Thursday, 17 November 2016

The Holy Trinity of Retirement- Oh Sing Choir of Angels

Bruce will have to wait- sorry Boss

I know I said I would get to the second part of my Springsteen story but it will have to wait as I have to report on last weekend and some reflections I want to share based on that weekend and these first few months of retirement (or as I now like to call it, using the far more positive Spanish word, "La Jubilacion").

Explain the title please!

Let's start with the title- the Holy Trinity of La Jubilacion.  It's true that I am really enjoying life after my salaried slavery and I have my Holy Trinity to thank for that. It seems to me that three things have to be in place for people to enjoy a happy and vibrant Jubilacion. You can probably guess these three amigos. They are:

1  Money- ie a decent pension and some savings
2  Interests/Activities/Projects/Work of one's choosing
3  People to interact with

Of course each one of these in the Holy Trinity of happy Jubilacion is subjective and open to interpretation; how much is a "decent" pension, how many people does one need to interact with and so on. I am not going to go into the detail now, I just want to indicate that in my experience these are the three crucial components and that I am fortunate enough to have these in place and that having these things in place has made my first few months of Jubilacion varied and rewarding. I am also very aware that not everyone who retires is lucky enough to have all three things in place at the same time. In particular isolation is a real threat to the well-being of many retirees and a subject deserving of its own post. So that is for a later date.

The respectable face of a staff choir weekend-all little angels
For now I want to focus on the positive side of interacting which often combines with the second key element of the Holy Trinity; namely interests and activities.  

Last weekend - Oh Sing Choir of Angels
Whilst working at my last school I became involved in a staff choir.  Last year we went away for a weekend in Suffolk; had input from an amazing musician and vocal coach and sang at a church carol concert attended by the whole school community and parents. Lovely, but that was part and parcel of being at work. It was in the past and unfortunately retirement can mean losing some positive aspects of work as well as the negatives.  Then came an invitation,"We are off to Suffolk for another choir weekend, why not join us?"  Would it be appropriate to go back and join my former colleagues for a weekend singing? Yes. Would I be the outsider, the colleague that couldn't let go? No, of course not. It would be great to see old colleagues, the setting was away from the school and most importantly the wine would be flowing. (If by any chance parents of children attending the school are reading this let me point out that no one drank excessively or disgraced either themselves or the school- and I say that with a straight face and I supply pictures as proof)

I kept telling them- all these things are bad for you!

 It was a lovely weekend; catching up with ex colleagues and doing something we all love- singing.  I have to put in a big mention here to Andrew Quartermain and his team at Pro Corda.  Based at Leiston Abbey, Pro Corda is not only a music training centre for some brilliant chamber musicians, it also runs courses for children with special needs, for adults learning or improving piano and many other activities based around creativity in music and other art forms.

The weekend of singing, socialising and planning how I will fit in with their rehearsals back at school, reminded me how important this type of contact is in retirement.  Whilst at work we have a ready made source of contacts and interaction but in retirement one has to work at either maintaining networks or creating new ones.  It also reminded me how much I enjoy singing.  It seems that whenever people get together and sing; laughter, fun and real connections within the group spontaneously emerge. Singing takes us away from the everyday and reminds us that we are capable of being part of something wonderful and uplifting ( well maybe after a few more rehearsals). It is certainly something I will add to my list of things in which to become more involved. 
Yeh- that's right, the fat old  bloke on the right is me

The choir of angels from Kingswode Hoe at the amazing Leiston Abbey

Non, je ne regrete rien

Now after all this gushing about seeing old colleagues and singing, you might think there could be regrets about leaving my job, my career. Not at all. The job carried too many restrictions.  It left little time to pursue my other interests and left me sometimes stressed and exhausted.  Yes, I miss aspects of my work, but in totality, leaving full-time work counts as one of the best decisions I have ever made.  One thing I did miss though was teaching drama and I am really pleased that the lovely people at Pro Corda have asked me to join them as a drama teacher on some upcoming weekends, working with both young people with special needs and then with the siblings of these youngsters.  Perfect- doing something I love in a wonderful Suffolk setting with some talented colleagues in a time-limited burst.

Being put through our vocal paces by Andrew at Pro Corda
Before my retirement I was worried that I would miss work, feel a bit cut off from people and not find enough intellectual and creative challenges.  I needn't have worried. Through a mixture of luck and planning I am taking part in activities that stimulate, challenge and give me real pleasure and purpose but I also now have the freedom to organise my days as I wish.

It was fantastic spending the weekend singing with my ex colleagues. That little choir of angels. Even better was not having to go to work at 8 am the next day. My holy trinity of retirement is thus far looking out for me very well indeed.

                      Springsteen next, I promise.

Important Addendum- I published this post yesterday and in the middle of the night woke with a rasping cough and an aching knee.Then it hit me.  The Holy Trinity of retirement was wrong.  There was another key element; health. How could I have forgotten thatIn hindsight I should have gone for the four horsemen of retirement: Financial security, Interests/activities, people to interact with and reasonably good mental and physical health. Apologies.


  1. it sounds like you have it all worked out... good for you! The three you listed are so important, and the fourth (your health) is critical. I love that you've reconnected with your former choir group and it sounds like you were able to pick up where you left off without a hitch. They were obviously also very fond of you. I look forward to your Bruce post, but I love, love positive stories about La Jubilacion!

  2. Hi Janis- certainly haven't got it all worked out but I am pleasantly surprised at how great this phase of life can be. I think it is having freedom and time. Wish I could have done this at 30!

  3. I love your blog. So witty & such wonderfully deep thoughts. Stumbled upon it thru reading Alcoholic Daze (Addy). Have read all your past entries....I love the way you write. I have been retired for a while, but resonate with all you say as I am creating this wonderful new life after death of husband (6 yrs ago). Trust me on this, it's worth the work. Keep doing what you are doing, you're on the right path and PLEASE keep writing. You make me laugh.

    1. Hi Annie and thanks for your lovely comments. It really means a lot when someone responds in the way you have. Glad to hear that you are building a new life (is there a blog in there somewhere?)and pleased that I'm bringing a smile to your face. It really does make this suddenly feel worthwhile. OK I'd better get writing again!

  4. John, your weekend of singing sounds like it was wonderful. It's so great that you have the opportunity to maintain a connection with your former colleagues outside of the context of actually working.

  5. yes,Jude, it was good fun.But then singing always is. I actually went back to work yesterday to cover a teacher for the day. That's another story!


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