We escaped working into our dotage with aching feet and fading eyesight, but our children and grandchildren have got it coming
George Osborne is planning to raise the pension age to 70 by the 2050s.
Hopefully I'll be dead by then, or over 108, but my poor daughter will be just a couple of years into her pension. Imagine the two of us: me practically a corpse, and the daughter, worn to a frazzle by her 70 years of work, tottering about looking after my living remains, perhaps helped by an elderly carer, if one can struggle into London on a walking frame from her out-of-town workers' ghetto.
How lucky we are to be elderly now. We have pensions while we can still walk about. I've been particularly fortunate. For the past 20 years I haven't even had to stand up to work. Now, aged 71, I can just lie down with my feet up, scribbling away, and hopefully keep going – provided I cling onto my marbles – until I drop off my perch. But what if I had remained a market trader, teacher or waitress, with no pension till now? Even if I could stagger from table to table with my knotted veins, supportive knee bandages, puffy ankles and weak bladder, who would adapt their workplace to employ the likes of me, with hordes of younger, more sprightly people desperate for jobs? And what about poor Fielding, if he were still teaching now at 69? How would he cope with Year 8?
"I've got a fat face from toothache, I can't have hot drinks, my feet hurt pretty much all the time and even though I'm taking my pills and broccoli, I'm half blind with macular degeneration," says he. How could he manage his marking, never mind grope his way into class, stand there in control, and last a double period without the lav? And Clayden would be unemployable as a plumber, so he and his manual labouring colleagues could go on the dole. Bargain! Much cheaper than paying them pensions.
Fortunately we escaped this hellish scenario, but our children and grandchildren have got it coming. Or have they? Will they even make it to 70?
Loads of us are only here because of the excellent NHS – and it is still working miracles, keeping us alive, despite the unfairly hyped-up bad publicity. By 2050 it could easily be half-dead as well. There won't be any free hip and knee ops, or statins. We'll all be pegging out much earlier, especially in Manchester – where male life expectancy is five and a half years less than east Dorset. According to the TUC, the class and geography longevity gap is increasing. But there will be hordes of 108-year-old managerial and professional persons in affluent areas living the promised last third of their lives on a pension. And they won't even need one.
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image: © Jase Curtis