My Week: Save for infirmity? Gruesome idea

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The Independent Online
Monday: Wake at 8.30am to hear the neighbours getting their boys off to school: bliss, to be beyond all that. Snuggle back down under the duvet till husband, also retired, brings morning tea and paper. Reflect that Spanish for 'retired' is jubilado. That's what it feels like.

Over tea, plan day's activities and savour the freedom to choose. No more submission to other people's timetables. Decide to spend the morning writing (virtuous) and the afternoon gardening (self-indulgent). Television and reading fiction are strictly for after dinner.

Tuesday: The phone keeps ringing. Some nice old lady from up the road wants us to deliver charity envelopes 'now that you have the time.' A lot she knows. My old school wants me to go back to judge a competition, former pupils want references for jobs, others want advice about schools and universities for their children. A lawyer would call that work and charge for it]

Write letters to help to publicise daughter's first published novel, then use trip to post office as an excuse for long walk with my husband. Back home, do preparatory reading for a graduate seminar on methodologies in literary criticism. The idea is to prevent atrophy of the brain, but the subject is sleep-inducing. Might be better off trying to finish Proust, since husband has maliciously observed that my bookmark has been in the same place for 20 years.

Wednesday: A trip to a country house with the Friends of the Ashmolean. The coach is full, by definition, with people like us: retired. Average IQ of the party is very high, average mobility rather lower. Much amused, at self-service lunch counter, to find they have no corkscrew to open the Merlot on display. I hear the cashier mumbling: 'I could have sworn I put it in my handbag this morning]'

The house, pictures and furniture are lovely, and what a treat to be able to see them without the usual parties of bored schoolchildren. Reflect that I, too, as a teacher, once thought it was good to take children to places of cultural interest, but cannot now remember why.

Thursday: Off to a theatre matinee in London. I certainly do not miss the late night rush for the last train, or the sleep of exhaustion which nearly takes you past your stop. The audience is very attentive and responsive, and mostly old enough to know how to sit still. Some familiar faces among them: aren't they supposed to be putting in gruelling hours in the House?

After the play, meet one of our children for a meal; we are pleased to hear how much he likes his work in publishing. Count our blessings: all four have jobs they enjoy, partners they love and roofs over their heads. Suppose that makes us retired parents, too.

Friday: To travel agent, to set up autumn trip to New Hampshire. Explore possibility of going to the opera in New York and am stunned to discover the Met is cheaper than Covent Garden. Sadly, on our two possible nights, Pavarotti and Domingo are singing, reducing the chances of our getting tickets.

I meet an old friend, who is shocked by our extravagance. Shouldn't you be saving that money in case you need to go into a nursing home? Gruesome idea. God forbid that we should outlive our working parts] Home, to clean house for weekend (some habits die hard). As we potter in companionable silence, I am reminded of Virgil's shepherd: Here, with thee beside me, I could endure the wastage of the years. Exactly.

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