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Dorothy’s day out



The Retirement Show
Did you know that the University helps prepare those of us nearing retirement age for this new stage of our lives? When Sally suggested that as part of my staff development this year I was entitled to take a day out and visit The Retirement Show at Kensington Olympia I thought I’d give it a go.

I’d never been to Kensington Olympia before so that was the first surprise – a vast hall crammed with stalls, almost all commercial companies but with a few national charities. I suppose I did set out with some snobbish and stereotype assumptions that it would all be coach-loads of white-haired old fogies up from the provinces looking at gardening tools and knitting patterns (not of course being self aware enough to realise that that includes me too!). But then you have to remember that today’s 60 year olds were the sixties generation, raised on the Rolling Stones, mini skirts, flower power, “free love” and (for some of us) student radicalism so maybe the new oldies aren’t going to be settling down in the ways we usually associated with older people.

Still, the stalls did appeal mainly to a more sedate way of life. Lots and lots of financial advice stalls representing big companies like the Prudential and stalls promoting housing, sheltered accommodation, nursing homes and time shares in Spain. Also lots of holiday and travel firms offering big trips including cruises. I lusted after a beautiful Mediterranean blue tote bag being given out free and was annoyed I missed getting one until I reminded myself that I might not want to walk round Brighton advertising in large letters, SAGA HOLIDAYS.

I attended a seminar on “Top Tax Tips” which was useful and talked to some helpful chaps from the Government-funded Pension Advisory Service. One of the biggest queues was for the British Heart Foundation’s stall because they were offering blood pressure tests. I dutifully queued up and found that my BP is too high so I need to sort that out. I also collected leaflets from the Royal National Institute for Deaf People, had my ears examined (healthy) and my hearing tested (mild to moderate loss typical for my age). I decided NOT to get my eyesight tested – there was a booth where you could do virtual driving and have your driving eyesight tested. Instead I had a make up session with two scarily glamorous ladies from Estee Lauder at Peter Jones which was fun but not quite me, especially as one of them knocked one of my contact lenses out of position when she was dabbing on eye shadow and I bodged up the mascara in the ladies afterwards trying to get it back.

There were stands promoting health tourism, including dentistry in the Czech Republic and lots of gadget stalls to make everyday life more comfortable – robot hoovers, steam irons, a host of shopping trolleys, chairs that massaged you as you sat on them, stair lifts, walking sticks and wheelchairs. I noticed there were also big queues at the vineyards stalls where you could do a bit of wine tasting. There was a fashion show (hmmmmm – less said about that the better), a cookery demonstration, dancing lessons (NOT to the Rolling Stones or any groups more recent).
I spent a bit of time at the willow coffin stall (don’t laugh) talking to a craftsman willow weaver who told me that the new popularity for ecological coffins has revitalised the craft and they are now able to take on young apprentices again.

So all in all quite good fun and certainly different. Maybe for me it would have been good to have more on active retirement- stalls about volunteering opportunities, about late in life so-called “gap year” activities abroad, about alternative & self help ways of living (communes?) for older people, about hobbies and interests, about reading and book groups, about continuing education, the Open University, evening (or daytime) classes and residential schools, about learning languages and travelling alone, about how to be self-employed. But of course the providers of THAT sort of information probably can’t afford the cost of booths at Kensington Olympia and maybe it’s up to us to seek out these things for ourselves. It was still a great day out so if you are nearing 60 or 65 and thinking of retiring, go and see Sally about going to the 2009 show.

One Response to “Dorothy’s day out”

  1. Cath says:

    Unfortunately nowhere near that age (honest!!) so will have to keep nose to grindstone for a bit longer. Dorothy, suggestion for you to make up use of all that spare time you’re going to have (ha! ha!) – set up an alternative Retirement Show giving info on all those ideas you’ve come up with. Then I know who to talk to when it is my turn! A gap in the market if ever i’ve seen one.

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