RETIREMENT – and the Commercial Enemy Within

by Gordon Kinghorn

Having recently played ‘catch-up’ with the considerable unopened mails ensconced within my Inbox, my attention was immediately drawn to the plethora of hugely welcome communiqués from ‘Retirement-on-Line’, (ROL)

On unearthing this Mother-lode of news, views and annotations - I immediately sat down and ultimately came to spend an entire wintry evening, absorbing the respective comments and observations of fellow retirees – a stimulating and highly informative exercise – and indeed - thought provoking too.

As it transpired, I did not merely scan, nor indifferently examine the copious quires of posted comment, in truth, I inwardly digested each paragraph and stanza, then scribbled bountiful notes on my findings – this before commencing on a mini-exercise of human analysis – primarily in an attempt to reveal the key source of intrinsic disquiet…and disturbing disenchantment, that of which some good people experience when adjusting to full-blown-retirement particularly.

I must be quite candid at this specific juncture of my article, the essential motive behind the job-in-hand, was not simply to establish - or ultimately provide, a sustainable means to eradicate respective, retirement-years gremlins, those currently so prevalent in the lives of; {as a make-believe example); Mr & Mrs Smith of Sacramento, or a sixty-something Miss Jones, possibly a retired spinster teacher, living somewhere in or around Glasgow.

I am a military analyst by trade and certainly not a savvy soothsayer, nor tabloid ‘Agony Aunt’, or compassionate uncle, more to the point, mine was an endeavour to unravel the origins of my own intermittent disillusionment on the inevitable withdrawal from active working life, through the mindset of others in the same position.

Yup, these symptoms continue to surface occasionally in me too, contrary to how others may see me, there are indeed moments when one, somewhat unhealthily, in my now considered opinion, has tended to muse and reflect too long on days gone- by – not a viable option when one is hell-bent in maintaining hedonistic antiquity - and for as long as humanly possible…as I indeed am.

So, what did I glean from my investigation – what specifically is this difficult-to-detect phenomenon that so blights our focus to embrace retirement contentedly?

From my calculations, coupled with that of my own recent real-life experiences, I have established that much of what causes our respective dismay – or dare I say, disorientation, does not solely rest with retirement, per say – this somewhat convenient conclusion is just too singular, and generally speaking, just too simplistic by far.

In my humble opinion, many of today’s newly-retired sexagenarian’s, (myself included) - AKA – ‘The Baby-Boomer-Brigade, have wrongfully contemplated for far too long, that should they persevere to keep pace with the universal revolutionary changes within society – and go about their daily routine in the frivolous belief that they shall remain as relevant now, as they were ‘then’, life would stay pretty much rosy…wrong!!!

We have each failed to grasp the inevitably of mature alterations to both our physical and mental framework – there must come a time when one finally runs-out-of-puff after all – both psychologically and physically - and therein lies the quandary for everyone associated with our genre.

As some pass under and through the portcullis of their perceived passive purgatory, they are in-effect, bidding adieu, not only to the workplace – but to their alliance with a world they no longer understand – one where it has become increasing difficult to discern a sense of proportion, because the intellectual temperature of our respective nations appears to be set these days, to something called ‘Twitter’ – and precious little else!

We retirees are, in many aspects – refugees from another epoch, as the chasm of time increases between our final working day – and that of where we currently sit now – so does our grasp of the ubiquitous modifications to communication, commerce and commercialism – even the way we shop – or how we once viewed a day at the shops – is under attack too!

Whilst Christmas shopping in London a few weeks ago in the company of my wife, an annual mission that we had not undertaken together for many years – all thanks to the draconian demands of the workplace, I came to recognise that, retirement brings with it, an overwhelming sense that we are all redundant in the fullest sense of the word – our values, ethics, sense of community and general standards, belong to a bygone era.

When we retirees first entered the workplace, the now pathetically antiquated High Streets used to provide for our every domestic need, we used to reach our retail Utopia by courtesy of those strange machines called buses, nowadays we’ve got it licked, one just has to jump into the car, clog up the motorway, sit in a traffic jam, and sooner or later you’re there, all ready to worship in the new cathedrals of the 21st Century, the reprehensible, anti-Christ, shopping centres.

