Life After Work Can Involve Work

On BBC 2 tonight, John Sargeant continues his series, Britain’s First Photo Album, based on the work of Francis Frith. I have not seen the series, but one thing unite the two men – “pro-tirement”, or working in some form or another after officially retiring. That is likely to be a growing trend, partly as people need to keep interested and active as retirements become longer, and partly as people will have to earn for longer for the same reason. What marks both men is that they did not carry on doing the same thing.

John Sargeant was lately Political Editor of ITN, and before that Chief Political Correspondent of the BBC. Since retiring in 2002 he has continued broadcasting, but moved back towards an earlier love of entertainment, taking part in Have I Got News For You and Strictly Come Dancing (memorably), as well as making light documentaries. At 67, he is still having fun from work, but without the pressure of a permanent job.

Frith is an even better example of pro-tirement. He was a successful grocer and printer who sold his businesses in 1855 for (in today’s money) several million pounds, His aim was to concentrate on photography. In doing so, he set up the first photographic publisher and also arranged to photograph every town in Britain. He also travelled to Egypt and India with his camera.

So the idea of a career of some sort after retirement is over 150 years old.  Sitting in front of the television every day does not appeal to many, and is unhealthy both physically and mentally. The time to consider how you intend to spend your retirement is two years before you retire, rather than 6 months afterwards. This allows you time to make plans and put them into effect.

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