Dev Lall

I’m planning my retirement party already

Recently I have begun to think about my retirement party. Not because I’m nearing my late fifties but because I’ve organised and attended several recently and can’t help but wonder what it’ll be like when it’s my turn.

You see it’s another phase in life. Phases I’ve identified so far include eighteenth and twenty first birthdays, engagement parties, hen parties, weddings, christenings, fortieths, divorce parties and funerals.

Chronologically, retirement was a phase I hadn’t really given much thought to until now. Like death and taxes, retirement will come to us all (admittedly to some much sooner than others). It now presents another large stressful organisation of excess: venues, presents, speeches, what to wear dilemmas, alcohol and undoubtedly regrets. And of course cost.

In years now gone, if you worked until you were 60 in the NHS you received a farewell ‘tea’ free gratis. It was seen as a thank you for your service and having stuck the distance. It rose above usual canteen fare. Sandwiches were garnished with salad and often strawberry tarts put in an appearance. These delights formed the basis of the resulting banquet due mainly to the efforts of nursing staff, each bringing in something homemade and calorific to send you on your way. But no more. Not only is there no free lunch at retirement, your guests are now expected to pay to attend and bank roll a proper celebratory bash.

Then unintentionally, it turns from a celebration into a popularity contest and public measure of your career success (or otherwise). How big a venue do you need? How many nurses want to come? How many mid wives? How many can afford to? Do the trainees like you enough to bother attending now that your job will be replaced with one nowhere near as attractive? Can you attract people from your past as well as your present? The attendance of your spouse, your children with perhaps partners and offspring of their own is yet another marker of your success or otherwise.

The party itself is like a strange juxtaposition of various other celebrated life events. Like a wedding a standard format has evolved: gifts, speeches, polite chit chat deteriorating into drunken declarations of everlasting love, not forgetting disinhibition on the dance floor. Like a funeral, no one is specifically invited or excluded and inevitably you glance around wondering who’ll be next. Throw in the gleeful delight of impending release from a life sentence in the NHS and you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re at a divorce party.

I had always planned to have a massive party at my funeral. People enjoying themselves, wearing bright clothes and remembering me fondly. But why miss the party? I am now a big fan of this ‘retirement do’ lark and have decided to bring the party forward a few years to mark my retirement instead of my passing (assuming nature and fate allow that sequence of events). I’m going to plan it, organise it and pay for it myself. I’ll have a theme, flowers, a gift list and will bequeath all items from my office to those most deserving. I’ll even cry if I want to. I can hardly wait!

Who knows how many more years it’ll be until my big day arrives, but when it does, you can rest assured you’re all invited

Bookmark and Share

Post a Comment

Enter this security code

Submit Comment for Moderation