Updated: Nov 23, 2020
I do like to watch a bit of Antiques Roadshow on TV. I am sure that the teenage me would be rolling his eyes at this confession but it is true. I like seeing things from my youth and what I remember of my grandparents' house now being collectible and rare. I also like to play the game of guess what it is worth. I often put this into two categories.
1. What would I pay for it?
2. What do I think it would fetch at auction?
To be honest category 1 is nearly always less than 2 and always less than the value stated by the expert. My wife says I am “tight” which is probably true. The point is things often have a monetary value. However, on the show, even when the sum quoted is very high you often hear “We would never sell because . . . . .” and this is where the true value is. This value hit home to me recently when the Covid crisis hit the UK. For years I have joked with friends that my wife and I are paid inversely to our value to society. She is a reading mentor in an inner city school in Coventry - where everyday she makes a difference to the lives of children who would be a challenge to society but for the work of staff like her. I, on the other hand generally make rich people richer. Until Covid-19 hit and suddenly those rich people were happy not to have my services and even the government felt I did not warrant a safety net. Yet my wife became a “Key Worker”. Suddenly it was as though society had an “Emperors new clothes” moment!
I don’t say any of this to gain sympathy etc. I am very proud of the work my wife and many others do. However, it did make me ask some questions about my own work and really got me thinking about retirement. What do I want my value to society to be for my remaining years of paid employment and then into retirement? I don’t want to be seen as useless or a sponger - I want to feel I have a value to society. It might not be to generate money but must be still valuable. My oldest living relative is in an old peoples home in London. She rarely leaves her room because her body has given up on mobility but her brain is still there (most of the time!). She adds massive value to our family with her interesting banter on topics of the day, family history and advise on life. I hope I can still be adding value at 93 as she is. I have no idea what that is worth but I know I wouldn’t sell it.