STILL WORKING at 80? I think not! I'm 24 and I've only been in a full-time job for two and a half years, and I'm already knackered. However, if claims of a study out this week are true, I'm going to be at my desk for a long time yet.

The London-based Sodexho Research Institute predicts that by the year 2025 the average age for retirement in Britain will be 80. Better diet, health care and housing will lead to increased life expectancy and we'll all be working for an extra 20 years or so.

It is predicted that these healthy, wealthy wrinklies will expand the already influential movement called "Grey Power". I've heard of nuclear power, gay power, Flower Power and can even just about cope with girl power, but grey power? Well, it's ridiculous. With Harmony hair colour, even if I do make it to 93 (which is doubtful), I certainly won't be grey.

What's the point of adding on months and years to your life, if these extra moments are not spent enjoying yourself? Even people who say they've got a "fantastic" job, who claim to have found their "calling" in life, if they are being truly honest with themselves, must admit that there are things they'd rather be doing than working. Anyone who says there is nothing in life better than work is, in my view, lacking in imagination.

I have no intention of working longer than is economically necessary. If I won the Lottery tomorrow, I wouldn't even go back to clear my desk. Why work if you don't have to? And what's the point of working hard to save for a pension if you're likely to keel over before you've had time to spend it?

The other issue is whether we actually want these geriatrics in the workforce. The older generation should give younger people a chance to succeed just as they had the chance when they were young. It's hard enough to find a job these days, let alone have hordes of 70-pluses waving their school certificates at recruitment consultants. And anyway, I'm not being ageist (much) but imagine discovering photocopies of your gran's bum in circulation round the office after the Christmas party or the sound of grinding dentures in the staff meetings?

I've got big plans for my retirement, which I've decided will be in 2007, when I'm 32 and still young enough to enjoy it. I plan to live the high life, drink champagne and hold parties but spend plenty of time on health, beauty and relaxation treatments. Rest keeps the body young, work wears you out and makes you look haggard. I will be 70 going on 43 and a half.

Whether you decide to work until you're 80 or 180 is your prerogative, I intend to make my millions early and enjoy the life of luxury. At the very least I want to make sure my post-60 years are leisurely - spent at granny gymnastics, taking advantage of blue-rinse discounts or travelling extensively... if only on my free pensioner's bus pass.



ACCORDING TO the newspapers, early retirement will be a thing of the past in the next millennium. In 25 years' time, say the researchers, people will go on working into their eighties.

Good luck to them, say I. I'm 82. I've worked since I was 14. And I have absolutely no intention of stopping now.

Apart from a break during the Second World War - when I was in the Royal Air Force - I've worked as a cabinet-maker for nearly 70 years. It's a job I love and can't imagine giving it up. Every weekday I'm at my workshop, Pysden Products, in West Croydon at 7.30am. In times gone by there were 11 other men working for me, but it's just me now. I have a cup of tea and a read of the paper, then it's time to get on with work. I carry on until about three, when I go home to get on with gardening and DIY chores around the house. My wife, Joan, works with me, keeping herself busy with the book-keeping. She's 72.

People are always asking me why I keep going. Why don't I take it easy, go down the pub for a drink or take a holiday? But my reply is always the same - what would I do if I wasn't working? Having a job keeps me active. I love it and there's nothing that makes me happier.

Whenever someone asks me their advice about whether they should retire, I always say the same thing. Don't. Or if you do, make sure you replace work with something which will keep your mind active. If they don't believe me there's always one argument that wins them over. Do you know what has happened to friends of mine who gave up work for the easy life? They were all dead in five years.

If I'm honest I don't even like holidays very much. I just don't know what to do with myself and I ache to be back in the workshop. Joan and I have had three holidays since we married - a week in Hove in the Sixties, a fortnight in Portugal in the Seventies and last year we went on a trip to Philadelphia. Although I should add that that was at the invitation of the Worshipful Guild of Carpenters. If they hadn't invited us over I don't think I'd have gone.

I know that I'm the odd one out now but it's reassuring to know that within a generation I'll be the norm. With better health care and longer life expectancy, people will be forced to work longer and longer. The state pension won't be enough for most people - they'll just have to stay at work and make their own money.

I really get fed up with people moaning about the stresses and strains of work. People didn't even use the word "stress" 40 years ago. There were no such things as counsellors or therapists. To my mind if you moan all the time about stress at work, there's one simple answer. Get another job. One you love as much as I love mine.