Login Register

'Why would I stop working when I can still do it?'

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: August 19, 2013

still in the swing Cyril Goldstone, aged 90, on the first tee at Langland Bay Golf Club with his playing partners, (all in their nineties) former club captain Fred Lewis, Cliff Evans and former club captain Stewart Buchanan.

Comments (0)

"WHY have I stayed in work so long? Well, because I have a wife and I don't like shopping..."

As soon as I meet 90-year-old Cyril Goldstone I can tell he's quite the character.

He waves his walking stick in the air to greet me as I walk down his driveway and jokes that we have to be quick before his wife comes home!

He lives in a beautiful, immaculately clean house in Sketty with a massive back garden that's preened to perfection.

There's a little blue net on the lawn that I assume is a football goal for Cyril's grandchildren to play with.

"I don't have any grandchildren, that's my golf net," he says. "I've been a member of Langland Bay Golf Club for 60 years and I'm still no better than when I started."

Cyril also has a membership at the Village gym where he meets with his 84-year-old brother for work-outs.

"I go swimming and he goes to the gym in the Village," says Cyril. "My brother lives in London, so whenever he visits me in Swansea we make a point of doing something active.

"There are so many things I want to be able to do, like the gardening for example, but now that I'm 90, there are certain things your body won't allow you to do, and your mind gets frustrated at it.

"That's part of the reason I never stopped working — why would I stop when I can do it."

With a rising state pension age, we have all been warned we will be working longer in the future. And for many workers the future is all about retirement. But there are growing numbers of older employees who would much rather talk 'returnment'.

These are the men and women who discover that finally taking it easy after years of hard work leaves them bored and unfulfilled.

And it was business as usual today for Cyril as he clocked in at legal practice, Douglas-Jones Mercer (DJM) which he joined at the age of 73.

After qualifying as a solicitor, in 1960 Cyril set up his own company — Goldstone's Solicitors — in Swansea city centre. He only joined DJM in 1996 after leaving his own law firm.

"I was asked to leave my job at Goldstone's to give younger people a chance there," he says. "I don't resent it and I totally understood their reasoning. A lot of people in my position would have just retired or at least have had a break at that point, but I went into another job almost immediately.

"When they are young, people like the idea of retiring in the future, but when it comes down to it, it's a different kettle of fish. When you've had a lifetime of working and then you just stop, you don't know what to do.

"When I left Goldstone's I was bored. Working was all I knew."

Born in Swansea in 1923, Cyril was the son of Solomon and Rebecca Goldstone, who devoted their lives to their work, and instilled the importance of education in their children.

His dad worked as a tailor and his mum – whilst also looking after the house – ran a shop from their family home. Cyril's sister then took over and expanded the shop, while his elder brother became a teacher, and his younger brother (who is now 84 and is still working) became a solicitor.

"Both my parents worked up until they died," says Cyril. "We are a Jewish family and a good education and hard work has always been encouraged. I was brought up at a time when Jewish people were suffering, and education was just a way of getting on.

"For me, it's just normal to work — it's in my nature. I've never had a desire to retire."

Cyril's daughter Sally has followed in her dad's footsteps and works in a law firm based in Swansea. His son Simon is director of vocal and opera at the prestigious international classical music agency, Intermusica.

Cyril believes that keeping busy, exercising regularly, not smoking or drinking heavily and eating his wife's home-cooked meals is the secret to his long life. And he has no plans to slow down.

"When your mind is busy thinking and your body is busy exercising, it keeps you young," says Cyril. "The only alcohol I drink is two pints of bitter after a round of golf — it keeps my blood pumping.

"I don't smoke now but I did used to have a pipe in my 30s because I thought it looked really cool. I'd lean against my office desk and puff away, but when no one was looking I'd cough and splutter. I hated the damn thing. My brother was always the smoothie who got all the girls; I was a nobody with silly glasses.

"The other secret to keeping my mind on top form is meeting people, talking to people, and generally interacting. That's what I love. If I wasn't working, that's what I'd miss most – the communication.

"I'd be in the house, sitting in a chair, reading a book — that's not for me. I think I'd go downhill if I retired. This job keeps me alert and sociable. I've made a lot of good friends at the firm and I plan to stay at Douglas-Jones Mercer for as long as I can."

Hugh Hitchcock, director at Douglas-Jones Mercer Solicitors, says: "Cyril has had a brilliant career and should be very proud of his achievements. He is an asset to the company and we enjoy working with him.

