Retirement’s Not What It Used to Be

The importance of active retirement actually snuck up on me quite unexpectedly via the Auckland Film Festival. What a wonderful way, in the middle of winter, to travel around the world; all from the marvellous grandeur of the Civic Theatre.

The importance of active retirement actually snuck up on me quite unexpectedly via the Auckland Film Festival. What a wonderful way, in the middle of winter, to travel around the world; all from the marvellous grandeur of the Civic Theatre.

We saw some dramas but this year we chose three documentaries and the subject of each movie - it turned out – was an individual in their 80s.

First stop Japan. In Jiro Dreams of Sushi, Jiro Ono, a sushi chef, has won three Michelin stars for his little Tokyo restaurant which seats only 12 people. But what stands out is his ability to take humble sushi beyond the sublime. He has been making sushi since age 10, and now, 75 years later he still works relentlessly to improve his skills and surpass his best.

Now a movie in New York City (Bill Cunningham New York) where photographer Bill Cunningham goes out each day on his push bike, and captures for the New York Times the look and feel of what people are wearing on the streets. He has chronicled this for more than 40 years and at age 82 he continues to inspire the fashion industry –unerringly spotting trends before the 20-somethings who work for the glossy magazines.

The movie Sing Your Song, is a documentary about Harry Belafonte. I was expecting the movie to focus on the actor singer’s artistic heyday, 50 years ago. Yet more than anything the movie focused on his civil rights campaigning which continues, energetically, right up to the present. Born in 1927, he is now firmly in his 80s – handsome as ever – and an ardent, vocal critic of injustice. Inspirational.

A common thread runs through these stories. Each individual is very humble, and in many ways they have stripped away the superfluous things in their lives in order to focus on their passion. They are sure of themselves and yet endlessly inquisitive about the world around them.

This description fits a client of ours Professor Patrick Lacey who, unfortunately, died on July 24th aged 90. Right up to the end his mind was lively, playful and formidably intellectual. A professor of Classics at Auckland University he inspired legions of students with his knowledge and passion for the stories and achievements (and no doubt the scandals) of Ancient Greece and Rome.

Life dealt Patrick Lacey some tragic blows. He and his late wife lost three of their four sons in an accident but he was never bitter, and his humour always buoyed others up through his work with Meals on Wheels, the Classics Association, the parish of St Andrew’s Anglican Church and his ongoing contact with former students who continued to relish his wit and his encouragement. Virtually to the end he was still recording death notices for the blind. He was not only a devout Anglican – he was a devout fisherman too, and his smoked trout was legendary: a source of great pride.

He had been my client since 1986 - a quarter of a century - and had loyally stayed with me through my own career moves.

When we went through the Securities Commission red tape of becoming ‘authorized advisers’, Patrick was the first to write in with a testimonial. Each quarter when we publish this newsletter, Prof Lacey would phone up or drop a note to let us know how much he enjoyed the read.

What a privilege to witness the energy, compassion and enthusiasm of the Professor Laceys of this world. This month I’ve seen the prospect of entering one’s 80s and 90s with fresh eyes. We’ll miss his phone call.