It’s all about the MONEY,Money,money

We were taught to save for a rainy day.  Half crowns, sixpences and the extra special ten shilling note or even a crisp green pound seemed unimaginable riches. So they didn’t burn a hole in my pocket they were squirrelled away into The Post Office.  At a brown wooden counter rubbed smooth with use, the pen attached to a metal bobble rope (often missing), the grille behind which a lady in a twin set had a severe rubber stamp and one of those finger things that give you grip when counting the notes. She took my money, wrote by hand in my precious book and banged the stamp with all the force required to make it ‘official’.

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And to reinforce the message of thrift and saving another well meaning lady (probably in a stout overcoat and hat) used to come to school once a month and sell us National Savings Stamps.  The pleasure of queuing up to pay for the stamp and stick in in the book was simple, but real.nat saving stamps.jpg On the way out she may have passed the Man from Dr. Barnado who came once a year to give us the talk about finding orphan boys sleeping on the rooftops of London and dispensing the paper mache money boxes to take our coppers.

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Anyway, I digress.  I’ve always saved a bit ever since.  My grandmother, a loving but severe woman who’d had a very hard life, but managed to run an engineering business making die castings for industry, in spite of having an alcoholic for a husband always impressed on us to “keep a little for a rainy day”  So I did, and I think I even have a couple of National Saving Certificates squirrelled away to this day.

We saved, got a mortgage, saved a bit and now my husband has retired and some of those savings are coming in handy.  Times have changed in personal finance.  You worked, paid National Insurance and then you got a State Pension.  I’ve found that nothing in life is certain, and the lesson I’ve recently learned is the benefit and now necessity of having an occupational pension, and not relying on the Government.  The law can change and your entitlement change with it, and there’s a new movement to call the State Pension ‘a Benefit’.  This implies that you only get it if you deserve it, or are means tested, and serves to unsettle those approaching retirement age.

I’ve learned how important it is to encourage our children to save and set up a pension.  Its a minefield, and something to talk about another day.  Simon Read the Personal Finance Editor of the Independent wrote about this just yesterday.  Keep on saving.

Good Old Muffin

Looking out of the window in my godson’s house I was amazed to see an almost life-sized Muffin the Mule staring back at me from the rear balcony of a London pub.  An incongruous sight, but it filled me with joy and reminiscence.  Alex was singularly unimpressed.  He didn’t even know who Muffin the Mule was, or that he ever played the fool.  To my surprise yesterday I read he is to be reinvented for a new generation.

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Those of us who do remember probably remember him fondly as being one of the earliest children’s TV ‘characters’ which we grew to love in the black and white days before Wimbledon in COLOUR.  Listen with Mother, The Woodentops, Bill and Ben are engraved on my memory.  We had no merchandise, no pyjamas or toothbrushes, or DVD’s.  Just the occasional treat on a grainy television. I wonder if today’s characters will be remembered with such fondness. Will a plastic Octonaut or an Iggle Piggle have the same resonance with little ones today. I suppose they will…

It made me think about how long it takes for something you remember so vividly from your childhood to come back, revived, renewed or remade? Weren’t Loom Bands just French Skipping in another guise? Pop pom makers demonstrated by Kirsty Alsopp replaced two circles of cardboard with a hole in the middle and dear old Noddy was Computer Generated Imagery-ied to within an inch of his little bumpers for a new age group.

There’s such a trade now in vintage toys and the more perfect the condition the better. I own up to having a few unopened treasures in the loft waiting for them to become collectable, and more Beanie Babies than you can shake a stick at.

I’m not waiting with bated breath for tank tops, loon pants or shiny platform boots no matter how much David Bowie is missed. However, it would be fun to relive the launch of Biba make up, enjoy the sense of freedom from a pair of tights again, and feel decadent drinking a Cinzano and Lemonade. The joy and excitement of the first time you experience something is never to be repeated.

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Love in all its forms

Today may not be the highlight of your romantic calendar, or you may be bathing in asses milk and drinking champagne.  Either way its a perfect day just to remember the ones we love, and have loved.  Its an excuse to bake a cake or make a card.  We’ve never been ones for shop bought valentine cards and I’m usually hastily putting something together the day before, hunting for red card and a big marker pen.

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This however this is just plain fun ….  (click on the blue words)

Download the app, ‘photograph’ your index finger, fill in the details and e mail the sound of your heartbeat to someone you love.  How Cool IS That??

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Whatever you do today, remember to love yourself .

We’re the Computer Generation

Can there have been a more life changing invention in my lifetime than THE INTERNET?  Well, apart from the microwave oven, oh and micro surgery, clingfilm and the mobile phone, but you get my drift.

It affects every aspect of our everyday lives. How we shop, how we communicate, how we learn.

Our generation have been the ones to benefit from it first. From the tentative first volley on TV Tennis and shuffle about on Pacman, to the endless possibilities of launching a music career, teaching someone to crochet or editing your own photographs the world has been opened up thanks to electronics.

