Retirement: Smelling roses, enjoying brandy and learning to spit!

This is the third and final post on this trilogy on Retirement. My last two posts (here and here ) were  concerned with the very serious matters of mandatory retirement and the financial and social deprivation that were for me, the immediate fallout. March 2016 will see the 3rd anniversary of my compulsory retirement. The road was indeed a rocky one, and full of potholes, but now that I have travelled along it for a while, I have slipped into a ‘Third Age’ mentality and somehow seamlessly adapted to a life without the early morning alarm clock!

Some years ago my friend moved to live in London and I was amused by this little ditty that hung in her bathroom. Nicely framed, it was strategically placed so that any visiting females could not miss it.


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.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people’s gardens And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

——–Jenny Joseph.

During the early weeks of retirement I read this poem again several times. Cares and woes can certainly knock the stuffing out of anyone. Should I let them do just that and should I then go about running a stick along the railings, driving everyone mad? Clack, clack, clackclackclackclack clack, clack clackclackclack? A possible option, for sure!

BUT, this was NOT for me! I needed to re-evaluate, to re energize, to REINVENT myself if need be. And so I took every single opportunity to be away from home or in the company of others. During my first summer of ‘retirement’ I plied the length and breath of Ireland attending conferences and talks, popping into Museums and Galleries, going to beautiful places near home that deserved investigation, discovering things I did not know, rediscovering things I did know. If there were free events, so much the better. The budget was stretched as tight as a bodhran skin, but one or two fewer visits to the hairdressers was ok, and I never really minded beans on toast as a meal, and miracle of miracles—you do need fewer clothes when you don’t have to go to work! So on went the jeans and the comfy jacket…. and away I went!

A trip to Australia to spend time with my daughter and her family worked its magic…maybe this retirement isn’t so bad after all, with no worries about using up precious leave! The following year, having reached my 66th birthday I became eligible for free travel travel in Ireland and this opened up a whole new world…a day away in Dublin to go to the theatre, a day strolling around Galway, a day shopping in Cork or a day enjoying the festival in Tralee…all for free!

It took about a year to adjust to not having to rise at 6.30 each morning. During that transition year I discovered the gift of TIME that I now have in abundance. I use it as far as I can to improve my changed life. There is time to seek out and select bargains, time  for long slow cooking and tasty recipes, time to walk, time to read, time to spend hours in the swimming pool, time to exercise, time to catch up with friends, time to do some volunteering work, time to study and learn new things, and time to smell the roses!

I have not yet spent my pension on brandy, but I do have time to enjoy the occasional glass and as for ‘learning to spit’ – I am working on that – figuratively speaking of course!

(Clipart Image)

I plan on wearing purple!



Filed under Age Action Ireland, Ageism, Ireland, Living in Ireland, My Oral History, Older Generation, Poetry, Retirement Age, Seniors

24 responses to “Retirement: Smelling roses, enjoying brandy and learning to spit!

  1. Your retirement has been a great gift for me, as I have had the joy of meeting you and building on our friendship, which began right here.. and is indifferent to distance..
    Please don’t expect me to wear purple though… But happy to wear red hats! 🌺

  2. I am fascinated and encouraged by your post. I would love to be able to work (at 55) but my mental illness makes most jobs out of my reach. I volunteer, take my meds and drink cheap wine! 🙂
    PS That is not advisable at the same time and you can work forever in the States. The lady working at Starbucks told me she was 80!

    • Volunteering, taking meds and downing cheap wine sounds very like me! So we have a lot in common! I realize that I was lucky to have a job and to have been able to do it without much interference from my own medical condition. You Americans who can work and who want to work are so fortunate that age is not a barrier. We have a long way to go to catch up! Thanks for dropping by!

  3. I’m so enjoying these posts. Compulsory retirement is a foolish waste of talent so I am glad you have become a “life entrepreneur” instead

  4. A great post Angela. It was very tough for you with compulsory retirement….a stupid concept.

  5. Angela, I look forward to meeting you in 2016 and as a Jenny J fan, you’ll easily recognise me among the flowers in Mount Congreve as I sport my purple and spit ( as single magpies fly by!).

  6. What a super finale Angela to a trilogy that has important things to say to the rest of us. Shared on our OPC site – hope you don’t mind. Lived experience is so valuable, especially when shared. You certainly have re- invented yourself – I used to think you were rather a mysterious person when we first met ! This writing is so authentic – you are free to be you. Love it.

  7. Somehow your posts are not coming to me via e-mail – will have to check that out. I am glad that you are now enjoying your retirement but it does take a bit to get accustomed to it and soon you will not want to give it up. Love the poem! I try not to spend it all on brandy either. And free travel is a bonus!

  8. Leith

    I’m very glad your trilogy ends on such a happy note, Angela!

    Perhaps there’s a typo ….”learning to spin?”

    You’ve been giving your readers much pleasure, spinning stories and weaving pictures to delight us with your silver voice – a productive retirement indeed.

  9. I personally can’t wait to retire for the luxury of time you mention. It seems like retirement will never come. Fifteen more years to go… 😦

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