Richard Ingrams’s Week: Low pension, no savings – no wonder OAPs are drinking

Share
Related Topics

It makes a welcome change, after hearing for months about teenage binge drinkers, to be told about OAPs behaving in exactly the same way.

And in this instance, there is no likelihood of reading that it is the parents who are to blame – though, in some cases, I suppose you could blame the children, which again would make a nice change.

In seeking to explain why something is happening, it is quite often possible simply to link up disconnected stories appearing in the press at the same time. Thus it is with the oldie binge drinkers whose growing numbers are currently worrying the authorities, not to mention the NHS.

One story this week tells us that more and more pensioners are suffering as a direct result of the sudden and dramatic reduction in their savings. When you are lucky to get a return of 1 per cent from a savings account, this is hardly surprising.

Their pensions are also being hit for the same reason. But anyone who is thinking of carrying on working would take no comfort at all from another of this week's stories: pensioners who are campaigning to gain the right to work beyond retirement age have had their case rejected by the European Court of Justice.

So it looks as if it will only be the Fred Goodwins of this world who can be assured of a comfortable retirement starting, in his case, at the age of 50. But faced with such flagrant injustices and hardships, is it at all surprising that so many oldies are taking to the bottle?

What a spectacle over Gandhi

An Indian business tycoon has paid more than £1m for a job lot of Mahatma Gandhi's possessions including his spectacles. Vijay Mallya is head of a huge conglomerate that includes Kingfisher Beer and Kingfisher Airlines. He claims to be acting out of patriotic motives in insuring that the Gandhi relics are returned to his native land.

That is all very well. But even if he accepts that those spectacles are indeed the Mahatma's, how can he be sure that Gandhi had only the one pair? For all we know there could be lots of pairs of spectacles all over the place that once belonged to Gandhi.

Nowadays when you can buy spectacles quite cheaply in newsagents – I myself pay as little as £6.99 – it is possible to own a great many pairs for a very limited outlay. That is one of the many good things about the modern world and a boon to those of us who are by nature untidy, forgetful and prone to break things quite easily.

But the alternative is to go to an optician for proper prescribed spectacles which will cost a small fortune and are just as easily mislaid or broken. Gandhi would have had no option but to do this.

I cannot claim to be the possessor of any of Gandhi's spectacles, but I do have a pair that once belonged to the late Sir James Goldsmith and which are ideal for watching TV. After making a speech to the Referendum Party, Goldsmith absent-mindedly left them on the lectern. One of his listeners retrieved the spectacles and sent them to Private Eye, and so they passed into my possession. If there is ever to be a Goldsmith museum I would happily part with them – for a suitable fee, of course.

Don't let Darwin steal all the glory this anniversary year

After the the flood of books and TV programmes about Charles Darwin's 200th anniversary, it will be interesting to see if a similar fuss will be made about a much more interesting and amusing figure, Samuel Johnson, the 300th anniversary of whose birth will occur in September this year.

Somehow I doubt it. Dr Johnson is one of those great men that people may pay lip service to. But judged by modern standards he is a deeply unfashionable figure – conservative, inwardly tormented and deeply religious. We oughtn't to be so surprised that Darwin, the man credited with discrediting religion, is given the VIP treatment while the superstitious old fogey Johnson is relegated to the B list.

All the same, there will be books about the great man, but they will probably be boring and almost all of them written by Americans. One such, Samuel Johnson: The Struggle by Jeffrey Meyers, focuses on Johnson's practically non-existent sex life and advancing the "startling" theory that he was some kind of sadomasochist.

Startling it may be but there is nothing at all new about it. When memories are so short it is easy to regurgitate previously well-known facts as if they were new discoveries. As Johnson himself wrote, "It is observed that a corrupt society has many laws. I know not whether it is equally true that an ignorant age has many books. When the treasures of ancient knowledge lie unexamined, compliers and plagiarists are encouraged who give us again what we had before, and grow great by setting before us what our own sloth had hidden from our view."

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

CPAC 2015: What I learnt from the US — and what the US could learn from Ukip

Nigel Farage
 

If I were Prime Minister: I would create a government that actually reflects its people

Kaliya Franklin
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower