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Strictly Come Limping – how Britain’s boomers can rescue the economy

January 13, 2023

A few weeks ago, Rishi Sunak, Britain’s prime minister (or rather, if you’re of a similar political persuasion to me, you might prefer to think of him and his recent predecessors as our sub-prime ministers) was reported as suggesting that the country’s post-COVID population contains too many economically inactive folk in their fifties. By which he means the large number of couch potatoes who have chosen to go for retirement well before the normal age. Now the government seems to be talking about tax breaks and no loss of disability benefits for such people.

This got me thinking. Even though I’m into my seventies, I would be more than happy to do my bit for the economy should a suitable opportunity arise. But doing what? I’d like to think I’m good for something. I’m in reasonable health. I haven’t got any bits falling off me yet, and I feel as though I’ve retained a modicum of marbles.

After wracking the parts of my brain that still function, I’ve come up with a few attractive possibilities that might enable a baby boomer like me to prime my stricken country’s economic pump:

Call centre concierge. Let’s face it – call centres are not designed for the elderly. Myriad options, multiple layers, ghastly music and if you just want to speak to a human – which you’re discouraged from doing unless you want to buy something – what usually happens is that the human answers just as you’re brewing your third cup of tea after sitting in a queue for three hours. It then goes away when all it can hear is the white noise of a boiling kettle.

If the banks and insurance companies were really smart, they’d hire people like me to be the first point of contact for the over-seventies. So if you call the bank, you get through to me immediately. I ask what you want and put you straight into the right queue. But here’s the beauty of it. While you’re waiting to be put through to the right place, I stay on the line. I chat with you about your gout, the weather, about Harry and Meghan, Brexit, the cost of laxatives or whatever. Then, when the right person answers, I put you through.

You might think that this would be rather expensive, and you’d be right. But given that price-gouging the elderly is the favourite pastime of financial institutions, they can afford it. And if the greedy bastards decided to include my services in some kind of premium bundle, we can afford it. After all, we boomers have all the money, don’t we?

Museum attendant. What could be more fun than becoming one of those inert individuals who sit on chairs by museum doorways? Nothing to do except direct people to the right places. You don’t even need to stand up to do that. Endless hours of people watching.

Eulogy writer. A service for those who have to bury an elderly relative and can’t think of anything good or bad to say about them. All they have to do is send me a few basic details and I will describe an epic life full of heart-warming but largely fabricated anecdotes. If, on the hand, damning with faint praise is required, I’m also your man. In order to cement the inheritance, I’ll even write the eulogy while the person’s still living for their approval. After all, if you stand to inherit a fortune from someone, they deserve a rousing send-off, don’t they?

Sermon writer. My sister, who is a Church of England minister, has often said that I would write good sermons. This despite the fact that I lack what one would think is the one essential qualification: religious faith. No matter. I’m so steeped in the traditions of the C of E that I reckon she’s right. So perhaps I should start a subscription service in which I write a weekly sermon for the benefit of clergy who couldn’t be bothered to produce their own words week in, week out. Full of bang up-to-date social commentary with the appropriate references to the New Testament. Come to think of it, I might also, for a price, be willing to produce entirely original homilies on a one-on-one basis for clergy keen to become bishops. Nothing too theologically technical. Just simple, inspiring stuff for the faithful. After all, if the late Bishop of Durham managed to make it to the top despite, as he claimed, not believing in God, there must be an opportunity for a non-believing sermoniser.

Mystery shopper. I’m not sure there’s much call for such people anymore, since opportunities to physically shop are rapidly diminishing. But I would relish the opportunity to test the patience of staff at some of the supermarkets to destruction. For example, I could impersonate an old lady and spend fifteen minutes struggling to find exactly the right change in my handbag to pay for a basket of stuff of negligible value. And what havoc might I be able to wreak at IKEA?

Scam buster. I wouldn’t mind being a tethered goat. Set me up with a false identity designed to be attractive to online scammers. The opportunity to drive to distraction those who want to access my bank account, or try and take over my computer in the guise of providing “technical support” would be quite fun. As would interminable conversations with Nigerian princes seeking my help in unlocking millions lurking in obscure bank accounts. The idea of scams to catch scammers is quite enticing.

Book signer. Go to any bookshop and you have a good chance of buying a book signed by the author. What a pain it must be to have to sign thousands of copies of your book. For a fee, I’m prepared to be your surrogate book signer. Send me a copy of your signature and I’ll scribble away for hours at a time. Who would know? Not the bookshop, not the publisher or the customer. Only you and me.

Washing machine repair technician. You want your washing machine repaired? I’m your man. More specifically, I’m the guy you can send to a customer to look at their machine, tinker about for five minutes, and then announce, with much sucking of teeth, that to repair the machine would cost more than buying a new one. Such an announcement to be accompanied by a stream of unintelligible techno-bullshit and an unbeatable offer of a replacement.

I dare say there are a number of other occupations that would suit me fine. Perhaps a podcast for the elderly, featuring endless discussions on the state of one’s prostate or the price of Custard Creams at Tesco. And if you paid me, I’d be happy to tour the nation’s care homes organising Strictly Come Limping competitions.

The key to an economically productive dotage, it seems to me, is to forget about your former career. Focus on the knowledge and skills you acquired and think anew about how you can deploy them. In truth, I’d rather spend my time wandering around my favourite parts of the world, inventing new curses on the golf course and perfecting the art of the Christmas cake.

But hey, I’m always open to offers.

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