Holistic philosophy of self-care, community and sustainability with razor wire is, it seems, the way forward.

Thomas, my beloved husband, is giving me no peace with his chatter about the latest initiative from our retirement home management company.  They have brought in a business analyst from a big consultancy, Mobeen, to lead an “agile co-design process” to create a “holistic lifestyle experience”. It’s not just we residents of Ash Court who are being subject to this nonsense. They are doing it across all their properties to “reposition their brand” because their previous attempts to sell up their retirement property chain had failed to achieve the price they were looking for.

Thomas volunteered to join the group of “co-designers” so he knows what they are up to.  But he has got sucked into not only the consultancy mumbo jumbo, but the whole spiritual health line that Mobeen is trying to spin.

The thought of Thomas in a scrum or a sprint – even if it’s only in name – has had me checking our life insurance.

He is now up at first light to do Qigong. It’s an activity that is somewhere between meditation and exercise if that is possible. Then he is off to join a daily “scrum” (some sort of daily planning meeting) with Mobeen as the “scrum master” before they start “sprinting.” They have just finished a “sprint design and delivery process” for a pilot yoga pavilion in our garden before they roll it out to all properties. The thought of Thomas in a scrum or a sprint – even if it’s only in name – has had me checking our life insurance.

Mobeen, meanwhile, has circulated its draft brochure for comment. Here are some excerpts to give you an idea of the fantasy flavour:

A residential haven with ease of access to green spaces, cultural enrichment and a high-end neighbourhood …. Prioritising mental and physical wellbeing is a natural part of life for residents in these beautiful apartments…. a way-of-life dynamic that balances work and family, social life and privacy…. A holistic philosophy of self-care, community and sustainability underpins the McDonal retirement concept. 

I am not sure how they are going to convince anyone of this “way-of-life dynamic.” One visit to the empty and soleless residents’ lounge would torpedo that notion. But it has been quite pleasant to sit in the yoga pavilion (without the Qigong). 

But that spot of sanctuary was swept away when Robena Fitzwell, our ex-resident psychic broke in. Mobeen kicked her out of Ash Court ahead of the first sales attempt.

Robena started conducting her own spiritual and health programme in the pavilion with a ragbag trio of followers: a man they call Ivor Novello – a singing ex steel worker from Port Talbot, Sophie-Me – a painfully thin refugee from 1967 who wheels her bedding and poetry collection in an Aldi trolley, and a Nigerian guy dressed in very little save a spider-man blanket, Birkenstocks and a balaclava.

She would start by chanting mantras at first light. The bellows of “For Christ’s sake,” and “For the love of God,” from various quarters of the complex was the measure of the spiritual uplift among the residents.

Sophie-Me and the Nigerian drifted off too but Ivor is still showing up from time to time to sing his heart out.

Thomas was in a bind. Robena is a good friend of his and he was devastated when she was expelled, but he saw that she couldn’t stay. In the end, despite Thomas insisting he was slowly convincing Robena to come round to ceasing her sessions, she was escorted from the property by security guards. Sophie-Me and the Nigerian drifted off too but Ivor is still showing up from time to time to sing his heart out. Nobody minds too much as he has a nice voice.

Thomas meanwhile has taken up meditation and started counselling to work through his conflicting emotions. At least this has given me some peace though I can’t see it lasting.

And Mobeen has concluded that the only way to preserve its “holistic lifestyle experience” is to deploy a suitably subtle but effective wall around the property – we are assured that the razor wire will be invisible for all intents and purposes while being signposted to meet health and safety regulations. And the group is currently investigating the latest in technical people barriers.  Sound shock waves are looking promising, I hear.

Verity Bastion

Verity is an emeritus professor of economics now living in a retirement apartment with her husband, Thomas, after a distinguished career. She writes a regular column for The Mint on …

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