As we weaved our way through the grotesque monoliths within the UK’s capital city, I started to lament the death of the old High Street – leaving myself open to a charge of nostalgia - a most heinous crime by all accounts – at least in the opinion of my now mature offspring.

Over the last year or two, I have struggled to understand why nostalgia is viewed as such a despicable offence, given the manner in which some regard it present times - no doubt one day soon, it will become an felony under the UK Criminal Code.

I can see it now, “You are hereby charged, that on dates unspecified, you, Gordon G. Kinghorn, with malice afore-thought, indulged in several hours of nostalgia whilst striding down the aisles of major retails store throughout the borough of Chelsea – how say you, guilty or not guilty?” I should plead guilty.

In mitigation, I would claim that we sometimes got it right in the past, so why therefore, should we not hang on to some of it? Why oh why is progress always considered a better option?

I abhorred my Christmas shopping experience – a tacky occurrence at best, most of the retail outlets we visited on that particular day, seemed to offer little more than offensive T-Shirts, over-priced underwear, mountains of mobile phones and shiny Androids that could do just about anything by simply pushing a screen - save going to Mars of course…but give it time I guess.

Coupled with our visitation to the stores in question, there were loudspeakers blaring hideous music – and I mean hideous – Perry Como, Elvis and Bing Crosby must have been be rolling in their graves!

Additionally, one would have indeed strived very hard to find any hint that the Yuletide period was soon to be upon us, (at that time) – the vast majority of shops opting for colourful ‘Bargain Sale’ or ‘Drastic Reduction’ signs - as opposed to the once ever-present images of Santa…or dare I say, ‘Baby Jesus’ lying in his manger, but worse was to come.

Before long, as the shades of night descended on the streets of lamentable London, we discovered that the borough council had invited a commercial sponsor to pay for the Christmas lights in Oxford Street, the net result being a huge neon effigy of ‘Ronald McDonald’, attired in a pitiful reindeer costume, suggesting that his employers culinary alternatives to traditional festive fare – was an equally appetising option – puh-leeze!!!!

The iridescence thrown-off from the so-called Christmas lighting had no meaning, it reflected little more than a shoddy testimony to commercial greed – even the anniversary of the birth of Christ has no longer any significance in this fast-depleting technological age.

< Continued below >

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RETIREMENT – and the Commercial Enemy, part 2.

As a child of the ‘50s, it was doubly difficult for me to comprehend the ‘gobbledy-gook spoken by spotty, teenage, fast-talking, sales- people working within Apple or Virgin stores - am I really so conversant with the communication infrastructure, that I can readily decipher ‘language’ that oozes with i-Phone-toting diatribe, social networking dialogue and Twitter hash-tags, in order to conveniently channel my communicative intentions, during any given moment of the day, this as I aimlessly chronicle my ‘Ecstasy-fuelled’ nights at whatever chosen club via instant mobile uploads (or “muploads” as I was enthusiastically informed). Nope!!!

That goes too for the additional bonus on offer, (should I make an immediate purchase) I would be entitled to minute-to-minute location updates on the local neighbourhood predator/paedophile – Good Lord – where have I been over the last few decades?

During our journey back home that day, I mused positively on the things I have not yet retired from – and the welcome detachment that my wife and I benefit from, being well away from the commercially sordid and unscrupulous retail realities of the 21st Century – hell, there is so much to do and yet to enjoy, and I don’t need any state-of-the-art Android to tell me that!

Furthermore, nobody shall need reminding that our working years stole the most productive hours of our day, and left us, physically, mentally, and emotionally arid. After a day’s hard graft, I would take one tired look at my exhausted wife, and another at a pile of laundry, and then, {metaphorically-speaking) fold.

It doesn’t take a medical degree to establish that work kills romance too – nowadays however, retirement has brought with it, a natural Viagra.

So what conclusions did I derive from my recent analysis overall?

In the interests of our intended longevity, we sometimes may have to forget what’s gone, appreciate what’s still there and look forward to what’s coming next, in my case, it’s a candlelit steak dinner with a glass or two of exquisite Merlot – following this mouth-watering repast…well, my intentions cannot be elucidated here, not on the pages of a family website.

