Mad Old Gitesse Syndrome

This post has been sparked by an article in The Times Higher Education (Dec 8th, 2016) – ‘What does retirement mean for academics’, in which Lincoln Allison, Eric Thomas and Richard Larschan reflect on ‘the next phase’ of scholarly life. Having recently entered my eight decade it is perhaps not surprising that this article caught my attention.

Being this age several of my friends and family are ‘retired’. Some have left work never to think of it again and are now enjoying a life of travel, golf, cooking, gardening or any number of hobbies and interests. Many are fitter than they have been for years. For others ‘academic work lingers’. They continue to supervise students, do some teaching, write books, articles etc. and present at conferences. I fall into this latter category. According to Lincoln Allison this is ‘mad old git syndrome’.

Sir Eric Thomas writes of retirement ‘But let’s agree that while you may do other things in the future, when there is no more full-time work, no more of what has defined you for more than four decades, that is retirement’. ‘Your innings is over’.

I don’t feel that my ‘innings is over’, simply that the nature of my innings is changing. From all this I am clearly a ‘mad old gitesse’.

4 thoughts on “Mad Old Gitesse Syndrome

  1. francesbell December 12, 2016 / 11:44 pm

    Thanks for this Jenny. I haven’t read the article because I have exceeded my 10 articles per month limit 🙂 I am retired and active in writing and research, some with you Jenny but I don’t think this completely defines me, any more than my previous paid employment completely defined me then. I am proud to be a mad old gitesse too and I am also a crafter, and many other things. Oh! the patriarchy 😦

  2. easegill December 13, 2016 / 9:58 am

    Mad? Mad to take on the challenges that you have, mad to share your knowledge widely and mad to have an ideal of getting the best for our learners. Old? Old with wisdom gained and young enough to still be learning.
    I thought of this proverb for you –
    Ko te manu e kai i te miro nōna te ngahere, Ko te manu kai i te mātauranga, nōna te ao.
    It translates as: The bird that eats the miro berry owns the forest. The bird that feasts on knowledge owns the world.
    Happy Birthday! Keep on being you whatever you do.

  3. jennymackness December 13, 2016 / 10:35 am

    Hi Frances – thanks for commenting. I don’t think it defines me either and interestingly it never occurred to me to think in terms of patriarchy. I was just intrigued and amused that there were three people writing about exactly the sorts of ideas I have been thinking about.

    It’s very interesting to see how people manage their ‘retirement’. I have a relative who retired from a senior business position and cut himself off completely from one day to the next. He has never looked back. But I have another friend in his late 70s who still goes to the University every day, has an office there, supports students and writes and publishes papers. And then of course there are artists and authors for whom retirement – in the sense of giving up their work – would probably be an anathema 🙂

  4. jennymackness December 13, 2016 / 10:39 am

    Hi Nigel – that is such a lovely comment. Thank you – and for sharing that lovely proverb. My recent birthday has felt like a bit of a milestone, but I am still researching and working on a contract with the institution where we met all those years ago, although I also have time for all the other activities that I used to dream of when fully employed and working flat out. Hope you and yours are keeping well 🙂

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