The Road To…

by Quinn

I don’t normally buy a newspaper, but yesterday, while waiting in a cafe for the latest repair on my car, I bought a copy of the Guardian. I am glad I did, as otherwise I doubt I would have heard of the the death from cancer at 52 of Pete McCarthy.

Pete McCarthy I think used to present reports on local news in North-West England, but this is a faint memory I am not happy to rely on. He certainly presented the excellent Channel 4 show “Travelog”, and was brilliant in “As It Happens”, the live, er, as-it-happens show he presented with Andy Kershaw where they spent 2 hours at any old spot in the world and chatted to the locals, and occasionally the the odd ex-pat Brit. I particularly remember the show they did from America when Clinton won his first victory in the 1992 Presidential Elections.

In more recent years he has probably found his greatest fame with his travel books about Ireland in McCarthy’s Bar and The Road to McCarthy. I have read neither, but millions of people have, and I always thought he was a top notch journalist.

His death became all the more poignant for me as it came on the same day as the Government’s report on Pensions, and the juxtaposition of the two events illustrates some of my feelings on its news reporting. The main point that was made, apart from the fact that pension schemes are not accruing enough income at the moment, is that as people are living longer, we need to plan accordingly. We have to get used to people having to work for 50 years and then drawing pensions for 20 years, and this change has to be financed.

Fine, but not great for the family of Pete McCarthy to hear; or for me. I have attended 3 funerals in the past 6 months; for one person in their 50’s, one in their 40’s and one in their 30’s. I suppose I have as much reason as anyone to take the “you never know what will happen to you, you may be hit by a bus tomorrow” attitude.

The pension situation has changed so much from around 8 years ago; then, my father was persuaded and cajoled into taking early retirement, taking a healthy redundancy package as an inducement, and then, 6 months later he was re-employed by the same firm on an increased salary as a private consultant. He was not the only one. Now, just a few short years later, we are being told we will have to work until we are Seventy; and that is just what they are saying now. Lord knows what they will say when I actually near retirement.

Well they can forget it. I am not going to be daft; I am following the pension advisers advice and I am confident my retirement plans are sufficient; at least until my pension fund starts to move the goalposts as they are threatening. But working until I am Seventy? No way. As soon as my pension reaches subsistence level then that is it, I’m off. As long as I have my family and my house I can happily survive on beans on toast and tap water. The sun will still shine in summer, and with my eyes closed, sat in my back garden, I could just as easily be in St. Tropez.