On “The Town That Never Retired”

Happened upon a BBC show “The Town That Never Retired”, first aired in the UK in July 2012. The story follows lives of several “pensioners” (Brits seem to like that term), over age 70, in the town of Preston, Lancashire – as they returned to work after being so called retired.

The gist of this reality show was – given in future, more people will be working longer; how were these particular people, who had been living what appeared to be a somewhat sedentary life, going to make it after being away from traditional workplaces?

“Would they hack it?” Some of the work was physically or mentally demanding, like the plumber who returned to a building site and the woman (who smoked like a chimney) returned to a medical clinic.

Of course this set up scenarios where some were likely to “not hack it”. There were issues of some needing re-training and some more time to get into the swing of things, and at times I felt it heart-rending to watch. Then I wondered, what if older people needed or wanted to work, but not what they were set up for here? What if they were better suited for other “needed” work? What if their earlier “retirement” wasn’t’” so abrupt with such a long pause of not working?

What if around the world, we had so many entire towns that never retired, inspired to work on non-traditional things that fulfilled new needs, as Theodore Roszak said “improvising a post-industrial economy”?

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