Sam Simmonds

sam-simmonds-370wWell, it seems that time is finally running out for me as an ex-pat Brit in Sydney, Australia.  

Before migrating to Australia half a lifetime ago, after living and working in the UK from my teenage years in the 1950s until the early 1980s – and paying all my dues in full throughout that time – I am now faced with the stark possibility that I shall have to up sticks once again, in my seventy-third year, to sell up and try to find somewhere to live even more down-market than my present tiny two-bedroom flat in the northern suburbs.  And all because my meagre, un-index-linked British pension is still stuck, like in the centre of an old vinyl record, turning and turning and going nowhere.

You can’t doing anything, of course, about accidents of birth; you’re just stuck with them.  In my case, being born in North London one year before World War II, with all the attendant hardships of the following decade until Britain got onto its feet again, and into a family that quickly proved dysfunctional, and with my father leaving home forever in 1946, like many young boys I soon learned to take the knocks and do whatever I could to survive.

Leaving school at the age of 16 in order to bring some income home, instead of going on to university, as my education and level of intelligence qualified me to do, I became a clerk (at the princely sum of £5 a week), was obliged to interrupt that “career” to do two years’ national service (starting at 4/6d a day!), before resuming and gradually taking more and more advantageous positions to better myself and enrich the coffers of the Inland Revenue at the same time.  Oddly enough, I can still remember my National Insurance (aka Social Security) number, all these years later.