But you maybe assured to learn however, that during our adult nocturnal activity this evening, neither my wife or I, shall be exposed to the nauseating culinary, pharmaceutical, musical, sartorial and electronic claims of either McDonalds, sex-enhancement manufacturers , foul-mouthed Rap ‘Artists, Gucci underwear outlets, T-Shirt peddlers, hand-held computer vendors or mobile phone distributors – there are still some things alive to us all – where 21st Century commercialism has no place…and thank God for that!!!

Happy retirement!

Comments for RETIREMENT – and the Commercial Enemy, part 2.

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Thank you
by: Gordon G. Kinghorn

Thank you to all who have forwarded their welcome comments regarding my recent article, (ergo; Nina, Ricardo & Dean) Of course Ricardo is perfectly correct in his assertion that we cannot [truly] detach ourselves from the social, commercial and electronic status quo present day – the same point which I alluded to within the penultimate paragraph of my latest contribution.

Despite the appalling pressures of 21st century consumer populism – and the manner in which it undeniably undermines our respective characters, I nevertheless have no wish to enter into an isolated, hermit-like existence – my appetite for life, irrespective of it’s appalling shortcomings, remains as focussed and as positive as it has ever been.

I actually consider that I'm marooned in a state of perpetuity - one with no yearning for entering into after-life dialogue with my creator for many years to come…and the longer this pleasing arrangement of my ongoing longevity endures, the longer I shall continue to articulate my observations – without attempting to sentimentalise or place specific issues into a form of soft focus – there is simply no requirement to distort people’s sense of reality further – particularly the goodly subscribers of Retirement-on-Line.

Thanks again.

Gordon G. Kinghorn

The Coming of Age
by: Nina from London

Suddenly you're 60 and you can't believe it! What's even more astonishing is that you don't feel 60 inside! Yes, I feel much younger. But then on certain days when I feel my aches and pains (after gardening especially) I feel like I am 90. Would you believe we are living longer! That's what they say...

So what will we do in that extra time. For me the best time of my life is NOW! My responsibilities are pretty much over...and the only thing I have to worry about is me. However, when I see the news I realise I need to do more. This has been on my mind lately. How to give back the good things that were given to me. That means being help those trouble spots in the world. So I find charities that I feel make a difference.

In reading the book "The Coming of Age" many years ago when I had a difficult 70 year old woman in my life (I was 27 at the time) I learned a lot. Some people embrace change while others fight it. I love to tweet but it does take time to get used to it. When there was this crisis in Ukraine everyone was sending TWEETS including me. This plus the internet has changed the world.

There are friends of mine that hate it. I have a 90 year old friend who doesn't want anything to do with technology. When I visit her it's like going back to the 50's.

Whether it was the best of times or the worst of times...I think for me 2014 is a happy time. As for the commercialism well I mostly ignore it. I don't buy creams to make me look younger nor try to squeeze into tight clothes to look foolish. However, I have tried to keep pace.

After all my daughter who is 27 doesn't want to have a frumpy mom. I became a mother late in life...unplanned. Also, I became a widow...tragic event which took away a soulmate. What I like to do now is live "In the Moment" which means enjoying life as it happens.

Best Wishes, Nina

Wendy I love Twitter too, tho I don't do it as much as I should! Find me there... WOW_Retirement (thats an underline, not a dash).

"The Past"
by: Ricardo

Gordon, your eloquence supercedes you! However, like so many of "us" that sometimes appear to be in a "time warp", the world around us fact, that is the ONLY thing in life that remains constant!

There is no sense fighting is going to happen. We can accept change for what it is worth, BUT, we can either adjust to it....which is difficult as we age, OR, we can let it overwhelm and consume us....either method is not easy or pleasant....but we have no choice as I see it.

Individuals, and nature in general, either adjust to changes in their environment or parish.Hang in there are on the loosing end of "change."

If in fact we cannot beat it.....which we cannot, we must JOIN it. The world is not going to adjust to Gordon....nor Ricardo!

Feedback from the states
by: Dean

Gordon, you stated what has been in the back of my mind for a long time. I doubt I could have been so eloquent. The state of affairs is pretty much the same here in Tennessee. Dean

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