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?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Labour's Jeremy Corbyn arrives to take part in a Labour party leadership final debate, at the Sage in Gateshead, England, Thursday, Sept. 3  

Jeremy Corbyn is here to stay and the Labour Party is never going to look the same again

Andrew Grice
Serena Williams  

As Stella Creasy and Serena Williams know, a woman's achievements are still judged on appearance

Holly Baxter
The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea