So why am I retiring from what quite possibly could seem to be one of the best jobs there is? I mean we get to swan around the world at someone else’s expense, stay in four star hotels and get front row seats at the best events, don’t we?
Well not really, no. And over time I may explain the reality of this peculiar line of work. But it’s very far from the worst job in the world either. Looking back it’s probably one of the the best and most interesting jobs I could reasonably expect to have had had given my qualifications, experience and aptitudes. I was lucky to fall into it. And I did fall but again, that may be another story for another post.
None of which explains why I’m retiring. I think the most succinct answer is, “Because I can.”
Six months ago I got a letter from the BBC’s pension fund. Six months hence my pension would, for want of a better term, mature. I would be sixty years old and have forty years worth of contributions (the maximum) in the scheme. (I chose to pay slightly increased contributions from the word go in 1980)
For old gits like me that means a full, index linked final salary pension which, I have been reliably informed by previously retired staff, is plenty.
(I’ll insert here the standard apology to my younger colleagues who’ve had their pension entitlements hacked back. Sorry, guys, but there’s not a great deal I can do about it. )
At the same time I was noticing that the job–at least for me– was becoming increasingly routine and even, on occasions a bit tedious. That was partly my fault I suppose for not keeping up with the technology and learning laptop editing or one man satellite truck operation and a handful of other new skills but there you go.
The Old Bailey has a certain charm occasionally but getting up at 04:30 on a cold February morning to go and stand there for several hours in the rain is not inspiring.
And I was going to be sixty. The job was getting increasingly physically harder with more to carry . (Many colleagues have spinal issues. Something I have, thankfully been spared, but for how long?) In short, I was getting tired. Why not go while was I’m still healthy and with–I sincerely hope–many more years to find something else interesting to do?
So I talked it over with Karen, the other ‘arf, and in April, after a morning standing in Downing Street for little apparent purpose, I told by manager I was off on my next birthday.
I don’t think it came as much of a surprise. He probably knew I’d turned down a trip to Glasgow for the Commonwealth Games on the grounds that I might be retired before they ended. It didn’t actually work out like that but it would have meant being terribly busy at a time when I’ve been making strenuous efforts to wind down.
That’s all there is to it. I can’t do it for ever, so I chose to stop when I wanted rather than go on a bit too long and have someone whisper in my ear that I really ought to stand aside.
If you want to try to talk me out of it–although it’s a bit late–comments are open.