"His work ethic is inspiring and his strong relationship with the team and clients is reflected in his excellent delivery. As a director, I have learned from his tenacity and spirit and am very grateful for all he has taught us."

Cyril stumbled upon his career path by chance. He studied German philosophy and social science at Swansea University, and then, after "winning the war for us", he planned to go into a management position at Marks & Spencer in Gloucester. But when meeting with a friend before the big interview, everything changed.

"My friend had just qualified as a solicitor and he said 'any fool can do my job, you might as well do it too'. So I did," says Cyril. "The swaying factor for me was that if I got a job as a solicitor I would be able to stay in Swansea.

"I'm glad I stayed, as I met my wife Masie here. She's 85 now but only looks 60 — make sure to write that in your article — she'll love that."

Cyril and Masie both have their own cars, Cyril's is a Ford estate which he drives to work for 9.30am three days a week. He says that driving is still a doddle, but he does find he concentrates a lot more now.

"When you're younger, driving tends to be second nature," he says. "You can be gliding along and wonder where the last half an hour went — you don't really think about it. But now that I'm older I concentrate on every little detail. I want to be sure that my reflexes are sharp.

"It's the same in my job, I concentrate a lot harder these days so that I'm on the ball. Work keeps the cogs moving."

Official figures now show that the number of over-65s who are still working into their retirement has grown by almost 100,000 in the past two years alone.

Researchers have found the make-up of the workplace is changing with more people going back to work after retirement or starting again with a new career.

As men and women live longer, more employees are being forced to carry on working to fund their retirement, making a second or even third career increasingly common.

Returnment — a phrase coined in the US — describes those staying in the workplace not out of financial necessity, but because they simply enjoy work.

"It's nice to feel as if you have a purpose," says Cyril. "I don't do it for the money — I just love it. It's a choice, not a necessity. Some people think of retirement as one big holiday, but I don't like cruises, and airports are too crazy for me. So all I'd end up doing is the crossword.

"Masie and I go on weekend breaks in the Cotswolds, and that's enough relaxation for us. I enjoy working and having a routine too much to give it up."

A recent survey by the Employer's Forum on Age, which campaigns on age issues in the workplace, found 93 per cent of over-60s like to work — a higher percentage than any other age group.

This relates to a recent surge in "retirement careers" with over-60s setting up new businesses or becoming consultants.

And almost a million retirees were in some form of employment between January and March of this year, compared to 883,000 in the first three months of 2011.

"In business, experience is a definite advantage," says Cyril. "Older workers sometimes have the benefit of experience to guide them to smoother waters. I also have a few older clients who ask specifically for me. It's probably because they relate to me and feel as if I can empathise with their needs."

During his career Cyril has operated across a range of sectors, including criminal law where he worked on high-profile murder and crime cases. Now a consultant at DJM Solicitors, he specialises in commercial property.

The workplace has inevitably changed in sixty years, and Cyril has seen it all.

"It went from typewriters, fax machines, and smoking in the office to computers, email and internet — everything has transformed." he says. "The biggest change I witnessed is the role of secretaries. They used to be in your office and you'd dictate letters to them while they typed.

"Everything was face-to-face and chatty. Then it changed to you clicking a button on your computer to send something to their computer — it's all become a bit robotic.

"Everything used to be real and touchable — I even used to deal with handwritten deeds on parchment if you can believe it. We used to speak to real people, but now we're all speaking through machines."

Another huge change he's noticed is how the departments within the industry have divided into specialised sections, and how, simultaneously, the number of workers in a single office has grown.

"It's funny that every one used to have their own office but they used to be Jacks of all trades," he says. "Now, that's been turned on its head. Not only are there 10 or 20 people to an office, but each person in is now a master of one trade.

"It's the same in a lot of industries. You used to have doctors that took care of everything from your toe to your knee to your stomach to your head, but now you have elbow specialists and finger specialists."

All these changes and new technologies haven't made Cyril's job any easier, but he's keen to embrace the future.

"You have to relearn your job in a way," he says. "But I don't mind, you've got to move with the times. I don't really use the computer for anything other than to sneak a quick game of solitaire or bridge though.

He adds: "I like to keep abreast of all the modifications in the workplace. Law is always changing, modernising and growing bigger, so it was inevitable that the office would change too. With all these new things to think about, my mind is ticking over nicely.

"If you don't use it you lose it as they say!"

Read more from South Wales Evening Post

Do you have something to say? Leave your comment here...

max 4000 characters