I am on holiday in Hondarrabia where Spain takes over from France as you travel south down the Bay of Biscay. Our hotel room looks at Hendaye- the last town France has before the border and on to the mountains where we will be today.
We are in a group of which Stella and I are they youngest. The average age is around 75, several in our company are over 85.This is radically different to my working life where I am often called a veteran.
The idea of going on an exerting holiday at 85 is quite inspiring. Many of the guests have not had their luggage delivered due to a glitch with Spanish customs but they have shared with guests who have clothes and been resourceful about the other things they sent ahead by freight. People are not moaning.
We also have in our party a severely challenged younger man who has learning difficulties, he has been embraced and loved.
I am having to slow down because a group like ours moves at the pace of the slowest and several of our party have mobility problems. This is a salutary experience for me!
What I am learning is that all our party are enjoying retirement with an independent spirit and it is because they have money. Some have earned their money, others have inherited it but everyone has the freedom because they have financial provision for the future – the younger man is blessed by having such a mother.
I am surprised about how little time I learn with people who are in old age. Friends , such as gerontologist Deborah Price, will not be surprised. Some of the people I talk to are in communities where everyone are old. We are much in demand and face questions like “are you still working?” as if that really is rather odd.
It really is very charming and quite humbling being around people who can remember the 1950s and even the 1940s. My mother and her circle are of that kind but I have never had the prolonged company of strangers as I have on this holiday.
It confirms what I have been thinking for such time, that in our work in pensions, we spend a lot of our time thinking of how to sell pensions to the young and too little time learning from the old. Pensions are for spending and there is a generation of people spending their pensions, that so called “experts like me, know far too little about!