Well, I nearly fell off my rocking chair on Wednesday night when, during a run-of-the-mill news bulletin, this startling report was broadcast, encouraging the over 50s to stay working!
And worse again, to upskill! To find new jobs, if you don’t mind.
In the name of God, has the world gone mad!” I cried into the screen.
At a time of life when most men should be clutching their rosary beads, or something else for comfort and enjoyment, Solas, a state body charged with co-ordinating further education and training, were telling us that there is extra time to play in this game of working life.
That the over-50s are still well in the frame.
I’ll be 50 shortly, and the only frame I’ll be able for soon is the Zimmer frame.
The thought of someone taking me on, or upskilling me, in my twilight years, is something I cannot bear.
To put it bluntly, I’m spun out. I’m fit for nothing.
A lifetime of dragging, tearing and rooting on this farm has left me banjaxed.
A change of career, or upskilling, for me now would be like trying to knock another season out of an old ram, and his apparatus dragging along the ground already.
My (all but) 50 years here on the land has me looking more like Quasimodo than the ideal, spruced-up, candidate eager to, let’s say, pilot a plane to Guatemala, or cook a fancy supper for 50 hungry tourists just in from Japan.
I wouldn’t know where to begin. I don’t know the first thing about flying planes or cooking meals.
But then I don’t have to, Solas tells me I could be upskilled.
But I don’t want to be upskilled. As I approach 50, I want to be down skilled, decommissioned even. I need to be put out to pasture, and not encouraged to battle on, with my best years behind me.
To be blunt with you, like most fellows out here in the country, 50 might as well be 80. We’re fit for nothing but the long acre.
Like a bull in August, our season is done. We have served our time, covered the ground, performed our duty.
And bar, perhaps, the odd jolt of activity around Christmastime, we’re fit for nothing but the halter and the long lead.
Tis to a comfortable spot we should be led, where we will find fresh bedding and some nourishment, and make no mistake, you’ll hear no complaint.
In their report, Solas, also claimed people aged 50-59 were most at risk of leaving the workforce. Damn right they are! They shouldn’t be there in the first place.
And if the remainder had any sense, they’d leave too.
This country of ours should be offering them an early pension or some class of a fund to see them through.
In the old days, in farming, we had this thing called the ‘Early Retirement Pension.’
Once you reached the age of 55, you could apply for it. And once you proved that you had no inclination whatsoever for work, you received a handsome reward to remain idle.
That was clever thinking.
That’s what the over-50s need. Not some quango encouraging them to work ’til they drop.
Or voicing concerns that the over-50s are in some way lacking motivation. Encourage them to leave, then you’ll see action!
Get them out while you can and then give them all the support they need until, alas and alack, the clock ticks no longer, and the curtain finally comes down.