Being way on the wrong side of 30 when I got married, and having celebrated my 20th wedding anniversary a month ago, I recently found myself in the unenviable position of thinking about ageing and retirement.
Bummer. I don’t like it. But since I’m going to have to grow up and think about it some time, it may just as well be now. And over the past couple of weeks I have done a fair amount of thinking about it.
The good news is that 60 is the new 40, so I’ve read, or was it 50? I forget. And while it’s uppermost in my mind, can someone please tell that to my body? Of course, there is also bad news because... well... because there just always is. And the bad news, having finally reached what in my father's lifetime would have been considered ‘retirement age’, is that I find myself working harder and putting in longer hours now than I’ve ever done in my life before (with the possible exception of the 2 occasions I worked for Turkish slave drivers... I mean bosses... but that’s another story).
As people say in Singapore where I lived for 13 years: what to do?
Well, it doesn’t take a PhD in Rocket Science (does that qualification really exist?) to accept that I need... no... not just need, I want to keep working (in my case, ‘working’ is a euphemism for eating up hours of my life on social networks trying to market my novel while leaving no time at all to write another) for as long as I am able.
However, the way I foresee things turning out when my husband retires in a few years, is that I will cut down on my ‘work’ while we concentrate on doing all we can to exhaust our children’s inheritance on frequent, intensive and costly travel. Then, when our trips fail to keep us on our mental toes sufficiently to dodge the advance of physical failings and dementia, and we can no longer drag ourselves to the airport or even remember where it is, (and here we get to the real nitty-gritty... the master plan of all master plans) we are going to use our safety cache of cash to... 10 out of 10, you read the title... to go cruising.
You see, I’ve been reliably (I hope) informed that, for the equivalent cost of an average retirement home in the west for 20 years you can do 20 years of back-to-back cruises. The more cruises you buy on the same cruise line, the larger the discounts and the more "benefits" (like free bottles of champagne and dinners at the Captain’s table) you get.
There are many fantastic things about going on cruises: you can choose a route where you will enjoy your preferred climate; the accommodation and service will be way better than at that old people's home your kids were thinking about putting you in; exercise and fitness is taken care of (tepid swimming pools for geriatric water aerobics, gyms for gentle yoga and the running track won’t foul up the wheels of your zimmer frame); excellent sustenance is guaranteed (as well as the dining room there’s a selection of restaurants serving food from all around the world and, if you feel a bit squiffy, you can always order cabin service); entertainment is on tap (bars, films, live shows, lectures, probably even bingo, as well as 24 hour people watching); plus the family can visit during your cruise change over, offering the extra incentive of holidaying in exotic locations while visiting the old folks.
Last, but by no means least, is the fact that there’s a doctor on call 24 hours a day and, should you cark it on board, the cruise company will fly your body back to where you told them you want to go or may even provide a funeral at sea for a modest premium.
Instead of the Grey Nomads we'll be the Grey Cruisers (not the dodgy connotation) and after a bottle or 3 of that complimentary bubbly, the Gay Rusers.
Shall I go ahead and print the T shirts?
J M Leitch is author of The Zul Enigma, a factual futuristic thriller looking back at a cataclysmic event occurring on 21 December 2012, end of the Mayan calendar.