I have just had an excellent lunch out, and as so often it has spawned a ‘piece’. I am in the process of ‘throwing my life away’, as in combining photo albums, finding homes for a lifetime of reasonably elegant living, and dealing with over sixty years of correspondence. All that experience, all those memories, plus life at the moment, allied to my experience of Demography and Economic History has led to the big question – is the world in a worse state than sixty years ago, when I was 27? Leave aside the Ukraine and climate change, just concentrate on this week.
I have talked a lot about ‘luck’ recently, in that I have been ‘lucky’ in the richness of my life, but the only ‘luck’ is winning pools or Lottery, where you have no influence in the result. My/our correspondence has been huge. We determinedly made sure we were friends with the ‘in-laws’, even if the marriages of our children broke up. College friends of my children visit me. Children of friends send me news of their children. But there is so much sadness, not just illness and death, which is part of life at my age! Two weddings we went to, over twenty years ago, both broken up, leaving teenage children bereft when they need the greatest support. So many friends no longer in contact with their children. Others, no hope of grand-children, too much sacrifice of life-style for some, low self-esteem precluding lasting relationships for others.
It is the ‘case’ of the woman helping me with house clearance which is parallel with current French problems. We are facing increasing violent demonstrations against the attempt to raise the age of retirement. It is utterly naive. During your working life you pay your taxes, but you are also provident, buy a house, save if you can, life assurances etc. My ‘pyramid of age’ on my data base rose to a sharp point a generation ago. Now ‘levelling’ at the top, so many people living to their 90’s. If, say, average retirement age is mid 60’s, with increased life expectancy that means somebody, state plus personal savings, has to keep you – and provide additional care which is needed with extreme old age, for the next 25% of your life.
This lady has no money, her son has no money. His car has collapsed, he has hers, she has mine. They are both living in poor accommodation. I suggested they pool their resources, get better accommodation, more economic, still organise own lives. No way! She is ‘too independent’, and, their cats do not get on. A ‘sob story’ yesterday, young woman, two young children, separated, looking for a house in a very expensive part of the UK. Sad they have to split with such young children, and two establishments are costly. My grand-children are living in more crowded conditions than we did, their life is faster, more demanding, more expensive. Do you think, on balance, things are better now? The answer can only be ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’.
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