Reorganisation and general upheaval at my salaried work prompted a reassessment of priorities. What is it that I really enjoy? What would I miss? What might I do instead?
As always, I apply the elegant sufficiency principle. What does “enough” look like? I’m still mulling that one over but in the meantime, my annual Local Government pension statement made a timely appearance in the post this morning. Being one of the WASPI generation, my pension age was suddenly recalculated and I have a few years to wait until I can claim my bus pass and anything else pension-age related. The statement confirmed that date and the amount payable is, unsurprisingly, neither elegant nor sufficient!
But a long time ago, I was a teacher.
My first job when I qualified was on the Isle of Wight, which is where I was working when I met (and became engaged to) my Hero, who was successfully climbing the professional ladder at the time. When we were both invited to a smart business “do” then, my heart sank when I realised it was on the first day of the January term. What should I do? I decided to apply for a day’s unpaid leave, which any teacher will know, was quite a serious business. After much communication it was granted, I accepted and looked forward to dinner with the great and the good and most of all, to being at my Hero’s side on a rather important occasion.
So what’s that to do with the price of fish? (as we say in Hull)
Well, the arrival of the pension statement this morning prompted me to think that I must have a teacher’s pension somewhere? As usual, the answer is probably online so I went to the Teachers Pension website (of course) completed my details and logged in to find it all there: A complete record of my teaching career and confirmation of another tiny pension to be paid when I reach the magic age. The amusing thing is that my employment record shows the total number of days worked – minus one! Yes, the Isle of Wight County Council recorded my day’s absence, in spite of subsequent events.
Because life is never simple nor straightforward, is it?
Forgive me if I’ve shared the story before, but on that January day, in 1979, it snowed heavily in Hull, which meant the dinner I’d been looking forward to was cancelled. Not wanting me to drive back to the IOW ferry alone in such treacherous conditions, Daddy decided he’d come with me as far as Portsmouth and then return to Hull by train, which is exactly what he did. Except that he was already home in Hull when I was still trying to reach the Island – I’d spent more than an hour on the (then, open deck) Portsmouth-Ryde car ferry with waves crashing over the sides before they decided to turn back and instruct us all to go to Southampton. After another couple of hours, I finally reached dry land in Cowes and made it back to Newport where my flatmate was surprised to see me. School had been cancelled for a few days because of the weather!
Who’d have thought that day would affect my pension?!
I know I’m not the only one reassessing life-work balance right now but I recognise how fortunate I am to be able to make choices. If I had to rely solely on the sums of money quoted in those pension statements, the decisions would be far more difficult to make.
I might not even be in a position to have a choice at all.
I count my blessings.