27 March 2007

Happy New Year!

Just so you won't think I have been totally idle since my last newsletter, here is the first of several paragraphs from what was going to be the next one: I wonder when the years will cease to be named as full numbers (“two thousand and seven”) and begin to be named as two two-digit numbers (“twenty-oh-seven”). Maybe never! I think I have a tendency to name the first nine years of the twentieth century (think about it!) by saying “nineteen hundred and seven” rather than “nineteen-oh-seven,” but certainly from nineteen-ten on there is no ‘hundred’ in there. Perhaps in three years we will say “twenty-ten” but there does seem to be something in that locution that strikes one as odd (or even, as you might say). Anyway, happy new year to you all. I am writing this on my mother’s 92nd birthday – 5th January, 2007 – happy birthday, mum! I suppose I do not make a great deal of anniversaries, really – they seem a bit arbitrary, after all – but they do have emotional punch. This is the year I will turn 65, once an iconic age, though no longer. In New Zealand, at least, they cannot require you to retire at any particular age. That would be ageism, you see. They have to demonstrate that you are no longer competent. I am tempted to observe that if that were sufficient, I would have lost my job long ago, but I hope that would only be a joke. Anyway, last year some government department or other decreed that anyone under the age of 45 could not receive full retirement benefits until age 68, so I suppose they are trying to compensate for the terrifying actuarial fact that if people are not going to have children, there will be no one to support the old, so the old had better plan on keeping working. Me, I know how I hope to retire. One day – when I am about 92, I trust – one of my co-workers will go to the boss, and say, “Gerry, jj is lying in the server room under one of the servers. Now he does that from time to time, but he has been there for three days now, and is beginning to smell. I think he has finally retired!” But Susan tells me that when I am 65 I am eligible for a pittance from the government trough, and that I don’t have to quit work to get it. I just have to pay tax on it as regular income so long as my other income is over … well, over some level or other. And I think I get senior citizen discounts, too! 65 still counts for something!


Helen said...

John, my brother-in-law, who unlike some New Zealanders, likes all things American, has always called the dates the appropriate form of "twenty-o-six" or whatever. I just thought it was his way, and assumed it was an American foible that he was imitating as the sincerest form of flattery.

John Thayer Jensen said...

Now which Helen are you?

I don't know what Americans say - and I'm supposed to be one! :-)