Keeping Granddad out of Mischief

What to Do with all this time?

One of the more enduring and amusing myths about retirement that IFAs come across, is that you will be able to watch TV and loaf about at home all day. In my experience, wives get fed up with hubby being at home 24/7 and often tell them to go out and do something useful – even if it is playing golf. This isn’t confined to the UK either. At my daughter’s wedding in Italy, I was at first puzzled to see groups of old men standing round in groups gossiping during the day. Seems wives there eject hubby from the marital home after breakfast with the instruction not to come back until lunchtime.

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Spoiled Brats

This longevity raises other issues too. If you are going to live longer meaning have a longer retirement, then contribution levels need to be increased. If the 65 State Pension Age established in 1948 when the NHS was founded, had been increased in line with current life expectancy, we would get our State Pensions at age 71 – very close the original State Pension Age from 1908. Public sector workers with their gold-plated pensions planning to strike on Wednesday where the cost to the country may be about £500 million, please note.

It gets worse

If you are living longer then you can get illnesses, with the major one these days being cancer. As Cancer Research UK states, Cancer is primarily a disease of older people with 63 per cent of cancers in people 65 or over. Fortunately, cures get better all the time and the so-called Cyberknife is a good example. Actually it isn’t a knife at all as the “cutting” is done by gamma rays, a form of ionising radiation – radio surgery is probably a better description and it is apparently more accurate than ordinary radio therapy RT.


At £3 million each, there is only one in the UK currently at The Harley Street Clinic but money for a second one is being raised by the Freemasons’ Metropolitan Grand Lodge which will be at St Bartholomew’s Hospital (Barts) in the City. Interestingly, Barts is the oldest surviving hospital in the UK and has the second highest survival rate.

Where did we come from?

One thing that should aid physical health for any elderly person is keeping mentally active and possible doing some Family History research. Elderly people will have stories and recollections which if not written down will disappear with them. The one problem you do not have is a shortage of information. There is just so much: Parish records Census records International Genealogical Index IGI British Library Newspapers in Colindale Military Records to name but a few.

Let me pass on a few things passed to me from my own tribe, who have done a lot of work for me:

* Be organised. With so much information available, it is very easy to get side tracked. Plenty of books on the subject. If you have just been diagnosed with cancer for example, you may wish to solve that family riddle you heard about, sooner rather than later.

* Some research can be delegated to professional genealogists. Outside London, the going rate is around £15 hour. Society of Genealogists website link here.

* Stories from old relatives can be a help as much as a hindrance. People swear that Uncle Joe lived or did whatever and then you find evidence proving this was completely wrong. Very puzzling or perhaps a family version of Chinese Whispers. At the same time, some of these old stories can lead to fascinating facts about your forebears.

* Former curious custom in marriages where a family disapproved, was to send the couple a crust of bread on the day of the wedding.

* One source of information not mentioned is Bishops’ Transscripts From 1598, parishes were required to send copies of their records to the Diocese or Bishop. Whereas original details might be scrawled in the parish register, the copies the Church Warden or Parish Clerk would send each year were sometimes more neatly written. Occasional pithy comments that might be written in the margin of the Parish Register would not be passed on. Copying inevitably created transcription errors. Even worse, war and accidents create gaps. One years records at a parish my father wanted to look at were absent, as the Church Warden’s house burned down on the day he took the papers home.

* And as a final point to keep granddad on his toes, if your family name is consistently spelled the same way in all the records he looks at, you will be lucky.

George Emsden
Now retired, George is busier than ever: working through an OU Maths & Physics degree, blogs, volunteering at Muswell Hill Soup Kitchen and Haringey Winter Shelter plus being a very proud granddad.
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