11 May 2009

University of the 3rd Age (U3A)

Today I was invited to a meeting of the U3A in my local small town. The person who invited me didn't initially think I was old enough, which is kind of nice. To be a member you have to be over 50 (I'm 52), and retired or working part time. I'm not sure if the latter is a requirement but if you were working full time you wouldn't be able to go to meetings on weekdays.

The reasons I agreed to go are complex. First of all, I didn't want to seem rude to my neighbour.

Second, some of the groups within U3A that he described sound like the sort of things I could join - Yoga, Walking, Book Group, Scribblers, Pub Lunch group etc.

Then there is the whole dilemma of whether to join something which is specifically for older people...

I've never been a "joining" kind of person. No clubs, societies, Womens Institute, Lions, Rotary, nothing like that. I'm a member of the local library, and Weight Watchers, and a local parish group for which I edit a website. So it feels a bit alien to be thinking of joining anything at all. But recently I find myself rather dissatisfied with life, and rather afraid of what it will be like when I eventually retire. Living out in the sticks as we do, there aren't all the entertainments you might find in a city, or even a town of any reasonable size.
Our little town is 3 miles from home, without a bus service to speak of. Even in the town, there is no swimming pool, cinema, theatre, not very good shops or cafes, not much of a park even. For these things we have to travel further afield, 10 or 15 miles. So anything I can find nearer home that is of reasonable interest to me is worth investigating.

But an organisation for older people? Is this what I really want just now? Well, to be fair, the neighbours who asked me are only recently retired, and only (maybe) 8 years older than me. I saw a few people I recognise at the meeting, people I have worked with, and people who have kids about the same age as mine. And I was quite encouraged by the atmosphere at the meeting. It was all very cheerful and energetic.

And looking ahead, would it really be any easier to join something like this in 10 years time, or 20? My father always says he would never want to join an organisation for old people, but he is a bit lonely despite being a loner. Maybe if he'd joined something like this 20 years ago it wouldn't be such a big deal now.

But still, a group of old people???

Well, I don't mean to do anything about it just now, but I'll go to their July meeting, when they are putting on a big display by all the various groups. Then I think I'll join and try out one or two groups. It's not a life sentence, after all. Not like old age...

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