Archive for July, 2010

The Longest Holiday

Monday, July 12th, 2010

People worry about pensions. After all, everyone is always telling us to: the government, banks, insurance companies, friends, family…

We’ve recently done loads of work that is in some shape or form about pensions. They’ve had a rough ride and most people roll their eyes when asked to think about saving for retirement.

One of these jobs was to write, produce and direct a 15 minute film – The Long Weekend – for the NAPF. It gets the savings message across in a light-hearted mockumentary sort of way. No finger-pointing or scary images of pensioners huddled under a raggedy electric blanket surviving on a diet of dog food and baked beans. Feedback has been brilliant, and lots of people should now be a bit less cynical about saving for their Golden Years.

That’s retirement sorted then. Good.

But what about the bit that comes afterwards? The bit no one talks about.

Though we don’t like admitting it, we’re all the same. Birth, taxes and death are universal. They can be worrying too, depending on your outlook. But some things are easier to talk about than others, and preparing for the last independent decisions we’re likely to make is a deeply personal subject. Which tends to make it taboo.

I’ve just started reading Somewhere Towards the End. It’s by Diana Athill, the literary editor who looked after people like Philip Roth, Norman Mailler, John Updike and Simone de Beauvoir. Diana retired at 75, published this book at 89 and aged 92 decided to move to an old people’s home.

She writes honestly and without histrionics about what happens when our bodies and minds start to pack up, managing to dispel deepest held fears about growing old with a mixture of wit, wisdom and determined optimism. Beginning to accept that you’ll be doing some things for the last time. Moving on.

It is thrilling. The shock of recognition, of imagining yourself through the words of others is one of those things that gives language its potency.

Lots of our clients struggle to address their customers sensitively and as individuals. Writing honestly and pragmatically about even the most difficult and personal subjects can make them seem less daunting.