Have you seen the film “Quartet”? Set in an English stately home and featuring some of Britain’s finest actors (Billy Connolly, Dame Maggie Smith, Michael Gambon, Pauline Collins), it’s a wonderful story about a group of retired classical musicians who create a retirement home for themselves. Much like conventional retirement villages, they each have their own private living space, but there are communal areas, shared meals, different levels of help, nursing care for those who need it, and most importantly, company. My husband (FOH engineer Chris Pyne) recently saw it on a plane and suggested I watch it too. “That”, he said afterwards, “is how retirement should be”. He’s dead right.
It’s not always like that though, is it? Retirement can often mean a loss of one’s sense of identity, a feeling of lacking in purpose, and the great curse of loneliness. Children are no guarantee of social fulfilment in old age; they have their own lives to lead. And for lifelong touring folk coming off the road, the blow can be especially hard; after a lifetime of travel and camaraderie, of not only working but largely living as a group, there must frequently be a sense of loss and loneliness; of “what now?”
But what if we could change that? Can you imagine a home for old roadies, just like the Quartet home?! It wouldn’t be to everyone’s taste, but when the time comes I know the idea of a retirement village amongst friends and like-minded folk appeals to me and Chris, and I bet we’re not the only ones.
What if….. we were to get together and buy a big area of land in the countryside, far enough out to be amongst nature but close enough to the amenities of a town? What if people could choose a property off-plan to have built there – maybe a two-bed bungalow or apartment – and move in when they were ready? What if we had communal social areas (I’m thinking a bar called “The Back Lounge”!), leisure facilities, different options for levels of care, ranging from “nothing, I just want the company and security” to house cleaned and meals cooked, right up to full nursing care as needed? What if one of our fabulous touring caterers came on board with a permanent installation, and you could choose to have an all-meal package, or just eat there when you fancy and pay at the end of the month? What if you could have freedom and independence, solitude when you want it, and entertainment and the company of friends on tap? Oh, there are a million things that would have to be organised – although we’re all pretty good at that, let’s face it – but what if it worked?
What if retirement could be the ultimate end-of-tour party?
I’d love to know what you think! Am I nuts? Or does it appeal to you?