Why becoming a pensioner won't make any difference to me, says Christa Ackroyd

Next week sees a momentous occasion. One worthy of the biggest of celebrations. And no it is not the King’s Coronation but instead one of those moments in life which catches you completely unawares.
Christa AckroydChrista Ackroyd
Christa Ackroyd

It simply creeps up on you, stealthily, until you exclaim where on earth did that come from?

And there is nothing at all you can do about it.

You see next week I am officially a pensioner. And to think I was once worried about hitting thirty!

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From Thursday, when I am officially recognised as being old enough to receive an ‘old age ‘ pension, my life will obviously change overnight.

Firstly I can apply for a free bus pass, a rail card and no doubt other yet undiscovered well earned benefits that reaching the age of 66 brings.

So back to my own impending ‘old age’

Secondly, I am determined that I will finally sweep away my natural shyness and come out from behind my wallflower existence.

Not quite wear purple as the Jenny Joseph poem Warning urges us to do in old age, as purple is not my colour, but you get my point.

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I can finally be who I am supposed to be – strong willed, daring and more importantly non conforming. In fact today I can reveal the real reason for Sunday’s shrill alarm to your mobile phones. It was to warn you that the real me is on her way.

Who am I kidding? Certainly not you I am sure.

The truth of the matter that reaching pensionable age will make not a jot of difference to how I live and how I think at all, but I am well aware it might make a difference to how others see me. Or rather how relevant others view me as.

Well I am here to tell you right here right now that reaching a great age, any age, makes me and others like me (12m and rising at the last count) just as relevant as we have always been.

So discount us, worse still ignore us at your peril. We make up a massive chunk of the population who are just as energised as we ever were, in some cases more so.

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There are no longer rules to follow in getting older. Now at last I think we are old enough to make up our own rules.

So what does ‘old age’ really mean?

At its most positive it means you have made it another year when so many have not had that privilege. It means you will hopefully have grown wiser and possibly calmer on this road we call life. Not sure that applies to me, but hey ho.

More importantly it should mean we can throw away the rule book and finally start writing our own rules. We have earned that at least.

By and large we are fitter and stronger than we have ever been in old age. We live longer and for the most of us in better health. There is no longer an old person’s dress code. If you want to wear Doc Martens into your eighties do it.

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The era of twin set and pearls has long gone. If you want to get a tattoo or your nose pierced go for it. Dye your hair pink if that’s what you fancy.

To hell with what others may say. All our lives we have been far too worried about that. And it is time to stop. Drawing your pension is for most of us is a long way from drawing our last breath. There is a whole lot of living to do. But don’t waste it. Embrace it.

To everyone else write us off if you dare.

Don’t forget we were the generation that went through the sixties revolution but for heaven’s sake we are not golden oldies.

Our taste in music, as in life, is much more eclectic than that. Our lifestyle is far from sedentary. Our plans and ambitions to keep kicking this thing called living are just as important as they ever were.

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And with the added benefit that we know what we like and we won’t stand for what we don’t.

Which in my case is bad manners, poor service and whingeing. Particularly about getting older.

There are a million jobs on offer, many of them because our generation after the pandemic decided to chuck it all it and leave the race race.

That is why the Government is all too keen for us to continue working as long as we can. And let’s face it many of us have to.

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That’s why the age at which you reach your state pension is ever increasing. Which is fine in theory.

As long as your age doesn’t hinder you when you go job hunting, which lets be honest it probably will.

If we are meant to be working until our sixties and seventies to make ends meet, and for the most part there are many of us who are glad to do so, then attitudes to our ‘old age’ have to change too.

We can start by not making it compulsory to put your age on a job application form. Then we might stand a chance at even getting an interview, to start even a new career, which is exactly what am planning right now.

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Because, let’s be honest, how many 66-year-old newsreaders do you see on the television?

But then that is what exciting about every age we reach. We never quite know what possibilities are open to us unless we try. And at least we can now travel to work on the bus for free.

Look I know things are not easy for many pensioners, and not everyone is well enough to go job hunting.

I am also acutely aware there there are a whole group of women, myself included who suddenly found their pension age had risen not by a year but by five, six or even more.

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And that is not what thousands upon thousands of women had planned for nor were they given enough time to make alternative arrangements. Quite simply that is wrong.

And I fully support the WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality) Campaign as it goes through the courts seeking compensation.

Government and the legal system need to know we women, whatever our age are tough cookies and won’t give up without a fight.

I will be honest there are two things I hate about old age and they are nothing thing to do with my attitude or that of others towards me.

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I hate ticking the box on surveys which lumps us all together as 60-odd and over. We are as individual as we ever were.

And it now takes me forever to find 1957 on one of those scroll backwards date things when filling in your date of birth.

But apart from that it’s all good. As my granny used to say: “Old age ! Well it’s better than the alternative.”