Mike Williams: Grinches rob elderly of fun in final years

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Paul Holmes had a retirement plan. Photo / Glenn Taylor
Paul Holmes had a retirement plan. Photo / Glenn Taylor

Before my friend Paul Holmes knew his illness was terminal, we'd begun discussing a joint retirement project.

We were both fascinated with Captain Cook, read everything about him and still felt we didn't know him. Paul's plan was for new research into his early years, his family, eclectic colleagues and the society that nurtured him. I'd do the research, and Paul would put it all together to create the three-dimensional person absent from his diaries and biographies.

I'm sad that this now can't happen, and my Plan B is also looking sick.

I used to contemplate my retirement in the supermarket check-out queue. I'd pick up the local high-school night class schedule from the notice board and consider what courses I would take when I had the time. I got this idea from my mum. A widow at about 70-years-old, she took herself off to "community education" and learned how to be a counsellor.

Not only did she develop a useful skill, she met people who became her mates, like a warm Tongan grandma who was studying to improve her English to help her grandchildren with homework.

Most of us won't have this retirement option. In the 2009 budget the Government cut $54 million out of adult and community education, reducing the facilities offering such courses from 212 to 30.

As my mum would have said, this is a government that knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

- Herald on Sunday

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