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There are fond memories of the first BBC computer I ever saw. The little blinking cursor and a whole lot of jumbled coding messages were incomprehensible to me. There was the overriding fear that I might ‘break it’. We didn’t need to worry, it was so inevitable that Alan Sugar was on it like a rash with Amstrad, and Clive Sinclair with the ZX.  Then Stephen Jobs and Apple made it beautiful and the rest as they say is history.

Today we don’t need to even think about how the programmes work they just do. Although the mysteries of Windows 10 may never be understood, it’s a universal truth that lots of things are sorted out by “switching it off and switching it back on again”.

In Neil MacGregor’s History of the World in 100 Objects the final choice from all the rare and precious items was a simple solar panel and charger.  It moved me that giving a little light in the darkest corners of the world was regarded as having made such a major contribution to society.  Harnessing free solar energy to light rudimentary homes, work machinery and power cheap and robust laptops so a child can study, and be in contact with the rest of the world changes people’s lives immeasurably.

Communication has undergone a complete revolution. A letter, once the highlight of someones day, or the only means of communicating news of any sort, is almost extinct. Its been contracted into an e mail, a text or even a tweet. Twitter is an online social networking service which enables you to make your point or communicate your message in 140 characters but no mor…..so if you like to talk, its not for you.

Once upon a time we sent a postcard from our trips, today Astronaut Tim Peake can send an internet message to say he’s passing over Norwich and we can go outside and wave. There’s Skype and FaceTime where we all wish we’d brushed our hair, and weren’t standing by the ironing pile when we answered the call. Its instant and easy.

Decades ago a set of The Encyclopaedia Britannica would have been a prized possession in any home. Now, if I want to know the name of the giant satellite dish at Goonhilly Downs or what a manatee eats for breakfast the information is only a click away. (Arthur and submerged vegetation in case you’re interested).

Its sad in a way that there are women and men of my age who aren’t connected to the world wide web because its a hindrance not to be. How else would you be able to check the rules of entry to the Dickinson’s Real Deal competition? So if there are people in your family who don’t know who the Kardashian’s are or how to prune gooseberry bushes…or even more important things than that –  spare the time to help them find out.

Biting the Bullet

 

That’s how a friend described reaching her 60th.  It didn’t seem to matter much to me, reaching 40, and 50 seemed OK too, but somehow when I got to 60 something hit me and I was flattened by an anvil like a character from Looney Tunes.

I didn’t feel 60, and I didn’t think I looked 60 and my head was still full of the same things I’d always been interested in. Somehow though it was different. The world looked at me differently and the invisibility of retirement age sank in – deeply.

The double whammy came when I realised that although my husband had retired with his company and state pension there would be a full six years for me to wait. So although I now felt “see through” in reality because we’re all living longer I’m supposed to be vibrant and productive. I’m not at retirement age or a pensioner at all.

But who wants to make use of us? Who will use our life experience and skills in a productive way? Who represents us positively in the media? I know there are 60 year old successful writers, artists, scientists, cooks, business women, mothers, and carers around. Women of that age drive buses, run companies, create youth activities, self help groups, and most importantly volunteer, to fulfil the desire of the ‘Caring Society’. Millions of them care for grandchildren so parents can go out to work, and they’ve already cared for one if not two sets of parents. We’ve done the caring all our lives, and all the other things too.

Technology has motored at such speed and as a gadget lover I’ve sort of kept up, just. I’m aware though that many women in my age bracket haven’t. They see Facebook as the work of the Devil “I don’t want everybody looking into my life”, Twitter fares worse “pointless waste of time” and to others “I spend all day on the computer at work and don’t want to be on it when I get home”. So many of the women I shared experiences and formative years with are not sharing the same influences as me now.  And yet the Web can provide us with so much, contacts, information, activities, knowledge and friendship.

Who represents us? When I tried to think of influential women in my age group the vein was thin. Who was born in the 50’s who makes a difference? Dawn French? Annie Lennox, Lulu um…. Women in their 60’s aren’t represented on TV, they’re not in adverts unless its for incontinence products denture fixative or funeral plans. They don’t read the news, or present daytime TV. They don’t talk about fashion and make up, or health or fitness or diet. I looked online for inspiration. Bloggers? I don’t want to be defined as being a grandparent (because I’m not) or a pensioner, or any other limiting description. I’m me, and I know there are other people like me who feel the same.

So I start this blog with no idea who will be interested but its my vision to share the platform with other women in or approaching their 60’s who may want to talk about their dreams and frustrations, successes and failures. I hope they’ll influence what to talk about and share who they want to listen to or watch on TV and most importantly how they want to be perceived.

We’re all living longer so our 60’s and 70’s need to be more fulfilling and with an opportunity to offer so much more of what we are.

I hope you’ll join me as we explore.