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Tired resignation looks hit retirement

PUBLISHED: 07:57 10 July 2009 | UPDATED: 10:42 06 July 2010

AN old friend, a father of four daughters, was sporting a sickly pallor and worn-down expression of tired resignation when we met him for a beer at the Norfolk Show.

AN old friend, a father of four daughters, was sporting a sickly pallor and worn-down expression of tired resignation when we met him for a beer at the Norfolk Show.

His eldest plans to go to university next year and he was fresh from a meeting at her college spelling out in rows of pound signs just how much hard cash her degree years would cost him and his wife.

“I've got four of them,” he said, still in shock. “Then they'll all want to get married.”

He's in his late 40s and is looking ahead to years of hard toil to pay the bills - way beyond his planned retirement.

He looked about to keel over with the worry of it all as my husband thrust a pint into his hand to commiserate.

My husband and I are kicking ourselves too that we faffed away our 20s and early 30s having a good time, arriving at parenthood late and are now both looking at working well into a previously-planned retirement - husband counted on 55. At just over five years away, dream on, mate - to help our children get a decent education.

So much for fun in our 60s driving across America together. We'll still be at our 90s.

Even the eminent Lord Turner, top City regulator, says my generation should stay at work until we're 70 until we can have even a sniff at a state pension.

So much for better health, diets and keeping fit and young - the prize for our good health is a marathon career, leaving retirement to the sickly and feeble.

And while us in our 40s work until our dotage, the under 25s can't get the jobs they've studied for because we're hogging them all.

Saddled with student loans from degrees they thought they needed, they are picking potatoes to survive and using maths degrees to work a till or pull pints.

In fact the only people having a ball at the moment are the over 55s baby boomers, doing exactly as they please - because they can.

They paid off their small mortgages for homes bought before the home buying became a market, are spending their pensions and savings on world travel and are keeping struggling restaurants in business with their hectic socialising.

They are the most happy and content of any age group, according to a survey by Standard Life with 18-25 year-olds having the greatest chance of loneliness and biggest financial worries

The over 55s are conquering mountains, walking the Great Wall of China, getting up close and personal with Buddhists in Thailand, starting new businesses for fun, oozing good health, while the under 25s are smoking and drinking themselves to an early grave with the worry of their student debts, no job prospects, no hope of owning their own home or doing anything remotely grown up.

But Lord Turner is probably right. Today's 70-year-olds are like 50-year-olds 40 years ago. Today's 60-year-olds are fit and able with nifty sharp minds and the ability to do what they've been doing for the previous 40 years.

Who wants to retire and face another 30 years of filling empty days when there is a job to stay in and a purpose in life?

Where that leaves the younger generation looking for jobs, who knows?

Our working patterns are merely evolving to suit an ageing population - and, besides, flirting away your 20s in untaxing jobs deciding exactly what direction to take in life isn't a bad thing - especially as they will probably be at the coalface until they're 80.

I FELL hook, line and sinker for Andy Roddick on Sunday.

On court he won over a new army of fans but even more for his charming, gracious and gallant speech in defeat.

A lesson he could teach the still-surly Andy Murray who was off the court like a rat out of a trap, head down and scowling after his defeat by Roddick in the semi-final.

Federer too is Mr Perfect. These articulate gentleman geniuses of the court could certainly teach those thugs on the football pitch a thing or two about manners, class and true endeavour.

THE one thing worse than a tacky courtship played out in public is an even tackier divorce.

It's been like Barbie Plays Bride turning into Big Bad Barbie. Dressage Queen Katie Price has morphed back to Rough as Old Boots Jordan to turn her split from Peter Andre into a pantomime - rather dark comedy.

Now she's squeezing her multiply surgically-enhanced bosom into message t-shirts for the paparazzi. Last week it was “Keep Calm and Carry On” then “Team Jordan.”

But family breakdown is not a joke t-shirt issue.

In the middle of this tit-for-tat, “he's this” and “she's that” mud-slinging are three small children who should be locked away from the cameras with their mother reassuring them that everything will be fine and she will be their rock.

