Phasing down!

07 Apr

The end of my latest I.T. contract and my 63rd birthday have happened more or less simultaneously and while my age does not appear anywhere on my CV it does appear on the records of many of the agencies I am registered with and it may be that, “anti-ageism” rules or not, they refer only the age group required by them to their clients – my potential employers.

Whatever the reason, the phone calls and emails have dried up and my innate paranoia tells me that this is because I only have 2 years to go to reach my retirement age of 65 at which point I can finally draw the State Retirement Pension that I have been paying for since 1969.

I can, incidentally, understand why an employer might not want someone with only two years to go but they always seem to overlook that most IT personnel don’t actually last that long before moving on, whatever their age!

Meanwhile – back at the story of my state pension:

I am fairly certain that if the contributions arbitrarily deducted from my salary by H.M. Government over that 45+ year period had been invested in a “proper” pension scheme I’d be getting a lot more than my current expectation but that’s politicians for you! They take money off you for a stated purpose (without you having any choice in the matter), waste it on their own expenses and similar extravagances, then grizzle about it and call you ungrateful when you expect a reasonable return on your involuntary investment!

Mind you, I am going (for now anyway) to be one of the lucky ones who actually get to draw this pension at the age they always expected to get it! My dear wife has worked since 1971 with the promise of a state pension at age 60 (which she reached last summer) only to have the treacherous Weasels who rule us extend this without warning or consultation to age 66!

I still maintain that if a legitimate pension provider had moved the goal posts in that way they would be either sued for breach of contract or (better still) be facing criminal charges for serious fraud! For no good reason that I can find (and, believe me, I’m actively looking!) HMG seems to think that these legal recourses do not apply to them.

Anyway, I have now got worked up and completely off the track of where I was going with this!

The nice lady that I see every week at the Job Centre does not seem too surprised at the lack of job opportunities coming my way – I think she agrees with my view that nothing much will happen now unless any of my previous “employers” ask me back for short-term contract jobs, although officially she is not allowed to say so.

As I understand it the important thing in this day and age is to have no large gaps in your CV and she therefore suggested “volunteering” as a way of plugging the current “hole” and keeping everyone happy. It also has the advantage of putting you already on the spot if a paid vacancy crops up at your chosen “host”.

All of which explains why I spend Tuesday and Wednesday each week at the Central Library in Peterborough teaching basic computer skills to people who, for any number of reasons or circumstances, have not had a reason or opportunity ever to sit down at a PC before.

And I do mean BASIC!

The original idea was that I supervise these people (who have come into the library and asked for assistance) as they work their way through an Internet-based course designed to help them find and use Government, Local Government and National Health Service forms and facilities but I soon spotted a flaw in that idea.

The on-line course does include modules on using the PC mouse and keyboard but the creators seem to have overlooked the fact that if you know enough to be able to get to those modules – you don’t actually need them!

Enter Alfie!

Just signing up for the training account on this website requires (amongst the normal personal information) that the applicant has an email address – so a side trip to create one is often necessary – and entering THAT on the form requires the knowledge that not only is there a key for the “@” sign but that its use requires knowledge of the “shift” key. And most of my “class” do not know that much!

So, given a group of anywhere between two and five absolute computer novices in my care you can see that I have my work cut out on those days!

And, since everything that we claim, buy or sign up for these days almost always needs to be done on a computer I feel I am actually doing much more good helping people with NO computer knowhow at all than I used to when sitting with a telephone headset on all day trying to explain to people who should know better that “turning it off and on again” really does solve most of their self-inflicted problems!

The really big upside to this role is that I have no Line Manager as such, the permanent staff who were reluctantly doing this supervision\training before I came along know considerably less about PCs and their use than I do, and I only have to answer to the Volunteer Co-ordinator. That lady has told me that they are very happy with my work and to keep on doing what I’m doing – so I am effectively my own boss.

It’s just a shame that it’s all unpaid!

Still, it keeps the nice lady at the Job Centre happy because it is regarded as an ongoing activity that could lead to a job offer and I am happily going to advise her shortly that I am preparing a report on “Extremely basic Computer Training needs” for the Library in the hope that they can squeeze some funds out of the Government and pay me to provide proper tuition. That may take a while to come to any sort of fruition and would not in any way be full-time so in the meantime I am trying very hard NOT to regard the remaining few months of my entitlement to payments from the Job Centre as effectively being retirement on half pension.

If nothing else remunerative comes up by then I may well have to start drawing on the pension fund created when I was bought out of the Barclays Pension Scheme in 1998 and become a full-time pensioner.

Then I will, finally, be in the glorious position of having absolutely no person anywhere who can tell me what to do!

“Yes dear, I know! I forgot! I’ll add it in at once!”

Except ONE!


1 Comment

Posted by on April 7, 2016 in Uncategorized


One response to “Phasing down!

  1. Vincent

    April 8, 2016 at 1:56 pm

    Re ageism – by coincidence, ten minutes ago, I uploaded THIS…

    Re pensions: we are of course the same age – thus we will both get the new “flat rate” and qualify just before HMG ups the age to 66, which they are justifying on the grounds of the deeply flawed notion that people nowadays are dying older.

    I even heard the myth that in 1900 the average age of life expectancy was 50 repeated recently on Nat Geo; of course, the truth is that the 1900 figure is skewed by the appalling rate of infant mortality then – and those lost in WWs1 &2 – the true age has BARELY MOVED. For the full story, hit…

    And as for the flat rate – YOU (and most UK pensioners) will be worse off, since it will incorporate other benefits, like heating allowance. Oddly, as an ESCAPED (expat) Brit, I will be BETTER off, since I cannot claim those extra benefits.

    But before you get jealous, consider that thanks to an HMG con that’s been running for DECADES, I won’t get annual HIKES in my pension, as I live in a “non-reciprocal” country. Reciprocal countries pay other countries’ expats’ pensions – with annual hikes – thus HMG can’t GET AWAY with shafting THEM – although how many Floridians retire to cold, wet, miserable Broken Britain? HMG laughs.

    Although there just MIGHT be light at the end of the tunnel for pressure groups who’ve been trying to reverse this rip-off for years; the sticking point is the BACK-pay – which would be MUCH more than the tiny amount they would have to pay from NOW FORWARDS, which’ll SAVE HMG money overall; imagine thousands of broke expats returning to the Uke – then claiming all the sickness benefits and using health resources…


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