No pension? We'll just have to think creatively

Lily is a courier. She goes to Andorra, bringing back large quantities of cash tucked into her knickers

Share

To those of us who have already laid careful plans, the latest bombshell from the Pensions Office was little more than water off a duck's back. I'm talking about the state pension, of course, the one I thought I'd be collecting on my 60th birthday, along with my senior citizen's bus pass, my subscription to
Saga magazine, my dentures and my hairnet.

To those of us who have already laid careful plans, the latest bombshell from the Pensions Office was little more than water off a duck's back. I'm talking about the state pension, of course, the one I thought I'd be collecting on my 60th birthday, along with my senior citizen's bus pass, my subscription to Saga magazine, my dentures and my hairnet.

I don't remember exactly when they raised the retirement age for women to 65, but it doesn't matter because it now looks as if we'll all have to slog on till we're 70 before we're entitled to collect a single penny. And in my case, single pennies are about the size of it, according to my accountant. What on earth do you mean, I asked last time he rang. Well, he said, in the reluctant tones of the messenger who told Macbeth that Birnam Wood was going places, when I married I elected to pay the lower-rate Married Woman's Tax, which meant that my state pension would be considerably reduced. Reduced to what, I asked. He said cautiously that he didn't know exactly, but it wouldn't be much.

Fortunately, I said to him that I still had the work pension I have been paying into since I was a cub reporter. This would see me through the sere and yellow leaf of my declining years. By the way, which life insurance company was I with? Equitable Life, I said. The rest you know.

My first thought was to take in washing. Charlene, my room-mate at the University of Colorado, worked her way through college by taking in laundry. There were always at least 30 freshly ironed shirts hanging from the cupboard doors, the curtain rails and the bed posts in our room. Most of my dates were with boys who had come to pick up their washing. The trouble is, these days most people love doing laundry. If they're not socialising at the nearest laundrette, they set whole evenings aside to do their washing with the same zeal that DIY enthusiasts once reserved for making balsa-wood models of St Paul's or fret-sawing spice racks. "Let's go to that new exhibition at Tate Modern," I say to my friend, Kate. "I can't, I'm doing my washing," she replies. "I've bought this amazing new fabric conditioner which re-textures brushed cotton, so I'm doing all my moleskin trousers."

All right, if I can't take in laundry, I'll take in lodgers. Friends down the road have just done up their rather damp basement with a bedroom and bathroom and signed on with a company called Doctor In The House. It arranges accommodation exclusively for medics visiting London for conferences. What's so special about doctors, I asked my friends? Well, they said, doctors are decent, reliable, hard-working, considerate people who won't tread chewing gum into the carpet or stub their cigarettes out on the chairs. Think of Dr Barnardo and Dr Kildare and Dr Finlay. All right, I shall. And then I'll think about Dr Jekyll and Dr Crippen and Dr Shipman.

Forget doctors, I'd rather have students – timid Japanese girl students from the Royal College of Music down the road who would scuttle into their rooms and practise the clarinet quietly. This, I appreciate, is in breach of our lease which prohibits bicycles in the common parts, and sub-letting, but by the time I'm 70 the rules may have changed.

I am also assuming, possibly foolishly, that by the time I'm 70 I shall be child free and have a room to spare for lodgers. I keep hearing about parents whose grown-up children refuse to leave home and expect their mums to make them breakfast when they're 40.

No matter, I have other strings to my bow based on my acquaintance with three feisty ladies. All are well into their seventies and living in what would usually be described as straitened circumstances. Except that they aren't straitened – because these ladies are tough.

Here's what they do. Doris is a guinea pig. She gets paid up to £500 every six weeks or so for staying in a clinic and having doctors test the latest Alzheimer's, flu or mad-cow drugs on her. Madge house-sits: £100 a week for an empty house plus £25 for every additional cat, dog or python. Lily is a courier. She goes to Switzerland and Andorra and the Virgin Islands and brings back large quantities of cash tucked into her knickers. She's on a percentage, she told me, £1,000 for the last run.

Networking comes in many forms. Some go to the Groucho or the Met Bar. I prefer tea with old ladies.

React Now

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

Head of Marketing and Communications - London - up to £80,000

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

Day In a Page

 

Ed Miliband's conference speech must show Labour has a head as well as a heart

Patrick Diamond
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments