Retiring from the day job: Contented no more


It’s official. I’ve retired from my day job. While my friends barely blink at the news, the change in my life is massive.

Fact: on 31 March 2016 I ‘retired’ as Director and half-owner of a wonderful little online business, Contented Enterprises Limited.

Retirement is not headline news

Most of my friends raise a puzzled eyebrow when I tell them this momentous fact. They only just stop themselves from asking gormless questions like ‘Whaaa?’

For the last 20 years they’ve regarded my interest in digital communication as a slightly silly Rachel-ish aberration, a diversion from my true calling as a literary lady. As for that business with the awesome name and address (, which has been my primary occupation and source of income for 10 years, all eyes glazed over if I raised the subject.

I presume my friends are pleased that I’ve finally dropped my incomprehensible obsession with something mysteriously technical. They no longer have to smother their yawns.

And you know, I think this lack of interest is the norm. Don’t knock it: I believe it’s quite healthy and reasonable. After all, do you know what all your friends actually do at work, day by day? Do you understand their business? If not, maybe that’s a good thing: friends have more to offer than shop-talk.

Let’s be proud of our day-work

This is a good place to say it, and I hope you can say it too: I’m proud of my achievements in the day job. Let’s all take a moment to celebrate the work we eventually walk away from. Who cares if it has appeared boring to outsiders — we know better.

Mine has been useful to the world — apparently I wrote the first book ever about writing for the web: Web Word Wizardry, 1999 (first ed.). And I have also been useful to those I trained, whether as a live teacher from 1998 to 2015, or as an online course designer for Contented from 2006–2016.

Creative? Every day job is a field for creativity, including yours. For example, computer programming, often perceived as the most neurotically logical of disciplines, is teeming with creative people. As for me, I created 22 online courses on  how to make online content clear, readable, accessible, searchable, social — oops, I’ve lost you already! Never mind, it doesn’t matter any more. It’s over.

Every retiree deserves a party

Please raise your glass or a nice cup of tea to the work you do or used to do, your contribution to the world in the guise of a day job!

Please drink to your own achievements, visible or invisible. You know what they are: I salute you.

And now what? I’ll work off a little coffee-hangover and think about that tomorrow.


Image: from Viola Olerich, the famous baby scholar, 1900. Internet archive book images, no known copyright restrictions. (Sometimes I feel that young.)



How young people perceive the old

What age do millennials consider old? 40s? 50s, at a pinch? (What? Whattt??? But it was ever thus.)

AARP knows that one video is worth 1,000 words. In this ageism-buster, see their stereotypes blown away.

A millennial is matched with an “old” person. Each one teaches their partner something they are good at. The younger people add 40 or 50 years to their intuitive concept of old age.

Enjoy! I did.

Millennials show us what “old” looks like

You asked: grooming tips for oldish bodies


Little Voice asks, “Where are the rules for growing old?

I’m older than Little Voice, and due to my vast experience of life, I have all the answers. Brace yourself…

LV. For instance, how do we handle thinning hair? Do we ask our friends how they handle it, or do we act as though our hair isn’t really falling out by ‘puffing it up’?

Moi. That was merely a fleeting illusion: your hair is as glorious as ever. Resurrect the Doris Day back-combing that looked so cute in your teens: a charming style for septuagenarians. If the illusion of thinning hair persists, shave the remains to achieve the popular alien look. Some will be impressed, others terrified: either way it’s win win.

LV. A dilemma I am facing is eyebrows. Do I pluck the grey hairs from above my eyes or leave them in? If I pluck them, I will soon not have any eyebrow hairs, and I’m not excited about that. 

Moi. Bald eyebrows are intensely cool, so shave them off and become a catwalk model. On the other hand, if you’re sticking with the Doris Day look, get new eyebrows tattooed on. No one will know the difference.

LV. And how about the hair growing out of the men’s ears? 

Moi. Ear hair is a valuable resource. Watch and wait. Have you seen Donald Trump? That’s recycled ear hair.

LV. How about the rubber-board skin that doesn’t go away even with 2 pounds of cream applied hourly?

Moi. What’s rubber-board? A water sport? An erotic device? A teaching aid? I don’t understand the problem.

LV. And, there is nothing more embarrassing than waking to find you have a crease (or two) running down your face after hugging your pillow all night. 

Moi. If that is the most embarrassing event in your life so far, you are one lucky little girl.

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Image: Internet Book Archive (Africa and its inhabitants, Elise Reclus and A.H. 1899)