension providers they are worth very little. However, it is not all doom and gloom as I shall be entitled to a full state pension when the fateful day arrives and the first nine and a half years of my working life was spent in the employment of the NHS then the Civil Service which has rewarded me with a small but bullet proof pension.

However, for the moment retirement will have to wait, as I have agreed to work eleven days of holiday cover between now and Christmas. I have been told that retirement is great and I have been looking forward to it for the last few years. When I first started work I used to think how awful it must be not be able to go to work. For the next few years I intend to enjoy myself before old age and senility set in.


the fly in the web said...

Making me apply for my pension was rather a shock...they've got all the details after all...why not just dish it out on the day?

mrsnesbitt said...

POLITICS - gets even to the marrow of our bones and the essence of who we are. xxxx

Gill - That British Woman said...

I am shocked that the government still hands out pensions, as with everything else I thought they would have taken it away. Dh actually qualifies for a British pension as he has always paid into it, despite us living in Canada.

It is all very legal and above board, mind you he had quite a number of years working in Britain before we came to Canada.

Gill in Canada

cheshire wife said...

fly - that is too easy!

mrsnesbitt - I understand that changes needed to be made to the pension system but I object to them being done on the quiet.

Gill - that is what we pay out tax and national insurance for.

Maggie May said...

First of all..... Happy Birthday! (belatedly!)
That is tough, not getting your bus pass yet. I jolly well hope they don't do away with bus passes before you get one. They seem a law unto themselves...... the Government.
As regards pensions..... my state pension is a laugh because I did part time work and stayed home to look after my children far too long. (That wasn't counted then but I see it is today.)
My works pension is so small that I have to search hard for it!
The money we invested privately, has not made us anything and interest is so low you cannot live on it...... it just gets swallowed up.
You have really got me ranting now! Sorry about that but its one of my pet hates...... the way the government helps those who are really work shy and doesn't give a jot about people caught up in this low pension business. Seems the answer is to have nothing and live off the state than to try & help yourself.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

Akelamalu said...

I was lucky in that when I retired at 60, after working for 40 years, I could collect my 'full' State Pension, for what it's worth. It was a shock to find out that I had to pay tax on it, but the present Government have raised the tax allowances so that next year my pittance will be below the tax threshold. I do have my bus pass, free presciptions and eye tests so I'm thankful for small mercys. LOL

cheshire wife said...

Maggie May - thank you for your comment. I do not mind how much you rant, as I totally agree with you. I could write a book about the unfairness of the benefits system.

Akelamalu - it seems crazy for the government to give with one hand and to tax with the other. said...

A belated happy birthday - I'm not very far behind you but I reckon I must look my age since I've been asked on numerous occasions if I am a "concession". But I suppose my youth in the '60s was bound to catch up with me sooner or later. x

cheshire wife said...

Deb - I have been asked a couple of times if I was over 60 by people who I would describe as not very discerning.

Gilly said...

Happy Belated Birthday! Yes, its a bit of a shock to discover that you are now lumped with ancient biddies for bus passes etc. etc.!!

But I am a long way past that happy birthday, and although I don't use buses, I am very grateful for my pension! And even MORE grateful for the NHS!

Enjoy the next 15 years - is downhill all the way after that!! ;)

CG said...

A belated happy birthday from me too it is always such a pleasure to read your intelligent posts x

cheshire wife said...

Gilly - I don't use the buses much but I might do if I had a bus pass.

CG - thank you for the compliment.

Jennyff said...

I'm sorry you have to wait for your bus pass, I've had mine for 3 years now and not once has a driver said I don't look old enough to have one. I deferred my state pension for a year which added to its value but I have to keep living quite a long time to make up for the missed year, I'm doing my best. Enjoy your well earned benefits when they arrive and Happy Birthday.

LindyLouMac said...

Hi ,I am back from my travels and am now busily trying to catch up with all my favourite bloggers. A belated Happy Birthday I will be reaching that milestone next year, it doesn't seem possible though does it!

cheshire wife said...

Jenny - deferring pensions seems to be a bit of a lottery.

LindyLouMac - I still think that I am 25.

American in Bath said...

Next time, please, wear your mini skirt to see the aged. I really really need to hear that story.

Sandi McBride said...


Rob-bear said...

Ah, yes, well.

Now at 66, I'm drawing my pensions and living the life of "just above poverty." After "investing" through my taxes for about 45 years.

There are so many bad plans for everything, it's no wonder people want to Occupy the world. Massive vote of non-confidence in governments of all type. So very sadly.

Carol said...

Happy belated birthday! I'm sure the woman in the nursing home just needed her eyes tested :-)

C x

cheshire wife said...

American in Bath - I recently read a comment from Twiggy that miniskirts are for the young and thin. So I think that I shall take her advice and pass on that.

Sandi - is a bus pass a British thing?

Rob - life should get easier as you get older, but it doesn't.

Carol - Thank you. I think that she needs more than her eyes testing

Anonymous said...

Birthdays are for this; to spend your time as you want to , and to buy all you need, not matter if we talk about shoes, dresses, secure tabs or bags... most important is to be happy in your day.