Instead, she's out trying to “rebuild her image.” When she's old and lonely the only image she will regret not building is that of “mum.”

ONLY in Britain …

Eccentrics of the nation are lining up to take their place and do their bit atop the plinth in Trafalgar Square in the name of art.

People are turning all sniffy about extraordinary performances qualifying as art - but who cares?

Britain does off the wall mad, bonkers and eccentric like no other nation. Where else would you find a 6ft 2in tattooed middle-aged skinhead sitting near-naked in a paddling pool of fake blood, a woman knitting and another making glass beads with a blow torch taking her clothes off?

Let us have our moment being best at something and enjoy it, even if it is pure bananas.

BIG supermarkets are such hypocrites.

They advertise their healthy good-deal food, feeding families for peanuts with tableaux of happy healthy parents and children around the traditional dining table - then sell booze at pocket money prices turning the 12-year-olds at the table tucking into pasta and vegetables into A&E statistics for alcohol abuse.

It's horrifying to think that a child under 12 needs emergency hospital treatment every 48 hours because of binge drinking.

But cheap alcohol is in most homes, bought in bulk at rock bottom prices with the weekly shop putting children's lives at risk and driving out of business small off-licences and pubs.

When will businesses accept they have a social responsibility, operate within a society and act for the greater good and not just their profits?

They don't make children drink it, of course, but making it cheaper than pop is more than an invitation to impressionable children.

AS much as I admire Sarah Brown and applaud her attendance of London's Gay Pride parade as her personal choice to support friends, she really should reign in her husband's embarrassing courting of the pink vote.

Brown and Cameron are both shamelessly chasing the “gay” vote as if it's a trade union block vote in the 70s.

Like Little Britain's Daffyd talking about “the gays”.

Don't they realise how daft it is? As daft as chasing the brunette or redhead vote?

AS a relatively rookie dog owner, even I know not to leave my dog in a car on a hot day. My 10-year-old is even clued up enough to know it's best for a dog to stay inside in a heat wave.

Even walking in scorching heat and fierce sunshine is torturous for an animal wearing a permanent fur coat.

So how professional animal workers left their dogs to die in sweltering vehicles is inexplicable.

Ten dogs died in cars last week including two police dogs. A vet's nine-month-old Labrador sweltered to death after six hours in a car on a hot day two years ago. The vet was never prosecuted.

Alex Gough escaped with a caution.

The RSPCA, which consistently urges owners never to leave dogs in vehicles, is always swift to prosecute other dog owners but has been accused of being lenient because it didn't want to upset vets upon whom it relies on for goodwill.

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons also took no action because they judged Mr Gough had done nothing wrong. The death had been an accident and Mr Gough at no stage intended to cause his animals to suffer.

People with even the most rudimentary knowledge of dogs know that a dog in a car on a hot day equals suffering and sometimes death.

One law for them, another for us.

NOT even sickness can keep a good cleaner down.

Poorly in her hospital bed with a nasty abscess, cleaner Tereza Tosbell could stand looking at the grime, dust and cobwebs in her ward no more.

In pain and dragging her drip trolley behind her, she got on her hands and knees with disinfectant spray and paper towels trying to bring up her ward up to her normal high standards as staff let her get on with it.

The professional cleaner of 12 years knew it was bad when her 22-year-old student son noticed and complained about the filth.

“It was shameful to see how sloppy the cleaners were while I was there. I was not prepared to put up with such conditions.”

With her scrupulous hygiene standards, attention to detail and work ethic Colchester Hospital University NHS could do worse than offering her the contract to clean - or perhaps they're hoping others like her will do it for free.

HURRAH. A vice worth having at last.

Two cups of strong coffee a day can ward off Alzheimer's disease and even reverse some of its symptoms.

As a strong black coffee addict, my addiction could one day save my mind because my daily caffeine fixes helps to stave off dementia and also treat it.

So when the decaff brigade chastise me for my big mug habit of full strength black no sugar, I can be smug and insist it's for my future good health.

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