After a year of residence in the retirement home and spending hours reorganizing our lives to suit our new surroundings, I finally tackled the phone messaging system. The home has a private telephone exchange which, of course is ‘different’ and understood only by the manufacturer. I have tried it a few times and I cannot understand the instructions. Now I tried it once again to make sure it was still impossible to understand and came to the same conclusion; it cannot be done – by me anyway. There is an instruction on the phone, a long screed of instructions. I’m sure it starts with a capital letter and ends with a full stop. Finally I admitted it. “I’m licked! We need a grandchild in here, someone who has the same education as this voice on the phone.”

I went through the list quickly: one at university, one free for another couple of hours, one in the army and three in school. They of course would be delighted to come and help. I called Number 2. She arrived smiling half an hour later and I briefed her. 30 seconds later we had a clear concise message telling the caller where he or she was. “What was the problem, Pop?”

Remember how simple all these pesky little chores were? You had something to do; you read the instructions and in no time the job was done. I think we older citizens should begin a campaign: if we can’t understand the instructions by the second reading, we won’t buy the product. Furthermore, if the instructions are not in the local language we are not buying.

Have you noticed that when you call your middle-aged son or daughter – all golden agers have middle aged children – to help you with something technical, their immediate response is: I’ll get back to you – I have to ask my son/daughter. The hi-tech revolution seems to have skipped an entire generation. All those in favor of a lo-tech retirement home, raise their hands.