Are retired people allowed to have opinions?

Now that I have been retired for two years, I realise that when I was working I was unconsciously biased against retired people. I believed that they should not have opinions about business, politics, or pretty much anything else. There are two reasons for this – retired people have outdated ideas and they no longer contribute to society. And therefore their views have no value and should be ignored.

Now that I am retired it will not surprise you that my beliefs have changed. I like to think my own opinions are relatively progressive, and while my tax contribution may be less than when I was working, I have time to think, perspective and experience. If I were to follow my own stereotype I would also now be believing that young people’s opinions have no value. For instance, how can a 16 year old have the vote (which they do in Scotland) when they have no understanding of life, and are distracted by adolescence?

In reality I am trying hard to balance all my ageist biases with tolerance. Telling everyone which pronouns I want seems odd to me, but I understand that it is fundamental to some. Continuing to rally behind Brexit despite the economic evidence, seems nonsensical to me, but I understand that for some, it is the basis of British sovereignty. Keeping a narrowboat on a 48 hour mooring for a week is against the rules and therefore makes me judgy. But it is January. Does it really matter?

I conclude that retired people like me are allowed opinions. And so are young people, middle aged people, people of different faiths, races; people that are very like me and people that are quite different.

Or is having an opinion so important, I should not be tolerant of the contrary view. What do you think?

What should you do when you can’t contact your Mum?

My Mum is 86 and had a fall this week. She was walking up the street outside her house and seems to have just collapsed. Fortunately an off-duty paramedic saw what happened and called an ambulance, so when my Mum regained consciousness she was in hospital. The good news is that she is now off the acute ward and on a cardiac ward. The bad news is that they haven’t yet worked out what is wrong.

With my Mum – not our house!

The odd thing is that I am not feeling too upset about what happened. She is a little older now and a little more fragile. Unlike my Dad, her brain is still sharp and she is reasonably fit, but we should expect issues. However, what was both frustrating and upsetting was my inability to contact her. Her mobile phone had almost no reception and she doesn’t do texts, there was no way of calling her in hospital, the ward wifi would not allow facetime, and even the ward phone number for enquiries was permanently engaged. She had called my brother when she could and he was with her, so I could talk to him, but he was only allowed to see her for an hour a day.

The irony is that I have spoken on this blog before about one of the benefits of retirement being that I am no longer “always on”. I sometimes take days to reply to emails or messages, so I should understand that hospitals are busy and their main job is not to allow communication with distant relatives. But it did bring to life for me how much I rely on electronic communication. And quite how far Scotland is from my parents in Salisbury.

I was doing some more family tree research, and found a newspaper article about the tragic death of my Mum’s uncle Gerald, who died while on a school swimming outing aged 17. His parents were notified by telegram. There was no WhatsApp a hundred years ago. Perhaps we are all too dependant on contact these days.

But I was worried about my Mum.

Good news. She is now on a side ward with a phone that works. I have let her know about Gerald. 😊

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